Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Paul’s use of Deuteronomy 30 in Romans 10


Romans 10 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is thatthey may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have azeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking toestablish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness toeveryone who believes.
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the personwho does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not sayin your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into theabyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you,in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)because,if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in yourheart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with themouth one confesses and is saved. 11 Forthe Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put toshame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew andGreek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on allwho call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of theLord will be saved.”

Deuteronomy 30
11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it faroff. 12  It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Whowill ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and doit?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us andbring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But theword is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you cando it.

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good,death and evil. 16 If you obey thecommandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that youare entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear,but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18  I declare to you today, that you shall surelyperish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth towitness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life,that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the landthat the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac,and to Jacob, to give them.”

Background
In Romans 10, Paul distinguishes between the righteousness which is by the law and therighteousness which is by faith.  The Jews are seeking their own righteousness through the law rather than God’s righteousness, but Christ is the end  (orgoal or both end and goal) of the law. But God’s righteousness is through belief in Christ, not through the works of the law. The law lays out God’s commands, but the gospel says salvation isthrough believing in Jesus Christ. 

In Deuteronomy 30, after giving the law, Moses challenges the Jews to obey.  To motivate the Jews to do so, he speaks of the goal or receiving blessing and life rather than curse and death.  He also appeals to the means of obedience being accessible and obtainable, removing excuses and putting the weight on the Jews to choose life rather than death. The law is “not too hard” nor is getting it the impossible task of “ascending to heaven” and since God has put the law in your mouth and heart: “you can doit”.
 
The Problem
In Romans 10, Paul quotes Moses in Deuteronomy 30 to support his point that righteousness and life is through belief in Christ, rather than obedience to the law.  He does so in contrast to the law’s message of “the person who does the commandments shall live by them”.  But part of Moses’ message is that if you obey the commands, you will live. 

NT authors quoting the OT often reveal how they interpret the OT texts, but they are notwriting commentaries on the OT.  So somelatitude may be granted between interpreting the OT and applying it.  But has Paul gone too far?  At first glance, Paul’s use of Deuteronomy 30looks not only out of context, but against Moses’ main point.

A Second Look
This initial question is answered by looking a little closer at both Deuteronomy 30 and atRomans 10.  
Moses was speaking to the Israelites on the cusp of God giving them the land He promised Abraham(Deuteronomy 30:5).  God had redeemed themout of Egypt and was dwelling in their midst. God was promising mercy to the penitent; not just blessing (Deuteronomy30:3).  God promised to circumcise theirheart so they would love Him and live (Deuteronomy 30:7).  In short, God was speaking to Israel as believers.

God’s putting His law in the Israelites hearts enabled them to obey and renders it useless togo somewhere else to get God’s law. So Moses goes beyond discussing the barecommands; he is commenting on God’s promise of grace which enables believers toobey the commands via circumcising their hearts and he implies the uselessness of seeking righteousness somewhere else.

Now let’s relook at Paul’s quotation of Moses.  First, Paul starts, not with Deuteronomy 30, but with Deuteronomy 9:4 “Do not say inyour heart…”.  In Deuteronomy 9, God promises to drive out the nations and give Israel the land He promised thePatriarchs.  But three times, God warnsthe Israelites not to credit this success to their own righteousness.  Their success will be due to the sins of thenations as well as God’s fulfilling His promise to Abraham.  As if this triple warning was not enough, Godreminds Israel of their sinful stubbornness and idolatry in the golden calfepisode and how they were almost destroyed.

Paul’s lead in with Deuteronomy 9 helps better understand Deuteronomy 30.  Moses is not saying the Israelites can earn or merit the land through righteousness; though he does warn they can lose the land through disobedience.   If they remain in the land, it’s due to God’s promise, not their earning it.  Even theirremaining in the land by making the right choices is only possible because God circumcises their hearts and puts His laws in their hearts.  But again, such obedience does not earn life,and seeking life through the law is as useless as trying to go to heaven to getanother law.   Since the law points us toChrist, Paul speaks of the revelation of God’s law as the revelation ofChrist. 

In summary, Paul’s quotation of Deuteronomy 30 is on point, because Deuteronomy 30 is not about earning life through the law, but rather God’s promise to give Israel the land and His graciously enabling them to obey and remain in the land.  Theologically, the law brings frustration and fear to unbelievers who cannot obey, but to believers it reminds us of God’sgrace and promises.  If we obey, we gainassurance of eternal life.  If we disobey, it points us to Christ, to whom all true believers will turn. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Roman Catholic Research & Interpretation



In Ineffabilus Deus, Pope Pius IX’s declaration of the Immaculate Conception (the idea that Mary was born without original sin), the Pope referred to sanctions issued by previous Popes, forbidding interpreting scripture or the fathers in a way other than clearly asserting the Immaculate Conception.1  He then commissions a study by numbers scholars to get their opinion on the Immaculate Conception. 2    Of course, they are forbidden from giving him any other answer then the one he wants them to give.  There are a rot of problems with this approach, but one of them is that people’s opinions are inherently personal and ultimately can’t be outsourced. 

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1  "And therefore, against all and everyone of those who shall continue to construe the said Constitutions and Decrees in a manner apt to frustrate the favor which is thereby given to the said doctrine, and to the feast and relative veneration, or who shall dare to call into question the said sentence, feast and worship, or in any way whatever, directly or indirectly, shall declare themselves opposed to it under any pretext whatsoever, were it but only to the extent of examining the possibilities of effecting the definition, or who shall comment upon and interpret the Sacred Scripture, or the Fathers or Doctors in connection therewith, or finally, for any reason, or on any occasion, shall dare, either in writing or verbally, to speak, preach, treat, dispute or determine upon, or assert whatsoever against the foregoing matters, or who shall adduce any arguments against them, while leaving them unresolved, or who shall disagree therewith in any other conceivable manner, we hereby declare that in addition to the penalties and censures contained in the Constitutions issued by Sixtus IV to which we want them to be subjected and to which we subject them by the present Constitution, we hereby decree that they be deprived of the authority of preaching, reading in public, that is to say teaching and interpreting; and that they be also deprived ipso facto of the power of voting, either actively or passively, in all elections, without the need for any further declaration; and that also, ipso facto, without any further declaration, they shall incur the penalty of perpetual disability from preaching, reading in public, teaching and interpreting, and that it shall not be possible to absolve them from such penalty, or remove it, save through ourselves, or the Roman Pontiffs who shall succeed us.  (link)

2  That we might proceed with great prudence, we established a special congregation of our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the holy Roman Church, illustrious for their piety, wisdom, and knowledge of the sacred scriptures. We also selected priests, both secular and regular, well trained in the theological sciences, that they should most carefully consider all matters pertaining to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin and make known to us their opinion.

Response to Steve Hays on 1 Corinthians 10:13



Steve Hays and I had a previous exchange on if 1 Corinthians 10:13 teaches libertarian free will or not.  (link) Regarding the question of if “no temptation has overtaken you then that which is common to man” is a general principle Paul is applying to a specific situation as I think or if as Steve thinks, Paul has only the temptation of idolatrous apostasy in mind, I doubt I can provide an answer that is beyond a reasonable doubt.  Still I think the language itself makes it more likely than not, that Paul is applying  a general rule.  After all, Paul says “no temptation” rather than the temptation of idolatrous apostasy. 

I had said: Paul is applying a general principle to a specific situation, so even though idolatry is in view, that does not limit this wonderful promise that God, in His faithfulness, will not allow irresistible temptations.

Steve Responded: In Arminianism, sufficient grace is resistible grace. So the “wonderful promise” is that God will give Christians (including born-again Christians) resistible grace to resist temptation. Like using a leaky bucket to bail water from a leaky boat.




I struggled with what to say about this comment, but there’s not much benefit of the doubt I can give Steve here.  Steve seems (at least to me) to be saying if Arminianism were true, he would be ungrateful to God for giving him libertarian free will and resistible grace.  This is sort of the mirror image of Rodger Olson’s comments that if Calvinism were true, he doesn’t know if he could worship such a God.  I don’t feel that way about Calvinism; if somehow (in this life or the next) I discovered Calvinism is true, I would praise God.    

I had said:  Second, the context speaks of lusting after evil things, idolatry, sexual immorality, tempting Christ, and complaining. This seems broader than just idolatrous apostasy. Note the progression from lusting after evil things and idolatry in verses 6 & 7: "to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them." Lusting after evil things and idolatry are distinct, even if one is a slippery slope into the next.

Steve Responded: Of course, progression from lesser to graver sins, or the “slippery slope,” dovetails with my point. Idolatrous apostasy or sins leading to idolatrous apostasy.

No it does not, because 1) Paul’s inbound context is broader than just idolatrous apostasy and because 2) Christians sometimes fall into lesser sins and sometimes they don’t.  Without God’s enabling grace, we cannot but fall and lesser sins cannot but lead to ultimate apostasy.  But with God’s grace, no lessor sin can ever necessitate ultimate apostasy and God can always step in in stop the progression into ultimate apostasy. If Paul has in view God enabling us to overcome temptations for sins lesser than idolatrous apostasy, Steve’s view is undone. 

I had said: Third, most, but not all Israelites fell into the temptation and Paul's concern is that the Corinthians don't do likewise. But this means falling into the temptation discussed in the context is not impossible. Yet Steve thinks the apostasy of true believers is impossible.

Steve responded: i) Which means that those who slide down the slope into apostasy weren’t true believers. How’s that inconsistent with my position?  ii) As I’ve often pointed out on many occasions, we must make allowance for the nature of mass communication. Public letters make general statements that apply to some, but not all, members of the audience. iii) Dan himself holds to eternal security.


The inconsistencies in Steve’s position are that the historic examples Paul cites in the inbound context are and are not examples of ultimate apostasy and the God’s promise of enabling is and is not restricted to the elect.  This is like a see saw, the more you push down on the inbound context by saying the examples are not examples of true believers falling away, the less the inbound context supports Steve’s position that the passage is only about true believers falling away.

Point 2 is true, but after all due concessions can be made for a mixed audience, the inconsistency above remains because point 2 cannot be pressed to the point of God making untrue promises.

Yes, I hold to eternal security, but I think the most relevant difference between our views here, is that I see the examples and temptations as broader than Steve does.

I had said: Fourth, the commentaries Steve cites do not support his case. He cites Fitzmyer, Garland, Ciampa/Rosner. But Fitzmyer says "Christians may also rely on God for the ekbasis of lesser struggles throughout the course of life", so idolatry is in view, but the passage is not only about idolatry (see my points 1 & 2).

Steve responded: Dan gives us a mangled quote from Fitzmyer. Fitzmyer is weighing different exegetical options before stating his own interpretation. But his conclusion is that “in this context, Paul seems to be thinking primarily of trials involving idol meat or seduction to idolatry” (389).
This is misleading.  I quoted from Fitzmyer’s conclusion, not his lead in analysis where he weighed different options.  Also, note that Fitzmyer says “primary”, but Steve requires “only”.  Unlike Fitzmyer, Steve cannot allow a single case of God enabling a believer to avoid any temptation that the believe ends up falling into.  Fitzmyer, Steve’s own source, is plainly against Steve.


I had said: Likewise, Garland (and Ciampa/Rosner who follow Garland) says "He is not addressing the question of the security of the believer but calling attention to the pitfall of being careless because of overconfidence (Robertson and Plummer 1914:208). " But Steve's case hinges on this passage only being about the security of the believer (see my point 3). So Steve's own sources move against him.


Steve Responded: Dan is doing a bait-n-switch. In my response to Dan I didn’t mention eternal security. All I said was: “In context, the passage isn’t dealing with temptation in general, but idolatrous apostasy in particular. That’s been documented by standard commentators, viz. Fitzmyer, Garland, Ciampa/Rosner.”


My point is that the overall interpretations of the commentaries Steve cites are against his view.  Now if Steve’s only point was that one and only one aspect of Garland & Ciampa/Rosner agree with him, OK.  But let’s be clear on what that point of agreement is.  It’s not the nature of the sin or temptation Paul has in mind. Steve and Garland disagree on that and that’s an important point; enough to overthrow Steve’s overall theological point that the passage does not teach libertarian freedom.  The explanations of Fitzmyer, Garland and Ciampa/Rosner (Steve’s own sources), lead to the unavoidable conclusion that 1 Corintians 10:13 teaches libertarian free will. 

Steve’s agreement with Garland is the tangential point that Paul has some specific temptations in mind (even though Garland and Steve disagree on the exact temptations in view).

My primary point in linking to Ben was the number of commentators that agree with me and Steve didn't really contest that.  But the exchange between Ben and Steve is helpful (I thought Ben did a great job) and I hope people review it. (link)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Response to Steve Hays on Deuteronomy 30



Steve Hays continues to question the way translators have rendered Deuteronomy 30:14.  (link)  His primary reason seems to be the flexibility of the Hebrew, not some problem with the translators’ contextual analysis and selected rendering.  That’s like questioning most translations simply because they are translations. 

I had said: Other translations render it “so that you may do it”. While may sometimes means permission as in “mother may I” or uncertainty, as in “it may rain”, neither of these senses make sense of the verse. It’s not as if God is now removing sanctions against morality, or guessing if they will obey or not. Rather, may is equivalent to “can” and expresses ability or capacity.

Steve responded: "May" doesn't have the same nuance as "can."

Agreed, but I already walked through why this usage of “may” expresses ability rather than uncertainty or permission.  You can’t destroy the building in front of you by saying buildings have to be built.

I had said: No doubt accessibility and intelligibility are part of why the Jews are able to obey, but they are not the only factors. In particular, when the passage says the word is in their heart, it teaches the enablement runs deeper than having the written law. Men love darkness rather than light; so the issue isn’t just in our understanding, it’s in our desire or heart. So when God enables His chosen and redeemed people to obey, the enablement is internal rather than just external.

Steve responded: That it's in their "heart" is just a picturesque way of saying they know it. Bible writers often favor concrete images over abstract nouns. The "heart" stands for man's mental life. So that's still about accessibility and intelligibility rather than enablement.

Once the statement about “ability” has been overlooked, no doubt the rest of the analysis of the verse will suffer.

Steve said: As I demonstrated, the text isn't about individual choices, but the aggregate choices of a corporate body (Israel), where the majority effectively chooses for the minority, in spite of the minority.

This goes well beyond Steve’s previous statement that, “The passage isn’t confined to individual blessing and bane, but primarily concerned with collective blessing and bane”.  While it’s true that the passage has a collective aspect; it’s wrong to deny it has an individual aspect.  Steve’s one good step here was a springboard into a mistake.

God often singles out individual sinners for punishment, or individual righteous for reward like  Joshua and Caleb entering the promise land, or God’s allowing Lot to escape or Rahab. Also group punishments are not always based on a collective choice or a vote.  Take original sin or Akin as examples; one sinned, yet the majority suffered.  This shows we should not confused collective rewards and punishment, with collective choices, since individual choices can have ramifications for one’s whole family or nation.  So while Deuteronomy 30 may have an aspect of national blessing or curse, it does not discuss a vote. 

Also, Paul’s use of this passage in Romans 10 shows the passage has an aspect that runs deeper than national Israel.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jeff's Wrap Up: The Bible Teaches Libertarian Free Will (Part 12 of 12)


Thank you Dan and Turretinfan for engaging in this debate on Does The Bible Teaches Libertarian Free Will and edifying the body of Christ. We like to also thank you the listener for setting time aside and joining us for this debate.

Just for a quick closing thought, we must remember this is an in house debate that has gone on for centuries in Christendom.  This is not a test of Christian orthodoxy but is still a very important secondary understanding.  We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind so we must wrestle with this understanding as revealed to us in Scripture.  This is what Dan and Turretinfan has done here in this debate.  They have challenged the opposing view while expounding their own position to the edification of the body for the glory of God.

What is not up for debate is the means of saving faith.  We all here agree that salvation is through Jesus Christ and Him alone.  The reformers taught that there are 3 components to true saving faith:

1)      Knowledge-one must hear and understand the gospel message
2)      Believe-one must believe the truth of the gospel message
3)      Trust-One has to put his trust sole in the life and death of Christ for his salvation

Romans10:9-11 reads:

That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” NASB

Romans10:14 says:

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? NASB

We can’t put our trust in a prayer or in our church attendance or in sacraments. We must put all our trust in Christ and Christ alone.  He must be Lord of our lives which results in a life of obedience.


John 8:31 reads:

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ”If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine.” NASB

And Luke 9:23:

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” NASB

We all must decide whether we will submit now as friends to the Lordship of Jesus Christ or later as foes, but make no mistake one day we will all bend the knee to His Lordship.

Thanks again to our debater’s and God Bless.

Dan's Conclusion: The Bible Teaches Libertarian Free Will Debate (Part 11 of 12)


Thank you Jeff and Turretinfan.  This debate has been helpful for me, in that it gave me reason to dig deeper into God’s word.  And that’s a good thing.  I want to say I appreciate Jeff and Turretinfan’s time and efforts that went into this. 
That said, I do find turretinfan’s view monstrous.  Rodger Olson finds divine determinism monstrous because God is ultimately behind the fall, every sin after it and the losts’ being in hell.  I find it monstrous for another reason. The scriptural evidence for determinism is like the lock ness monster.  There’s plenty of fuzzy photo’s and doctored evidence but no hard proof to be found for divine determinism. 
Arguments that turretinfan used like the hardening are irrelevant, because it’s an exception rather than the rule. Is anyone going to say that all the sins ever committed are the result of God’s hardening?  No way. It’s also insufficient because as I pointed out, the passages say that Pharaoh will not let the people go, not that he cannot.  And it contradicts TF’s own views.  What is the point of turretinfan’s compatiblism?  That in some sense Pharaoh could let the Jews go.  What is the point of turretinfan’s bring up hardening?  That in some sense Pharoah could not let the Jews go.
Well I will let you decide if turretinfan’s views make sense, ultimately.  He keeps going back to that the dictionary definitions work with determinism.  I will let you guys decide whether it does or not but to me it’s very very clear that it doesn’t.  We have one versus two.  One does not equal two.  You can’t say one and two are compatible.  You have one possibility or two possibilities.  That’s it.  It’s dead simple.
As far as 1 Corinthians 10:13, no temptation has overtaken you than that which is common to man, I have known that verse for my whole Christian life and I have claimed it in my day to day walk. The context is talking about grumbling and other temptations that are not ultimate apostasy, so to claim it’s only ultimate apostasy, if you look it up in commentaries you will see that approach is not how most scholars approach the passage and it’s not the way most Christians approach the passage. But it’s absolutely devastating to turretinfan’s position because it says we are able to resist temptation and sometimes we don’t.  So that means we are able to choose otherwise.
Also Isaiah 5:4, to say it’s hyperbole, I don’t know what to tell you.  The bible couldn’t be more clear.  God says what more could I have done.  I will just leave it at that.
As for me not establishing my case.  The bible says we choose, choose means select from a number of possibilities (possibilities plural, 2 possibilities) , selecting from an number of possibilities is the core notion of  libertarian free will, so the bible teaches  libertarian free will.
If God's decrees are such that only one future is possible and all our actions are necessary such that we cannot choose otherwise, then we cannot choose (in the sense of selecting from possibilities or alternatives).  But the bible says we can select from possibilities.  So turretinfan is wrong about divine determinism.
This is a hard challenge to all of us to look into God’s word further.  If I have in any way convinced anyone to take another look at any of these passages, then they have a long, long road ahead of them.  Have the courage to face yourself when it comes to reworking things.  If I have convinced anyone that choose means select between a number of possibilities and that’s libertarian, then you have a lot of theology to rework and it’s a big job and it weighs heavy on your shoulders; but know that if you pray and trust in the Lord, that God will be with you.  Thank you very much.

Turretinfan's Conclusion: The Bible Teaches Libertarian Free Will Debate (Part 10 of 12)


The first point that we should consider is that the affirmative burden has not been met.  If fact, all that scripture does is speak about choosing, which both on compatiblism and on LFW is the case. More significantly, scripture even speaks of the will being exercised, choices being made and God determining those things, hand in hand, which shows that those two things are compatible.  That’s the strongest evidence that we could get that those things are compatible and we haven’t had anything from the other side.  There’s no where in scripture that says the other way, that they are incompatible. 

Most of the argument has revolved around whether or not something is a real possibility if unbeknownst to us, God has determined which of the two possibilities we will choose.  In other words, what it comes down to is one side shouting more loudly that such and such isn’t a real possibility if in fact God has determined we will select the other possibility of the two possibilities.  Or that in fact nothing is possible, given the fact that everything is absolutely certain to occur. 

Now, those points skip over the fact that the bible is written in the common speech.  And was we elucidated at great and somewhat painful length, the ordinary sense of choose doesn’t normally have reference to God’s decrees.  We provided some examples in scripture where they do have reference to God’s decree, but in those cases, the choice is one way. In other words, in the Daniel case, there are certain things that he will do, things that he will choose to do, he will exercise his will.  But these are the things he will do, he will exalt himself above the God’s and he will even blaspheme the God of god’s.  These as things he will do, but God has determined they will occur.  Look in the context, you can see this is a prophecy, these are things that are certain to occur and these things are things God has determined.  God is not suggesting fatalistically that only the final judgment has been determined but the various enumerated items that are going to occur, will occur.

The question from the libertarian free will side, ultimately boils down to, not what does the scripture say; it comes down to what philosophical structure we impose on those words. There is not one case of the peg is square, the peg is square, the peg is square, where we are told the square peg doesn’t go into this type of hole.  In other words, you have a choice, you have a choice, but you don’t have a choice when God’s has determined.  If it has some sort of statement like that, perhaps we would have some sort of compelling case for incompatibly.  As it stands, from the standpoint of scripture, they merely say that men can choose and they say that these choices are compatible with God’s determination. 

The classic example that I provided in addition to the Daniel case, is the example of Christ’s crucifixion.  Which was the choice of the Sanhedrin and yet it was at the determinate council of God.  Now maybe someone will say that freewill is sometimes suspended, but these are acts (the ones that I identified, in fact the 7 men I identified) which men were held responsible for, which God determined what they would do.    So unless we are going to take an irrelevance position with respect to free will, in which they can be held morally responsible for things in which they had no free will, which would be a very strange point for a libertarian free will advocate to take.  If we grant they had responsibility and that responsibility is tied to it being voluntary, these are all voluntary acts and yet they were determined by God, which proves they are compatible and it proves it from scripture, unlike trying to prove that the philosophical meaning of possibility requires possibility not withstanding God’s decree. Which isn’t the ordinary meaning, as we explained many times.

Accordingly, since the burden has not been met, I respectfully request a vote for a negative ballot. 

Turrenfan's Cross Examination of Dan: The Bible Teaches Libertarian Free Will Debate (Part 9 of 12)


TF:  Thank you very much.  Do you believe God ordained the fall?

Dan: Please define ordained.

TF: ha, ha.  I see.  Did you provide in your affirmative constructive a definition of libertarian free will?

Dan: Yes, I said the essence of libertarian free will is the ability to choose something or not. I used the example of ice cream, the ability to choose ice cream or not.

TF: did you address the question of whether or not that involves the denial of the compatibility with determinism?

Dan:  No, not in my opening speech.  We just dealt with it in the last cross ex.  Specifically the one possible future vs two possibilities.  One does not equal two so one is incompatible with the definition of two.  One future, two futures.  One possibility, two possibilities. 

TF: Did you provide a definition of possibility?

Dan: No, would you like one?

TF: In the usual sense people talk about possibilities, do they have any reference to God’s decrees?

Dan: Let me give an example.  When I say something is possible, I mean it can happen.  There’s nothing in the way blocking it from happen or that sort of thing. 

TF: Do you know God’s decrees?

Dan: No.

TF: So in fact, could your comment be based on knowing God’s decrees?

Dan: No, and sometimes we think we are able to do something and we can’t.  Sometimes we are wrong.  But what I don’t believe is that we are always wrong and it’s an illusion. 

TF:  Your sense then has no reference to the decrees.

Dan: My sense is what it is; it’s not what it’s not.   I am saying what it is; I am not saying what it’s not.  I am saying it can happen.  I am not saying it’s not God’s decree or something like that.

TF: Right, so in other words, you have no reference to God’s decree.

Dan:  God’s decree is something that could stop it from happening.  So  when I say something is possible I mean that it’s possible; there is nothing getting in the way.

TF: Including God’s decree?

Dan: Yes, is God’s decree something that could prevent it?  Sure it is.  But I am not specifically pointing out God’s decree.  I am saying what it is, I am not saying what it’s not. I am saying its something that can happen.

TF: You have heard of the idea of apophatic theology and philosophy, right?

Dan: Why don’t you go ahead and draw that out a bit more.

TF:  That’s a theory of thought, where you understand things are, by understanding what they are not.  Like God is not a man.  That’s one thing we know about God, that He is not a man.  Now Jesus Christ is God and man.  But God is not a man.  That’s an apophatic statement.  We are defining God based on what He’s not.  He is not a creature.

Dan: Right, especially with the doctrine of God, obviously we are going to have to rely on that sometimes, because we can’t fully relate.

TF: So there is nothing wrong form the standpoint of epistemology to understand things with respect to what they are not.

Dan: there’s nothing inherently wrong with it but that’s NOT what I am doing.   What I am doing is saying it’s possible.   That’s all it is.  It’s something that can happen.

TF: and that statement doesn't have anything to do with whether God has determined or not determined whether it will happen. 

Dan: sure it does, because God’s decree is something that can impact what’s possible or not.

TF: But you don’t know what that determination is, so you don’t take it into account when you say such and such can occur. 

Dan: No.  When I say I can choose ice cream or not, I can choose chocolate or not; I am saying it’s an ability that I have.  It’s a possibility for me.  It’s one of my capacities. 

TF: But your not saying even if God has determined that I won’t.  Worse yet, if God has determined that I can’t.

Dan: Right.  That is true and if God has determined that, I would be wrong.  I would think that I can but I really can’t.  That was my point about illusion.  Maybe, sometimes, I think I can but I can’t.  But to think that we always think we can do something we can’t; that's wrong.  There’s a difference between seeing a mirage in the desert, every once in a while that will happen, but to take that and say we can never trust our eyes at all would be a bit extreme.  So that’s I would view this.  When I say I can choose chocolate or not, normally, that’s the case.  Sometimes, I might be wrong.  Maybe God has got a heart attack waiting for me.  So I say please give me the chocolate and I don’t end up eating it because I die.  Well, OK, God has a decree that prevented me and I was wrong in that case.  But to take that and extrapolate that everything is an illusion is a bit far fetched. 

TF: It it your impression that the compatiblist position is that everything is an illusion?

Dan:  There are a number of philosophers that do have to go down that road.  But most determinist philosophers now (I am talking about John Martin Fisher those Timpe or  Vivilen’s cite) they just deny the ability to choose otherwise.  What they go for instead is this semi-compatiblism where moral responsibility is compatible with determinism, but they go ahead and drop the ability to do otherwise. 

TF: well the ability to do otherwise wasn’t in any of those dictionary definitions you provided was it?

Dan: What it gives is multiple possibilities, the ability to select between multiple possibilities.  Plural.  So two possibilities, not one.

TF: But it didn’t say the ability to select both of them.  It just said the ability to select from those. 

Dan: From two possibilities, yes.

TF: Yes.  It doesn’t say you have the ability to select both.

Dan: You mean simultaneously, like having your cake and eating it to?  Your right.  

TF: It doesn’t specify that you have the ability to pick one and the ability to pick the other. 

Dan: It does, not in the sense of two futures realized at the same time. It’s one future or the other, both of which are possible.  That make sense?

TF: It doesn’t actually say, both of which are possible.

Dan: It says they are possibilities.  There are two possibilities. 

TF:  Right, but that’s the same way compatiblists talk.  And that doesn’t imply that both possibilities are both actualizable possibilities.

Dan:   I understand that compatiblists do say those things.  But they mean something very different than the normal sense.  And I explained that.  When I say, you can eat a hot dog if you want to, what I mean is I don’t know if you want to or not.  It’s epistemic uncertainty on my part.  What it is not talking about is, if you have a different desire than you actually have, then you would be able.  So what I am arguing is the sense you are using is NOT the common man sense and the bible was written to the common man. 

TF: And yet the ability to choose otherwise didn’t appear in any of the dictionary definitions you provided; except that you find it implied in the word possibilities.  But your survey suggest that it just means alternatives, in which case, we are back to no real endorsement of libertarian free will in any of the dictionary definitions you provided.

Dan: Well that’s not a question, but as I explained, “alternatives” are basically “possibilities” and I cited 12 and 11 definitions. So two alternatives is about the same as two possibilities.   And my case is based on two possiblities verses one.  You argued that there’s only one possible future given God’s decrees and I am saying the common man meaning of choose means select between possibilities, plural, meaning more than one, not just one.

TF: Of course the common man is only referring to perceived possibilities, right?

Dan: That is correct, yes.

TF: And man can’t perceive the decrees.

Dan: That is correct.

TF: So in fact there is no conflict. Correct?

Dan: The conflict is if you believe in determinism, you don’t believe that two things are possible.  Either epistemicly or ontologically.  Basically, you just don’t believe in twofold possibilities in an epistemic sense either. 

TF: You only believe it in a divided sense that divides out the decree, which is how everybody speaks, right?

Dan: No. No. No.  Absolutely not.  What I am saying is that you don’t believe in twofold possibilities.  When I say the epistemic sense, that’s probably unclear for folks so let me go ahead and explain.   The epistemic sense means what you know, so you might not know if something is possible or not, so I don’t know if I can choose chocolate.  What I am saying is based on determinism, you know that two things are not possible. 

TF: Right, the very definition of selection requires that only one of those things occur. 

Dan: That’s true, but what I am saying is you can’t believe two things are possible.  So epistemically, you can rule that out, you can rule out two possibilities. That’s just not on the table because you’re a determinist; you believe there is only one possible future, given God’s decrees.  So you have already ruled it out.  It’s off the table.

TF: In common terms if there is only one actual future, in common parlance there’s no possibility of any other things happening then what’s in the actual future. Is that correct?

Dan: Well that’s what I think determinism is all about.  So I think what you said is a fair statement of determinism. 

TF: Isn’t that they way people normally talk.  If they say X is inevitable, then they mean it cannot be otherwise.

Dan: Yes that’s normal, if X is inevitable, inevitable in the sense of unavoidable, nothing can avoid it, no power can avoid it, it’s necessary, nothing else is possible, yes, that’s determinism.

TF: OK, let me ask you this.  You had posed towards the end of your opening presentation that it would be difficult to live believing in determinism.  How would you live, believing in determinism?

Dan: That’s a good question.  I think you would just live with the contradiction.  I think determinist would have to contradict themselves to actually make a choice and the reason why I say that is you don’t think something is possible, then you just stop considering it, like Pilate; when he saw he couldn’t prevail, he moved on to other alternatives.  The fathers would often use the example of if fatalism were true, you wouldn’t take care or use measures, you wouldn’t be cautious or think about what your going to do because you don’t think about what’s impossible.

TF: now what’s the fundamental difference between Calvinistic determinism and fatalism?

Dan: Primarily, going back to the Warfield article, Warfield described the difference as Calvinism is personal, and fatalism is impersonal.

TF: And Calvinists believe that the ends as well as the means are ordained? 

Dan: Yes.  Yes they do.

TF: So that would be another distinction, right?

Dan: Well a lot of fatalists would affirm the same.

TF: not the fatalists you were talking about with the fathers though, right?


Dan: No they actually did.  Like for example, I think it was Irinaus who was talking about the cart.  So the example was a donkey hooked up to the back of a cart. He’s walking along, but if he decides to stop the cart is going to drag him along, but if he walks voluntarily behind the cart, even though he can’t do otherwise, he is going along with it.  And that would be a means that is included in getting where he’s going.  

Dan's Cross Examination of Turretinfan: The Bible Teaches Libertarian Free Will Debate (Part 8 of 12)


Dan: how should we go about defining scriptural terms?

TF: The best way define terms in scripture is of course to look at them in context and try to determine authorial intent.  See what the author was intending to convey.

Dan: Do you believe the bible was written to the common man?  To Israel or this or that church.  Was it written for the common man to read?

TF: Yes.

Dan: OK, do you believe dictionaries cite common usage?

TF: Dictionaries provide common contemporary usage, yes.

Dan: OK, do you believe the usage of the word choose has drastically changed over time?

TF: No, I didn’t take that position.

Dan: Ok, I was just wondering if that’s what you believed.  Do you believe an elect person can fall away and ultimately perish?

TF: I don’t believe that’s a question about anything I argued but to answer the question the scriptures teach that all those, who He called, He justified, and all those He justified, He ultimately glorified.   So that implies that all the justified people, will also be glorified people and that’s I believe in John 6. 

Dan: I guess my question is very precise.  Can elect people fall away and perish?

TF: I am not sure why my previous answer didn’t already answer that question.

Dan: You said that they will not, not that they can not.  I am asking can they fall away?

TF:  In the ordinary sense that people use can, if something certainly will happen, in the ordinary sense, no it can’t. 

Dan: So they can’t fall away in the ordinary sense.  Do you believe an elect person can drink poison and die?

TF: Yes.

Dan: so they can’t fall away, but they can drink poison and die.

TF: Yes.

Dan: Let’s say there is someone in the audience named John and let’s say God has decreed that John will listen to the whole debate.  Can John stop listening right now?

TF: No.  Because God can’t be wrong.

Dan: Let’s go back to the man in the comma.  I wasn’t talking about the man in the comma simpliciter, I was talking about the man in the comma if he chooses to eat ice cream, is he able?

TF: No he has no physical ability

Dan: he doesn’t have the physical ability to choose, but if he chooses can he eat the ice cream?

TF: He doesn’t have physical ability to eat because his brain is not in a conscious state.  It’s not interacting with his nervous system.

Dan: OK, I guess we will move along.  Does the bible ever speak of God treating us as if we are able to choose otherwise?

TF: God treats as if sometimes He doesn’t know what we will choose.  Sometimes he treats us that way and it has a particular didactic purpose.   It doesn’t mean He doesn’t know and it doesn’t mean what will be won’t be or couldn’t be.  So I suppose the answer to your question is yes, in the sense that He treats people as though they are able to choose something that they absolutely are not able choose in terms of what God has God’s decree.

Dan: Let’s move on.  Back to the 1 Corinthians 10:13 passage, do you believe Christians are able to resist temptations?
  
TF: Yes and that they will to.

Dan: Do you believe that Christians sometimes give into temptation?

TF: Yes, but not to the point of falling away.

Dan: So on the Isaiah 5:4 passage, oh, actually, let’s wrap up 1 Corinthians 10:13.  Do you believe the passage is only talking about ultimate apostasy?   

TF: Yes, I think it’s talking about ultimate apostasy

Dan: I said “only”.  Does it apply to Christians in their day to day lives, or does it only address ultimate apostasy?

TF:  I think that’s a false dichotomy.  I think Christians battle with sin is a constant thing. Ultimate apostasy is the loss of that battle.  Not victory over it, but Christians will overcome. 

Dan: Is the passage only talking about ultimate apostasy?

TF: Yes, right.

Dan: and what’s your reason for that?  Let me ask about a specify aspect in the context that I brought out in the opening speech.  The passage says the Israelites grumbled.  That doesn’t sound like ultimate apostasy to me, but does it sound like ultimate apostasy to you or is there a reason why you take grumbling as ultimate apostasy?  So do you take grumbling as ultimate apostasy and if so why?

TF: Yes, the precise reason is  it says:

 9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
 10Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
11Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
 12Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
 13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Dan: OK.  Let’s go to the passage in Daniel 11:36.  Can you read the Daniel passage?

TF:  36And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.

Dan: OK, what is the time of indignation that is going to be accomplished or completed? 

TF: When that time that will be completed is something that various interpreters have disagreed about. The people the interpret the third king as Antioch Epiphanies refer that time to the destruction of Jerusalem as I recall.

Dan: OK so it’s some judgment of God that is coming.  Is that fair?

TF: The judgment comes at the end of the indignation.  The indignation is what provokes God, so the judgment is sometimes called the indignation.

Dan: God is going to drop the hammer at some point?  

TF: Yes.  Because he outrages God to such a degree. Much like the Cananites, they had to fill up the wrath of God, which they hadn’t done in Abraham’s time and then in Joshua’s time they were wiped out.

Dan: So the passage says the anti-Christ (or let’s call him the third king); the third king will succeed up until the point where God drops the hammer.  Is that fair?

TF: That’s not what it says.  It’s not that he will succeed, but he will tick of God worse and worse and he will prosper. So it says in verse 35:

 35And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
 36And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished

And then it continues on, it says:

 37Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

Dan: Well that’s fine, I think you made my point. 

TF: No, no.  To answer that question, no I didn’t make your point.  I illustrated the fact that the time appointed and the things that are determined to be done are things that are determined to be done. So you have determination and will in the same verse.

Dan: OK, so let’s move on to your points about incompatibility.  Are you basing that primarily on Kane’s definition of libertarian free will?

TF: Well it’s not Kane per say, he’s the editor, but it’s a definition found in that book.  That’s what I presented as the definition, yes. 

Dan: Fair enough.  So in our first crossex, I asked if given God’s decree only one future is possible.  Do you still believe that?

TF: Yes, in the sense that, no one can make the decree of God untrue.  But that isn’t the normal sense when you say can this or that happen.

Dan: OK, what is that normal sense then of I can eat ice cream or not?

TF: well the normal sense has no reference at all to God’s decree.  In fact, most people who write dictionaries don’t even think about has God decreed this or that. 

Dan: OK, so what is the normal sense, positively, not negatively.  Not what it’s not; what is it?

TF: The physical ability or moral ability of man to make a selection.

Dan: Is that selection between possibilities?

TF: Yes.  Possibilities or alternatives.  We don’t have a problem with any of those in the compatibilist view. 

Dan: So there are two possible futures?

TF: Well we are not talking about possible futures, we are just talking about things we could possibly choose.

Dan: So there are two possible things that can be chosen?

TF: Yes, in the normal sense that’s what we are talking about. And the normal sense has no reference to the decrees. 

Dan: But I am asking what it is, not what it’s not. 

TF: I am clarifying that because I want it to be absolutely clear. 

Dan: OK, I think it’s clear.  Alright, this last question, I am going to ask you because if I don’t I will get my Arminian card pulled.   Is the fall, and everyone who ends up in hell and the sins of everyone listening right now, are they ultimately the result of God’s decree?

TF: Of course people have different conceptions of what ultimacy is.  Nothing would happen except God permitted it to happen.  So in at least that sense, then yes. But that is different than saying ultimate moral responsibility lies with God, which it doesn’t.  So there are different types of ultimacy people talk about, but in the sense that ultimately nothing will happen except that God decides that it will happen, then that’s true.

Dan: When you say permission, do you mean what many reformers mean by effectous permission?

TF: I am not sure how your trying to define that.  I am giving at least a minimal point that at least God permits without getting into the question of the efficaciousness of the permission; whether it’s a positive permission, or a negative permission. 

Dan: Do you believe that God ordained the fall?


TF: Yes.