Saturday, October 29, 2011

The John 6:44 Argument

The first time I heard this argument, it seemed so obviously flawed that I just replied directly to the person and thought that I wouldn't hear of it again. However, I have heard that same argument used several more times, so I realized that I actually need to address it once and for all.

First, there is the verse:

John 6:44

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Then, the argument goes like this:

  • Everyone who the Father draws comes to Christ.

  • Everyone who the Father draws is raised up at the last day, and obviously that only included those who have come to Christ.

  • Therefore, whichever way you look at it, everyone who the Father draws comes to Christ and is raised up at the last day.

The trouble is, that isn't what the verse actually says. Perhaps God only draws those who end up being saved, but THIS verse doesn't say that... maybe other verses do, but this one definitely doesn't. I'll explain. First, I'll break up the verse into components and examine each part and show how it fits together, and then I will give an example of similar sentence structure.

Here are two basis statements made in this verse:

  • No one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him

  • Christ will raise [him] up at the last day

The first part says that without the drawing of the Father, humans are unable to come to Christ. Without X, no one can do Y. This is similar to saying that without having hands, you cannot drum your fingers on your friend's head.

It does NOT follow that everyone who has X actually goes on to do Y. Without X, no one can do Y. With X, a person may or may not do Y... that isn't addressed. For example, if you have hands, you may or may not drum your fingers on your friend's head.

Without the drawing of the Father, humans are unable to come to Christ.

Without X, no one can do Y.

With the drawing of the Father, humans... ? [Are able to come? Will come?]

With X, a person [may or may not do Y...?]

To know what happened with X in place, to all people, we would need further information. However, we do get some information from the next part. Christ will raise “him” up at the last day. Who? The one who comes to Christ: A human cannot come to Christ unless the Father draws that human, and Christ will raise that human [the same one who was drawn and came to Christ] in the last day.

From this, we learn that there are people who are drawn by the Father who also come to Christ. We learn that whoever falls under that category is raised up on the last day. What category? The category of those who both

A) Come to Christ

B) Were drawn by the Father

Obviously, no one can be in category A without also being in category B – since the first part of the verse says so. So those who come to Christ fit BOTH categories, and are raised up in the last day. However, the verse didn't say whether someone could be in category B without being in category A. It didn't address that.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

This does NOT say that all those who are drawn come. It says that all who come were drawn.

It does not say that all who were drawn are raised. It says that those came and were drawn are raised.


No one can murder his brother unless God first gives him existence; and the American law will send him to jail.

This does NOT say that all who are given existence murder their brother. It claims that all those who murder were given existence.

It does not say that all who were given existence are sent to jail. It claims that those who murder and were given existence are sent to jail.

Logic, people. Logic.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

God's Sovereignty (A poll)

Orthodox Christians believe that God is Sovereign over the universe. Does this mean that when sin happens, He simply allows it, or does He get more involved? If God does, in fact, decree a specific sin - how involved does He get, in order to make sure that that particular sin (instead of another sin) actually occurs?

I want to hear about your beliefs.


First, read through the definitions of the terms that will be used: Levels of Involvement

Copy and paste the poll to a word document.

Fill out your answers and save the file.

Email to me: skarlet.servantoftheking (at)

God Bless!


Question #1-A

What is your name?

Question #1-B

You consider yourself to be:

___ An open theist

___ An Arminian

___ A non-Calvinist Christian

___ A Calvinist

___ A three point, or four point Calvinist

___ Other (Please explain)

Question #1-C

Do you believe that God is completely Sovereign over all creation?

Question #2

In your opinion, which viewpoints presented here represent a belief that YOU hold to, regarding the sin of humans?

Please mark an “X” by all statements that you believe are true, or just highlight in yellow. If you believe that none of the statements are consistent with what you believe, then do not mark or highlight any options.


___ God is sometimes ignorant of sin that will occur

___ God is completely uninvolved with occurring sin

___ God is helpless to stop some sin

___ God sometimes allows sin

___ God sometimes actively gives permission for sin to occur

___ God is a “cause in fact” for sin; without Him, no sin could have happened

___ God “aids and abet”s those who He knows will harm others

___ God provides synergist energy, thus enabling people to carry out every act of sin

___ God sometimes acts as a trigger or catalyst for someone committing a particular sin

___ Like the police, God sometimes entraps people by putting them in situations where He knows they will sin

___ God sometimes puts sinful ideas in people's minds

___ God sometimes lightly influences people to sin

___ God sometimes invents/masterminds the sin

___ God sometimes internally commands people to sin

___ God sometimes then internally persuades people to sin

___ God sometimes tempts people to sin

___ God sometimes indoctrinates people's minds, so that they will commit the sin

___ God sometimes inspires a sin

___ God sometimes manipulates a person to sin

___ God sometimes incites them to arouse them to commit the sin

___ God sometimes incepts the idea into their head, so that they think that they were the one to think it up

___ God sometimes uses overwhelming influence to get the person to sin

___ God occasionally, in effect, “drugs” people, by manipulating their brain chemistry to the point that they cannot go against the temptation that God is enforcing with the chemicals

___ God sometimes uses mind-control to make people want to sin and then sin; like a programmer causes a robot to act, by controlling all cognitions

___ God sometimes causes people to sin without will; like a puppet-master controls the actions of a willess puppet

___ God sometimes forces people to sin against their will


Levels of Involvement (Definitions)

If one person takes action, or makes a choice, to what level can another person, or being, be involved with the process? This is a list of various levels of involvement, ranging from the least involvement to the most, complete with definitions and explanations. Many people also view greater involvement as implying greater responsibility.

1 – Ignorance

To be unaware. I am ignorant of any specific sins being committed in China right now.

2 – Uninvolvement

The opposite of being involved. If I hear about a situation involving my brother and some other boy at school, I am not ignorant, but I can choose to remain completely uninvolved with the matter.

3 – Helplessness

To be uninvolved because you do not have the ability to be involved, or to be involved in such a way where you cannot influence the outcome in any way.

4 – Allow

Allow implies complete absence of an attempt, or even an intent, to hinder. Allow is more passive; if you do nothing, and therefore the crime happens, you have allowed it.

5 – Permit

Permitting is similar to allowing, but is more active; if they have to get your permission before doing a crime, and you give permission, you have permitted the sin.

6 – “Cause in Fact”

A cause, without which, the result would not have occurred. The person who assembled this laptop keyboard is a cause-in-fact for me typing up this document with this keyboard.

7 – “Aid and Abet”

To assist another in the commission of a crime by voluntary and uncoerced words or conduct. For instance, if I lend my car to a friend, so that they can use it as a quick getaway car, that would be aid. [Note: The legal system also insists that the person giving aid must have criminal intent, but I do not use that meaning here.]

8 – Synergism

Combined action or functioning; two or more energies working together. Two batteries working together is synergy. If I hold the toast, while you butter it, we have synergistically produced buttered toast.

9 – Catalyst

Anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and triggers or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions. A simple yell can easily trigger a massive avalanche. Similarly, a small protest can be the catalyst for a mass demonstration.

10 – Entrapment

Setting up a situation in order to make it more likely for a criminal to commit a certain crime, which they are in the habit of committing, in a place where they can be caught and prosecuted for it. If I was a policeman, and tried to set up a meeting to buy heroin, just so I could catch the dealer in the act of selling drugs, that would be entrapment.

11 – Giving Ideas

To not completely mastermind the crime, but to have some ideas about how to commit the crime, and then to suggest those ideas to the person who you know plans to commit the crime. Suggesting an escape route, or tactic to avoid detection, for instance.

12 – Light Influence

Light influence would be to try to get someone to do something by lightly influencing them – suggesting the idea, offering a bribe, warning them of what would happen if they don't, etc. It is influence, but not such influence that it would force their hand, like “overwhelming influence.”

13 – Mastermind

A person who supplies the directing or creative intelligence for a project. To plan and direct (a usually complex project or activity), especially skillfully. Inventing and planning out a specific scenario.

14 – Command

Commanding someone to do something. If a spirit is doing this, the command can be written (like in the Bible), audible, or sent directly to the person's mind.

15 – Persuade

Using reason (or some semblance thereof) to persuade someone to do something. If a spirit is doing this, the persuasion can be written, audible, or sent directly to the person's mind.

16 – Tempt

Tempting someone to do something. If a spirit is doing this, the temptation can be written, audible, or sent directly to the person's mind/will/emotions/spirit/soul.

17 – Indoctrinate

Indoctrinating or even brainwashing someone to believe something which would make them actually carry out the desired action. If a spirit is doing this, the indoctrination can be written, audible, or sent directly to the person's mind.

18 – Inspire

Guiding, prompting, and/or filling someone with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence to do something. If a spirit is doing this, the inspiration must be internal and directly involved with the person's mind/will/emotions/spirit/soul.

19 – Manipulate

Skillfully manipulating someone to do something; this usually involves knowing how to manipulate people, and how to “push their buttons,” so to speak. If a spirit is doing this, the manipulation may include manipulating circumstances around the person's life (to get them to react), and may also include directly sending thoughts and feelings to the person involved.

20 – Incite

Instigating, provoking, or urging someone on to do something. If a spirit is doing this, the inciting is internal and directly involved with the person's mind/will/emotions/spirit/soul.

21 – Inception

Putting the idea in someone's mind in such a way that they take the idea as their own, rather than rejecting the thought. (See “Inception” movie). If a spirit is doing this, the inception is internal and directly involved with the person's mind/will/emotions/spirit/soul.

22 – Overwhelming Influence

The situations where “overwhelming influence” is involved are the situations where people generally claim that they “had no choice.” Bribery may be light influence, but putting a gun to someone's head is overwhelming influence. Overwhelming influence is putting someone in a situation where they do have a choice, but it would be impossible or nearly impossible for them to choose against what you want them to choose, and they know it. The person feels “overwhelmed” by the influence, and gives in to the desires or demands of the one exercising the overwhelming influence.

23 – Drugging the person

To effect a change in a person's brain chemistry in order to take away a person's consciousness or rational control so that they become unaware, or extremely susceptible to suggestion. For instance, giving someone “truth serum” to make them tell the truth would be drugging the person

24 – Complete Mind-Control (like a robot)

To control a person's psyche so completely that you can completely determine all of their actions, in such a way that you also make them want to do what you cause them to do. The only real life example that can be used is that of a robot, whose every thought and action is completely determined by the programmer. Fictitious examples include numerous stories of people “hypnotizing” others to control their mind, or inventing “mind-control hats” and the like. [Also see “The Stepford wives,” and “Simon Says,” which an episode of “Underdog”] Brainwashing does not count as mind-control.

25 – Puppetry (like a puppet-master & puppet)

To control a person's actions, without making them believe that they are the one initiating the action (mind-control), but also without them being against the action (which would be force).

26 – Physically force, against their will

To make someone do something that they do not want to do, and that they know they do not want to do.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Us Two (A.A. Milne)

Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
"Where are you going today?" says Pooh:
"Well, that's very odd 'cos I was too.
Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
"Let's go together," says Pooh.

"What's twice eleven?" I said to Pooh.
("Twice what?" said Pooh to Me.)
"I think it ought to be twenty-two."
"Just what I think myself," said Pooh.
"It wasn't an easy sum to do,
But that's what it is," said Pooh, said he.
"That's what it is," said Pooh.

"Let's look for dragons," I said to Pooh.
"Yes, let's," said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few-
"Yes, those are dragons all right," said Pooh.
"As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That's what they are," said Pooh, said he.
"That's what they are," said Pooh.

"Let's frighten the dragons," I said to Pooh.
"That's right," said Pooh to Me.
"I'm not afraid," I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted "Shoo!
Silly old dragons!"- and off they flew.
"I wasn't afraid," said Pooh, said he,
"I'm never afraid with you."

So wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
"What would I do?" I said to Pooh,
"If it wasn't for you," and Pooh said: "True,
It isn't much fun for One, but Two,
Can stick together, says Pooh, says he.
"That's how it is," says Pooh.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Following the Strongest Desire

“Not only will we always choose according to our strongest desires, we must always choose according to our strongest desires.”

R.C. Sproul

“In summary of Edwards’ view of free will, he believes that man is free in that he can and does choose according to his strongest inclinations — his desires.”

W. Tullian Tchividjian

I don't agree with these claims, but it's hard to argue with it when the argument is generally presented in a circular fashion. I've debated it briefly with some Calvinists before, and it usually goes like this:

"You always choose based on your strongest desire."

"How do you know what someone's strongest desire was?"

"It was the one that they chose.”

If you define "strongest desire" as "the one that matches the choice made," then you can prove that the choice made always matches the strongest desire. But as soon as you get down to "what non-circular definitions of strongest desire can you give?"

If you define "strongest desire" as "the desire that pops to mind most frequency in the minutes before you take the action," then hypothetically a person could disprove it and say "No, I had X desire pop to mind 50 times in 5 minutes, but I also wanted to do righteous action Y, which came to mind 2 times in that period. Then I prayed about it and within 15 seconds took action Y."

If you define "strongest desire" as "the choice that you usually make in this situation," then a person taking a new path would disprove it.

If you define "strongest desire" as "the one which effects your physical/mental chemistry most negatively before you take the action (which relieve the negative chemical balance)," then a drug addict who stops using would have chosen against their "strongest desire."

But as long as we accept the definition of "strongest desire" as "that which motivates your action," it is indisputable that "your actions are always motivated by your strongest desire." It's true by definition in that case. For myself, I do not buy into this circular definition, though. I don't find it true, helpful, or useful in debating larger concepts like free will.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nice Guys Finish Last (Satire)

Sometimes people need to be put in their place, but it can be hard to know what to say when this situation comes up. For those of you who stumble when trying to know exactly how to prepare that next verbal strike, this guide will be a priceless companion. Alternatively, if you need to win a debate, and to that end want to make you opponent overly emotional, these tactics will help to push buttons they didn't know they had! You don't need to try all of the angles that I mention here, it's more a big basket of brainstorming and ideas that you can pick and choose from. After learning these techniques, people often find 4-5 that they really gravitate to, and mostly specialize in those ones when situations come up.

First, I'll give you the theories, for those of you who think in general terms. Then I'll also give you some specific lines that are proven to be generally effective; they range from the rhetorical to the personal. Don't expect to remember all of these, thought. It will probably take some practice to hone your skills, and even without that, you're probably already using one or two of these in your ordinary conflicts. Keep building on those skills, and you'll get there. If there are people in your life that you don't want to hurt, that's your call, and you can carefully avoid using these methods. But if you need to verbally hit someone where it hurts, then you'll want to do it right.

Best for close relationships:

For strong opinions:

Use one-line “Sniper” statements

Criticize, but invite no change and offer no opportunity for reconciliation

Use “Always” and “Never”

Withhold acceptance, affections, or appreciation.

Call their views bullshit (or other profanity)

Blatantly disrespect their opinions and attitudes

Exaggerate their claims

Tearing them down:

Preventing future improvement:

Use put-downs, belittle them

Send messages of incompetence or inadequacy.

Call them names

Attack their core identity

Be overly general when you criticize: offer no specific problem action, tone, or tactic – give no indication of how they could improve

Use negative future pacing

The heart of the matter:

The final twist:

Assume negative things about the persons motive or reasons

Call them a liar (this works especially well when they have a history of being honest)

Mock and Scorn

Use sarcasm in argument whenever you can

Say something negative and believable as a joke (and the best part is blaming them for feeling hurt by it)

A few favorites:

“Only someone who can't think for themselves would subscribe to that.”

“You're looking for excuses; that's all you're doing right now.”

“Thanks for illustrating, once more, the inability of [Insert name of their group here] to offer intelligent feedback.”

“You won't get another damn question from me ever again”

“You did this on purpose. Well played”

“You'll never change.”

“Sure. Everything you say is right. You never make any mistakes”