Thursday, October 08, 2009

Calvinism without theological determinism

I actually think five-point Calvinism is compatible with a libertarian view on free will. You can choose paper or plastic, you can even choose greater or lesser sins, but you can't choose righteousness without irresistible grace.

There are leading Calvinists who take this position, such as, I believe, J. I. Packer.

47 comments:

Steven said...

Would God have to have something like middle knowledge if you marry Calvinism with LFW?

Steven said...

Come to think of it, it seems worthless to marry Calvinism with LFW. God would be willingly forcing men to choose between sins and holding them responsible anyway--so why add the nonsense about power of contrary choice and so on?

Anonymous said...

The point is, even if you're right, and even granting Paker isn't confused about actions theory, as are many Calvinist theologians, unfortunately, the point is that they are compatibilists on this point, and one instance of a free and responsible act being determined is sufficient to overthrow libertarianism as a *necessary* constraint on responsibility. In fact, given that this is so, and that all Calvinists believe this, I find it hard to believe in Calvinist libertarians. What's the motivation? Moreover, many determinists do say "paper of plastic," they hold to hypothetical compatibilism and so they hold to PAP. All action theorists know this, Victor. It's not enough to find a Calvinist who says that we "can" choose paper or plastic, you need to find one that flat out denies that God determines all things.

(Ah, I see Steven made a similar point.)

Anonymous said...

(((P L A N T I N G A)))

Robert said...

Hello Victor,

You claimed:

“I actually think five-point Calvinism is compatible with a libertarian view on free will. You can choose paper or plastic, you can even choose greater or lesser sins, but you can't choose righteousness without irresistible grace.

There are leading Calvinists who take this position, such as, I believe, J. I. Packer.”

You are absolutely correct in your assertion here.

While many calvinists hold to the “big three” “calvinist” beliefs (i.e. exhaustive determinism of all events, denial of libertarian free will, and the calvinist soteriology represented by the acronym TULIP): in fact some hold to the soteriology without the rest. Mike Darus who posts here frequently seems to hold to this view.

I also know someone having had direct conversations with him about it who holds the following view. He believes that we have libertarian free will when it comes to ordinary decisions and choices (so he does not hold to the denial of LFW). He does not believe that everything is predetermined (so he does not hold to exhaustive determinism). But he does hold to TULIP. So he believes that Adam freely fell into sin and hence everyone after him suffers from total depravity (“T”) so that they cannot come to Christ in faith (unless given irresistible grace, “I”). Only those whom God preselected for salvation will be given this saving and irresistible grace (“U”). He would also argue that while Jesus is provided for all in one sense in another sense Jesus died only for the elect (“L”). And those given this grace will also be given grace to persevere and continue in their faith (“P”). And if you are wondering he denies the Molinist view of election.

He runs a great apologetics organization called STAND TO REASON and his name is Greg Koukl. He is very strong in apologetics and recently put out a great book on apologetics called TACTICS. I have always believed that the kind of Calvinism held by Koukl is the strongest version to deal with. He does not have the problems of God becoming the author of sin or causing and bringing about all sinful actions that those who espouse exhaustive determinism have. In a sense he has the best of both worlds. As I know a lot of pastors, I know some calvinist pastors who hold views very similar to Koukl (affirming TULIP without reservation and holding to LFW in most instances except when it comes to salvation).

It should be noted however, that Koukl does not represent the traditional form of Calvinism that holds to all three beliefs (exhaustive determinism, denial of LFW, and affirming TULIP). People like Calvin, Luther, Edwards, Piper, Sproul Jr., MacArthur. It also needs to be remembered that while calvinists generally affirm TULIP, there are also calvinists who affirm 4-point Calvinism (deny limited atonement) and disagree on infra versus supra lapsarianism.

So Yes Victor, one can hold to a form of Calvinism that is compatible with a libertarian free will.

Robert

a helmet said...

I find Calvinism just foolish!

Joshua said...

@Robert, @Victor - Same here. IMO, Calvinists who attempt to extrapolate their understanding of soteriology to a general philosophy of consciousness, are overstepping their bounds. I think that such behavior is just as prideful and foolish as the YEC folks who insist on turning the Bible into a geology text.

J said...

Given calvinist premises (ie omnipotence, for one), a person only appears to choose. Your choice was already known--and planned centuries before you even existed: that's part of the Election hype.

Calvinism may seem like a coherent theology to some, but it has little or nothing to do with the message of the New Testament. All humans are provided with at least the possibility of salvation of some sort--or it's total BS.

Joshua said...

Given calvinist premises (ie omnipotence, for one), a person only appears to choose.

Are you implying that Arminians don't believe in God's omnipotence?

J said...

Why, that does seem to be the implication of authentic free will, old man, whether believed or not. Gott can plot the future only on occasion--but generally not in regards to his fave creatures, humanity. He's like f-ed up, mostly. Makes mistakes fighting...the Adversary. Better an imperfect Being who does not consciously plot Stalins and Hitlers than ,like, Calvinism.

Jus' say Manicheanism, man.

Anonymous said...

No one has dealt with the point that if these Calvinists, who are not calvinists on this issue, are right, then the motivation for LFW is lost. If they are right, compatibilism is *true*. No LFWer can accept that.

And Josh is wrong. No Calvinist "attempt to extrapolate their understanding of soteriology to a general philosophy of consciousness." In fact, that's the domain of libertarians. Get your facts straight. Calvinism is consistent with dualism or physicalism. Not Arminianism, according to guys like Robert. Robert and his ilk think the Bible is a metaphysical handbook, detailing the finer points of action theory and man's constitution.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is right. I have seen Robert and other Arminians claim that if one is not a substance dualist then one is not a Christian. They were even unaware that Robert Kane was a Christian because he tries to give a physicalist account of LFW. Just because Kane is a physicalist they called him an unbeliever.

Josh, get your facts straight.

William said...

It is indeed possible that the general free will vs. determinism debate regarding cognition in modern and postmodern times is being fed inappropriately into the predestination/salvation issue, and that 300 or more years ago the question would be framed very differently. See for example:

lutherans, roman catholics, anglicans

Robert said...

An Anonymous poster wrote:

" I have seen Robert and other Arminians claim that if one is not a substance dualist then one is not a Christian."

When did I say **that**?

And where did "other Arminians" say that?

I believe that the bible clearly presents what we would call "substance dualism", but when did I (or someone else) make the claim that unless one is a substance dualist one cannot be a Christian?

Robert

PS - and what does substance dualism have to do with the subject of this thread which is whether or not a calvinist could hold to libertarian free will? Koukl certainly proves this possibility as do others. Why is anonymous bringing up substance dualism and physicalism in this thread?

Robert said...

"Robert and his ilk think the Bible is a metaphysical handbook, detailing the finer points of action theory and man's constitution."

What's that supposed to mean, that I believe the bible is a philosophy textbook"? (it is not). Or a scientific textbook? (again it is not). That being said, it does provide useful and factual information concerning issues that both philosophers and scientists consider. For instance what it says (when properly interpreted) about "man's constitution" and "action theory" is true,is it not? Or does the bible only touch upon matters of faith and practice?

Robert

Joshua said...

Joshua said... Are you implying that Arminians don't believe in God's omnipotence?

J said...
Why, that does seem to be the implication of authentic free will, old man, whether believed or not.


@J - Arminians believe in God's omnipotence. As do all Christians.

I think that you're trying to make a point about Calvinistic views on free will and determinism, but you're not even coming close to expressing your argument coherently. None of these issues have anything to do with omnipotence.

Robert said...

The issue in this thread is whether or not a calvinist can hold to libertarian free will. I have suggested that in fact they can. Not all calvinists are necessatarians who believe that all events are exhaustively determined and who deny LFW. The key is what the person believes about unconditional election (did God decide beforehand who would be saved and who would be damned). Those who hold this belief whether they are four or five pointers are calvinists. I presented Greg Koukl as an example of a calvinist who affirms both unconditional election and LFW.

Koukl wrote a very good book on apologetics recently called TACTICS. At one point he talks about determinism showing clearly a problem with it as well as showing that he clearly rejects it:

[[“It always strikes me as odd when people try to advance arguments for determinism. Let me tell you why.

Determinists claim that freedom is an illusion. Each of our choices is fixed, determined beforehand by the circumstances that precede it. All of our “choices” are inevitable results of blind physical forces beyond our control.

The problem with this view is that without freedom, rationality would have no room to operate. Arguments would not matter, since no one would be able to base their beliefs on adequate reasons. One could never judge between a good idea and a bad one. One would only hold beliefs because he had been predetermined to do so.

That’s why it is odd when someone tries to argue for determinism. If determinism were true, the person would have been “determined” to believe it (with others just as “determined” to disagree). He would have to admit that reasons don’t matter and that trying to think the issue through is a waste of time.

Although it is theoretically possible that determinism is true - - there is no internal contradiction, as far as I can tell - - no one could ever know if it were. Every one of our thoughts, dispositions and opinions would have been decided by us by factors completely out of our control. Therefore in practice, arguments for determinism are self refuting. (TACTICS by Greg Koukl P. 128)”]]

Robert

J said...

It's completely coherent--in fact a variation of Russell's critique of the Reformer's wingnut theology, and specifically, the implications of omniscience (AND omnipotence). You simply don't understand it, or refuse to. Even some of the "process theology" types say something of the sort (ie Gott's omniscience is limited).

Arminians may have been the good guys back in the days of Wesley, but are now more or less free-will baptists compared to dour calvinist-presbyterians. Little noticiable difference, except that baptists may be slightly mo' dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Robert also claims that Kane "discards the Bible" SIMPLY BECAUSE it doesn't fit his view. This is uncharitable in the extreme.

He chastises other people for claiming that Reppert should stick to his own expertise, or for critiquing Reppert's motives etc., but yet here he is doing the SAME THING he has a problem with commenters doing to Reppert. Robert is a hypocrite and an unstable thinker. It's because he posts from a position of rage and hatred toward Calvinists that he makes such glaring errors.

Next, check out the logical implications of these two statements from Robert:

"And as I showed in the previous post, Kane because of his commitment to scientism, rejects the immaterial soul because it supposedly does not fit science."

and,

"I serve Jesus who clearly held to substance dualism, others, nonbelievers, serve science as their greatest source of truth. And THEY want to tell me to jettison the truth/ my belief in my immaterial soul in order to be academically respectable?"


It is clear here that the LOGICAL conclusion from Robert's statements is that Kane is an unbeliever, that he doesn't "serve Jesus," but, instead, "serves science," and he does so not because he believes his position is TRUE, but because, according to Robert, he wants to be considered "academically respectable."

This is unloving and uncharitable of Robert. Robert is a hypocrite. But of course, we Calvinists already knew that. Robert is the guy who condemns anonymous and sockpuppeting, yet he has posted under numerous monikers, like: Robert, Henry, Anonymous, Lurker, etc.

Robert's above statements prove how radical he is and how he views being a Christian not with trusting in Christ, but also being a libertarian Cartesian dualist. For Robert, it's "faith" PLUS. But then, this is what people have been saying about Arminians for years.

Victor, did you know Robert was such a hateful and radical person? What we see above is not the "loving" nature of Arminians we so often hear about. No, Robert treated Kane like, or worse than, Steve Hays has treated Reppert (according to what Robert tells us). The only difference between Robert and Hays is that Hays has the nerve to say things to people's faces, unlike Robert.

Ciao, buddy. You bring this on yourself. Just focus on the arguments and stop trying to gleefully point out "sin" in others, constantly going the ad hominem route. You might find that if you changed your hateful tone, Calvinists would change theirs towards you.

Anonymous said...

ooops, didn't post it all:

Part 1.


Robert wants to get the discussion on track but notice he makes no comment to Josh when Josh takes a swipe at Calvinists. Robert is a double-dealing respecter of persons.

Again, Josh, care to show you're not a respecter of persons? Here is a claim by Robert:

"Easy, I know that the bible properly interpreted presents about human anthropology: the fact that when we do our intentional actions, these actions DO IN FACT proceed from OUR IMMATERIAL SOULS (or “spirits” if you prefer). And as I showed in the previous post, Kane because of his commitment to scientism, rejects the immaterial soul because it supposedly does not fit science. So Kane attempts to explain human actions by intentionally leaving out our immaterial soul/the person who does the action, in his explanation."

LOL, Josh. get your facts straight.

Next, look at Robert's unloving characterization of Kane:

"Now leaving out the immaterial soul may be acceptable among professional philosophers (no wonder many common people find professional philosophers to be fools)but it is completely unacceptable for a Christian who takes the bible seriously when it clearly teaches that we have an immaterial soul from which our actions spring."

and,

"Kane in order to make his philosophical views fit with science, discards the biblical view of human action from the get-go! He cavalierly dismisses with no justification whatsoever, what the bible says as an unacceptable explanation."

Not only does Robert again act as if the Bible is a metaphysical handbook detailing the finer points of the mind/body debate, Robert impugns Kane's character and implies that Kane "doesn't take the Bible seriously." However, in personal email conversations with me, he has claimed differently. But, this is just one more example of Robert's unloving and uncharitable attitude.

Robert also claims that Kane "discards the Bible" SIMPLY BECAUSE it doesn't fit his view. This is uncharitable in the extreme.

He chastises other people for claiming that Reppert should stick to his own expertise, or for critiquing Reppert's motives etc., but yet here he is doing the SAME THING he has a problem with commenters doing to Reppert. Robert is a hypocrite and an unstable thinker. It's because he posts from a position of rage and hatred toward Calvinists that he makes such glaring errors.

Anonymous said...

part 2.


Next, check out the logical implications of these two statements from Robert:

"And as I showed in the previous post, Kane because of his commitment to scientism, rejects the immaterial soul because it supposedly does not fit science."

and,

"I serve Jesus who clearly held to substance dualism, others, nonbelievers, serve science as their greatest source of truth. And THEY want to tell me to jettison the truth/ my belief in my immaterial soul in order to be academically respectable?"


It is clear here that the LOGICAL conclusion from Robert's statements is that Kane is an unbeliever, that he doesn't "serve Jesus," but, instead, "serves science," and he does so not because he believes his position is TRUE, but because, according to Robert, he wants to be considered "academically respectable."

This is unloving and uncharitable of Robert. Robert is a hypocrite. But of course, we Calvinists already knew that. Robert is the guy who condemns anonymous and sockpuppeting, yet he has posted under numerous monikers, like: Robert, Henry, Anonymous, Lurker, etc.

Robert's above statements prove how radical he is and how he views being a Christian not with trusting in Christ, but also being a libertarian Cartesian dualist. For Robert, it's "faith" PLUS. But then, this is what people have been saying about Arminians for years.

Victor, did you know Robert was such a hateful and radical person? What we see above is not the "loving" nature of Arminians we so often hear about. No, Robert treated Kane like, or worse than, Steve Hays has treated Reppert (according to what Robert tells us). The only difference between Robert and Hays is that Hays has the nerve to say things to people's faces, unlike Robert.

Ciao, buddy. Ciao, buddy. You bring this on yourself. Just focus on the arguments and stop trying to gleefully point out "sin" in others, constantly going the ad hominem route. You might find that if you changed your hateful tone, Calvinists would change theirs towards you.

Joshua said...

@J - It may, indeed, be that I don't understand what you are saying. You seemed to be claiming that Calvinism is flawed because of a belief in God's omnipotence. I responded that all Christianity is "flawed" with that belief. It is, in fact, part of the Apostle's Creed, which is the definitive statement of Christian faith.

I wasn't interested in debating with you whether or not all of Christianity is erroneous about God's omnipotence. I was simply pointing out that the issue has nothing to do with Calvinism.

Joshua said...

@anonymous -- I'm a Calvinist, and have been one my entire life. I suppose I should have made that clear before anyone accused me of "taking a swipe at (all) Calvinists".

As you say, many Arminians are guilty of extrapolating their soteriology into a metaphysical philosophy. They are just as bad as the Calvinists who do the same. But Arminians weren't the subject of this thread. Victor's post was about Calvinists and the philosophy of free will.

Additionally, I agree with Steven that it's somewhat worthless to marry Calvinism with LFW. But Victor's point is that it's not impossible (even if it's not very useful). *My* point, added to that, is that it's not fruitful to insist on imposing Calvinism's conception of predestination beyond soteriology, so it's a stupid thing to get worked up about.

Again, there are plenty of Arminians who insist on ignoring the fact of predestination. But there are also very many Calvinists who obsess about predestination to a point that makes even Daniel Dennett look wishy-washy. This is a fact.

I also agree with @William. Many of the participants in the debate are engaged because it's part of a bigger philosophical question where they want to "prove" themselves, and they bring up the "soteriology" angle simply as an excuse. Calvin's position on soteriology is pretty simple and clear (as is Arminius's, for that matter). It's a sad commentary that so many people from either camp fail to be satisfied with that.

Anonymous said...

Joshua,

Apologies.

I would make the point that Calvinists who do affirm a global theoplogical determinism do so strictly because of what they read in the Bible. If all they had to go on where soteric passages, yoy may have a point. But, since Calvinists claim there are more, a lot more, your point is a confusing one. Calvinists think global determinism follows from several biblical and theological truths. I am unaware of Calvinists who do what you say. And that's mainly because most Calvinists are theologians first. Most are uniformed, or just don't care, about philosophical, scientific, psychological, etc., arguments for determinism.

So, when you claim, "Calvinists who attempt to extrapolate their understanding of soteriology to a general philosophy of consciousness, are overstepping their bounds", I just find that uninteresting since I am unaware of any who do that. Surely you know, as a "lifelong Calvinist," that Calvinists have for more passages than a few NT soterin passages, such as John 6, Romans 9, Eph 1&2, etc.

Anonymous said...

Robert is a double-dealing respecter of persons.

These sound like the words of Paul Manata of Triablogue: same phraseology, etc. "Anonymous," are you really Paul Manata hiding, cloaking yourself "anonymously"?

Sincerely,
Anonymous

Joshua said...

@anonymous - Sure, I'm aware that themes of predestination pervade the Bible. But the Bible is primarily about salvation, deliverance, and reprobation -- especially the passages that deal with predestination. Or putting it another way, I think that theology is primarily and best concerned with soteriology, so I guess I would agree with your assertion that Calvinists ought to draw the line at theology.

And it's entirely possible that you and I encounter different kinds of Calvinists. I frequently find myself explaining Calvinism to self-professed "Calvinists" who have gotten themselves all twisted up in fatalistic sophistry. You could say that these folks aren't really Calvinists, but IMO they are the type most likely to self-profess Calvinism and run around correcting people they feel are not Calvinist enough. Calvinist Dan Philips is currently running an excellent series over at "Team Pyro" blog called "Communicating Clearly", where he addresses many of the common traps that these sorts of Calvinists get themselves into. Based on his posts, and many of the comments, I'm not the only one who sees Calvinists getting a little bit too eager in extrapolating our theology.

William Watson Birch said...

Anonymous,

My name is Billy Birch, owner of the Classical Arminianism blog. I can verify that Robert is who he says he is.

How about you? Who might you be? What is your name? Is it true that you are Paul Manata from Triablogue?

steve said...

William Watson Birch said...

"My name is Billy Birch, owner of the Classical Arminianism blog. I can verify that Robert is who he says he is."

That's nice to you. Did he sent you his passport?

steve said...

Billy,

My name is Steve Hays, of Triablogue. I can verify that Anonymous is who he says he is.

William Watson Birch said...

Steve Hays,

That's nice to you. Did he sent you his passport?

steve said...

Since Anonymous is...anonymous, I don't need to see his passport to verify that he is who he says he is. If he says he's anonymous, then his anonymous identity is self-evident. Anonymity has a lower burden of proof.

What about "Robert"?

William Watson Birch said...

Considering the fact that I engage with Robert every few days of every week, and the style and word choice which he consistently employs, let alone consistent arguments commensurate with the person we know as Robert (not to mention that this same "Robert" isn't a coward, and actually leaves his signature to his comments) informs me that this is my friend, the aforementioned double-dealing respecter of persons, whom Triabloguers have referenced as such on numerous occasions.

We have no doubt that Hays, Manata (er, "Anonymous") or any other T-blogger also recognizes "Robert."

steve said...

William Watson Birch said...

“Considering the fact that I engage with Robert every few days of every week, and the style and word choice which he consistently employs, let alone consistent arguments commensurate with the person we know as Robert.”

So what you can apparently verify is that somebody who calls himself Robert in his semiweekly dealings with you is the same individual who calls himself Robert when commenting on Dangerous Idea.

But how does this verify that “Robert is who he says he is”?

How would that distinguish him from a sockpuppet who uses the same pseudonymous identity in more than one venue? And how could you verify that “Robert” is really a Robert rather than a Roberta posing as a man?

“(Not to mention that this same ‘Robert’ isn't a coward, and actually leaves his signature to his comments)”

Since there are millions of “Roberts” in the phonebook, how does using a popular first name distinguish him from an anonymous or pseudonymous commenter?

“The aforementioned double-dealing respecter of persons, whom Triabloguers have referenced as such on numerous occasions.”

He’s a double-dealing respecter of persons on various grounds. For example, he attacks other commenters who conceal their true identity while he conceals his own identity. He condemns others for harsh, judgmental language while he himself doles out harsh, judgmental language whenever he pleases. He attacks Calvinists because they deny libertarian freewill, yet he himself subscribes to the perseverance of the saints–in which case true believers aren’t at liberty to do otherwise. He accuses Calvinists of superimposing an artificial meaning on proginosko even though it’s easy to quote non-Calvinists who construe the verb the same way Reformed scholars do.

And when you come to the defense of a double-dealing respecter of persons, just because he’s a fellow Arminian, your partisan defense makes you another double-dealing respecter of persons.

William Watson Birch said...

Steve Hays,

And when you come to the defense of a double-dealing respecter of persons, just because he’s a fellow Arminian, your partisan defense makes you another double-dealing respecter of persons.

And all of this simply because we asked Anonymous if he was your buddy, Paul Manata . . . to whose defense you quickly came . . . because you are anything but a respecter of persons . . . Hmmmm . . . And we have yet to receive an answer . . . all very interesting . . .

Victor Reppert said...

Hmmm. I started with a post saying that Calvinism could get along without theological determinism, a claim that presumably should help the Calvinists, and we end up with 34 posts and the subject changed to sock puppeting charges????

Robert said...

Hello Joshua,

“As you say, many Arminians are guilty of extrapolating their soteriology into a metaphysical philosophy. They are just as bad as the Calvinists who do the same. But Arminians weren't the subject of this thread. Victor's post was about Calvinists and the philosophy of free will.”

Right, the issue was whether or not a calvinist could also hold to libertarian free will? The answer is a definite Yes. I provided Greg Koukl as an example of a person who holds to TULIP but also holds to LFW. I also provided Koukl’ argument against determinism from his new book TACTICS. The fact that Koukl a calvinist can make this argument against determinism, decisively proves that calvinists can hold to both TULIP in their soteriology as well as simultaneously affirming LFW.

Koukl makes a strong argument against determinism (in the words shared in an earlier post).
Joshua what do you think of Koukl’s argument?

“Additionally, I agree with Steven that it's somewhat worthless to marry Calvinism with LFW.”

That’s a different argument. I think Koukl’s view since he affirms that LFW is at least sometimes present, eliminates a lot of problems that the calvinists who hold to exhaustive determinism are permanently stuck with (that is what Victor meant when he wrote: "I started with a post saying that Calvinism could get along without theological determinism, a claim that presumably should help the Calvinists,").

“But Victor's point is that it's not impossible (even if it's not very useful).”

Again, that is the issue of this thread: can a calvinist hold to a Calvinistic soteriology (as represented by TULIP) AND simultaneously hold to LFW.

And the answer is most definitely.

Robert

steve said...

William Watson Birch said...

“And all of this simply because we asked Anonymous if he was your buddy, Paul Manata . . . to whose defense you quickly came . . . because you are anything but a respecter of persons . . . Hmmmm . . . And we have yet to receive an answer . . . all very interesting . . .”

i) Since the anonymous commenter is…anonymous, I’m in no position to verify the identity of the anonymous commenter. Therefore, I’m in no position to come to the defense of my buddy, Paul Manata–since I can’t “verify” whether or not the commenter is Manata or Plantinga or Billy Graham or Benny Hinn.

ii) Apropos (i), to say I show respect of persons towards anonymous individuals is unintentionally funny. Since anonymity makes it difficult to distinguish one anonymous commenter from another anonymous commenter, I’d be hard pressed to show respect of persons when the persons in question are equally nameless and faceless.

iii) I also see that you have yet to master the elementary principle of a tu quoque argument. Arminian theology is egalitarian in a way that Reformed theology is not. What is a double standard for you may not be a double standard for me–since you and I don’t have the same standards.

iv) You also haven’t shown that I engage in any of the specifically duplicitous types of behavior that I documented in the case of Robert. Try again.

Joshua said...

@Robert - I verified that I consider it possible to hold to TULIP and LFW in my first comment to this post.

I cannot comment on Koukl's "strong argument against determinism". I've not read any Koukl.

Robert said...

Joshua I am surprised that you wrote:

"I cannot comment on Koukl's "strong argument against determinism". I've not read any Koukl."

I posted from Koukl's new book called TACTICS earlier in this thread. I quoted directly from Koukl, apparently you missed it so here it is again (I will place his words in brackets):

"[[“It always strikes me as odd when people try to advance arguments for determinism. Let me tell you why.

Determinists claim that freedom is an illusion. Each of our choices is fixed, determined beforehand by the circumstances that precede it. All of our “choices” are inevitable results of blind physical forces beyond our control.

The problem with this view is that without freedom, rationality would have no room to operate. Arguments would not matter, since no one would be able to base their beliefs on adequate reasons. One could never judge between a good idea and a bad one. One would only hold beliefs because he had been predetermined to do so.

That’s why it is odd when someone tries to argue for determinism. If determinism were true, the person would have been “determined” to believe it (with others just as “determined” to disagree). He would have to admit that reasons don’t matter and that trying to think the issue through is a waste of time.

Although it is theoretically possible that determinism is true - - there is no internal contradiction, as far as I can tell - - no one could ever know if it were. Every one of our thoughts, dispositions and opinions would have been decided by us by factors completely out of our control. Therefore in practice, arguments for determinism are self refuting. (TACTICS by Greg Koukl P. 128)”]]

So there it is Joshua, Koukl's own words arguing against determinism.

So what do you think of his argument Joshua?

Robert

Robert said...

At one time I had talked with some of Steve Hays’ friends and acquaintances to learn more about him, one said he was really smart. His latest comments make that a dubious claim.

First of all, on the one hand he claims that I am posting anonymously (that I am not sufficiently revealing my identity since I am posting only by my legal first name Robert), and yet on the other hand he presents what he thinks are negative things about me:

“iv) You also haven’t shown that I engage in any of the specifically duplicitous types of behavior that I documented in the case of Robert.”

These supposedly “duplicitous types of behavior” that Hays claims to have “documented” how does he know it was me and not someone else if I am posting anonymously as he claims?

If he doesn’t know for sure that it is me then how can he be coming up with his “documented” negative behaviors? I mean he must know it is me sufficiently to accuse me of these alleged behaviors so then how can he simultaneously claim that I am posting anonymously or not disclosing my identity sufficiently in order to interact on things? This makes all of his comments about posting anonymously and “full disclosure” shallow and irrelevant.

Steve Hays also made some other statements that do not manifest intelligence at all. So again perhaps his friend is wrong about him. Of course they also told me that he is living with his ailing mother taking care of her, and he is unmarried and childless. Should I trust that these claims made by his friends are true or false? If false why are his **friends** lying about him? If true, well then my claim that his life circumstances allow him to post for hours and hours on the internet is strongly supported by the facts of his personal life.

And speaking of verifying things: Steve Hays made the following incredibly non-thinking comments:

“i) Since the anonymous commenter is…anonymous, I’m in no position to verify the identity of the anonymous commenter. Therefore, I’m in no position to come to the defense of my buddy, Paul Manata–since I can’t “verify” whether or not the commenter is Manata or Plantinga or Billy Graham or Benny Hinn.”

Ahem, hate to break it to you, hate to burst your bubble Steve, but you are in fact in perfect position to verify whether the anonymous commenter is Paul Manata or not. Apparently in your thinking you missed an incredibly simple method of verification.

Still, though the logic is simple you may need some help with it, so I will walk you by the hand. First, Paul Manata either did (X) or did not (not-X) post anonymously on this thread. Second, you know Manata personally and he has worked with you on your blog. Do I need to keep spelling it out for you so that you can arrive at the simple method of verification?

Steve explicitly claimed that he was in no position to verify the identity of the anonymous commenter, that he “IS IN NO POSITION TO COME TO THE DEFENSE OF MY BUDDY, PAUL MANATA- SINCE I CAN’T ‘VERIFY’ WHETHER OR NOT THE COMMENTER IS MANATA OR . . . .”

Oh really?

Ahem, all that Hays needs to do is email Manata and ask him whether or not he has been posting anonymously (assuming that Manata will be truthful with his friend and tell him the truth). Perhaps Hays needs help here, some coaching since he could not come up with this simple method of verification on his own. He could ask him with these words: “Paul **please** tell me the **truth**, have you been posting anonymously over at Dangerous Idea in [this thread}?” If Manata answers No, then Hays is in the position to verify that it was not Manata posting anonymously in this thread. If Manata answers Yes, then Hays is also in the position to verify that it was Manata posting anonymously in this thread.

Either way, Steve Hays is in PERFECT position to **easily** verify whether or not Paul Manata has posted anonymously here or not:

BY SIMPLY ASKING HIM!!!!

If Hays is so smart then how did he miss this simple possibility???

Robert

Joshua said...

@Robert - Without having read any Koukl in context, the quotation you provide seems incredibly weak to me. It reminds me of a college pot-smoking session: "If everything is predestined, dude, then we're predestined to think about whether everything is predestined, even though it's meaningless. Whoa!"

It may be that Koukl has a strong point, but his point appears to be obscured by the other rambling.

IMO, people get into trouble when they start trying to extrapolate to absolutes. If Koukl is trying to say that predestination of human wills absolutely *never* occurs, then he's an idiot (and not a Christian). If, on the other hand, some overly-deterministic Calvinists start saying that human wills are absolutely *never* free, then they are also skating on thin ice, IMO.

The Bible never commanded us to combat others on behalf of an absolutist theory of human will, so I don't know why so many people do so in God's name.

Robert said...

Oh and I should also mention that of course asking Manata may not work (since Manata is dishonest and likes to sock puppet and post anonymously to hide his true identity) how do we know he would answer his friend Steve Hays truthfully even if Hays asked him?

And if Manata actually was honest about it and admitted that he had been posting anonymously how do we know that Hays would be honest enough to admit that Manata had done so?

Robert

Robert said...

Hello Joshua:

“Without having read any Koukl in context, the quotation you provide seems incredibly weak to me.”

I noticed that you did not engage his points at all, if even to show they were mistaken or how they were mistaken. Instead you appealed to a cavalier dismissal and wrote:

“It reminds me of a college pot-smoking session: "If everything is predestined, dude, then we're predestined to think about whether everything is predestined, even though it's meaningless. Whoa!"”

Perhaps you were intending to be funny, but in fact if everything were predestined and someone were to have the experience you mention here and say what you have them saying, then that would happen to them just as God had predestined it to occur. Personally I don’t think it is funny and if God has indeed predetermined everything as some necessatarians believe then everything is supposed to happen including you providing your pot smoker illustration. Then it is all prescripted just like these college students say that it is.

“It may be that Koukl has a strong point, but his point appears to be obscured by the other rambling.”

I am not convinced that you understand his point since you don’t even deal with it.

“IMO, people get into trouble when they start trying to extrapolate to absolutes.”

What’s that supposed to mean? We may not be all-knowing but our minds do seek after practical certainty.

“If Koukl is trying to say that predestination of human wills absolutely *never* occurs, then he's an idiot (and not a Christian).”

So according to you a Christian must affirm that the predestination of human wills **sometimes** occurs?

Or the person could not be saved?

“If, on the other hand, some overly-deterministic Calvinists start saying that human wills are absolutely *never* free, then they are also skating on thin ice, IMO.”

So you are saying that another extreme (“overly-deterministic Calvinists”) is to claim that human wills are **never** free?

So from your statements is it fair to say that your position is the following:

God sometimes predestines the human will and people sometimes act freely; so it is false to say that we never act freely and also false to say that our wills are always predestined? Is that your position?

“The Bible never commanded us to combat others on behalf of an absolutist theory of human will, so I don't know why so many people do so in God's name.”

OK, what is “an absolutist theory of human will”? I don’t want to comment on what you say until I understand what you are saying.

Robert

steve said...

Robert said...

“Oh and I should also mention that of course asking Manata may not work (since Manata is dishonest and likes to sock puppet and post anonymously to hide his true identity) how do we know he would answer his friend Steve Hays truthfully even if Hays asked him?”

Well, that let’s Manata off the hook. If he’s untrustworthy, then there’s no point in asking him since you can’t trust his answer.

“And if Manata actually was honest about it and admitted that he had been posting anonymously how do we know that Hays would be honest enough to admit that Manata had done so?”

Well, that leaves me off the hook. If I’m untrustworthy, then there’s no point in asking me since you can’t trust my answer.

Notice, though, a further implication of Robert’s statement. He thinks that if someone knows the true identity of an anonymous commenter, then he should reveal the commenter’s true identity.

Hence, everyone who knows Robert’s true identity should reveal Robert’s true identity.

Since I’m pretty well connected, perhaps I should start asking around. I happen to know some of the same folks whom Robert says he knows. According to Robert, they are obligated to blow his cover.

Joshua said...

@Robert - the Bible is very clear that God sometimes predestines the human will. So yes, I believe that. On the other hand, the Bible does not endorse a fatalistic viewpoint, but emphasizes responsibility at every point.

I'm not interested in making claims beyond that, since I cannot imagine anything but bad reasons for doing so. Do *you* have some compelling reason for latching onto absolute statements about determinism, as Koukl seems to be doing? For me, the Bible provides the perfect level of specificity.

Robert said...

Steve Hays has responded.

I had written:

“Oh and I should also mention that of course asking Manata may not work (since Manata is dishonest and likes to sock puppet and post anonymously to hide his true identity) how do we know he would answer his friend Steve Hays truthfully even if Hays asked him?”

Hays responded:

“Well, that let’s Manata off the hook. If he’s untrustworthy, then there’s no point in asking him since you can’t trust his answer.”

Conditional, Steve, the key word is “if” he’s untrustworthy. So far by his actions he seems to think there is nothing wrong with sock puppeting and posting anonymously. And so far you seem to want to protect him.

I had written:


“And if Manata actually was honest about it and admitted that he had been posting anonymously how do we know that Hays would be honest enough to admit that Manata had done so?”

Hays responded:


“Well, that leaves me off the hook. If I’m untrustworthy, then there’s no point in asking me since you can’t trust my answer.”

Again, conditional, Steve, “if” you are untrustworthy.


“Notice, though, a further implication of Robert’s statement. He thinks that if someone knows the true identity of an anonymous commenter, then he should reveal the commenter’s true identity.”

That’s not what I am saying. My problem is with people who post anonymously or who sock puppet in order to take shots at others while hiding behind their anonymity. I don’t think that is right and acceptable for a Christian (regardless of who does it, whether they are calvinist or non-Calvinist). You appear to disagree as it seems OK to you as long as the one posting anonymously is a calvinist attacking non-Calvinists.

My request is simple, people ought to at least post by their first name. I do not ask for “full disclosure” as that is not necessary or wise when posting publically on the internet. But professing Christians posting anonymously in order to attack other believers, that just does not seem right to me.


“Hence, everyone who knows Robert’s true identity should reveal Robert’s true identity.”

They don’t have to reveal **everything** about me, what you demand is “full disclosure” which again is neither wise nor necessary on the internet. And again you know who I am when I post as Robert so you know my “true identity”. I have also had both Billy and Ben verify my identity as Robert on this blog Dangerous Idea. Two witnesses is sufficient to establish my true identity.

“Since I’m pretty well connected, perhaps I should start asking around. I happen to know some of the same folks whom Robert says he knows. According to Robert, they are obligated to blow his cover.”

Couple things here. First I have no “cover” that could be blown or given away as I really am Robert.
Second, as I have said before and said repeatedly and yet you repeatedly reject: I work in prison ministry and part of good security when dealing with inmates is not to allow them to know too much personal information about you that can then be used in some sort of scam or manipulation (there are cases where simply having someone’s full name was sufficient for an ingenious inmate to attempt to pull something on that person; so you won’t be seeing me posting my full name in public, Robert will suffice to identify me, and that is all that is really necessary for the purposes of a discussion like this). The people who know me know my situation and so they understand why I post only by my first name: and so they are not "obligated" to reveal more.

Third, if I am in the ministry that I am in, and explain why I post minimal personal information when posting publically (in order to protect myself and family) and yet you keep pushing to get more personal information, pushing to get “full disclosure” what does that say about you? If the roles were reversed and you were posting merely as Steve because of involvement in prison ministry and for the reasons stated, I would leave it at that.

Robert

Anonymous said...

Hi friend: Romans 9-11, is the whole foundation for Calvinism:
Words: sovereignty, foreknowledge, predestination, Jacob…..all found in these chapters.
Israel was named as: elect, election, remnant, scattered, strangers, [sojourners] Jacob….mostly from the writings of Peter; he being of Jewish background.
11:26, “All Israel shall be saved….there shall come out Zion the Deliverer… who shall turn ungodliness from Jacob….”
St. Paul was showing “all Israel” should be saved….not Gentiles only, “I will call them my people who were not my people.” (9:24-25).
The Sovereignty of God does not destroy man. Scriptures reveal almost continually man working with God, both in faith, repentance, reacceptance, and labor. Our joy….Don H. Polston PhD.