Sunday, December 2, 2007

Objections to Reformed Theology #1

I have decided to do a series, albeit rather sporatically due to time constraints with work, on objections to reformed theology. In order to help with this, I ask that our Arminian brothers comment below posing an objection in question form, that way my posts can be geared toward answering a specific question. I would greatly appreciate that.

This post is going to provide an answer to the question, "Why would God command us to do something (ex. choose him, repent, obey him, etc.) if humanity is unable to do so?

I have not heard this question raised by any commenter of this blog, but I have heard it raised by other people, and have read it in several books.

Let me first begin with two things. God does command humanity to do certain things, and in other places the Scripture says that man's heart is wicked and is dead to sin and cannot even understand the things of God in order to do them. Sp how do we reconcile such passages? Here are some possible answers?

1. God doesn't really mean for us to actually choose, because he knows we can't. God actually chooses for us.

This is probably a really wacky form of hyper calvinism and is absolutely absurd. The language of Scripture is clear that God commands us to choose him. He will not decide for us. To say God has chosen us is different than saying God repents and decides for us. That's so crazy I can'y begin to address that.

2. God thinks that people will choose him, but he really isn't that sure. God is taking a risk with people. This is the position of Open Theism, but it is heretical. God knows are hearts and knows that they are wicked continuously, and he knows that we have all turned aside, every one to his own way, and he isn't wondering what is going to happen, he knows what would happen left to ourselves.

3. Our heart's are neutral and our decision can go either way. Wrong. Scripture is clear that our hearts are wicked and evil continuously. (Genesis 6:5), and that the heart is deceptive and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9), so the heart is not neutral...there is no question as to how humanity will respond to God's command to choose him.

4. God wants people to choose him, but he really doesn't have any control in what they choose or not. This would be the closest to the classical Arminian position, even though they would word this statement more piously, like "God has sovereignly chose to not excercise control over the free choices of man", but that's just mere speculation, and the same argument Clarck Pinnock and Gregory Boyd uses.

I posit a different answer that is rooted in God's character.

God is infinitely holy. Because of God's extreme and infinite hatred of sin, he cannot command or require anything less of full obedience from humanity, despite their ability. God cannot simply reduce his requirements based on man's ability, for God would be sinning against himself in doing so. God's standards are rooted in his character. He commands his creatures to not have idols, but everyday we worship something other than God. He commands us to not bear false witness, but that happens every day. God's character can require no less than full obedience, and complete rejection of sin, despite man's inability to do so. So what happens?

God does not repent or believe for us...we have to do that. But how do we do that if our condition is so desperately wicked? God changes us. This change is not mere prevenient grace, for that is not really a change at all, it is simply neutralizing man's will, but that concept is nowhere found in Scripture. Rather this change is basically a divine heart transplant.

In Ezekiel 18:30-31, God commands Israel to repent and to make for themselves a new heart, because their sin is a stumbling block to them. Here we have God's requirment...repentance and the solution to the problem is a new heart...The problem is...Israel simply cannot make a new heart for themselves, but that is what God's holiness requires...so what happens?

The answer is in Ezekiel 36:26-28. Read it. God says that he will give Israel a new heart. He will remove their heart of stone...the one of wickedness...and give them a new heart...he will put His Spirit within them and that will cause them to obey the statutes of the Lord.

Is this not exactly what happens with us today? God changes our obstinate hearts to a heart that hates our sin and desires Christ (Regeneration), and then we respond in repentance and faith and the Lord gives us His Spirit to dwell in us, and because of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are able to obey the Lord, and be in covenant relationship with him (v.28 "You will be my people and I will be your God").

In summary, God's character requires no less than our belief in Christ and full obedience to his ways. God also knows that are condition is so serious that we could never do that if left to ourselves. Therefore, God changes our hearts from an obstinate heart to a heart for Christ, and enables us to choose and believe in him and obey him.

Friends, if you are a believer, thank God for giving you a new heart. Thank God for giving you His Spirit so you can obey him. Also, if you know someone who is lost, understand that God must change their heart if they are going to come to Christ. Pray for God to do just that while you are busy in sharing the gospel with those lost people. We must share the gospel and pray, both are needed in the salvation of the lost. Be Blessed!

43 comments:

Andrew Esping said...

Thats what I really like about the Calvinistic faith. It's main focus is God. Everything relys on God's Sovereignty, not man's choices. I really enoyed your post!

Andrew

Luke said...

Interesting perspective. However, I really can't think if a command that wasn't intended evoke a positive response, even if it couldn't be perfectly followed.

It's always seemed odd to me that the Calvinist interaction with Ez usually involves quoting the verses you use and then looking to Calvinism�s own constructs for interpretation. However, starting at verse 24 it's clear that God thinks the righteous CAN become righteous and CAN die, and that those who turn from idols will THEN receive a new heart. But then, the unusual retort from the C camp is to say that the righteous can't do what is described there and "die," and that the unrighteous can't to what is described there and "acquire a new heart."

Interesting.

Luke said...

Correction in bold:

It's always seemed odd to me that the Calvinist interaction with Ez usually involves quoting the verses you use and then looking to Calvinism's own constructs for interpretation. However, starting at verse 24 it's clear that God thinks the righteous CAN become unrighteous and CAN die, and that those who turn from idols will THEN receive a new heart. But then, the unusual retort from the C camp is to say that the righteous can't do what is described there and "die," and that the unrighteous can't to what is described there and "acquire a new heart."

Luke said...

Correction in bold:

It's always seemed odd to me that the Calvinist interaction with Ez usually involves quoting the verses you use and then looking to Calvinism's own constructs for interpretation. However, starting at verse 24 it's clear that God thinks the righteous CAN become unrighteous and CAN die, and that those who turn from idols will THEN receive a new heart. But then, the unusual retort from the C camp is to say that the righteous can't do what is described there and "die," and that the unrighteous can't to what is described there and "acquire a new heart."

Luke said...

. God wants people to choose him, but he really doesn't have any control in what they choose or not. This would be the closest to the classical Arminian position, even though they would word this statement more piously, like "God has sovereignly chose to not excercise control over the free choices of man", but that's just mere speculation,...

I disagree that it's speculation mere speculation. In addition to the arguments that I've made in the past, we have to take into account some of the things Calvinism believes. Here are two:

1. Those who are not regenerated cannot believe.

2. Those who are regenerated can't help but believe.

Of course, Arminianism believes that no one can believe apart from the grace of God, but that belief isn't irresistible. This puts A at odds with C. Both believe in the necessity of grace, but one says grace is resistible and the other not. So all A has to do is show examples of people who could have believed but did not.

In Matthew 11, Christ himself says that if the miracles performed in Korazin and Bethsaida had been performed in Sodom (v. 23), Sodom would have repented. Therefore, because they did not repent, Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum will "go down to the depths." The point being that even unbelieving Sodom had the ability to believe. If not, it doesn't makes any sense to say that they would have repented. And if they had the ability repent but did not, it doesn't make sense to say that the ability to believe results in inevitable belief.

The result is that we have to side with Arminianism. That is, because of God's grace people can believe. But not all can believe will believe because the grace that enables us to believe isn't irresistible.

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

Luke,

When quoting Matthew 11 when our Lord tells us that if the miracles had been performed in Sodom they would of repented do you ever wonder why they weren't? I mean if God truly, truly wants all to be saved then here is a clear case where a miracle would of done the trick. I wonder what the Arminian take is on that? All of the answers that Arminians have given me have been disengengious at best.

Luke said...

BenWhen quoting Matthew 11 when our Lord tells us that if the miracles had been performed in Sodom they would of repented do you ever wonder why they weren't? I mean if God truly, truly wants all to be saved then here is a clear case where a miracle would of done the trick. I wonder what the Arminian take is on that? All of the answers that Arminians have given me have been disengengious at best.

Thanks for the question. I’ll try to do better than just being disingenuous.

According to Gen. 18&19, Sodom was destroyed by God prior to Christ's arrival, so that would account for his lack of ministry there. As for Tyre and Sidon, I believe most commentators take the reference to also be to the Old Testament pagan cities. Hagner (a Calvinist) comments: The cities of Tyre and Sidon are mentioned in Matt 15:21 as an area in which Jesus was active (cf. Mark 7:24, 31), but the comparison in the present verse is to the wicked Tyer and Sidon against whom the judgement oracles in Isa 23 are directed (cf. Ezek 26-28; Joel 3:4-8). Even places as bad as pagan Tyre and Sidon would have repented if they had seen the signs deeds of Jesus (p. 314). In other words, Jesus is speaking of the cities mentioned in Isaiah 23, not Christ’s day.

If you'll look up the New Testament references Hagner gives above, you'll find some of the most clear statements of faith by new believers and a clearest declaration of faith of a new believer by Christ found anywhere in Scripture, involving people in those very cities. Check it out.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

All that Matthew 11 states is that Christ knows just what it takes to bring a person to salvation. I am sure he does. But that doesn't mean he is actually going to do that..those people perhaps are not among the elect...your case on Matthew 11 proves nothing....but if you could....propose some more questions for me to address, that would be great...blessings!

Ben said...

So your response is that no miracles were done because Jesus had not arrived yet?

How does that answer the question though? Here is a clear example of a case where God knew that a people would repent and turn to him if they had seen some of these signs. God knew what it would take to make all of these people come to Him willingly and of their on accord, yet he did not do all that he could of done.

Thanks for replying though, but it still seems weird to me that you would worship a God like that.

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

Josh:All that Matthew 11 states is that Christ knows just what it takes to bring a person to salvation. I am sure he does. But that doesn't mean he is actually going to do that..

That gets to the core of my point. What, according to Calvinism, does it take to believe? Remember by first post, points 1 & 2.

....but if you could....propose some more questions for me to address, that would be great...blessings!

I assume you mean questions concerning Reformed theology that I don't understand? I'm hardly perfect, but I think I understand everything about it.

Ben: So your response is that no miracles were done because Jesus had not arrived yet?

Yes.

How does that answer the question though?

99.9% of believers have not seen Christ in physical form, yet have believed. Christ indicates that unregenerate people have the ability to believe. The rest is addressed below.

Here is a clear example of a case where God knew that a people would repent and turn to him if they had seen some of these signs. God knew what it would take to make all of these people come to Him willingly and of their on accord, yet he did not do all that he could of done.

I've addressed the issue of why God doesn't to more than he does in my posts in another thread, including the one post that was deleted. It's a false premise that God has to do more than he does. I don't know anyone who thinks that. But if you want to take up the issue again, see my previous posts.

The point being that for Arminianism to be true they must have the ability to believe. For Calvinism to be false, they must have the ability to believe. For me to be true, I must agree with Christ.

Ben said...

I think we are talking of two different things, I have re-read your multiple posts here and see that you are addressing the Calvinist side so I will leave it alone.

BTW, could not the Calvinist say about your position in bringing up Matt 11 that you have yet to show that God showed this enabling grace to those cities in the OT and that they resisted said enabling grace? Seems like jumping to conclusions or reading into the text.

If God wanted to show this enabling grace then why not present it in such a way that people would accept it? If anything Matt 11 shows me that God did not show them this enabling grace at all and that is why they apparently got destroyed. I'm sure that the Calvinist on this site can & will say it better than an agnostic like me ever can.

Luke said...

Ben:I think we are talking of two different things, I have re-read your multiple posts here and see that you are addressing the Calvinist side so I will leave it alone.

No problem. I'm posting way too much anyhow.

BTW, could not the Calvinist say about your position in bringing up Matt 11 that you have yet to show that God showed this enabling grace to those cities in the OT and that they resisted said enabling grace?

Yes, a Calvinist could say that because to a Calvinist enabling grace (as defined by that system) is effective and always results in belief. Hence, in the C system, they had to believe if they had that grace.

In the A system, they merely have to have the ability to believe, as demonstrated that in my posts, above.

Seems like jumping to conclusions or reading into the text.

The two systems are incommensurable at best on this one aspect. Both A's and C's, however, agree that enabling grace is necessary for faith to even be a possibility. Jesus said it was a possibility, so I think that -- as classical theists -- we are forced to agree on that one issue: They had enabling grace.

If God wanted to show this enabling grace then why not present it in such a way that people would accept it?

By "show" do you mean "show" it to us, or to the people of those cities? Both we and they know they had the ability to believe, since Christ said so. In fact, both A's and C's agree that the miracles themselves would not result in faith apart from God's grace. It's probably strange from your perspective, but it's because we (A's and C's) agree on so much that there's so much misunderstanding. In order to account for differences, we often cast the opposition as a polar opposite. That’s not usually the case.

If anything Matt 11 shows me that God did not show them this enabling grace at all and that is why they apparently got destroyed. I'm sure that the Calvinist on this site can & will say it better than an agnostic like me ever can.

I still think you're calling the signs "enabling grace," whereas I think the signs are not that grace. I think what you're really saying is that it would be more "grace-ful" of God to have done the signs. But as I've said, it's not necessary for A's to believe that. In addition, Christ is fulfilling a prophecy from Moses that a prophet would come among the Jews and do these things. It is this "grace-ful" act that's taking place in front of them in the New Testament. For this act to be a prophecy, it can't take place all the time. And as I mentioned in another thread, God’s patience and wrath go hand in hand, suggesting that there’s a limit to one that results in the other.

Ben said...

Luke,

I am having a hard time seeing where it says that the cities that were destroyed in the OT had the ability to believe? All it says is that if some of these signs or greater ones were done in them they would of repented. I have a hard time seeing that it says they had the ability to do anything. My point is that it seems that they were denied the ability to believe because God knew exactly what it would of taken to get them to believe and yet he did not do it.

It seems to me that one needs more than just ability in order to do anything. I could have the abiblity to skydive, but not have the resources or the "guts" to go ahead with it.

Luke said...

Ben,

That's sort of a tangent issue. The issue C/A have is focused the ability to believe. Given your question, you're conceding the point.

But to address your specific issue, it's the A position that you are correct, in that saving faith is very often not immediate due to any number of variables specific to the individual, and unbelief must be overcome. This, again, happens under the circumstances described above (e.g. Acts 7:51;17:11; 2 Tim. 3:15), under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Also, see my previous posts involving circumstances preceding salvation and the comparison of A to C.

Luke said...

Ben,

Sorry, one more point I forgot to address:

I am having a hard time seeing where it says that the cities that were destroyed in the OT had the ability to believe? All it says is that if some of these signs or greater ones were done in them they would of repented. I have a hard time seeing that it says they had the ability to do anything.

Repentance is a behavior resulting from belief. I can speak of one and include the other. A's and C's don't disagree about this. Notice that Christ in Matthew 11 speaks of their refusal to repent and then make allusions to their destiny being either hell or heaven (actually hell) because if their obstinacy, set against their ability to believe.

I say "If you had spoken to me, I would have listened" implies the ability to listen. If I say, "they would have repented (and gone to heaven)," it implies that they had the ability to repent. Also, notice that its a statement of truth, and not speculation.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

Ok...again....Christ knows what it will take to regenerate a soul in order for them to believe....Understand this...God doesnt just regenerate people out of nowhere...he uses means....Matthew 11 is simply saying what those means would be...it doesn't prove your point at all dude..

No....I dont mean questions about reformed theology that you don't understand...I mean objections you have to reformed theology, and pose them as questions. I don't think there is anything difficult about what I am asking you to do. I am sure you have objections to reformed theology, or you would be a Calvinist.


You assume way too much in the biblical text. The text does not even speak of ability. In fact thats not even an issue in the text. The issue is judgement upon the cities mentioned for their obstinancy.

Again...all this text says, "If I would have done these miracle in cities 1 &2 that I have performed for you, they would have repented, unlike you"

This verse reveals to things:

1. God knows the means necessary to bring everyone to salvation (which includes regeneration, for that precedes faith)

Miracles shown --> Tyre and Sidon regenerated --> they repent and believe -->they are saved.

But that didnt happen, but God knew exactly what was necessary if this is to occur...This does not even imply the ability of the unregenerate...that is simply an assumption you must make based on the theological presuppositions of your system.

2. The cities in view are very obstinate. These cities did not repent with all of the things that the Lord did in them.They will be judged greatly...Again...this does not apply ability..Ability is not an issue desire is. Their desire is to sin and rebel...thats what they will be judged for.

If I see any more assumptions in a text, your comment will be deleted.

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

Josh: Ok...again....Christ knows what it will take to regenerate a soul in order for them to believe....Understand this...God doesnt just regenerate people out of nowhere...he uses means....Matthew 11 is simply saying what those means would be...it doesn't prove your point at all dude..

We agree that he uses means. However:

1. Contrary to your statement above, it is the Calvinist position that God does “regenerate people out of nowhere.” Granted, in the Calvinist explanation God does it association with the gospel, but the content of the information is not what effects/affects the regeneration. The conversion itself is “out of nowhere.”

2. It does prove my point. It’s not that they could have believed but didn’t. It proves that they had the ability to believe. That proves A and disproves C. For C does not believe that the unregenerate can believe, nor do they believe that the regenerate can do anything but believe.

No....I dont mean questions about reformed theology that you don't understand...I mean objections you have to reformed theology, and pose them as questions. I don't think there is anything difficult about what I am asking you to do. I am sure you have objections to reformed theology, or you would be a Calvinist.

All my objections to Reformed theology are exegetical. I’m much more calloused to some of the A objections to C because of my background.

You assume way too much in the biblical text. The text does not even speak of ability. In fact thats not even an issue in the text. The issue is judgement upon the cities mentioned for their obstinancy.

Two things:

1. As mentioned above, the point I’m making has to be taken for granted because of what was said. In fact, I know of no C commentary that doesn’t explicitly or tacitly assume the point I’m making, even though they don’t realize the implications.

2. The judgment that falls upon the people is related to this ability. Without the ability, the relative harshness of judgment, explicit in the text, makes no sense. The alternate outcome Christ mentions also make no sense unless I am correct.

This verse reveals to things:

1. God knows the means necessary to bring everyone to salvation (which includes regeneration, for that precedes faith)


Dude, (1) if regeneration precedes faith, then what else is necessary, and why do you say it’s necessary? And (2) if they had the ability to believe, then they already were regenerated according to C. We must conclude, then, that A is true. There is no alternative. None.

Miracles shown --> Tyre and Sidon regenerated --> they repent and believe -->they are saved.

No, it does not say that if the miracles had been performed they would have been regenerated first. It says if the miracles had been performed they would have believed. Christ’s words mean what they say.

Christ’s words: “If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”

But that didnt happen, but God knew exactly what was necessary if this is to occur...This does not even imply the ability of the unregenerate...that is simply an assumption you must make based on the theological presuppositions of your system.

God doesn’t need for it to occur according to C. The miracles contribute nothing according to C. It makes no difference whatsoever according to C. God doesn't need them to regenerate according to C. It’s ironic that I’m the one teaching what C believes here. You talk about my "theological presuppositions," yet you ignore your own to the point that I have to defend the correct understanding of C.

2. The cities in view are very obstinate. These cities did not repent with all of the things that the Lord did in them.They will be judged greatly...Again...this does not apply ability..Ability is not an issue desire is. Their desire is to sin and rebel...thats what they will be judged for.

They will be judged for not repenting; that’s not the point, and no one disagrees. The point is that they would have repented. If they didn’t have the ability to repent, they couldn’t have repented, so they had the ability.

If I see any more assumptions in a text, your comment will be deleted.

You can threaten me all you like for asking you to address this question. I’m a mature adult and I can take it. You’re making assumptions and you admit it. We’re discussing the ramifications of your assumptions. However, if you fear to discuss the issue you brought up, and your assumptions, and my questions, by all means delete this post.

Here’s your assumption: God knows all it will take to save someone, and in their case it took miracles to save them. <--That is YOUR ASSUMPTION (already addressed by me). Also, you keep prompting me for questions concerning Reformed theology, as though I’m not asking any questions. My point is that I see a flaw in the theology, and I’m asking you to address it. Will you address it without finding a reason to stop the discussion?

gordan said...

Joshua,

You are a patient man, moreso than I am, but this is the very same point I was trying to get Luke to address in the comment section I finally shut down. I see you have learned from my mistakes and are giving a warning, at least.

Luke said...

GordanYou are a patient man, moreso than I am, but this is the very same point I was trying to get Luke to address in the comment section I finally shut down. I see you have learned from my mistakes and are giving a warning, at least.

Not only did I address your point, but you deleted my post that proved that I addressed your point. In fact, I allowed you to pick what I addressed. If you like, I'll repost it, and let everyone be the judge of whether or not there was a single issue that I did not address previously to that post or included in that post.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

If Gordan zaps a comment...then I trust it is worthy of zapping...if you feel like being heard email me at servindalord@hotmail.com

Luke said...

He can zap whatever he wants because it's his blog. However, if he's going to pretend that I didn't address his points, then he's going to have to prove it. As it stands, he's shown he doesn't want me to prove that I did address his point. I have allowed, and will continue to allow, Gordan to control what issues I address and will continue to address them in every detail that he requests until he stops saying that I haven't addressed them. I've always done this and will continue to do this.

It's his blog, and he's the boss.

Paul said...

Luke,

The problem you have is the same problem that most Arminians seem to have and that is you conflate regeneration with justification. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. In order to respond to the Spirit one's spirit must be quickened. That is the point of total depravity. Man in his sinful state can not respond to the gospel because his spirit is dead. He needs eyes to be opened and ears unplugged and a heart of flesh, it is then possible for him to see himself for what he really is and what his standing is with God.

As long as you equate regeneration with justification you will never be able to understand fully the Reformed position.

Luke said...

Paul,

I didn't mention justification, nor did anyone else. That is not the topic of this thread. We have also discussed total depravity in another thread.

However, we have been talking about regeneration.

Paul said...

Luke,

Reading your comments so far it seems rather clear to me when you say what else is necessary if one has been regenerated, implying what is the point of faith. Again, you may not see that you are conflating the two... but you are.

If you had a proper perspective on it you would not have made some of the statements that you have made so far.

Luke said...

Paul,

You've said that I equate regeneration with justification. That is a false accusation.

Joshua A. Hitchcock said...

whats the deal people!? My goodness...I have never seen so much immaturity in my life!!! Guys...I don't care if you are Calvinist, Arminian, or a Giant Pink Elephant...grow up a little bit before you continue commenting on this blog. Such immature bickering will not be tolerated here.

gordan said...

Luke, I do appreciate that you think you answered my question way back when. Anyone who is interested can go back and see whether that's the case, even without your final opus.

But please allow me to state the question posed here as I see it. Joshua, please correct as needed:

1.Synergists believe that God actively and always desires that each individual should repent and come to the knowledge of salvation.

2. In the case of Tyre and Sidon, God knew that they would have repented if He had performed some miracles in their midst, as He had in Jerusalem, Bethsaida, Chorazin, etc.

3. But God chose not to perform those miracles that would have brought about their repentance, thus allowing the ones in question to perish in their sins.

4. Now the challenge to you has been, how can all the above be fit together in your view? Since God knew what would bring about repentance, and chose not to do that, how then can we understand the statement that He actively desires that each individual repent?

This is the point that I do not believe you have addressed. And, no, I don't believe for a second that the answer lies hidden underneath the multiple hundred words of the one post I deleted.

gordan said...

Paul,

The issue of the conflation of regeneration and justification is at the heart of a lot of the discussions currently going on here, I agree. Under the earlier post, "Kangaroo D'Oh!" that is definately the case.

Since regeneration leads inexhorably to final glorification in heaven, then both of those and everything that happens in between are assumed to be equally in view when John uses the word "life" in his gospel. But I think the Scriptures demand a logical separation between regeneration/justification, if not a discernable chronological separation.

Paul said...

Gordon,

I agree with you completely. I can not understand how Luke does not see that he in fact does that by making statements like "... if regeneration precedes faith, then what else is necessary, and why do you say it’s necessary?", if he is not conflating the two here than this makes no sense. Since he seems like he is a somewhat intelligent guy I will take it that he conflates the two due to his ignorance on the subject.

So it should be pretty clear that there has been no false accusation made by me.

Luke said...

Gordan,

1.Synergists believe that God actively and always desires that each individual should repent and come to the knowledge of salvation.
2. In the case of Tyre and Sidon, God knew that they would have
repented if He had performed some miracles in their midst, as He had in Jerusalem, Bethsaida, Chorazin, etc.
3. But God chose not to perform those miracles that would have brought about their repentance, thus allowing the ones in question to perish in their sins.
4. Now the challenge to you has been, how can all the above be fit together in your view? Since God knew what would bring about repentance, and chose not to do that, how then can we understand the statement that He actively desires that each individual repent?


The miracles Christ performed were part of his ministry to show that he was the Messiah. People believed both before and after that, and as I've shown only Arminianism can explain that.

For synergism to be true, God must give the ability to believe through his enabling grace. Yet, for some reason, you think that for synergism to be true, God's patience must be unlimited, and he must do all that is possible for as long as is possible. That is a false premise, that no one believes. I've shown, irrefutably, that those people did have he ability, and I've shown that the limit to God's patience is clearly shown in Scripture.

So you can continually ask "Why not more?" and my answer is that Scripture indicates that the limit to God's patience is the reason. You may object to God's patience being limited, but that's what Scripture teaches. And, as I've shown, it teaches that unbelievers who did end up perishing did have the ability to believe, until the opportunity passed.

This is the point that I do not believe you have addressed. And, no, I don't believe for a second that the answer lies hidden underneath the multiple hundred words of the one post I deleted.

I have shown from Scripture (e.g. Acts 3:26) that Christ came to save everyone, yet not everyone believes. I showed from Scripture that God patience is meant to lead everyone to repentance (Romans 3:4-5), but that wrath is the result of not repenting. Finally, I showed that God does give the ability to believe (Matt 11) to people who sometimes do not believe. So here is what we have:

1. People who have the ability to believe do not always believe. Hence Arminianism.

2. Christ came to turn each one from their wicked ways, and God's patience is meant to lead them to repentance. Hence Arminianism.

3. Contrary to what you think I should be arguing, God's patience is limited, and when it is exhausted wrath will fall upon those who have not repented, even if another day, another rebuke or another sign would have made a difference. Hence Arminianism.

Luke said...

Paul:I agree with you completely. I can not understand how Luke does not see that he in fact does that by making statements like "... if regeneration precedes faith, then what else is necessary, and why do you say it’s necessary?", if he is not conflating the two here than this makes no sense. Since he seems like he is a somewhat intelligent guy I will take it that he conflates the two due to his ignorance on the subject.

Your words in bold, above, indicate that you are taking my words out of context. Josh had argued that God knows what's necessary to get people to believe, so he said that Christ can perform miracles to get people to believe. My point is that, according to C, those miracles are not necessary at all for anyone to be regenerated. So I asked, if regeneration is all that's necessary, why argue that miracles are necessary? "it's" refers to the miracles mentioned in this comment concerning how people are saved:

1. God knows the means necessary to bring everyone to salvation (which includes regeneration, for that precedes faith)

Miracles shown --> Tyre and Sidon regenerated --> they repent and believe -->they are saved.


According to C, the miracles are not necessary, so I asked how he could say that they are.

Of course, my point that they had the ability to believe stands. Jesus says that they would have believed. Thus follow my arguments concerning God's enabling grace being active.

Paul said...

Luke,

"For synergism to be true, God must give the ability to believe through his enabling grace."

I take it that you are referring to "prevenient grace" and yet can you show me where in Scripture it talks about God putting a sinner in a neutral state? Arminianism is grounded on a false and unprovable premise,prevenient grace, until you come to grips with that then you will always have skewed view of the Bible.

Paul said...

Luke,

Never mind, i am reading what you wrote to Gordan and see how you misused Acts, Romans, and Matthew. You have bigger problems than just prevenient grace.

I do not have the time to deal with this much confusion as you show from your analysis of the sacred text. maybe some other time. i will pray though that the Lord lead you to true understanding.

Luke said...

Paul,

If all you've done is read a couple posts, it's no wonder that you don't understand what's going on. I've been making comments within the context of a discussion that has covered two or more threads. In addition, my summary post was deleted.

Rhett said...

Luke,

"In addition, my summary post was deleted."

We're all very much aware of that... Now please try to stop whining about it or you won't have to worry about posting comments here any longer.

gordan said...

Luke,

Thank you for a remarkably forthright answer. Now, I think we may actually move forward.

Specifically, in light of what you have just answered me, would you agree that God does not give everyone the same opportunities to come to faith in Christ?

Would you say it's right to propose that God has chosen to be more patient with some people in regards to their repentance and salvation (e.g. Old Covenant Jews), than He has chosen to be with others (pagans who lived in Sodom and Tyre and Sidon)?

So, then, would you agree that in your system there comes a point in God's dealings with the people He is determined to save, a point at which His patience runs out with them and judgment overcomes mercy?

Luke said...

rhett,

We're all very much aware of that... Now please try to stop whining about it or you won't have to worry about posting comments here any longer.

I'm replying to the accusation of one of the owners of this blog, and that comment disproves his point. If you have an objection to my replying to someone who runs this blog, then you have every right to threaten me.

Luke said...

Gordan,

Thank you for a remarkably forthright answer. Now, I think we may actually move forward.

You're welcome. But I said nothing new.

Would you say it's right to propose that God has chosen to be more patient with some people in regards to their repentance and salvation (e.g. Old Covenant Jews), than He has chosen to be with others (pagans who lived in Sodom and Tyre and Sidon)?

Not really. I could be misunderstanding you, but your point appears to be that those who witnessed Christ had some advantage as compared to others? Granted that is true, but that was not the puropse of his ministry. The purpose of his ministry was to perform the miracles for all of humanity, for the rest of time.

This is the point of John 20:29-30:

29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." 30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may[a] believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

So, then, would you agree that in your system there comes a point in God's dealings with the people He is determined to save, a point at which His patience runs out with them and judgment overcomes mercy?

No, I would say that there is a point wher his patience ends, and judgement results (Romans 2:4-5).

gordan said...

Well, I didn't say you said something new. I said you were forthright.

You said, "your point appears to be that those who witnessed Christ had some advantage as compared to others? Granted that is true, but that was not the puropse of his ministry."

I never suggested that was the purpose, but you agree with me that was an effect of His ministry.

So the question becomes, Did God choose to allow the ministry of Christ to give some an "advantage" in terms of salvation? If so, isn't this sort of election-lite?

I asked, "So, then, would you agree that in your system there comes a point in God's dealings with the people He is determined to save, a point at which His patience runs out with them and judgment overcomes mercy?"

Your response was, "No, I would say that there is a point wher his patience ends, and judgement results (Romans 2:4-5)."

I fail to see the difference in meaning. You said, "patience ends" instead of "patience runs out"; and "judgement results" instead of "judgment overcomes mercy."

Okay, you didn't like my clever turn of phrase there, but other than that?

Maybe then you could explain your take on the theme of Psalms 136, in which every verse ends with the phrase, in the ESV: "For His steadfast love endures forever." (This Psalm is addressed to the same group encompassed by Romans 2:4-5, btw.)

It seems you are suggesting that a better translation might read: "For His steadfast love endures for only so long, and then judgment results."

Your answer to this question will go a "fer piece" toward showing whether your view is really all that coherent or not. (And why Calvinism, almost aside from being merely true, is also a more comforting and edifying theology in pastoral terms.)

Rhett said...

Luke,

I'm the original owner of the blog and I stand behind Gordan's decision. Just drop the issue and everything will be fine. Savvy??