Monday, July 12, 2010

Captain EO - And Irresistible Grace





Well folks, I finally have seen the sentimental draw of the doctrine of Irresistible Grace

Now, after years of me ranting and raving against Calvinism, you may wonder what it was that brought about this new perspective. Let me first say that just because a doctrine has emotional appeal does not mean that the doctrine is true, and so please do not misunderstand me to be saying that I now agree that Irresistible Grace is taught in the Scripture. With that said, it was a visit to Disneyland that changed my perspective about this. Captain EO is a show which was played at Disneyland 9/18/86 - 4/7/97, and now also 2/23/10 - the present. Some of you may have seen it when it originally played, but I only had the chance of seeing it this year. It's a musical that stars Michael Jackson (back when he was black) as "Captain EO," who comes to make a world a better place by giving a gift, which has to do with music and beauty, and is described by Caption EO as "a key to unlock" those things. If you have not seen the show, then you are probably wondering how it could possible relate to the doctrine of Irresistible Grace, and so before I go on, I will briefly outline some main parts of the
plot.

Captain EO flies around in outer space, with his band of obvious misfits, in a spaceship that strongly resembles a turkey. After tripping an intrusion alarm, and finding out that "Hooter" has eaten the map, he and his hardly-competent team land more or less successfully on a planet that looks a lot like "the death star" from Star Wars. They all set off to find "the Supreme Leader," and fulfill that goal by being almost immediately captured by some scary-looking goons, who conveniently take them directly to the ruler of the whole planet.

The Supreme Leader

Naturally, the supreme leader decides that she wants two of them to be turned into trashcans, and sentences Captain EO to a hundred years of torture. This would be looking pretty bad, but Captain EO expresses that he just wants to bring a gift to her, which will unlock her inner beauty. Before Hooter has time to correctly set up the instruments involved, the Supreme Leader gets inpatient and sends her troops to take Captain EO into custody. As soon as the musical instruments are working, Captain EO escapes their clutches by sending out a blast of energy, which knocks them all back.


The second blast of energy actually transforms the goons, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Later, when the Supreme leader sends out her more fearsome guards, he does pretty much the same thing, and using his special magical-energy-light-beams to transform them into friendly, obedient souls. He's never met these guys before, but after the transformation, they dance perfectly in step with Captain EO, without even needing instruction or practice.



The show ends victoriously when Captain EO, together with all of his new transformed followers give out one final blast of transforming energy which changes the Supreme Leader to be beautiful and docile, and changes the whole planet to be a beautiful place, alive with vegetation, color, and architecture.



"So do surrender
’cause the power’s deep inside my soul
Sing it

(we are here to change the world)
Gonna change the world, sing it
(we are here to change the world)
Hee, gonna change the world, ooo"


And as he leaves, singing a song of course, he waves goodbye to world that he had changed utterly from ugly, dark, and cruel to beautiful, kind, and coordinated.



Very magical, very disney, and all that. But what does it have to do with theology? Well, let us first take a look at the doctrine of Efficacious Grace, or as it is more commonly known, Irresistible Grace. The Westminster Confession defines it like this:

“All those whom God has predestined unto life, and those only, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone and giving them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good; and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ, yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace” (Chapter X, Section 1,2).

In the words of Loraine Boettner,
"It is a common thing for opponents to represent this doctrine as implying that men are forced to believe and turn to God against their wills, or, that it reduces men to the level of machines in the matter of salvation. This is a misrepresentation. Calvinists hold no such opinion, and in fact the full statement of the doctrine excludes or contradicts it. The Westminster Confession, after stating that this efficacious grace which results in conversion is an exercise of omnipotence and cannot be defeated, adds, “Yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.” The power by which the work of regeneration is effected is not of an outward and compelling nature. Regeneration does no more violence to the soul than demonstration does to the intellect, or persuasion the heart. Man is not dealt with as if he were a stone or a log. Neither is he treated as a slave, and driven against his own will to seek salvation. Rather the mind is illuminated, and the entire range of conceptions with regard to God, self, and sin, is changed. God sends His Spirit and, in a way which shall forever redound to the praise of His mercy and grace, sweetly constrains the person to yield." (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, pp 176)

What does that mean, in English? Simply it means that, by that doctrine, a man cannot have faith in Christ unless God first imparts to him such an amount of Grace that the sinner is regenerated: transformed so completely that without question they submit to God's authority and trust in Christ as Savior. This regeneration comes before faith. First sinners are enemies of God, and then God sends some transforming grace their way, and then they become beautiful on the inside and follow Him rather than fighting against him. Why is this called Irresistible Grace? Because man cannot resist it. If God singles out a man to be saved, and gives him that kind of grace, that man will be transformed against his will, and only then will he freely choose to follow to follow Christ. Man does not have the power to resist this grace enough to stop it from transforming his heart and mind. That is why efficacious grace is generally described as irresistible grace.

It is probably obvious, as this point, how Captain EO clearly reflects the main points of this doctrine. The Captain's Transforming Energy has pretty much the exact same effect as Irresistible Grace. It changes worlds, people, and lives against their will, in such a way that after they are transformed, they are kind, happy, and glad for the transformation. Not only that, but they submit to his every whim, which is more analogous to God's secret will than to His revealed will, because Captain EO never told them how to dance, and yet they all stayed in step perfectly.

You can see just how much this transformation was against the natural will of the people involved if you glance at this screenshot of the face of the Supreme Leader while she was starting to be transformed:


But, it was a beautiful show, and I watched it again and again. I loved seeing the ugliness of the planet fade to beauty. I loved seeing all the enemy troops magically transformed into obedient allies, who are were very musically coordinated. I loved the music about changing the world. It was beautiful! And for a moment, I could really see why people would enjoy believing the real world is like that, except with God in charge rather than Michael Jackson. Sometimes, even I would like to use that power to transform people who are unkind to me. One main difference, though, between Captain EO and the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible Grace, is that Captain EO transformed everyone. Now, obviously God is powerful enough to change people this way, even without having to use the lights and special effects. At first glance, it may even seem that this sort of forced transformation may be the best way for God to relate to people, or even the only way that He could possible save them. But is this really the only way God could change people? Is this His best and favorite tactic for bringing people from darkness into light? Those are some interesting questions, and they should be pondered in light of God's character, as revealed throughout Scripture.


Also Check Out:
Blog Post Discussing More Fully The Question of Whether Irresistible Grace is Biblical


44 comments:

Peter Pike said...

First off, you and Disney. Heh :-) Secondly, for one point of clarification, it's not precisely accurate to say that irresistible grace happens "against your will" since it is the will itself that is changed. It's difficult to come up with analogies that represent it, but I think the best comes from education. There was a time when you were ignorant of some fact, then you learned it. That is, your mind moved from a state where it knews a set of facts (X), to a point where it now knows a new set of facts (X + some new fact), yet we wouldn't say this process occured against your "knowledge" because it was your body of knowledge that changed.

Again, with the will it is difficult to come up with analogies. And I understand the point behind it: we didn't choose for our wills to be changed (but then, we never chose our wills in the first place).

Skarlet said...

Peter, thanks for commenting! I used the words "against your will," even knowing that some would object to that wording, intentionally. I felt that it really did fit the analogy. In the example of Captain EO, the will of the Supreme Leader was changed. She was hostile, and then she was no longer hostile. She did not want him to change her, and then she was grateful that he had. Yes - here's the point - before her will was changed, she willed that it wouldn't be changed. So, if it is the will being changed, what is the difference between changing the will of someone who wants their will to be changed, and changing the will of someone who doesn't want their will to be changed?

Well, we would call it "informed consent" if the person, with their will, wanted their will to be changed before it was transformed. Example: People who keep choosing to smoke, but don't want to choose to smoke. They sometimes will go see a hypnotherapist to try to change their will/impulses. I use the term "informed consent" because that's what you need to get before you subject someone to a psychological experiment.

If the person, with their will, does not want their will to be changed, I would call that operation, if it happened, "against their will." Not to say that the will was not changed, but to say that before the change, the will did not want to be changed. There are few analogies to this, because even in forcible mind-changes (such as frontal lobotomies or brainwashing, etc), there is no true change in will without permanent damage being done - thus not a good analogy. Captain EO probably is the best analogy that exists, IMHO.

This is different from the knowledge analogy that you give in that nothing is against someone's knowledge - what would that even mean? Knowledge doesn't oppose anything, it's just there or it's not there. The will, on the other hand, can oppose all sorts of things.

Peter Pike said...

I'd say that cognitive dissonance would typically go against knowledge. Holding contradictory beliefs. Also there is the case of self-delusion, when someone knows something and yet refuses to accept it and acts as if it isn't true. Indeed, from a Biblical perspective one could point to Romans 1 as an example of those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness as going against knowledge.

Be that as it may, it's not worth arguing over terms here, now that you've explained what you meant by them. Well, I guess there *IS* one other thing I could point out, which would just be that the "against their will" part is a temporal phenomena. That is, it is only "against their will" before the change, and then after the change it is totally their will that the change be made. So from a future perspective, it was not against their will. Or to put it another way, if it was against their will originally, after the change they are glad that their will was over-ruled.

BTW, I know that *YOU* didn't bring this up here, but that's one of the reasons the analogy of irresistible grace being like spiritual rape fails, in that typically if someone is raped they are not, after the fact, glad that it occurred, whereas those who's wills are changed understand it's for the better and thank God for it.

Skarlet said...

That's a very interesting idea of what going "against knowledge" is. I've never really heard of going against a person's knowledge before, but I think that your explanation of it makes a lot of sense.

I agree that, in the hypothetical case of irresistible grace, the "against the will" part of the process would be very temporal, and it would soon give way to gratefulness that the will had been changed.

Well, I think that the analogy of irresistible grace could still be likened to spiritual rape in one way - that is unwanted. Now the aftermath? Well, scientifically, the aftermath of rape is emotional and psychological damage (not love or gratefulness.) But there also is rape fiction in which the fictitious victim loves the rapist more and is grateful, as a result of the rape. This would be parallel to the hypothetical case that Irresistible Grace would not be damaging. Since there is no proof that Irresistible Grace has actually happened, there is no proof that it would not be as emotionally and psychologically scarring as rape. And - again, as you said - I wouldn't have brought up this point. Emotions get very involved when the idea of rape is brought up. But I did want to respond to your statement.

Skarlet said...

But this discussion has gotten rather off-track, because the point of this blog was that Irresistible Grace, hypothetically, could be a really beautiful and amazing things.

I feel like our comments have been more focused on why I don't actually believe that it happens in real life or what "against the will" means.

Robert said...

Rebekkah you wrote:

“One main difference, though, between Captain EO and the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible Grace, is that Captain EO transformed everyone. Now, obviously God is powerful enough to change people this way, even without having to use the lights and special effects.”

“Obviously God is powerful enough to change people this way”?

I think you are forgetting something very important here.

Some people without thinking it through carefully enough, will say that God can do all sorts of things since he is omnipotent. With omnipotent meaning he can do anything. But there are real limitations regarding his omnipotence that must be kept in mind. Take the fact the bible states ***He cannot deny himself ***(i.e. He cannot go against his own plans or designs).

If God creates and designs humans to be a certain way, he is not going to go against his own design. He designed us to be independent persons/agents, capable of doing our own actions and making our own choices, so he is not going to use his power to make us persons that are not independent. He is not going to use his power to make us persons who do not do our own actions. If God designed us to experience free will (i.e. have choices and then make choices from the accessible options that we are considering), then he is not going to exercise his omnipotence and go against HIS OWN DESIGN. The same goes for His plan of salvation. If the plan he designed includes our freely choosing to trust Him in order to be saved: he is not going to override our freely choosing to trust Him. To do so would be to “deny Himself”. Something the bible says that He cannot do. It would be for him to actualize a contradiction (with Him using His own power to contradict His own design). The fact is, God’s powerful actions will not go against or contradict His own designs and plans. God will not force you to do what in his plan he designed you to freely choose to do. Now the Spirit will inform you and enlighten you regarding choosing to trust in Christ for salvation, but he will leave you to freely make the choice. He will not control you to ensure that you make the choice (again contradicting his own design plan). You need to be careful about forgetting God’s intentions, His plans, His designs, when it comes to speaking of powerful actions that he will or will not do. It is a mistake to claim that God because he is omnipotent could for example take control of our will and force us to trust in Christ (he won’t do THAT because doing THAT would contradict His own plan of salvation which involves our freely choosing to trust Him).

So before you say that obviously God is powerful enough to do something, ask whether or not some design or plan of His is involved. If it is, then He will not use His power to cause something contradictory to his design or plan to occur.

Robert

Robert said...

PS – regarding an analogy where someone radically changes their mind concerning another person (while not going against their will): consider the Stockholm syndrome. This occurs when hostages (who prior to the syndrome kicking in) have bad feelings towards those who kidnap them, and then develop positive feelings towards the very people who kidnapped them. Patty Hearst who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army (near you) is a famous example of this phenomena. In determinism God does not need to override a human will, he controls the will and simply redirects it. Another example
Comes from one of the Star Trek movies, THE WRATH OF KAHN where there is a computer simulation test (i.e the Kobayashi Maru) where no one can pass the test, given under normal operating procedure, it is impossible to do so. Except that Kirk did manage to pass the test! When it is finally revealed how he did so, we find out that He reprogrammed the computer so that he would pass! In determinism we are programmed to reject God and it is impossible for anyone to accept God unless they are reprogrammed. God does not have to overcome a resisting will in determinism a will that he already controls, rather, he simply turns it so the person is necessitated into the choice to believe. The problem then is, if it is so easy for him to do, and He can do it to anyone, then why doesn’t he do it to everyone?

Robert

Skarlet said...

Robert, good thoughts! I guess I shouldn't have said that it was "obvious" that God is powerful enough to change people's will, since there are two working definitions of power or ability.

Power (strength): I cannot fly. I cannot do miracles. God can do miracles. God is all-powerful and has the strength to do anything, including things he doesn't do - such as the having power to strike me dead instantaneously.

Power (Ability apart from self-limitation): God cannot make a square circle or lie, because this would go against the limitations of His essence. Only those who hold a Volunteerist position about God's freedom would say that God can will against His own nature. Faith healers who go about saying that if we just have enough faith, we will never get sick are confused about this point. They teach people to have faith in God's strength without teaching people that they must also have faith in God's wisdom - God may have a purpose for allowing illness.

In my blog, I only meant that God has the strength to change people's will - He created the will and He has the strength to change it (or reprogram it) However, it is debatable whether God could give Irresistible Grace, in accordance with His nature. I do not believe that He can, since it would be working against Himself, and His own design for humans, salvation, and His own relating to humans.

Peter Pike said...

There is much that is problematic with Robert's claims, but I've learned from unfortunate previous encounters with him that it is impossible to dialogue with him. I will merely point out for your benefit, Skarlet (as well as others who visit) that Robert's position flirts dangerously with pantheism. If the will itself is in fact such that God cannot alter it without "denying Himself" then the will itself MUST BE GOD. Yet man's will is created; it is not self-existent, omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent. It cannot by any definition actually be divine, and therefore God cannot deny Himself in altering a person's will.

bossmanham said...

Peter, could you clarify what you meant when you said that Robert's view was pantheistic? I think Robert was just using an example of something God can't do. Most would agree that God can't do logical impossibilities. If (and this isn't necessarily my position) God made an eternal decree to allow people to choose freely, then it would be contradictory to have God irresistibly move wills, and God can't contradict Himself. That seems to be what Robert was trying to say.

drwayman said...

In speaking of irresistible grace and Disney (or in this case hollywood), in the movie, BRUCE ALMIGHTY, Bruce (when endowed with being God) tries to force his girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston) to love him. He says something like, "I command you to love me" and puts all of his God-like ability into forcing her love. She responds by turning her back on him and walking away.

Now, I don't think that we should get our theology from hollywood, but I think that part of the movie is very accurate. You can't force love.

I love this quote by Keith Green, "“Loving Him is to be our cause. He can take care of a lot of other causes without us, but He can’t make us love Him with all our heart. That’s the work we must do. Anything else is an imitation.” I know that the Keith Green quote is not about irresistible grace but it still makes a point.

Peter Pike said...

Brennon asked:
---
Peter, could you clarify what you meant when you said that Robert's view was pantheistic?
---

I didn't say it *was* pantheistic, I said it "flirts dangerously with pantheism." And the rest of my comment explained why. Robert's view of the will is very close to making the will for everyone divine in nature, which would make everyone's will itself a part of God.

I believe you've interacted enough with Robert to know full well that when he says God cannot alter someone's will, it is not because Robert believes God has eternally decreed that man should have free will. All one needs to do to demonstrate this is simply ask: if God did not eternally decree that man should have free will, would it be okay for God to alter someone's will? Robert has argued vehemently against that in many places, thus demonstrating the "impossibility" Robert envisions has nothing to do with God contradicting Himself, but instead with the will requiring certain attributes which actually belong only to divinity.

Peter Pike said...

Drwayman said:
---
You can't force love.
---

That's true, but no Calvinist says God forces love. Instead, God changes the nature of a person so that they respond in love.

Think of it from a less disputed area. Suppose I do not like spinach. You can force me to eat as much of it as you can force me to eat, but that won't make me like spinach--true. However, if you had a formula that, were I to drink it, would alter whatever feature it is about me that causes me to dislike spinach and make it so that I now like spinach, then if I were to take that formula and begin to eat spinach I would now *actually* like spinach. It doesn't matter how I came to that state; it only matters if the state itself is attained.

In the same way, I could totally despise someone, and yet they could present themselves in such a manner that, over time, I come to like them and then to love them. You would not say that I've been forced to love them simply because they presented themselves to me in such a way that I would now like them.

Finally, I could despise someone and then *I* could change for other reasons--perhaps I matured or come to a different view point on some other unrelated issue--such that now I love that person who I used to hate. Again, you would not say that I was forced to love that person.

So simply changing one's nature so that someone or something that was once undesireable becomes desireable is not "force."

drwayman said...

Peter Pike - I think that Salvador Minuchin in his work with individuals with eating disorders would disagree with your premise that I could make you eat spinach. He has an interesting case study of a father who attempted to force his daughter to eat a hot dog. Hence, I would agree with Minuchin that I couldn't force you to eat spinach. Plus, I think you're physically bigger than me.

You wrote, "In the same way, I could totally despise someone, and yet they could present themselves in such a manner that, over time, I come to like them and then to love them. You would not say that I've been forced to love them simply because they presented themselves to me in such a way that I would now like them." I would agree with that statement but that is an ineffective analogy for irresistibility. It is a better analogy for prevenient grace. Hence, it is not force as you so aptly put.

Peter Pike said...

Drwayman,

I think you misunderstood the points I was bring up, which are the many different ways in which the will can be altered and changed without "force" being involved. These changes can be do to external or interal differences. Again, whether some particular emotion or action or whatever is "love" depends on the state of that emotion/action/whatever, *NOT* on how that state came about.

Oh, and I don't really think what you quoted is a good analogy of prevenient grace either, but that's a different issue. :-)

drwayman said...

Peter Pike - Oh, yes it does. Prevenient grace is a wooing of God's Holy Spirit. God, whom we hate (totally despise), gently calls us to Himself. He reminds us that He loves us and wants us to accept His offer of salvation.

Your sentence, "I could totally despise someone, and yet they could present themselves in such a manner that, over time, I come to like them and then to love them" is a statement that agrees with prevenient grance. Maybe you misunderstood my point?

Robert said...

In the past in my interactions with Pike he has always twisted my view and misrepresented it. He creates a straw man (which is not my position) attacks that, and concludes my position has problems. Apparently he keeps doing the same as his latest misrepresentations prove.

“There is much that is problematic with Robert's claims,”

He did not show any problems with my view, instead he created a straw man and attacked it.

“but I've learned from unfortunate previous encounters with him that it is impossible to dialogue with him.”

It is quite difficult to dialogue when Pike constantly twists what you say beyond recognition.

“ I will merely point out for your benefit, Skarlet (as well as others who visit) that Robert's position flirts dangerously with pantheism.”

Not even close.

I maintain that God created everything out of nothing (as revealed in Genesis), and that includes mankind. That means that humans are contingent beings, their properties were decided by God (e.g. he decided that we would have minds, that we would be capable of making our own choices for reasons, etc. etc.). As contingent beings we are not God nor do we have any of God’s attributes. In fact I maintain that it is impossible for God though he is omnipotent, to create another God. So we are not Gods. This also means our wills (which refers to our capacity to have and make choices) are not divine in any way. Now I have said these things before, clearly gone on record presenting these things. And yet Pike ignores it all, and now claims my last post “flirts dangerously with pantheism.”

“If the will itself is in fact such that God cannot alter it without "denying Himself" then the will itself MUST BE GOD.”

Wow now that is a large scale misrepresentation.

Where in my previous post did I say that the will MUST BE GOD?

Where did I say that the human will even partakes of divine attributes?

And his statement ignores my point. My point which is simple, which you would think any Christian would agree with is that: when God designs or plans something, he will not go against his own plan. To go against Himself would be to contradict Himself, to actualize a contradiction, which God cannot do. So say he designs us to be capable of our own choices, designs us capable of reasoning and using our minds, designs us with these features. He is not going to come along later and “take them back” (like a guy whose friend allows him to take back his chess move ). This principle also applies in God’s own plan of salvation. If HIS PLAN includes that the person will freely choose to trust Him alone for salvation, then that is the way it is going to be. God is not then going to force someone to believe when his own plan includes a freely made choice to trust. God is not going to DESIGN a plan that includes a freely made decision to trust, and then when the time comes force the person to trust. THAT would be contradicting his own plan (again what he will not do, and this is not due to a lack of power on God’s part, but is due to Him carrying sovereignly carrying out his own plan).

So how could someone get my discussion of God not going against himself, not contradicting his own plan, and turn it into pantheism? Again I said nothing about man being divine, or man’s will being divine, or that all things are God. Nothing like that at all. And yet Pike managed to twist my view beyond recognition.

He continued with:

“Yet man's will is created; it is not self-existent, omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent.”

And where did I ever say that man’s will is not created?

Where did I say man’s will is “self-existent, omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent?”

Again, how did Pike go from my point that God does not contradict his own design or plan, to the will of man being divine and having God-like attributes?

Robert

Robert said...

(Response to Pike part 2)

Pike wrote:

“It cannot by any definition actually be divine, and therefore God cannot deny Himself in altering a person's will.”

Notice this argument assumes Pike’s caricature of my view (that the human will is divine and has the attributes of God) and then concludes “therefore God cannot deny Himself in altering a person’s will.”

Here we need to think about what Pike means here by “alter” a person’s will. If we mean by this: do we ever change our minds, or does God ever work in such a way as to change our minds, the answer is clearly Yes.

For example look at our own conversion experience. Many of us can attest that prior to becoming believers we were not making God a priority (we might pray in emergency situations), we were not reading the bible nor were we interacting with other believers. Then the Holy Spirit came along and powerfully revealed Christ to us, revealed our sinfulness, our need for a savior from our sin, etc. etc. The Spirit by showing us these things enabled us to choose to trust in Christ. Due to the Spirit’s work we started changing our minds regarding the bible, Jesus, Christians, etc. the bible calls this repentance and it refers to our minds being changed. So God can certainly change our minds in this way.

And yet here my principle still applies. God is not going to contradict his own design and plans. God’s plan of salvation includes our freely choosing to trust Him alone for our salvation. God’s plan includes faith on our part, a faith that is our decision and is freely chosen. If that is HIS PLAN, his design, then He is not going to contradict it by say forcing us against our wills to believe. Nor is he going to take over our wills ensuring that we make the choice to trust Him (incidentally while demonic spirits will seek to possess and then control a human person, there are no cases of the Holy Spirit engaging in this kind of control).
Now if “altering” a person’s will means possessing it in the way demonic spirits seek to “alter” a human will, God is not going to do that. God is not going to make us into robots whose every action is preprogrammed nor is God going to control us in the way a puppet master controls his puppets (controlling them in such a way that they have no choice and their actions are necessitated and directly controlled by a another person).

Once we become believers God still does not control us like puppets nor does he force obedience (believers have choices to obey or disobey, including following the leading of the Spirit, we must daily **choose** to deny ourselves and pick up the cross). And none of this is PANTHEISM, nor is there any sort of claim that the human will is divine or has divine attributes.

Robert

Robert said...

(part A)

Brennon asked for clarification concerning Pike’s claim that my view “flirts dangerously with pantheism.”

Pike responded:

“I didn't say it *was* pantheistic, I said it "flirts dangerously with pantheism." And the rest of my comment explained why. Robert's view of the will is very close to making the will for everyone divine in nature, which would make everyone's will itself a part of God."

Note especially the words:

“Robert’s view of the will is very close to making the will for everyone divine in nature, which would make everyone’s will itself a part of God.”

Again Pike continues the misrepresentation. I said nothing about the human will “making the will for everyone divine in nature.” In fact I was not even really focusing on the human will; I was primarily referring to God’s will (i.e. that he will not contradict his own design plan for how people should be and how people will be saved).

Pike continues:

“I believe you've interacted enough with Robert to know full well that when he says God cannot alter someone's will, it is not because Robert believes God has eternally decreed that man should have free will.”

I did not say that God never works to change a person’s mind (again the repentance/change of mind involved when we become believers is a great example of this). Regarding what God has eternally decreed. I look at this way: prior to creating man, God knew what kind of being humans would be, and God had a certain design plan in mind when he created mankind.

Alvin Plantinga in his magisterial series on Warrant, in the third book in particular talks about “God’s design plan” for man. For example Plantinga says: “As I see it, a belief has warrant if it is produced by cognitive faculties functioning properly (subject to no malfunctioning) in a cognitive environment congenial for those faculties, according to a design plan successfully aimed at truth . . . . the main areas of our cognitive design plan: memory, introspection, knowledge of other minds, testimony, perception, a priori belief, and probability.” (viii-ix, WARRANT AND PROPER FUNCTION). So God has a design plan in mind when creating humans, so that they would have the capacities for memory, introspection etc. He also had a design plan concerning the environment in which mankind would live. All of this was designed and planned. I would add that part of this design plan was to create humans capable of engaging in their own reasoning and in choosing and carrying out their own actions.

“All one needs to do to demonstrate this is simply ask: if God did not eternally decree that man should have free will, would it be okay for God to alter someone's will?”

God’s design plan for humans includes the capacity to have and make our own choices (i.e. what is ordinarily referred to as free will).

If God designed things to be that way, if God designed this to be a world where humans sometimes experience free will (in the libertarian sense), then isn’t that going to be the case?

And if God created and designed this world and us to be such a place, then why is He then going to contradict himself and go against his own plan?

Robert

Robert said...

(part B)

“Robert has argued vehemently against that in many places, thus demonstrating the "impossibility" Robert envisions has nothing to do with God contradicting Himself, but instead with the will requiring certain attributes which actually belong only to divinity.”

Perhaps here we see Pike’s major mistake. He says here that I “envision” the “will requiring certain attributes which actually belong only to divinity.”

So are we to understand that if humans have libertarian free will that THAT would require that humans have attributes that “BELONG ONLY TO DIVINITY”??

Now there is a misrepresentation if I ever saw one.

According to Pike, in order for us to have libertarian free will we would have to have divine attributes (we would have to be a God to experience libertarian free will).

Speaking to anyone else here who holds to libertarian free will (and that includes Rebekah, Brennon, and Dr. Wayman): DO ANY OF YOU BELIEVE THAT HUMANS CANNOT HAVE LIBERTARIAN FREE WILL UNLESS THEY ALSO HAVE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES??

Talk about a caricature, talk about a misrepresentation. Pike constantly engages in this sort of thing. If libertarian free will required that humans have divine attributes then I would reject it with no difficulty.

But contrary to Pike’s caricature and misrepresentation, I have no problem believing that God’s design plan for humans would include free will as ordinarily understood. I have no problem believing that God could and did create humans who experience free will and yet do not possess divine attributes. I have no problem believing that God since it was His sovereign design plan could and did create us to experience free will while retaining his sovereignty over us. You would think that someone like Pike who is supposedly familiar with what libertarians believe, would not create such a gigantic caricature of our view: apparently he has no problem doing so.

He has been doing it as long as I have seen him posting with no signs of it stopping.

Robert

Peter Pike said...

Actually Robert demonstrates here why it's impossible to dialogue with him, as he cannot even maintain the usual flow of a philosophical argument. Case in point:

I said:
---
Yet man's will is created; it is not self-existent, omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent.
---

And Robert responded with:
---
And where did I ever say that man’s will is not created?
---

I honestly don't know how to interact with someone who reads this way. When I said that man's will is created, it was stating a brute fact--it was not a claim that Robert disagreed with this fact. In fact, if Robert were a careful reader, he would have noticed that my argument *REQUIRED* him to *AGREE* with this point. That's the way argumentation works, after all.

If I disagree about X for reason Y, and I can show that you agree with reason Y, then my argument may have some persuasive impact it wouldn't otherwise have.

If Robert's misreading was just a one or two time thing, I'd let it go. Everyone makes mistakes and misreads things. But this is consistent, so there's no real point in engaging with him. The only possible outcome will be a flame war, and I'd rather not put Rebekah's combox through one of those.

bossmanham said...

Peter,

You said that Robert misread what you said. Apparently I did too, because I don't see where it follows from *our wills being contingent and created* to *Robert is almost a pantheist*. Perhaps your formulation of the argument is confusing?

Robert's argument is as follows:

If God declares that creatures will be free He would not contradict those creatures by infringing on their freedom. If He had, He would have both decreed that they be free and decreed to control their will, which is contradictory. Therefore, since God cannot contradict Himself, He cannot infringe upon a free will. Since infringing on a will entails contradicting His decree.

You say that since Robert's view has God unable to control free wills, then Robert is placing their power above God's.

But this is clearly not what Robert is saying. Robert is saying that God limits Himself by decreeing that people would be free.

Skarlet said...

Yeh... this discussion seems to have descended into just some sort of =back-and-forth between Pike and Robert. I don't think it is edifying, peaceful, or on-topic. Now, do I agree with Pike that the two should just give up on dialoguing? Not necessarily. I think that it is generally better just to alter communication habits, in order to promote peace and mutual respect.

Peter, I think that it would have been better if you hadn't started out with a comment that would make Robert feel put down, and then follow it up by something that he would feel was twisting his position. If you hadn't referred to previous negative encounters, and if you had rephrased your statement about pantheism to be something along the lines of "I think that this could be the unintended logical implication of the principles that Robert is putting forward," I think it would have been much less likely to make Robert get so defensive, and more likely that your point would have been better understood.

On the other hand, Robert, I think that you might be happier if you didn't worry about what Pike thinks of your position. We know what your position is, and no one is going to think worse of you, or misunderstand you, because of what Pike is saying about the possible logical implication of your statements. (Which, by the way, I think he is mistaken about, but that's a separate issue) If you don't feel threatened by his statements and point of view, I think that you'll be better able to dialogue in a more clear and enjoyable manner.

Please don't take these as criticisms, because I respect each of you, and know that your intentions are pure and godly. I only take the liberty of giving these suggestions at all because this is my blog, and I feel some measure of responsibility to promote a safe and respectful environment, so that everyone can post without needing to worry about verbal wars being started.

drwayman said...

Peter Pike - I notice that you have been regularly commenting on Arminian blogs lately when you haven't really been doing so before. I don't know you well and this seems to be new behavior. I'm curious, why?

Peter Pike said...

Brennon said:
---
You said that Robert misread what you said. Apparently I did too, because I don't see where it follows from *our wills being contingent and created* to *Robert is almost a pantheist*. Perhaps your formulation of the argument is confusing?
---

This is the last I'm saying on this issue so I'll be as comprehensive as I can and leave it at that.

Rebekah originally said:
---
Obviously God is powerful enough to change people this way.
---

Robert responded to this by saying:
---
I think you are forgetting something very important here.

Some people without thinking it through carefully enough, will say that God can do all sorts of things since he is omnipotent. With omnipotent meaning he can do anything. But there are real limitations regarding his omnipotence that must be kept in mind. Take the fact the bible states ***He cannot deny himself ***(i.e. He cannot go against his own plans or designs).
---

Notice that Robert's remarks are in response to Rebekah's claim that God *CAN* change someone's will (in terms of power). So Robert's entire argument is predicated on the claim that God *CANNOT* do so. He is *REJECTING* what Rebekah said, and in the process says "He cannot deny himself."

Clearly, Robert is saying God does not have the power to change people because that would be a case of God denying Himself. I don't see how anyone can *NOT* consider this statement problematic. For even Arminians ought to admit that God has the *POWER* to do so, even if He should never intend to use it.

Even trying to say, "God cannot deny His plan" doesn't solve the problem here. God's plans are not necessary; they are free. And if they are free, that means they could have been other than they are, right? And if they could have been other than they are, then it would have been possible for God to have planned for people to be changeable by Him, right? And if it is the case that God could have had that plan, then it is the case that God has the power to change people.

The *ONLY* way that God lacks the power to do so is if the plan itself is *NECESSARY* and cannot be otherwise. But that would make it a necessary feature of God's ontology--that would make the plan itself take on divine attributes.

So when you have Robert saying that God does not have the power to change people and He links it to the statement that He cannot deny Himself. All this is, as I said, dangerously close to pantheism. Obviously I know that Robert is not a pantheist; that's why I didn't accuse him of actually being one, but instead pointed out his logic leads that way.

Oh, and BTW, the statement "God cannot deny Himself" has nothing to do with God going against His plans. It has to do with the fact that even if we are faithless, he will be faithful. Faithfulness is an attribute of God, and God cannot deny His attributes because it would deny Himself. So even if Robert didn't intend it, the very statement "He cannot deny Himself" automatically links to God's *attributes*. And God's plans are not His attributes. But notice I didn't argue against his view by pointing out the meaning of the phrase in context, since I could tell he didn't use it the way the Bible did.

Peter Pike said...

Drwayman,

Why? Do you think I have an ulterior motive or something? I could pretend to be a Russian spy :-)

drwayman said...

I don't want to assume anything. Are you gonna answer the question?

Skarlet said...

Peter,

I have to disagree with your analysis of Robert's comment. I actually agree with Robert, and therefore it isn't possible that Robert is *rejecting* my point about God's power. It's just an issue of semantics.

I said that God had the power to change people's will - and I was using the first definition of power (strength). Robert argued that God doesn't have the power to change people's will IF that would go against His own design and purpose - which uses the second definition of power (beyond self-limitation).

Now, if God could not change a person's will because of the holiness or might of the will itself, then yes, that would make a person's will equal to God, which would be possibly pantheistic.

However, if God cannot change a person's will for the same reason that He cannot lie (the reason being that it would go against His plan and Design), then it does not reflect at all on the will, but on God's wisdom and self-limitations. For example, God also doesn't heal everyone on earth - not because He does not have the strength, but because it would go against His own sovereign plans and allowances. God is unable to go against His own plans. And I agree with that.

As a side note, I think Dr Wayman is actually curious about your motivations. To me, it does not seem at all like he is saying that you have ulterior motives, but rather is curious as to why you yourself think that you are behaving in a different manner (If, in fact, you are conscious of the change at all)

Skarlet said...

Oh, and I forgot to address this point that you made: "'He cannot deny Himself' automatically links to God's *attributes*. And God's plans are not His attributes."

Well, the context of that verse certainly may have been talking about God not being able to deny His own attributes, but I believe in Divine Essentialism. That is to say I believe that God's attributes are always perfectly in line with the counsel of His will, His desires, and His plans. (I don't believe in two conflicting wills of God)

Therefore, I do think that when the verse says that God cannot deny Himself, I don't just think it means that He cannot deny His own plans or requests.

Robert said...

(answer 1)

Pike wrote:

“Notice that Robert's remarks are in response to Rebekah's claim that God *CAN* change someone's will (in terms of power). So Robert's entire argument is predicated on the claim that God *CANNOT* do so. He is *REJECTING* what Rebekah said, and in the process says "He cannot deny himself."”

My comment was meant as a caution, some Christians get excited talking about God’s omnipotence (as well they should) and end up making unqualified statements about what God can do since he is omnipotent. The often unintended mistake is to forget that God’s omnipotence should not be separated from His character, His plans and His promises. It is precisely because God is absolutely faithful that he cannot deny himself. He will not go against his own character, His own plans or His own promises.
Perhaps an illustration will more clearly get at what I was trying to say. Say a new believer is all excited by their conversion to Christianity and say they remember the Noah’s flood story (though they do not know their bibles very well yet). So the new believer says to me: “God is so powerful, He is omnipotent, so He can do anything. The world has gotten so bad that if He wanted to He could do Noah’s flood again. He could again bring upon that kind of flood since he is omnipotent!”

Is that claim true?

No it is not. If you know your bible, God says, promises that He will never bring such a flood upon the earth again. Now God is always faithful to his promises (i.e. He cannot deny Himself). So since he has made that promise, I conclude that God is omnipotent, but in fact he will not do that.

We can extend that principle, that God will not go against his own nature, plans or promises, in other ways as well. God designed humans to be a certain way (I call it the design plan following Plantinga). He planned for us to have minds (and use them), to have bodies (and use them) to have wills (and to make our own choices for reasons). He planned for us to be created in His image. God is not going to go against his own design plan (if he created us to freely choose, then he will not force us to make a certain choice). God also has a plan of salvation which includes us freely choosing to trust Him alone for salvation. God is not going to contradict his own plan of salvation and down the road saved us by meritorious works. He will not change His plan of salvation. So we should not claim: “well God is omnipotent, so He can save us by our meritorious works, if he decides to save people that way.” No, he has revealed his plan of salvation and it involves us freely choosing to trust Him alone for salvation. Again, we should not separate God’s use of His power, His omnipotence from his character, plans or promises. If he promises that he will save those who trust him, he is not going to change mid-stream and start saving people by their meritorious works.

Robert

Robert said...

(answer 2)

Pike wrote:

“Clearly, Robert is saying God does not have the power to change people because that would be a case of God denying Himself. I don't see how anyone can *NOT* consider this statement problematic. For even Arminians ought to admit that God has the *POWER* to do so, even if He should never intend to use it.”

Note how Pike has reframed my view. I was talking about God always being consistent with his character, plans and promises. Pike changes it to me making the claim that: “God does not have the power to change people “.

Was that ever my claim?

That God does not have the power to change people?

I gave the example of our own conversion and repentance as an example that God does and can change people. I could also appeal to the prison ministry that I am involved in. I have seen some of the worst imaginable people, who have done the worst possible things, completely changed and transformed by the power of God. So neither in any comments here on this blog nor in my everyday life have I, or would I, ever claim that “God does not have the power to change people “.

Now note that Pike claims that is what I am saying. I must say that is a real easy straw man to destroy. But again that is not my position and only Pike has misunderstood it.

Robert

Robert said...

(answer 3)

Pike continued with some statements that are very confused:

“Even trying to say, "God cannot deny His plan" doesn't solve the problem here. God's plans are not necessary; they are free. And if they are free, that means they could have been other than they are, right? And if they could have been other than they are, then it would have been possible for God to have planned for people to be changeable by Him, right? And if it is the case that God could have had that plan, then it is the case that God has the power to change people.”

Let’s start with the final statement: Pike appears to be arguing that God can change people. And I agree that he can do so. That is not the issue, the issue has never been whether or not God can change people. The issue is whether or not God is going to contradict Himself in the way he changes people. He says salvation is by faith. Is he going to then save someone by justifying them by their own meritorious works? No, because that is not His plan of salvation and He is not going to change that plan. He is omnipotent, but does that mean therefore that He can or will change His own plan of salvation? If God’s plan of salvation includes that the individual person must freely choose to trust Him to be saved? Is God going to change that? The answer is no, and it is not a question of God’s power, it is a question of God’s character, plans and promises.

Now consider the earlier statements: “God's plans are not necessary; they are free. And if they are free, that means they could have been other than they are, right?” It is true that God’s plans are not necessitated, He freely chose the plan of salvation. He was not obligated to save human persons once Adam and Eve sinned. And since he freely chose to save us he also could have chosen to not save us (as sin deserves death). But in fact he chose to save us, and in choosing to save us, he developed a plan of salvation centered in the incarnation and cross of Christ.

Next Pike develops his discussion of God’s plans further: “And if they could have been other than they are, then it would have been possible for God to have planned for people to be changeable by Him, right?”

This is confused. God was not necessitated in developing his plan of salvation. He chose the plan and did so freely. And part of this plan is that people enter into a saving relationship with Him by changing their thinking about God, themselves, etc. So repentance or change of mind is part of God’s plan of salvation. So God in planning His plan of salvation includes the fact that sinners must repent, change their thinking, during the process in which they are saved (so yes God planned for people to be changeable by Him). I spoke about this earlier when I spoke about how the Holy Spirit reveals things to us and that changes our thinking about God, ourselves and salvation.

Robert

Robert said...

(answer 4)

But here is where the principle I have been discussing kicks in. God is not going to lead us to repentance by forcing us to believe (that contradicts His part of the plan which involves us freely choosing to trust Him) or by taking possession of our bodies and minds (the way demonic spirits seek to control human persons). And God is not going to force us to believe or possess us to ensure that we believe, because that goes against both his design plan for human persons and His plan of salvation for human persons.


“The *ONLY* way that God lacks the power to do so is if the plan itself is *NECESSARY* and cannot be otherwise. But that would make it a necessary feature of God's ontology--that would make the plan itself take on divine attributes.”
This is confused as well. It is true that God’s plans are not necessary (e.g. he planned to create the world, he could have decided not to create the world at all). But it is also true that when God makes a plan (say the plan of salvation for example) because He is faithful, because He will not deny himself, will not go against himself, He will not contradict his own plan. And his not contradicting his own plan is not due to a lack of power nor is it due to the plan being necessary: no he will not contradict it because he cannot deny himself, he cannot be unfaithful to His own character, plans or promises.


“So when you have Robert saying that God does not have the power to change people”

Stop right there.

There is Pike’s misrepresentation. He is claiming that I am claiming that God cannot ever change people. That is not at all what I have claimed nor does anything I say even imply that.

“and He links it to the statement that He cannot deny Himself. All this is, as I said, dangerously close to pantheism.”

And there is the second caricature, that my view is “dangerously close to pantheism.” Claiming that God is absolutely faithful to His own character, plans and promises has nothing to do with pantheism. Nor does it have anything to do with making the human will divine another caricature by Pike.

Robert

Robert said...

(answer 5)

“Obviously I know that Robert is not a pantheist; that's why I didn't accuse him of actually being one, but instead pointed out his logic leads that way.”

No my logic does not get anywhere near pantheism. The claim that God is always faithful to/consistent with his own design plan for humans, His own promises and plans, has nothing to do with pantheism.

Pike concludes with the claim that I do not even understand what “He cannot deny Himself” really means:

“Oh, and BTW, the statement "God cannot deny Himself" has nothing to do with God going against His plans.”

Oh yes it does. When Paul writes the verse to Timothy, Paul is reminding Timothy that even though we are not always faithful/consistent in our actions. God in contrast can be counted on to always be faithful to his character, plans and purposes. It is precisely this faithfulness that we count on for our salvation. God is not going to change the plan some day (because of his omnipotence) so that faith no longer justifies a person. That won’t happen and it cannot happen because that would be God denying Himself, going against his own plan of salvation. Paul reminds Timothy to be assured of God’s faithfulness. That new believer’s claim that God because he is omnipotent can bring about another flood as in Noah’s day is wrong cause that would be God denying Himself going againt his own promises. As believers our confidence is in a God who can be completely trusted to be faithful to his own plans and promises.

“It has to do with the fact that even if we are faithless, he will be faithful. Faithfulness is an attribute of God, and God cannot deny His attributes because it would deny Himself.”

God cannot deny his own attributes, he also cannot deny his own plans and promises. If God went against his own design plan, His own plan of salvation then he would be denying Himself, something he cannot do.

“ So even if Robert didn't intend it, the very statement "He cannot deny Himself" automatically links to God's *attributes*.”

And God’s omnipotence should not be separated from His character, plans or promise.

“And God's plans are not His attributes.”

True, but God’s plans will not be contradicted by Himself since He cannot deny Himself.

“ But notice I didn't argue against his view by pointing out the meaning of the phrase in context, since I could tell he didn't use it the way the Bible did.”

Actually I have used the phrase properly. It is precisely because He cannot deny Himself that God is not going to contradict his own design plan for human persons, His own plan of salvation, His own character, plans or promises.

Robert

Peter Pike said...

Drwayman,

I'm not sure I understand the basis of your question, so I don't know how to answer it. I don't think I am commenting on a lot of Arminian blogs. I'm only really commenting a lot on William's blog. I've put a few comments on Roy's and Rebekah's blog, but don't see how this would be unusual in any sense (and I can't think of another Arminian blog I've commented on in any recent span of time). So I've only been commenting on a grand total of 3 Arminian blogs of late, which I wouldn't expect to be all that unusual.

I think you're seeing a lot more of me because you're also commenting on Calvinist's blogs too, even those that I may not have commented on much before (like Steve Nemes's blog). And I don't think I've commented on anyone's blog here who didn't first comment on Triablogue. It's not like I'm scouring the internet looking for Arminians to comment on their blogs. I mean, if I was doing that I'd probably start reading Brennon's blog and commenting over there too (but I don't since he and I don't tend to get along that well over extended periods of discussion--though it's not as bad as he and Nemes--and I have too much to do to waste effort on such endeavors).

drwayman said...

Peter Pike - Thanks for answering my question. My observations and your observations are different.

I don't comment on Calvinist's blogs with the exception of Steven's blog and that is peripheral. I wasn't referring at all to your comments on Steven's blog.

I regularly read the Arminian blogs (and the Triablogue) even if I don't comment. I have been reading for quite a while not just recently when I have been commenting.

What I've noticed is that over the last few weeks (you call that "as of late"), you have engaged in serious and cordial dialogue on three (by your own admission) Arminian blogs. This is unusual behavior for people from Triablogue. My observation is that Triabloggers don't usually comment seriously and cordially on Arminian blogs. Especially our Christian brother, Mr. Hays. He seems to be full of rhetoric (some of it may be justified).

So, my next question, based upon my observations, is your recent behavior on Birch's blog, Roy's blog and this blog representative of improved and encouraging behavior from the Triabloggers?

Peter Pike said...

Drwayman,

Well, see, here's the thing. You can't link anything one person does to Triablogue as a whole; we are all individuals. We're not even all Calvinists over there. Indeed, if you ever look at our blogger profiles and see who contributes to Triablogue, you'll find there are 18 of us. Now it's obvious that the vast majority of people who *CAN* contribute to Triablogue don't post much. But the point is still valid: we're an eclectic group of many different people with many different personalities.

Now how we typically operate is that we respond to people in the manner in which they interact with us. If someone is looking for a respectful dialogue, we engage them as an honest opponent. If someone comes in brash and arrogant, we treat them accordingly.

The fact of the matter is that you reference my "recent behavior on Birch's blog" but fail to see that Birch doesn't treat me the way he treats Steve. I can tell you that if he did treat me the way he treats Steve Hays, I would respond to William just like Steve responds to William.

And it isn't just William here. Consider Brennon and Steven Nemes's interactions too. If Brennon treated me like he treats Nemes, I would respond exactly the way Nemes does too. Indeed, when Brennon and I first exchanged missives on Triablogue, he did treat me that way and I did respond in kind.

Now please hear what I'm actually saying--or better yet, *DON'T* hear what I'm *NOT* saying. I am in no way condemning nor justifying any of the people involved here. God didn't make me anyone's conscience, so I'm not going to rip on William & Brennon, nor am I going to commend Steve or Steven. Frankly I don't care about people's tone . wish I could show you how little I care here! Well, you can feel free to look through everything I've ever written if you'd like--I can't recall a single time that I've criticized anyone for tone, other than in the form of a tu quoque. And even then, it's not the tone I was criticizing but the hypocrisy.

Anyway, I'm not going to speak further on any others. Maybe *I* err from time to time in how I present myself. But I would rather be rude but right than nice but wrong. And I'd rather the same of you and another other person I speak with. See, you can be harsh, cruel, rude, or whatever word you want to put in there, but if you have the truth that's what I want. But if you're the nicest person in the world, flattering everyone, praising all people, and all for a lie, then I'm going to oppose you because I don't care how nice you are when truth is on the line. That's just how I roll.

A.M. Mallett said...

Dr. Wayman, I like you just the way you are. Meekness and humility embracing charity are the hallmark of Christian character. I know I could endure more of each.

drwayman said...

Peter - Thanks for your reply. I was hoping for more but understand that you can only speak for yourself.

I understand the policy of Triabloggers to match tone (see Rules of Engagement #3 http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/02/rules-of-engagement.html). I understand that Jesus would often do the same as well.

I also know that were other times that Jesus responded in an opposite manner and encouraged His followers to do the same (going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, etc) and the Bible has other examples (a soft answer turneth away wrath). I also believe that I should not let other people dictate how I treat them.

I'm not into investigating people. I didn't know that there were 18 Triabloggers. Even if I did, I wouldn't spend my time trying to figure out who these individuals were. It appears to me that there are basically 4 or 5 Triabloggers who do all the work. Mr. Hays seems to be the most vocal and responds with the most invective. He reminds me of a good friend that I have. This friend and I agree on just about 90% of our views but I have to distance myself from him at times because of the way that he responds/approaches others. I enjoy Mr. Hays writing style for the most part and find him creative and interesting. If I were going to the same church as he, I would be pleased to worship, study and fellowship with him. However, I tend to not read his stuff that opposes Arminianism because that is the 10% where we don't agree and I believe that it is more prudent to focus on areas of agreement.

I also know that not all the Triabloggers are Calvinists. However, the opening sentence of your "Rules of Engagement" as referenced above says the default is Calvinism.

So, anyway, thanks, again for responding to my curiosity. I look forward to more interactions in the future.

drwayman said...

A.M. - Thanks for the acceptance of me just the way I am. I'm just a pimple on the Body of Christ. I am far from being a perfect man, husband, father, or Christian. Yet, I do endeavor to live my life as Jesus did.

When you think of me, please pray for me to follow eph 5:2 "and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

Bob Brewer said...

I read many blogs but very rarely comment.

Skarlet, one of things that I most appreciate about your blog is the way in which your comments are for the benefit of the one your responding to. You have not sought to prove your point(s) at the expense of tearing down another but rather have supported your position while at the same time building up those with whom you disagree. You have set us all Arminian and Calvinist a good example to follow.

Let's all be eager to forgive. God has forgotten our past sins so who are we to remember the past sins of our brothers? Life truly is too short not to forgive quickly and often.

In Christ,

Bob B

Michael Gormley said...

If God gives His Grace to everyone and desires everyone to be saved, then why can't everybody enter heaven? Scripture says that God gives His Grace lavishly to the Elect (Ephesians 1:7-8) and has mercy but also hardens the hearts of whom He will (cf. Romans 9:18).

This is something we cannot question – God is the potter and we are the clay (Romans 9:20-21). in Catholic Church's terminology God gives the Elect sufficient and efficacious Grace [2] while the Reprobates receive sufficient but inefficacious Grace.

Thus Catholics believe God gives sufficient Grace for everyone to make him/her, using his/her freedom, turn to God and be saved. One way to explain this is using Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).

In the parable the Master gave different number of talents to his three servants according to their abilities. The Master obviously had every right to decide how many talents each servant received. The servant with only one talent was later condemned. Yet his Master did not intend to condemn him by giving him only one talent.

Had he deposited it in the bank he would be fine like the other two. The servant was condemned for his own wrong action, i.e. hiding the single talent entrusted to him.

Thus Catholics believe that condemnation of the Reprobates to hell always involves their freedom to reject God’s Grace – in other words they are responsible for their damnation. Catholic’s view on Reprobation is called as Positive Conditional Reprobation - when God created the world He, being omniscience, foresaw the Reprobate’s rejection to His Grace and let them use their freedom to do so. Yet God still wants them to be saved and still gives them sufficient Grace.

Michael Gormley said...

To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of ‘predestination’, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace:

In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place [Acts 4:27-28].

For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.

Catechism of the Catholic Church # 600

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