313 Comments
  1. Ben,

    But if God is allowing evil to come against Job, and God is sovereign, why doesn’t he stop it? If God did not ordain this evil, why did he volunteer Job for temptation?

    Yes, it’s true that Satan was responsible for the evil, but in 2:3 God says,

    “…although you incited ME against him, to ruin him without cause.”

    God says that he’s the one ruining Job. What do you say about that?

  2. But if God is allowing evil to come against Job, and God is sovereign, why doesn’t he stop it?

    Because He doesn’t have to. It is His sovereign right to allow it for whatever reasons He sees fit (in this case because God was pleased to test Job and also demonstrate that Job’s commitment was genuine, though there may have been other reasons as well). That is still a far cry from causing every evil desire, thought and act of Satan against Job. Really, I think the narrative explains this rather well without much need for commentary.

    If God did not ordain this evil, why did he volunteer Job for temptation?

    Where does the text say God volunteered Job for temptation? And why do you assume that God cannot allow something without ordaining it (unless you are using “ordaining” in the sense of allowance/non-prevention).

    Yes, it’s true that Satan was responsible for the evil, but in 2:3 God says,

    “…although you incited ME against him, to ruin him without cause.”

    God says that he’s the one ruining Job. What do you say about that?

    Again, it is in the context of non-prevention. Satan incited God to allow Satan to bring harm to Job. God allowed Satan to do this within certain limits. God did not intend or desire to ruin Job. That was Satan’s intention. But God did allow Job to be ruined by granting Satan’s request (and that is what God means in 2:3). However, in the Calvinist account God actually did intend to ruin Job and caused Satan to desire to ruin Job and then caused him to act on that desire (which makes no sense in light of the language of God in 2:3). As I said before, it becomes an elaborate puppet show. But that is not how the narrative reads at all.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  3. Ben,

    I am going to have to cut these posts down to things I deem important, as, being a graduate student, I have not got the time to be on here all day responding to posts, as they just keep getting bigger and bigger.

    First of all, you have presented an accusation against Calvinism based upon a specific definition. You know we reject your definition, and believe that the phrase refers to the person who committed the first sin, thus bringing evil into the world. However, you refuse to defend your definition, and thus are wanting to accuse the other side, without ever demonstrating that your definition is Biblical or historical. Since you are making the accusation, you bear the burden of proof.

    Secondly, as far as Job goes, the text is clear in 1:21-22:

    Naked I came out from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return. The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken. May the name of the Lord be blessed! ” In all this, Job did not sin, and he did not say anything unseemly against God.

    and, after his wife tells him to “Curse God and die,” Job says in 2:10:

    Then he said to her, “You speak as one of the fools. Should we expect good from the Lord, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin with his lips.

    Now, if this is just the context of not prevention, why is God the subject of active verbs in 1:21? God is not just simply “not preventing,” God is doing something [giving and taking] which is the very definition of an active verb! It is also the opposite of passive permission. Because of the parallelism between giving and taking in 1:21, we must assume that, in the same way God gave Job these blessings, he also took them. If you deny that, then you deny the parallelism that is stated here in the text.

    Also, 2:10 very clearly says that the evil came “from God,” not that it came from Satan with God just refusing to stop it. What is worse is, if you say that this is what the phrase referring to evil means, then, by logical extension, you must say that this is what the “good” means. Thus, logically you would be left with a meaning of the text something like, “Should we expect that God would passively permit good to happen to us, and not passively permit evil to happen to us?” That makes God entirely foreign to the events and affairs of his people, both good and bad. It also ignores the clear statements that have come from 1:21ff.

    Worse than that, in every instance of all of these statements, the Bible clearly says that Job did not sin with his lips. Hence, no one can say that Job was simply mistaken here. God clearly says that Job was not wrong!

    Worse than that, the entire book of Job assumes what is stated here. The whole idea of the book of Job rests upon retribution, namely, that God would never bring this suffering upon Job if he were a just man. God rewards everyone equally, bringing calamity upon the wicked, and reward upon the righteous, as his friends say, and thus, Job must have sinned. What does that presuppose? It presupposes that God was the one who both gives blessings to the righteous, and gives curses to the wicked. However, through all of this, Job never denies that God has given this, but consistently assumes that God has done this. How do I know that? Rather than denying that God has truly done this, he calls God unjust, saying that God has given retribution to a man who did not deserve it.

    All of these things, from the larger structure of the book of Job, right down to the individual sections of the book lay out the fact that we have Satan doing these things to Job, but God’s hand is behind the whole thing.

    So, yes, you do have the texts at the beginning with God giving permission to Satan, but you cannot isolate them from the context of the rest of the first two chapters, and, indeed, from the rest of the book as a whole. When you don’t do that, it becomes clear that God gave Satan permission to inflict Job, but also had ordained that Satan inflict Job, and that his losses come from the Lord, as the text itself says.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  4. Adam,

    But Ben is not isolating the texts that give the greater details of what happened from the ones the describe them. He is actually bringing them together. The ones that give the greater details of what actually happened must be given precedence for fuller understanding. When they are brought together with texts that describe the situation generally, it becomes apparent that God allowing Satan to afflict Job can be described as God bringing calamity on Job. That is perfectly fine. That supports the Arminian position. It shows that such language that at first blush might lead one to think God was directly causing Job’s trouble can actually refer to him allowing Job’s affliction. It is simply understanding the language contextually. But you have to read so much into it to get your result. We have the text actually depicting the details of what happened–God allowing Satan to afflict Job and actually inciting God to so allow–and then decribing this as God bringing calamity on Job. It makes perfect sense that this language could so used. For God’s decision to allow Satan to afflict Job does result in Job’s affliction. But against what the text depicts actually going on, you take the language that says God brought calamity on Job to mean that the details depicted in the text must be understood other than they state, that it means God actually irresistibly caused Satan to desire to afflict Job, and to incite God to allow him to do so, and to actually do so. It is reading much into the text. More reasonmable exegesis would simply conclude that God allowing something can be described as him bringing it about. Arminians have no problem with that, as long as the context is kept in view and what the actual meaning of the statement is. But it is far from the Calvinist view.

    The parallelism issue you bring up is irrelevant, for the context fills out the details yet again. God had blessed Job directly. Satan challenges that God’s blessing keeps Job loyal rather than his heart for God or what have you. Then we get the details that Gid allows Satan to afflict Job. The parallel does not have to be exact. Indeed, the parallel is a nanththetical parallel. The details of the text reveal that the parallel is general. God brought good to Job by blessing him directly. God brought calamity on him by allowing Satan to afflict him. There is still parallel. And there is no need for it to be completely exact. It is a genera parallel, one that I htink most Christians understand quite well.

  5. Adam,

    Likewise, I don’t much time to devote to this either.

    First, regarding Job’s statement it is said that Job did not charge God with evil because Job simply expressed God’s sovereign right to bestow blessings and take them away. Was God active in taking them away? Yes, by allowing Satan to do these things. His action was permission. The use of the active does not mean that permission cannot be involved. Indeed, we know that it was through permission because of the plain language of the narrative in chapters 1-2. But that is not the same as saying that God had planned to bring disaster on Job and controlled Satan to enact His eternal decree. Not even close. God makes it clear that he had no intentions of bringing harm on Job, but did so (through giving Satan a measure of freedom to harm Job) because Satan “enticed” Him against Job “without cause.” (But again, if Calvinism is true God was really just enticing Himself through Satan, if that even makes sense).

    All of these things, from the larger structure of the book of Job, right down to the individual sections of the book lay out the fact that we have Satan doing these things to Job, but God’s hand is behind the whole thing.

    No one is denying that. But the question is in what way is God’s hand behind the calamity brought upon Job? Chapters 1-2 make it clear that it is through granting permission to Satan to do to Job what God did not intend for him (which is made very clear in 2:3). God’s intentions were to bless Job. Satan’s intentions were to destroy him and prove to God that Job’s love and devotion to God was hollow and conditional. Satan challenged God that Job’s integrity was a direct result of the blessings He had poured out on Job. God allowed Satan to test his theory to see if Job’s integrity was indeed the result of the favor God had given him. Again, the narrative is really straight forward and the Calvinist accounting renders most of it non-sensical, especially in light of Job 2:3

    So, yes, you do have the texts at the beginning with God giving permission to Satan, but you cannot isolate them from the context of the rest of the first two chapters, and, indeed, from the rest of the book as a whole.

    But the beginning of the book sets up the proper context for understanding the rest of the book as a whole. You want to re-interpret the first few chapters which set up the story in light of various phrases isolated in subsequent chapters. That is a backwards hermeneutic. Chapters 1-2 set the stage and give the necessary background for properly understanding the rest of the book.

    When you don’t do that, it becomes clear that God gave Satan permission to inflict Job, but also had ordained that Satan inflict Job, and that his losses come from the Lord, as the text itself says.

    There is nothing in the text that even comes close to describing prior ordination. And there is no problem in seeing that Job’s losses came from the Lord as described above and in harmony with chapters 1-2 which tell us exactly how Job’s losses came to be.

    First of all, you have presented an accusation against Calvinism based upon a specific definition. You know we reject your definition, and believe that the phrase refers to the person who committed the first sin, thus bringing evil into the world.

    What? But since you brought up the first sin, how do you explain it without admitting that it was in accordance with God’s irresistible eternal decree, just as every other sin that has ever been committed? Where did Adam’s impulse to disobey God and sin come from?

    However, you refuse to defend your definition, and thus are wanting to accuse the other side, without ever demonstrating that your definition is Biblical or historical. Since you are making the accusation, you bear the burden of proof.

    You are really confusing me here. I explained exactly what I meant by “author of sin”. I never said it was some sort of historical or Biblical definition (the Bible doesn’t say “author of sin” nor does it describe the concept at all). You are the one who made an issue out me not adhering to some sort of “historical and Biblical definition”, not me. Even the writers of the Westminster confession seemed to know exactly what “author of sin” meant and recognized that the charge was easily brought against their doctrines, which is why they sought to deny the charge, though they could only do so through double talk and mere assertion,

    “The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.” (The Westminster Confession of Faith, IV. Of Providence)

    From the first days of Calvin’s Institutes being published there were those who quickly charged that his doctrines logically made God the author of sin for the exact reasons I explained in my first post. Again, it is really not that complicated.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  6. Arminian,

    I am wondering what is so unclear about “The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken.” It seems to be fairly straightforward, and explicit.

    <iThe parallel does not have to be exact. Indeed, the parallel is a nanththetical parallel. The details of the text reveal that the parallel is general. God brought good to Job by blessing him directly. God brought calamity on him by allowing Satan to afflict him. There is still parallel. And there is no need for it to be completely exact. It is a genera parallel, one that I htink most Christians understand quite well.

    The parallelism is antithetical? Are you suggesting that we translate this clause, “The Lord has given, but the Lord has taken?” That makes no sense.

    The problem is that it doesn’t just say that God brought calamity on Job, but, rather, it was God himself who “took” from him. There is no causative here; there is no passive here. Your interpretation flies in the face of the grammar itself.

    Also, no one is arguing that the parallel has to be exact. The question then becomes, if you take your position, in what sense are the two clauses parallel at all? You are saying, “The Lord did one thing, and had a hands off policy on the other thing.” That makes no sense.

    Also, I think that, what is worse is that there is no reason, given your interpretation of the passage, to understand why anyone would even think of saying that Job was attributing evil to God. Yet, the text makes sure to let us know that Job did not sin by these actions.

    Also, this interpretation would require Job to know what happened in the throne room of God. Job has no clue what has happened there, as is apparent throughout the rest of the book, especially the sections where he calls God unjust.

    It also makes no sense in the general understanding of retributive justice. Is it really true that God repays evildoers by allowing something to happen to them? Is that what the retribution on judgment day is going to be, namely, that God just allows them to go into the lake of fire? Or is it, as this is more clearly developed, that God *casts* them into the lake of fire?

    I think that, far from the arminian understanding of this passage, far from relating to the whole text, it is being artificially hoisted on this text, and other texts are grabbed, without any consideration as how those other texts fit into the overall storyline.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  7. Ben,

    Was God active in taking them away? Yes, by allowing Satan to do these things. His action was permission.

    However, the verb is not, “to give permission,” but, “to take.” You would be correct if the verb were some verb of granting permission, but it is not.

    God did not intend for him (which is made very clear in 2:3)

    No, that assumes that the Hebrew term swt somehow bears with it the idea that God was unwilling to do something. It means ” to incite.” Thus, it is simply referring to the idea that he was *encouraging* God to do this, or *urging* him to do this. Of course, the question naturally becomes, “urging him to do what?” This text actually argues for my position, not yours. Remember that Satan is responding to God’s boasting of her servant Job by a challenge, which involves a request to God. When you make a request to someone, do you not encourage them to do something, even if they already know what they are going to do? So how is this relevant?

    But the beginning of the book sets up the proper context for understanding the rest of the book as a whole. You want to re-interpret the first few chapters which set up the story in light of various phrases isolated in subsequent chapters. That is a backwards hermeneutic. Chapters 1-2 set the stage and give the necessary background for properly understanding the rest of the book.

    I agree, but there is nothing contradictory between the two sections. God allowed Satan to do what he did, and his hand was behind what Satan did. You want to argue that the allowing is what is *meant* by “giving and taking.” That is something you must argue. As I said, these are active verbs, and they are in parallel with blessings.

    There is nothing in the text that even comes close to describing prior ordination. And there is no problem in seeing that Job’s losses came from the Lord as described above and in harmony with chapters 1-2 which tell us exactly how Job’s losses came to be.

    Okay, then how do you reconcile the idea that God was the one who gave and took without the idea of foreordination? Did God somehow change what he had planned? Also, if you believe that the beginning of chapter 1 is what is meant by “:Job’s losses came from the Lord,” then do you also agree that this is how Job got his blessings, but God’s passive permission? The two are parallel, and cannot be separated.

    Also, the Westminster confession is simply saying that God is not the author of sin, because they are describing what they are teaching. Also, you know that we believe God decreed the fall, but now it is incumbent upon you to show that this is sin on God’s part. If you cannot, then Adam is still the first sinner, and Adam is the one who brought sin into the world, even though God was the one who decreed that Adam would bring sin into the world.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  8. Adam said: “The parallelism is antithetical? Are you suggesting that we translate this clause, “The Lord has given, but the Lord has taken?” That makes no sense.”

    **** It is antithetical in terms of being opposite types of action, giving vs. taking. An antithetical parallel does not need to coordinated by “but”. However, I was not necessarily indicating formal poetic anthithetical parallelism. The point is that the two parts depict God acting in two opposite ways.

    Adam said: “The question then becomes, if you take your position, in what sense are the two clauses parallel at all? ”

    **** This seems obvious in light of what I wrote concerning God bring calamity on Job (and you seem to have implictly granted some legitimacy by downplaying the “brought upon” language and pressing the “take way” language”). You admit that the parallel can be general. The context fills out the details yet again. God had blessed Job directly. Satan challenges that God’s blessing keeps Job loyal rather than his heart for God or what have you. Then we get the details that God allows Satan to afflict Job and to take from him. God brought good to Job by blessing him directly. God took from him by allowing Satan to take from him.

    Adam said: “The problem is that it doesn’t just say that God brought calamity on Job, but, rather, it was God himself who “took” from him. There is no causative here; there is no passive here. Your interpretation flies in the face of the grammar itself.”

    **** Honestly, this comment seems strange, as if “taking away” is somehow stronger language than “bringing upon”. I would say that it is every bit as reasonable to understand “taking away from Job” to mean allowing Satan to take away from Job in light of the greater details Job 1-2, which reveal that t his is exactly what happened. This doesn’t fly in the fac of grammar. It is to interpret language in accordance with standard exegetical methodology–in context.

    Adam said: “Also, I think that, what is worse is that there is no reason, given your interpretation of the passage, to understand why anyone would even think of saying that Job was attributing evil to God. Yet, the text makes sure to let us know that Job did not sin by these actions.”

    **** Well, Job wasn’t attributing evil to God at this point. Job eventiually does accuse God of wrongdoing, and it gets him into trouble. Hopefully you are not saying that you believe God committed wrongdoing against Job, are you? The approval of Job’s words has to do with his accepting his troubles from God’s hands and attributing no wrongdoing to God, just ther opposite of what it sounds like you are saying.

    Adam said: “Also, this interpretation would require Job to know what happened in the throne room of God. Job has no clue what has happened there, as is apparent throughout the rest of the book, especially the sections where he calls God unjust. ”

    **** Not at all. Any way you slice it God is involved in the siutation and his actions did result in calamity for Job. Job attributes it to God. But that is a far cry from saying that God irresistibly caused all that happened. And we don’t know exactly what how Job thought God was responsible at this point. When he comes to charge God with wrongdoing later, then he gets censured and eventually repents. He is also speaking generally in the midst of tragedy. Moreover, the text itself gives us an objective view of what actually happened and just how God took from Job–he allowed Satan to do so at Satan’s instigation.

    Adam said: “It also makes no sense in the general understanding of retributive justice. Is it really true that God repays evildoers by allowing something to happen to them? Is that what the retribution on judgment day is going to be, namely, that God just allows them to go into the lake of fire? Or is it, as this is more clearly developed, that God *casts* them into the lake of fire?”

    **** This seems irrelevant. Job does not charge God with punishing him for guilt. He insists on his own innocence and charges God with wrongdoing for afflicting him without cause. The context of the book reveals that God allowed Job to be afflicted by Satan without cause in that the affliction did not come for Job doing something wrong, though God’s permission was with cause in that God had a purpose to allow Satan to afflict Job without any guilt on Job’s part.

  9. Hello Nathaniel,

    “If you believe that God is omniscient (if you don’t, we have other problems), then before we were ever created God knew what choices we would make.”

    I am guessing that you are alluding to open theists (“if you don’t, we have other problems”). It ought to be noted that both open theists and Calvinists are in agreement that God cannot know the future choices of people if libertarian free will is involved (I have a simple LFW view: if we have a choice with regard to particular options, if our choice is not necessitated, then we have libertarian free will with regard to that choice). The open theist rejects divine infallible foreknowledge (scripture contradicts the open theist as it clearly teaches that God knows all things) and keeps free will. The Calvinist throws out free will (scripture contradicts the Calvinist as it clearly presents that we sometimes have choices). The bible affirms both infallible foreknowledge and free will. Perhaps I may not know or understand how the two can both be true (this is similar to understanding how God is one God and yet three persons, how Jesus is fully God and fully human, etc.), though there are differing suggested explanations (e.g. Molinism, Ockham’s view, the Boethian view, etc.), I personally see no conflict and affirm both as the bible affirms both.

    “This means that even Arminians believe that we do not HAVE choices, we only make the choices that God KNEW we would make before the foundation of the world.”

    Now you directly misrepresent my view (i.e. “even Arminians believe that we do not HAVE choices”). Arminians and other non-Calvinists believe that we DO HAVE choices.

    It is the Calvinist whose exhaustive predeterminism precludes us from ever having choices, so that all we end up doing is making the choices that God decided we would make beforehand. I say that we both have and make choices and that God foreknows both the options that we will have (i.e. the choice that we have) as well as what selections we end up making (i.e., the choice that we make).

    “However, this is not the main problem with your argument. The real issue is how we define freedom.”

    I am affirming the common and ordinary understanding of “free will” (i.e., that we have multiple possibilities from which to choose and we then choose one of them). I would also suggest that the bible evidences this same view of free will, as the bible presents many passages (this is what Dr. Brown means when he says “hundreds of bible verses”) where people have a choice. It is the Calvinist, the determinist, who because of his system of theology is forced to **redefine** free will so that it means only doing what you desire to do (which leaves out the reality that we sometimes HAVE CHOICES). It is because the determinist must redefine free will that Kant called it that “wretched subterfuge”.

    “You are viewing freedom in a libertarian sense. In this system, choice is defined as: “being able to choose anything even against your greatest desire.””

    First you claim my definition of free will is wrong, now you caricature and misrepresent my view as being able to choose “even against your greatest desire”. I never said that or suggested that. In fact I believe we do in fact choose to do what we desire to do.

    By misrepresenting my view you set up a false dilemma, the choice is between a misrepresentation of my view (not mine and not that of other libertarians: (A) that free will means choosing against your greatest desire) versus your view (B) that we choose according to our greatest desire (i.e. “Calvinists believe in compatiblist freedom which is defined as, “being able to choose what is constrained by our greatest desire.” ). And actually your presentation of the Jonathan Edwards view is mistaken here as well (he did not argue that out choices are **constrained** or limited by our greatest desire, he argued that our choices are necessitated by our greatest desire).

    “So the discussion about what it means to HAVE choices and to MAKE choices is really irrelevant because we are comparing to different systems of freedom.”
    Actually it is quite relevant. Again I am operating from the ordinary and common sense understanding and of what it means to have free will (i.e. to have and then make a choice with respect to a particular action). Now you may not believe that free will as ordinarily understood exists due to your theological system, but my understanding not yours is evidenced throughout scripture. And if you read my initial post carefully I provided a very clear way of absolutely refuting Calvinism (at least the version that claims all events have been decreed, all events have been predetermined, all events have been pre-decided by God): that form of Calvinism contains within it a universal negative (i.e. that we never ever have a choice). Any (and there is lots and lots of it both from scripture and our own daily experience) evidence that counters this universal negative refutes that form of Calvinism.

    “ The Calvinist would say HAVING choices is not a necessary condition for freedom, since we always choose according to our greatest desire.”

    Some Calvinists would say that, those who are determinists would say that, those who want to believe that God predetermines all events. Some Calvinists (e.g. I have a friend who runs a prominent apologetics organization who holds to TULIP when it comes to his soteriology but also believes that we sometimes have choices, so he holds to both TULIP and libertarian free will in certain areas) would allow for the reality that we sometimes have choices.

    “The Libertarian would say the opposite. It is necessary that we HAVE choices in order to have freedom, but in the light of God’s omniscience we do not actually have freedom in a libertarian sense.”

    Here you simply declare that if God foreknows a future outcome then that outcome eliminates libertarian free will. But this is not an argument but merely an assertion. If you want to see various responses to this assertion, I suggest that you go to the Society of Evangelical Arminian website and look in the section dealing with foreknowledge:

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/taxonomy/term/6

    (included you will find an article that I wrote on this very subject showing there is no incompatibility between libertarian free will and God’s infallible foreknowledge).

    Robert

  10. Hello Adam,

    “Robert, do you ever do something that you are not inclined to do? If you don’t, then your choices are always determined by your inclinations.”

    Perhaps you need to define what you mean by “inclination”. If you mean “desire” then I would agree that we do what we desire to do. The problem is that sometimes when facing a particular choice we may have different desires from which to choose (e.g. do I want the chocolate because it is my favorite or do I want the vanilla because the vanilla flavor is on sale today?)

    “Here is the question. We as Calvinists believe that God decrees an action. Why do assume that you cannot, because of your own inclinations, choose the same action that God has decreed?”

    It is not merely a question of choosing to do what God has decreed. The problem is to assume that God has decreed ***everything that takes place***. Can you agree that if God decrees an outcome that we do something, then we will in fact do that? If so, then if God has decreed all events, then we always and only do what he decreed that we would do. And if we always and only do what he decreed that we would do then we never ever **have** choices. In such a fully predetermined world we **make** choices (i.e. we make the choice that God decided beforehand that we would make, but we never ever **have a choice** between options were we could choose either option).

    “Put another way, we just need to add this simple truth, and I believe it resolves this problem: God can make human actions certain without the use of coercion.
    How does he do that? I don’t know. However, there is nothing self-contradictory about it.”

    I believe that God can make a particular future action certain to occur via his infallible foreknowledge (he knows you will choose todo something in the future and he does not interfere with your making that choice and his foreknowledge is infallible so you will do that action with certainty), though I do not know how he foreknows actions that involve freely made choices.

    The crucifixion of Jesus is a perfect example of this. God knew the reaction and responses that men would freely choose in response to the Incarnation of Jesus and Jesus’ words and actions. God knew if Jesus came in the flesh, then specific evil people would make specific evil choices including crucifying Jesus (“you nailed to a cross b the hands of godless men and put Him to death” Acts 2:23) . God permitted these evil choices to occur and so through his infallible foreknowledge knew the outcome. So the crucifixion of Jesus involved evil choices freely made by evil men, choices that God knew they would make, the outcome was certain to occur and God could thus speak of it beforehand in OT prophecy and the apostles could declare it to be planned by God not accidental (“this Man delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” Acts 2:23, cf. Acts 4:27-28 “both Herod and Pontus Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur”).

    Robert

  11. Hello Christophe,

    “In your long treatise you have presented a lot of philosophical and humanistic thinking regarding choices but not one Scriptural proof to discuss which would do you and us much better than repeating over and over the same deliberations…”

    I have sometimes seen Calvinists attempt to frame things as between the “humanism and man centeredness of non-Calvinists” versus the “biblical and God-centeredness of Calvinists”. This is an unfair characterization of non-Calvinists. A non-Calvinist may be very biblical and God centered **without being a Calvinist**. Your words here seem to be implying this distinction.

    I would also add that God designed us with a mind and expects us to use our minds and carefully think through things. My earlier post was not “humanistic thinking” it was merely speaking and thinking logically through the issue of free will (which I take to mean simply that we sometimes have and make choices).

    “You misunderstand Reformed position and you misunderstand Dr. White presentation.”

    Actually I understand Calvinism very well. In fact I understand multiple versions of Calvinism (including the supralapsarian and infralapsarian positions, the Molinist version of Calvinism as espoused by people like Ware, etc. etc.).

    Unfortunately this is a common response from Calvinists when their beliefs are challenged (i.e., they will say: “you say that because you really do not understand our position”; when in reality it is precisely because non-Calvinists understand Calvinism that they reject it).

    “the Reformed do not deny that we have choices and will but we have those according to our nature that is either regenerated nature or reprobate nature.”

    Apparently you have not thought through the implications of a Calvinism which affirms that God predetermines every event,that God has a total plan than encompasses all events which he then brings about as actual history.

    The fact is if God has predetermined every event then we can never ever have a choice.

    The most the Calvinist (who espouses exhaustive predeterminism of all events) can affirm is that he **makes** choices. But if he is consistent with his exhaustive predetermination of all events, then he must both admit and affirm that we **never ever have a choice**.

    Here is an example to clarify what I mean that this version of Calvinism precludes us from ever having a choice.

    In Genesis before the fall (so it cannot be argued that Adam’s choices were necessitated by a sinful nature), God paraded the animals before Adam and said to Adam that it was up to him whatever name the animals would have. Say Adam was looking at a lion considering whether to call it a “blip”, a “blop”, or a “bleep”. If Adam had free will, if he had a choice with regard to these options then he could have named the lion any of these three names. And whatever name Adam ended up with, God who foreknows everything, would know what the name would be.

    In exhaustive predeterminism on the other hand. God decided beforehand what name Adam would give to the Lion as part of his total plan for the World (say God decided the name would be a “bleep”) and though God said to Adam the names were up to him and his choice; this was not in fact the case at all. If the name was predetermined, predecided by God, then Adam may have thought that he had a choice so that he could call the Lion a “blip”, a “bleep”, or a “blop”. Adam may have mistakenly taken the words from God that the names were up to him as meaning that he had a real choice, that it was up to him what they would be named and that different possibilities were available. But not if all of his actions were predetermined (in that case he would have had to have called the lion a “bleep” and it was **impossible** for him to have chosen the name “blip” or “blop” or anything else).

    And if he had to name it the predecided name, and it was impossible for him to do otherwise, then he did not HAVE A CHOICE.

    He would go through the motions of making the choice, deliberate about it, consider different options, but make no mistake he would have had no choice, it would have been impossible for him to have a choice in that situation. Having a choice would have been precluded by the fact that God had already decided beforehand what the name would be and God predetermined his every action and thought and directly and completely and continuously controlled him to ensure that he give it the name that God decided he would give it.

    Robert

  12. Arminian,

    It is antithetical in terms of being opposite types of action, giving vs. taking. An antithetical parallel does not need to coordinated by “but”. However, I was not necessarily indicating formal poetic anthithetical parallelism. The point is that the two parts depict God acting in two opposite ways

    This seems obvious in light of what I wrote concerning God bring calamity on Job (and you seem to have implictly granted some legitimacy by downplaying the “brought upon” language and pressing the “take way” language”)..

    Because you aren’t clearly defining what you mean, you confusing categories. There are certain concepts of parallelism that will help us with this, but we need to define our terms properly.

    First of all, what you are referring to here in Job 1:21 is called a lexical aspect of parallelism. Lexemes used within parallelism can, indeed, be opposites. However, these must be understood as opposites in terms of the *meaning* of lexical items, and not in terms of *grammatical forms,* such as active vs passive.

    Now, there is a category of parallel of grammatical forms, and, yes, even active to passive. However, in all examples of this, there is a clear shift from an active construction to a passive construction. Consider these examples:

    Psalm 24:7
    Lift up your heads, O ye gates,
    Be lifted up, ye ever lasting doors.

    1 Samuel 1:28
    And I, in turn, lend him to the Lord
    For as long as he lives he is lent to the Lord.

    As you can see, examples of this kind of parallelism are very distinctive, and very clearly not what we have in Job 1:21.

    You admit that the parallel can be general.

    No, what I said was that parallelism does not have to be synonymous. However, there must always be some relationship between the two. If there isn’t any relationship between the two, then in what sense can the two clauses be said to be parallel?

    Well, Job wasn’t attributing evil to God at this point. Job eventiually does accuse God of wrongdoing, and it gets him into trouble. Hopefully you are not saying that you believe God committed wrongdoing against Job, are you? The approval of Job’s words has to do with his accepting his troubles from God’s hands and attributing no wrongdoing to God, just ther opposite of what it sounds like you are saying.

    No, the point is that no one is ever going to even think of attributing wrong doing to God just by allowing Satan to have his “free will.” However, someone might think God has done something wrong if his hand was in back of everything that happened to Job.

    Honestly, this comment seems strange, as if “taking away” is somehow stronger language than “bringing upon”. I would say that it is every bit as reasonable to understand “taking away from Job” to mean allowing Satan to take away from Job in light of the greater details Job 1-2, which reveal that t his is exactly what happened. This doesn’t fly in the fac of grammar. It is to interpret language in accordance with standard exegetical methodology–in context.

    However, the grammar of that passage is part of the context. Grammar, syntax, pragmatics, paranomatics, discourse, etc. must all be taken into consideration, and, if an interpretation flies in the face of any one of those, it is impossible.

    Not at all. Any way you slice it God is involved in the siutation and his actions did result in calamity for Job. Job attributes it to God. But that is a far cry from saying that God irresistibly caused all that happened. And we don’t know exactly what how Job thought God was responsible at this point. When he comes to charge God with wrongdoing later, then he gets censured and eventually repents. He is also speaking generally in the midst of tragedy. Moreover, the text itself gives us an objective view of what actually happened and just how God took from Job–he allowed Satan to do so at Satan’s instigation.

    You are missing the point. How could Job be talking about something that happened back in chapter 1 in the throne room of God, when he knows nothing of what happened in the throne room of God? We know that this is the case simply because of the fact that he calls God unjust. It is clear he doesn’t understand what happened with Satan. Hence, how could he be referring to what happened with Satan?

    This seems irrelevant. Job does not charge God with punishing him for guilt. He insists on his own innocence and charges God with wrongdoing for afflicting him without cause. The context of the book reveals that God allowed Job to be afflicted by Satan without cause in that the affliction did not come for Job doing something wrong, though God’s permission was with cause in that God had a purpose to allow Satan to afflict Job without any guilt on Job’s part.

    No, but his friends do. For example, Job 8:6:

    If you are pure and upright, Surely now He would rouse Himself for you And restore your righteous estate.

    However, I think the clearest example of this is in Job 4:7-9:

    “Remember now, who {ever} perished being innocent? Or where were the upright destroyed?

    “According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity And those who sow trouble harvest it.

    “By the breath of God they perish, And by the blast of His anger they come to an end.

    The point his friends are making is that God would never afflict a man who is righteous since God rewards the righteous. However, it is by the breath of his anger that he gives the wicked their just desserts. Is that active or passive? Again, the main point that Job’s friends are trying to argue is that Job is getting his just recompense for some sin he must have committed. That is clearly active in character, not passive. Job does not deny that God has caused this, but believes that he has wrongly afflicted him.

    Again, I have no problems with trying to understand this text in the context of chapters 1 and 2. The problem is that the two statements “God permitted Satan to harm Job,” and “God’s hand was behind the action of Satan harming Job” are not contradictory. Calvinists allow both texts to speak for themselves. You are trying to equate the two, without any exegetical justification.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  13. Hi Adam,

    I just saw your comment. Sorry I hadn’t seen it earlier. The parallel is not focused on the action itself but on the intentions behind the action. In any case, (1) White is making too much of it being parallel, like the whole weight of the interpretation of the text is based on that; (2) nothing at all is stated regarding God preordaining (or predestinating) anything. How White gets the idea of “predestined” from the Hebrew (wherein the KJV translates it as “meant”) is beyond me.

    Please note, where does it say God planned evil? You go beyond the meaning of the text and thereby impugn God’s goodness; you charge him with planning a morally evil act in conjunction with his brothers. That it God worked it out for good is irrelevant. Like Paul, I ask, should God do evil – moral evil, sin – that good may come out of it?

  14. Nelson,

    Please note, where does it say God planned evil? You go beyond the meaning of the text and thereby impugn God’s goodness;

    Well, the text says:

    You planned evil against me,
    but God planned it for good.

    To what does the “it” refer to? It is clearly feminine in the Hebrew, and the only feminine noun in the context is ra’ah, “evil.” Hence, God and Joseph’s brothers both planned the same evil. The difference is that one planned the evil with good intentions [God], and the other planned it with evil intentions [Joseph’s brothers]. Hence, while I agree that there is a difference in intention, there is not a difference in terms of who planned what.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  15. Adam,

    First, the simple meaning of the Hebrew is that “it” refers to what happened to Joseph, and referring to “it” in feminine is perfectly appropriate.

    Second, ra’ah often simply means “bad” as opposed to “evil” (although here, it could well mean “evil” since it was the brothers intent to harm.)

    In any case, it is a totally gratuitous and plainly wrong reading of the Hebrew here to claim that it means that God planned evil in the case of Joseph. Absolutely not! The text says the exact opposite, and I challenge you to find one solid Hebrew scholar would make a good case for the reading you suggest. Even on a logical level, your interpretation is impossible, as if it meant, “God planned evil for good!”

  16. Robert,

    “I am affirming the common and ordinary understanding of “free will””

    The common and ordinary understanding of freewill would have to be confirmed (of course) by Scripture. I do not think it is. I reject this “common and ordinary understanding” (as you call it) in favor of what I think is represented in Scripture.

    “First you claim my definition of free will is wrong, now you caricature and misrepresent my view as being able to choose “even against your greatest desire”. I never said that or suggested that. In fact I believe we do in fact choose to do what we desire to do.”

    Ah, in order to be libertarian free will it must be free of all causation. That does not mean you cannot be influenced by desire, but it does mean that in order to be free, to must not be constrained by anything in order nature – that includes our greatest desire.

    “(A) that free will means choosing against your greatest desire) versus your view (B) that we choose according to our greatest desire (i.e. “Calvinists believe in compatiblist freedom which is defined as, “being able to choose what is constrained by our greatest desire.” ). And actually your presentation of the Jonathan Edwards view is mistaken here as well (he did not argue that out choices are **constrained** or limited by our greatest desire, he argued that our choices are necessitated by our greatest desire).”

    First, I did not say that you choose against your greatest desire but that you have the ability to do so. Second, I did not mean misrepresent Edwards. Although “constrained” can be used (indeed we are constrained by our greatest desire), it is not as precise as necessitate. We are constrained by our natures and always choose according to our greatest desire. You could be more charitable to me in representing my argument.

    “Now you may not believe that free will as ordinarily understood exists due to your theological system, but my understanding not yours is evidenced throughout scripture.”

    Here’s where the difference is. I believe that I have ample support in Scripture for Compatiblist freedom, and I believe that your system does not fully explain what is attested in Scripture.

  17. Dr. Brown,

    First, the simple meaning of the Hebrew is that “it” refers to what happened to Joseph, and referring to “it” in feminine is perfectly appropriate.

    It could be appropriate, but not in this context. Waltke/O’Connor in An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax write the following with regard to this usage:

    Finally, we may mention cases in which there is no true antecedent for a pronoun-what, so to speak, is the gender of a situation or an action? Such a dummy or imersonal pronoun is usually feminine IBHS §6.6d

    Thus, Waltke/O’Connor state that this dummy usage is only in a situation where we have no clear antecedent, which we clearly do here.

    Even someone who doesn’t agree with me, someone like Victor P Hamilton, likewise agrees that the antecedent is not the previous clause:

    As attractive as it is, Brueggemann’s proposal overlooks one point. The text reads literally, “You planned [or ‘reckoned,’ or ‘did’] against me evil; God planned [or ‘did’] it for good.” That is, the second occurance of chashab (now with God as the subject) has a pronominal suffix (3rd fem. sing.) attached to it. The antecedent for “it” can only be ra’a or an implied machashaba.

    Notice also how Hamilton also uses “to plan” as his main translation for chashab. Also, a man who you might think would be totally against my translation, also accepts the translation of “plan,” Dr. Walter Brueggemann:

    The conventional translation “meant” is illuminated by the alternative rendering of chachab as plan. Thus, “you planned it for evil, but God planned it for good” [Genesis Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, p.373].

    In fact, if I may add two scholars to the mix who are currently Phd students here at Trinity. The first is M.A. Scott Booth, who is also not a Calvinist, and he told me that my understanding “God planned evil for good” is correct, and the fact that it is correct is a non-issue. He told me that the text is difficult, but, even stronger, he told me that your understanding of the text is theologically driven, and not exegetically driven. I was suprised he was so strong, but that is what he said. Likewise, M.A. Jillian Ross, another Phd candidate colleague of mine, said that I was correct, and that the referent for the 3fs was “evil.”

    Also, Scott and I did a study on accordance to find examples of parallel clauses in which you have a feminine noun mentioned in the first clause, and a fs suffix in the second clause, and yet, it not refer to the noun, but the entirety of the preceding clause. We couldn’t find any. Examples we found that were similar to this text were Genesis 23:11, Deuteronomy 30:5, Ezekiel 7:22, and Malachi 2:2, all of them clearly referring back to the previous noun, and not the previous clause.

    Second, ra’ah often simply means “bad” as opposed to “evil” (although here, it could well mean “evil” since it was the brothers intent to harm.)

    I think the context dictates that it should be “evil,” since it is “against” Joseph. You don’t “mean bad” or “plan bad” against someone.

    In any case, it is a totally gratuitous and plainly wrong reading of the Hebrew here to claim that it means that God planned evil in the case of Joseph. Absolutely not! The text says the exact opposite, and I challenge you to find one solid Hebrew scholar would make a good case for the reading you suggest.

    Of course, I need to point out that the likelihood that I will be able to find someone who will express these things in the exact words I have is very low. However, can I find someone who says the same thing, but in different words? Sure. The whole school of interpreting this passage that comes from Van Rad. Consider Gordon Wenham quoting Von Rad at this point:

    Van Rad (432) says, “The statement about the brothers’ evil plans and God’s good plans now opens up the inmost mystery of the Joseph story. It is in every respect, along with the similar passage in ch. 45:5-7, the climax to the whole. Even where no man could imagine it, God had all the strings in his hand. But this guidance of God is only asserted; nothing more explicit is said about the way in which God incorporated man’s evil into his saving activity [Genesis 16-50 p.490].

    Now, let me ask you, what does it mean that God had all the strings in his hand, other than that he was planning and purposing everything that happened, including the evil? That phrase should make any Arminian screech in horror. Clearly then, both Wenham and Von Rad, and that entire school of interpetation of this text would be a valid group of scholars to point to.

    Even on a logical level, your interpretation is impossible, as if it meant, “God planned evil for good!”

    What is so incoherent about the idea of God planning evil for a good purpose, and a good intention?

    God Bless,
    Adam

  18. Adam,

    God doesn’t do evil, by definition. If it’s evil, it’s not from Him — as universally attested in the Word. When God does ra’ or ra’ah, it refers to disaster or calamity, not “evil.” God is light and in Him is no darkness. That’s why, e.g., He puts to death but does not murder. (Show me where “murder” is ever used with regard to Him in the Word, just as one example.)

    Furthermore, the fact that some scholars read Gen 50 in a Calvinistic way proves what we know: Some do and some don’t. But even God pulling all the strings doesn’t mean He moved on someone to do evil. He simply superintended all the events that took place to get His desired ends.

    As for the observations above, yes, I understand that potentially, “evil” could be implied in the second phrase, but it is patently obvious that this is not the case, but rather the whole event or, as stated above, the mahshabah is what is in mind. If, however, you step back from the viewpoint you’re trying to find in the text and understand things differently, then it works fine: You intended this evil act for your diabolical purposes, but purposed to use it for good purposes.

    In any case, you can attempt to prove the point all you want, but it will go nowhere, since you have to force it onto the text and since it violates the revealed nature of God — particularly in the case where the meaning of ra’ah, as applied to the brothers, can only mean “evil” — and therefore this cannot apply to God’s own actions.

    As for translating with “plan,” it’s possible but would not be my first choice, but, with God’s foreknowledge, He could plan that what you plan for evil purposes, He will use for good purposes.

    I stand in awe before the wisdom of our God.

  19. Adam,

    BTW, the note in the Jewish Study Bible nicely sums up the obvious: “[Joseph’s] rationale rests on the idea that the malignant intentions of human beings can realize the benign intentions of God.”

  20. Adam,

    One last note: Aside from the fact that you’re quoting Von Rad and not the Bible (presumably from Wenham’s commentary, where Von Rad is cited), if you think this would make any Arminian screech in horror, then you really don’t understand what we believe at all. And even Von Rad is against you, stating that “God incorporated man’s evil into his saving activity.” Exactly! He didn’t cause the evil but incorporated it into His saving activity.

  21. “The fact is if God has predetermined every event then we can never ever have a choice.”

    Robert

    Not so. You claim to know Reformed Faith… What does it mean for you? Five Points? Five Points is just a cover of a great and thick book and I speak in terms of the wealth of a blessing.

    As far as will of God which is really ONE even though to begin to understand it and to begin to relate to it biblicaly we have to differentiate two facets of it READ here:


    May the will be properly distinguished into the will of decree and of precept, good purpose (eudokias) and good pleasure (euarestias), signified, secret and revealed? We affirm.

    I. Although the will in God is only one and most simple, by which he comprehends all things by a single and most simple act so that he sees and understands all things at one glance, yet because it is occupied differently about various objects, it thus happens that in our manner of conception, it may be apprehended as manifold (not in itself and intrinsically on the part of the act of willing, but extrinsically and objectively on the part of the things willed).

    II. Hence have arisen various distinctions of the will of God. The first and principal distinction is that of the decretive and preceptive will. The former means that which God wills to do or permit himself; the latter what he wills that we should do. The former relates to the futurition and the event of things and is the rule of God’s external acts; the latter is concerned with precepts and promises and is the rule of our action. The former cannot be resisted and is always fulfilled: “Who hath resisted his will?” (Rom. 9:19). The latter is often violated by men: “How often would I have gathered you together, and ye would not (Mt. 23:37).

    III. As there are various passages of Scripture in which the will of God is taken either for the decree (Rom. 9:19; Eph. 1:ll) or for the precept (Ps. 143:10; Rom. 12:2), so there are also some in which both wills of God are signified at the same time (i.e., Jn. 6:38, where Christ says, “I came down to do the will of him that sent me” [i.e., to fulfil the things decreed by God and to obey the command of the Father]). And when we say in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done,” we ask that our lives may correspond to his precepts and his decrees be fulfilled.

    IV. Although the precept falls also under the decree as to proposition, still it does not fall as to execution. Thus they may be properly distinguished from each other, so as the will of decree may be that which determines the event of things, but the will of precept that which prescribes to man his duty. Therefore God can (without a contradiction) will as to precept what he does not will as to decree inasmuch as he wills to prescribe something to man, but does not will to effect it (as he willed Pharaoh to release the people, but yet nilled their actual release).

    V. Hence it happens that although these wills may be conceived by us as diverse (owing to the diversity of the objects), yet they are not contrary. For as was just said, they are not occupied about the same thing. Undoubtedly if God by the power of his decree would impel men to do what he has by his law prohibited, or if when attempting to obey the law he would by an opposite impediment recall them from obedience, he would will repugnancies and be himself opposed to his own will. But the decree of God does not contend with his command when he prescribes to man his bounden duty (for the performance of which, however, he does not will to give the strength because he wills indeed the thing as to the proposition of duty, but yet not as to the execution of the event).”

    Francis Turretin

    Source: http://bit.ly/c72Zqc

    “And if he had to name it the predecided name, and it was impossible for him to do otherwise, then he did not HAVE A CHOICE.”

    Robert,

    I know that the “holy grail” of so many Arminians is the “CHOICE”…This is the paradigm in which GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has to fit in to be acceptable to Arminian.
    Not so if you want to be subordinate to His Word and not to subordinate His Word to you.

    As in:

    “all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
    and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
    and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

    Daniel 4:35 ESV

    SDG

    Christophe

  22. Christophe,

    Do you understand that the reason that those of us here are not Calvinists is because we insist on being subordinate to the Word? You claim that we want to subordinate His Word to ourselves. But that just proves again that you fail to recognize what motivates us (or, speaking for myself, me) to hold to this position.

    Whatever God says, I bow down to; whatever I see in His Word is truth; no matter how costly. Friends of mine have been tortured for their faith. One of the men we recently sent out to minister in tribal regions in India was martyred by Hindus. As a Jew, I have faced ridicule and rejection because of my faith in Yeshua. But the Word is true and Jesus is Lord and therefore I joyfully submit and obey. Yet you make the utterly vacuous claim that those who are not Calvinists want God to conform to them. Really, I hesitate even to dignify such a comment, yet it calls for correction, hence this post.

    Until you recognize that I am not a Calvinist because of (what is to me) the clear testimony of the Word, you have no ability to dialog in truth. On my end, although I’m convinced you are mistaken, I have no question that you’re seeking to submit to the testimony of Scripture. Unfortunately, the very Calvinistic arrogance that I mentioned to Dr. White (and which he deplored) manifests itself in comments accusing those of us who reject your views of somehow trying to create a God who “has to fit in to be acceptable to Arminian.” To the contrary, I emphasize choice because God did in His Word and in His system. If He emphasized what you believe, I would advocate that.

    May the Lord help you to understand those with whom you differ. And Daniel 4:35 has been a wonderful, oft-quoted, favorite text of mine for many years too. That is the sovereign God before Whom I stand in awe.

  23. Hello Nathaniel,

    “The common and ordinary understanding of freewill would have to be confirmed (of course) by Scripture. I do not think it is. I reject this “common and ordinary understanding” (as you call it) in favor of what I think is represented in Scripture.”

    When Dr. Brown has said repeatedly that there are lots and lots of verses that support free will. He means that when many bible verses are interpreted by proper interpretive methods and according to the plain and intended meaning of the texts, the “ordinary understanding” of free will is all over the bible. In fact you have to reinterpret a lot of bible verses not to see it.

    “Ah, in order to be libertarian free will it must be free of all causation.”

    Wow that is an amazing caricature of the libertarian free will view.

    Where did you get that?

    So you think the libertarian believes that freely made choices are UNCAUSED EVENTS?

    Which libertarian says that?

    Where have I said or suggested **that** in any of my posts here?

    I never defined free will as being “free of all causation” nor do the libertarians that I know define it that way. I believe that we cause our own intentional actions (i.e. I believe in agent causation).

    Example = say a student is in a class and is deciding between the alternative of lifting up his/her arm and asking the professor a question versus the alternative of not lifting up his/her arm to ask a question. If they end up choosing to ask the question and so signal the professor by lifting up their arm: WHO LIFTED UP THE ARM? They did. Did the lifting of the arm involve any causation? Of course, they caused their own arm to lift up.

    “First, I did not say that you choose against your greatest desire but that you have the ability to do so. Second, I did not mean misrepresent Edwards. Although “constrained” can be used (indeed we are constrained by our greatest desire), it is not as precise as necessitate. We are constrained by our natures and always choose according to our greatest desire.“

    Jonathan Edwards claimed that: we always choose according to our greatest desire. But Edwards’ claim is a mere tautology (i.e., a proposition that is true by definition). The student is considering whether or not to ask the question, if they ask the question then that choice was their greatest desire according to Edwards, if they don’t ask the question then that choice was their greatest desire according to Edwards, either way whatever they end up choosing to do is their greatest desire. That means that the claim that we always choose according to our greatest desire is a mere tautology, it is true by definition, but in reality it really doesn’t say much. The more important issue which Edwards neglected in his book on free will is why, with respect to a particular choice where there are competing desires, different alternative possibilities. The person ends up choosing one alternative rather than the other (when both alternatives were attractive in some way, the person had access to both possibilities, and the person had the ability to do either action).

    Many Calvinists today appear to remain stuck on Edwards type thinking on free will, like a needle stuck in a broken record: not realizing that the contemporary discussion of free will has progressed beyond Edwards (which is why he is not cited much anymore in contemporary literature except for Calvinists, whom, you guessed it, appeal to Edwards’ view of free will in order to argue for their Calvinism.)

    “Here’s where the difference is. I believe that I have ample support in Scripture for Compatiblist freedom,”

    The Scripture **is** clear, people have lots of choices and we then make choices and are responsible for those choices.

    “and I believe that your system does not fully explain what is attested in Scripture.”

    “your system . . . “

    What system?

    I don’t have a system.

    That is one of the problems: people interpret according to a man invented system and their system dictates their interpretations, like the calvinistic system, the Dispensational system, etc. etc. so the scripture has to be made to fit their preconceived system (rather than vice versa). Some act as if they are slaves of their systems completely unable to think in any other way or even understand or comprehend how someone else could possibly think or interpret things differently. Instead of scripture leading to their conclusions and being the basis of their conclusions, the scripture is **made to fit** (sometimes even forced to fit) their preferred system. And often if you know what system the person is committed to, then you can predict very well how they will interpret certain bible passages (not because the bible says what they are claiming, but because the system says one thing and so for them to be consistent with their system the bible will have to be made to say the same thing as the system).

    Robert

  24. Robert,

    “I never defined free will as being “free of all causation” nor do the libertarians that I know define it that way. I believe that we cause our own intentional actions (i.e. I believe in agent causation).”

    You really haven’t defined freedom at all. I think it would worth while for you to give a formal definition. Your example, however, is lacking. The student caused himself to raise his hand; however, if we were to ask the student why he raised his hand, we would find a string of many reasons that ultimately leads to nowhere. The reason why the student raised his hand is free from any necessary causation, which includes causation that could be derived from his own nature.

    “The more important issue which Edwards neglected in his book on free will is why, with respect to a particular choice where there are competing desires, different alternative possibilities.”

    We can have competing strong desires, but what we ultimately choose is our greatest desire. For example, I could really want to obey God’s law, but I have other desires in my nature that are stronger than that desire to obey God’s law. I think John Frame deals with this really well in his book, Doctrine of God.

    “Many Calvinists today appear to remain stuck on Edwards type thinking on free will, like a needle stuck in a broken record: not realizing that the contemporary discussion of free will has progressed beyond Edwards”

    Edwards discussion on the will is definitely important to us, but that’s because we think he’s right. I would not say that we are stuck on it, for many Calvinists have continued to advance and fine tune Edward’s argument. Again, I refer to John Frame as a demonstration of that point.

    “What system?

    I don’t have a system. ”

    Yes you do, Robert. Everyone goes to one system or another. We may not be Roman Catholic about it. We may differ in some areas or many areas, but that does not mean we do not find ourselves inside a system of thinking. Actually, I cannot imagine why you would object to the term. We are influenced by philosophy, theology, science, etc. Of course, we attempt to view the world through Scripture. That is, we try through prayer, meditation, communing with the saints, etc. to become more Biblical in our understanding of the world. We want our system to be the Biblical system. However, you and I differ on what the Biblical system entails. That’s why I say your system is do not provide a convincing explanation of what’s in Scripture.

  25. Dr. Brown,

    This will be my last reply to you on this topic, as I think the issues have been laid out clearly. You have the last word, if you want it.

    I think that your first paragraph is exactly what I want to say. The main reason that you cannot accept what I have said has more to do with the fact that, if you believe God planned evil, you would have to say that God has done something evil. That, I think, is exactly what I want to say. Exegetical discussions aside, this really is the bottom line with your understanding of this passage.

    Secondly, as far as the statement from Von Rad, I was not referring to the statement you quoted. I was referring to his statement about “strings in his hand.” Secondly, I did find the quotation from Von Rad. The edition of his commentary being cited is the 1961 Westminster Press edition, page 432.

    Also, I was in the library earlier today looking to see how some of the older grammarians understood this passage, and I came upon the following quotation by S.R. Driver:

    The verse brings out the didactic import of the narrative: God often accomplishes his ends through human means, without the knowledge, and even against the wishes, of the agents who actually give them effect [The Book of Genesis. Westminster Commentaries. Methuen and Co. London, England. 1904. p.398].

    Also, my intent in quoting scholars was not to say that this proves my case; obviously, that is up for grabs for people to argue and debate. My only point was that the things I was saying about the translation of this text are not unusual at all. I have carefully reasoned out what I believe about this passage, and, as you have said, we just have to agree to disagree.

    Now, as far as the antecedent to the suffix, it is not a matter of possibility, it is a matter of what is most likely. I do not believe that it can be a feminine neuterum since, as Waltke/O’Connor said, it is in a place where there is no clear antecedent. Even one of the commentaries I cited say that there were really only the two possibilities.

    However, other than that, when it comes to both the antecedent of the suffix, the meaning of chashab, or any other issue, we have to consider which is the most likely meaning in terms of grammar, syntax, pragmatics, structure, and even, at times, phonology. We cannot just talk about what is “possible.” For example, not only do you have only one word intervening between the noun ra’a and the verb with the suffix, but you also have an assonance connecting ra’a with the following clause:

    we’atem chashabtem ‘alay ra’a elohim chashaba letoba

    Again, the issue has to be, taking into account the assonance between these two clauses, taking into account the fact that the feminine ra’a is only two words before chashaba, one has to ask what is the most likely?

    Also, again, no one is arguing that it is not *possible* for ra’a to mean something like “calamity.” The issue is, again, the other semantic considerations. As you mentioned, it is the parallel actions of the brothers, as well as the context of chashab that argue strongly against such an understanding. While it is true that God can be the one who brings ra’a, and it can mean “calamity” in such a context, I am unaware where there is any context where it has that meaning as the object of chashab, with God as the subject, being paralleled with the evil actions of the brothers.

    The same thing is true with chashab; Yes, the meaning “to plan” is not the most common meaning, but we are in a context where there are direct objects, and we are in a context where wicked deeds are the object. That is why the commentaries I cited, as well as the Hebrew Aramaic Dictionary of the Old Testament, in definition 5, applies that meaning to this passage. One has to take other things into consideration than just lexicography, grammar, etc. alone. When one is looking at the meaning of a passage. All of these things work together to give us a much broader picture of meaning within language.

    Even Dennis Pardee criticized Waltke/O’Connor because of their lack of discussion of textlinguistics in a textbook on syntax. His discussion shows that syntax, grammar, and even the choice of lexicographical meanings must be intimately related to other branches of linguistics such as pragmatics, grammar, syntax, the whole discussion of textlinguistics, and even phonetics at times. If you don’t take these things into consideration, and focus on what is possible, you can never understand what is specifically going on in an individual text.

    Also, Dr. Brown, let me conclude this discussion with you very warmly. While I don’t agree with your understanding of this text, I want you to know that I pray for your ministry, and I specifically pray that your ministry will lead thousands of Jews to Christ. I also appreciate the fact that you are challenging antitrinitarians, and defending the faith against the issues that really do separate the orthodox from the unorthodox. Also, I really do appreciate that you are one of the people standing up for Christian values, in a world that is self-destructing fast.

    So, again, please understand that I do have a lot of respect for you and your ministry, as do all my professors. One day, maybe our paths will cross in the academic world!

    God Bless,
    Adam

  26. Adam,

    Thanks for your gracious words, and I do appreciate your desire to do serious exegesis of the text. Re: Von Rad, I fully understood the portion you were citing and attempted to respond to that, and yes, I had located his quote in the Wenham commentary, although I have Von Rad as well. Thanks also for the other linguistic references you provide here as well.

    To be succinct in my reply (especially since, having reviewed the issues again last night and looking at a host of translations, beginning with Onkelos, I see no valid way to support your understanding of the text), my formal academic training is in comparative Semitic philology, not theology. Everything for me begins with the original language texts (I’ve far more proficient in Hebrew than in Greek, but because of my philological training, I’m able to assess the Greek issues fairly well too), and it is based on those texts that I do exegesis, then build my theology on that. My book Israel’s Divine Healer, is probably the best example of that approach. So, when you write that, “syntax, grammar, and even the choice of lexicographical meanings must be intimately related to other branches of linguistics such as pragmatics, grammar, syntax, the whole discussion of textlinguistics, and even phonetics at times. If you don’t take these things into consideration, and focus on what is possible, you can never understand what is specifically going on in an individual text.” I give my hearty amen! That’s exactly how I approach the biblical text. I could not have said it better myself. In fact, in the article I mentioned to Dr. White on my program, I cited my primary mentor at NYU, Prof. Baruch Levine, who noted that “one whose ultimate goal it is to reconstruct biblical civilization will have to transcend philology, in the last analysis, but he cannot bypass it as the proper, first step in solving problems of biblical interpretation.”

    So, I base my comments here on a careful reading of the Hebrew text, and I interact theologically by explaining how I reject the idea that God is actively behind “evil.”

    Again, thanks for your prayers and your gracious comments, and thanks for the interaction here. May I ask, BTW, where you are studying, or does that tell too much?

  27. Dr. Brown,

    Yes, not a problem. I am studying at a divinity school called Trinity Evangelical Divinity School:

    http://www.tiu.edu/divinity/academics/oldtestament/

    The two professors I have studied under the most are Dr. Willem VanGemeren and Dr. Richard Averbeck. I have also studied Epigraphic Hebrew under Dr. Lawson Younger, and Egyptian Hieroglyphics and Hebrew under Dr. James Hoffmeier. All of these men have nothing but good to say about your ministry to the Jewish people.

    Again, keep up the good work, and God bless!

    God Bless,
    Adam

  28. Adam,

    Great to hear that! I was a visiting professor back at TEDS more than a decade ago and I have the highest respect for the program there. Dr. VanGemeren hosted me at the school and was one of the editors for my Healer book; he also was the first one to discuss with me writing the Jeremiah commentary in the new EBC (it just came out this week); and I had the joy of writing a number of articles for him in NIDOTTE. As for Dr. Averbeck, we participated in an Isaiah 53 conference together last March, and of course, who can touch his knowledge of Sumerian among us evangelicals? And Drs. Hoffmeier and Younger are at the top of their field. What a wonderful faculty, and what great, godly examples too.

    I took a semester of Egyptian Hieroglyphics while working on my doctoral dissertation at NYU but didn’t have time to pursue it. Semitics were enough to keep me busy and I couldn’t make the journey over to Ham.

    Blessings on your studies!

  29. Dr. Brown,

    Thanks so much for your encouragement, and your kind words about my school. Yes, I have loved being in this atmosphere here at Trinity, and getting to interact with as many fine Christian Hebrew Bible thinkers as I do.

    I did forget to mention one other professor that I have had, mostly because I don’t want him left out, and that is Dr. Dennis Magary. That man is one of the hardest workers I have ever seen. I am taking a class in Old Testament Textual Criticism with him right now, and it is fascinating.

    Thanks again for all your encouragement!

    God Bless,
    Adam

  30. Adam,

    Dr. Magary picked me up at the airport the first time I taught at TEDS. In fact, when I sent the profs. there copies of one of my vols. in the Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus series, I remember inscribing one to him in Syriac, his specialty area. Please give these fine gentlemen my warmest regards.

    Blessings on you! And remember to keep a strong devotional life, centered on Jesus our Lord, during your times of intense academic studies.

  31. “Do you understand that the reason that those of us here are not Calvinists is because we insist on being subordinate to the Word? You claim that we want to subordinate His Word to ourselves. But that just proves again that you fail to recognize what motivates us (or, speaking for myself, me) to hold to this position.”

    Dr.Brown,

    Respectfully, but this is not an argument because the same issue is raised by Arminians against Calvinists. Therefore, it appears like it is appriopriate for you to say that I fail to recognize Arminianism for what it is but when I say the same thing about Arminians and their deep misunderstandings of Reformed Faith then it is not appriopriate to say that…

    At least , I do not see you correcting Arminians here when they say that Calvinists twist the Scripture and they try to fit it to their thinking. In fact you support this claim and even encourage it by stating that “Calvinism is unbiblical”

    “I have no question that you’re seeking to submit to the testimony of Scripture. Unfortunately, the very Calvinistic arrogance that I mentioned to Dr. White (and which he deplored) manifests itself in comments accusing those of us who reject your views of somehow trying to create a God who “has to fit in to be acceptable to Arminian.”

    Please explain to me why is it arrogant for me to say that Arminian is trying to fit the Scripture to his view which is basically saying that Arminism is unbiblical.

    Yet when you say the very same thing in essence Dr.Brown and that is claiming publicly that “Calvinism is unbiblical” then that is not arrogant but only appropriate and correct.

    Please forgive me but it clearly points to double standard and subjectivity

    Thank you.

    Regards,

    SDG

    Christophe

  32. Adam said: “Because you aren’t clearly defining what you mean, you confusing categories. There are certain concepts of parallelism that will help us with this, but we need to define our terms properly.”

    **** I am not confusing categories. I told you I was not necessarily indicating formal poetic antithetical parallelism but semantic parallelism. So I didn’t claim a grammatical form parallelism in the first place. And in fact, poetic parallelism as it is most usually exploited for interpretive purposes has to do with semantic parallelism. Indeed, the category of antithetical parallelism typically has to do with semantics and not grammar per se. You are being pedantic by reviewing some examples of grammatical parallelism of active to passive voice. I never claimed the the grammatical form in Job is of active to passive, but that the statement that God took from Job is best understood most fully to refer God allowing Satan to take from Job. Now you point out that Job did not know about that. True, so his statement may well refer to God doing directly. But not necessarily. We don’t know exactly what Job’s belief in God’s providence was. I would think he would not have thought God actually caused otehrs to sin and do evil. But in any case, the text gives us greater details and shows us how Job misunderstands what is going on, which is why he eventualy has to repent. And if I remember correctly you have been trying to claim that the text specifically approves of Job’s statement. But that is not totally accurate. It apporives of the fact that he did not accuse God of wrongdoing. And it affirms that Job did not sin in what he said (by accusing God of wrongdoing).

    I said: “You admit that the parallel can be general.”

    Adam said: “No, what I said was that parallelism does not have to be synonymous. However, there must always be some relationship between the two. If there isn’t any relationship between the two, then in what sense can the two clauses be said to be parallel?”

    **** I had argued that the parallel does not have to be exact, but can be general. And you responded by saying “Also, no one is arguing that the parallel has to be exact.” That implied you concede that the parallel is general. So does it have to be exact, or as is really undeniable, can it be general (what’s undeniable is that parallels *can* be general and don’t have to be exact; you will not find any scholar claiming that parallels must be exact, but you will find plenty of them talking about general parallels at various points). You said, “there must always be some relationship between the two.” Of course, and I have laid that relationship out very clearly.

    Adam said: “No, the point is that no one is ever going to even think of attributing wrong doing to God just by allowing Satan to have his “free will.” However, someone might think God has done something wrong if his hand was in back of everything that happened to Job.”

    **** It is hard to believe you would say this. People blame God all the time for “allowing” things when he could have stopped them. If you deny this, then I think you are out of touch with the reality of the real world (I don’t mean this in an nsulting way, but to say that you would be unaware of a very common phenomenon). But even if Job thought God directly responsible for everything taking place, it does not support your point of view. As I mentioned above, the text does not blanketly approve everything Job said, but the text does give us greater details that make it clear that God was not directly causing all that took place, which overturns Calvinism, which holds this to be the case.

    Honestly, this comment seems strange, as if “taking away” is somehow stronger language than “bringing upon”. I would say that it is every bit as reasonable to understand “taking away from Job” to mean allowing Satan to take away from Job in light of the greater details Job 1-2, which reveal that t his is exactly what happened. This doesn’t fly in the fac of grammar. It is to interpret language in accordance with standard exegetical methodology–in context.

    Adam said: “However, the grammar of that passage is part of the context. Grammar, syntax, pragmatics, paranomatics, discourse, etc. must all be taken into consideration, and, if an interpretation flies in the face of any one of those, it is impossible.”

    **** Are you seriously suggesting that an active *grammatical* form cannot be used to describe a *semantically* passive act? Even on the mere grammatical level, there is a figure of speech known as heterosis of the verb, one form of which is use of the active for the passive. That’s not particularly what I am suggesting here. It;s just that you seem unaware of the flexibility of language. What’s more, allowing something is not even necessarily passive. To allow is actually an active grammatical term. You are confusing grammar and semantic content, and then suggesting an interpretation is impossible on that faulty basis. You seem to not understand some basic lexical prinicples such as context determining meaning, reckoning with idiomatic expressions, and reckoning with figures of speech.

    Adam said: “You are missing the point. How could Job be talking about something that happened back in chapter 1 in the throne room of God, when he knows nothing of what happened in the throne room of God? We know that this is the case simply because of the fact that he calls God unjust. It is clear he doesn’t understand what happened with Satan. Hence, how could he be referring to what happened with Satan?”

    **** I never said he was referring to what happened with Satan. But you read a Calvinistic understanding of his words into his statement. Saying that the Lord has taken away is a far cry from supporting echaustive determinism. And as I said, the text does not tell us exactly how Job thought God was responsible at this point. But as for an objective view of it all, the text fills us in precisely on what actually happened and just how God took from Job–he allowed Satan to do so at Satan’s instigation.

    I said: “This seems irrelevant. Job does not charge God with punishing him for guilt. . . ” He insists on his own innocence and charges God with wrongdoing for afflicting him without cause. The context of the book reveals that God allowed Job to be afflicted by Satan without cause in that the affliction did not come for Job doing something wrong, though God’s permission was with cause in that God had a purpose to allow Satan to afflict Job without any guilt on Job’s part.

    Adam said: “No, but his friends do.”

    **** But that is also irrelevant. They get proven wrong! And their belief does not necessarily impinge on Job’s. In fact, he completely disagrees. That’s what God eventually vindicates him for against his friends.

    Adam said: “The point his friends are making is that God would never afflict a man who is righteous since God rewards the righteous. However, it is by the breath of his anger that he gives the wicked their just desserts. Is that active or passive? Again, the main point that Job’s friends are trying to argue is that Job is getting his just recompense for some sin he must have committed. That is clearly active in character, not passive. Job does not deny that God has caused this, but believes that he has wrongly afflicted him.”

    **** But that does not in the least begin to tell us the details of how Job conceived of God’s exact role in his troubles. Even if it did, Job gets corrected by God for accusing him of wrongdoing, and part of the issue is that Job does *not* know the whole story or God’s reasons for acting as he has. But the bokk iteslef does give us the bigger picture, part of which is that God did not directly afflict Job, but allowed Satan to do so. Moreover, the active vs. passive distinction you are trying to press seems irrelevant here in light of all that I have said above, not to mention that “allowing” is not even technically passive.

    Adam said: “Again, I have no problems with trying to understand this text in the context of chapters 1 and 2. The problem is that the two statements “God permitted Satan to harm Job,” and “God’s hand was behind the action of Satan harming Job” are not contradictory. Calvinists allow both texts to speak for themselves. You are trying to equate the two, without any exegetical justification.”

    **** Arminians don’t view those statements as contradictory either. They just allow the text of Job to define how the two relate. It makes perfect sense to see God’s hand being behind the action of Satan harming Job in God permitting Satan to harm Job. That’s the exact picture the Book of Job gives us.

  33. Christophe,

    I think I made myself clear in my post and see no reason to belabor it here. Suffice it to say that we both believe the other’s system is unbiblical — meaning, not in accordance with the scriptural testimony but certainly not heretical — but I don’t accuse you of trying of having to make God comport of what is acceptable to you while you accuse others of doing just that. That to me is an arrogance, since it makes judgments on the motives or biases of others.

    If that’s not clear to you, then enough said, and we’ll leave things here. I would just urge you to stay with what you believe the Word says in your posts and leave the personal judgments out.

  34. Adam,

    Here’s another point that shows very clearly active language being used to describe God allowing Satan to ruin Job. The end of Job 2:3 says

    “And he [Job] still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” (NASB)

    Since this refers to Satan obtaining God’s permission to afflict Job, the idea of God ruining Job without cause clearly refers to God granting Satan permission to ruin Job. Moreover, as a side note that also militates against Calvinistic determinism, this is presented as something that is an action that is contingent on Satan’s action, for Satan provoked God’s active action of allowing Satan to act. But agsint this, you would have us think God irresitibly decreed and caused Satan to provoke God to give Satan the permission.

    One more thing. It seems like the issues are getting blurred about the issue of determinism that we have been talking about. Just how is it that the Book of Job is supposed to portray determinism. It seems to portray just the opposite, as Ben’s (of Arminian Perpectives) posts in this thread have eloquently described.

  35. “I think I made myself clear in my post and see no reason to belabor it here. Suffice it to say that we both believe the other’s system is unbiblical — meaning, not in accordance with the scriptural testimony but certainly not heretical — but I don’t accuse you of trying of having to make God comport of what is acceptable to you while you accuse others of doing just that. That to me is an arrogance, since it makes judgments on the motives or biases of others.”

    Dr.Brown,

    With all due respect Sir, you did not say that explicitly but others did yet your correction of that was nowhere to be found. Furthermore, you have said something very close implicitly by saying that “Calvinists make a work out of the faith.” This statement is loaded with meaning for anyone who knows what biblical salvation is… And since we know what biblical salvation is stating that someone is trying to work it is judgmental and paints Reformed Faith in a dubious light as far as salvation goes…

    I might be wrong but in the exchange on this forum I have not seen Calvinist accusing Arminian of outright heresy or paganism. Yet, I have seen Arminians more than once stating that Calvinists have a different God and believe in a different God than the one reveled in the Bible. On one occasion you have corrected this accusation but what I find rather telling is that you did not find it “arrogant”…

    Needles to say this again points to a double standard as far as recognizing arrogance Dr.Brown.

    Here is the difference between Calvinists and many but not all Arminians. We believe that Arminians are true Christians. We believe that they are saved. We recognize that most Arminians find themselves in this position mostly but not always by a default and we maintain that GOD saves despite inconsistent theology and erratic hermeneutics.

    I hope you will recognize this as a gracious statement as this is not on the par if I would say that Arminians try to earn their salvation by working it…

    Kind regards,

    SDG

    Christophe

  36. Christophe,

    I have not attempted to read every post on this forum (that is never my practice, especially when there are lots of posts), and you are free to claim that there is a double standard being used. I can point you to websites that claim that you can not be both evangelical and Arminian, so I’m used to seeing accusations flying both ways.

    Please read my response to Bryan (on this thread or the other large one) re: Calvinists making faith into a work, and that will explain it itself. And no one here said that ” that Arminians try to earn their salvation by working it…” Once again, you seem to missing the point of some of the statements here, which is unfortunate (but I certainly don’t have the time to post at length over a period of days to demonstrate that to you).

    You are free to have your opinion on things, but from what I’ve read, both sides have sought to be fair, and when, in the rare case, I have noted something that I felt needed input or correction, I have offered it.

    You wrote: “Here is the difference between Calvinists and many but not all Arminians. We believe that Arminians are true Christians. We believe that they are saved. We recognize that most Arminians find themselves in this position mostly but not always by a default and we maintain that GOD saves despite inconsistent theology and erratic hermeneutics.”

    You can switch those words from Calvinists to Arminians and say the exact same thing. In fact, I have never met an Arminian who felt that a Calvinist was not saved because of their faulty theology and erratic hermeneutics, yet somehow, you are hearing things that are simply not being said, apparently leading you to take exception to my post and others here. I do hope that you can understand truly what people are saying, whether you agree or not.

  37. Dr.Brown,

    Agreed that it is impossible to read all posts and I do not expect that of you and I would hope you don’t expect that of me either. We both have lives even though we are both passionate about the Word and God. There is no question in my mind that you are a better person and a better Christian than I am and probably ever will be…but that is not the point.

    The point was and is that the accusations of “Calvinistic God” were made on this forum and you have to remember that as you corrected that at least once. Besides correcting it your over all reaction to this extremely judgmental faith denying accusation against Calvinism was rather mild and dismissive.

    In comparison, when I said that maintaining “free choice” agenda causes people to fit Scripture to their preconceived expectations your reaction was way stronger than the one you have expressed to the Arminian who claimed that Calvinists are de facto pagans having a different God. Certainly you have not found it “judgmental” nor have you found it “arrogant” but if anything it was exactly that. It hurt but I did not even brought it up or addressed it…

    Let the bygones be bygones but my hope is that in the future your reaction will be more measured to the gravity of the cause. That’s all. I appreciate your ministry. I appreciate the civility exemplified during the two day conversation with Dr.White and I do hope and wait with others for a real debate which will shed light on who really has a faulty theology and erratic hermeneutics as the real debate will show that, especially if Dr.White is involved in it.

    Regards,

    SDG

    Christophe

  38. Christophe,

    Would you kindly ask anyone who claimed that Calvinists have a “different God” if they meant that in a literal sense, thereby claiming that Calvinists are “de facto pagans” (to use your words)? Please do take a moment to ask those folks for clarification here, and if, in fact, they intended to say that, then I will be the first to admonish them. If they were using extreme and unnecessary rhetoric, we can address that as well.

    Be assured also that my responses have been quite measured and it is my hope that you can review your statements in light of my input and learn something from that, just as I have always sought to do when admonished or corrected.

    Thanks for your gracious spirit.

  39. Dr. Brown,

    I will most certainly give all of them your regards.

    Also, thank you so much for the admonishment. You are correct that it is one of the hardest things to keep prayer and devotional life up when you are at school. You get done with a whole day of reading Hebrew, studying Exegesis, and reading Cuneiform and Egyptian Hieroglyphics, you just fall down and say, “Wow, I have to get back into the Hebrew text for devotions????” I guess you just have to force yourself to go back into the word, and pull meat out of it to help you through your struggles.

    Thanks again for your encouragement!

    God Bless,
    Adam

  40. Adam,

    Actually, at times, as I was immersed in language learning, I would have times when I only read the Word in English, simply feasting on God’s truth and seeking to obey Him, refusing to think about linguistic issues or insights. I still read the Word in English for that very reason, while continuing to pour into the original languages, both for study and devotion.

    Always keep John 15:1-9 central!

  41. Ben,

    You cant expect the full details to be debated on a radio show due to time. You will only get bits and pieces of it.

  42. “But there are hundreds of scriptures that say otherwise”. Hmmmm, yet James is the only one quoting scripture after scripture.

  43. Algo gave a chart on the “Ordo Salutis”. But that chart is but an opinion of what the order of salvation is. Faith, justification and the new birth happen at the same time. God doesn’t react to our faith by saving us, but saves us through the giving of faith, or rather the causing of faith in us.
    And yes, that is an opinion as well.
    Blessings.

  44. Adam,

    I think “Arminian” answered you well enough on Job, so I will leave that alone. But I do want to focus on the issue of my charge that Calvinism makes God the author of sin. You wrote,

    Also, the Westminster confession is simply saying that God is not the author of sin, because they are describing what they are teaching.

    But this seems to dodge the question. Why would they even feel the need to say that their doctrines do not make God the author of sin unless they had an understanding of what that charge means and that what they are describing can easily lead to such a conclusion?

    Also, you know that we believe God decreed the fall, but now it is incumbent upon you to show that this is sin on God’s part. If you cannot, then Adam is still the first sinner, and Adam is the one who brought sin into the world, even though God was the one who decreed that Adam would bring sin into the world.

    I’m sorry, but I think it is incumbent on your part to explain how God was the cause of Adam sinning in such a way that Adam could not have possibly done otherwise, and yet Adam was the one who “brought sin into the world” (not to mention the problem raised by your previous line of argumentation regarding how Adam, whose nature was “good” could have done evil?). The confession is simply affirming absurdity in my opinion and dismissing it without trying to deal with the problem. It is saying God made Adam sin but it was still Adam’s fault. Really? That sounds rather arbitrary to me. If Adam was just a passive instrument through whom God effected His irresistible decree, then how is Adam responsible for his actions? Truly, they were simply God’s actions performed through Adam, since Adam was not in any meaningful way the originator of his own actions. It wasn’t Adam’s idea or desire to disobey God but God’s idea and desire given irresistibly to Adam. Then God judges Adam and his posterity for doing exactly as God irresistibly caused him to do. Let me break this down into parallelism since you seem to like parallelism as a form of arguing 🙂

    In Calvinism one can apparently take credit for salvation unless God causes faith in a person. Because God causes faith (i.e. irresistibly causes someone to believe) God gets all the credit, and the person believing gets none. If God did not cause us to believe, then we would be able to take credit for our faith and boast in it (according to Calvinism). But how is this different than God causing us to sin? How is it that when God causes faith He gets all of the credit and we get none, but when God causes sin we get all of the credit and He gets none? I hope that you will be able to answer this question without appealing to mystery or avoiding the question by saying the burden of proof somehow rests on me, etc.

    Thanks and God Bless,
    Ben

  45. Hello Christophe,

    You quoted me as saying:

    “The fact is if God has predetermined every event then we can never ever have a choice.”

    And responded with:

    “Robert
    Not so.”

    Care to explain how every event could be predetermined and necessitated and I could still have any choices (not make choices, but **have** choices where I could actualize one possibility or another)?

    Robert

  46. Christophe,

    You cited Turretin on the “two wills of God” theory that many Calvinists hold. James White repeatedly in the discussion with Dr. Brown made reference to this theory as well. It needs to be noted that you Calvinists speak of it as if it is a fact. And not only do you **assume** it to be true, you allow it to control your interpretation of scripture. But I don’t buy this distinction at all. There are multiple problems with the two wills theory. Here are some of them.

    First, it is an EXTRA-BIBLICAL principle. The bible does not state the two will theory anywhere. It is not derived from exegesis of biblical texts. It was invented and developed by Calvinist theologians as a method to harmonize biblical texts with their erroneous system of theology.

    Second, the distinction sanctions and affirms an incredible amount of contradictions. God says one thing (the prescriptive will, what He expresses in scripture) in the one will, which is directly contradicted by the secret or sovereign will. The sovereign will is supposedly (I say supposedly since the bible does not say that God has a total plan, this is assumed by Calvinists who believe in exhaustive predeterminism of all events) God’s exhaustive total plan that encompasses every event of history. God conceives of this total plan in eternity, he then ensures that it occurs via his “sovereignty” (which is then defined as God exhaustively determining every event by directly, completely and continuously controlling everything). Note that this calvinistic interpretive principle consists of assumption piled upon assumption.

    So where is the contradiction?

    The contradiction is between what God says in the bible and what He really plans and desires in the sovereign will. He says don’t commit murder. And yet if he predetermines and predecides every action that every human person does, then every murder that actually occurs in history is exactly what God wanted, exactly what God decided would be part of his total plan. Or take abortion. Conservative Christians interpret the bible to be saying that it is wrong (so according to his prescriptive will abortion is murder and is wrong). But if God predetermines and predecides every action that every human person does, then every abortion that actually occurs in history is exactly what God wanted, exactly what God decided would be part of his plan. And we could multiply the examples but the point is clear: he says one thing in his Word but contradicts what he says in his sovereign/secret will.

    Third with the prescriptive/sovereign will distinction in mind, it leads to “interpretations” of scripture where the proper and intended meaning of the text is eliminated, minimized or thrown out. God says in his Word that He desires the salvation of all. The Calvinist comes alone and says that while that may be true in his prescriptive will, in his sovereign will, the will that determines what really happens, God desires the salvation of only a preselected few. With the two will principle the theological determinist can then harmonize “difficult” or problematic passages with his errant theological system.

    Fourth, it is similar to the way a Jehovah’s Witness interprets the bible(note carefully I did not say nor am I implying that Calvinists are cultists, they affirm orthodox doctrine such as the trinity, the deity of Christ, justification through faith, etc.). They start with the teachings of the Watchtower as their controlling presupposition and grid. They have these teachings in mind **BEFORE** they get to a biblical text. The biblical text is then made to harmonize with this pre-understanding. So the biblical texts never end up contradicting the teachings of the Watchtower and amazingly all line up with exactly what the Watchtower teaches!

    Fifth, you find no evidence of this two will theory in the early centuries of the church. This suggests both that it is an EXTRA-BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE and that it was invented by theological determinists.

    Sixth, if God really says one thing in his Word and does another in his secret will, this may lead to real lack of trust in what the bible says. This is because the bible really does not represent the “bottom line,” concerning reality, rather the secret will is the “bottom line”. God’s truest desires, what He really wants to happen, are seen in and expressed in the secret will, not the bible.

    Seventh, some determinists will claim that the secret will is known to God alone or beyond our understanding, etc. etc. This is not accurate. If everything that occurs in reality is part of the secret will, then we need only look at reality, look at what actually occurs to see the sovereign will being carried out. Look at any past event, that is exactly what God desired to occur. Look at any present reality, that is exactly what God desires to occur. We may not know the future but we can know the secret will in terms of all realities that involve the past or the present. Now this is troublesome when we consider some of the things that God therefore desired to occur. Every evil or sin that has occurred or is occurring in its every detail is exactly what God wants to occur as it is all part of his sovereign will/secret will/total plan.

    Eighth and particularly troubling for non-Calvinists is what the two will theory says or implies about God’s character. A person who says one thing and does another is considered a hypocrite. A person who says he desires one thing but really desires another cannot be trusted and may even hide malicious plans and actions behind expressed words (cf. like a dishonest politician who says one thing publicly but in private holds a very different view). A person who claims to be good, righteous, merciful, to have good character (again when speaking publicly) and yet privately is the opposite and desires the opposite has an evil and untrustworthy character.

    Robert

  47. Christophe,

    “I know that the “holy grail” of so many Arminians is the “CHOICE”…This is the paradigm in which GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has to fit in to be acceptable to Arminian.
    Not so if you want to be subordinate to His Word and not to subordinate His Word to you.
    As in:
    “all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
    and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” Daniel 4:35 ESV”

    First the passage from Daniel 4 is merely an assertion that when God does an action no one is able to stop him from doing that action (no orthodox Christian denies this). This is true because he is God and has the attributes of God including being all-powerful, all-knowing, being the Creator and maintainer of all that exists, etc. This passage says nothing about whether or not God designed us to freely do our own actions or not. Or whether or not his plan of salvation includes human persons freely choosing to trust him alone for their salvation.

    If God is sovereign (and the bible defines His sovereignty as He does as He pleases in all situations) as Daniel 4 implies and a whole host of bible verses explicitly presents. Then if HE decides to design humans to act with free will and if He designs a plan of salvation involving free will, then that is the way things are going to be no matter what a theological determinist says otherwise.

    Second, I don’t have a “choice paradigm” in which scripture must be made to conform. Instead I derive my view that we sometimes have free will from the proper exegesis of biblical statements that refer to situations where people have a choice. If they have a real choice then their action is not predetermined though it is foreknown. It is the theological determinist who must conform scripture to their theological system. In their system where everything is predetermined, free will must be eliminated (or redefined so that an action that is absolutely necessitated is defined as “free”) so that all the passages in which people have a choice are eliminated by interpreting them incorrectly.

    Third, free will is not “the Holy Grail,” this is just a typical Calvinist put down, caricature of the non-Calvinist position. We hold to the reality and existence of free will as ordinarily understood because of its clear and abundant presence in scripture and in our daily experience. A theological determinist must eliminate free will as ordinarily understood because if it ever exists, then his exhaustive predeterminism is false.

    Robert

  48. Hello Nathaniel,

    You make some strange statements about free will and intentional actions including the following:

    “Your example, however, is lacking. The student caused himself to raise his hand; however, if we were to ask the student why he raised his hand, we would find a string of many reasons that ultimately leads to nowhere.”

    I don’t have the time or interest to go through these kind of statements so I want to focus upon one single issue here.

    I had explicitly said:

    “What system?
    I don’t have a system.”

    You responded with:

    “Yes you do, Robert. Everyone goes to one system or another. We may not be Roman Catholic about it. We may differ in some areas or many areas, but that does not mean we do not find ourselves inside a system of thinking.”

    First of all, you don’t know me personally, you don’t know about my familiarity with theological systems, or personal experience with theological systems, so how can you make such a grand claim that I have a system?

    Especially when I explicitly say that I do not?

    Second, if I have a system then what is it? Tell me about it.

    “Actually, I cannot imagine why you would object to the term. We are influenced by philosophy, theology, science, etc.”

    I don’t object to the term, in fact I am quite familiar with many false systems of theology including Calvinism. Nor did I claim to have no influences on my own thinking. I did however explicitly claim not to have a system.

    “We want our system to be the Biblical system.”

    That involves the unwarranted assumptions that we want or are supposed to have a system.

    By the way, where in the bible does it tell us that we need to have a system or that we all have a system?

    “However, you and I differ on what the Biblical system entails.”

    No, I think I am quite aware of what having a man-made theological system looks like. And regarding a “biblical system” that is invented by men, there is no such thing. At best we are to properly interpret the scriptures. Where we really differ is in the interpretation of certain bible verses.

    “That’s why I say [that] your system is do[es] not provide a convincing explanation of what’s in Scripture.”

    Again WHAT IS MY SYSTEM?

    Robert

  49. Lee,

    So, you only count the verses that Dr. White cites while ignoring all the verses I cite? That’s an odd way of counting! Or, once I cite a verse in the sense that most commentators understand it, and then someone has a different take on it, that now makes the verse I cited not count as a verse? Odd, indeed!

    And do you deny that there are hundreds of verses that call for people to repent, believe, follow, obey, make a choice, etc., and then verses that explain how God responds to those decisions? Those are the hundreds that I frequently reference, as I mentioned again at the beginning of the show on Jan. 29th.

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