Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Paedobaptist Guest Article

By the power vested in me as a founding Don of the Reformed Mafia, I hereby dub R.C. Sproul Jr. an honorary member of the Reformed Mafia for the duration of this post. With that, I want to share an article Sproul Jr. has written. It was sent out via email from the Highlands Study Center last month. I hope it is edifying as well as thought provoking. [Edit: the article was written in response to a question from which the title cof the piece also comes.]

(Not to worry, after this post, we shall remain a solidly credobaptist blog! -RK)



"Do Arminians go to Heaven when they Die?"
by Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.


From one perspective, to even ask this question seems almost ghastly. From another perspective, asking this question seems like surrender. On the one hand, no one believes in justification by having all our theological ducks in a row. On the other hand, many of our fathers saw the divide between Arminian theology and Calvinistic theology as a decisive one. We want to honor our brothers if they are our brothers, and we want to honor our fathers, if they are right on this issue. Better still, we want to be true to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My own earthly father has been known to answer this question this way- Arminians are Christians, barely. What he is getting at, one should not be surprised, is wisdom. First, the problem. Why would we even have to ask? The difficulty is two-fold. First, we are blessed with the atoning work of Christ when we repent for our sins, and trust in His finished work on our behalf. How much of our sin must we repent for? All of it. In the Arminian scheme there remains in man a part of him that is still righteous, that part out of which comes his ability to choose the good as it is offered in the gospel. The Arminian is not, according to his theology, fully repentant. Second, we must trust in the finished work of Christ alone. In the Arminian schema, he trusts a great deal in the finished work of Christ, but trusts some in his own ability to choose the good. If a man believes that God does 99% of the saving, and man 1%, then that man is not truly saved. The Galatian heresy is dealing with just this issue. These were people who believed that Christ’s life, death and resurrection, combined with obedience to the ceremonial law, brings one peace with God. Such a belief will not bring you the work of Christ. It will only bring His judgment.

So they don’t make it, right? Well, have any of us repented fully for all our sins? Of course we say we repent for all our sins, but have we truly? Do we know all our sins? Is it not because of our sin that we look at some of our sins as virtues, that which should be praised rather than condemned? Ought we not, after seeking to enter more fully into our sin, after living in sackcloth and ashes, should we not then repent for our repentance? Won’t we all come woefully short of full repentance on this side of the veil? Did not Jesus die for sins such as these?

In like manner, it is one thing to articulate a doctrine of justification wherein we are utterly dependent on the work of Christ. It is altogether another to actually trust fully in that work. I would suggest that heaven is full of Calvinists who affirmed with great vigor sola fide, but who in the dark recesses of their hearts, subconsciously, believed that God was pleased with them because of their fervor for sola fide, or because of their fidelity in keeping their quiet times, or their passion for honoring the Sabbath. We are all Pelagians at heart, even those of us who are dyed-in-the-wool Calvinists.

The long and the short of it is that no human is fully consistent with respect to his saying and his doing. No human being is even consistent within his saying. The Arminian says at the same time and in the same relationship, “It’s all Jesus” and “It’s mostly Jesus and partly me.” They are inconsistent, self-contradictory. In the end, those who most fully believe it’s all Jesus will be with Him forever. Those who more fully believe it’s Jesus and them will hear Him say, “Depart from me I never knew you.” To put it another way, we are justified by trusting in the finished work of Christ alone, not by articulating a doctrine of justification by faith alone. We too, we Calvinists that is, make it into heaven by a happy inconsistency. That is, we all have error in our thinking. And every error contradicts what is true. Were we to adjust the true things we believed to make them consistent with the false things we believe, we would all end up in damnable heresy.

We have to affirm, at the same time, that Jesus came to save sinners, but not all sinners. He will save those sinners to whom His Spirit gives the gift of faith. That will include those who don’t know where the gift came from, as long as they actually have the gift. We ought also to remember that if we are right on this issue, if Calvinism is true and Arminianism false, we are right by the grace of God, not our own wisdom. What do we have that was not first given to us?

25 comments:

kelly jack said...

Very humbling!

theoldadam said...

Not bad!

The paedobaptist who you use in your logo (blog banner) would be proud!

Thanks!

- Steve Martin

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Speaking of misunderstanding Calvinists....


In the Arminian scheme there remains in man a part of him that is still righteous, that part out of which comes his ability to choose the good as it is offered in the gospel. The Arminian is not, according to his theology, fully repentant.

Does he not even know that classical Arminians affirm total depravity, and it's only by God's grace that one is even allowed to accept the gospel? How in the world would that make someone not fully repentant? I guess actually studying what he condemns must terribly confuse him.


Second, we must trust in the finished work of Christ alone. In the Arminian schema, he trusts a great deal in the finished work of Christ, but trusts some in his own ability to choose the good.

Here Sproul conflates the conditions surrounding salvation with the price paid for salvation -- a derivative of the classically dumb 'you have faith in faith' schtick. My faith didn't die on the cross, my decision didn't miraculously regenerate me; neither of those are of any effect apart from what they both point to: Christ crucified.


If a man believes that God does 99% of the saving, and man 1%, then that man is not truly saved.

and,

"It’s all Jesus" and "It’s mostly Jesus and partly me." They are inconsistent, self-contradictory.

He erroneously attempts to expand the scope of the work on the cross to irresistibly inducing faith, then paints his distorted assumptions as a linear percentage scale to press his agenda. Again, Sproul's refusal to understand the distinction between man's part in believing and the atoning work on the cross fatally warps his conclusions. Man does the believing via the grace of God, God does the saving for those who believe. There is no inconsistency there despite his delirious wishes to the contrary.


Arminians are Christians, barely.

That's right folks, you heard it from Sproul, if your soteriology isn't guided by the dictates of a long-dead Frenchman, you're a second-class citizen of heaven. Sad to see that the ignorance that initially sparked my strong opposition to Calvinism is still alive and well.

Gordan Runyan said...

JCT, you protest too much:

1. As you always say, you're not really an Arminian, so you're not under attack here, and

2. Sproul makes it clear in the article that that which makes the Calvinist a Christian also makes the Arminian a Christian; and that, really, if any of us are saved, it's "barely," because of our inconsistency.

So, chill, dude.

(Even though you are wrong about the Total Depravity thing...)

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Gordan,

True I'm not Arminian proper, but I already know the background here,

The Church concluded that there still remains this freedom that is intact in the human will and that man must cooperate with - and assent to - the prevenient grace that is offered to them by God. If we exercise that will, if we exercise a cooperation with whatever powers we have left, we will be saved. And so in the sixteenth century the Church reembraced semi-Pelagianism.

- The Pelagian Captivity of the Church, para. 14

In other words, by Elder Sproul's oblivious logic, Synergism=Arminianism=Semi-Pelagianism. Given the identical, overly simplistic reasoning in exactly the same grain by the author, it's fairly safe to assume he holds similar view. I noted that he softens the blow in stating that Calvinists also make it into heaven by "a happy inconsistency" (who isn't at least somewhat inconsistent?), but that only one set is singled out as being "barely Christian," complete with factually-challenged arguments for their beliefs being damnable. One could argue that all believers are 'barely Christian' in a sense,

And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" (1 Peter 4:18)

But such qualification is noticeably absent in his writing. As far as total depravity goes, I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with.

Gordan Runyan said...

I'm disagreeing with your statement that Arminians believe Total Depravity. Now, hold your horses a bit.

I mean that in the same way that Arminians mean it when they say we don't believe man has free will. We say we do, but since we don't believe it the way they do, they say we don't.

Have you ever met a person in the throes of their Total Depravity? Have you ever shared the Gospel with someone who was Totally Depraved? Has any Totally Depraved person ever, in that condition, considered the demands of the Gospel?

My contention is that classical Arminianism really must answer no to all the above. They believe in Total Depravity the same way that I believe electrical current is due to electron flow and not hole flow...that is, it has zero pratical implications, not even upon the nature of man. God is obligated to give everyone Prevenient Grace, and thus rescue them from their Total Depravity, or else be liable to the charge of picking and choosing. So, practically speaking, there can't be any Totally Depraved people walking around, who are not free and able to choose righteousness. That would mess up the whole deal.

I believe Sproul was generalizing, but not in a horrible way. I mean, all synergism boils down to the belief that the sinner contributes something to his salvation. So, yes, Arminianism is different than semi-Pelagianism, technically, but they still both feature the sinner doing something out of his own resources to be saved, which the damned man refuses to do.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Hey Gordan,

I personally would answer yes to all 3 of your questions above. I admit that I do know some Arminians who do believe in an 'obligated' prevenient grace (I don't believe that, nor is it an essential tenet of Arminianism), but quite a few of the same also acknowledge that if one refuses to hear the gospel, that God may withdraw His grace from that person, thus hardening his heart (which I also believe occurs), making total depravity much a reality for myself and they. I don't think the idea of God giving prevenient grace to all negates our inherent depravity any more than the idea of common grace keeping us from blowing ourselves off the map negates it (if we're to be at all consistent).

I mean, all synergism boils down to the belief that the sinner contributes something to his salvation. So, yes, Arminianism is different than semi-Pelagianism, technically, but they still both feature the sinner doing something out of his own resources to be saved, which the damned man refuses to do.

'Out of his own resources' is a rather dubious way to describe it, since Arminianism hinges upon God's grace, apart from which there can be no salvation; thus Sproul's semi-Pelagian flavored, In the Arminian scheme there remains in man a part of him that is still righteous, that part out of which comes his ability to choose the good as it is offered in the gospel. is uncontestably, wildly, and terminally inaccurate. Last I recall, the ninth commandment is still applicable. Worse still, if it was merely a broad generalization, then it makes his "barely Christian" snobbery against Arminians all the more indefensible.

Machine Gun Kelley said...

JCT,

Your comments leave me wondering if you read the whole article before deciding to fly off the handle.

After reading this piece several times, I came away from it thinking that any potential "snobbery" I might harbor is truly uncalled for because at best I'm "barely a Christian" myself.

This was hardly meant to be a slam against Arminians/synergists. I am surprised by your reaction.

I don't know. Maybe I missed something?

I will say from my personal experience in an Arminian denomination, many of us believed without a shadow of a doubt that our salvation was 50/50 Jesus along with us trying to be perfect.

Basically: After you believed and worked really hard to be perfect, then maybe, just maybe, you might make it to Heaven so long as you had repented of all your sins just before you died. People were literally taught -and honestly believed- that if you had a "bad thought" go through your mind and got hit by a Mack truck before you could ask for forgiveness of that "bad thought", you would spend eternity in Hell!

This was in a denomination that claimed to be of "Wesleyan-Holiness" roots.

So while Arminian theologians may not actually be "semi-pelagians," I know for a fact that most of the lay members and some preachers I have known were certainly semi-Pelagians (if not full Pelagians!).

Yours,

Rhett

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Rhett,

I understand that there are legalistic and theologically shallow groups (including ones with the 'once saved, barely saved' mentality) that have ties to Arminianism, this is hardly justification for equating Arminianism/Synergism in general with semi-Pelagianism, any more than someone condemning Calvinists by the beliefs of neo-Gnostic monergists (e.g. outsidethecamp.org).

Your comments leave me wondering if you read the whole article...

*Thoroughly*.


After reading this piece several times, I came away from it thinking that any potential "snobbery" I might harbor is truly uncalled for because at best I'm "barely a Christian" myself.

As I've already indicated to Gordan, he does soften it somewhat by noting that everyone is inconsistent to an extent and that no one is perfect (a given), but portrays Arminians (and all Synergists) as barely Christian based upon their theology, which he goes on to paint as a damnable heresy if held consistently.

This was hardly meant to be a slam against Arminians/synergists. I am surprised by your reaction

Surely after reading it several times you noticed that he equates the synergistic aspect of general Arminian theology with saying, “It’s mostly Jesus and partly me.” Arminians and Synergists as a whole don't believe that regeneration/atonement/sealing by the Holy Spirit is "partly me and partly Jesus," the major factors we contend are synergistic are the conditions leading up to salvation such as hearing and faith. So it's not hard to piece together what Sproul is referring to from the statement,

In the Arminian schema, he trusts a great deal in the finished work of Christ, but trusts some in his own ability to choose the good. If a man believes that God does 99% of the saving, and man 1%, then that man is not truly saved.

Given the such wording, the title, and the lack of a general affirmative answer, that translates roughly to: "If you truly believe that faith is in any way synergistic or that free will plays into it at all, you're not really saved, but if you inconsistenly and mysteriously somehow emphasize monergism more, you should be fine." Pretty haughty discourse from someone who can't even pin down the general beliefs of those he opposes, as evidenced by the "there remains in man a part of him that is still righteous" comment, which spoken concerning those who emphasize prevenient grace is at best a blithering distortion of the facts, and if from one who knows enough to know better, a devilish lie. I suppose some could appreciate that he's irenic enough that despite contending that we're damnable heretics, he thinks he might just let some non-Calvinists into heaven due to inconsistency. Forgive me, but somehow that sentiment just doesn't do the trick.

Machine Gun Kelley said...

Perhaps I should have made it clear in the begining, this article was written in response to an email that RC Jr had recieved in which someone asked him "do arminians go to Heaven when they die?"

So in actuality, this article was not a snobbish attack on synergists, but a response to someone who had already gotten to the place of thinking that faith + Reformed Soteriology was what was getting them into Heaven. I thought R.C. was trying to help such people see that such thinking was wrong.

Perhaps my forehead has such a slope to it that I am missing the brain matter that would supply me the critical thinking skills needed to understand what was actually being said. I am, after all, just a transplanted Florida redneck who has never stepped one foot inside an institution of higher learning.

I had really hoped this article would have the impact (on Calvinists anyway) that we saw in the very first comment that was left. Not begin another combox debate in which I've come to loath so much.

I reckon it is a true saying that "no good deed goes unpunished."

The Mole said...

As I read the article, sure Sproul Junior paints a picture that Arminian theology is inconsistent...Of course, Arminians, or those of an Arminian bent will of course disagree with his conclusions...but PLEASE do not over look what Sproul Jr.'s point is:

We have to affirm, at the same time, that Jesus came to save sinners, but not all sinners. He will save those sinners to whom His Spirit gives the gift of faith. That will include those who don’t know where the gift came from, as long as they actually have the gift. We ought also to remember that if we are right on this issue, if Calvinism is true and Arminianism false, we are right by the grace of God, not our own wisdom. What do we have that was not first given to us?

Sproul clearly points out that the soul reason we will be in heaven is by the grace of God. WHoever is right theologically, Sproul also points out that it is by the grace of God people are right, not by our own wisdom.

Secondly, he points out that even Calvinists are inconsistent, and even the Calvinist is a pelagian at heart.

For the Arminians and Arminian-friendly CHristians out there, and yes I did call you CHristian, I don't think you are a heretic, just wrong....this post was just as much an attack on our own position as it is Arminianism.

Don't get all balled up in a corner yet, because us Calvinists are inconsistent. If I truly believe in God's Sovereignty, how come I don't always fully trust him and his providence in my life...How come I still try to do things on my own like I am capable of handling the world all on my own...We too are extremely inconsistent between our doctrine and our practice...So hold you horses and relax....

It is by God's grace that either of us get anything right, whether in doctrine or life, and I believe that is precisely Sprouls point.

Gordan Runyan said...

JCT,

I know you're fond of saying you're not a classic Arminian, but I think you should consider re-phrasing that: you're not quite a classic Calvinist.

Please take that as a joke, but what I mean is, if Prevenient Grace is not given to all, then you must affirm that God chooses who He will or won't give that grace to. He chooses among men, whom to deliver them from their depravity.

And if He withdraws that grace, and you still affirm it is good and right to send that poor slob to hell, then you have affirmed that God judges (rightly) those from whom He has withdrawn the grace that (might) enable them to believe and be saved.

Closet Calvinist!

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Closet Calvinist, lol. I'm way ahead of you Gordan (my score is right below Ben's). Relating to your point, I never denied the concept of election, I believe it to be conditioned upon foreknowledge. For the other petals, I believe in provisional atonement for all (though I'm starting to see that as more of a moot point, subordinated to determinism), resistible prevenient grace, and you already know my views on Perseverance. So I end up as only a 1-point Calvinist - or optimally a 2.5 pointer if you scrounge up the half-petals left over.

Strong Tower said...

"I never denied the concept of election, I believe it to be conditioned upon foreknowledge."

And what kind of foreknowledge is that? One in which God gives faith to those he sees will believe, or to those he sees will not believe as well as those who will? And, what kind of faith is that? A perfect gift given? Does it do what faith does? And if not, is it faith at all?

J.C. Thibodaux said...

ST,

To my understanding, one in which God knows who will yield to the Holy Spirit and hear His word. Perhaps that will provide more suitable framework for your questions on faith.

Strong Tower said...

jct-

Okay-

How does he know and when?

Does he give faith to only those he foreknows as an intimacy, or only as bare knowledge? That is something learned?

And a repeat: Does faith always yield, and the converse, does unbelief always resist? Or, what is faith?

What then and whenn was unbelief given?

J.C. Thibodaux said...

ST,

How does he know and when?

Eternity past, cognitive knowledge; the 'how' cannot be broken down much further than omniscience.


You're questions on faith are a bit garbled, I'm not following exactly what you're asking about what faith yields or when unbelief is given (??). Faith is a whole-hearted trust in Christ. Unbelief after being being called by God is a result of resisting the Holy Spirit.

Strong Tower said...

"Eternity past, cognitive knowledge; the 'how' cannot be broken down much further than omniscience."

cognitive: concerned with acquisition of knowledge: relating to the process of acquiring knowledge by the use of reasoning, intuition, or perception

Is this what you mean by omnicience? Because it is not. Or, do you have some other definition of cognitive in mind?

Unbelief was given in the fall, that is why I asked. Sin by definition is the resistence to the knowledge of God. Faith on the other hand is true knowledge that always leads to salvation, for it is not beside but in Christ. To have it is to be in him. Faith is substantial, being at once the very thing that it hopes in. So we are said to possess Christ. He in us and we in him. Faith does not bring us into him, it is he in us and by that we in him. Faith in the Christian sense is not a tool, it is not idle and is not a merely a vessel, nor the channel, it is first and foremost the Person and work of Jesus Christ. It comes forth from the Father is given to those he chooses, such are sons, and always returns to him, just as the Son, and not even the grave can keep it from living.

Unbelief on the other hand is the rejection of this revelation, and it is not a revelation that was given after Christ came, nor is it one that is absent from the general revelation of God to mankind. Unbelief was given in the fall. It is the nature of Satan, as Jesus makes so very clear, the absence of righteousness, exalting itself against the knowledge of God, it is opposed to it, cannot submit itself to it, because it is impossible to do so.

Faith by contrast is a mystery that is given with the mind of Christ in the new birth. Faith receives the Truth because it is one with it. So it is said that Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word. It is the Word who is God who creates faith in the hearts of his children. As Christ said, "My sheep hear my voice." It knows and in the same sense as the foreknowledge of God knows. It is an intimate knowledge, essential, and not external, cognitive aquisition even though it is a knowledge that is transcendent. It cannot choose to do otherwise and is a righteousness that is imputed. No action before it has any righteousness and is therefore not acceptable even if one were to choose to follow.

So, when I asked does faith always yield, the answer is yes. Faith is begun and perfected by Christ, he is its creator, the first in it, and the one who completes it. More than merely the object of faith he is its substance. So, it cannot fail.

Unbelief is not the result of the rejection of Christ, it is the condition of man before the Gospel presentation as the result of Adam's sin, not ours. It is an imputed guilt and the conditions that result form the entire body of unbelief (sinfulness). Such that when Christ came he said that if you are unbelieving you are already condemned. The question is how does one become a believing one?

Now, back to cognitive knowledge. I whole heartedly agree that the foreknowledge of God is subsumed in his omniscience. My question though would have to with how you define cognitive. If it is the aquistion of knowledge, that is heresy. It is not God the bible who learns, it is more or less the god of process, or open theology, that of Molinism which recently was revived by the SBC heretic Keathley.

The sense in which God knows can only be eternally, or he is not omniscient. And you might say that he is, but has looked down the halls of time and seen. But, that denies the very essence of omniscience. At least, in the logic of time which is necessary for aquistion to occur, there is a time when God does not know. To dismiss it as mystery is a copout.

Both Classical Arminianism and Calvinism share predestination, but what we mean by that is vastly different. One is true the other false. It is either that God knows because he has decreed. Or, God decrees because he knows. For the Calvinist, we do not divide the two. Knowledge and Decree are at the same time, eternal. For the Arminian, though it might be an mere assertion of logic, they must necessarily bifurcate God's ominicience into decree and foreknowlge to preserve the autonomous will of man. That at the same time denies God's sovereign control. He must learn from his creatures what they are going to do, logically, before he can decree.

In either case, the two schools share this, there is no choice in real time. Ergo, depravity is complete in both, but Arminianism is inconsistent in this. For, it formulates either a Pelagian/Semi-Pelagian system. The Arminian must propose that man has something good in him that allows for his autonomy and freedom to choose for Christ. It is in that that they are inconsistent. It does, as R.C. says, present an unsolvable dilema, in that the Arminian does not need to repent of that good which is left in him. It is, therefore, an incomplete repentance and not acceptable, for God does not call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Contrast this with the Calvinistic view of depravity that there is nothing in man which can do good Godwards. This provides for a full and complete repentance. Repentance itself is a gift and as all gifts from God are perfect. They do exactly what they are meant to. But, repentance must be from the quilt of Adam as Romans says. It is not from sins committed, yet they are not excluded. It is from a total rejection, the imputation of sin and guilt which affects every portion of man's being. To say that there is something in man not affected by the fall is to say that man did not really fall at all, but merely stumbled. To the contrary, the Scripture describes the fall in terms of the bottomless pit.

In the final analysis, it matters how we believe man is saved. R.C. is right, we are not saved by implicit faith, that is a faith in faith, but we are saved by our faith, and He is God. Through his finished work on the Cross, and it was there and not at some place in time other, those for whom he died were given to him. When the Father gave them he knew each one by name and when he calls them they answer. Not because he learned their names somewhere along the line. Quite to the contrary, he was the one who named them. He made them for the purpose that they would fulfill his Word, and we know the Son as the only begotten of the Father because of that.

If you and I are on the same page as far as omniscience, then the only thing left to figure out is what is meant by foreknew. If it is outside of God such that he saw it from a distance, it is not omniscience at all. But, I can understand how it is that you might find my questions garbled.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

ST,

Is this what you mean by omnicience? Because it is not. Or, do you have some other definition of cognitive in mind?

Cognitive as it pertains to cognition - the act or process of knowing; perception.


Faith does not bring us into him, it is he in us and by that we in him. Faith in the Christian sense is not a tool, it is not idle and is not a merely a vessel, nor the channel, it is first and foremost the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

Not exactly. Christ dwells in our hearts through faith, (Ephesians 3:17) therefore His indwelling is not the same thing as faith.


As Christ said, "My sheep hear my voice." It knows and in the same sense as the foreknowledge of God knows. It is an intimate knowledge, essential, and not external, cognitive aquisition even though it is a knowledge that is transcendent.

Such an equivocation for 'prognosis' is fanciful at best.


Unbelief was given in the fall....

I think you're confusing unbelief for depravity/sin nature. Unbelief is lack of belief, hence asking when it is given is logically equivalent to asking, "when do I receive nothing?" or, "what is dark made of?"


It cannot choose to do otherwise....

That concept is foreign to scripture.


So, when I asked does faith always yield, the answer is yes.

You didn't specify what it was faith was supposed to be yielding.


More than merely the object of faith he is its substance. So, it cannot fail.

People can reject faith, scripture is clear on this at several points:

...holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. (1 Timothy 1:19)


My question though would have to with how you define cognitive. If it is the aquistion of knowledge, that is heresy.

What part of 'eternity past' did you not read? The extent of His knowledge is greater than can be defined temporally.


That at the same time denies God's sovereign control. He must learn from his creatures what they are going to do, logically, before he can decree.

Learn? Why are you trying to apply a temporal phenomenon of knowledge acquisition to a Being who transcends time? God's knowledge of externals is not bound by time, hence there was never a 'time when He didn't know something.' And please cite where I even mentioned foreknowledge being a necessary condition for God making a decree.


It is in that that they are inconsistent. It does, as R.C. says, present an unsolvable dilema, in that the Arminian does not need to repent of that good which is left in him. It is, therefore, an incomplete repentance and not acceptable....

Completely wrong. There is no good apart from God's grace, which I've already pointed out. Flush another so-called 'dilemma.'


In the final analysis, it matters how we believe man is saved. R.C. is right, we are not saved by implicit faith, that is a faith in faith, but we are saved by our faith, and He is God.

Also addressed above. I don't think the idea of equating faith with God Himself is very scripturally sound.


...the only thing left to figure out is what is meant by foreknew. If it is outside of God such that he saw it from a distance, it is not omniscience at all.

"Outside of God?" How would God's own knowledge be removed from Himself? If you're referring to knowledge of externals, how would exhaustive foreknowledge of externals not be omniscience?


but Arminianism is inconsistent in this. For, it formulates either a Pelagian/Semi-Pelagian system.

Ah yes, the folly of Dordt is still kicking. That would be much funnier if you weren't serious.

The Doulos said...

Here I am again, late to the show. Fortunately the actual post was much more edifying than the comments. I've seen this movie before...

=[:o>

Strong Tower said...

jct-

who is Dohrt? Who really cares what they said?

What is grace?

Then you agree, that man is depraved totally, such that he cannot do anything toward his salvation? That not only can he not do any good, the good that he does has to be given to him, right? And that good comes out of which grace, that was given?

Not only is it sound to equate faith with God, it is what is taught, it is Christianity. Can't blame me if you reject the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Now, I suppose that you will argue that the faith has nothing to do with Jesus being delivered to us, the fulness of the revelation (the faith), the express image of God from whom all thing are derived and hold together, who is the Life, the Way, the Truth, and that outside of him nothing can remain which is pleasing to God such that without him in us we can do nothing..., right? Interesting where it leads when you take God out of the meaning of the faith. Without Christ, what is pleasing to God, our confession? Is it not Christ who sanctifies it? Is it not Christ, and him alone who is the intercessor? So how is it that you can make intercession by your own confession? Is it not Christ in you who does the works, who is your hope? No? Hmmmm!

What is faith? Is faith a body of knowledge as well as action? Is it a person? Is it our Great Hope that will appear, or as Hebrews puts it, is faith the substance, the hupostasis of hope. Is faith something outside of Christ, or is it as Scripture does dozens of times, equate faith with Christ in us and it in him.

What are externals in God's omniscience? That is, does God cogitate because of the externals, or do the externals exist because of God's cogitation. You simply passed off the answer.

How would God's own knowledge be removed from Himself? If you're referring to knowledge of externals, how would exhaustive foreknowledge of externals not be omniscience?

God has both, that is why I asked you, which you avoided answering, how does God come to that external knowledge? Logically, does he see it as external then know it, or know it, that is why he sees it as external? Is it as if he views it externally, that is why he knows, or is it that he knows before he sees it externally? The question of omniscience cannot be answered in the first case. Though one camp, you, argues that it can. But, that is irrational from a biblical perspective, because when the Scripture speaks of God's knowing, cognition, it speaks of it eternally, not merely out side of time, both internal, as essential, and externally, as potential. There is therefore no Scriptural basis for the Arminian view of God's looking forward as the definition of foreknowledge, because the second, potentiality as a certain future, comes logically after the essential certainty of the eternality of knowledge of those events. In fact the word foreknew is used and not forknowledge in reference to "those" of the elect. It is eternal in its out look, not forward-looking. It is a completed action in etenity past. It has no reference to time, as you said, in regard to God's knowledge. It simply means from before time began, not outside of time. And that being the case, there was no time in which God saw man make a choice and therefore predestinated him, rather predestination was in the decree as knowledge, not knowledge as the result of decree. No externals, but, extenality exists secondarily, necessarily because of the essential knowledge of God, as those things which will come to be in time.

election, I believe it to be conditioned upon foreknowledge.

It was here that you included a temporal reality to election. But, you never did offer an answer. So, let's try again, how is it conditioned by foreknowledge. And, is that foreknowledge active and not bare external knowledge passively gained by seeing it being done? Is his omnicience eternal or in process of growth at some point in the eternal past, logically? Omniscience indeed rules out temporality, but only on the account of its eternality, not simply because it knows all. Rather, omniscience rules out temporality in how that knowledge exists at all.

God's knowledge of externals is not bound by time, hence there was never a 'time when He didn't know something.'

Ah, but did he know everything as essential to his being? He does not hover over time askew of the plane of creation seeing it like the great watchmaker, does he? And that is how he knows?

You keep saying what you did above, but you have yet to say anything which would lead me to believe you believe it. You would like to make election according to God's foreknowledge, but you have yet to say anything that would lead me to believe you know what that means. You keep saying that God gives faith to all, but you have failed to demonstrate that you know that, or what faith is. You seem to believe that faith is a witches talisman that can be wielded by the will. You fail to say what grace that is which enables the will. If election is conditioned upon foreknowledge, does that foreknowledge include the giving of this grace which chooses faith so that it can be wielded? Does God give everyone this grace? Can you point to any Scripture that says God gives it? What is this gift's name? Does God give a gift that is both good and evil? Both life and death?

It comes down to this idea of prevenient grace, then, doesn't it? Is that kind of like a Genies lamp that can be rubbed; if you just believe hard enough, then the jinn will appear? When is that given? In regeneration, or before? Why do some rub it and others don't?

People can reject faith, scripture is clear on this at several points

Yes, they can, but they cannot have it and reject it. That is a ridiculous self-contradiction, unless faith is both good and evil. How can that provide assurance or any comfort at all? Again you show your confusion, because you think of faith as just a set of beliefs, a magician's bag of tricks that if used properly will give life. Billions have rejected it, overthowing their faith, but the question that this fails to answer is where that rejection come from. Did it come from faith, or some other grace? Is this grace the power of contrary choice? Or, something else? Or, did the rejection come as nature and not as a result of choice?

As I said, what is faith? Is it just a belief in a set of facts, is it the set of facts, or is it the trust in the set of facts. If it is a set of facts, how does one know they are true facts and not a mirage? Is the trusting a grace and not faith, or is trusting even possible without true knowledge of real facts? Is trusting will, or something else? Is faith all three. And, does the receptor of them reside without faith, in man, as a separate grace? Is that receptor the will? The rational mind? Both, what? Can it act both faithfully, as well as unfaithfully?

You denied that the faith is a fact, that is a certain set of facts -the knowledge of God, that is what God knows of himself which he has give to us to know- and you propose that it is, I suppose, an action, trust, and that it is also a belief. But, that God has not given himself to us in Christ, right?

So is faith capable of unbelief? That is, the faith that Jesus had that his Father would not let him see corruption, it was possible that that faith which he had could reject is Father as his Father? You seem to say yes. That is, that faith can reject faith? I suppose that you would say, by the will, man rejects faith. Is it by unbelief that faith is rejected? Then if a man has faith what would it do? Reject itself? Assuming that it is true faith, that which accompanies salvation, does that need to be in man before he can accept it, or, is there acceptance within unbelief?

Again, define for us faith? Is it external, something to be glommed onto? Is it internal, the grace given? What is it that prevents a man from rejecting it, is that a separate grace, and what is the name of that grace, perhaps another faith to have unfaith? Or, a faith to have faith? Is prevenient grace a renewed will, or a prefaith faith? And if a renewed will, what does that grace prevent if it can choose against itself? Is it neutral, or is it weighted? Are all given a renewed will? Are some given a will weighted heavy for faith, and slightly for unbelief? Or vice verse? Or, is the will renewed because of faith? Just where does the decision belong? Is it in faith or without it? Is anything done not of faith, good? If the decision is outside of faith, how can it ever choose faith seeing that it is sin? Or, does sin choose God?

Since you reject unbelief as the result of the fall, I suppose there is no reason to beat this dead horse to death. But to reject unbelief as a result of the fall, simply rejects the fall and rejects the revelation of faith, and the bible itself. What sense is there in Adam's being afraid and perceiving his nakedness if it was because he was still in faith, and not unbelief. For the fact is he did not believe in the goodness of God any longer. Then, it is in the fall that we first see unbelief, sin, and Romans makes it through that that all have fallen into unbelief. It is death, to not believe, for those who have faith live. Only those who believe will have eternal life, but belief, that is faith, is inseparable from eternal life. Scripture places them as either simultaneous, or not at all.

Because it breeds an endless line of disputations, it is no wonder Arminianism has been named the father of all modern heresies.

You could be taken seriously, if your faith was a Person. And that is not funny.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

ST,

Now, I suppose that you will argue that the faith has nothing to do with Jesus being delivered to us....

I have already stated that Christ and His work is the object and focus of our faith, this does not amount to Him being faith. Such an idea really doesn't stand up well to examination, if you're going to contend that faith is God Himself, you produce even more problems for reformed theology. Despite your assertion, Yes, they can, but they cannot have it and reject it. That is a ridiculous self-contradiction, unless faith is both good and evil. Scripture clearly states,

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.... (1 Timothy 4:1)

Not just any kind of faith, the faith, (tes pisteos). Or how about 1 Thessalonians 3:10,

Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

If their faith is a Person, that should produce some very interesting theology.


What are externals in God's omniscience? That is, does God cogitate because of the externals, or do the externals exist because of God's cogitation. You simply passed off the answer.

God having knowledge based on externals and they existing by His will are not mutually exclusive ideas.


God has both, that is why I asked you, which you avoided answering, how does God come to that external knowledge?

I did answer, in that He is outside of time, and perceives the whole of time clearly.


But, that is irrational from a biblical perspective, because when the Scripture speaks of God's knowing, cognition, it speaks of it eternally, not merely out side of time, both internal, as essential, and externally, as potential.

Knowledge innate to one transcending time is eternal in every sense with reference to time.


There is therefore no Scriptural basis for the Arminian view of God's looking forward as the definition of foreknowledge, because the second, potentiality as a certain future, comes logically after the essential certainty of the eternality of knowledge of those events.

and,

And that being the case, there was no time in which God saw man make a choice and therefore predestinated him, rather predestination was in the decree as knowledge, not knowledge as the result of decree.

Your deficient model which assumes a temporally bound God is rather amusing. Despite all your largely incoherent arguments about God's omniscience being insufficient to cover externals, scripture tells a different story, notably, God knows the fullest extent of sinfulness -and since He is neither the author nor approver of sin, then this firmly establishes an external contingent upon the will of His creatures that God has perfect knowledge of, thus eradicating all arguments against God's knowledge of externals. Sin is, by necessity, an external to God, since,

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)


You also ask literally scores of questions, but are not even listening to the answers. For example,

You fail to say what grace that is which enables the will.

I've already talked about prevenient grace several times on this thread.

So, let's try again, how is it conditioned by foreknowledge.

I already answered it in my first reply to you. I suspected you weren't paying attention; such being the case, the rest of your endless and mindless, sophomoric attempts at loaded interrogation will be ignored.


It simply means from before time began, not outside of time.

You do realize what happens before time occurs logically cannot be within time, and therefore must be outside (*groan*).


In fact the word foreknew is used and not forknowledge in reference to "those" of the elect.

Oh really?

Elect according to the foreknowledge (Gr. 'prognosis') of God the Father.... (1 Peter 1:2a)

You were saying?


who is Dohrt? Who really cares what they said?

My point exactly.


You seem to believe that faith is a witches talisman that can be wielded by the will.

It comes down to this idea of prevenient grace, then, doesn't it? Is that kind of like a Genies lamp that can be rubbed; if you just believe hard enough, then the jinn will appear?

You denied that the faith is a fact, that is a certain set of facts -the knowledge of God....

Since you reject unbelief as the result of the fall....

Wow, headed straight off into La-la Land. Have fun; send me a postcard.


Because it breeds an endless line of disputations, it is no wonder Arminianism has been named the father of all modern heresies.

Such a dishonest smear being no surprise from the licentious men who have uttered it.


You keep saying that God gives faith to all, but you have failed to demonstrate that you know that, or what faith is.

And you succinctly demonstrate a fatal flaw in either your reading comprehension or your honesty: You assert that I 'keep saying' God gives faith to all when I never stated anything of the sort.


Not only is it sound to equate faith with God, it is what is taught, it is Christianity. Can't blame me if you reject the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

I won't return your railing accusations of rejection of the faith, but simply say: Your speech is most unfitting for a Christian. The Lord rebuke you.

thomastwitchell said...

For those of you who want to understand where jct is coming from, the follow will serve as a response: From a discussion on the logical fallacy of Wyclif's supposed relative absolutes (contingence in the creature) : According to him, absolutely necessary truths are such truths as (i) those of theology (like the real proposition that God exists), that are per se necessary and do not depend on something else; (ii) those of geometry, that neither can, nor ever could, nor ever will be able to be otherwise, even though they depend on something else (est ab alio sed non potuit non esse); and (iii) the past and present truths (like the real proposition that I have existed – me fuisse), that cannot be, but might have been otherwise (per accidens necessarium, quia est necessarium quod potuit non esse). On the contrary, relative necessity applies to those events that must follow certain conditions in order to be or happen – so that any contingent truth is relatively necessary if considered in relation to its conditions (Logicae continuatio, tr. 1, chap. 11, p. 157). In its turn, relative necessity is divided into antecedent, consequent, and concomitant. (i) A certain truth is an antecedent relative necessity when its existence causes the existence of another contingent truth (antecedens ut causa contingentis, inferens posterius naturaliter). An instance of such a necessity is the necessity of volition, as where my unconstrained will or the unconstrained will of God is the cause which necessitates something else (ibid., p, 158). (ii) A certain truth is a consequent relative necessity when its existence is caused by an antecedent (relative) necessity. And finally, (iii) a certain truth is a concomitant relative necessity when it merely accompanies another true event (ibid., p. 157). These features proper to the relative necessity are not opposites, and the same truth may be necessary in all the three ways (ibid., pp. 157-58). Wyclif insists that all three kinds of relative necessity are contingent truths in themselves (ibid., p. 158), yet he was unable to show how this is possible. He thought he had an explanation, but he was mistaken. In his Tractatus de universalibus (where he uses all these distinctions in order to try to solve the problem of the relationship between divine power and human freedom), he openly maintains that in relation to the foreknowledge of God every effect is necessary to come about (Tractatus de universalibus, chap. 14, p. 333), and the Aristotelian principle that everything which is, when it is, necessarily is (the well known formulation of the diachronic contingence), applies also to what will be and has been (ibid., p. 334). Taking into account that God himself cannot begin or cease actually to know or will something, and thus He cannot change from knowing that p to knowing that not-p (where p is a given truth), nor from volition to non-volition or vice versa (ibid., p. 335; cf. also De volucione Dei, chap. 3, p. 149), the logical result is that in Wyclif's world nothing may happen purely contingently. It is true that Wyclif insists that even if God can never change from volition to non-volition, the fact that God wills p is in itself contingent, if p is not a theological truth (De volucione Dei, chap. 7, p. 192), but, like Bradwardine, he maintains that God's antecedent will is naturally prior to what He foresees. Given that God is immutable, and hence that the divine power is not affected by the passage of time, and divine ideas, within Wyclif's system, are as necessary as the divine essence itself, the logical consequence is that, despite Wyclif's claims of the contrary, the whole history of the world is determined from eternity. As a matter of fact, Wyclif's conditional (or relative) necessity is as necessary as his absolute necessity: given God, the world's entire history follows.

Someone else will have to splain this to the reader, because my reading comprehension is so low. But it appears that others think that there cannot be a contingent knowledge in God dependant upon the necessity of man's will. Or so he explained it to jct.

J.C. Thibodaux said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.C. Thibodaux said...

That was a response? What points was it supposed to be refuting specifically, and how? It doesn't even touch on the absurdity of such a position implied by God's foreknowledge of sin (by necessity not internal to God Himself). The opinions of hacks from sockpuppet-central are not evidence, especially from Bridges, whose fact-checking is so bereft that he levels charges of outright heresy based upon mere assumptions.