Saturday, November 24, 2007

#3 (part b) Christ died for those who ultimately perish

Here's my next argument that Christ died for those who ultimately perish

Luke 22:
17And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
18For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
21But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.

This passage is the institution of the Lord’s supper. Christ gives the bread to the disciples (including Judas) and says that it’s given for you. My argument is simple:

P1: Judas was among those for whom Christ gave his body
P2: Judas was ultimately lost
C1: Therefore, Christ gave His body for those who were ultimately lost.

Calvinists try to deny P1 in two ways. Some say that “you” is general and doesn’t necessary include Judas. But this is a small group here, just 12 people. It’s basically direct address. Further, the parallel passage in Mathew says of the cup: “Drink from it, all of you” NASB and Mark says “they all drank of it”. So it seems all participated and all were addressed by “you“.

Other Calvinist’s try to claim that in verse 21 “but” should be translated “except”. As if the sense was that Christ died for all except Judas. The Greek word "plen" can mean except. Here's the Strong's entry for "plen":

moreover, besides, but, nevertheless
besides, except, but

An example of a case where plen means except would be:

Acts 8:1And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

The problem is if it were to be used in the sense of “except“ it would be within the same sentence or would be providing an example of something outside the category. In Luke 22 “but” is part of a new sentence, starting a new thought. So most people would reject this idea right of the bat.

But looking at the grammatical issue a bit deeper we find a different reason. According to "A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature" by Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, plen only carries the sense of except, if it is with hoti (ie except that) or used improperly was a preposition with a genitive. So if the passage had been written this way:

This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you, but the hand (assuming hand is genitive) of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.

"plen" could mean except. But hand is not genitive, it is nominative. Further, we had to remove "behold" to get it to work. So the sentence structure doesn't allow this reading. Plen could also mean except if it had been written this way:

This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you, but that hand of him that betrayeth me which is with me on the table.

But I had to insert that (hoti). I also had to add "which" to get the rest of the sentence to work. So we see that plen can't mean except in this case. We are left with a very clear statement from Christ where He says He gave His body for one who ends up ultimately perishing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

#3 (part A) Christ died for those who ultimatly perish

There are several passages of the word of God that teach that Christ died for those that ultimately perish. These passages don't teach that Christ died for all, because they only talk about specific groups or even one individual. Never-the-less, these are powerful arguments that Christ died for all, because they disprove substantially every argument that is used by Calvinists to show that Christ died for the elect alone.

I plan on examine 3 passages starting with Hebrews 10.

Hebrews 10:

26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

My plan here is to use the immediate context to shed some light on what exactly is being said here, then to provide three arguments based on this passage that Christ died for those who ultimately perish.

Examining the Passage

What does "remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" mean?

This isn't the first time in Hebrews 10 we read an expression like this. In verse 18 we read:

18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

This will help provide some insight into what is being said in verse 26. Verses 1-17 explain that Christ made His sacrifice once, not repeatedly as the Levitical priests did. Further, we are sanctified through His offering, but the Levitical sacrifices couldn't take away sins. So verse 18 is saying, that because Christ offered once, not repeatedly and because sins are taken away through Christ's one offering, there is no need for further offering, either by Christ or the Levitical priests. Christ's offering is done, no need to repeat it. The Levitical offerings never did take away sins, no need to do them. There is no more offering for sins.

The meaning in verse 26 is the same. Neither the Levitical sacrifices nor a second sacrifice by Christ will save them. There is no more sacrifice for sins.

What is the wilfull sin?

The theme of the book of Hebrews is the superiority of Christ's sacrifice to those of the Levitical priests. There are at least 11 comparison and contrasts in chapters 7-10. Each shows how Christ and the priests sacrifices were similar, and each shows how Christ's sacrifice was better. We have another comparison and contrast here. Those that sin wilfully against the Law of Moses are not as bad off as those who sin wilfully by counting Christ's blood as unholy.

Moses's law provided God's commands for living. They could not save, but they show God's standards. This is not a sin against the Law of Moses. Rather, this sin is made against the blood of the new covenant. After these "received the knowledge of the truth" they counted Christ's blood as as unholy. In short, it's rejecting Christ, not just rejecting the law.

What is "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries"?

Verse 22-25 speak of a "full assurance of faith" and holding "fast the profession of our faith without wavering" "as ye see the day approaching". This is talking about our assurance of salvation upon Christ's return. The judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries is what awaits those whom Christ does not save. In short, it's hell.

What is Sanctification?

Sanctification means cleansing and in this case the passage is talking about cleansing via the blood of the covenant. The covenant is the new covenant which the 8th chapter describes in detail and verses 16-17:

16This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

It includes regeneration and forgiveness of sins. Christ's offering establishes the new covenant and through His offering we are cleansed or sanctified. (verse 10 & 14) So sanctification here means cleansing of sins through Christ's blood.

So putting all the pieces together we understand the passage to be saying that those who sin wilfully by rejecting Christ's blood that cleansed their sins have no other alternative sacrifices to turn to for forgiveness and therefore have hell to fear.

So here's my argument that Christ died for those Who Ultimately Perish:

P1: If Christ did not bleed for someone, they cannot be sanctified by Christ's blood
P2: These were sanctified by Christ's blood
C1: Christ bleed for them
P3: These ultimately perish
C2: Christ bleed for those who ultimately perish

This argument is plain enough. The passage says they were sanctified by the blood of the covenant. Very odd if Christ didn't die for them.

This argument is bolstered by the phrase "there remains no sacrifice for sin". What no longer remains, once was. They used to be able to make sacrifices for sins under the old covenant. Now they cannot, because Christ's sacrifice replaced the old covenant with the new. So it would seem odd if they were able to seek forgiveness under the old covenant, but not under the new and better covenant. The substance would be casting a shadow shaped differently than itself. The phrase "the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified" shows that these people were brought into the new covenant by Christ's death. The phrase "remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" shows they were brought out of the old covenant by Christ's death.

Counter Argument?

Some argue that sanctify doesn't always mean cleans from sin. The one passage in the NT that may teach this is 1 Corinthians 7.

If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
15But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
16For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

This might mean that the unbelieving husband is lead to faith by the wife, as verse 16 seems to indicate. If this were the case there would be no passages using sanctification in a non-salvation context. But on the other hand perhaps it means that the husband is brought into a "clean" family and has some blessings from God and perhaps even some influences which help him avoid some sins. This would mean the person is sanctified, but not forgiven.

But in Hebrews 10 we are talking about sanctification through Christ's blood, not through a marriage. Christ's blood has everything to do with God's forgiveness of sins, marriage does not. The term sanctification is used in Hebrews 10 in verses 10 and 14 in relation to forgiveness as can be seen by verse 17. Why don't those verses provide a better context to define sanctification than 1 Corinthians 7?

Further, this counter argument would have to demonstrate not just that this sanctification is one that does not save. It would have to also show that this sanctification is not done by Christ's blood. But the passage clearly says they were sanctified by the blood of the covenant.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Upcoming 3 Arguments are Exegetical

The previous 7 arguments as to why Christ died for all men have been based on systematic theology, logic and history. The next three will be based on scripture and as such they are the strongest. The best is yet to come.

#4 Justification by Faith

The doctrine of justification by faith is the teaching that God pronounces sinners, who are believers, not guilty, based on what Christ has done. God counts our faith as righteousness, based on Christ.

Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Phi 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

This doctrine clearly teaches that the blessings Christ are applied to no one apart from faith. Those that have faith are justified, those that don’t are not.

Calvinists contend that Christ’s death saves those for whom He died. John Owens goes so far as to say Christ’s death immediately justifies those for whom He died. (see the first post on H.3.a of my tags)

From the doctrine of justification by faith I have a problem with this view. Christ death is provisional. It doesn’t immediately save. Rather it provides for salvation, and the blessings Christ obtained are applied to believers. I wasn’t born justified just because Christ has died for me. I was justified when I came to faith, based on what Christ has done. So Christ has died for people who are not yet forgiven. So we say Christ’s death has a provisional component. Again, the benefits of Christ death are not unconditionally applied to anyone and one could have his salvation provided for by Christ and not be saved. Calvinists only see the final aspects of Christ's work, but there are two parts: His death and justification. His death provides for salvation, justification saves.

Skins Game

Dallas is coming off a nice with over the Giants and are playing the Skins at 4 today. Based on where I live, this one's important to me. At church today I dressed my 16 month old son in a cowboys shirt. We both got some comments getting out of the nursery... My wife didn't like it much, but you need to teach your children right when they are young.

The Redskins have a good defense, especially their secondary. The boys need to get things going on the ground and to get TO involved early. We also need to get to Campbell, as I don't think he does well under pressure. We also need to shut down Portis and Betts.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Response to Wes (Compatiblist Arminianism)

Recently Wes (aka Remonstrant) asked me whether I thought Compatiblism was compatible with Arminianism. I responded here:

http://episcopius.blogspot.com/2007/10/is-compatibalism-mutually-exclusive.html#links

arguing that compatiblism was incompatible with Arminian Soteriology

and here:

http://episcopius.blogspot.com/2007/10/compatiblistic-agent.html
arguing that compatiblism could not use agent causation to explain responsibility.

Wes offer this counter:

“The usual notions, that in compatibilism, God is ultimately accountable for the acts and thoughts of His creatures, and God’s universal offer of salvation is not sincere, are not completely right. At least as it seems to me, especially when I could advance the claim that before the creation of His creatures, the usually omniscient God was somehow (How? Maybe God withheld His knowledge, or He factored certain contingencies in, or we can simply say He had created us free [in a compatibilist sense]) ignorant of the future choices of His would-be-created creatures.
In other words, God created us, but in a way that our natures (or souls) are not predetermined by His act of creation.”

From this I incorrectly assumed that Wes was not in fact a compatiblist in the strict sense.

However, Wes has clarified his viewpoint. He provided a quote from Tercel on a forum:

“God has natural knowledge. God decides he wants to create a world. God creates the souls of the people that are going to be in that world by an indeterministic process (thus God doesn't know the outcome until it happens). The agents themselves, once created, have compatibilistic free will. Therefore immediately after the creation of the agents God gains middle knowledge. (What makes middle knowledge not natural knowledge is that God can't know it prior to the creation of the agents because the creation of the agents is indeterministic) God, in his middle knowledge, examines all the possible univeses and creates the one he likes best.”

http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showpost.php?p=1043397&postcount=37

OK a few things here.

First off, just a word of caution about Tercel. He is an Open Theist and as such does not advocate the view he is putting forward. His strategy seems to be denying Molinism and forcing Molinists to either embrace Calvinism or Open Theism. That said, his tactics don’t make him right or wrong about this Arminian/Compatiblist view.

As for differences between this view and Arminian/Molinism three come to mind right of the bat. First, this view and Arminianism differ on the definition of freewill. Second, they differ on the definition of determinism. Third, they differ on the source of truth.

For Arminians, a person has freewill if the agent is able to do either A or B. Compatiblists often make this claim as well. But when pushed they explain that a person is able to A, if A is his strongest desire, or B if B is his strongest desire. So the ability to do either is only hypothetical. Man could have had the ability to do the opposite, given a different desire than he actually had, but in actuality he doesn’t have the ability to do the opposite. Arminians however, view mans power over alternative possibilities as actual, not just hypothetical. So on this point Arminians and Compatiblists differ.

Second, Tercel is defining determinism in terms of knowledge, not just causation. Tercel explains determinism in such a way that an event is indeterministic if no one is able to make a determination regarding the outcome. So far Arminians agree. Analyzing preceding causes will not yield certain predictions of the outcome. But Tercel pushes the point just a bit further. If anyone knows the outcome with certainty, it’s already determined. For Tercel it doesn’t matter if that knowledge is obtained only by looking at causality or if it’s know via other means. It’s determined. Arminians however disagree and think determinism relates to causality. So on this point Arminians and Tercel differ.

Finally, Tercel advocates that reality causes truth. So if I choose to put on a blue shirt, I have caused the proposition “I am wearing a blue shirt” to be true. Arminian/Molinists disagree. I caused the state of affairs to be. That is to say I caused the blue shirt to be on me. I didn’t cause the truth, just the state of affairs. Truth corresponds to the state of affairs. But the relationship between the state of affairs and the truth is logical, not causal. Causal relationships work temporally forward (ie the cause precedes the effect). Logical relationships are immediate and not temporally successive. So Arminian/Molinists don’t see the relationship here as causal. This is fundamental to Molinism, so as to not entail backwards causation. So on this point Arminian/Molinists and Tercel differ.

So in addition to differing on the views of soteriology and responsibly, Arminian/Molinists also differs from Arminian/Compatiblists in the areas of the definition of freewill, the definition of determinism and the relationship between reality and truth.

Does Tercel’s view solve the difficulty with responsibility and sincerity of the offer of the Gospel for other compatiblists? I don’t see how. Even if God’s creation is indeterminists and God doesn’t know the outcome, we still have a problem. God’s first act after creation of man’s souls is to determine all outcomes. So we still have God as the causal source of evil and we still have God making man an offer that He causes them to reject.

Friday, November 16, 2007

#5 God’s will to save

Many Calvinists argue that if God wanted to save people through Christ’s death and they don’t end up saved, God failed. But God can’t fail. So Christ’s death was never intend to save all people.

Regarding the will of God it’s vitally important to break the will of God down with respect to it’s object. If He want’s Himself to do something, His will is always done, for who can stop Him?

Daniel 4:35And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

But if He wants us to do something, His will may not be done.

Psalms 5:4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.

At first glance, this only seems to strengthen the Calvinist argument. They think they have Arminians in a trap. Either A) God failed for Himself to bring about our salvation or B) man, not God saves.

Neither alternative is acceptable to Arminians. So what was God’s intention regarding Christ’s death?

God saw a lost and dying world that He loved. First, love was the motivating factor in sending His Son to be the basis of salvation for everyone and whoever believed would be saved. Second, God wanted everyone to believe, so that they would be saved. Third, God wanted His Son to save believers. Fourth, He wanted to offer salvation through Christ to everyone so He wanted the message about His Son to be spread abroad.

Let’s break this view down and show where in scripture it comes from.

First, love was the motivating factor in sending His Son to be the basis of salvation for everyone and whoever believed would be saved.

Psalms 145:8The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
9The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

1 Timothy 4:10For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

Second, God wanted everyone to believe, so that they would be saved. This one perhaps is the most controversial point, so lets look at it in some detail.

1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

So people think this passage is not saying God wants all men to be saved, but rather all kinds of men. However, the context starts out talking about our obligation to pray for all men. So unless the context drastically shifts without warning (or unless we aren’t to pray for everyone) verse 4 is also talking about all men. But lets see what an interpretation like “all kinds of men” entails.
The passage says God “will have all men to be saved“. They imply that God “will have all “kinds” of men to be saved”. (move 1) If I were to point out that God saves men, not “kinds“, as “kinds” are abstract, they might respond that God “will have “some of” all “kinds” to be saved”. (move 2) If I pressed further by asking who are these “some” they may respond: God “will have all “kinds” of “elect” men to be saved.” (move 3) That’s a lot of implied moves. Quite complicated. Why not go for the simple reading?

Note that God doesn’t just want all men to be saved. This would fall into the trap the Calvinist posses above. (ie either God fails to save or it’s not God doing the saving.) But saving is not all God wants. God wants all men to come to the knowledge of the truth. That is faith. God wants everyone to believe so they will be saved. God still does the saving, after they believe, but He wants them to believe in order to be saved.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Some might object that the “us-ward” is the Church that Peter address in his letter. So the “all” is really the Church. But the Church has already repented. So this explanation makes no sense. The “us-ward” is the world. The context here is talking about end times. God is going to destroy the world, but He is waiting some because He is patient with the world and wants all to repent.

Here, as in 1 Tim 2, God wants us to repent. God’s will is for us to do something (rather than for Himself to do something.) As such, if the will of God is not doing, we not He fail.

Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

Here Christ wants to gather together the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but they were unwilling.
Some argue that Christ is talking about two different groups here. 1 is the inhabitants of Jerusalem and 2 the Pharisees Christ was talking to. So Christ wants to save group 1 (the people of Jerusalem), but group 2 (the Pharisees Christ is speaking to) are resisting His ministry.

But Christ is not in Jerusalem, rather He is going there:

Luke 13:22 And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.

Luke 13:31The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. 32And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. 33Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

Christ was in Perea, east of the Jordan. This was under Herod’s jurisdiction, but Jerusalem was outside of Herod’s jurisdiction. So Christ was not in Jerusalem, but rather heading there.
So it makes no sense to address those not living in Jerusalem as “Jerusalem”. Rather, Christ wanted to save the people of Jerusalem, but they would not repent.

Ezekiel 33:11"Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'

Here again, God does not want to destroy people, but rather wants them to repent. If they don’t do so, the will of God is not done. But they, not He, fail.

Fourth, He wanted to offer salvation through Christ to everyone so He wanted the message about His Son to be spread abroad.

John 1:7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

So God does want everyone to be saved, and yet He does not fail. Sending His Son to die for the elect alone would be inconsistant with this desire.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

#6 Unable to Forgive/Legit Offer

Let’s suppose that I offered you $100, but I didn’t actually have $100. Can my offer be said to be sincere? In the same way, the Gospel message is preached to all men offering them forgiveness. But if Christ is not the foundation of salvation for all men, 1) God cannot justly forgive their sins because Christ is not offered as their substitute and 2) the sincerity of the Gospel offer is in serious question, because God cannot fulfill it, does not want to fulfill it and causes it not to be fulfilled.

Many Calvinists are quick to counter that there can be no “run on the bank”, because God does not cause the reprobate to respond to the Gospel. But that’s besides the point. The sincerity of the offer and God’s inability to forgive are actual, rather than hypothetical. We don’t need to suppose a reprobate person to come to these conclusions.

Some Calvinists point out that those that reject want to reject. But this also is besides the point. The issue with regard to sincerity is not the desire of the one getting the offer, but the one giving the offer. We say God’s sincerity is in question, because He offers one thing, but desires another.

Some Calvinists point out that God causes the offer to be accepted. But under deterministic thinking, does He not cause the offer to be rejected? God’s causal determination of people does not alleviate the difficulty, but rather intensifies it.

#7 Sufficient for all, efficient for the elect

Many Calvinist’s affirm that Christ’s death was sufficient for all, but efficient for the elect. In doing so, they seem to embrace the position almost universally accepted by the church. But what do they really mean? They don't mean Christ's death can save the reprobate. Rather, they mean that Christ’s death would saved everyone, if God had willed it to be offered for all men. This removes its actual sufficiency and only makes it a hypothetical sufficiency. While it may be true that Christ would have had to suffer any more than He did to save more, had they been elected, it is not true that Christ’s blood can save them. Christ’s blood was not actually offered to God on the reprobate’s behalf, nor was His blood intended to be the basis of their salvation. The Calvinist position removes the provisional aspect of salvation talking the weight out of the historic position of the Church: sufficient for all, efficient for the elect. In this regard, Calvinists stand alone against the whole balance of Christendom.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tag org part 2

second half

A PROLOG, B GOD, C CREATION, D PROVIDENCE, E PREDESTINATION, F THE LAW, G THE GOSPEL, H SOTERIOLOGY, H.1 Conditional Election, H.2 Depravity, H.3 Christ's death, H.4 Resistible Grace, H.5 Perseverance, I THE CHURCH, W HISTORY, X DEBATES, Y COWBOYS, Z ABOUT ME

Tag organization

testing ways to organize tags into a tables of contents

1 PROLOG, 2 GOD, 3 CREATION, 4 PROVIDENCE, 5 PREDESTINATION, 6 THE LAW, 7 THE GOSPEL, 8 SOTERIOLOGY, 8.a Conditional Election, 8.b Depravity, 8.c Christ's death, 8.d Resistible Grace, 8.e Perseverance, 9 THE CHURCH, 20 HISTORY, 30 DEBATES, 40 COWBOYS, 99 ABOUT ME

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Giants Game coming up

We play the Giants tomorrow and then the Skins next week. From a division standings perspective, these two games will decide who will have the upper ground going down the stretch.

On paper the cowboys have the upper hand on the Giants. They are 7 & 1, the Giants are 6 & 2. The cowboys only loss has come by the Patriots, the best team in the NFL right now. The Cowboys beat the Giants in the opening game.

But the Giants have been on a real role, winning their last 6 games. They are playing in NY and the Giants were missing key players last go around. Patriots aside, NY will probably be the best team the Cowboys have faced to date. Philly and Chicago were good last year, but they have struggled this year, so really their opening day win against NY was there best win so far.

The Giants have a lot of weapons, Shockey up the middle, Burress on the deep ball a solid committee of running backs and to top it off Manning is finally playing like he isn’t just Patton’s spoiled little brother. So it’s going to be a tough one for our D. But I think we can do it.

#8 Disorder of the Decrees

Christ, by God's plan, is the sure foundation of salvation.

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (1 Peter 1:20)

When talking about God's plan, theologians talk about the order of the decrees. This is a logical, not a temporal order. Because this plan was from the foundation of the world, the issue is logically what is based on what, not temporally, which came first. On this issue Calvinists come in 3 flavors: supralapsarian, sublapsarian/infralapsarian and Amyraldian. Amyraldian's teach that Christ died for everyone. Sublapsarian/infralapsarians say God first decreed the fall, then elected some for salvation. Supralapsarians say God first elected some for glory other for destruction, then He decreed the fall.

The question at hand is relationship between the decree that Christ the foundation of salvation and the decree of salvation. What is the relationship between Christ's death and predestination?

Arminains and Amyraldians teach that God first choose Christ to be the foundation of salvation, then choose to save us. Supra and sub lapsarians teach God first choose us, then Christ.

This site has a nice table listing out the various views and orders of the decrees:

http://www.theopedia.com/Order_of_God

The implications on the extent of Christ's death is vast. How could Christ die only for the elect, if God had not yet decreed election? If the election of Christ comes first, Christ died for all. If God first elected, Christ could have died just for the elect.

In Ephesians 1 Paul says:

4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to
the good pleasure of his will,

We are chosen in Him, meaning Christ. Christ is the basis of our election and the foundation of our salvation. It doesn't make sense for God to choose us for salvation if He hasn't already chosen Christ as the Savior. Worse, it dishonors Christ if the Father has without Christ already made our salvation certain. Christ becomes the means the Father uses to save. The Father's decree, not Christ becomes the foundation of salvation.

So it makes sense that Christ was chosen before us. But if there were no elect (only sinners) when Christ's mission was decreed, how then could He be sent for the elect alone?

Friday, November 9, 2007

#9 The Truth requires you to believe a falsehood?

Christ is the Way the Truth and the Life and God is the Truth. We are commanded to believe.

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23)

A person who trust in Christ, believes Christ died for him.

So if Christ didn’t die for someone, the Truth requires that person to believe a falsehood (ie that Christ died for him).

#10 - So you can still call yourself a Calvinist

I don't normally hold to irresistible grace, but after Calvin did about everything he could to avoid saying Christ died for everyone, the Holy Spirit finally pinned him down and twisted his arm till he exclaimed:

The only Lord God, or, God who alone is Lord. Some old copies have, “Christ, who alone is God and Lord.” And, indeed, in the Second Epistle of Peter, Christ alone is mentioned, and there he is called Lord. But He means that Christ is denied, when they who had been redeemed by his blood, become again the vassals of the Devil, and thus render void as far as they can that incomparable price.

Calvin on Jude 4:

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom45.viii.ii.ii.html

New Series: Top ten reasons to believe Christ died for all men

D. V. I plan on doing a Jay Leno like top 10 list countdown on the top ten reasons to believe Christ died for everyone.

Owen's Death of Death - Chapter 7 - Section 6 (final section)

Owen's Argument Chapter 7 Section 6

P1: the strict connection between Christ’s offering and His intercession gives assurance to those who believe Christ offered for them
P2: Arminians think Christ may offer for those whom He does not intercede.
C1: Under Arminian thinking, those who believe Christ offered Himself to the Father for them have no assurance.

Scripture supporting P1:

“Who is he that condemneth? “It is Christ that died,” (Romans 8:34)

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.vii.vii.html

Refutation

The conclusion does not follow, because a strict connection between Christ’s offering and His intercession is not the only way to explain that fact that those who believe that Christ died for them have assurance. They have assurance because: Christ intercedes for those who believe. So it’s true that everyone who believes Christ offered for him has assurance, its not true because of P1.

C1 should read:

C1*: Under Arminian thinking, those who believe Christ offered Himself to the Father for them have no assurance, due to a strict connection between Christ‘s offering and His intercession.

Which would be true, but so what? Arminians have assurance for other reasons. As Romans 8 continues: yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

This was Owen’s 6th and final argument supporting his critical point in Chapter 7. Chapter 7 set out to prove:

Containing reasons to prove the oblation and intercession of Christ to be one entire means respecting the accomplishment of the same proposed end, and to have the same personal object.”

If failed to prove Owen’s point. As I demonstrated in the intro to this series on Owens, this point was critical to Owen’s whole argument. I a may come back latter and address other sections Owen’s wrote. Specifically, it might be interesting to go through Owen’s take on the “all” passages, Owen’s view on the will of God regarding Christ’s death, and his famous “double payment” argument. But that’s just mopping up the details. Chapter 7 is the critical point.
For now, I think I am just going to share my own thoughts on Christ’s death.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Owen's Death of Christ- Chapter 7 Section 5

Owen's Argument - Chapter 7 Section 5

P1: In John 17 Christ both offered and interceded
P2: Christ intercedes for the elect alone
C1: therefore, Christ offered for the elect alone

Scripture quoted in support of P1:

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4)

And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Hebrews 9:12)

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.vii.vii.html

Refutation

P1 & P2 are true but the conclusion does not follow. Just because Christ offered for everyone He intercedes for does not mean He intercedes for everyone He offers for. Christ's offering is the basis for His intercession, so of course Christ talks about both in John 17.

Owen's Death of Christ - Chapter 7 Section 4

Owen's Death of Christ - Chapter 7 Section 4

In this section Owens relies on arguments he makes in chapter 3. As such, his argument here lacks a full explanation in chapter 7. So I will bypass it and perhaps come back to chapter 3 latter.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.vii.vii.html

Owens - Death of Christ - Chapter 7 Section 3

Recap of Owen's Argument - Chapter 7 Section 3

P1: Christ's intercession is not vocal or supplication, but rather a presentation of Christ Himself
P2: The presentation of Christ to God is joined with the offering of Christ to God
C1: Therefore, intercession is joined with the offering of Christ to God

Scripture supporting P1:

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:12-14)


For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (Hebrews 9:24)

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.vii.vii.html

Refutation

P1 is false. Owens is confusing the offering Christ made, which is one time and before Christ sat down at the Father's right hand, from intercession which is ongoing and done from the Father's right hand. Intercession is vocal and a supplication. It's a prayer. In John 17 Christ prays to the Father to sanctify believers. He says:

9I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

And also:

17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (John 17)

How can Owens claim intercession is not vocal? It is a prayer. Owen's confuses the offering, which is the presentation of Christ's blood to the Father, with intercession, which is Christ's request of the Father to sanctify believers. Is it based on the offering? Sure, but we shouldn't confuse the two.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Owens - Death of Christ - Chapter 7 section 2

Here is Owen’s primary argument:

P1: A High Priest wouldn’t be fulfilling his duties if he offers a sacrifice on someone’s behalf, but didn’t intercede for them
P2: Christ is a faithful High Priest, fulfilling His duties
C1: therefore, Christ does not make an offering for someone without also interceding for them.

Scripture support for P1:

“If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 2:1-2


I support of his argument, he makes another:


P3: Christ offered His blood to God at the entrance of the holy place
P4: Christ entered the holy place by His blood to intercede for the elect
C2: Therefore, offering and intercession are two parts of the same tabernacle function



Scripture support for P3 & P4:


But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:7-14)



http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.vii.vii.html


Refutation


P1, P3 & P4 are incorrect. Offering and intercession are not part of the same ceremonial function. By examining the book of Leviticus, you will not find a single reference to intercession, prayer, entreatment, mediation or the like. What you will find is priests making sacrifices and offering them to God. So they should not be joined together as if they were two parts of the same duty. The passage Owens cites in support of P1 is 1 John 2:1-2:


“If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins.”


Intriguingly Owens leaves off, “and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” But that aside for the moment, the passage is not saying advocating and propitiation are two parts of one ceremonial function a high priest performs. It is true propitiation is the basis of advocation, but that doesn’t mean the two are not separate duties of a high priest.


P3 is false as is plain for the passage that Owens cites in support of his claim. It says goes into Christ goes into the holiest of holies to offer His blood to God. He has not already offered it.


P4 is false because 1) Owens is confusing offering with intercession (as is seen in P3) and 2) Christ’s intercession is done at the right hand of God after He has made His offering, and 3) the offering is once, but the intercession is ongoing.


Christ’s duty as Mediator (or Intercessor) starts after and based on His offering His blood to God. Once Christ offers His blood to God, He sits down and from there He advocates for us. Which Christ sitting at God’s right hand, we have no need to fear approaching the throne in a time of need.


How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:14-15)


Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,
a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. (Hebrews 8:1-2)


Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

By contrasting Hebrews 7 with Hebrews 10, we should note that the offering is one time, but intercession is continual. Therefore they are different duties of a high priest.


The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:23-25)

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Owens - Death of Christ - Chapter 7 section 1

Chapter 7 Section 1

Owens Argument #1

P1: intercession is inseparably connected with oblation
P2: Christ’s intercession is made for the elect alone
C1: Therefore, Christ’s oblation was made for the elect alone

Scripture support for P1:

“By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities,” . “He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors; Isaiah 53:11-12

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Romans 8:32-34

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.vii.vii.html

Refutation

P1 & P2 are valid, the conclusion does not follow. Just because Christ died for everyone that He intercedes for does not mean He did not die for others. The passages quoted do prove that Christ’s death is the basis for justification, but Owens’s conclusion does not follow.

Owens Argument #2

P3: Christ died with the intent of justifying those He died for
P4: not all are justified
C2: therefore, either Christ’s aim failed, or He did not die for all
P5: Christ’s aim cannot fail
C3: therefore, Christ did not die for all

Scripture support for P3:

“He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:25

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.vii.vii.html

Refutation

P3 requires clarification. If Owens means Christ died with the intent of immediately justifying those He died for, or justify them without also interceding for them, P3 is false. The scripture passage does not say immediately, or without intercession and based on passages teaching justification through faith we know that justification is not immediate and that Christ does intercede. But if Owens means that Christ died with the intention of everyone coming to faith and being justified, then P3 is true.

In which case P5 is false. Christ did come to save the world (John 3:17), but not all the world is saved.

Owens Argument #3

P6: Christ’s oblation was for an equivalent number of people as His intercession
P2: Christ’s intercession is made for the elect alone
C1: Therefore, Christ’s oblation was made for the elect alone

Scripture support for P6:

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Romans 8:32-34

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.vii.vii.html

Refutation

P6 is false. The passage’s scope is limited to people who have been justified. There is no reason to work backward from it and exclude everyone else from Christ's death. No one doubts that Christ’s died for them and that His blood has been applied to them through intercession. The passage does not address those who have not been justified. So while the passage does prove that Christ died for everyone He intercedes for, it does not prove that He died for no one else.

Review of John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ

Often Calvinists appeal to John Owen’s the Death of Death in the Death of Christ as the definitive work on the atonement. By simply mentioning the name they have thereby proven that Christ did not die for everyone, but rather for the elect alone. I intend to address some of Owen’s arguments.

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ is a difficult read. It’s massive, complex and quite detailed. Owen’s style is as much rhetorical as it is argumentative, which makes for volume. As such, Owen’s work is not as accessible to today’s reader as perhaps it could have been. So my strategy is to distill his arguments down to simple syllogism and then address them. I will not quote Owen’s text at length. It’s just too bulky and awkward. I will however, provide links back to the section I am addressing.

I plan on starting at chapter 7.

Chapter VII.

"Containing reasons to prove the oblation and intercession of Christ to be one entire means respecting the accomplishment of the same proposed end, and to have the same personal object."

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.vii.vii.html

This chapter is perhaps the most important in the whole work, because its vital to Owen’s entire argument. It’s Owen’s attempt to hold the ship together. To see the problem and importance of this chapter, we have to look at the introduction.

Owens lays out 5 effects of Christ’s death: 1) reconciliation, 2) justification, 3) sanctification, 4) adoption and 5) eternal inheritance. He then goes on to argue:

"Now, the masters of this opinion [ie that Christ died for everyone] do see full well and easily, that if that be the end of the death of Christ which we have from the Scripture asserted [ie the 5 points above], if those before recounted be the immediate fruits and products thereof, then one of these two things will necessarily follow:— that either, first, God and Christ failed of their end proposed, and did not accomplish that which they intended, the death of Christ being not a fitly-proportioned means for the attaining of that end (for any cause of failing cannot be assigned); which to assert seems to us blasphemously injurious to the wisdom, power, and perfection of God, as likewise derogatory to the worth and value of the death of Christ; — or else, that all men, all the posterity of Adam, must be saved, purged, sanctified, and glorified; which surely they will not maintain, at least the Scripture and the woeful experience of millions will not allow. Wherefore, to cast a tolerable colour upon their persuasion, they must and do deny that God or his Son had any such absolute aim or end in the death or blood-shedding of Jesus Christ, or that any such thing was immediately procured and purchased by it, as we before recounted; but that God intended nothing, neither was any thing effected by Christ, — that no benefit ariseth to any immediately by his death but what is common to all and every soul, though never so cursedly unbelieving here and eternally damned hereafter, until an act of some, not procured for them by Christ, (for if it were, why have they it not all alike?) to wit, faith, do distinguish them from others. Now, this seeming to me to enervate the virtue, value, fruits and effects of the satisfaction and death of Christ, — serving, besides, for a basis and foundation to a dangerous, uncomfortable, erroneous persuasion"

Words in brackets were mine as was the bolding of "immediately".

If you stopped reading half way through the quote, perhaps you can appreciate my point about Owen's style, but please do go back and finish, as its important. As we go forward, if anyone thinks I missummarize Owens, please let me know.

Notice that little word "immediately". Owens is sharp. He knows the Arminian position is that Christ’s work is in two parts, His death and the application of His blood in the life of the believer. This first part Christ accomplished on the cross for everyone, the second part is accomplished through intercession and is for the believer alone. Owen’s knowing this is why he uses the word immediately, ruling out any two step process. He has to tie Christ’s death so closely with His intercession that there can be no room for one to be for all men and the other only for the elect.

The problem is if Christ's death immediately 1) reconciles us to God, 2) justifies us 3) sanctifies us, 4) adopts us and 5) gives us an eternal inheritance, there is no room for justification through faith. I was justifed in 33 AD and was born justifed. I was not justified when I came to faith. But this is clearly inconsistent with scripture. Further, what's the point of Christ's interceding? He is already done.

In spite of this clear problem, Owens goes on in attempting to tie Christ's death and intercession together. Let’s see how he does.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Nice to get a win in Philly

After what the Eagles did to us last year, it's quite satisfying to come to their home town and blow them out. The Cowboys played great. Romo looked good and Owens was on fire. MB III and Julius both looked good. Our offense is really tough to keep up with. The Eagles came out firing and looked like they would put up a good fight, but they couldn't keep it going.

This was the first of a three game divisional stretch. Next is the Giants and then the Skins. Both of those games have bigger playoff implications than this one, but for me beating the Eagles is about as good as it gets.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Is Agent Causation ex nihilo creation? - Divine Concurrence

Here are Arminius thoughts on concurrence:

IX. The last efficiency of God concerning the Beginnings of sin, is the divine concurrence, which is necessary to produce every act; because nothing whatever can have an entity except from the first and chief Being, who immediately produces that entity. The concurrence of God is not his in, mediate influx into a second or inferior cause, but it is an action of God immediately flowing into the effect of the creature, so that the same effect in one and the same entire action may be produced simultaneously by God and the creature.

Though this concurrence is placed in the mere pleasure or will of God, and in his free dispensation, yet he never denies it to a rational and free creature, when he has permitted an act to his power and will. For these two phrases are contradictory, "to grant permission to the power and the will of a creature to commit an act," and "to deny the divine concurrence without which the act cannot be done."

But this concurrence is to the act as such, not as it is a sin: And therefore God is at once the effector and the permittor of the same act, and the permittor before he is the effector. For if it had not been the will of the creature to perform such an act, the influx of God would not have been upon that act by concurrence. And because the creature cannot perform that act without sin, God ought not, on that account, to deny the divine concurrence to the creature who is inclined to its performance. For it is right and proper that the obedience of the creature should be tried, and that he should abstain from an unlawful act and from the desire of obeying his own inclinations, not through a deficiency of the requisite divine concurrence; because, in this respect, he abstains from an act as it is a natural good, but it is the will of God that he should refrain from it as it is a moral evil.

http://www.godrules.net/library/arminius/arminius28.htm

Our actions have two causes, us and God. We specify, God gives existence. If I choose to put on a blue shirt, I specify that the shirt is on me and not in my closet, and God causes the shirt to exist and not be nothing.

God is not acting through me to bring about the shirt being on me. That’s what Arminius means that God is not a mediate influx into the second or inferior cause. The reason for this is because God’s power to bring about the shirt’s being on me would be complete, lacking nothing. I wouldn’t contribute anything. So I would no longer be a secondary cause. If God influxes into secondary causes, He would be the only cause of everything, to the exclusion of all secondary causes.

Rather, as Arminius said, God acts immediately on the effect of the creature. The causation looks like this:

God > Me > Blue shirt
.......God.......^

I am causing the blue shirt to be on me, God is causing it to exist. So God alone creates and conserves. Freewill does not create, as the effects have a double cause, us and God. God alone gives existence.

Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Compatiblist Argument

Many Calvinist argue that our actions either happen randomly or by a cause. Jonathan Edwards argues something of this sort in Freedom of the Will.

This is a tough argument. We can’t really explain why we choose what we do.

We can look at the various factors in a choice. There are many things that are necessary to make a choice, such as the object that we choose (let’s say icecream) and the desire to choose it. We need the object and the desire to be able to choose it. But in some cases we eat icecream and in some cases we don’t. So the object and desire are necessary for choice, but not sufficient for choice. That is to say, we don’t act on every desire and no object is selected all the time.

So it’s tough to answer the argument. And the reason this is the case is because we can’t ask why indefinitely. If we, the agent, are the source of our actions, then we can’t seek a further source. In indeterministic causation, the chain of causes stops and a new chain originates with an indeterministic cause. So we can’t ask what the cause was. That begs the question against indeterministic causation.

This seems unsatisfying for a compatiblist. But the tables can be turned on their argument rather quickly. What exactly causes our choices and how do these causes impact our wills? I am not looking for something general, or what is needed for choices. Give me the specifics. I think compatiblists will have as hard a time answering these questions as libertarians have answering why we choose what we do.

Further, we have an example of an indeterministic cause. That is to say a cause which was not preceded by a previous cause. That is God. If He is the uncaused cause, than nothing caused Him to do what He did. Was God’s first act random or caused? Neither. He’s proof of freewill.

Free will

Phm 1:13 whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel;
Phm 1:14 but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.

Paul could have asked Onesimus, Philemon’s escaped servant, to stay with him and help him in the gospel work at Rome. In this way Philemon would benefit Paul’s ministry. But Paul wanted Philemon to have a choice in the matter.

The bible says in many places that we have wills and make choices. How should we define choice? The term freewill is redundant. The will cannot be forced, it has to be free. In the same way, the term libertarian freewill is double redundant. Again, the will has to be free and at liberty to be a will.

But the term libertarian freewill does help distinguish between another viewpoint, compatiblist freewill. This is the viewpoint that the freedom of the will is consistent with determinism. Determinism is the idea that everything that happens had a preceding cause such that it necessarily happens and the opposite cannot happen. Man is free in the sense that no one is forcing you to do something you do not want to do. In contrast, libertarian freedom is the idea that we are able to do otherwise than what we will do. Do even if I choose to put on a blue shirt today, I could have chosen a red one. The compatiblist denies this and says that based on all preceding causes, I had to put on the red one.

Notice is said “put on” but not “choose”. I don’t think what the compatiblist calls choice can be called choice. Choice is a selection between alternatives. For the compatiblist, putting on the red shirt was impossible. So was it really an alternative? It looked like one, but it wasn’t something I was able to do. So if we are able to choose between alternatives, then the alternatives must be something we are able to select. So I don’t think what the compatiblist calls choice can actually be a choice. But the bible says we are able to make choices.

There’s another reason why I am hesitant to call what a compatiblist calls choice, choice. People have the ability to reason and the ability to desire and these abilities are part of man’s immaterial soul. If a mad scientist were to dissect me, they wouldn’t find my will. Isn’t not just a matter of gene mapping, there’s a ghost in the machine. The compatiblist claims something caused me to choose a blue shirt. Perhaps it was matter in my brain, or perhaps my genes or perhaps the circumstances, or perhaps some combination of them. This would make sense if my will were physical. What exactly do these causes do to my will? Move it? It’s not physical. Efficient causation refers to motion. These causes could skip my immaterial soul and act on my body making me put on the blue shirt. But the bible says we have souls and wills.

Upcoming Eagles Game

We have the Eagles coming up this week on Sunday night in Philadelphia. They scare me. Not because of their brilliant record, the Eagles are having a tough year so far. Its just that I know that it will be sheer hate driving them on. They will be fired up for the game and come at us with everything they have.

The keys to the game will be scoring points on that tough defense. We need to get Owens and Whitten involved early and get ahead. I don’t think the Eagles could keep up with us in a blow for blow contest. They will try to shut us down early and force a defensive/field position battle.
On defense, I think stopping Westbrook has to be priority 1. That means all facets of his game, he can hurt you as a receiver just as much as a runner. William and Hamlin need to step up big time. We also need to get to McNabb like the Giants did.

I really would love to see us beat the Eagles in Philadelphia. Don’t let the records fool you, this is going to be a battle.

Friday, November 2, 2007

2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2Co 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

What a wonderful passage. God through Christ was reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them. Hard to explain if you don't think Christ died for everyone. But many Calvinists say that the world only means the elect. They are quick to point out if there sins aren't counted against them, and if they are reconciled to God, then they are saved. So the world must mean only the elect. Hum...

Perhaps the right sense to the passage is God is in the process of reconciling the world and not counting sins against people. I think this is the interpretation many Arminians ascribe to the text. But I am not sure this is right either.

I think the right sense is that man broke the first covenant, the Law. God is angry at man and has every right to destroy us all. But He doesn't, at least not yet. Why? Because of what Christ has done. Christ established a new covenant in which the just shall live by faith. In this new covenant, Christ worked out a peace agreement between God and man. There is a reason God does not instantly destroy man. God doesn't yet bring us to account for our sins. He waits, because of the covenant Christ is the Mediator of. As Mediator, Christ sets up the covenant and brings believers to God through the terms of the covenant. God holds up on judgement and justifies believers. This is how the world is reconciled to God and if they don't act treacherously under the new covenant through unbelief, they will be saved. Hence the two reconciliations mentioned in the passage. God is reconciling the world and Paul is given the ministry of reconciliation saying be reconciled to God.

Translation of Romans 9

I recently read through Romans 9 looking at the Greek. I compared the Westcott & Hort to the Texus Receptus. There were not significant variants. I also looked at the various ways words could be translated and why the translators chose what they did. For the most part, I was good with the King James Version, which is based on the Texus Receptus. I also liked the New American Standard Bible, which is based on the Westcott and Hort. Below are my notes. I started in verse 4 and when to verse 24. In verses I skipped, I didn’t come up with anything different than the King James.

Verse 7:

(KJVA) Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

(NASB) nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED."

ουδ οτι εισιν σπερμα αβρααμ παντες τεκνα αλλ εν ισαακ κληθησεται σοι σπερμα

The last word in the translations klethesetai can be translated either called or named. The named translation makes better sense in the context as the passage is talking about Abraham’s descendants. This points back to the original promise God gave Abraham being fulfilled through Isaac.

Verse 8:

(KJVA) That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

(NASB) That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.

τουτ εστιν ου τα τεκνα της σαρκος ταυτα τεκνα του θεου αλλα τα τεκνα της επαγγελιας λογιζεται εις σπερμα

The last word sperma can be translated either seem (literally sperm) or descendent (what the sperm brings about). Based on the context, descendent is the better translation.

Verse 9:

(KJVA) For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.

(NASB) For this is the word of promise: "AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON."

επαγγελιας γαρ ο λογος ουτος κατα τον καιρον τουτον ελευσομαι και εσται τη σαρρα υιος

of promise - genitive literally the promise's word. The word coming from God’s original promise to Abraham.

Verse 11:

(KJVA) (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

(NASB) for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,

μηπω γαρ γεννηθεντων μηδε πραξαντων τι αγαθον η κακον ινα η κατ εκλογην προθεσις του θεου μενη ουκ εξ εργων αλλ εκ του καλουντος

The manuscripts have two insignificant varians. Westcott & Hort have
“bad” but Texus Receptus has “evil”. Westcott & Hort have God’s purpose but Texus Receptus has purpose of God.

“Might remain” (subjunctive of meno) - God was making His original purpose remain by saying to Rebecca that the older will serve the younger.

Him who calls could be translated God’s calling. Καλουντος is a present active participle genitive singular masculine. It indicates a present ongoing action that is possessive of something. Since it has an article and no subject, it’s a substanative (ie standing in the place of a subject). Thus “the One” or “God” is implied in the text. But is the focus on the person performing the action (ie the one calling) or on the action (God’s calling)? The text is unclear. Most translations go with the one calling, which grammatically is an adjective participle acting as a substanative. Only the Net Bible goes with “His calling” which is a substanative participle.

Verse 15:

(KJVA) For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

(NASB) For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION."

τω γαρ μωση λεγει ελεησω ον αν ελεω και οικτειρησω ον αν οικτειρω

In this verse I would translate things differently than the KJV on two points.

First, the phrase I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy should be I will have mercy on whom I have mercy. The first part is future tense, but the second part is present tense. The same is true of compassion.

Second, Whom I have mercy should be whomsoever. There are two factors that make this indefinite. In the Greek before whom there is an untranslatable conditional particle “an” indicating uncertainty. Second, have mercy is a subjunctive verb indicating uncertainty. Hence whom should be whomsoever.

Verse 19:

(KJVA) Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

(NASB) You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?"

ερεις ουν μοι τι ετι μεμφεται τω γαρ βουληματι αυτου τις ανθεστηκεν

Find fault is in the middle voice (ie blame for himself). Why does God find a reason within Himself to blame them?

Verse 20:

(KJVA) Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

(NASB) On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?

μενουνγε ω ανθρωπε συ τις ει ο ανταποκρινομενος τω θεω μη ερει το πλασμα τω πλασαντι τι με εποιησας ουτως

There is a play on words here between plasma & plasanti. The thing molded and the one molding. Plasma is a subject case noun. Plasanti is a susbstanative participle, focused on the implied person performing the action and taking the timing of the main verb, which in this case is erei (will speak) which is future tense. So the sense is God will be molding at the same time the question is asked.

Verse 21:

(KJVA) Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

(NASB) Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

η ουκ εχει εξουσιαν ο κεραμευς του πηλου εκ του αυτου φυραματος ποιησαι ο μεν εις τιμην σκευος ο δε εις ατιμιαν

Exousian has the sense of authority, rather than power.

Verse 22:

(KJVA) What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

(NASB) What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

ει δε θελων ο θεος ενδειξασθαι την οργην και γνωρισαι το δυνατον αυτου ηνεγκεν εν πολλη μακροθυμια σκευη οργης κατηρτισμενα εις απωλειαν

Katertismena "prepared" is passive. This in contrast to verse 23 προητοιμασεν "prepared" which is active. Verse 22 leaves open the possibility that they prepared themselves for destruction, verse 23 is clear God prepared some for glory.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Romans 9 Debate

Turretinfan has agreed to a debate on the correct interpretation of Romans 9. We have yet to work out the timing, rules and resolution but will be doing so shortly, DV.

In the mean time I have been going through Romans 9 and translating it. At the time I wrote this article:

http://www.geocities.com/freewilltheology/romans9.html

I hadn't yet studied Greek. So far, my reviewing the chapter in Greek only provides minor modifications to my understanding of the chapter. When I have finished I plan on posting a few translation notes.