Friday, August 28, 2009

Piper on Divine Compassion for the Lost

The debate about Calvinism is hinges heavily, of course, on Scripture passages. To me, one of the most fundamental themes of Scripture is the universality of God's love, which is manifested in acts intended for our salvation. John 3:16 is only the tip of the iceberg. Passages like Ezekiel 18:23, I Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9 can be advanced. And there's more. I mean, there is joy amongst the angels when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10). But why, if God made the sovereign choice to bring about the repentance before the foundation of the world? Jesus wept over Jerusalem. What would there be to weep about if Jesus had the power to hit everyone in Jerusalem over the head with irresistible grace and bring them to repentance, which after all is how anybody comes to repentance, on the Calvinistic scheme. Ephesians 4:30 talks about grieving the Holy Spirit. How can you grieve someone who is unilaterally causing you to do everything you do?

The attempt to provide "Calvinist" interpretations of these passages which index God's love and compassion to the elect and only the elect strike me as just plain desperate. In the exegesis of John 3: 16, for example, it is argued that the most impressive thing about God's love for the world is God's loving that world in spite of its rebelliousness. The idea is that if we are sufficiently impressed by the fact that God loves humans even though they are sinners, we can somehow limit the scope of God's love to the elect only and still accept the sense of the text. There seem to be plenty of Calvinists who think that "world" cannot be indexed to the elect; I even recall Manata writing that D. A. Carson thinks that "world" cannot be limited in scope.

Apparently God wants us to preach the gospel to every living creature. Why? Is the offer made in good faith? How can it be if the people to whom it was made were reprobated by a sovereign choice before the foundation of the world?

There is a Calvinist response to all of this that I do think is interesting, although, at the end of the day, it doesn't work. Dongell and Walls, in Why I am Not a Calvinist (p.174) writes:

Let's turn to a more intensive effort to show that the offer of salvation for all persons can be sincere for Calvinists. This challenge is met head-on by Piper who affirms both that God unconditionally elects who will be saved and yet has compassion for and desires all people to be saved. Piper begins by citing some of the well-known texts that seem to teach God desires the salvation of all persons, such as Ezekiel 18:23, I Timothy 2:4, and 2 Peter 3:9. Unlike many Calvinist exegetes, Piper does to attempt to circumvent the straightforward meaning of these texts by saying that all means "all the elect." and not all persons without qualification. But by conceding this point, Piper has set himself a formidable project.

Yes, it's a formidable project. But the Calvinist claim that Calvinism has the full support of Scripture hinges on the success of this project. I will be talking about the project in susbsequent posts, as it is the aspect of the issue of Calvinism that really interests me. But do notice that this involves the interpretations of some passages that are more typical of Arminians than of Calvinists.

55 comments:

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Well, while you're talking about this, I hope you'll take the time to read and interact with my simple argument against God's universal intent, and its follow-up article on understanding God's desires. I'll be bringing them into the discussion anyway, so you might as well be prepared (:

Anonymous said...

Victor,

Jesus dying for all doesn't matter for that person unless that person comes to Jesus. What would you say in response to the Calvinist argument from John 6? That is, no one is able to come to Jesus unless the Father, who sent Jesus, draws him, and Jesus will raise him up on the last day. That is, to appky your reasoning to it: why would Jesus desire to save all by dying for all and then say that you have to come to him for eternal life but turns out that no one is able to come unless the fater draws that person and then Jesus will raise them up on the last day.

I also wonder if you would be interested in ever doing a (somewhat) formal debate (on a radio or internet) with a Calvinist where you actually have to answer cross exam questions and if you dodge them it will be clear and obvious to all. Would you ever be interested in something like that?

normajean said...

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

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

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

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

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

unkle e said...

Surely all this (in my view) somewhat nitpicking argument about the exact meaning of Scripture and how to balance the apparently conflicting meanings depends on a couple of dodgy assumptions:

1. That God intended the Bible to be an exact systematic theology which we could use in minute detail to answer somewhat unimportant questions as far as living life is concerned.

2. That the way we unravel these mysteries is to have erudite scholars argue about the finer nuances of Greek meanings (not something I find recommended in the same Scriptures).

To accept these two questionable assumptions is (I think) to take the following views:

3. That God would rather we argue about finer meanings of what is difficult to understand rather than get on with obeying the obvious teachings of the NT (like loving our enemies, caring for those in need, living lives of grace and forgiveness, etc).

4. That God's truths on these "deep" matters are not available to the poor, the less intelligent, the uneducated and those with insufficient time, interest or resources to spend the time on these matters.

I think we christians have lost our way if we think these are the important issues and these assumptions can somehow be justified. I can't help feeling we should trust the Spirit to guide us, individually and collectively, into the truths of Scripture, and get on with loving God and our neighbours and spreading the good news.

Surely?

Gordon Knight said...

". That God intended the Bible to be an exact systematic theology which we could use in minute detail to answer somewhat unimportant questions as far as living life is concerned."

I half agree with this. I think that the first part is certainly true. Whatever one thinks of the Bible, it surely was not written so that Calvin, Luther, and Jesuits can have their debates.

But I do think that it is helpful to understand the historical context of the books of the Bible.There is a mistake (one I am sure I make too) in reading OUR concerns into what,e.g., Paul is writing about.

I also think that some of these theological topics can have negative consequences. Here is my controvesial example:

Suppose I believe that there is a Hell, one that is not dumbed down but robust in pain and suffering.

Suppose I believe God is just in sending those people to Hell never to escape.

If I believed this, it would effect my moral attitudes. Maybe I would not burn heretics, but I would certainly treat heretic burning (or torturing) with much more sympathy than I do now (after all, what is a little mortal pain compared to my or your immortal soul?) And If I believed that the greatest Good really did this--and not just to Hitler and Stalin but to Joe the village atheist (or village Hindu..)

I might very well think that it is not so bad for me to treat others in a like manner.

True, I would not have to do this. "vengence is mine, saith the lord" but its had to deny that there is a tension.

This might be merely a psychological fact about me, but I think if I took (sold, old fashioned, not dumbed down) Hell seriously and I was still a Christian, I would have to compartmentalize. Yes I should love my enemies, yes all human beings have intrinic value.. in one part of my mind and Yes its right for God to punish those who don't believe in him, in the other part.

I want to make clear that I am not saying that one cannot consistently believe that (1) I ought to love my enemies and (2) God ought to damn x, y, and z.
But to make them consistent, you have to do all sorts of logical teasing around and qualifying.

Or to put it another way: if a human being did what many believe God does, we would think such a peson a monster.

One can reply "but this is God, not a finite creature," and its a fair point. But God is supposed to be BETTER than us.

One can deny that "good" when applied to God means anything like what it does when applied to human beings, but then we don't understand what "good" means when applied to God and have no reason at all to worship God, as Victor has pointed out. We would have a reason to propitiate, like the Pagans did, but that is not the same thing as worship.

I think one can make an even stronger case for the morally pernicious character of Calvinism, but I am not going to do it now. Those sympathetic will just see it, those who are not, will not accept the premises.

Daniel Gracely said...

Hi Anonymous,

I saw your question to Victor about John 6, and trust you won’t mind if I jump into the conversation. I recently posted some comments on another site about whether the word “can” in John 6:44 means “may.” Admittedly, to take this position demands certain presuppositions (or assumptions) about the nature of God and the nature of man which Calvinists would not agree with. However, it seems to me that every theologian (myself included) makes assumptions which determine his exegesis, interpretation, and lexical understanding of words. Put another way, it seems that any interpreter (again, I include myself) who takes a public position on John 6 or any other key scripture presents a premise that in fact is already a conclusion. This means that any position (Calvinist, non-Calvinist, Mormon, Christian Scientist, etc.) can maintain consistency of verbal argument. And so the question, I think, becomes not just which position is consistent, but which one also follows the Spirit’s understanding of words, and of course that is what the debate is about.

Incidentally, I don’t want to read too much into your comments, but am I right to assume you would support, e.g., James White’s point (in effect) about how the successive occurrences of the word “him” in John 6:44 show that only those whom the Father draws will be raised up on the last day (and that therefore not all men are drawn by the Father to the Son)? Although I would not agree with that position, I do think it is a logical extension of White’s assumptions of divine irresistibility and the total inability of man. Again, this goes to the point about consistency of argument. Anyway, if you’re interested, my comments can be read (sorry! I don't know how to insert a hyperlink here) at http://exagorazo289.wordpress.com/
2009/03/17/why-arent-you-a-calvinist/, beginning with the August 21, 2009 comment.

Have a good day

Anonymous said...

I was interested in Victor's thoughts. . .

Putting that aside:

Norma Jean tries some sloppy exegesis and then fails to show how it ties into the passage. Arminians like Norma Jean tell us ALL MEANS ALL, well, NOONE MEANS NOONE.

Norma Jean also says:

"The answer to the question to whom does "no one" refer is quite simple: it means no one who has a relationship with the one true God and creator of the universe refrains from coming to Christ".

This is so wild, man. The passage says "No one is able to come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day."

Besides that, you only have a "true realationship" with the true God and creator once you have BEEN RECONCILED to him by coming to Jesus. Until them, "you are enemies." So your interpretation is worse than bad.

Daniel, yeah I take that (but I notice most Arminians do not agree with you on things and you seem to have an idiosyncratic view of most things).

Anyway, Notice that the him drawn is raised on the last day. But not all men are raised up to everlasting life on the last day. Therefore, not all hims are drawn. The logic is airtight. The verse simply states that no one can come to Christ if drawn. The statement is in the form of a conjunction. Logically, it can be translated thus:

(~p --> ~q) & r

You cannot accept the first part of the conjunction and not the second (r = raise him up on the last day). The Arminian usually responds that the second him is one who did come. But again, this is eisogeted into the text. The text says nothing about who actually comes, it only speaks to who is able to come. Again, the point is in the conjunction. John 6:44 is saying (~p --> ~q) & r. This is logically equivalent to (q-->p) & r. Thus,

[1] If he is able to come, then the father drew him, and Jesus will raise him up on the last day.

[2] He is able to come (notice, I never said he did. We’re just sticking with what the verse says).

[3] Therefore the father drew him and Jesus will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:44 teaches us that no one is ABLE to come. No one CAN come to Jesus UNLESS the Father draws him (this rules out PAP and libertarian notions of salvation, or we need to accept that the Father draws all, but then all would be raised).

But John 6:44 does not state that all who are drawn are saved, simply that no one can come to Christ unless drawn by God the Father."

Notice that Jesus also says, John6:37 "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away."

And moreover, in vs 65-65:

"But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."



So, Victor, why would Jesus die for all people with the desire and intent and plan to save all those he died for, but in order to be saved you have to come to Jesus, but in order to do that the Father has to draw you, and then Jesus raises them up on the last day, if we know not all will be in heaven?

Now, you can admit of universalism and finally stake out a position, or you can try to answer the John 6 argument. The Classical Arminian tries to say that this passage teaches that Jesus raises only those who *do* come; however, that's eisogeting. The passage never talkes about who does come. The Arminian says that the "him" in "raise him up" is the one who actually does come. But the problem is that the passage doesn't say this. The passage only mentions those who are drawn and those who are (un)able to come. The him in "raise him up" must either refer to the him who is drawn or the him who is able to come. So if God draws all and all are able then the "him" in "raise him up" would refer to all people and so the Arminian position leads to universalism.

normajean said...

Anonymous, "sloppy exegesis?" Or do most scholars and should capable readers see that throughout John, Jesus spends a lot of time identifying himself with the Father. Thanks for your self reflective comment.

Robert said...

Hello Normajean,

You wrote:

“Anonymous, "sloppy exegesis?" Or do most scholars and should capable readers see that throughout John, Jesus spends a lot of time identifying himself with the Father. Thanks for your self reflective comment.”

A common necesssatarian calvinist argument is to attempt to proof text from John 6. One of the texts often used is 6:44 which says that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father has drawn him. Necessatarians tend to read this verse and read their assumptions/premises into it.

One assumption they have is that ALL WHO ARE DRAWN WILL COME (meaning that all who are drawn will inevitably come to saving faith in Jesus Christ). Another assumption that they have is that ONLY THE PRESELECTED ELECT will be drawn in this way. Neither of these premises is stated in the text or anywhere else in John 6. The assumption that only the elect are drawn is directly contradicted by the same author, John the apostle in John 12:32 (which the necessatarian then explains away as he does with John 3:16).

What does 6:44 actually tell us? It tells us that both Pelagian and semi-Pelagian views are false: that you cannot become a Christian unless you experience the drawing of God. Non-calvinists take this drawing work of God to be referring to the pre-conversion work of the Holy Spirit. He has to reveal Christ to you, convict you of your sins, show you the way of salvation through Christ alone, etc. etc. in order for you to become a Christian. Without that work of the Spirit you cannot come to Jesus and have saving faith. So 6:44 well refutes the Pelagian and semi-pelagian views, but it does not say either that all who are drawn in this way will become Christians nor does it say that God only draws the preselected elect in this way. The non-calvinist sees this as refuting false views and making the claim that the pre-conversion work of the Spirit is absolutely necessary for someone to get saved. Because we also reject the necessatarian belief in irresistible grace (another assumption read into the text by the necessatarian) we also believe that the work of the Spirit can be and sometimes is resisted. So a person could experience this drawing and yet not end up becoming a Christian.

Regarding universalism, that would only be true if the text said that all people are drawn and that this drawing is irresistible. Universalism is also seen to be false in passages such as Matt. 25:31-46. Are those “goats” ever going to be saved? I and most other non-calvinists would answer no. So if we interpret John 6 without the necessatarian premises we will see that no case is being made for Calvinism there at all nor is universalism being espoused either.

Robert

normajean said...

I suggest Walls and Dongells here.

Best of providence

Daniel Gracely said...

Hi Anonymous,

Since your intent was really to get Victor's opinion, let me leave off responding here. But just one thing if I may--I'm curious about what you mean by PAP. I'm still unfamiliar with some of these abbreviations. Thanks in advance.

Cordially,

Anonymous said...

Norma Jean refuses to deal with my argument but thinks a question functions as a response.

Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet does the typical "I'm responding to someone but using someone else's post to pretend I'm responding to them" line.

Besides the part about Jesus saying that all the Father give to him will come to him, I never once argued or said all that are drawn will come. If my argument is read one will see that is not the case. Unfortunately Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet fails to interact with my argument and opts for offering his pre-scripted response, peppered with question begging epithets and swipes as Calvinist.

Since he failed to interact with my argument whatsoever, there's nothing I need to say in response.

I stuck strictly with what the text said. No attempt was made to show how my argument failed. This is unfortunate but typical with Robert.

Anonymous said...

as evidence of Robert's incompetance, he wrote:

"Regarding universalism, that would only be true if the text said that all people are drawn and that this drawing is irresistible".

However, I had written:

"The Classical Arminian tries to say that this passage teaches that Jesus raises only those who *do* come; however, that's eisogeting. The passage never talkes about who does come. The Arminian says that the "him" in "raise him up" is the one who actually does come. But the problem is that the passage doesn't say this. The passage only mentions those who are drawn and those who are (un)able to come. The him in "raise him up" must either refer to the him who is drawn or the him who is able to come".

Notice I specifically denied the claim that I was arguing that all who are drawn come (though I do believe that, I never made that claim or argument). Robert is too biased and beset by agenda to be able to actually read and grasp the arguments given.

Anonymous said...

notice that my argument showed that to deny universalism robert had to deny that all are able to come or all are drawn. pay attention, robert.

normajean said...

Anon, I'm not arguing the "ALL" means "ALL." Where did you get that?

normajean said...

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

If you have AN honest question, do ask. Let it be known that I'm not interested in talk for sport.

Victor Reppert said...

I think I differ too fundamentally with Calvinists on how to go from Scripture to doctrine to have a debate on the matter that would be of much use.

I think it better to operate at the level of biblical themes than at the level of specific verses.

My point is that I don't think you can say you've got the full support of Scripture, which in my mind is what you need given the profoundly morally counterintuitive character of Calvinism (on my view it's worse than counterintuitive), unless you can account for the highly pervasive biblical theme of God's interest in the restoration of all who are out of fellowship with him.
So it is interesting that you want to divert the question to a Calvinist proof-text like John 6:44 instead of confronting the issue that I have set before you. If you can't in any plausible way deal with the pervasive theme that I am talking about, then it looks to me as if the best you're ever going to get is a biblical stalemate, even if opponents of Calvinism can't explain John 6:44, Romans 9, or what have you. Not every passage of Scripture is going to be fully and completely transparent to us, in with the best exegetes in the world working on it. Unless you've got passages in Scripture that are specifically addressed to the problem of predestination, and you don't, you have to extrapolate to get to any answer to that question. So Scripture may only do so much to settle the question for us. We are putting a question to Scripture that the authors of the text were not attempting to answer.

normajean said...

In other words, had these Jews REALLY known God, once they were confronted by Christ, they would have known Him instantaneously (because the Father draws ALL who believe to the Son). I’m not a universalist.

Victor Reppert said...

I am more interested in some specific issues that arise in the debate concerning Calvinism, as opposed to wanting to debate the issue as a whole. The question that interests me is whether you can consistently say that God loves every person and desires that they be saved while at the same time predestining those very person to everlasting punishment, when the alternative of saving them was just as legitimate. If you can't come up with an affirmative answer to that question, you don't have the Bible on your side even if there are passages that opponents of Calvinism may have trouble explaining.

normajean said...

light begets more light

a helmet said...

John 6:37-44 doesn't in any way promote the doctrines of grace. It is top-leve eisegesis to find Total Depravity (v.44), Unconditional election (v.37) and Irresistible Grace (v.37) in that passage. That's eisegesis. I challenge everyone to debate the topic of the correct interpretation of John 6.

Anonymous said...

got an answer to my argument Vic? I argued the same way you did, i.e., "it wouldn't make sense to say this if that". Needless to say, I completely understand why you wouldn't have a somewhat formal debate with a Calvinist mano y mano

norma jean, people are still waiting for a response to my argument.

Victor Reppert said...

Anonymous: Jesus dying for all doesn't matter for that person unless that person comes to Jesus. What would you say in response to the Calvinist argument from John 6? That is, no one is able to come to Jesus unless the Father, who sent Jesus, draws him, and Jesus will raise him up on the last day. That is, to appky your reasoning to it: why would Jesus desire to save all by dying for all and then say that you have to come to him for eternal life but turns out that no one is able to come unless the fater draws that person and then Jesus will raise them up on the last day.

VR: Well, is your Calvinistic position one that says that God does not desire to save all? The argument seems to be that if you draw the full Calvinistic implications from John 6, then you can't reconcile that with the clear biblical teaching that God desires to save all and died for all. So unless we want a self-contradictory Bible, we need to re-examine our interpretation of John 6.

Sounds good to me.

normajean said...

Anon, this is my final comment to you. I'm not into polemics these days.

Here is the gist of your response to me:

You write: "This is so wild, man. The passage says, "No one is able to come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day."

Response: Ummm, I agree.

You continue: "…you only have a "true relationship" with the true God and creator once you have BEEN RECONCILED to him by coming to Jesus. Until them, "you are enemies." So your interpretation is worse than bad.

Response: Bad! or do I agree with this also? You obviously didn't understand my post.

Everything else you wrote appears to be a commentary about some passage I’m not familiar with. Were you attempting to comment on John 6. Nothing you’ve written explains why Jesus is having the conversation he’s having with the Jews there. Try again. Actually, don’t. It’s getting embarrassing.

normajean said...

To all:

John is for Christology NOT Soteriology

John 6 > No one is able to come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him

John 14 > No one comes to the Father except through me.

The reason for passages like these is to identify the Father with the Son. If the reader cannot see this, I’m sorry. The Jews did and were deeply offended.

Anonymous said...

What about predestination of the elect, but reprobation based on free will?

See:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7273/augustin.htm

Relevant passage:

We need to see that in God's decision there are three logical stages or momenta: First, God wills sincerely and vehemently that all be saved; Second, He foresees some will gravely resist grace: on account of this resistance and because of it, He reprobates; Third, He decrees to save the others, not because of merits (which are not yet foreseen logically--only resistance is looked at--merits come after absence of resistance) but because He has always wanted that (salvific will) and these do not block His will.

bossmanham said...

Anonymous is either Paul Manata or Peter Pike; neither of which are known for their exegetical or people skills. I like how you refute arguments NormaJean never made, though. I got many lulz out of it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is a Calvinist appealing to Augustinian tradition. Whatever happened to sola scriptura?

normajean said...

Chapter 1

"In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God."

offensive indeed, to a Jew. It doesn't get any less offensive as one reads on.

Norma Jean is right!

Victor Reppert said...

Anon: Needless to say, I completely understand why you wouldn't have a somewhat formal debate with a Calvinist mano y mano

VR: Does anybody see the irony in this, coming from someone posting anonymously???

Victor Reppert said...

But let us bring the discussion back to the original intent of the post. My claim is that if you are a Calvinist, and you are trying to be biblical (I've never heard one not say that) the approach that has the most plausibility has to be one which affirms that God loves every person and desires the salvation of every person. Some Calvinists try to exegete their way out of this conclusion by making the Bible sound like Mr. Subliminal from Saturday Night Live. The idea is that when it says God loves the whole world, or isn't willing that any should perish, or he is the savior of all, Mr. Subliminal slips in the words "just the elect."

So the Calvinist can respond by saying "We need to keep our options open," or just say the strategy that seem to be employed by Calvinists like Piper and Carson constitute the Calvinists' best shot. It's the latter option that I find more interesting. But it does put the Calvinist at the fork in the road.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

the approach that has the most plausibility has to be one which affirms that God loves every person and desires the salvation of every person.

Agreed. That, however, isn't saying a great deal sans further articulation. For example, there's no denying that God also hates the wicked (eg, Ps 11:5; Pr 6:16–19) and desires their destruction in some sense (else there'd be no hell). Furthermore, it's necessary to acknowledge that no one can come to God of their own free will (eg, John 6). Thus, thoughtful Calvinists, recognizing some degree of tension between these facts, try to harmonize them rather than dismissing one set in favor of another.

The way they do this is by looking to what God reveals about his ultimate purposes: of glorifying himself (particularly Jesus) fully through creation. If God's plan in creation is to glorify himself fully, then he must intend to glorify not only his mercy and grace, but also his justice and wrath. Thus, we can differentiate between God's intent (which necessitates the eternal destruction of some sinners), and certain of his desires which obtain contingent upon the state of affairs designed to achieve that intent. Those desires may include his universal love, and his universal salvific desire—such that, while these are genuine moral attitudes, they do not rise to the level of intent precisely because they are contingent upon his prior intent to achieve a contrary goal to begin with.

Now, you say that you find this line of reasoning ultimately wanting. I am hoping you'll provide compelling and rigorous argumentation toward that end, rather than the hatchet jobs you've presented in the Calvinist debate so far. Because it goes without saying that, while you're criticizing (some) Calvinists for placing too little emphasis on God's universal benevolence because of their prior commitment to the witness of Scripture as regards God's action in election and reprobation, you are simultaneously guilty of ignoring that witness because of your prior commitment to God's universal love. So it seems to me that the only people who are taking a genuinely balanced and thoughtful position are the Calvinists who argue for the harmonization of God's universal love, and his action of election and reprobation. It sure isn't people like you, who seem hell-bent on denying the latter because of your a priori assumption that it simply can't be harmonized with the former.

Anonymous said...

Oh snap!!!

Victor Reppert said...

God desires the destruction of the wicked? Ezek. 18:23 says he takes no delight in the destruction of the wicked.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

1. You haven't exegeted the passage in question. You've just cited it as if its meaning is obvious—which would be a point of contention for most Calvinists.

2. Where did I say that God took delight in the destruction of the wicked?

Victor Reppert said...

Well, he desire their destruction in some sense compatible with what the Ezekiel passage. But, if Calvinism is true, the destruction of the wicked is a positive good. It is so much a positive good, that God creates people with the intent of destroying them. He makes sure there are wicked to destroy. Indeed he sees their destruction as something that brings as much glory to him as the salvation of the blessed.

I'd have to say that your "brief exegesis" of Is 46: 9-11 was awfully brief, in that it only gave a couple of definitions and said nothing about the context of the time and place, and what might have been at issue between Isaiah and his audience. Was the passage intended to answer a theological question, or did Isaiah have something else in mind.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

But, if Calvinism is true, the destruction of the wicked is a positive good.

Which is true under Arminianism as well.

It is so much a positive good, that God creates people with the intent of destroying them.

Which is true under Arminianism as well.

He makes sure there are wicked to destroy.

Just like in Arminianism.

Indeed he sees their destruction as something that brings as much glory to him as the salvation of the blessed.

Indeed—thus, inasmuch as he delights in his glorification, he delights in the destruction of the wicked as a means to that glorification. But that does not necessarily entail that he delights in the destruction of the wicked for its own sake. In fact, I'm not convinced that "the destruction of the wicked for its own sake" is a coherent concept under a Christian worldview—as if the means can be separated from the ends. I don't have a clear opinion on that at the moment.

bossmanham said...

DBT,

But, if Calvinism is true, the destruction of the wicked is a positive good.

Which is true under Arminianism as well.


If they don't repent then they are judged. In the meantime, God wants their repentance.

It is so much a positive good, that God creates people with the intent of destroying them.

Which is true under Arminianism as well.


Wrongo. He wants to save people. He desires all to come to repentance.

He makes sure there are wicked to destroy.

Just like in Arminianism.


What planet do you live on?

Indeed—thus, inasmuch as he delights in his glorification, he delights in the destruction of the wicked as a means to that glorification.

God is glorified in carrying out His justice. But the Bible seems to point that God would rather have all come to repentance, where they would then be in Christ, and Christ was killed to assuage God's righteous wrath and fulfill His justice. So, those who don't repent are judged, but that doesn't mean God wouldn't rather them repent so they would no longer be under His wrath.

But that does not necessarily entail that he delights in the destruction of the wicked for its own sake.

I'm glad you think so, but what on earth have you just been arguing for?

In fact, I'm not convinced that "the destruction of the wicked for its own sake" is a coherent concept under a Christian worldview—as if the means can be separated from the ends. I don't have a clear opinion on that at the moment.

I recommend considering the Arminian opinion.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

If they don't repent then they are judged. In the meantime, God wants their repentance.

And is it, or is it not the case, that judgment is a positive good under the Arminian view? You're just agreeing with me while trying to give the impression of correcting me.

Wrongo. He wants to save people. He desires all to come to repentance.

Since Arminians believe in God's perfect definite foreknowledge, you're merely being obtuse. God chooses to create people knowing that they will not repent and will go to hell. Thus, under Arminianism, God creates people with the intention of destroying them. If he did not intend to destroy them, he would either save them, or not create them in the first place.

What planet do you live on?

Are you claiming that the Arminian God does not ensure that there are wicked to destroy? Whence, then, the wicked? Did they create themselves? Is that a standard Arminian view? You appear to be incapable of grasping that Arminianism commits you to theistic determinism just as much as Calvinism does.

God is glorified in carrying out His justice. But the Bible seems to point that God would rather have all come to repentance, where they would then be in Christ, and Christ was killed to assuage God's righteous wrath and fulfill His justice. So, those who don't repent are judged, but that doesn't mean God wouldn't rather them repent so they would no longer be under His wrath.

Since that's the point of contention, you're merely demonstrating the obvious—that Arminians disagree with Calvinists. What remains to be seen is whether your alternative to the Calvinist view is actually sensible. Of course, in the past few weeks it has been repeatedly demonstrated not to be. I suggest you go back to the comment thread on 'The Arminian Lifeboat' and finish what you started before you mouth off here. It's telling that you Arminians go silent on one thread when you're refuted, but then start right back up again on another, as if nothing happened. You know what that's called? Dishonesty. Also trolling.

Anonymous said...

bossmanham: "Manata and Pike are not known for their people skills.

bossmanham (to DBT): "What planet do you live on?"

;-)

Another Arminian respecter of persons, I see.

It's so easy.



BTW, Norma Jean, perhaps you can elucidate us how the identification of Jesus and the Father has anything to do with the argument I gave? So far no one as sought to refute the argument. Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet tried but then saw the problem. Norma Jean tried to sound deep but failed to show anyone how his point refuted anything I said. We're still waiting for an argument from him.

Robert said...

[response to Paul Manata/”anonymous” part 1]


Paul Manata/”anonymous” wrote:


"So far no one as sought to refute the argument. Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet tried but then saw the problem."


Saw what problem? I didn’t stop posting because I saw some unanswerable “problem”, I was too busy having fun this weekend.


And my bigger problem with responding to you is that you continue to post anonymously when we know it is you Paul. That is a bigger problem for me than any supposed problem brought out by your argument.


John 6:44 is no difficulty for Arminians. John 6 only becomes a problem if you read in the false Calvinistic premises that (1) God only draws the preselected elect (this reads in the false Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election), and (2) all who are drawn will come to faith in Christ (this reads in the false Calvinistic doctrine of irresistible grace). Both of these false premises are regularly read into the text of John 6 and it is this eisegeting false premises derived solely from the calvinist system that then causes problems in interpreting John 6. It is true that 6:44 categorically refutes Pelagians and semi-Pelagians. But I already made this point in an earlier post.


Interesting exchange between Paul Manata/”anonymous” and Victor:


“Anon: [Paul Manata] Needless to say, I completely understand why you wouldn't have a somewhat formal debate with a Calvinist mano y mano

VR: Does anybody see the irony in this, coming from someone posting anonymously???”


Victor perhaps you didn’t notice that Paul Manata/”anonymous”/Bill Smith/”the dude”/etc. etc. etc., challenged you to a debate in his first post on this thread as well:


“I also wonder if you would be interested in ever doing a (somewhat) formal debate (on a radio or internet) with a Calvinist where you actually have to answer cross exam questions and if you dodge them it will be clear and obvious to all. Would you ever be interested in something like that?”


As Victor suggests by his response: why should he take Paul Manata’s challenge to a formal debate seriously if Paul Manata continues to post anonymously and as “the dude” and “bill smith” and “boba fett” and whatever other characters he is assuming these days?


Robert

Robert said...

[response to Paul Manata/”anonymous” part 2]


Lest Paul Manata/anonymous/”Bill Smith”/”the dude”/etc. etc. claim that I am sock puppeting and engaging in the same deceitful practice that he is doing, Manata needs to be reminded of some comments made in the other thread. Comments directly to him to which he never responded.



Steve Hays challenged Ben from Arminian Perspectives regarding my name (Robert) really being my name, to which Ben responded:


“It is not my job to defend Robert, but I do know that he has explained his reasons why he does not use his full name. I can vouch for him since I have had personal correspondences with him and I know his last name. I also know that Robert is in fact his legal first name according to those correspondences.”


Now I could get others to vouch for me as well, but this ought to be sufficient.


On the other hand Paul Manata continues to post anonymously not by his real name, and continues to wrongly accuse me of sock puppeting. Ben directly addressed this as well.

Ben wrote:


“Anonymous (the one who keeps referring to Billy by his full name, and arguing over quotes by Olson and Grudem),

Are you Paul Manata?

Since you are so concerned about honesty, I trust that you will honestly answer this very simple question.

The Dude, a.k.a. Boba Fett, a.k.a. Bill Smith, are you Paul Manata or any other Triablogue contributer?

I thank you in advance for your honesty in answering these questions.”

Paul Manata I remind you of these words because your challenge to debate when stated anonymously with the things that have been happening lately with all of your sock puppeting here at DANGEROUS IDEA really rings hollow.

Now if you were an honest person who truly wanted to have a debate and deal with the issues that Victor has brought up concerning Calvinism here, that would be one thing. But as long as you continue to engage in this dishonesty of sock puppeting as various different personalities when each time it is you, why should Victor or anyone else take you seriously at this point?


And why should we as Christians interact with you and your arguments if being honest really doesn’t matter to you?

I am all for having rational and civil discussions with people, including with those who disagree with me. But if you are going to continue in your deceitful practices, particularly posting anonymously and as multiple characters including “the dude”, “bill smith” etc. then discussing things with you is not a good use of time.

Robert

A.M. Mallett said...

the anonymous t-blogger wrote:
Anonymous is a Calvinist appealing to Augustinian tradition. Whatever happened to sola scriptura?

I reply:
It was abandoned through the advent of Calvinist presuppositional apologetics.

A.M. Mallett said...

Another t-blogger wrote:
Since Arminians believe in God's perfect definite foreknowledge, you're merely being obtuse. God chooses to create people knowing that they will not repent and will go to hell. Thus, under Arminianism, God creates people with the intention of destroying them. If he did not intend to destroy them, he would either save them, or not create them in the first place.


I reply:
The key to understanding why God created men in His image is found in understanding agape. A collection of automata is not the manifestation of love. It is merely the fulfillment of a board game or contrsuction of a celestial toy. The Calvinist argument has the LORD plugging in his created toys and watching them dance up and down with expressions of joy and programmed bliss. The Christian understanding has the LORD desiring a creation made in His image who has a true love for Him and He for them. ... It's a pretty simple Christian understanding, one that even our Sunday School tikes grasp .... Jesus loves me, yes I know ....

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

The key to understanding why God created men in His image is found in understanding agape.

On the contrary, rather than being the key to understanding the problem, this willfully ignores it. Since God has perfect definite foreknowledge under the Arminian view, and knows that many of the people he creates will go to hell, agape hardly explains his creating them. On the contrary, if agape was the answer, God would only have created those people who would freely choose to love him.

The Calvinist argument has the LORD plugging in his created toys and watching them dance up and down with expressions of joy and programmed bliss.

Why should anyone take you seriously when you so overtly caricature the Calvinist position?

The Christian understanding has the LORD desiring a creation made in His image who has a true love for Him and He for them.

It's interesting that you call this the "Christian" understanding, in contradistinction to the "Calvinist" understanding. But of course, the Christian understanding would explain why the LORD would knowingly create those who willfully reject his love, and upon whom he will pour out his eternal wrath. The Calvinist view does; the Arminian view...does not.

It's a pretty simple Christian understanding, one that even our Sunday School tikes grasp .... Jesus loves me, yes I know

And if you were a Sunday school tike, you'd have an excuse for your immensely simple-minded botching of what anyone here can see is a complex and nuanced topic.

A.M. Mallett said...

I wrote:
The key to understanding why God created men in His image is found in understanding agape.

You replied:
On the contrary, rather than being the key to understanding the problem, this willfully ignores it. Since God has perfect definite foreknowledge under the Arminian view, and knows that many of the people he creates will go to hell, agape hardly explains his creating them. On the contrary, if agape was the answer, God would only have created those people who would freely choose to love him.

I counter:
How does agape willfully ignore your contrived problem? I would posit there is no such problem to begin with. Unless you are going to dismiss the importance of men created in God’s image, Christian understanding of who we are and why God created us needs to be addressed. Simply stating for His glory doesn’t explain why He created us in the manner He did. Agape explains it sufficiently.

I wrote:
The Calvinist argument has the LORD plugging in his created toys and watching them dance up and down with expressions of joy and programmed bliss.

You replied:
Why should anyone take you seriously when you so overtly caricature the Calvinist position?

I counter:
How else would you characterize your beliefs and avoid the freely given love men have for God? The hardshell Calvinist has no other alternative than that of the automata.

I wrote:
The Christian understanding has the LORD desiring a creation made in His image who has a true love for Him and He for them.

You replied:
It's interesting that you call this the "Christian" understanding, in contradistinction to the "Calvinist" understanding. But of course, the Christian understanding would explain why the LORD would knowingly create those who willfully reject his love, and upon whom he will pour out his eternal wrath. The Calvinist view does; the Arminian view...does not.

I counter:
I refer to it as Christian understanding because that is the understanding from scripture, the understanding from orthodox Christianity and is contrasted with the Calvinist view that lacks a sustained witness of scripture, the early church or orthodoxy in general. The LORD’s desire for a creation that loves Him and those whom He can love fully explains why men are created with a freely engaged will or nature, one today that is fallen in every man. To sustain the Calvinist argument, one must ask why He creates any man whatsoever. To defer that question to Calvinist predestination is to return to the celestial toy analogy.

I wrote:
It's a pretty simple Christian understanding, one that even our Sunday School tikes grasp .... Jesus loves me, yes I know

You blustered:
And if you were a Sunday school tike, you'd have an excuse for your immensely simple-minded botching of what anyone here can see is a complex and nuanced topic.

I counter:
That sour comment reveals your character and inability to sustain a valid rebuttal rather than adequately engage the truth of the matter, that even small children grasp what you do not.

bossmanham said...

Manata blathers:

bossmanham: "Manata and Pike are not known for their people skills.

bossmanham (to DBT): "What planet do you live on?"

;-)

Another Arminian respecter of persons, I see.

It's so easy.


I reply: It would be nice to know which planet you're from, our anonymous Manata friend who's supposed to be too busy to blog, yet you're not too busy to troll anonymously. Unless you're actually Pike or Hays, in which case you're sure making your friend look bad since we all assume it's him.

Anonymous said...

bossmanham: "Manata blathers..."

I feel the love oozing from this bossmanham fellow. I, for one, have the lowest respect for those who play the role of moral police but then act just like those they seek to correct. In doing so they show themselves worse than those they are trying to correct.

A.M. Mallett said...

another t-blogger wrote:
I feel the love oozing from this bossmanham fellow. I, for one, have the lowest respect for those who play the role of moral police but then act just like those they seek to correct. In doing so they show themselves worse than those they are trying to correct.

I ponder:
Does it really matter at all what a self declared anonymous poster respects or doesn't respect? Being anonymous (and highly probable to be a sockpuppet which is certainly intellectully dishonest if you have engaged these fellows under another name) how would anybody know whether your respect is desired or not?

bossmanham said...

Anonymous barfs:

I feel the love oozing from this bossmanham fellow. I, for one, have the lowest respect for those who play the role of moral police but then act just like those they seek to correct. In doing so they show themselves worse than those they are trying to correct.

I don't know who you are, so I don't know that I'm insulting anyone (if you consider saying "blathers" an insult). You could just be a computer construct.

bossmanham said...

To specify on the barf:

I, for one, have the lowest respect...blahblahblah

I for one have the lowest respect for people who shoot anonymous trolling messages to people's blogs. It shows them to be dishonest and silly.

Aren't you too busy to be doing this?

arminianperspectives said...

It's telling that you Arminians go silent on one thread when you're refuted, but then start right back up again on another, as if nothing happened. You know what that's called? Dishonesty. Also trolling.

Kinda like you went silent here, but continue with many of the same basic arguments in this thread?

Interesting.

arminianperspectives said...

Mr. anonymous (the one arguing from John 6:44),

Are you the same anon who lied about being "Ben" in this thread? I guess it is silly for me to ask that question since, if you are that same anon, you have already demonstrated that you have no qualms about blatantly lying and pretending to be someone you are not. Still, I trust that, if you are that same anon, it is possible that you have come to regret your actions and this can serve as another opportunity for you to do the right thing by publicly repenting of your actions and putting an end to this facade.

God Bless,
Ben

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Kinda like you went silent here, but continue with many of the same basic arguments in this thread?

You must be joking. There's an obvious difference between moving on from a hostile crowd after explaining one's position as well as one can (162 comments, mostly by back-slapping freshmen fanboys and Arminian trolls, with virtually zero engagement with the actual issues? Give me a break), and manning up to solid arguments against a handful of thoughtful opponents (on a relatively short and better moderated comment thread).

arminianperspectives said...

You must be joking. There's an obvious difference between moving on from a hostile crowd after explaining one's position as well as one can (162 comments, mostly by back-slapping freshmen fanboys and Arminian trolls, with virtually zero engagement with the actual issues? Give me a break), and manning up to solid arguments against a handful of thoughtful opponents (on a relatively short and better moderated comment thread).

Of course you are entitled to your wrong opinion and have the freedom to spin it any way you like, but suffice it to say, I don't see any of the so called differences you claim to be so obvious. As far as engagement with the actual issues, it seemed to me that you were the one who refused to grapple with the questions posed to you and the objections raised concerning your arguments.

But we will just have to disagree I guess. No surprise there.

God Bless,
Ben