Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The explanation that doesn't explain: Hays on the argument from appreciation

Steve: You just don't get it. You just don't get it. What I presented was an *argument* against the claim that the argument from appreciation explains why God reprobates some people. A reductio ad absurdum as it were. I elaborated the argument in a comment in response to Bnonn, but let we spell it out here.

1) If Calvinism is true, then God can, by his sovereign will, determine whether there will be reprobates or whether universalism is true. (I don't have to believe that this is sovereignly up to God, but you do).

2) God has selected that there be millions of reprobates.

3) You say Scripture teaches that this choice of a reprobate world is explained by the fact that in a reprobate world the blessed in heaven will appreciate the graciousness of their salvation to a greater extent than in a non-reprobate world.

My claim is that this would not be an explanation. The blessed in heaven have received God's gift of salvation through Christ. They are as open to God's teaching as they can be. God can produce in them all the appreciation he wants to of the graciousness of their salvation without damning anybody. God can show movies of fictitious persons in hell if he wants to, but even that doesn't seem necessary. God, after all, is supposed to be absolutely sovereign. So it stands to reason that God could use a little of that sovereignty to produce whatever appreciation the blessed he might need, even if universalism is true. It is absurd, therefore, to suppose that this "explanation" explains anything. We might, paradoxically, ask the Calvinist "What part of sovereign don't you understand?"

I had been arguing that there is no explanation available to us for God's choice of a reprobate world over a universalist world. By the way, I am not arguing that God couldn't possibly have a reason for reprobating people. What I am saying is that the position requires a mystery maneuver at this point, and that mystery maneuvers are invariable epistemically expensive. If there is a mystery, why not it be in our understanding of the passage (notice I don't even need to break with inerrancy here) rather than in the character of God.

I said nothing about not using the grammatico-historical method. I just said I hoped we could avoid interpretations of Scripture that commit biblical authors to absurd statements. And I gave an argument for why such an explanation would be absurd.

As you rightly point out with the missed plane story, seeing others killed in a plane accident is one way that someone might appreciate their earthly life. But a sovereign God has other ways to of producing in the blessed an appreciation for the graciousness of their salvation, so as an explanation for why God reprobates, it is completely worthless.

Now in fact, you really have to stretch the interpretation of the Romans passage you cite to get an actual teaching of this doctrine. After all, the passage begins with the phrase "What if," and is loaded with figurative language. If any other possible interpretation of the passage can be offered on the basis of exegesis, then that explanation would have to be preferred to this one. In fact, it would be preferable to say that we do not understand the passage than to give it this kind of an interpretation. It's the principle of charity.

Is there a consensus amongst competent exegetes on this passage? Thought not.

92 comments:

Jason Pratt said...

{{Is there a consensus amongst competent exegetes on this passage?}}

There is for true Scotsmen!

{g}

(For those just joining in, the passage in question is Rom 9:22-24.)


More seriously: there is of course a distinction between being a competent exegete on average, and competently exegeting this particular passage (and surrounding material). And whichever of the three sides is correct, will be far more likely (by and large) to have been exegeting this passage correctly, while the other two sides (by and large) will have been far more likely to have been exegeting this passage incorrectly.

Consequently, I can sympathize (to some degree) with a Calvinist thinking Calvinists have done a better job exegeting this passage; an Arminian thinking Arminians have done a better job; etc.

JRP

Anonymous said...

The problem as I see it is that the calvinist can always reverse all of these scenarios. Let's take a real life case of evil: a Christian woman being raped and murdered (which happens quite a bit in third-world countries). Couldn't God immediately, via an act of omnipotence, wisk the the woman away to heaven while sending down a robotic replica? On earth no one would be the wiser and so "free will" wouldn't be affected (this scoots around the claims of some libertarians that if God stopped bullets before they hit people, then we would soon learn that nothing happened when we freely chose to murder someone, and so this would affect freedom. I don't buy this line of reasoning, but I scoot past it all the same). I have not seen one critique against calvinism that does not have a similar argument in the reverse to offer the Arminian.

Blip said...

Vic,

You wrote "God can produce in them all the appreciation he wants to of the graciousness of their salvation without damning anybody."

I think I agree that this is logically possible, but would it be appropriate? God can make me deluriously happy that I've completed my stamp collection, but that isn't something you should get deluriously happy about - it's not worth it. God can make me happy that I don't share the fate of the damned as depicted in some films that God has shown me, but arguably I should be happier if I don't share that fate when I know (not just justifiably believe) that some of my closest companions in this life have suffered it. It cuts that bit nearer the knuckle.

So on the supposition that God is committed to maximising the elect's appreciation of their salvation insofar as it would be appropriate, I think this is a good explanation. (And no triablogue acrimony in sight!)

a helmet said...

I'm going to dedicate an article on the reformed usage of Romans 9 on my blog

http://combatingcalvinism.blogspot.com

However, I recently happened to write quite a bit on the passage Rom 9,22-24 due to a dialoge on Triablogue. The two last but one posts have to do with this text, you might check out.

-a helmet

Berny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

Jason wrote: [part 1]

“{{Is there a consensus amongst competent exegetes on this passage?}}

There is for true Scotsmen!

{g}

(For those just joining in, the passage in question is Rom 9:22-24.)”

I think that you are looking at this incorrectly. There are two separate issues of importance here. First, there is Victor’s challenge to the calvinist’s claim that God creates reprobates in order that the saved persons will better appreciate their salvation. Steve Hays then cited Romans 9:22 in response claiming the text supports this calvinist claim. I responded that if you actually look at the text cited, it says nothing about saints or saints in heaven thinking about the reprobates. So Hays is proof texting and his verse says nothing in response to Victor’s challenge. Not only does it say nothing it ought to be seen for **what it is**, an attempt at proof texting from scripture in support of his preconceived notion (i.e., the calvinist opinion that one of the purposes of the reprobates is so that the saints will better appreciate their salvation).

The second issue which you are now bringing up is the issue of how Romans 9:22-24 ought best be interpreted? I think it is a mistake to speak of whether or not there is a consensus on the passage. Instead, as with the interpretation of all texts, the issue is that there are alternative decisions to make about certain terms and grammatical constructions. For example, a major decision and choice for the interpreter to make is whether or not the initial phrase ought to be taken as causal or concessive. If you decide that it is best to take it as causal (and this is the preferred interpretation of most calvinists that I have seen) then the text reads as: (1) What if God willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known endured with much patience vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. If you decide that it is best to take it as concessive, then the text reads as: (2) What if God, although willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known [instead] endured with much patience vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. With the causal view, God’s wrath and power are seen in his patiently enduring the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. That does not make sense to me. With the concessive view, there is a contrast between God being willing to demonstrate his wrath and power, but instead, holding back on this and with much patience enduring patiently the vessels of wrath. This makes sense and also fits what the apostle Paul is trying to say concerning God’s dealing with Israel, which **is** the key focus of the Romans 9-11 unit.

Another decision concerns the phrase “vessels of wrath fitted for destruction”. In the Greek the form of “fitted” can be taken as either a passive (i.e. the vessels of wrath are fitted for destruction by something outside themselves, namely God) or middle (i.e., the vessels of wrath fit themselves for destruction by their own efforts).

It should be immediately obvious that these kinds of decisions will greatly impact your interpretation of these texts.

Robert

Berny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

[Jason said part 2]

Finally, I would mention one of my own pet peeves about Calvinistic interpretations of texts in Romans 9. Calvinists go to Romans 9 seeking to proof text in support of their mistaken belief in unconditional election. But the passages in Romans 9 function within the unit of Romans 9-11. In order to properly interpret individual passages in Romans 9 one must interpret them in the context of the entire unit of Romans 9-11.

An example of where this becomes important is that calvinists seeking to “prove” or even find evidence of their doctrine of unconditional election select out individual verses of Romans 9 (such as 9:22) and even phrases such as “vessels of wrath” while ignoring the context which is Romans 9-11 as a unit. So the calvinist ends up seeing “vessels of wrath” as referring to nonbelievers in general (or their term reprobates).

But the entire context of Romans 9-11 is Paul dealing with the issue of Jewish unbelief (if the gospel is true and God is fulfilling his promises, then why does Israel as a whole reject Jesus as the Messiah and reject the gospel and not believe?). I believe that a strong case can be made that the “vessels of wrath” does not refer to **nonbelievers in general**, but specifically to Jewish nonbelievers (which is Paul’s major concern throughout the unit; it also explains why God is with great patience enduring them rather them destroying them, he wants them to have more time to repent and turn to Christ; this is also discussed in the Romans 9-11 unit as Paul speaks of a “a partial hardening that has happened to Israel” which will later end). And statements in Romans 11 seem to be directly speaking of the Jews of Paul’s time as being both unbelievers and the “vessels of wrath” referred to in 9:22 and also people who though currently unbelievers can still repent and turn to Christ for salvation (which is really Paul’s explicitly expressed desire for the Jewish people). But you will **never even see this possibility** if you isolate individual verses such as 9:22 away from and interpret them completely independently of other texts in the Romans 9-11 unit.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Robert = Henry, the liar.

Anonymous said...

"I just said I hoped we could avoid interpretations of Scripture that commit biblical authors to absurd statements. And I gave an argument for why such an explanation would be absurd."


Yes, yes, that's what I say. Why, oh why, do Christians insist on attributing to the biblical authors beliefs in the triity and incarnation. Those are absurd, thus I don't attribute that interpretation to them.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I posted in the last thread about the passage, and didn't see this post, so I'll repeat here. Thanks Jason for the quote in the previous entry.

What struck me was the "what if" at the start of the passage. That makes interpretation difficult. 'What if X' doesn't imply that X is true! (Indeed, 'What if X' doesn't really have a truth value, as it is more an invitation to consider X; what if monkeys could fly?).

Was the passage a thought experiment, some food for thought to consider "what if" things were this way? If so, what is the deeper theological point behind the hypothetical description of God allowing some people to suffer because it will somehow fortify the saved?

Blue Devil Knight said...

At any rate, if that is the only passage upon which someone is basing an important theological point, that seems to be a big mistake. If it is a Calvinist doing it, then that would be the second example I have seen at this blog of a Calvinist using quite suspect exegetical technique to underpin a fairly major controversial doctrine (the previous time was using a single example ('hardening the heart') to argue that in all cases God determines your behavior).

Therefore, all Calvinists are wrong.

Blue Devil Knight said...

PS My previous sentence was tongue-in-cheek.

PPS I have no knowledge whatsoever in Biblical scholarship (outside of basic stuff like the Documentary Hypothesis). Hence, feel free to trash me and set me straight exegetically.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
a helmet said...

God’s dealing with Israel, which **is** the key focus of the Romans 9-11 unit.
_________________________

Exactly.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Henry, I can't trust anything you say, per your own words:

//////////////

At May 15, 2008 7:17 PM , Robert said...

Triabloggers constantly create sock puppets because they are deceptive, evil people. Calvinism causes this wicked attitude. You cannot trust anything that a Triablogger says, even if one posts under my name and pretends to attack them. It's all part of Satan's ploy.

//////////////

Robert said...

Blue Devil Knight,

As it seems that you are honestly trying to deal with the proper meaning of the text, your comments deserve a response.

“What struck me was the "what if" at the start of the passage. That makes interpretation difficult. 'What if X' doesn't imply that X is true! (Indeed, 'What if X' doesn't really have a truth value, as it is more an invitation to consider X; what if monkeys could fly?).”

In the Greek the “What if” is not indicating a hypothetical (so the apostle Paul is not engaging in some sort of “thought experiment”). As I said in a previous post, there is a question of whether or not it is best to take the first phrase as causal or concessive. I see it as making more sense to take it as concessive so there is a contrast being presented between (1) what God could do (i.e., “demonstrate his wrath and make known his power”) and (2) what God was actually doing (i.e. instead of demonstrating his wrath and making his power known upon the “vessels of wrath”, he was with great patience enduring them, and doing so in order that they would have more time to repent and turn to him for salvation).

And again as I said in the earlier post. I see the “vessels of wrath” as being a direct reference to the Jews of Paul’s time who had rejected Jesus as the Messiah and so instead of destroying them (“demonstrating his wrath and making his power known”) Paul says God is with great patience enduring them. If this is true, then the text of Romans 9:22 is not some description of God arbitrarily selecting some for eternal damnation and demonstrating his wrath and making his power known by with great patience enduring them. No, the text is saying that while Israel as a whole had rejected Christ as Messiah and so were unbelievers as a whole. Though God could show his wrath and make his power known upon them, instead he was holding back, giving them more time to change their thinking about Christ.

Paul develops this further in Romans 11 where he explicitly says that while they were unbelieving they could still come back and become Christians. So their being currently “vessels of wrath” was ***not*** a permanent, irreversible or predetermined condition. Instead, that is where they were at in Paul’s time, but that could change for any one of them just as it had happened for the apostle Paul himself. Paul had been extremely Jewish and extremely hostile to Christianity. But then he changed his thinking and became a Christian. So here you have a guy that knows exactly what he was writing about from first-hand experience. God had not blotted him out for his earlier rejection of Jesus as Messiah, God had with great patience endured Paul’s hostility towards Christianity. And God did this for both Paul and the Jewish people because He loves people and desires that they be saved.


“Was the passage a thought experiment, some food for thought to consider "what if" things were this way? If so, what is the deeper theological point behind the hypothetical description of God allowing some people to suffer because it will somehow fortify the saved?”

Again, Romans 9:22 was not talking about a hypothetical but about what God was actually doing at that time when Paul wrote it.

Robert

Blue Devil Knight said...

Robert: thank you for taking the time to examine this. I'm sorry I missed the thread of your earlier comment so I missed it. I am at work right now (literally just injected a rat with general anesthetic ten minutes ago am waiting for him to go completely under, so must get to it), but will have a look later.

Berny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

A while back someone pretended to be me and posted by my name Robert. They were sock puppeting and wanted it to appear as if I had written certain things. Now this same person is bringing up the same incident of sock puppeting and repeating the same words. The person bringing up these words posted anonymously and here is what they posted (again trying to suggest that I said these words but I never wrote this, someone sock puppeting as me/Robert wrote these things):

“At May 15, 2008 7:17 PM , Robert said...

Triabloggers constantly create sock puppets because they are deceptive, evil people. Calvinism causes this wicked attitude. You cannot trust anything that a Triablogger says, even if one posts under my name and pretends to attack them. It's all part of Satan's ploy.”

I never wrote these words though someone sock puppeting and attempting to attribute them to me did so. I cannot prove that I did not do this as that is the sad thing about sock puppeting (someone can use your name and say things trying to make it look as if you said these things when you never did so). I know this for a fact, God knows what is going on, and he knows who is sock puppeting and he knows who anonymous is and I have no doubt that he is not pleased by this kind of behavior. Anonymous and/or the person who sock puppeted as me, whoever you are, if you profess to be a Christian then you need to stop this behavior.

And I say to you as well as to anyone else, instead of engaging in these unnecessary personal attacks (whether it is me, or Jason, or Victor or whoever), why don’t you show some maturity and instead of engaging in these personal attacks, actually engage in the issues being discussed here in a rational and civil and Christian (if you are one) manner. I don’t have a problem with someone disagreeing with me. I don’t have a problem with someone rationally and strongly challenging my views and trying to show me mistaken in them. But these anonymous personal attacks and this sock puppeting really needs to stop.

And if you continue to engage in this anonymous attacking and sock puppeting rather than engage in rational discussion, you simply reveal just how weak your positions are. You cannot present and discuss them rationally you are merely reduced to constant personal attacks.

Robert

Anonymous said...

The reason people are discussing Robert's sockpuppet Henry is because he lied so often and to so many people about it and used it as a pretext to make accusations against Calvinists.

There's no need to deal with his "exegesis" since that interpretation is thoroughly refuted by actual scholars rather than what we were treated to by an anonymous Arminian troll.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3817/is_200606/ai_n17176281/?tag=content;col1

Anonymous said...

Robert,

according to Calvinism God is a sock puppeteer and humans are the sock pupppets.....including Calvinists. And humans tend to resemble the image of their gods.

That might explain a couple of things.

-Another Anonymous In America

Keegan said...

Having watched the food fight occurring both here and at Triablogue for about a week now, I can't tell you how glad I am that I'm a Druid.

Anonymous said...

Robert,

According to Arminianism God is a failure who can't actually save anyone. That may explain why your arguments and sockpuppeting were massive failures.


-Another Anonymous In America

Anonymous said...

Keegan,

Too bad Druidism is false. But hey, at least you feel good about it.

Jason Pratt said...

Robert: {{I think that you are looking at this incorrectly.}}

Well, obviously I wasn’t incorrect about the passage in question being the passage in question. And since I didn’t deny (or make a statement either way) about how the conversation got to this point (figuring readers would gather that from Victor’s OP), I wasn’t looking at that incorrectly either. I only commented on the question about whether there is a consensus among “competent exegetes” on this passage; and my comment was limited first to a wry joke about the “True Scotsman” fallacy, and second to an acknowledgment that in this case “competent exegesis” on this passage will most likely (despite my cautionary joke about the “True Scotsman” fallacy) be confined to proponents of one or another soteriological branch. Consequently I can hardly blame Calvinists for thinking Calvinists are the competent exegetes here, etc. (and so replying to Victor something like ‘yes there is in fact a consensus among competent exegetes and the consensus is Calvinistic. The other guys aren’t being competent.’)

Considering that in the previous thread I went to the effort of providing the Greek text for those to exegete who had the time and inclination to do so, and also pointed out at least one of the oddities in trying to translate it (the peculiar {kai} which doesn’t seem to grammatically fit without interpolating a whole subordinate clause as being implied), I think I can say that I am not unaware of translational and interpretive challenges making actual exegesis more difficult than is commonly realized. (But that was in the previous thread, and you might not have noticed it yet when you wrote this.)

Incidentally, the “although/instead” interpretation doesn’t depend on a concessive vs. causal interpretation of {kate_rtismena}; God could still have fitted or adapted or prepared those vessels to be destroyed by Him but waited until they had fulfilled their role before doing so. (Which is the standard Calvinistic interpretation I think; I don’t recall any Calvinist claiming that God demonstrates His indignation and His power by carrying those vessels with much patience.)


{{In order to properly interpret individual passages in Romans 9 one must interpret them in the context of the entire unit of Romans 9-11.}}

I would go even further than that, and look into the OT verses being reffed by Paul, too: is he explaining now what they actually mean (as Jesus does in GosMark for at least one of those sets of verses)?--or is he intending them to provide the context for why he’s saying what he’s saying here?

But yes, I agree. (And in context of Rom 1-8, for that matter. {g})

While I certainly agree that Paul is concerned with the issue of Jewish unbelief in Rom 9-11 (as well as prior in Romans), and while I certainly agree that Paul is concerned with “Israel as a whole” in that same section particularly, I think the scope is somewhat wider there, too. Esau and Pharaoh, for example, are not considered part of Israel, archetypically. {lopsided g} And they’re the ones being overtly talked about for rejection and hardening in Rom 9.

However, for what it’s worth, I entirely agree that Paul was also talking about and directly (though not very obviously, to us Gentiles) referencing unbelieving Israel, immediately prior to verse 22.


JRP

Blue Devil Knight said...

Robert's interpretations seem reasonable, though I don't have any idea what a 'causal' or 'concessive' hypothetical statement amounts to. I'm familiar with material implication versus logical implication (and conditional). Are they related to 'causal' and 'concessive'? Are these terms of a trade in which I have yet to apprentice?

Jason Pratt said...

BDK: You’re welcome. {s!}

As an aside, I am not sure that {ei de} has to be translated as “What if?”

{de} is a weak all-purpose conjunction being post-positived after an ‘if’. It could be ‘now if’, ‘and if’, ‘yet if’, ‘but if’. “What if” is, I think, a contextual guess, trying to make sense of the grammar of the rest of the sentence (and frankly kind of failing. {g} It’s an annoyingly difficult set of verses to translate.)

For others’ reference sake, here’s the Greek as I posted it yesterday for the previous thread in this series.

The Greek (USB 4th edition) reads:

22: ei de thelo_n ho theos endeixasathai te_n orge_n kai gno_risai to dunaton autou e_negken en poll(i)e_ makrothumia skeue_ orge_s kate_rtismena eis apo_leian

23: kai hina gno_ris(i)e_ ton plouton te_s doxe_s autou epi skeue_ eleous ha proe_toimasen eise doxan

24: hous kai ekalesen he_mas monon ex Iudaio_n alla kai ex ethno_on


(I’ve put underscores after the etas and omegas (long e and long o), and parenthesized the subscripted (i) when it occurs in suffixes.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Incidentally, the link provided by the anonymous flamebaiter is a legitimate link to a decent enough article written by Thomas Schreiner for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.

JRP

steve said...

Robert said...

“So Hays is proof texting and his verse says nothing in response to Victor’s challenge.”

i) I deal with challenges as they arise. Since the interpretation of that passage was subsequently challenged by Reppert, I posted some exegesis of that passage by Schreiner and Moo, as well as asking Evan to post a link to two sections from Piper’s monograph on 9:22.

Therefore, Reppert’s challenge has been met.

ii) Let’s also keep in mind that Reppert didn’t challenge my interpretation on exegetical grounds, but a priori grounds. And I’ve also addressed his a priori objection.

Therefore, Reppert’s challenge has been met on both fronts.

“Not only does it say nothing it ought to be seen for **what it is**, an attempt at proof texting from scripture in support of his preconceived notion (i.e., the calvinist opinion that one of the purposes of the reprobates is so that the saints will better appreciate their salvation).

Of course, Robert’s attempt to circumvent the text is driven by his perceived notion of what God ought to be like.

“For example, a major decision and choice for the interpreter to make is whether or not the initial phrase ought to be taken as causal or concessive.”

Which, of course, Piper, Schreiner, and Moo address.

“Another decision concerns the phrase ‘vessels of wrath fitted for destruction’.”

Which, of course, Piper, Schreiner, and Moo address. Robert keeps dishing out stale objections as if no one has ever dealt with these before.

“It should be immediately obvious that these kinds of decisions will greatly impact your interpretation of these texts.”

It should be immediately obvious that Robert makes no effort to engage the counterargument.

“Finally, I would mention one of my own pet peeves about Calvinistic interpretations of texts in Romans 9. Calvinists go to Romans 9 seeking to proof text in support of their mistaken belief in unconditional election. But the passages in Romans 9 function within the unit of Romans 9-11. In order to properly interpret individual passages in Romans 9 one must interpret them in the context of the entire unit of Romans 9-11.”

Another silly statement. It’s not as if Reformed exegetes lack a unified interpretation of Rom 9-11. Not as if they interpret Rom 9 one way and Rom 11 another way.

“But you will **never even see this possibility** if you isolate individual verses such as 9:22 away from and interpret them completely independently of other texts in the Romans 9-11 unit.”

Either Robert is ignorant or Robert is lying. Needless to say, Reformed exegetes review and assess rival interpretations of Rom 9 or Rom 11.

Robert said...

Hello again Blue Devil Knight,

“Robert's interpretations seem reasonable, though I don't have any idea what a 'causal' or 'concessive' hypothetical statement amounts to. I'm familiar with material implication versus logical implication (and conditional). Are they related to 'causal' and 'concessive'? Are these terms of a trade in which I have yet to apprentice?”

When you speak of material implication/logical implication you are speaking about terms in logic using the language of logic.

When I am speaking of and referring to "causal/concessive", I am speaking of New Testament Greek grammar terms.

The terms causal and concessive are not necessarily terms of a trade, though they are terms of New Testament Greek grammar. In examining and interpreting Romans 9:22 the Greek grammar will come into play. You need not be a Greek grammarian to intelligently discuss this text, in my opinion, but you need to be aware that it can be taken as either causal or concessive. Calvinists tend to favor the causal while non-calvinists tend to favor the concessive. While I am not a calvinist (surprise! :-) ), I do not think the causal interpretation makes sense: “What if God willing to demonstrate his wrath and make known his power with great patience endured the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.” How is God’s wrath being demonstrated and his power made known at the time Paul was writing Romans when he is patiently enduring someone?

On the other hand, the concessive: “What if God although willing to demonstrate his wrath and make known his power [instead] with great patience is enduring the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction” makes perfect sense. If it is concessive then a contrast is present between what God is perfectly willing to do (demonstrate his wrath and make his power known) and what HE IS ACTUALLY DOING INSTEAD (with great patience enduring the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction). And if Paul is referring to his unbelieving countrymen, the first century Jews who as a whole had rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and if Paul’s major concern explicitly stated at the beginning of the section is the plight of his unbelieving countrymen (cf. Romans 9:1-4), then it makes sense that he would point out that God is patiently enduring them (the “vessels of destruction”) and their unbelief giving them more time to change their thinking. That is God’s modus operandi: to be patient and keep working with them, not to immediately destroy them due to their sin.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello Jason,

“Incidentally, the link provided by the anonymous flamebaiter is a legitimate link to a decent enough article written by Thomas Schreiner for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.”

I am aware of Schreiner’s article having already read it. A friend of mine, Brian, whom Schreiner was responding to, also offered a counter response to Schreiner. I believe that Brian showed problems with Schreiner’s arguments and did a good job presenting his own view of election, the **corporate** view of election.

But I don’t’ hold the “corporate view of election” as Brian does. So the attempt by the “anonymous flamebaiter” to refute my view based upon Schreiner’s article does not work since Schreiner is arguing against the corporate election view (and #1 Brian has handled Schreiner very well, and #2 I don’t even hold the corporate election view so Schreiner is not refuting my view).

Robert

Anonymous said...

Robert/Henry, try and keep up. The article I linked to is Tom's response to Brian. Brian didn't respond to this one where Tom showed that the *individual* view was the best reading of the text.

Be that as it may, Tom's arguments support the individual election view, so it doesn't matter that you don't support Brain's. If the individual view is correct, then ***all non-individual views are not***.

Try again, Henry the liar.

Anonymous said...

Actually Schreiner has already repsonded to "Robert/Henry's" friend "Brian" and pretty much handles "Brian" corporate view of election.

Of course the Bible itself refutes "Brians" view, but so what.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Robert: thanks for clarifying that is interesting. It does seem your interpretation makes the most sense.

Robert said...

Steve Hays wrote: [part 1]
“i) I deal with challenges as they arise. Since the interpretation of that passage was subsequently challenged by Reppert, I posted some exegesis of that passage by Schreiner and Moo, as well as asking Evan to post a link to two sections from Piper’s monograph on 9:22.

Therefore, Reppert’s challenge has been met.”

No that is not what happened. Victor brought out a point against calvinism (i.e., that it does not make sense to claim that God has to create the reprobates in order for the saints to better appreciate their salvation). In response to THAT point you appealed to Romans 9:22. I responded by pointing out that that verse says nothing about the saints, or the saints in heaven, or the saints in heaven contrasting themselves with the reprobates and better appreciating their salvation. You attempted to proof text from a text which says nothing about Reppert’s point. Regarding Schreiner and Moo I never saw you cite any of that here. And if you think we all have time to check out your every blog at Triablogue your are mistaken.

“ii) Let’s also keep in mind that Reppert didn’t challenge my interpretation on exegetical grounds, but a priori grounds. And I’ve also addressed his a priori objection.

Therefore, Reppert’s challenge has been met on both fronts.”

You didn’t meet his challenge on either fronts and you proof texted from a biblical text that has nothing to do with the saints in heaven better appreciating their salvation.

STEVE SHOW US IN THE TEXT OF ROMANS 9:22 WHERE IT SAYS ANYTHING ABOUT THE SAINTS BETTER APPRECIATING THEIR SALVATION. It is not there and you can’t show it from that text.


“Of course, Robert’s attempt to circumvent the text is driven by his perceived notion of what God ought to be like.”

I haven’t “circumvented” the text, I presented an interpretation that fits the text and fits other texts in Romans 9-11 and fits the character of God (one who loves sinners and patiently endures them so that they can be saved).

If anything, you are the one playing fast and loose with the scripture reading in something into Romans 9:22 which is absolutely not there.

Robert

Robert said...

[part 2]

I wrote:

“For example, a major decision and choice for the interpreter to make is whether or not the initial phrase ought to be taken as causal or concessive.”

Hays responded with:

“Which, of course, Piper, Schreiner, and Moo address.”

I never said that calvinists have no interpretations of the texts, I simply was making the point that the interpretation of Romans 9, the texts we are considering here, involves some important decisions. Decisions that will greatly influence one’s interpretation of these texts.

I wrote:

“Another decision concerns the phrase ‘vessels of wrath fitted for destruction’.”

Hays responded with:

“Which, of course, Piper, Schreiner, and Moo address. Robert keeps dishing out stale objections as if no one has ever dealt with these before.”

Now we see again that Hays is not carefully following my point. He says I was dishing out “stale objections” when making these points. COMPLETELY WRONG STEVE. I was not even making objections, I was saying there are some key interpretive decisions or choices that must be made when interpreting Romans 9:22.

I wrote:

“It should be immediately obvious that these kinds of decisions will greatly impact your interpretation of these texts.”

Hays responded:

“It should be immediately obvious that Robert makes no effort to engage the counterargument.”

I don’t have to both present my own arguments as well as answer all of the counter arguments every time that I post. And at this blog there is a character limit so I have to break up some of my responses.

I wrote:

“Finally, I would mention one of my own pet peeves about Calvinistic interpretations of texts in Romans 9. Calvinists go to Romans 9 seeking to proof text in support of their mistaken belief in unconditional election. But the passages in Romans 9 function within the unit of Romans 9-11. In order to properly interpret individual passages in Romans 9 one must interpret them in the context of the entire unit of Romans 9-11.”
Hays responded:

“Another silly statement. It’s not as if Reformed exegetes lack a unified interpretation of Rom 9-11. Not as if they interpret Rom 9 one way and Rom 11 another way.”

I didn’t say that calvinists have no interpretations of these texts. I said that calvinists often attempt to proof text from some verses in Romans 9 which are presented by themselves apart from the rest of Romans 9-11 which functions as a unit. I have seen calvinists over and over very quick to bring up and quote verses in Romans 9 alone (while not bringing up verses in Romans 10 or Romans 11 which further explicate the verses found in Romans 9.

Robert

Robert said...

[part 3]

Here is one clear example of calvinist proof texting from Romans 9, something you will frequently see calvinists engage in. Many calvinists love to quote the section in Romans 9 where it says that God has mercy on whom he wants and hardens whom he wants (i.e. Romans 9:18). They then conclude from their proof text that: “Aha, God chooses who will be saved and who will not be saved because this passage says so! It’s right there in Romans 9:18!”
But is that what the apostle Paul was arguing in that section? Paul was certainly arguing that God **is** sovereign meaning that He does as He pleases in all situations and with all people. And the statement that God has the right to have mercy on whomever he wants and harden whomever he wants (9:18) clearly speaks to God’s sovereign right to be God and do as He pleases (in this case mercying whomever and hardening whomever). But the fact that God has this right does not mean that He only wants to have mercy on some and damn all the rest (i.e. the mistaken calvinist position of unconditional election). Again, Romans 9-11 is a unit where things hang together. Paul says that God has the right to mercy and harden whomever he desires in Romans 9. A good question then becomes: and who does God WANT TO HAVE MERCY UPON THEN???

Robert

Robert said...

[part 4]

Paul who wrote Romans 9 also wrote Romans 11:32 where Paul directly and explicitly answers this question when he writes: “For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all”. As N. T. Wright notes, that phrase “shut them up” in the first century referred to a legal practice in a court setting where if when someone was so utterly and clearly guilty, they would be physically slapped across the mouth to signify that they were obviously and totally guilty. The apostle Paul has already argued in the early chapters of Romans that all of mankind is guilty of sin before God and so all are in need of a Savior from that sin. Paul repeats that point in 11:32 and uses the legal practice of slapping the obviously and totally guilty persons across the mouth to signify obvious guilt in reference to the **entire human race** (“all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” is a parallel passage with 11:32). So Paul says we are all guilty in 11:32 but he also says that God allowed this universally guilty condition of humanity, in order that he might show mercy to all. And where is that universal mercy of God seen? In the cross of Christ which was provided as an atonement for all men.

Now the calvinists attempting to proof text from Romans 9:18 will frequently quote the passage there and they never quote 11:32 with it. That is again a clear case of proof texting, looking for what you want to find and ignoring the context of the passage (and the context of the verse in Romans 9:18 includes Romans 11:32). Romans 9 then states that God is sovereign and he can choose to have mercy on whomever he wants; Romans 11:32 says whom he desires to mercy: all.

I wrote:

“But you will **never even see this possibility** if you isolate individual verses such as 9:22 away from and interpret them completely independently of other texts in the Romans 9-11 unit.”

Hays responded:

“Either Robert is ignorant or Robert is lying. Needless to say, Reformed exegetes review and assess rival interpretations of Rom 9 or Rom 11.”

I was speaking of the calvinists penchant for proof texting from Romans 9. I was not discussing the reviews of Reformed exegetes of rival interpretations. And if anyone wants to see for themselves how they do so, again look at Moo or Schreiner or any of them on the Romans 9:18 passage about God mercying whomever He desires to mercy and then look up what they say on Romans 11:32. In their “interpretation” of 11:32 you will see the same exegetical gymnastics as they try to avoid the word “all” in 11:32 as they do for instance when dealing with John 3:16 or 1 John 2:2. You may have to see it for yourself to believe it. I have seen what Schreiner and Moo do in 11:32 seeking to evade the plain meaning of the text and it is not very persuasive at all.

Robert

steve said...

Robert said...

“Regarding Schreiner and Moo I never saw you cite any of that here.”

More of Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s trademark dissimulation. I don’t have to cite Schreiner and Moo in Reppert’s combox to cite Schreiner and Moo. I can do that on my own blog. And that’s more efficient since I can do it in one post rather than having to parcel it out according to Blogger’s word-limit on meta comments.

So, to deny that I met Reppert’s challenge because I didn’t respond to him here rather than there is a blatant falsehood.

“And if you think we all have time to check out your every blog at Triablogue your are mistaken.”

i) To begin with, I don’t leech off of someone else blog like you do. You’re a parasite.

ii) In addition, you have no objection to people taking time to check out Arminian blogs. So this is just another instance of your hypocrisy in action.

“You didn’t meet his challenge on either fronts…”

Since you just said you don’t have time to consult my blog, you are making a claim which, by your own admission, you’re in no position to know is true. That is not the behavior of someone who values truth.

I responded twice to Reppert’s a priori objection on my blog. It doesn’t help your already tarnished reputation to make charges which are not only false, but the falsity of which is only a mouse click away.

“STEVE SHOW US IN THE TEXT OF ROMANS 9:22 WHERE IT SAYS ANYTHING ABOUT THE SAINTS BETTER APPRECIATING THEIR SALVATION. It is not there and you can’t show it from that text.”

I see that Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is illiterate. I didn’t quote Rom 9:22. Rather, I quoted Rom 9:22-23.

“And if anyone wants to see for themselves how they do so, again look at Moo or Schreiner or any of them on the Romans 9:18 passage about God mercying whomever He desires to mercy and then look up what they say on Romans 11:32. In their ‘interpretation’ of 11:32 you will see the same exegetical gymnastics as they try to avoid the word ‘all’ in 11:32 as they do for instance when dealing with John 3:16 or 1 John 2:2.”

i) I assume you wouldn’t accuse Moo or Schreiner of “exegetical gymnastics” in their interpretation of Rom 11:32 unless you already read their interpretation of that verse. For, unless you read them, you’d be in no position to know that your accusation is true. So I invite you to furnish some verbatim quotes of their gymnastic interpretation. Schreiner’s specific comment on 11:32 takes place on page 629, while Moo’s comment begins on the bottom of p735.

ii) And while you’re on the subject, please explain to Jason Pratt how your interpretation of 11:32 successfuly avoids universal salvation without resorting to “exegetical gymnastics.”

steve said...

This is what Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet originally said:

“An example of where this becomes important is that calvinists seeking to ‘prove’ or even find evidence of their doctrine of unconditional election select out individual verses of Romans 9 (such as 9:22) and even phrases such as “vessels of wrath” while ignoring the context which is Romans 9-11 as a unit… But you will **never even see this possibility** if you isolate individual verses such as 9:22 away from and interpret them completely independently of other texts in the Romans 9-11 unit.”

But when I challenge him, Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet treats us to this impressive exercise in the art of backpedaling:

“I was speaking of the calvinists penchant for proof texting from Romans 9. I was not discussing the reviews of Reformed exegetes of rival interpretations.”

Of course, he drew no such distinction. Then he proceeds to backpeddle even further:

“And if anyone wants to see for themselves how they do so, again look at Moo or Schreiner or any of them on the Romans 9:18 passage about God mercying whomever He desires to mercy and then look up what they say on Romans 11:32. In their ‘interpretation’ of 11:32 you will see the same exegetical gymnastics as they try to avoid the word ‘all’ in 11:32 as they do for instance when dealing with John 3:16 or 1 John 2:2. You may have to see it for yourself to believe it. I have seen what Schreiner and Moo do in 11:32 seeking to evade the plain meaning of the text and it is not very persuasive at all.”

Notice that he’s done a 180. He originally accused Calvinists of interpreting Rom 9 in isolation to Rom 11. Now, he reverses himself. Now the accusation is that Calvinists are consistent to a fault in their interpretation of Rom 9-11. They construe Rom 11 the very same way the construe Rom 9.

That’s one of the occupational hazards of backpedaling. Since Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet can’t see where he’s going, he rides his bike right over the cliff.

Reminds me of the old said: a good liar has to have a good memory. It’s hard to coordinate all those cumulative falsehoods.

Victor Reppert said...

Ah. Romans 11:32. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on the elect.

Everyone knows that's what the passage really means.

Keegan said...

Anonymous 11:24 am,

It was a joke.

Anonymous said...

Keegan,

It was a joke.

Keegan said...

Roger, that.

Anonymous said...

10-4

Blue Devil Knight said...

Steve: bare minimum needed are links to your posts, otherwise no whining allowed if people don't know WTF you are talking about.

Victor that Romans 11:32 does seem a very interesting passage for this debate. My favorite translation is from 'God's Word' translation:
'God has placed all people into the prison of their own disobedience so that he could be merciful to all people.'

This does seem an interesting quote, could be interpreted as God putting people in state of sin, and then by an act of mercy pulls some people into the state of salvation. Unfortunately for those that want to watch people burn in hell (from heaven), the quote suggests God will pull all people into salvation, and hence that would tend to support universalism! More reasonably, the quote seems neutral about universalism versus non-universalism (by 'showing all mercy' that could just mean giving them the option of being saved, not actually saving them all).

I could see how people could get into this exegesis stuff. I think it is sort of fun and I don't even particularly care about the dispute! Perhaps theological disputes should be settled by atheists, as we can be more objective. :)

steve said...

Blue Devil Knight said...

"Steve: bare minimum needed are links to your posts, otherwise no whining allowed if people don't know WTF you are talking about."

Try to pay attention to context. No "whining" on my part. Rather, Robert was whining. He initiated the complaint, not me. I merely responded to his whining.

And it's no great mystery that Reppert has been responding to stuff which I post over at my blog.

Jason Pratt said...

BDK: {{This does seem an interesting quote}}

Yep, pretty interesting. {g}

While I wouldn't actually mind if the "shut up" term was in reference to the totally guilty being smacked in order to silence them (which would still be everyone, and which would fit Paul's themes throughout this first half of Romans), the actual Greek context is "locked", as your scripture translation implies: it involves being locked into prison, including into hell, usually, or caught in a net, or things of that sort. (Which is how it is uniformly used throughout the NT.)

The "stubbornness" there is directly equivalent to the "hardness" being spoken of earlier in Rom 9, too, as is evidenced by Paul's own thematic connections in the intervening material (not to say many other parallel refs in the NT and OT).

He hardens whom He chooses and He shows mercy on whom He chooses. Who is that? Who is a sinner? Paul is pretty clear (which no Arminian or Calvinist denies): everyone is a sinner. All means all there. So, on whom does God show mercy?


Lots more could be written about this, in regard to Rom 9-11; tons more in regard to the NT and even the OT more broadly. But the immediately preceding context should at least be factored in as well: "As to the gospel, indeed these [the Jews who reject Christ, the stumbling stone] are enemies because of you [whose acceptance by God provokes them to jealousy]; yet as to choice, these are beloved because of the fathers. For unregretted are the graces and the calling of God [Who has indeed called even these stubborn rebels]. For even as you once to God were stubborn, yet now were shown mercy at their stubbornness, thus these also now are stubborn to this mercy of yours that now they may also be shown mercy."

Those who have been removed from the vine of Israel due to their unbelief shall be grafted back in if they repent--and shall be even more at home in the vine than the Gentiles who are being grafted in. Whereas, if God was not willing to even spare those who are natural to the vine, neither will He spare us whom He has grafted into the vine--we may be taken out again. (But with the same promise as those natural to the vine who are taken out.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

BDK: {{Perhaps theological disputes should be settled by atheists, as we can be more objective. :)}}

Lol!

We have a few well-spoken atheists over at the EU forum; I've been meaning to invite you for some time. (I've always liked disputing things with you. {s})

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Whoops, sorry, meantto provide a link. (Busy at work today.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Meanwhile, the links to the articles written by Dr. Piper can be found here on Triablogue, and Steve's excerpts from Moo and Schreiner can be found in the preceding T-Blog post here. (His quotes are from a book by Schreiner, which the article provided by the anonymous flamebaiter earlier mirrors in places. All are well worth reading.)

JRP

Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks Jason that is a helpful interpretation of that bit of scripture.

I've only read the first four books in any detail, and then just enough of the rest to be schooled on the conflict between those that think faith alone is sufficient, and those that works is also necessary. All these debates among the Calvinist, Arminian, and Sock Puppet schools of Christianity is way past me. :)

Blue Devil Knight said...

Just to get my cards on the table, I was raised in a Universalist tradition, and never thought about it as something that needed defending. Hence, I have a strong (not necessarily grounded in sound Biblical exegesis) bias against the view that God already has sentenced certain people to hell that haven't even been born yet.

Robert said...

[Response to Hays part 1]

Steve Hays continues to engage in personal attacks that are not necessary to a rational and civil discussion of the issues. Apparently He cannot simply discuss issues without attacking other persons with whom he disagrees. His two posts in response to me were as usual laced with personal attacks I cite only one example to illustrate my point. I had said:

“And if you think we all have time to check out your every blog at Triablogue your are mistaken.”

Hays responded with:

“i) To begin with, I don’t leech off of someone else blog like you do. You’re a parasite.”

I do not have a blog and am involved with other commitments nor do I feel any need to have my own blog at present. As I do not have a blog (and I do not have the hours and hours and hours to blog which Steve Hays has since he is unmarried and childless and living with his mother) I post on other people’s blogs. If **that** makes me a “leech” then so be it (I join the ranks of a large group of people and so we are all “leeches”).

Now let’s get back to the issues and focus on them without the personal attacks. Stick to the exegetical issues that have arisen on this thread.

To reiterate one of the issues is that Victor said that he has a problem with the calvinist claim that one of the purposes for which God creates the unbelievers (what they call “reprobates”)is to make the saints better appreciate their salvation. Steve Hays appealed to texts in Romans 9 saying these texts SAY THIS VERY THING. I responded showing conclusively that Romans 9:22 says no such thing. I repeated my claim with these words:

“STEVE SHOW US IN THE TEXT OF ROMANS 9:22 WHERE IT SAYS ANYTHING ABOUT THE SAINTS BETTER APPRECIATING THEIR SALVATION. It is not there and you can’t show it from that text.”

Hays responded with:

“I see that Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is illiterate. I didn’t quote Rom 9:22. Rather, I quoted Rom 9:22-23.”

Ok, let’s extend it to ****BOTH**** Romans 9:22 and Romans 9:23. And I now amend my words to:

“STEVE SHOW US IN THE TEXT OF ROMANS 9:22 OR ROMANS 9:23 WHERE IT SAYS ANYTHING ABOUT THE SAINTS BETTER APPRECIATING THEIR SALVATION. It is not there and you can’t show it from that text.”

Anyone who looks at either text, Romans 9:22 or Romans 9:23 will be unable to find any words about appreciation, about saints in heaven considering and contrasting their fate with the fate of unbelievers. ***None*** of it is there. And yet Steve Hays said it is right there in the text. Hays is mistaken and not just slightly mistaken about these texts. He was proof texting from these texts and his proof texts completely fail to even refer to his belief that one of God’s purposes for the reprobates is to use them to cause saints to better appreciate their salvation. And you will not find that idea or claim anywhere in the bible. It is a **calvinistic invention** to justify and rationalize their concept of reprobation.

Robert

Robert said...

[response to Hays part 2]

I had written:

“And if anyone wants to see for themselves how they do so, again look at Moo or Schreiner or any of them on the Romans 9:18 passage about God mercying whomever He desires to mercy and then look up what they say on Romans 11:32. In their ‘interpretation’ of 11:32 you will see the same exegetical gymnastics as they try to avoid the word ‘all’ in 11:32 as they do for instance when dealing with John 3:16 or 1 John 2:2.”

Anyone familiar with calvinist tactics for **reinterpreting** bible texts is aware that when a bible text presents what explicitly and plainly and clearly suggests that God loves ALL people or that God desires the salvation of ALL people or that Jesus was given for the WORLD/ALL people, that calvinists reinterpret these passages eliminating the meaning of “all”. So they will suggest things such as: well it does not really mean all, it means all without distinction not all without exception.” Or “it does not really mean all, it means “all kinds” of people.” Or “it does not really mean all, it means “all of the elect”. Non-calvinists see these maneuvers as evasive maneuvers to get away from, get around the plain meaning of biblical texts. AS *******EXEGETICAL GYMNASTICS***********.
And guess what? Moo and Schreiner, two calvinist scholars and exegetes do precisely this kind of thing (as do all calvinists with the “all” texts) in their **reinterpretation** of Romans 11:32.

“Hays wrote:

“i) I assume you wouldn’t accuse Moo or Schreiner of “exegetical gymnastics” in their interpretation of Rom 11:32 unless you already read their interpretation of that verse. For, unless you read them, you’d be in no position to know that your accusation is true. So I invite you to furnish some verbatim quotes of their gymnastic interpretation. Schreiner’s specific comment on 11:32 takes place on page 629, while Moo’s comment begins on the bottom of p735.”

Note carefully Hays’ challenge to me here: provide verbatim quotes of their gymnastic interpretation” from their commentaries.

OK, let’s do it.

Recall that Romans 11:32 says that God shut up ALL in disobedience in order that he might have mercy on ALL. Note there are two “alls” there. There is not much doubt about the first “all” (call that all(A)). Everybody, both calvinist and noncalvinist sees that first “all” as referring to everybody, all people. And non-calvinists see the second “all” (call that all(B)) as also referring to all people. That seems clear and simple, that seems to fit precisely what Paul intended by this text.

But we know that calvinists do not believe that God loves everyone with a salvific love. We know that calvinists believe that God only wants to save some (the elect) while he really does not want to save the others (the non-elect, nonbelievers, “reprobates”). We also know that calvinists come upon the verses in Romans 9 about God having mercy upon whomever he wants to have mercy upon and hardening whomever he wants to harden, believing that mercying refers to saving and hardening refers to damning. So they take that understanding and then when they come to Romans 11:32 they see the phrase about “in order that he might have mercy on all” and because of their theology, because of what they want to believe, they cannot allow the text to really be saying that God wants to have mercy on all people (because if it did and recall they see “mercying” as equivalent to saving, then that text would be saying that God is going to save everybody, and they just cannot have that, so the text cannot mean that for the calvinist).

Robert

Robert said...

[Response to Hays part 3]

Now allow me to make a simple point here that I believe gets largely ignored in the interpretation of Romans 11:32 (by calvinists and also by universalists). I have already said that you have to interpret Romans 9-11 as a unit. It all hangs together and different verses in different chapter explain each other. In Romans 9 Paul begins the discussion of the issue of if God keeps his promises then why has Jesus the true Jewish Messiah come and yet as a whole the Jewish people have rejected him? This begins Romans 9. Paul then gives a history lesson in Romans 9:6-17 about how God has sovereignly acted in the history of the Jewish people. In the following section (9:18-24) Paul strongly argues that God is sovereign meaning that he does as He pleases in all situations. So Romans 9 is focusing on God’s sovereign dealings in history and specifically in the experience of Israel. Towards the end of Romans 9 (9:25-30) Paul talks about how God is doing a surprising thing in Paul’s time (i.e. he is saving Gentiles through faith in the Messiah Jesus). Paul then explicates this further in Romans 10 where he makes it clear that salvation is through faith in Jesus. He also makes clear what “went wrong” with Israel as a whole. Instead of accepting Jesus, because they chose to trust in their own works to be saved, they “stumbled over” Jesus the way of salvation (9:31-33,10:1-3). In rejecting Jesus they rejected salvation, while at that time Gentiles were accepting it. So in Romans 10 in particular Paul makes it clear: a person is saved when they trust in Christ for salvation (10:5-13). With the converse also being true: a person is unsaved when they reject Jesus as the Jews (the vessels of wrath in Romans 9:22) as a whole had done (11:6-25). Paul then puts together these two themes of God’s sovereign dealings with Israel and salvation through faith in Christ alone throughout Romans 11. Romans 11 then puts it together and explains how God’s sovereignty and salvation through faith in Jesus relates to **both** Jews and Gentiles (which is everybody, you are either Jew or Gentile there is no third category). So it is clear that Paul has not been merely talking about kinds of people he has been talking about everybody prior to coming to Romans 11:32. But in talking about salvation he has made it clear that if you trust in Jesus you are saved and if you do not you are not saved. So there is no hint endorsing universalism in the text previous to Romans 11:32.

Another point that needs to be made here is this: the nature of God’s mercy. Does God simply have mercy upon sinners in a vacuum? Does he simply have mercy apart from any way of doing so? This becomes important because when Paul says that God shuts up the human race so that he can have mercy on the same human race, the text is clearly saying that God wants to have mercy on all. The next question that has to then be asked, is this: if God wants to have mercy upon all, then **HOW** does God have mercy on all? If Romans 9-11 is interpreted as a unit, the answer is that for both Jews and Gentiles the HOW is done through Christ and his crucifixion. **That** is HOW God has mercy on all. He has provided Jesus as an atonement for all, whether Jew or Gentile, those who trust in this way of salvation will be saved, those who do not will not be saved. And this message of the universal mercy of God being completely tied to Jesus and his work on the cross is the “good news” the gospel message of salvation. So this is no exception, this is one of the major themes of the New Testament found in all of the gospels and throughout the epistles and culminating with the book of Revelation (i.e. God’s mercy to the world through the cross of
Christ).

Robert

Robert said...

[Response to Hays part 4]

With these things in mind, does Romans 11:32 teach or suggest universalism (No, and only if you isolate the verse away from the rest of the Romans 9-11 unit; calvinists tend to isolate proof texts from Romans 9 in isolation from the rest of the Romans 9-11 unit, universalists tend to isolate Romans 11:32 as their proof text in isolation from the rest of the Romans 9-11 unit, so both calvinism and universalism are errors and examples of proof texting).


Now what do Moo and Schreiner as **calvinists** do with Romans 11? They grant that all(A) refers to everybody, but then they argue that all(B) does not refer to everybody. Is there anything in the text itself suggesting that both “alls” do not mean “all”? No. So how do Moo and Schreiner get around that? With the typical calvinist exegetical gymnastics when an inconvenient “all” appears.

First Schreiner:

“Verse 32 sums up the discussion of chapter 11 and 9-11 as a whole. When one scans the progress of salvation history, it is apparent that God has shut up all in sin so that he can extend his mercy to all (cf. Cranfield 1979: 586). This statement does not merely convey a general truth. The focus is on the history of Gentiles and Jews and God’s plan to dispense his mercy upon all.”

Now that at first sounds as if both “alls” mean “all”. But he is a calvinist so the second “all” cannot mean “all”. He goes on and discusses the threat of universalism presented by the second “all” and writes:

“Some scholars conclude that either universalism is taught here or it cannot be ruled out since the text says that God shut up “all” (Greek word,pantas) to disobedience in order to extend his mercy upon pantas[transliteration of Greek] (so . . . .). They argue that pantas [transliterated from Greek] must have the same denotation in both parts of the verse and thus all people without exception are included. Such an interpretation does not abide by the contextual limits of the Pauline discussion, for the previous verses clarify that the second pantas [transliteration of Greek word] refers to Jews and Gentiles as groups.10”

The second “all” does not mean “all” according to Schreiner. And why doesn’t it?:

“The purpose is not to teach that all people without exception are recipients of God’s mercy, but that all people without distinction (i.e., both Jews and Gentiles) are the beneficiaries of his saving grace. 11”

There it is the calvinist distinction between “all without exception” (which the verse cannot be saying according to Schreiner) and “all without distinction” (which is what Schreiner’s Calvinistic system forces him to conclude on the second “all”).

“God’s unexpected mercy is the theme that dominates history. He intervenes to save both Jews and Gentiles when they plunged in sin. Moreoever, the oscillation between the salvation of the Jews, then the Gentiles, and then the Jews again hammers home the point that no ethnic group deserves salvation and that God’s saving work is a result of his merciful grace.”

So the second “all” does not really mean “all”, it just means all kinds of ethnic groups, it just means all of the elect from both the Jews and Gentiles, just like Victor recognized. Victor wrote:

“Ah. Romans 11:32. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on the elect.

Everyone knows that's what the passage really means.”

Victor I believe is being humorous here, however, seriously, this **is** the calvinist interpretation. The second “all” cannot mean “all” as the first “all” clearly does, and since the calvinist does not believe or want to believe that God desires the salvation of all (the second “all” gets jettisoned and replaced with distinctions invented by calvinists invented to get around the meaning of “all”). So for Schreiner, he argues if the second “all” really means all, then everybody will be saved and so universalism is true.

Robert

Robert said...

[Response to Hays part 5]

But the second all can mean that God really wants to have mercy to all and that he does so as the apostle Paul has explaining throughout the Romans 9-11 unit as well as throughout the whole book of Romans that salvation is found through faith in Christ. The giving of Christ to the world **is** the mercy that God gives to the world. But this giving alone is not what saves a person, they must choose to trust the Lord and receive God’s provision of faith. No faith = No salvation.

And note that Schreiner then tries to say that the all refers to all ethnic groups (“it just means all kinds of ethnic groups”). OK, let’s say there are a total of 2,000 ethnic groups. If the second all refers to all of these ethnic groups then it still means everybody because everybody is from one of these ethnic groups (unless Schreiner believes that God only wants to save some ethnic groups and not others). So Schreiner employs the same exegetical gymnastics as other calvinists when they come to “all” passages that contradict their false theological system.

How about Moo then?

“Paul’s concern to put Jew and Gentile on equal footing is reinforced by the solemn conclusion in verse 32: “God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” God’s act of “enclosing” people (Paul includes women and men) reminds us of his handing people over to the consequences of the sin they have chosen (1:24, 26, 28). God has sentenced all people to condemnation. But his purpose is ultimately a positive one: He wants to “have mercy on all.””

So far so good, but then like Schreiner he then has to argue against the second all meaning everybody:

“Interpreters of this verse err when they wrest it from its context and use it to prove universalism, that all people will eventually be saved. The Greek allows and the context strongly suggests that Paul has a different purpose: to show that God has both “shut up under sin” and shown mercy to all “kinds” of people 20 – especially, in this context, Jews and Gentiles.”

Did you see the typical calvinist evasive maneuver here? The second “all” does not really mean “all” or everybody, it means “and shown mercy to all ‘kinds’ of people”. But the apostle Paul is quite capable of stating “all kinds” in Greek as he does in other places. But it does not say “all kinds” in the Greek text of Romans 11:32, it says ALL.

And if the second “all” means “all kinds” but not everybody, then why not the first “all” as well. So God did not shut up all men in disobedience, rather, he shut up all kinds of men in disobedience. This would then mean that not all men have sinned. But there is no way the first “all” means “all kinds” or “all without distinction not all without exception” So Moo like Schreiner simply injects the Calvinistic distinctions which they use to evade the meaning of “all” when the “all” contradicts their system. And this **is** exegetical gymnastics. And from the horses mouths we have seen what they do to escape the proper and intended meaning of the second “all” in Romans 11:32.

Steve Hays also asked me how I avoid universalism on Romans 11:32:

“ii) And while you’re on the subject, please explain to Jason Pratt how your interpretation of 11:32 successfuly avoids universal salvation without resorting to “exegetical gymnastics.”

Easy, just look at the rest of the Romans 9-11 unit (and after that just look at the rest of the New Testament, look at Jesus’ statements about hell, statements that led Bertrand Russell to declare that Jesus was not a moral person because he believed in hell) where Paul makes it clear that in order to be saved one must put their faith in Christ (whether Jew or Gentile) and if one does not one is not saved. Paul and the other New Testament writers are agreed: no individual faith in Christ for salvation = no salvation.

Robert

Anonymous said...

For someone that does not have much time on the web "Robert/Henry/Whoever" sure does post much.

In fact, he posts more than some people that actually have a blog. lol

You, "Robert/Henry/Whoever", are a joke.

Anonymous said...

Robert, you seem a tad obsessed with Steve Hays. In fact, you appear to possess an intricate knowledge of his personal life that not even his blog partners enjoy. What is more, you reproduce the same summary of his personal life time and again, seemingly unable to go a few posts without reintroducing it. Please be advised that I have warned Steve about any advances you're prepared to make to him via email or in person. He has responded by preemptively blocking your email account and also by contacting 1-800-Flowers.com to request that any purchases made on behalf of any secret admirer to be sent to him be immediately declined. Sorry.

Robert said...

"He has responded by preemptively blocking your email account and also by contacting 1-800-Flowers.com to request that any purchases made on behalf of any secret admirer to be sent to him be immediately declined. Sorry."

So I can't send him the two dozen TULIPS that were ordered for him? :-)

Robert

Victor Reppert said...

Well, there's always Proflowers.

Victor Reppert said...

VR: "I just said I hoped we could avoid interpretations of Scripture that commit biblical authors to absurd statements. And I gave an argument for why such an explanation would be absurd."

Berny: This, right here, is a joke of a position to take. If you want to get serious I suggest shedding such blatantly fallacious approaches to the domain of exegetical theology, which a discussion you've entered into now that you are discussing the nature of interpretation of the biblical texts. I am pleading with you to up your game or to concede defeat immediately.

VR: So we should not avoid interpretations of Scripture taht commit biblical authors to absurd statements?

steve said...

Robert said...

“Steve Hays continues to engage in personal attacks that are not necessary to a rational and civil discussion of the issues. Apparently He cannot simply discuss issues without attacking other persons with whom he disagrees.”

Considering the fact that Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet repeatedly refers to Calvinists as “jerks,” I’d say his protestations of civility lack the ring of credibility.

“As I do not have a blog (and I do not have the hours and hours and hours to blog which Steve Hays has since he is unmarried and childless and living with his mother).”

On the heels of expressing his utter abhorrence at “personal attacks,” Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet immediately launches into a personal attack. And he also indulges in his penchant for thirdhand gossipmongering. Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is a true son of the Pharisees.

“Now let’s get back to the issues and focus on them without the personal attacks.”

He makes sure to get in a personal attack before stating that we should get back tot he issues and avoid personal attacks.

Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is like a jewel thief who wants to swipe all the gems, then pass a retroactive statute of limitations once he has the loot safely stashed away. What does it say about a man’s character who is this consistently and shamelessly backstabbing and double-dealing?

steve said...

Robert said...

“Anyone who looks at either text, Romans 9:22 or Romans 9:23 will be unable to find any words about appreciation, about saints in heaven considering and contrasting their fate with the fate of unbelievers. ***None*** of it is there. And yet Steve Hays said it is right there in the text. Hays is mistaken and not just slightly mistaken about these texts. He was proof texting from these texts and his proof texts completely fail to even refer to his belief that one of God’s purposes for the reprobates is to use them to cause saints to better appreciate their salvation.”

The vessels of mercy are heavenbound (“prepared for glory”) while the vessels of wrath are hellbound (“prepared for destruction”). Paul says that what God did in v22 concerning the fate of the damned (i.e. vessels of wrath) serves to make the riches of his glory known to the saints (vessels of mercy) in v23. So he did it for their benefit.

We could go into more detail, but Piper, Schreiner, and Moo have already done into great detail.

“Anyone familiar with calvinist tactics for **reinterpreting** bible texts is aware that when a bible text presents what explicitly and plainly and clearly suggests that God loves ALL people or that God desires the salvation of ALL people or that Jesus was given for the WORLD/ALL people, that calvinists reinterpret these passages…Non-calvinists see these maneuvers as evasive maneuvers to get away from, get around the plain meaning of biblical texts.”

This is one of the problems with being a single-issue troll like Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet. He’s posting this comment at Dangerous Idea. Yet Reppert clearly regards universalism as a viable option or fallback position. And Jason Pratt, who is part of this debate, is a universalist.

But Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s doesn’t believe in universal salvation. So if anyone has a prima facie claim on the “plain” and “clear” meaning of these passages, it’s not the Arminian, but the universalist.

A universalist would regard Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s attempt to “reinterpret” these passages so that they fall short of universal salvation as an evasive maneuver on his part. But Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is too preoccupied with Calvinism to see the irony of his situation.

And this is more of a problem for Arminians than Calvinists. Calvinists have a consistent approach to cosmic/universalistic terms in Scripture. Arminians, by contrast, affirm unlimited atonement, but deny unlimited salvation. Therefore, they have to oscillate in their treatment of cosmic/universalistic terminology.

“Easy, just look at the rest of the Romans 9-11 unit (and after that just look at the rest of the New Testament, look at Jesus’ statements about hell, statements that led Bertrand Russell to declare that Jesus was not a moral person because he believed in hell) where Paul makes it clear that in order to be saved one must put their faith in Christ (whether Jew or Gentile) and if one does not one is not saved. Paul and the other New Testament writers are agreed: no individual faith in Christ for salvation = no salvation.”

i) As a counter to universalism, this is both impotent and incompetent. Universalism subscribes to postmortem conversion. Therefore, a univeralist can easily harmonize the precondition of faith with universal salvation. For a universalist has no deadline on when a sinner must exercise faith in Christ. Death is not the expiration date.

ii) And this is more of a problem for Arminianism than Calvinism. If God really wants to save everyone, then why would he foreclose the opportunity at death? On the face of it, that’s an arbitrary deadline.

steve said...

Robert said...

“Recall that Romans 11:32 says that God shut up ALL in disobedience in order that he might have mercy on ALL. Note there are two ‘alls’ there. There is not much doubt about the first ‘all’ (call that all(A)). Everybody, both calvinist and noncalvinist sees that first ‘all’ as referring to everybody, all people. And non-calvinists see the second ‘all’ (call that all(B)) as also referring to all people. That seems clear and simple, that seems to fit precisely what Paul intended by this text.”

i) The problem with this contention is that the referent of a universal quantifier is not a fixed variable.

Take 1 Cor 15, where Paul is talking about the resurrection of the just. Paul draws a parallel between those who are dead in Adam and those who are alive in Christ. And he uses the universal quantifier (“all”) for both groups. Yet it’s not Paul’s contention in 1 Cor 15 that everyone will be raised in Christ. Rather, that is limited to Christians. Those who are dead in Adam are not conterminous with those who are alive in Christ.

ii) Moreover, in his various responses to me, notice how often Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet alternates between the “meaning” of all and the “referent” of all, as if these were interchangeable concepts. But they’re not. The meaning of “all” can be invariable even though the reference is variable. Basic lexical semantics. Yet Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s semantic fallacy runs throughout his response to me, Moo, and Schreiner.

“We know that calvinists believe that God only wants to save some (the elect) while he really does not want to save the others (the non-elect, nonbelievers, ‘reprobates’).”

Calvinists believe that God saves those he wants to save. Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet believes that God fails to save many he wants to save. For him, God’s universal love is ineffectual.

“We also know that calvinists come upon the verses in Romans 9 about God having mercy upon whomever he wants to have mercy upon and hardening whomever he wants to harden, believing that mercying refers to saving and hardening refers to damning. So they take that understanding and then when they come to Romans 11:32…”

There’s more to it than that. There’s also Rom 5:18. If all he had to deal with is 11:32, Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet could try to weasel out of universalism by claiming that, although God is merciful to everyone, everyone is free to resist his mercy. However, 5:18 is stronger. It describes, not merely an opportunity, but an outcome. The end-result.

If we begin with the Arminian interpretation of universal quantifiers, and plug that into a text like 5:18, we end up with universal salvation.

Arminianism is a dinosaur. In the survival of the fittest, Armininism has been squeezed out by univeralism. The Arminian/Calvinist debate has been superseded by the universalist/Calvinist debate.

steve said...

Robert said...

“Now allow me to make a simple point here that I believe gets largely ignored in the interpretation of Romans 11:32 (by calvinists and also by universalists). I have already said that you have to interpret Romans 9-11 as a unit.”

Largely ignored by which Calvinists? Piper? Schreiner? O. P. Robertson? I think not!

As long as we’re making simple points, I’ll make a simple point as well. Paul talks about divine hardening in Rom 9:18. He revisits this theme in 11:7ff.

The only way to avoid the principle of reprobation is to equate the “hardened” with the vessels of wrath,” and also claim that hardening is temporary. But there are two or three impenetrable obstacles to that move:

i) Since the vessels of mercy were “prepared for destruction” their fate is irreversible.

ii) O. P. Roberson has argued that the hardening is not a temporary condition. Cf. The Israel of God, chap. 6.

iii) Even if you think the hardening is temporary, to be lifted at some future point–like a premil/postmill revival of messianic Judaism–the fact remains that, for 2000 years and counting, the vast majority of Jews have repudiated the messiahship of Jesus.

Therefore, God’s hardening, even if temporary, isn’t temporary for each individual or each generation. To the contrary, it has deliberately and successfully hindered most Jews for the last 2000 years from coming to Christ.

steve said...

I'd also note that N. T. Wright, in his commentary on Romans (New Interpreter's Bible, 10:676-77) argues against the notion of a merely temporary hardening (of Israel) in 11:7ff. And Wright is no Calvinist.

a helmet said...

I posted a commentary on Piper's article about Romans 9,22-23 "Fitted for destruction" --

found here

combatingcalvinism.blogspot.com

You might check out

-a helmet

Jason Pratt said...

Robert,

Actually, I not only keep in mind the whole of the context of Rom 9-11, I also keep in mind (insofar as possible--it’s a huge topic) the context of the OT quotes being given by St. Paul.

{{But in talking about salvation he has made it clear that if you trust in Jesus you are saved and if you do not you are not saved. So there is no hint endorsing universalism in the text previous to Romans 11:32.}}

I agree with the first sentence; but disagree with the second. (Mainly because I do in fact keep in mind your simple point, which I also agree with. {g})

For example, I keep in mind that those Jews who have stumbled over the stumbling stone have not stumbled so as to fall--have they? “May it never be!” as Paul exclaims. He is quite insistent that God shall also lead them to salvation through Christ; and again, there is no third category of Jews who have stumbled over the stumbling stone whom God refuses to lead to salvation. Those who are grafted out, can be grafted back in again; those who have been grafted in, can be grafted back out again (especially if, as Paul warns, they insist on being uncharitable toward those who are currently grafted out.)

As fares Israel, corporately, so God intends for the Gentiles, too (which is the point to verses 28-32, culminating in a set of alls which mean all.)

Jason Pratt said...

Robert: {{If Romans 9-11 is interpreted as a unit, the answer is that for both Jews and Gentiles the HOW is done through Christ and his crucifixion. **That** is HOW God has mercy on all.}}

No disagreement here; but neither is God’s mercy through Christ a static mercy that sits around waiting for people to choose or not choose. Calvinists are right to point out that most (even all?) of the choosing going on in Rom 9-11 is by God. The remnant comes to exist at the present time (of Paul’s writing) by God’s gracious choice; those who have been chosen by grace have obtained (at that time) what Israel is seeking for, the rest were hardened--hardened so as to stumble. (Stumbling so as to fall?--”May it never be!” And if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulness be! For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?)

True, so long as they continue in their unbelief they will not be grafted in again; but Paul fully expects, trusting in God (not trusting in the stumblers!) that those who have stumbled will not always be continuing in their unbelief. Thus will all Israel be saved. They did not all heed the glad tidings, but neither does anyone have to go up to heaven to bring Christ down nor down into the Abyss to bring Christ up from the dead in order that Christ, the Logos, the Word of Faith, will witness to them. He does this Himself; we are to join faithfully with Him, but it is not of us and our works. So, faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word--this is concerning Christ.

(It also helps when reading Romans 10 to be aware of the rabbinic tradition regarding Isaiah 52:8, that the feet who bring glad tidings of good things, are the feet first and foremost of the Messiah.)

True, it is the remnant which shall be saved from the punishment of Gehenna. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that God shall fail to bring them home: the branch grafting analogy of Rom 11: 17-24, following the hope of the salvation of the stumbling ones (11-15, plus the transition at verse 16 which refers to Christ) metaphorically applies the agricultural practice known as kolasis, which is used elsewhere in the NT as a term for the punishment of Gehenna. (But this could be expanded upon at very great length.)

Jason Pratt said...

(Still in reply to Robert),

I will note that the rhetorical antithesis of verse 11:32 involves action by God in each case; and the first clause involves God locking up all into stubbornness. God is the one responsible for this; He is the one responsible for showing mercy to all as well. The action and the responsibility is God’s in either case; but the rhetorical answer to God imprisoning all is God freeing all. Each plays a part in the history of salvation, and not a part of merit; none, whether Jew or pagan, has ethical preeminence so that they may claim they have more right to salvation. The mercy of God, as routinely demonstrated throughout the OT verses being quoted by Paul in this section (especially the ones dealing with the potter, the clay, and the pottery answering back to the potter), involves God freeing the punished prisoner, putting their sins away, and restoring the punished one to fellowship with Him.

And yes, responsible repentance on the part of the sinner is part of that process; which God continues acting to lead the sinner to do. Historically, God partially restored Israel (whom no one can say had done more than partially repented, whether individually or corporately) in order to move the story along, so to speak; and also because “there is no wrath in Me” (as Isaiah reports of God) and He takes no delight in the suffering of Israel’s punishment but suffers their punishment along with them (as Isaiah also reports, though other prophets, too).

It is Christ, God Himself in action, Who completes the atonement, reconciling with all (and reconciling all to each other); only Christ can do that. The final result is not supposed to be only another partial salvation of the people. When the pottery is ruined, the potter reforms the lump; destroying (in a manner of speaking) the ruined pottery along the way, but creating something that will no longer be ruined pottery. (Which is the point to Jer 18:1-10 and following verses: reform, Judah, or God will destroy you. But He destroys for this purpose, as He has the right to do. The three places in Isaiah where the same language is used, at least two of which were certainly in Paul’s mind when composing Rom 9-11, have much the same point. What purpose is that? The purpose of the potter reforming the pottery.)


So, in point of fact, I do look at the rest of Rom 9-11 unit, which I could discuss in much more detail still. (Nor do I ignore “the rest of the New Testament”, including Jesus’ statements about hell, about which I could write exceeding amounts of material.)


Btw, {lol!} for the TULIP retort to the anonymous flamebaiter. {ggg!} {bow!}

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Steve,

{{Yet it’s not Paul’s contention in 1 Cor 15 that everyone will be raised in Christ.}}

True, an Armininan (per se) will have to grant this. (Depending on what they’re willing to allow “being raised in Christ” to mean.)

I certainly don’t have to grant this, though; but rather that “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive; yet each in his own order.” The last will be those whom Christ has put under His feet, subordinating them to Himself as He shall subordinate Himself to the Father so that God may be all in all. I think we can be reasonably sure that Christ is not subjecting Himself to the Father in an impenitently rebellious fashion of grudging technical acknowledgement. {g}

But very much more could be said about this throughout scripture. To give an immediately pertinent example:

{{There’s more to it than that. There’s also Rom 5:18. If all he had to deal with is 11:32, Robert could try to weasel out of universalism by claiming that, although God is merciful to everyone, everyone is free to resist his mercy. However, 5:18 is stronger. It describes, not merely an opportunity, but an outcome. The end-result.}}

I wouldn’t appeal to this on ground of simply plugging in universal qualifiers, of course. But it’s true that unless a rationale is imported into the text from elsewhere (which is not necessarily an illegitimate process in principle), the straightforward reading of this text, as with 1 Cor 15, is that all shall be justified through Christ and shall be loyally faithful to Christ (as the Son loyally subjects Himself to the Father).

Incidentally, the “universal qualifier” plug-in strategy is kind-of mooted by the subsequent verse, 5:19; which says essentially the same thing as 5:18 but uses the term “the many” in both cases.

Which is not to say that “the many” always means “all”, though knowledgeable Calv and Arm exegetes are both aware that sometimes “the many” is a euphamism for “all” in terms of a corporate unity. (Certainly Calvs and Arms both typically agree that “the many” is being used in this sense in regard to sin and disobedience throughout Rom 5, for example.)

Jason Pratt said...

Steve: {{Arminianism is a dinosaur. In the survival of the fittest, Armininism has been squeezed out by univeralism. The Arminian/Calvinist debate has been superseded by the universalist/Calvinist debate.}}

I wouldn’t put it like that. Arminians have their positive doctrinal contribution to make, just as Calvinists do.

I will apply an analogy I've used before: some Christians are very apt at recognizing and pointing out scriptural testimony, OT and NT both (though naturally more in the NT due to the nature of the case) concerning the distinction between the persons of the Father and the Son (and maybe even the Holy Spirit compared to either other person, though that’s rarer to find among such Christians. {s}) Some Christians are very apt at recognizing and pointing out scriptural testimony (OT and NT both) concerning the identification of the Son (and various manifestations in the OT) with God Most High Alone, beside Whom there is none.

And there are those among each set of Christians who would insist that the other is dead wrong (even blasphemously so), and who would insist that I must choose between one or the other of them.

{shrug} But I don’t believe I have to choose between them. I can affirm both sets of data, though admittedly in a way that doesn’t make much immediate sense to either party. Moreover, I find that this double-affirmation makes excellently superior, even logically necessary, metaphysical sense (though again it’s far from immediately obvious).

True, I’ll have to dispute with one kind of Christian who denies the ultimate divinity of Christ personally; and I’ll have to dispute with the other kind of Chrisitan who denies the distinction of the persons (though in this present day there aren’t very many such Christians). But I wouldn’t diss either one (even the one of whom there aren’t many around right now) as being merely a dinosaur squeezed out. Each side has some important things to say, that I agree they are doing rightly and competently as far as they go.

Which is why I’m a trinitarian theist. {s}

Similarly, Calvs and Arms both are doing some things wrong, I find, but both are doing some things very aptly, too. Which I especially appreciate because first I am a trinitarian theist: I find that universalism (not every kind, but a particular kind or small subset of kinds) is a logically corollary to orthodox trinitarian theism (including especially the western pro-filioque kind.)


Anyway, knowledgable and experienced (and fair) exegetes from all three sides, admit that there are prooftext snips scattered here and yon which would seem, when taken in isolation, to testify to all three soteriological positions; which cannot all three be equally true. (The same happens when the focus is shifted a bit to the debate between annihilationism, neverending condemnation, and universalism, which is a different kind of soteriological debate.) And knowledgeable and experienced exegetes from all three sides all admit and insist that larger and larger levels of context are important for systematic theology, as well as logical coherence: mere snippet prooftexting, though convenient (and maybe necessary when giving a brief exposition), is ultimately worthless.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Thanks for the link, Helmut! (I think much of what I disagree with in that article has been mentioned somewhere here in my comments already; but there are some points worth noting, too.)

JRP

Robert said...

[Response to Hays part 1]

I do not have the time to respond to all of what Steve Hays has said. I am going to ignore the personal attacks and will choose to address just a few issues. First there is the issue of appeal to authority.

Steve Hays wrote about Romans 9:22-23 and then appealed to his authorities:


“We could go into more detail, but Piper, Schreiner, and Moo have already done into great detail.”


I was just reading a new book that I have on logic and fallacies called: “A SHORT COURSE IN INTELLECTUAL SELF DEFENSE” by Normand Baillargeon.

And I happened to look at his section where he discusses the fallacy of appeal to authority. He gives three cases to be concerned about as improper appeals to authority, one has direct relevance here: “The second is when the expert has vested interests in the topic he or she is addressing. At that point, it is reasonable to think that these interests are orienting or, more radically driving his or her judgment.” (p. 66)

Now consider whom Hays cites as the experts who supposedly have interpreted the Romans 9:22-23 section correctly. All three are staunch calvinists, and Piper and Schreiner in particular are **militant** calvinists (both have published a lot of material arguing for and supporting Calvinism, Piper began as an Arminian but then **converted** to calvinism based upon his coming to a calvinistic interpretation of Romans 9 which he did his doctorate on and subsequently published as a book entirely on his calvinistic interpretation of Romans 9). Piper and Schreiner go out of their way to propagate Calvinism. Vested interests of these experts, you bet. And any informed person on this issue knows that other experts taking the non-calvinist position could be presented here as well.

I thought it was humorous that Hays appealed to his “expert” on hardening (i.e. Beale another staunch calvinist) and Victor countered with an essay by a non-Calvinist on hardening. So we can all play this game of citing experts in support of our view. When it comes to the interpretation of Romans 9 there is the Calvinistic interpretation which is mistaken and forced upon the text and the non-calvinistic interpretation which better fits the text and does not require any forcing of square pegs into round holes.

Robert

Robert said...

[response to Hays part 2]


A second issue is universalism and the meaning of “all” in Romans 11:32.

I had written:

“Anyone familiar with calvinist tactics for **reinterpreting** bible texts is aware that when a bible text presents what explicitly and plainly and clearly suggests that God loves ALL people or that God desires the salvation of ALL people or that Jesus was given for the WORLD/ALL people, that calvinists reinterpret these passages…Non-calvinists see these maneuvers as evasive maneuvers to get away from, get around the plain meaning of biblical texts.”

Hays responded:

“This is one of the problems with being a single-issue troll like Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet. He’s posting this comment at Dangerous Idea. Yet Reppert clearly regards universalism as a viable option or fallback position. And Jason Pratt, who is part of this debate, is a universalist.


I am well aware that Romans 11:32 is a proof text for Universalists. And I gave my reason for rejecting the universalist interpretation of this text (it does not fit with the rest of the Romans 9-11 unit, nor with the rest of the New Testament where some clear statements about eternal punishment/hell are made).


“But Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s doesn’t believe in universal salvation. So if anyone has a prima facie claim on the “plain” and “clear” meaning of these passages, it’s not the Arminian, but the universalist.”

Actually I think that Romans 11:32 is absolutely clear: it says that all have sinned and God allowed this in order that He might have mercy on all. Calvinists like Moo present a false dilemma here (i.e. it is either take the second all as meaning all and so ending up a universalist OR reject the second all as meaning all and take the calvinist position.

The third alternative, and the alternative that I and many others hold is this: the second all does mean all, but it does not lead to universalism. And as I said in my earlier post, a point completely ignored by Hays: we have to think this through; the text says that God wants to have mercy on all, so HOW does He do so? The text does not say He saves all (no Greek word for salvation is present, if it did say that He saves all then universalism would be true [and in fact there is no passage anywhere that says that God will in fact save all persons, with many saying that not all will be saved, and the text actually says mercy not saves).


“A universalist would regard Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s attempt to “reinterpret” these passages so that they fall short of universal salvation as an evasive maneuver on his part. But Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is too preoccupied with Calvinism to see the irony of his situation.’”

I am not evading the meaning of the text it says that He wants to have mercy on all. And that is precisely how I take it.

And again the question then becomes and HOW DOES HE HAVE MERCY ON ALL??

“And this is more of a problem for Arminians than Calvinists. Calvinists have a consistent approach to cosmic/universalistic terms in Scripture. Arminians, by contrast, affirm unlimited atonement, but deny unlimited salvation. Therefore, they have to oscillate in their treatment of cosmic/universalistic terminology.”

Again no problem. The biblical texts say that Jesus was given or offered for the world as an atonement for all. This speaks of the provision of the atonement which is in fact universal (as the universal texts clearly state). On the other hand, the atonement must be applied to an individual and the New Testament is equally clear that this only occurs with individuals who have a faith response to the gospel.

Robert

Robert said...

[response to Hays part 3]


I gave my reason for rejecting universalism when I wrote:

“Easy, just look at the rest of the Romans 9-11 unit (and after that just look at the rest of the New Testament, look at Jesus’ statements about hell, statements that led Bertrand Russell to declare that Jesus was not a moral person because he believed in hell) where Paul makes it clear that in order to be saved one must put their faith in Christ (whether Jew or Gentile) and if one does not one is not saved. Paul and the other New Testament writers are agreed: no individual faith in Christ for salvation = no salvation.”


Allow me to explain these words further and make my meaning clear: the answer to universalism is to just look at other bible verses in the Romans 9-11 unit and after that look at other bible verses, basically the rest of the New Testament, look in particular at Jesus' statements/teachings about hell, even an atheist like Bertrand Russell understood this well enough.

In other words, my reason for rejecting universalism is that the bible properly interpreted **contradicts it**.

Note Hays’ response to my claim:


"i) As a counter to universalism, this is both impotent and incompetent. Universalism subscribes to postmortem conversion. Therefore, a univeralist can easily harmonize the precondition of faith with universal salvation. For a universalist has no deadline on when a sinner must exercise faith in Christ. Death is not the expiration date."

So the bible is BOTH INPOTENT AND INCOMPETENT to COUNTER UNIVERSALISM????????

If another calvinist had written that the bible sufficiently counters universalism would Hays have said that the bible as a counter to universalism was BOTH IMPOTENT AND INCOMPETENT??? I strongly doubt it. But Hays' hatred for me is so intense that he attacks the truth even though I say it. And it is the truth that the bible is sufficient to counter universalism.


I have to admit that I have a certain assumption, perhaps you disagree with it. I believe we should limit our conclusions to conclusions derived from biblical texts. There are no biblical texts which speak of a post-mortem second chance or last chance to be saved. We have to limit our conclusions to the available data. If someone wants to **claim** a post mortem opportunity then the burden of proof is upon them to show from the biblical data where this is present. I do not believe they can do so as there is no data like this in the bible.

It is like if someone claims there is an existing planet beyond our most powerful telescopes or instrumentation. You can make that claim all you want and even persuade those predisposed to believe it (the Planet Xenon fan club) but it goes beyond the available data and must be seen for what it is: speculation in the absence of data. There is also them more severe problem for the Universalist, that the available data that we do have directly contradicts universalism (again for example even Bertrand Russell recognized that from his reading of the New Testament).


“ii) And this is more of a problem for Arminianism than Calvinism. If God really wants to save everyone, then why would he foreclose the opportunity at death? On the face of it, that’s an arbitrary deadline.”


If God decides that that is the way things will be, then as He is sovereign, then that is the way things will be (and He has said that first death comes and then the judgment with no hint of any second chance or final chance to repent). God decided that salvation would be through faith and that those who hear the gospel and reject it will not be saved. And this decision to trust the Lord for salvation must occur during the person’s lifetime. This has been the orthodox Christian teaching across all theological traditions. God makes the rules not me, so this answer is sufficient for me.

Robert

Robert said...

[response to Hays part 4]

I wrote:

“Recall that Romans 11:32 says that God shut up ALL in disobedience in order that he might have mercy on ALL. Note there are two ‘alls’ there. . . . .And non-calvinists see the second ‘all’ (call that all(B)) as also referring to all people. That seems clear and simple, that seems to fit precisely what Paul intended by this text.”

Hays responded:

“i) The problem with this contention is that the referent of a universal quantifier is not a fixed variable.”

The first all is not a universal all then? No one argues that the first all is not universal. And it is **arbitrary** and **driven by** the calvinistic system not by the text, to conclude that the second all is not universal as well.


“ii) Moreover, in his various responses to me, notice how often Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet alternates between the “meaning” of all and the “referent” of all, as if these were interchangeable concepts. But they’re not. The meaning of “all” can be invariable even though the reference is variable. Basic lexical semantics. Yet Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s semantic fallacy runs throughout his response to me, Moo, and Schreiner.”

It is not a semantic fallacy to see both alls in Romans 11:32 meaning all. It is special pleading by the calvinist to argue the first all is universal while the second all is not.

Robert

Robert said...

[response to Hays part 5]

I wrote:


“We know that calvinists believe that God only wants to save some (the elect) while he really does not want to save the others (the non-elect, nonbelievers, ‘reprobates’).”

Hays responded:


“Calvinists believe that God saves those he wants to save. Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet believes that God fails to save many he wants to save. For him, God’s universal love is ineffectual.”

This is a common calvinistic “spin” on things. For the Arminian God’s plan of salvation is to provide an atonement for the world (i.e. the atonement of Christ) and have this atonement **only** applied to those who respond in faith. In this view “God saves those he wants to save” (i.e., those who have a faith response, those who trust Him for salvation). It is an intentional misrepresentation by Hays aimed at maligning the Arminian view to state that “Robert/Henry?Sockpuppet believes that God fails to save many he wants to save.”
Hays knows Arminian beliefs well enough so that for him to make this statement is simply his intentional aim to misrepresent Arminian beliefs with the aim to put the spin on it that if Arminianism is true, then God **fails**. But it is easy to see how false this is. Again, the Arminian view is that God desires the salvation of all and provides for the salvation of all and a major part of this plan is that God will only save those who trust Him for salvation (i.e. salvation involves a condition, the individual must have faith, if he/she does not then God will not save them). So God was perfectly “successful” in developing **his** plan: He provided an atonement for the world in the death of Christ on the cross (check), this atonement is only applied to those who respond in faith (check) and it will save all of those who do in fact respond with faith (check). Where has God “failed” in any of this?

If Hays wants to believe that human persons not responding to the gospel with faith makes God a “failure”. Then God also failed every time that He desired for Israel to be a holy nation and be obedient to Him (on numerous occasions they chose not to obey, so according to Hays’ “logic” that makes God a “failure” every time that this occurred). If I have a big party and invite everyone and enable them to come, but then some choose not to come to the party, have I “failed”? I desired for all of them to come, sent out the invitations, did what was necessary for them to attend, but then **they** chose not to come. In what way have I “failed” here? Or what about when Christians sin, have we then made God a “failure” each time that we freely choose to sin? God desires for the Christian to be holy and not to sin, he gives us the Holy Spirit and His Word to enable us to live righteously, but we sometimes still choose to sin. Has God failed every time we make the choice to sin?

Hays is merely trying to attack Arminian theology with his argument that it makes God a “failure”. But let’s turn it around and look at how under Calvinism God is always “successful”. Hays believes that everything is prescripted by God. God conceived of a story and every detail of that story in eternity, he then brings that story to pass in time (what we call history). So everything that happens is exactly what God desired to happen and God’s will (the sovereign plan, the total plan, the story preconceived in eternity) is **always** done. This is the secret will of God that is always “successful”. But then there is the expressed will of God in scripture, which while fully and visibly stated in the bible for all to see, nevertheless is constantly violated by human persons (but God is not a “failure” because God’s secret will, the one that really counts is always being done).

Robert

Robert said...

[Response to Hays part 6]


So take the example of “Joe” who is first a nonbeliever. But “Joe” got **lucky** in the divine lottery (he was preselected for salvation completely independently of who he is as a person, his character or any of his actions, he just got lucky and got chosen). “Joe” comes to a situation where he faces a serious temptation which would involve him being unfaithful to his wife. “Joe” is conscientious about his faith and does not want to give into the temptation, he prays about it and asks help to resist the temptation (he even appeals to 1 Cor. 10:13 in prayer, the verse about God always providing a way of escape when facing temptation). But of course unknown to “Joe” in God’s **secret will** he is predetermined to sin to give into that temptation. So while the bible expresses God’s desires that the Christian is to be holy, to resist temptation, that God will provide a way of escape when the temptation comes, etc.. But that is **just** what God says in the bible, that is not really what God wants, what God planned from eternity. What God really wanted, what God predetermined in eternity, was for “Joe” to give into the temptation to commit adultery (I know God says that Adultery is wrong, that it is one of the ten commandments, but again that is **just** the expressed will of God, what the bible says, that is not the secret will that actually determines reality). “Joe” then ends up getting a divorce from his act of indiscretion, doesn’t get to see his kids much anymore and in some churches he will be shunned for what he did.

AND IN ALL OF THIS GOD WAS COMPLETELY ****SUCCESSFUL****, HIS SOVEREIGN SECRET WILL WAS DONE PERFECTLY.

**That** is what calvinism and its two will doctrine leads to. If that is “success” on the part of God, then you can have it. A God who says one thing in the bible but then constantly brings about things that directly contradicts the bible, IS NOT THE GOD OF THE BIBLE. He is the invention of calvinism, he is the person who results if God has these two wills (the secret and the revealed wills) as John Piper and other calvinists claim. I think that I would rather have the Arminian God’s “failure” than the calvinist God’s “success”.

Robert

steve said...

Robert said...

“Now consider whom Hays cites as the experts who supposedly have interpreted the Romans 9:22-23 section correctly. All three are staunch calvinists, and Piper and Schreiner in particular are **militant** calvinists (both have published a lot of material arguing for and supporting Calvinism, Piper began as an Arminian but then **converted** to calvinism based upon his coming to a calvinistic interpretation of Romans 9 which he did his doctorate on and subsequently published as a book entirely on his calvinistic interpretation of Romans 9). Piper and Schreiner go out of their way to propagate Calvinism. Vested interests of these experts, you bet.”

i) Of course, Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is ignoring the obvious. If he’s going to use that objection to dismiss Reformed scholars out of hand, then, by the same token, I can dismiss Arminian scholars like Ben Witherington and I. H. Marshall out of hand.

ii) For that matter, Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is using the same tactic which unbelievers use to dismiss the NT witness to the Resurrection. The NT writers were believers. They have a “vested interest” in what they say. Therefore, we can discount their testimony.

iii) And notice that Robert says nothing to counter the exegesis of Piper, Schreiner, and Moo.

“I thought it was humorous that Hays appealed to his “expert” on hardening (i.e. Beale another staunch calvinist) and Victor countered with an essay by a non-Calvinist on hardening. So we can all play this game of citing experts in support of our view.”

My appeal to Piper, Schreiner, and Moo was not an appeal to authority. I didn’t treat them as expert witnesses. Rather, I quoted their exegetical arguments. And Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet offers no counterargument.

Instead, he assails the motives of Piper, Schreiner, and Moo. But, of course, that cuts both ways. Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet also has a personal stake in this debate. He’s hardly a disinterested party.

“Calvinists like Moo present a false dilemma here (i.e. it is either take the second all as meaning all and so ending up a universalist OR reject the second all as meaning all and take the calvinist position.”

A universal quantifier can have the same meaning in both occurrences without having the same referent. I cited 1 Cor 15 to underscore that point. “All” die and Adam” while “all” are made alive in Christ. But the second case has reference to Christians, not to humanity in general. And I notice that Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet dodges that example.

“The text [Rom 11:32] does not say He saves all.”

I already anticipated that move. I pointed out that even if this move works for 11:32, the same move won’t work for 5:18.

“Again no problem. The biblical texts say that Jesus was given or offered for the world as an atonement for all. This speaks of the provision of the atonement which is in fact universal (as the universal texts clearly state).”

No. There are verses in Scripture which go beyond mere provision. Rom 5:18 is a case it point. That talks about the end-result.

Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet has yet to explain how he can reconcile 5:18 with his denial of universal salvation without adopting Reformed exegesis.

steve said...

“So the bible is BOTH INPOTENT AND INCOMPETENT to COUNTER UNIVERSALISM????????”

Is that what I said? No. Either Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is dense or dishonest.

What I said, rather, is that his explanation is both impotent and incompetent.

“If another calvinist had written that the bible sufficiently counters universalism…”

Of course, when another Calvinist does that, he presents interpretations consistent with Calvinism to prove his point. That’s hardly comparable to Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s situation.

“I have to admit that I have a certain assumption, perhaps you disagree with it. I believe we should limit our conclusions to conclusions derived from biblical texts. There are no biblical texts which speak of a post-mortem second chance or last chance to be saved. We have to limit our conclusions to the available data. If someone wants to **claim** a post mortem opportunity then the burden of proof is upon them to show from the biblical data where this is present. I do not believe they can do so as there is no data like this in the bible.”

It’s clear that Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet has no hands-on experience debating astute universalists. I do.

I’d also note that Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet ducks the counterargument of Jason Pratt.

“If God decides that that is the way things will be, then as He is sovereign, then that is the way things will be (and He has said that first death comes and then the judgment with no hint of any second chance or final chance to repent).”

Notice that when Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet tries to argue down a universalist, he falls back on Reformed appeals to God’s sovereign prerogative. How very Calvinistic!

“The first all is not a universal all then? No one argues that the first all is not universal. And it is **arbitrary** and **driven by** the calvinistic system not by the text, to conclude that the second all is not universal as well.”

Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet continues to miss the point. Evidently, he’s ignorant of the sense/reference distinction, even though that’s a rudimentary distinction in lexical semantics. Nothing uniquely “Calvinist” about that distinction.

“It is not a semantic fallacy to see both alls in Romans 11:32 meaning all. It is special pleading by the calvinist to argue the first all is universal while the second all is not.”

What the quantifier means is not the issue. The issue is the identity of the referent.

“For the Arminian God’s plan of salvation is to provide an atonement for the world (i.e. the atonement of Christ) and have this atonement **only** applied to those who respond in faith. In this view ‘God saves those he wants to save’ (i.e., those who have a faith response, those who trust Him for salvation).”

And why does the provision exceed the application? That’s a useless provision.

It’s like erecting a silo in West Antarctica. A silo full of wheat which no one eats. What’s the point?

steve said...

“The Arminian view is that God desires the salvation of all and provides for the salvation of all…”

Really? Didn’t Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet just tell us that “If God decides that that is the way things will be, then as He is sovereign, then that is the way things will be (and He has said that first death comes and then the judgment with no hint of any second chance or final chance to repent).”

By Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s own admission, God won’t allow anyone to repent after death. So God has a deadline which prevents some sinners from being saved whom he could save if he allowed them to repent after death.

Therefore, God doesn’t desire the salvation of all. He doesn’t provide for the salvation of all. Were that the case, then his provision would extend beyond the grave. According to Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet, God has established an arbitrary expiration date on the offer of the gospel. Whether you’re saved or damned depends on which side of the deadline you find yourself. Clearly, then, God does not desire the salvation of all. For that cut-off-point preempts any opportunity for postmortem salvation.

“If Hays wants to believe that human persons not responding to the gospel with faith makes God a ‘failure’…”

Notice the blatant equivocation. I said that’s a failure on Arminian terms. Arminian assumptions.

By contrast, if God decrees that some people disbelieve the gospel, and they do what he decreed (i.e. disbelieve the gospel), then God succeeded in achieving his aim.

“Hays is merely trying to attack Arminian theology with his argument that it makes God a ‘failure’. But let’s turn it around and look at how under Calvinism God is always ‘successful’. Hays believes that everything is prescripted by God. God conceived of a story and every detail of that story in eternity, he then brings that story to pass in time (what we call history). So everything that happens is exactly what God desired to happen and God’s will (the sovereign plan, the total plan, the story preconceived in eternity) is **always** done. This is the secret will of God that is always ‘successful’. But then there is the expressed will of God in scripture, which while fully and visibly stated in the bible for all to see, nevertheless is constantly violated by human persons (but God is not a ‘failure’ because God’s secret will, the one that really counts is always being done).”

The law of God establishes a standard by which the reprobate will be judged. Hardly a problem for Calvinism.

“So while the bible expresses God’s desires that the Christian is to be holy, to resist temptation…”

Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is assuming, without benefit of argument, that the law of God is an expression of God’s desires.

That’s a problem for Arminianism. On the one hand, the law of God contains the death penalty for various crimes. Therefore, by Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s logic, God desires the death of the offender. On the other hand, Arminians constantly cite verses like Ezk 18:23 to prove that God does not desire the death of sinners.

“But that is **just** what God says in the bible, that is not really what God wants, what God planned from eternity.”

False dichotomy since the Bible also speaks of God’s eternal plan.

“A God who says one thing in the bible but then constantly brings about things that directly contradicts the bible.”

Really? What about God’s command to sacrifice Isaac?

arminianperspectives said...

Robert/Henry, try and keep up. The article I linked to is Tom's response to Brian. Brian didn't respond to this one where Tom showed that the *individual* view was the best reading of the text.

Not sure who wrote this, but I thought it would be worth pointing out that Dr. Brian Abasciano immediately sought to write a further response in that same theological journal, but the rules of the journal do not allow for follow-up rebuttals on responses. Brian has, however, written a response that will soon be published in another theological journal.

Personally, I think his response will be definitive in the matter and demonstrate that Schreiner's response was extremely weak; mainly consisting of continually misunderstanding the position he was trying to critique and numerous instances of question begging. I look forward to the publication.

God Bless,
Ben

steve said...

arminianperspectives said...

"Personally, I think his response will be definitive in the matter and demonstrate that Schreiner's response was extremely weak; mainly consisting of continually misunderstanding the position he was trying to critique and numerous instances of question begging. I look forward to the publication."

So you personally think an article you've never read will be definitive. Is that it?

Victor Reppert said...

Do we have any good reason to suppose that Robert is a sock puppet? A closet Calvinist trying to make Arminians look bad?

These charges don't help.

steve said...

Victor Reppert said...

"Do we have any good reason to suppose that Robert is a sock puppet?"

In the past he's denied being "Henry," yet we caught him posting a comment as "Henry," using the same google account as "Henry." That's one line of evidence, among others.

Jason Pratt said...

Victor,

I think the Calvs consider Robert to have been posting as a false Calvinist (Henry) trying to make Calvinists look bad. (It's hard to make out, though, since they aren't providing details or evidence. They may mean to be claiming Robert occasionally posts as someone named 'Henry' in order to flame Calvinists more harshly or something like that.)

Robert on the other hand claims that someone has been pretending to be him posting harsh language against evil T-bloggers who go around pretending to be him because Calvinism causes this attitude. (I think I understood that correctly: the idea is that Robert is claiming a sock-puppet pretending to be Robert excoriated Calvinists in general and T-bloggers in particular for going around pretending to be Robert.)

However, if they're going to persist in making these claims on a public board, they should provide links showing Robert engaging in that deception. Otherwise they're only promoting what amounts (for all we know otherwise) as ungrounded slander.

I'm sure Steve and the others wouldn't want us to just take someone else's ungrounded word that they had been behaving that way, and would appreciate it if we called down what appears (without actual evidence provided along the way) to be ungrounded slander against them.


(Which is not to say that Robert must be innocent of the charges. But when we don't know otherwise ourselves, we have a charitable obligation to consider him innocent until actually proven guilty. The same as we would with Steve or anyone else if people were launching such accusations against them instead.)


Meanwhile, if Robert wants to reduce the chances of someone just signing on with Name/URL to sock-puppet him on blogger (here or anywhere else), he should register with Blogger and set up numerous details in his registration pointing back to the real 'him'. That will instantly eliminate casual sock-puppet attempts at least.

(I see Robert--or someone pretending to be Robert?--has now minimially registered with blogger. But minimally registering with blogger is almost the same as signing in for one-time comment with a mere name.)

JRP

arminianperspectives said...

Steve,

I had the privilage of reading the article before publishing. I have read the entire exchange to date (starting with Schreiner's essay in Still Sovereign, Brians's response, Schreiner's response to Brian's critique, and Brian's newest unpublished essay- which is not primarily a direct response to Schreiner, but contains several direct responses), and yes, I do think it will prove to be definitive on the matter (though his first critique of Schreiner was really definitive as well, since Schreiner's response was so weak and didn't even seem to grasp Brian's position or arguments- which will be pointed out in the newer article).

God Bless,
Ben

Victor Reppert said...

It's a little unfortunate when every post I do on Calvinism ends up getting mixed up in a debate about anonymous posting. People on Triblogue irritate me in various ways, but the mere fact that someone posts anonymously, and who is writing what posts, should not be the issue that it is.