313 Comments
  1. Josh,

    Adam, it seems to me that the clearest explanation of Exodus 8:15 is the last 10 words of that verse. God may not have said to Moses that Pharoah would “harden” his heart yet, but He DID say that Pharoah would “not send the people away.”

    However, the ka’asher is a comparative particle. It is comparing what has come before, namely, the hardening of his heart. There is no comparison of not sending the people away with what God said, but rather, his stubborn hardness.

    God does not harden an already soft heart, He only may confirm/strengthen and already hard heart indirectly, because it is JUST that He would correct the proud/stubborn man. The same mercy is extended to him as to everyone else. But if He choses to reject prior warning and advice, then it is RIGHT for God to judge and inevitably further stiffen and already stiff-necked man.

    Again, I think one has to ask where the fulfillment of 4:21 is, if not in 5:1-2. I mean, you turn the page, and right away you have the very first meeting, and Pharaoh’s heart is hard. It doesn’t seem to make any sense, given the flow of the narrative to split 4:21 from 5:1-2.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  2. Zvi,

    Dr. brown, I thought this might help the discussion about pharoh:One of the great jewish Rabbis explained the reason for g-d hardening the heart of pharoh. He said something fascinating, the problem was that g-d to give pharoh free to choose to obey g-d and send the jews out,the problem was however that pharoh was forced into listening to g-d because of the ten plauges that he received, so without g-d hardening his heart pharoh would have no free will,since he would be forced to send them out due to his sufferiing. So g-d hardened his heart to counteract the fact that he was suffering from the ten plauges so at this point it was a fair ballgame! In other words now he had perfect free will.

    The problem is that this is contradicted by what the text itself says in 9:16:

    However, for this reason I have raised you up, so that I might show you my strength, and so that my name would be proclaimed in all the earth.

    It wasn’t to make things a “fair ballgame.” Quite the opposite. God raised him up specifically for the purpose of showing him his strength, and proclaiming his name throughout all the earth.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  3. Adam,there is no cantradiction at all,because g-d knew that pharoh would sin EVEN in the event that pharoh had free will, Just like we all sin yet we have free will and g-d knew it beforehand.

  4. Nathaniel,

    Brennon is right, you’re equating certainty w/ necessity. It’s a very common misconception about the simple foreknowledge viewpoint. Here’s an interesting point about this objection from 19th century Arminian theologian Thomas Ralston:

    “We remark, in the first place, that this objection labors under the serious difficulty that, while it aims to destroy the free agency of man, it really would destroy the free agency of God. For, if whatever is foreknown as certain must also be necessary, and cannot possibly be otherwise, then, as God foreknew from eternity every act that he would perform throughout all duration, he has, all the while, instead of being a free agent, acting after the ‘council of his own will,’ been nothing more than a passive machine, acting as acted upon by stern necessity. This conclusion is most horribly revolting; but according to the arguments of necessitarians, it cannot possibly be avoided. And if we are forced to the conclusion that God only acts as impelled by necessity, and can in no case act differently from what he does, then it must follow that necessity or fate made and preserves all things; but is it not obvious that this doctrine of necessity, as applied to the Deity, is most glaringly absurd? To suppose that the great Jehovah, in all his acts, has been impelled by necessity, or, which is the same thing, that he has only moved as he was acted upon, is to suppose the eternal existence of some moving power separate and distinct from the Deity, and superior to him; which would be at once to deny his independence and supremacy. We cannot, then, without the most consummate arrogance and absurdity, admit the position that all the acts of the Deity are brought about by necessity. Yet they are foreknown; and if, as we have seen, God’s foreknowledge of his own acts does not render them necessary, and destroy his free agency, how can it be consistently argued that God’s foreknowledge of the acts of men renders them necessary, and destroys their free agency?” (Elements of Divinity, p. 182)

  5. Zvi,

    It is not a matter of just knowing, but, rather, having a purpose in raising Pharaoh up. That is the point. If it was just God reacting to Pharaoh’s sin, then how could God have had a purpose in raising him up in the first place?

    God Bless,
    Adam

  6. Nathaniel,

    Here’s another early Arminian theologian Richard Watson on the same issue. Long but worth the read:

    “The great fallacy in the argument, that the certain prescience of a moral action destroys its contingent nature, lies in supposing that contingency and certainty are the opposites of each other. It is, perhaps, unfortunate, that a word which is of figurative etymology, and which consequently can only have an ideal application to such subjects, should have grown into common use in this discussion, because it is more liable on that account to present itself to different minds under different shades of meaning. If, however, the term contingent in this controversy has any definite meaning at all, as applied to the moral actions of men, it must mean their freedom, and stands opposed not to certainty, but to necessity. A free action is a voluntary one; and an action which results from the choice of the agent, is distinguished from a necessary one in this, that it might not have been, or have been otherwise, accord ing to the self-determining power of the agent. It is with reference to this specific quality of a free action, that the term contingency is used, ~it might hare been otherwise, in other words, it was not necessitated. Contingency in moral actions is, therefore, their freedom, and is opposed, not to certainty, but to necessity. The very nature of this controversy fixes this as time precise meaning of time term. The question is not, in point of fact, about time certainty of moral actions, that is, whether they will happen or not; but about the nature of them, whether free or constrained, whether they must happen or not. Those who advocate this theory care not about the certainty of actions, simply considered, that is, whether they will take place or not; the reason why they object to a certain prescience of moral actions is, that they conclude, that such a prescience renders them necessary. It is the quality of the action for which they contend, not whether it will happen or not. If contingency meant uncertainty, the sense in which such theorists take it, the dispute would be at an end. But though an uncertain action cannot be foreseen as certain, a free, unnecessitated action may; for there is nothing in the knowledge of the action, in the least, to affect its nature. Simple knowledge is, in no sense, a cause of action, nor can it be conceived to be causal, unconnected with exerted power; for mere knowledge, therefore, an action remains free or necessitated, as the case may be. A necessitated action is not made a voluntary one by its being foreknown: a free action is not made a necessary one. Free actions foreknown will not, therefore, cease to be contingent. But how stands the case as to their certainly? Precisely on the same ground. The certainty of a necessary action foreknown, does not result from the knowledge of the action, but from the operation of the necessitating cause; and in like manner, the certainty of a free action does not result from the knowledge of it, which is no cause at all, but from the voluntary cause, that is, the determination of the will. It alters not the case in the least, to say that the voluntary action might have been otherwise. Had it been otherwise, the knowledge of it would have been otherwise; but as the will, which gives birth to the action, is not dependent upon the previous knowledge of God, but the knowledge of the action upon foresight of the choice of the will, neither the will nor the act is controlled by the knowledge, and the action, though foreseen, is still free or contingent.

    The foreknowledge of God has then no influence upon either the freedom or the certainty of actions, for this plain reason, that it is knowledge, and not influence; and actions may he certainly foreknown, without their being rendered necessary by that foreknowledge. But here it is said, If the result of an absolute contingency be certainly foreknown, it can have no other result, it cannot happen otherwise. This is not the true inference. It will not happen otherwise; but I ask, why can it not happen otherwise? Can is an expression of potentiality, it denotes power or possibility. The objection is, that it is not possible that the action should otherwise happen. But why not? What deprives it of that power? If a necessary action were in question, it could not other wise happen than as the necessitating cause shall compel; but then that would arise from the necessitating cause solely and not from the prescience of the action, which is not causal. But if the action be free, and it enter into the very nature of a voluntary action to be unconstrained, then it might have happened in a thousand other ways, or not have happened at all; the foreknowledge of it no more affects its nature in this case than in the other. All its potentiality, so to speak, still remains, independent of foreknowledge, which neither adds to its power of happening otherwise, nor diminishes it. But then we are told, that the prescience of it, in that case, must be uncertain: not unless any person can prove, that the Divine prescience is unable to dart through all the workings of the human mind, all its comparison of things in the judgment, all the influences of motives on the affections, all the hesitancies, and haltings of the will, to its final choice. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for us,” but it is the knowledge of Him who “understandeth the thoughts of man afar off.”

    But if a contingency will have a given result, to that result it must be determined. Not in the least. We have seen that it cannot be determined to a given result by mere precognition, for we have evidence in our own minds that mere knowledge is not causal to the actions of another. It is determined to its result by the will of the agent; but even in that case, it cannot be said, that it must be determined to that result, because it is of the nature of freedom to be unconstrained; so that here we have an instance in the case of a free agent that he will act in some particular manner, but that it by no means follows from what will be, whether foreseen or not, that it must be.”

  7. If that last post was too much (sorry) here’s a great snipet from it:

    “The foreknowledge of God has then no influence upon either the freedom or the certainty of actions, for this plain reason, that it is knowledge, and not influence; and actions may he certainly foreknown, without their being rendered necessary by that foreknowledge. But here it is said, If the result of an absolute contingency be certainly foreknown, it can have no other result, it cannot happen otherwise. This is not the true inference. It will not happen otherwise; but I ask, why can it not happen otherwise? Can is an expression of potentiality, it denotes power or possibility. The objection is, that it is not possible that the action should otherwise happen. But why not? What deprives it of that power? If a necessary action were in question, it could not other wise happen than as the necessitating cause shall compel; but then that would arise from the necessitating cause solely and not from the prescience of the action, which is not causal. But if the action be free, and it enter into the very nature of a voluntary action to be unconstrained, then it might have happened in a thousand other ways, or not have happened at all; the foreknowledge of it no more affects its nature in this case than in the other. All its potentiality, so to speak, still remains, independent of foreknowledge, which neither adds to its power of happening otherwise, nor diminishes it.”

  8. Adam, If g-d knows what will occur then g-d casn have a purpose for it as well and yet the person can have free will. For example,the jews sinned for many years so g-d sent Hitler to destroy them, and that was g-d’s purpose. Does that mean that Hitler had no free will?

  9. I think I understand what your saying Adam, about the “ka’asher”(?) being a comparative particle. But. it still holds up my explanation. Consider:

    God tells me something in a dream and when I wake up I record it. God tells me, “tomorrow, when you go to school, your English teacher will be a substitue in your English class.”

    Tomorrow arrives and I go to English class. But before I head in the school I see my English teacher being taken into an ambulance and carried away from the school. I then enter the school and go to English class where we wait for the substitue English teacher to arrive. he finally arrives.

    I journal the following:
    {Today I go to English class. But before I head in the school I see my English teacher being taken into an ambulance and carried away from the school. I then enter the school and go to English class where we wait for the substitue English teacher to arrive. He finally arrives, just as God told me.}

    God didn’t tell me that my English teacher would be taken into the ambulance; but He DID tell me that I would have a substitute English teacher in my English class. And so it was. Prophecy fulfilled even still. The fact that he didn’t mention the ambulance scene is incidental and doesn’t negate the fulfillment.
    God Bleass,
    Josh

  10. And although I just explained myself in the previous post,there are some rabbis that disagree with the Idea that g-d can decree that a person get killed through another human being since that would take away the free will. They explain that when reuben tried to save joseph from the brothers what was his intention? He figured that if Joseph deserved to die then g-d would send snakes and scorpions to kill joseph,but if the brothers would kill him there would be no proof that it was DECREED by g-d for him to die since the brothers have free will and can kill joseph even if g-d did not want him dead.

  11. Adam,g-d did 2 things 1.he raised him up 2. He hardened his heart. he raised him up for the reason you mentioned,and he hardened his heart to make it a” fair ballgame”. Otherwise,there would be no point in the 10 plaauges g-d could have just hardened his heart and CASE CLOSED, g-d needed both ingredidents to give him free will.

  12. Josh,

    I would say that, given what you have told me, your illustration is not parallel, because the phrase “just as God told me” in your illustration is still syntactically related to “He [the substitute teacher] finally arrives.” The point is that this precise relationship exists between the phrase “he hardened his heart” and “as the Lord had said” in Exodus 8:15. It is true that the ambulance indecent is incidental in your story, but it is not put in comparison with “as the Lord had said,” as the phrase “he hardened his heart” is put in comparison with “as the Lord had said” in Exodus 8:15.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  13. Zvi,

    he hardened his heart to make it a” fair ballgame”. Otherwise,there would be no point in the 10 plaauges g-d could have just hardened his heart and CASE CLOSED, g-d needed both ingredidents to give him free will.

    The problem is, again, that is not the reason that the text itself gives. The point is not about giving him free will; in fact, the point seems rather intimidating, namely, to show him his strength! Also, he raised him up so that his name would be proclaimed in all the earth. Because of this, notice what happens at the end of the narrative, namely, how everyone hears of what God did to the Egyptians, and how they all fear when Israel comes and enters the land, all because God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  14. Adam,again the point of putting pharoh was put up there was for the reason you stated.however it does not say that the reason the g-d hardened his heart was for that reason!

  15. Adam like I said G-d could have hardened his heart without giving him the ten plauges if the whole purpose was to show his strenght? The answer is that although it is true that g-d wanted to show his might, it was still necessarry for Pharoh to have free will.

  16. Adam you said, {“The point is that this precise relationship exists between the phrase “he hardened his heart” and “as the Lord had said” in Exodus 8:15.”}

    But that’s my point. You say this, but you can’t ACTUALLY demonstrate that this is the case. I take the word of God seriously as I’m sure you do too. I have already demonstrated how the fulfillment can readily be shown using what is there.
    Therefore the only reason you would insist on assuming as say an atheist might, for example, that in order for the fulfillment to be a fulfillment would be to include the in-between as well as the final product that God declared would happen, would be because your heart has already chosen to look at it that way. Not necessarily because it MUST be that way.

    When Joseph saw in a dream that his brothers would bow to him, and he conveyed this message to them, he didn’t see the process in between, nor does scripture record the in between at that time.
    I suspect that this is just an area where we may have to agree to disagree.
    Once again God Bless,
    Josh

  17. Zvi,

    Adam,again the point of putting pharoh was put up there was for the reason you stated.however it does not say that the reason the g-d hardened his heart was for that reason!

    The problem is that it is precisely because of the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart that God sent the plagues, and it was precisely because of the plagues that God’s name was made known throughout the earth. You cannot separate out the individual elements of the story, as they all are related.

    Adam like I said G-d could have hardened his heart without giving him the ten plauges if the whole purpose was to show his strenght? The answer is that although it is true that g-d wanted to show his might, it was still necessarry for Pharoh to have free will.

    Actually, given the nature of the Egyptian king, who was thought to be an incarnation of Re’, and was the one assigned to keep m”t [order], it was precisely because of all of the chaos of the plagues that God was showing him his strength! He was showing Pharaoh that he is not God, and that he has no power to stop the eternal purposes of God.

    Also, you have to understand the second clause in relationship to all of this as well. The other nations feared the Israelites precisely because of what God did in the plagues.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  18. Josh,

    But that’s my point. You say this, but you can’t ACTUALLY demonstrate that this is the case.

    I don’t agree. I think you can demonstrate it the basis of the syntactical relationships between the two clauses within the comparison. The structure of the verse, in my mind, demonstrates what is being compared.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  19. Adam, I think your’e misunderstanding what I’m saying the question is where was the free will if g-d hardened his heart? The answer is the balance between the plagues and the hardening caused a fair ballgame. Was that the purpose? NO Does pharoh need free will to get punished? YES so he got it.

  20. Adam, the first time pharoh did not send out the jews was after his snakes got swallowed by Moses’ snakes, that should have been enough, so g-d hardened his heart,so now he was back to square one,and he didn’t listen, and so on. So in essence the plauges were sent not because his heart was hardened ,because g-d did that but rather the plaauges were sent because he misused his free will!

  21. My point is that g-d can have a purpose by letting an evil person commit a SIN by killing an individual that G-d wants dead. And with all that the evil person has free will,and is considered an evil person,yet he carries out the plan of g-d.

  22. Steve Noel,

    I’m not arguing that God’s omniscience is the cause and therefore determiner of man’s will. I’m arguing that because he knows, we know that it cannot be any other way than the way that he knows. Does that make sense? While God’s omniscience may not be the cause of our actions, it certainly indicates that our actions are determined in some way.

    I’m a Calvinist, so I do not hold to Libertarianism. That does not mean that there aren’t issues with Compatiblism. I’m just pointing out that the objections to Compatiblism are not resolved in Libertarianism.

  23. Nathaniel,

    I believe I’m following you but don’t think “determined” is the best word to use. That causes confusion because it brings to mind Determinism which I think we would both reject. God’s foreknowledge make our actions certain but I would not say determined. In our experience in time they are contingent but from God’s vantage point (Eternal Now) they are certain. Thus our actions can be both contingent and certain.

  24. It may be that G-d was determining the bonds and boundaries of relationship, with flexibility permitted up until resistance to His demand occurred.

  25. Nathaniel said “My point is your decision is made before you make it.”

    It’s not, though. God knows my decision before I make it, but Him knowing my decision does not necessitate the decision. I actually make the decision at the moment I make it, but God simply knows which decision I will make. Him knowing the decision before I make it doesn’t mean I must necessarily make the decision.

    “If God knows your decision, then you will always make that decision”

    Yes, if I will do P in the future, then God knows with certainty that I will actually do P. But God knowing I will do P did not necessitate doing P. The fact that I would do P is why God knows I will do P. His foreknowledge does not necessitate the event. I could have chosen Q, but God would have known I would choose instead.

    “. By virtue of God’s omniscience of events, your decision is determined…just not by God. This is why many people who want to hold to libertarian freedom have to hold to Middle Knowledge.’

    Well that’s another kettle of fish, and I myself haven’t decided whether I accept the Molinist position, but I don’t think it’s necessary to. You are simply incorrect that a prior knowledge of events means those events are determined. Since God’s foreknowledge is perfect, if He knows P is going to happen tomorrow, then P will happen, but it’s because P will happen that God knows it is going to happen. An astronomer can know exactly where a certain planet will be in 20 years, but that doesn’t mean he determined where it would be, he simply foreknows it.

    Foreknown events do not equal pre-determined events.

  26. Brennon,

    If you read my comments above, I did not mean that God’s omniscience determines our actions. I’m saying that if God knows you will do P, you cannot not do P. In a sense, your choices are pre-determined, but not by God.

  27. If you read my comments above, I did not mean that God’s omniscience determines our actions. I’m saying that if God knows you will do P, you cannot not do P. In a sense, your choices are pre-determined, but not by God.

    Pre-known (i.e. foreknown), not pre-determined. If the choice is free it will be “determined” by the agent at the moment the choice is made. Yet this free determination by the agent is foreknown by God. But the Calvinist view has God causing our every thought, desire, and action. This is not only the case based on the Calvinist view of sovereignty, but also based on the Calvinist view of foreknowledge. Since Calvinism denies that God can foreknow true contingencies, His foreknowledge is therefore entirely based on His eternal decree and the infallible enacting of that decree in time. Every detail of that decree is irresistibly brought about by God (else He could not possibly foreknow those details). This would include every thought, desire, and action of His creatures (even the most wicked and vilest of thoughts, desires and actions). And this is exactly why Arminians charge Calvinist theology with making God the author of all sin and evil, and even the only true sinner in the universe. Thankfully, Calvinists generally deny the charge, though they can’t do it and be consistent with their theology as a whole. That is why “mystery” is so quickly appealed to at this point. Yet calling contradictions “mystery” is not an appropriate use of the word.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  28. arminianperspectives,

    The problem with knowing future contingencies is that knowledge in the very nature of the case is justified belief. If the actions are contingent, it is logically impossible to justify what will happen in the future, because it could be anything [i.e., it is contingent].

    Secondly, I would not appeal to mystery, but I would appeal to the idea that what you mean by the “author of sin” is not what is meant by “author of sin” Biblically or historically. If you say that it is, then we need a demonstration of that from you. Even more broadly, we need a demonstration from you that it is somehow wrong for God to do such a thing. You are making a whole lot of assumptions here, and calling this a contradiction when you have not clearly defined your terms is not helpful.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  29. Adam,

    Before answering I wanted to be clear on your position. Are you saying that God’s foreknowledge is based on His decree which He infallibly brings to pass down to the very smallest detail (including our sinful thoughts, desires, and actions) and yet God should not rightly be called the “author” of such things? What should we call it then? You say that what I am saying about “author of sin” is not what is meant by the term “Biblically and historically.” I think that that is a claim that you need to back up as well. I think I defined my terms well enough in my comments. What exactly are you confused about?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  30. Ben,

    Calvinists do not usually have a problem with God causing evil. Frame and Grudem have a good discussion of this in their theologies. I would maintain that God can cause evil without being culpable for it. I think that’s essentially the message of the book of Job. God is just even when he brings evil upon people. Furthermore, there is no such thing as gratuitous evil. All evil that God brings about is ultimately for the greater good (as determined by God).

  31. Ben,

    Before answering I wanted to be clear on your position. Are you saying that God’s foreknowledge is based on His decree which He infallibly brings to pass down to the very smallest detail (including our sinful thoughts, desires, and actions) and yet God should not rightly be called the “author” of such things? What should we call it then?

    Actually, we should simply say that God is sovereign.

    You say that what I am saying about “author of sin” is not what is meant by the term “Biblically and historically.” I think that that is a claim that you need to back up as well.

    Actually, it is just the opposite. You are the one defining your own terms, as you have said, and thus, you are the one making the assumption that this is what we are to mean Biblically and historically by the phrase “author of evil.” Hence, you bear the burden of proof to show that that is what is meant by the term. If you are departing from the Biblical and historical usage, then one must ask why you are departing from the Biblical and historical usage.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  32. Dr Brown, you said:

    “Adam,

    One last reply and I’ll probably be checking out for a bit: I’m not sure how fluent you are in Hebrew, but the text does not speak of anyone planning anything. Rather, it speaks of intentions, the brothers vs. God’s. They had one thing in mind (evil) and God had another thing in mind (good). If you want to claim that the text states that God ordered these events in detail and moved on the brothers to act in hate and malice, be my guest, but what it actually states is that God had different purposes to accomplish through these events.

    Once again, it appears that I hold to a higher view of sovereignty that do my Calvinist friends. He does not have to decree events in order to accomplish His purposes.

    In any case, if the text stated that God moved on the brothers to do evil, so be it. I would bow down to God and His Word without hesitation. It simply doesn’t state that.”

    I find this to be extremely contradictory. With all due respect, you said here two different things here. First you explain that the phrase “you meant it…God meant it..” has to do with intentions. But then you change the definition of “meant” when it comes to God to mean “Passively permits or allows”.

    So, when the brothers “meant” something, they actively moved to do something, but when God “meant” something, suddenly the definition doesn’t mean “actively move to do something”, but “passively allow or permit”

    In other words, you gave the definition, but then you changed the definition to match your viewpoint on this subject.

    When God meant it for evil, that’s exactly what it means. He intended it. He was actively involved in bringing it about. In the same way the brothers “meant” it by being actively involved in bringing it about. You then say that Calvinists are “reading into the text what isn’t there”, but how can that be? It is you that read into it and changed the definition. Calvinists leave the definition as-is, and we are accused of reading into the text?

    I think the problem here is that we, as Christians, feel the need to jump to God’s defense and start creating theodocies. But this is not necessary, for God himself declares “I make the light and the darkness, I make peace and create evil…I am the Lord who does all these things”. And the author of Lamentations rhetorically asks “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (Lam 3:38)

    God’s sovereignty in both good times and bad times is a bitter pill to swallow. But this is what the Bible teaches. However, this doesn’t mean that God is morally guilty of sin or evil. It is clear that God sinlessly uses sin and evil (and sinners) to accomplish his purposes.

    Therefore, a person does not need to come to God’s defense and start changing the definitions of “meant” to imply that God had nothing to do with it, but instead cleverly turned a bad situation into a good one. A sovereign God intended it for His own, righteous purposes, in the same way that wicked men intended it for their own, sinful, selfish purposes. To me, that’s clearly what the text is saying. The same thing can be seen in Acts 4:27-28.

    My 2c. Thank you for the radio program. It was a pleasure to listen to.

  33. Skala’s comments (January 28, 2010 at 1:11 pm) just do not fly. Dr. Brown is using “meant” as it is normally used in such a context. Normally, when one person does an action and means something for it and another person who does not do the action also means something for the action, there is no suggestion that the person who did not do the action somehow really did do it or irresitibly caused the other person to do it. If my son chooses to sign up for baseball, and means to have fun by it, and I mean for him to learn discipline by it, it does not mean that I made him sign up or that I irresitibly caused him to sign up or somehow irresistibly caused him to desire to sign up. He means it in the way appropriate for the person actually doing the action, and I mean it in a way appropriate to someone who has authority over the situation and power to stop the action. It is not a difference in the meaning of the word. Simply a difference of context (of course the two uses of the word share the same basic context, but are used with respect to different people in the context, so that context does differentiate them to some degree).

  34. Dr. Brown,

    Sorry for taking so long, I did not see your response. The comments are filling fast on this post!

    As far as my background, I am currently working on a Phd in Hebrew and Semitics, and am almost done with my masters degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

    The place where I got “plan” is actually from one of the standard lexicons of the Hebrew language, the Hebrew Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, definition 5, “to plan,” and, in fact, it sites this very text as an example of that definition.

    Anyway, my point was that one cannot say that Joseph’s brothers intended evil, and not also say that, in the same sense, God intended the same evil. That is the reason I said that the antecedent of the 3fs suffix is so important. If the suffix does, indeed, refer back to the “evil” in the previous clause, then the sense of the passage would be this:

    You intended evil against me,
    but God intended the evil for good.

    Thus, the evil would be intended in the same way, as they are in parallel in both clauses. The difference between the two clauses is whether it was meant to be against Joseph, or for good. However, the evil is intended in the same way, as they are in parallel in both clauses.

    In other words, there is a sense in which the two clauses are the same [both God and the brothers intended evil in the same sense], and a sense in which they are different [one intended evil in order to hurt Joseph, the other intended evil in order to save many people alive].

    I hope that does better to clarify what I am saying, and where I am getting it from the text, in terms of both the parallelism between the two clauses, as well as the differences. Sometimes message boards like this can be really difficult for communication.

    Also, I do want to tell you that I don’t mean any of these disagreements as saying you are somehow “stupid,” or are “not enlightened,” as you have said many Calvinists are giving you the impression. I am here because I like to learn about the Hebrew Bible, and grow in wisdom, and one of the ways you can do that is by friendly conversation with those with whom you disagree. Everyone here at Trinity, especially Dr. Averbeck, praises your work in refutation of Orthodox Judaism, and I highly respect the work that you have done in that area, even if we disagree on this area.

    Also, I understand that you are busy. I am currently working on getting ready for comprehensive examinations, and so, I know that a message board like this can be quite distracting. Thank you for the good discussion, though.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  35. Greg, in your post of January 28, 2010 at 12:46 am, you asked Dr. Brown, “If you disagree with the doctrines of Calvinism (TULIP), and you disagree with their understanding of God’s character, is it reasonable to assume that you then believe that the Jesus of whom they promote is not the biblical Jesus? And if Calvinists aren’t advancing the kingdom of the true, biblical Jesus, do you really want them to follow in the footsteps of others that promoted another jesus? Would you rather them follow in the steps of Cartwright, Wesley, Finney, Taylor, Booth, or Graham?
    I guess the question should be asked if the level of perceived error with Calvinism rises to the point of anathema?”

    It seems to are implying that Cartwright, Wesley, etc., had “promoted another jesus” and that their (Arminian based) teachings concerning Christ “rises to the point of anathema”.

    If you can, please advise me if I misunderstood you.

  36. Re: Genesis 50:20, wherein I think Dr. White reads moire into the text than is actually stated, (1) there is not even a hint about predestination; (2) the issue is “intention”, not the action itself,which was an evil act indeed.

    The point is, the brothers did what they did with evil motives but God allowed it to occur and in order to bring about a greater good that was in direct relation to his plan – and this is a crucial point to keep in mind – to raise and build a nation out from whom Messiah would come.

  37. Nelson,

    Then why is the action of God and the action of the brothers parallel, if one was “doing” and the other was just “allowing?” The very same terminology is used for God intending evil, as is used for the brothers intending evil. You are right that there are differences between the two clauses, but, in terms of the actual planning, just as the brothers planned evil, God also planned evil, but each for different purposes.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  38. Couple of points:

    1. Evil is simply the absence of God. God did not create ‘evil’. Evil results from the choices we make contrary to God’s will. God still knew evil could come about by the choices we make, but He had intended everything to be done for good for His glory. With the system God had set up for us to be independent choice makers, He knew evil would still result, but He didn’t create it.

    2. God hardened Pharoah’s heart, meaning the actions of God caused Pharoah’s heart to become hardened, not that God went into Pharaoh’s heart and turned the lever to the ‘hardened’ position. If someone did something to make me angry and become bitter with them, you could say that they hardened my heart.

  39. Arminian,

    Thank you for the comment, but I must disagree with you (No surprise, hehe). You use the analogy of your intentions for your son signing up for baseball to be different than your son’s intentions.

    This analogy fails to point out that in this situation, the father didn’t “intend” the son to do anything in the same way God, in the story, intended something to happen.

    In your analogy, the father had nothing to do with the son’s deciding to sign up for baseball. He simply learned what the son wanted to do, and then responded/reacted to that and deciding to allow it or permit it for another intention. So we are still left with the same problem.

    However, in the Bible, I think it is clear that God intended the entire situation to happen *IN ORDER* to bring about a purpose. He didn’t just react/respond to a situation that happened completely apart from His plan/purpose/decree. In your analogy, the father had nothing to do with the son signing up for baseball.

    But in the Bible, it cannot be said that god “had nothing to do with evil”, for you saw the Bible verses I posted with your own eyes. Both good and bad flows from the Most High.

  40. “Both good and bad flows from the Most High.”
    Good = directly
    Bad = Indirectly
    Remember Saul? And “evil” spirit from God entered him.
    It’s like with Job. Satan left the presence of God and afflicted Job directly.

  41. Skala,
    Isaiah 45:7 in the King James Version reads, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” How does Isaiah 45:7 agree with the view that God did not create evil? There are two key facts that need to be considered. (1) The word translated “evil” is from a Hebrew word that means “adversity, affliction, calamity, distress, misery.” Notice how the other major English Bible translations render the word: “disaster” (NIV, HCSB), “calamity” (NKJV, NAS, ESV), and “woe” (NRSV). The Hebrew word can refer to moral evil, and often does have this meaning in the Hebrew Scriptures. However, due to the diversity of possible definitions, it is unwise to assume that “I create evil” in Isaiah 45:7 refers to God bringing moral evil into existence.

    (2) The context of Isaiah 45:7 makes it clear that something other than “bringing moral evil into existence” is in mind. The context of Isaiah 45:7 is God rewarding Israel for obedience and punishing Israel for disobedience. God pours out salvation and blessings on those whom He favors. God brings judgment on those who continue to rebel against Him. “Woe to him who quarrels with his Master” (Isaiah 45:9). That is the person to whom God brings “evil” and “disaster.” So, rather than saying that God created “moral evil,” Isaiah 45:7 is presenting a common theme of Scripture – that God brings disaster on those who continue in hard-hearted rebellion against Him.

    Same explanation applies to Lamentations 3:38. “Bad” has to do with God’s punishment, not bringing moral evil into existence.

  42. Great program! Cordial and informative

    1) In terms of omniscience, my concern is that James White does not believe that God could know “anything,” unless He has determined “everything.” If true, then isn’t that a denial of God’s omniscience.

    James White writes: “How God can know future events, for example, and yet not determine them, is an important point….” (Debating Calvinism, p.163)

    Dave Hunt responds: “White denies omniscience in his repudiation of any ‘grounds upon which to base exhaustive divine foreknowledge of future events outside of God’s decree.’ If God must decree the future to know it, He’s not omniscient.” (Debating Calvinism, p.389)

    2) If “two autonomous wills cannot coexist,” then how does one explain 1st Cor. 10:13? (For this reason, some C’s believe that “the elect” possess a free will.)

    3) In terms of Gen. 20:1-7, concerning God having kept Abimelech from sinning, James White challenged you to explain “why” God did this, and the answer is found in the text itself, when God says that He prevented the sin on account of him being innocent, in having been misled, concerning her marital status: “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.”

    James White: “God prevented Abimelech from committing an act of sin. If God could keep him from sinning in this instance, could He not have kept him from sinning in any other given instance? Of course. And yet, He had not done so. Why? He had a purpose in restraining Abimelech in this instance. And if He has a purpose in this instance, does He not have a purpose in all instances, with each and every person? Surely.” (Debating Calvinism, p.41)

    Clearly, you can see that James White has missed the point of the text, when he assumes a *secret sovereign purpose* as the reason, when yet God declares that there is no such secret at all, and that the man was simply misled by Abraham, and as a result, an infinitely fair-minded God, took notice of said innocence, and thwarted his plans, and now with the matter having been clearly explained to him, he is assuredly accountable, and duly warned by God with a threat, if he does not release her. Seems straight-forward, and yet James White seems to have missed this fairly simple point.

  43. Nathaniel,

    You wrote,

    Calvinists do not usually have a problem with God causing evil. Frame and Grudem have a good discussion of this in their theologies. I would maintain that God can cause evil without being culpable for it. I think that’s essentially the message of the book of Job. God is just even when he brings evil upon people. Furthermore, there is no such thing as gratuitous evil. All evil that God brings about is ultimately for the greater good (as determined by God).

    I am familiar with Grudem’s theologies (I have read two of them). Job is a good example, but not for Calvinism. In Job God allows Satan to harm Job. But God does not control Satan to harm Job. In Calvinism God would have caused everything. He would have caused Satan to challenge Him. He would have caused Satan to desire to harm Job. He would have caused every one of Satan’s evil thoughts. That is not permission, but causation. That is also not what is happening in Job. As God says to Satan,

    “And [Job] still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him, to ruin him without cause.” (1:3)

    But in Calvinism God actually caused Satan to “incite” Him against Job without cause. So really God just incited Himself to harm Job through Satan. The whole narrative quickly becomes ridiculous when Calvinistic presuppositions are brought to bear on it. It becomes an elaborate puppet show.

    So Job really gives no support to the Calvinist accounting of sovereignty or the implications of God’s foreknowledge being based on the irresistible enacting of an eternal secret decree. It does support the Arminian account that God allows His creatures to do evil and holds them accountable for their actions, though He in no way causes them to do such evil. It is the difference between causation and non-prevention.

    And no one is denying that God can bring good out of evil. What I am denying is that God causes that evil since in Calvinism God is the only true actor in the universe and all of His creatures are but passive instruments through whom God irresistibly enacts all of His secret eternal decrees, including every sinful thought, desire, and action (and that is exactly why Arminians say that the logical implication of consistent Calvinism is to make God the author of sin).

    It truly amazes me that Calvinists do not find such ideas reprehensible, for it renders God’s holiness meaningless and mocks those passages of Scripture that affirm that God hates sin and evil, for “the Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked.” (Prov. 15.26) Yet, in Calvinism God alone is the ultimate source of those wicked thoughts that He detests and causes the wicked to think those exact thoughts in accordance with His eternal and irresistible decree.

    Hopefully, you can see the difference now.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  44. Actually, we should simply say that God is sovereign.

    But that is a bizarre definition of sovereignty. One can certainly say that God is sovereign without affirming exhaustive determinism. That is not how the word is normally defined or understood. When we think of a sovereign state, entity, or ruler, we do not think of exhaustive meticulous control. We think of a ruler with absolute authority to whom all of his subjects must answer and give account. We think of a state or entity that has the right to establish its own rule and guidelines and to hold those who live there to those standards, etc. That is also the Biblical definition. God is the ultimate athority and ruler in the universe. He has the sovereign right to run His universe as He sees fit (in accordance with His holy nature). This right certainly includes the right to create free moral agents and hold them accountable for their actions. But Calvinism denies God this right and so actually threatens His sovereignty.

    Actually, it is just the opposite. You are the one defining your own terms, as you have said, and thus, you are the one making the assumption that this is what we are to mean Biblically and historically by the phrase “author of evil.”

    You seem to very confused. I explained the reason why Arminians charge Calvinists with making God the author of evil. You are the one who came up with the idea of some sort of historical and Biblical definition that I was not adhering to in my use of the phrase. So it is up to you to demonstrate this historical and Biblical definition that I am apparently not adhering to. I never said anything about a Biblical or historic definition. I merely said that Calvinism makes God the cause of sin and evil and that is why Arminians say he is the author of sin in Calvinism. It really is not that complicated. This whole thing seems like a red-herring to me.

    Hence, you bear the burden of proof to show that that is what is meant by the term. If you are departing from the Biblical and historical usage, then one must ask why you are departing from the Biblical and historical usage.

    But again, you keep saying I am departing from the historic and Biblical usage without defining what that historic and Biblical usage is. You are trying to hold me to a standard without telling me what that standard is, except to arbitrarily say that I am not holding to some sort “historical and Biblical” definition. So you either need to demonstrate what this historical and Biblical definition is that I am supposedly not adhering to, or stop making the charge that I am not adhering to it.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  45. Ben,

    What would you say about this verse at the end of Job?

    Job 42:11:

    “Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him FOR ALL THE EVIL that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.”

  46. Nathaniel,

    I would understand it in the context of Job 1-2 as mentioned earlier. It is in the context of non-prevention (permission) and not causation. As the Lord Himself said to Satan,

    “And [Job] still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him, to ruin him without cause.” (1:3)

    Also, it can easily be understood as representing their limited perspective on the situation, since they were not privy to the heavenly circumstances surrounding Job’s trial.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  47. Skala (re: your comments of January 28, 2010 at 3:27 pm)

    Your response to my analogy begs the question, because you assume what you’re trying to prove. The disagreement between Calvinists and Arminians over that passage is exactly over whether God intended the Joseph’s brothers to sin and so brought it about, or whether the brothers intended evil and God intended their actions to accomplish good. You simply assume that God intended for the brothers to sin and broguth them to decide to sin as they did, and then criticize my analogy on that basis. But my analogy showed how it is very reasonable and natural for one person who performs an act to intend to do something, and then as a result another person to intend for the other person’s carrying out of the action to accomplish something different.

    Skala said: “In your analogy, the father had nothing to do with the son’s deciding to sign up for baseball. He simply learned what the son wanted to do, and then responded/reacted to that and deciding to allow it or permit it for another intention. . . . However, in the Bible, I think it is clear that God intended the entire situation to happen *IN ORDER* to bring about a purpose. He didn’t just react/respond to a situation that happened completely apart from His plan/purpose/decree. In your analogy, the father had nothing to do with the son signing up for baseball.”

    **** Here you completely beg the question as mentioned above. You just assert the Calvinist position and then use that to say that the Arminian position is invalid. I don’t think the text suggests at all that God wanted the brothers to sin against Joseph. By definition sin is against his will. Moreover, as the Almighty God, he could have easily brought Joseph to Egypt and power there in a different way. The way he did so was partially contingent on the free will actions of various human agents involved. My original point was that it is perfectly natural–and indeed, the normal meaning–for the performer of an action to intend an action in one way as the originator of the action and one who has power to intend it in a different way that does not involve any instigation or causing of the action. Normally, when one person does an action and means something for it and another person who does not do the action also means something different for the action, there is no suggestion that the person who did not do the action somehow really did do it or irresitibly caused the other person to do it or instigated it. He takes account of what the actor wants to do, and then responds/reacts to that and decides to allow it or permit it for another intention. Perhaps he might direct certain aspects of the events to bring about the result he intends. But he doesn’t insitgate the evil.

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