Thursday, November 15, 2007

Foreknowledge and Free Will

Many people have a hard time embracing the doctrines of grace for several reasons. I have heard numerous things such as "Calvinism kills evangelism" "Calvinists believe man is a robot" and many other things. In my last post, I am reminded of yet another reason people have a hard time embracing Calvinism.

People just can't believe in a God who creates people who have no choice but to go to hell.

I want to address this for just a few moments.

First...this is not Calvinism. Calvinism teaches that God creates people who do have a choice and will. These people will choose what they desire, and that it sin. God has created people who are ensalved to their sinful natures and will sin, unless God changes their hearts.

Second...Arminians think this is just a problem with Calvinism. However, the problem lies within Arminianism as well....IF God exhastively foreknows that someone will not choose Christ and end up in hell before he creates them, then why would he create those people? Upon the creation of those individuals, those people will not be able to choose otherwise, for God has exhastive foreknowledge that they will never do so. So, in Arminian theology, you also have a God who creates people who have no choice but to go to hell (or whatever God foreknows about that person). IF God foreknows that I am going to walk outside in five minutes, can I actually and really choose....and also perform the opposite? The answer is no, because God's knowledge of the future is exhaustive, and infinite. The future cannot happen in any other way than what God knows will happen.

If it can, then God does not have exhaustive foreknowleldge, and we are left with Open Theism or Process Theology.

SO here it is: People do have a free will and a choice...But that is not libertarian free will, it is free will of inclination. People do and choose what they want.

Sinners choose to go to hell. God doesn't create robots, he creates people who really have a choice, but they have already chosen what they want.

God cannot be blamed for creating people who go to hell. The Open Theists realize the same issue regarding God's foreknowledge and free will. Thus, they reject God's foreknowledge and say that God didn't know the person would reject him. He thought that people would believe in him. Calvinist do not deny the will or choice...rather we affirm man's choice and that man chooses from his heart of wickedness, untill God changes that person's heart.

If you can't believe in a God who creates people whom He already knows is going to hell, thus resulting in those people not being able to do otherwise, you must, like the Open Theist, reject classical theism, and reformulate the doctrine of God.

48 comments:

ketch22 said...

Are we allowed to debate on this blog? I hope so or otherwise I am going to upset some people because I am truly trying to understand this. I am not following the logic though. I believe it is flawed, which doesn't mean I think you are unsaved. If you accept Jesus as your savior and it truly changes your life, then I believe you are saved... it doesn't matter how you believe you got to that point. But my problem is that your believe might steer others in the wrong direction, so I need to clarify for myself as well as for you what you are saying.

First...this is not Calvinism. Calvinism teaches that God creates people who do have a choice and will. These people will choose what they desire, and that it sin. God has created people who are ensalved to their sinful natures and will sin, unless God changes their hearts.
If your only choice is sin, then it is illogical to say that God creates people who have a choice... this is not a choice nor a will. There are many who desire to be saved, who never complete the journey... and in your opinion it's because it is impossible without God's irresitible grace. If it is impossible, then there is no choice. No matter how much they want God, too bad, God doesn't have you on His list.

However, the problem lies within Arminianism as well....IF God exhastively foreknows that someone will not choose Christ and end up in hell before he creates them, then why would he create those people? Upon the creation of those individuals, those people will not be able to choose otherwise, for God has exhastive foreknowledge that they will never do so.
Actually, here is where the problem lies... just because God knows what is going to happen, we don't... and this is where free will and choice lie. This concept is hard to comprehend, but it is true if you really study it. Just because God knows your heart, doesn't mean He keeps you from choosing... He may know your choice before you do, but He still gives it to you to make. And let us not forget, our thoughts are not God's thoughts, therefore we do not nor will we ever know truly what God chooses to know... if He is as sovereign as you say, then He can choose not to know our choices. I don't believe that is true, but it is possible.

Sinners choose to go to hell. God doesn't create robots, he creates people who really have a choice, but they have already chosen what they want.
Like you said in your above statement, "you have no choice if the answer is known by God"... how can you state this and use it as an argument against? How can a sinner choose to go to hell if he has no choice because God already knows? This is your logic... no choice because God knows... but you contradict by saying sinners choose hell. It works both ways.

SO here it is: People do have a free will and a choice...But that is not libertarian free will, it is free will of inclination. People do and choose what they want.
So, actually, here it is: How can people do and choose what they want if God created them full of sin? If their natural inclination is to sin, and their only choice is sin, you can't say they can choose. Choosing needs more than one... You can't say here is a book, now choose which book you want... there is only one. You have to have at least 2 books. In other words, God gave you the ability and desire to seek Him out despite your sin. That is where the choice lies... you can choose to ignore that Voice calling, beckoning you, or you can choose to answer the call and accept the gift that is there for anybody willing to take it. That is more than one.... that is a choice.

In closing, I would ask that you re-examine some of these beliefs. Without free choice, one cannot truly be saved through the grace of Jesus Christ and the cross. If you are "forced" to accept a gift because God changed your will, how is that salvation? My last question is, why do Calvinists minister to others? If they are saved, they are saved... if not than ministry is pointless. If mankind is so depraved in sin, how is his reaching out to others going to work? Isn't this taking away from God's sovereignty?

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

How old are you?

So you are of the opinion that a person must be able to choose between two contrary choices in order to have free will correct? Yes or No.

ketch22 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ketch22 said...

I am 41.

To answer your question... No, a person doesn't have to choose between two contrary choices in order to have free will. However, that person has to be able to choose the contrary if he wants or his will is limited. For example, if you were offered two similar books, you have the right to choose one or the other... however, if you don't have the right to choose none of them, you are limited in your choices. Of all the choices available, the choice to not choose was not given you so you don't have free will, you have limited will.

Rhett said...

Mark,

I think there's something you should know...

Not one member of this blog was ever born and raised a Calvinist. Each one of us has a story and that story includes each of us being confronted with the Reformed perspective and not liking it at all.

What I'm about to write is not meant to be offensive, so please do not take it personal:

Many of the questions you raise and the conclusions you come to about Calvinism show me that you really do not have a proper understanding of what Calvinists believe.

It would help you quite a bit if you would visit http://www.amazinggracedvd.com/ and purchase the Amazing Grace DVD.

You can watch youtube clips of the DVD by visiting my "Rhett's Rants" blog.

RK

gordan said...

Ketch22,

What makes you think that in any particular situation you have what you call free will? I know it seems that way. You are faced with apparent choices, apparent free choices, in which you seem to be able to pick one or the other. But how do you know? Maybe it just seems that way. I mean, for any choice that you make, you cannot travel back in time and then make a different choice. So, I'm wondering where you get this idea from.

Brenda said...

Off topic: Many Calvinist/Arminian debates remind me of a story our pastor related to us about an argument between his young sons which had deteriorated to name-calling. The younger son got the last word with "You...you...DEACON!"

On topic: I just can't believe in people who create a god who needs their approval.

Luke said...

those people will not be able to choose otherwise, for God has exhastive foreknowledge that they will never do so.

This position confuses foreknowledge with causation. God's knows the future in advance, but that doesn't mean that people "can't choose otherwise." Rather, God can't do anything other than know. Knowledge doesn't cause anything.

For example, since a series of numbers can continue on into infinity, what number has God arrived at? If he has stopped counting, you can add 1 to that number and have a greater number than God's number! If God hasn't stopped, he's still working on the process!

The traditional classical theist response to this issue it to say that God's knowledge does not depend upon sequence, and is independent of any process. Therefore, to say that people don't have a choice if God foreknows is to also suggest that there is no independence between knowledge and process, just as if we were to make the same statement about God. As Plantinga and others have commented, God's knowledge has to be a different type of knowledge than what we are accustomed to.

gordan said...

Luke,

And that's terribly convenient, isn't it?

We box ourselves into a corner in which certain conclusions become logical necessities, but they're conclusions that we don't like; so, we construct a Star Trek transporter beam to zap us out of there: "Oh, well, God's knowledge is something totally different than anything that has ever been considered knowledge."

We wipe our brow and utter a muffled, "Whew! That was close!"

Luke writes, "As Plantinga and others have commented, God's knowledge has to be a different type of knowledge than what we are accustomed to."

The only reason it "has to be" this way is because, if it was something even mildly analogous to the knowledge we know, then the argument we're fond of falls apart utterly.

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

Hey Gordan,

We have had quite a lengthy debate over at my blog over this topic of foreknowledge. It is under the post "Struggling With Regrets". After some 75 comments worth of debate I realized that not a single determinist would answer any of my questions regarding the difficulties inherent in their own position. They just wanted to challenge and criticize my position, but had no interest in defending their own. "How convenient", I thought.

I decided to challenge these determinists to answer a few simple questions concerning their world view before expecting further interaction with me. This challenge appears in my most recent post "Got Free Will?"

I am sure you have better things to do, but I am hoping that you will be up to the task of being the first to offer some sort of coherent answer; unless, of course, such might be too inconvenient for you :)

Thanks,
Ben

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

If Free will means having the "option" to choose between two different things...which is what Libertarian freedom is, then God does not have free will..God cannot choose between holiness and holiness...For God to choose unholiness, would mean God ceases to be God.God cannot choose to accept or reject Christ, for him to reject Christ would really mess up the Godhead. God cannot choose to be finite, he is already infinite. God cannot choose to sin, because of his purity...

Here is the thing...God cannot choose anything that is inconsistent with his nature. Why are we willing to conjure up the notion that human beings can somehow choose something that is inconsistent within out nature...IF I am enslaved to a sinful nature...as Scripture says...then how am I free to choose something that is inconsistent, and opposite to that nature that I am ensalved to?

God can only choose to be holy...Are you suggesting God's free will is limited?

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Luke, I know that foreknowledge is not causation...I am not making that point. What I am saying is that if God exhaustively foreknows that I am going to choose A and not B, then can I actually perform B? IF I am still free to do B, and actually do B, then God does not know what I am going to do. We have the same problem...If I am really free to perform and carry out B, then I can choose something contrary to God's "exhaustive" foreknowledge and catch him off guard.

Luke said...

Luke, I know that foreknowledge is not causation...I am not making that point. What I am saying is that if God exhaustively foreknows that I am going to choose A and not B, then can I actually perform B?

Yes you can, but you won't.

If I am really free to perform and carry out B, then I can choose something contrary to God's "exhaustive" foreknowledge and catch him off guard.

You really are free to perform and carry out B. You can't, however, prevent God from knowing in advance. You're better off asking if God is free not to know.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Your answer is conditioned upon your presupposition of libertarian free will..The consequences and conclusions of libertarian freedom are numerous...Perhaps I will begin a series of posts dealing with this...too much in one comment, and I just got off work and am ready to sleep. I hope we can discuss these issues in a God honoring God fearing manner. Soli Deo Gloria!

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Your answer is conditioned upon your presupposition of libertarian free will..The consequences and conclusions of libertarian freedom are numerous...Perhaps I will begin a series of posts dealing with this...too much in one comment, and I just got off work and am ready to sleep. I hope we can discuss these issues in a God honoring God fearing manner. Soli Deo Gloria!

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Your answer is conditioned upon your presupposition of libertarian free will..The consequences and conclusions of libertarian freedom are numerous...Perhaps I will begin a series of posts dealing with this...too much in one comment, and I just got off work and am ready to sleep. I hope we can discuss these issues in a God honoring God fearing manner. Soli Deo Gloria!

Luke said...

Your answer is conditioned upon your presupposition of libertarian free will.

Not at all. My answer had to do with the relationship of God's knowledge to the Arminian position. In other words, your claim was that there was an internal inconstancy involved with the ability to do "B" and God's knowledge of it.

That simply isn't true. Addressing anything else is changing the topic.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

How can I actually perform B, If God exhaustivelly foreknows, before he created me, that I will choose A? Upon creating me, isnt the future that God knows certain...SO would it not be certain in the mind of God that I will choose A from before the foundation of the world? Then how can we claim that we are free to do B? There is no way to prove this.

Luke said...

Of course it's certain. There's a latent confusion in your initial post between certainty and necessity, and that's why I brought up the point God's knowledge is a different kind of knowledge.

Imagine, for example, that God shared all possible knowledge with you. You would know as much as God. Would your knowledge of future events in any way limit or necessitate the actions of others? Certainly not.

Paul said...

This is the Arminian answer to foreknowledge, that just because some event is certain does not make it necessary. Hence they say that the Calvinist conflates certainty with necessity. The Calvinist does not need to do that though we just understand it differently then the way the Arminian sees it, we see it as not only are those events certain to happen, but they also must necessarily happen. Why? to fulfill His purpose. We are to believe that God knew that his only begotten Son would be crucified on the cross, but that it was not necessary for it to happen? No, it was not only certain to happen, it was also necessary for it to happen. The Arminian has to try to redefine God’s knowledge in order to cling to libertarian free will, he seems to forget that natural man can not bring forth good fruit, cannot discern the truth of the Spirit of God, cannot confess from his wicked heart that Jesus is Lord, cannot even control his tongue, etc. It is hard to discuss things of this nature due to all of our presuppositions that we bring with us to the table. We do not see how libertarian free will gets enabled by the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Gospel, we do not see how universal prevenient grace does all that your side needs it to do, but I will always stand with you on matters of grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone, glory to God alone, and when we preach Christ alone. So many blessings to you and may His will be done in all things.

gordan said...

Luke asks, "Imagine, for example, that God shared all possible knowledge with you. You would know as much as God. Would your knowledge of future events in any way limit or necessitate the actions of others? Certainly not."

Well, with respect to how the others perceive their situations, no, their actions are neither limited nor necessary. They have no knowledge of the future like God and I do, and so still experience it all as it happens.

But with respect to that perfect knowledge of the future, then, yes their actions are adamantly limited to according with God's knowledge. There is no possibility at all that somewhere along the way they could make a decision that would foil what God knew.

And this question deals unbiblically with God's foreknowledge anyway, casting it in terms of simple data that God keeps track of. It doesn't even begin to deal with the Biblical notion that there is a fixed plan of God involved.

Luke said...

But with respect to that perfect knowledge of the future, then, yes their actions are adamantly limited to according with God's knowledge. There is no possibility at all that somewhere along the way they could make a decision that would foil what God knew.

And I can't disagree with that wording, since that's been my point all along. In fact, the statement that a person's actions are limited would be true whether or not anyone, including God, knew the future. Given a choice between A or B, only one will obtain. The fact that anyone knows in advance doesn't affect that one way or another.

Robert said...

Can I chime in here?

One thing we keep forgetting to do is check out what scripture has to say about it.

Romans 9 is the tour de force in what the limits of our nature and will are.

This includes the statement that not only does God choose only some, that we; as "clay pots" have no right to challenge the "potter" that formed us as to the logic of it and the fairness of it all...

The fact is that BY SCRIPTURE, we are fallen and not able to choose God. we all deserve Hell a hundred times over...but God chooses some out of mercy; for HIS PURPOSE and thats a fact.

The idea that "ought implies can" is not found in the bible...that's another presupposition we bring to the argument. Paul squashed that one in Romans 9 also.

The Israelites could not keep the commandments...yet they were commanded to...

We cannot keep His commandments; yet we are commanded to...

The bottom line is this; if someone would like to "prove" free-will that implies "choosing God" without His first changing us to be able to do so...then site away...but until then...we are just speaking past each other....

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Thanks Robert....I definitely believe we need to be looking at Scripture here..I think I asked a while back for one of these Arminians to do just that...it hasnt been done yet.

Being a Calvinist, I believe God has a fixed plan..I have simply been trying to show that there is a logical inconsistency with the Arminian notion of simple foreknowledge and their view of libertarian freedom. Arminians just cant see it...Calvinist and Open Theists both see the inconsistency, we just go different directions.

gordan said...

Luke, my bad, then.

Here I was thinking we were debating something.

Robert said...

Gordan,
We are "debating" but as Christians; we get our "truth" from scripture...

Remember? Our hearts are deceitfully wicked? We try not to "preach another gospel"....but get our ideas from scripture...

Because in the end...what we say doesn't matter...it's what scripture says....right?

Let's interact with the text of scripture and see what we learn ok?

Let's start with the ground level idea. Our understanding of this is vital to how we see our ability to help in our own salvation. Scripture says that man is totally depraved; not as totally depraved as he could be, but depraved so that it permeates his whole self, and cannot choose to repent and put his faith in Jesus Christ.

Here are the verses. Let's NOT GO FARTHER until we have examined these..i.e. no rabbit trails...


The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character:

Man’s heart is evil.
(Mark 7:21-23)

and sick (Jer. 17:9).

Man is a slave of sin
(Rom. 6:20).

He does not seek for God
(Rom. 3:10-12).

He cannot understand spiritual things
(1 Cor. 2:14).

He is at enmity with God
(Eph. 2:15).

And, is by nature a child of wrath
(Eph. 2:3).

In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?" The answer is, "He cannot. Therefore God must predestine."

Let's leave it at that for now..

The question you have to ask yourself is:

1.) Did Bob mis-site scripture?
2.) Is Bob pulling these out of context to make his point?

Any answer you give will have to be given by historical, grammatical, and contextual means. In other words...did I misunderstand these passages due to my faulty understanding of Greek, my disregard of the context (these passages were speaking to a different subject) or some other compelling reason...NOT OPINION OR RHETORIC...

Ok?

thanks,

bob

Luke said...

Joshua:Thanks Robert....I definitely believe we need to be looking at Scripture here..I think I asked a while back for one of these Arminians to do just that...it hasnt been done yet.

Joshua, your opening post set the parameters of the discussion by saying that there is some internal inconsistency in the Arminian perspective regarding the issue you brought up. I understand the desire to change the subject, since the opening premise was flawed.

I've addressed your objections concerning the opening post, and other than that there was only one other rebuttal (made by Robert) that was on topic, seen here:

The only reason it "has to be" this way is because, if it was something even mildly analogous to the knowledge we know, then the argument we're fond of falls apart utterly.

Keep in mind that Robert was commenting on my explanation that God's knowledge is independent of any process or sequence, unlike ours. Robert retorts that this is a cop-out, which suggests that he believes (although I really doubt it) that God's knowledge is like ours and depends upon process and sequence, since there are only two options on this issue. I suppose, then, that God is still counting?!

That said, I want to repeat that I understand the need to change the topic to something other than what was initially introduced, and I understand the need of some (not you, Joshua) to simply disparage a reasonable explanation. To do otherwise would be to stay on-topic.

Ben said...

The premise of something being certain and not being necessary is wrong. It goes against everything in the Bible. Not only are things certain in the Bible, but they are so out of necessity because of God's purpose in creation. Your Arminian argument has been refuted and yet you cling to it. There really is no need to move on seeing as you can not see how your very foundation is wrong.

Robert said...

Ben and others...the original poster made the assertion that Arminians are in the same boat as Calvinist if they say that "God sends people to Hell" on purpose...by sitting back and not stopping what He knows will happen...then He's as guilty as the Calvinist God.

That's not a new idea. It's been thrown around for several hundred years...

The main issue is this; Calvinist have a solid biblical, scriptural basis for their belief that God chooses a people for Himself, and that they are not going to choose him unless He changes them first, and that they cannot resist this change, and that if they are changed, neither they, or anything else can "unchange" them.

Arminians do not.

If someone here would like to interact with the scriptures provided, not slinging opinion, or how much you disagree with what I interpret them as...but real, careful, grammatical, historical, contextual exegesis...then we can proceed forward...until then...the response to this post will be just noise...will it not?

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

When did I ever say I wanted to change the subject I don't. I just wanted Robert to know that I wasn't discounting the authority of Scripture...My point was exactly as Robert has just stated, with God's forknowledge, Arminians have the same problem as Calvinists do: If God knew people would go to hell, why create them? And after he created them, why would he still make every effort to try to save them if he infallibly and exhausively knows they are going to go to hell? Is God somehow hoping his foreknowledge was wrong?

Why would he sent Jesus to die a death for people that He Himself knew would never have their sins atoned for?

Arminianism cannot answer these questions satisfactoraly or biblically. As a former Arminian for the majority of my life, I believe that Calvinism has the only solid biblical answers to these question. The notion that God has an eternal purpose that he is working out in time and history to his glory through his creation and creatures runs through the pages of Scripture.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

When did I ever say I wanted to change the subject I don't. I just wanted Robert to know that I wasn't discounting the authority of Scripture...My point was exactly as Robert has just stated, with God's forknowledge, Arminians have the same problem as Calvinists do: If God knew people would go to hell, why create them? And after he created them, why would he still make every effort to try to save them if he infallibly and exhausively knows they are going to go to hell? Is God somehow hoping his foreknowledge was wrong?

Why would he sent Jesus to die a death for people that He Himself knew would never have their sins atoned for?

Arminianism cannot answer these questions satisfactoraly or biblically. As a former Arminian for the majority of my life, I believe that Calvinism has the only solid biblical answers to these question. The notion that God has an eternal purpose that he is working out in time and history to his glory through his creation and creatures runs through the pages of Scripture.

Luke said...

If God knew people would go to hell, why create them? And after he created them, why would he still make every effort to try to save them if he infallibly and exhausively knows they are going to go to hell? Is God somehow hoping his foreknowledge was wrong?

These questions you ask assume that God can escape his foreknowledge, as if God could alter his reality, his knowledge of himself, and his interaction with living beings to do other than what his foreknowledge entails. If God were "to do otherwise," his knowledge would already include that, which makes the whole idea absurd.

To give a more "down-to earth" example, my wife and I talk about our life together and often comment on how, if given the chance, we would "do it all over again." By this we mean that we would experience both the good times and the bad all over again. On the other hand, I have a relative that I love that may never love me back. In both cases, I wouldn't change my attitude towards those involved.

Unlike God, my relational and experiential reality only exists after the fact. I don't know how things will play out, even though it would be worth doing it again. However, as I demonstrated with the counting example, God's reality is timeless. There is a "before" and and "after" to it, but that doesn't change the relational and experiential reality one way or another.

So back to your question. God makes effort to try to save those he infallibly and exhaustively knows are going to go to hell because he's not limited to what he knows he will do. Rather, his foreknowledge entails what he will do. He will make every effort to save sinners.

Arminian said...

I believe your claim that "Arminians have the same problem as Calvinists do: If God knew people would go to hell, why create them? And after he created them, why would he still make every effort to try to save them if he infallibly and exhausively knows they are going to go to hell? Is God somehow hoping his foreknowledge was wrong?" is wrong, because the Ariminian position is that God's knowledge of the future free choices of human beings is contingent on what they will actually do. So in order for him to know someone's eternal destiny partly based on whether they will believe or reject Christ, then they must be given the opportunity to do so and make that decision for him to foreknow it contingently. If he decides not to create them, then he would not know what they would do because they won't do it. The only way God would know the consequences of his plan in a non-causal foreknowledge view is that they actually happen. In other words, if God were to have not created because he knew what would happen, he then would not know that that would happen, because it would then not ever happen. It is invalid IMO to claim that God knows what someone would do who never has existed, does not exist, and never will exist. This is not open theism, for God certainly knows the future and all that will occur. But the claim that God should have not created to avoid people doing what he knew they would do, then rendering it to be that they never did do that, and then therefore God not knowing that they would do it, because they would not exist to do it, well, that's absurd. And that is really the heart of your argument--an absurdity.

I can't see how you can mainatain your position. For your argument essentially attempts to show that the Arminian view is internally inconsistent, as another poster has pointed out. If so, then you have to grant our premises (such as the contingent nature of divine foreknowledge of free human acts) in order to show that the system contradicts itself. But the clear logic of the Arminian view is self-consistent. You may want to try and argue that the Bible reveals God's foreknowledge is never contingent. But that would be a totally different argument. So it turns out that Arminianism really does have it all over Calvinism on this issue of God creating billions of people and his foreknowledge of the many going to Hell. The Calvinist view essentially collapses God's foreknowlege into predetermination. The Arminain view sees God's foreknowledge of the acts of free creatures as contingent, and so not unconditionally predestined by him. He really does love all and really does want to save all, and his foreknowledge is completely compatible with this. There is much more that could be said, but this is plenty to refute your claim I believe. (BTW, I am taking just one reasonable Arminian view here of simple foreknowledge. There is also Molinism. But I am not a Molinist and so will not address how it might also answer your objection.)

Ben said...

That is the craziest thing that I have ever heard, God is contingent on man??? in order for God to have exhaustive foreknowledge then He had to have already created everything and seen how man would react, but then how can He know what will happen hundreds of years before since it did not exist? Is this creation the second go around for God? So God's eternal decrees can change and God is not immutable since He has to change with what man does, since He is contingent on our choices? So your god depends on man before he can plan what he wants to do? CRAZY!

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Where do you get the notion that God's knowledge is contingent on man's action from Scripture? I have posed a question that you have not provided a satisfactory biblical argument for. You have simply stated your position, philisophically.

Perhaps God's knowledge is not contingent upon man...Perhaps God knows all possibilites of what would happen if he created things a little bit differently. In other words, God knows what would happen in all possible worlds, yet God created this world because this is the one that brings about the purposes he has intended..Perhaps it was a possibility that Pilate could have said, "No I won't crucify Jesus" and we would have all been screwed.

But God created this world just the way he did, because he knew this was the one that would bring about his eternal purposes...Just another philisophical option to what you have asserted...

I don't think this view is quite correct either, but I believe it has more merit than yours that Gods knowledge is contingent upon what man would actually do.

A better question would be, when does God foreknow? Before creation or after creation?

Robert said...

Everyone,
Now that we have done enough "idea slinging" for now...let's look at scripture....

Is there ANY PASSAGE in scripture that says that "God chooses us based on what He know's we'd do"?

Please let's stop there and answer that one before we move on...that's not found in the bible...it's another idea of man...

well?

PS: Josh Hitchcock hit it on the head...I'm just asking that we slow down and if someone on the Arminian side could show a passage...then we can go forward...

bob

Arminian said...

Quote Ben: "That is the craziest thing that I have ever heard, God is contingent on man???"

*Well at least you implicitly recognize that the argument of the OP is invalid since you have had to switch to attacking the Arminian view of foreknowledge of free human acts as contingent in order to object to the Arminian position. But as I said, the validity of contingent divine foreknowledge is a completely different argument.

Suffice it to say here that this does not make God contingent on man, but God's foreknowledge of free human acts contingent on those acts. It is quite simple and straightforward, and a classical position in Christian theology (hint: you should not be surprised by this view; it is actually the standard view held by most Christians throughout Church history I would think).

Quote Ben: "in order for God to have exhaustive foreknowledge then He had to have already created everything and seen how man would react, but then how can He know what will happen hundreds of years before since it did not exist?"

*No, of course not. God is not bound by time. Do you think that he is? You're argument presupposes it. He is actually so powerful that he can transcend time. Indeed, he created it, and it is a part of the creation. The funny thing is that modern science actually has scenarios possible within the limits of our knowledge in which a being such as God could know the future without causing it (most Christians have probably believed God is capable of knowing the future without causing all that is in it by faith), but God is not limited by the physical laws of the universe. You're conception of God is too small.

Quote Ben: "Is this creation the second go around for God?"

*Nope.

So God's eternal decrees can change and God is not immutable since He has to change with what man does, since He is contingent on our choices? So your god depends on man before he can plan what he wants to do?

*No one said anything about God's eternal decrees changing. However, Arminianism has a very different conception of God's decress than Calvinism, a more biblical one I believe, one that does not see all things as unconditionally decreed from eternity. As for God's immutability, it depends on what you mean by immutable. Since you ask the question, I assume you are presupposing an unbilbical concept of immutability, perhaps one denied that God react to things outside himself. But if you are defining it in a more standard way, such as say Calvinist Wayne Grudem does in his systematic theology, then the Arminian position certainly does not deny immutability. Let me repeat that it is the standard Arminian doctrine of divine foreknowledge of free human acts that holds this knowledge to be contingent. It would seems strange for you to accuse Arminianism with overturning God's immutability. Arminius did hold to God's immutability.

God does not need to change with what man does, since he foreknows what man will do! And again, he is not conitngent on our choicews, though his foreknowldge of those choices is contingent on those very same choices.

I hope that the language of "your god" with the lower case "g" is not an instance of you claiming that I, and Arminianism, do not have the true God. You are not hyper-Calvinists at this blog, are you? That would mean that you have a much more serious problem than believing in a flawed theological system that is nonethelss still within the bounds of orthodoxy. But to answer your question, God does choose to react to what men do and does not simply cause them to do it. So if that means God depends on man to plan what he wqants to do in response to what man will do, then yes. That is God's sovereign choice to do so. Are you denying that God could choose to do this? It would seem that you must from your comments.


Quote Ben: "CRAZY!"

*What's crazy is that you must believe that all evil and wickedness was birthed first in the heart of God, that he conceived all the twisted and wicked things Scripture says he is too holy to even look upon, that he conceived of every evil in his heart and then brought it to pass, casuing people to sin irresistibly and unconditionally, and then tortures them forever in Hell for it. That's truly nuts IMO! That is what your view must boil down to, full and complete divine determinism. Completely unbiblical IMO.

God bless.

Ben said...

Arminian,

I will let you answer Robert's question as it would be futile for me to go any further with you.

BTW, yes I do believe that you do not know the true God of Scripture. I do pray that He will reveal Himself to you and show you His grace.

Robert said...

Arminian,
Thank you for another post devoid of relevant scripture support.

bob

Deviant Monk said...

Joshua-

Sinners choose to go to hell.

I thought God chose people to go to hell. Isn't that part and parcel of God's sovereignty? If God didn't choose for it to happen, how could it?

God cannot be blamed for creating people who go to hell.

Pray tell how, while admitting meticulous sovereignty, you could possibly, with any intellectual honesty, countenance the veracity of this statement. If God is said to ultimately dictate when you eat a hot dog or enter salvation,(both, apparently, being on the same moral and ontological level per God's fiat) upon whom else should the blame or praise rest?

SO here it is: People do have a free will and a choice...But that is not libertarian free will, it is free will of inclination. People do and choose what they want.

Christ was a person, and Christ desired something contrary to the Father's will, yet submitted his will to the Father's will, despite his 'inclination'. Apparently Christ didn't choose what he wanted, but chose what the Father wanted.

Mason D. said...

Im no theologian Robert, but it funny that you keep trying to change the topic and then tell everyone that they should stay on your topic and not go down rabbit trails

....Let's NOT GO FARTHER until we have examined these..i.e. no rabbit trails...

I want to see the OP discussed, not your proof text wars.

And before you reply that your agenda is important, let me say that a lot of issues are important, too. Those oteher issues were not brought up on the OP either.

Maybe you can be the center of attention when the discussion is done. :)

Arminian said...

Quote Joshua: "Where do you get the notion that God's knowledge is contingent on man's action from Scripture? I have posed a question that you have not provided a satisfactory biblical argument for. You have simply stated your position, philisophically."

**I was responding to the OP, and there was not one reference to Scripture in it. It was philosphical/logical argumentation trying to stick Arminianism with one of Calvinism's problems. I merely responded to the OP, and I believe showed that it is not a problem for Arminianism. You prove my point now by asking for evidence for the Arminian view of foreknowledge. Once you do that, you disprove the argument of your own OP, which contended that Arminianism also has people not being able to choose otherwise than they do because God knows what they will do. This is simply false. As I said, you might then want to argue against the Arminian view of contingent foreknowledge, but that is not at all the argument of the OP. It is a different issue, and the OP is shown to be false.

Quote Joshua: "Perhaps God's knowledge is not contingent upon man...Perhaps God knows all possibilites of what would happen if he created things a little bit differently. In other words, God knows what would happen in all possible worlds, yet God created this world because this is the one that brings about the purposes he has intended..Perhaps it was a possibility that Pilate could have said, "No I won't crucify Jesus" and we would have all been screwed.

But God created this world just the way he did, because he knew this was the one that would bring about his eternal purposes...Just another philisophical option to what you have asserted...

I don't think this view is quite correct either, but I believe it has more merit than yours that Gods knowledge is contingent upon what man would actually do."

**I made reference to Molinism. It is a possible solution, but I don't think it is correct, though I respect those who hold it. Actually, I find it to be thinly vieled determinism, and so not consistent with the Bible. Perhaps a Molinist brother will show me this is not the case some day.

Quote Joshua: "A better question would be, when does God foreknow? Before creation or after creation?"

Why before creation of course. That is not in dispute between standard Arminianism and Calvinism.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

The how is God's knowledge contingent upon Man's volition, IF God knows whats going to happen before he even creates man?

Thats the point I am trying to make. God knows before he creates who will and who will not go to heaven. IF he is not willing that any should perish...according to the Arminian notion of 2 Peter 3:9...why create people who will perish, when he knew that would happen? this isn't that tough of a question to understand.

Arminian said...

Quote Joshua: "The how is God's knowledge contingent upon Man's volition, IF God knows whats going to happen before he even creates man?

...why create people who will perish, when he knew that would happen? this isn't that tough of a question to understand."

**I answered that last part in my original post. God FOREknows (this also answers your fists part a bit; see more below) contingently what people will do freely. And this knowledge is contingent on what they will do. Truly, this is not very hard to understand. Do you not see how your OP is shown to be without any basis by the contingency of foreknowledge in the Arminian system, and that if you challenge the contingency of God's foreknowledge, then this is a different argument altogether?

As for the first part of your comment, which asks how God's foreknowledge is contingent upon man's volition before man is created, I will repeat something I said to another poster: God is not bound by time. Do you think that he is? He is actually so powerful that he can transcend time. Indeed, he created it, and it is a part of the creation. The funny thing is that modern science actually has scenarios possible within the limits of our knowledge in which a being such as God could know the future without causing it (most Christians have probably believed God is capable of knowing the future without causing all that is in it by faith), but God is not limited by the physical laws of the universe. Claming that he cannot know the future without causing it would make your conception of God too small for the majestic God of the Bible and reality.

Arminian said...

Quote Robert: "Thank you for another post devoid of relevant scripture support."

I was responding to the OP, which is a philosophical/logic attach on the self-consistency of Arminian thought on what is typically considered one of its strong and hallmark positions. So I have shown how the OP's argument fails for its misunderstanding of Arminian theology, which is certainly consistent here. As I have said, it is another matter to argue against the contingency of divine foreknowledge of free human actions. Joshua should write up a new post on that topic in recognition that his OP here misses the mark widely.

Second, you did not even really give me time to respond to you. Did you notice that I was actually responding specifically to certain specific posters?

Third, you seem to be calling for Scripture mainly from Arminians when the OP was devoid of Scripture, and that OP is generally what people are supposed to be discussing. See further Mason d's comment to you above. His comments apply rather well to your comment. Some of us are trying to stay on topic rather than following you into your own agenda.

I actually prefer exegetical argumentation much more than this philosophical stuff. God's word is where it's at. But a flawed philosophical argument calls for being caled out on philosophical grounds.

Robert said...

Mason, Ketch and all...

I guess I misunderstood the point of this thread...I thought that we were discussing mans "free will" AS IT PERTAINS to salvation.

I responded to the arguments thrown out by Ketch and I just requested that he USE SCRIPTURE to underpin what his argument was and to not bring out new scripture until the existing ones were dealt with adequately.

All I've seen on this thread is "assertions"...and as everyone knows "an assertion is not an argument"....is just an assertion.

I'll lay out.


Have a good discussion everyone...

bob

Robert said...

Mason,
PS:just a tip for next time...the definition of "Proof text" is when you do NOT take the scripture in context...but to just throw them out there to prove your point...I don't believe I did that at all...I present my passages clearly and exegetically and not one poster here...yourself included responded to them directly in that way...

As I said...I must have misunderstood the point...I will lay out of this one...

bob