Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Calvinism’s problems with Total Depravity

This post will be an attempt to add some detail to earlier comments about problems reconciling Calvinism and total depravity, using John Hendryx post as an example (here). To my knowledge, it’s a new argument against Calvinism. Most Arminians are quick to agree with Calvinists on total depravity to avoid being called semi-Pelagian. However, this in my opinion is a mistake, not because Arminians disagree with total depravity, but because Calvinists have some definitional and consistency problems with affirming total depravity.

Here's the basic argument:

Premise 1: Per Calvinists, total depravity is a problem with man’s desires, it is a moral and spiritual problem. However, the depraved person is not physically or mentally handicapped or under coercion. The depraved still choose, they just always choose wrong when it comes to faith in Christ and pleasing God.

Premise 2: Calvinists are compatible determinists. God’s decrees determines all things but we remain free in some sense. This freedom grounds moral responsibility and biblical statements of man’s abilities. This freedom is couched in man’s natural abilities. So long as we are not physically or mentally handicapped or under coercion, we are free. In this sense, Calvinists commonly say, if it’s true that you would brush your teeth if you wanted to, you are free and able to brush you’re teeth.

Conclusion 1: So the depraved man has the freedom to trust in Christ or please God (with freedom understood in the compabilist sense above). So per the compatiblist sense of freedom and ability, man is not totally depraved. (from P1 & P2)

This may not look bad yet, but if you have reached this conclusion, you’re going to end up with problems with the clarity of scripture, consistency, and even the authority of scripture.

For example:

Premise 3: The bible says man in a totally depraved state is unable to trust in Christ or please God (John 6:44, Romans 8:7, John 15:5)

Premise 4: The bible was written to the common man and it’s statements on abilities or inabilities are to be understood with common notions of abilities and inabilities. (Clarity of Scripture)

Premise 5: Calvinists apologists claim the compatiblist sense of freedom is the ordinary, everyday common man sense of man’s freedom.

Conclusion 3: So the compatiblist sense of freedom’s denial of total depravity contradicts scripture. (C1, P3, P4, P5)

Premise 6: Calvinists deny man has free will with respect to trusting Christ or pleasing God.

Conclusion 4: Calvinism is inconsistent, asserting depraved man can and cannot trust Christ and please God.

Now let’s turn to John Hendryx’s post.

JH: First, I want to assure you that I believe man is required to respond in faith to the gospel. But that does not mean that the natural man has a free will to believe in Jesus. I think the issue here is about definitions. It is important to define what we are talking about up front. When you say man has a free will, what do you mean? Free from what? Free from sin? Also let me say that if you think Dr. John MacArthur is arguing for free will then, I believe, you may have profoundly misunderstood him. He actually affirms exactly the same thing all other Reformed thinkers do about this issue.

I agree defining free will is vital. I know you were not asking me but if it helps, by free will, I mean libertarian free will. But right now I am more interested in what does Calvinism mean by free will.

JH: With him, we affirm that all men make voluntary choices and no one is coercing anyone against their will to make a choice. We always chose what we desire the most.

This grants premise 2. So long as we are not coerced or handicapped, we are free and able to act.

JH: But that is not the issue of the free will debate...

Which free will debate? I understand the freewill vs. divine determinism debate is different than the Pelagian vs. Total Depravity debate. But it’s not like Calvinism can say one thing in the freewill vs. divine determinism debate and then contradict those statements in the Pelagian vs. Total Depravity debate.

JH: Problem is that the person without the Holy Spirit (the unregenerate) always desires that which is contrary to God. Nothing he does proceeds from a heart that loves God. The issue of free will (or not) is to ask this: left to themselves (as fallen human creatures who are in bondage to a corruption of nature), does anyone have a free will to believe in Jesus Christ? 

This grants premise 1, so you’re stuck with conclusion 1.

Man’s problem is his evil desires. Now evil desires matter quite a bit in the Pelagian vs. Total Depravity debate, but they don’t matter in the freewill vs. divine determinism debate. It doesn’t matter that a person cannot desire good. What matters is that if they did desire good, they would do good.

JH: We all have a will, but we use it wrongly... we do not have the will to believe in Christ

The part before the comma implies we can trust and obey, the part after implies we cannot.

What’s the alternative? By “we use it wrongly”, you don’t mean inability? That denies total depravity, which you just affirmed. By “we have a will” you don’t mean ability? How then do you deal with passages saying we have abilities?

JH: The need for grace does away with free will altogether because if man's will was naturally free he would not need grace at all. He could come to Christ on his own. 
The need for grace does not do away with compatiblist free will. So long as man is unforced and not handicapped,the is free and able to trust and obey. He can come to Christ.
JH: But ask yourself, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit will anyone freely come to faith in Christ? If your answer is no, then you reject free will the same way I do. 

My answer is no, but I I don't reject free will in the same way you do. I say we don't have libertarian free will to come to Christ, but surely you don't mean this? I reject our ability to come to Christ in the common sense notion of free will or ability.
JH: So to teach man has a free will in this sense, i.e. that the natural man has a free will overthrows the gospel ... it is precisely because man is in bondage that he needs Christ to set him free." (John 8:34, 36)

Which is why your philosophical notion of compatiblist freedom is so serious. Never-the-less, thankfully, Calvinists are inconsistent on this point, and end up affirming the gospel anyways.

JH: The discussion about free will has always historically been about the bondage of the will and affections. 

Not always. The free will vs. divine determinism debate has a long and colorful history as well.

JH: And that which is in bondage is not free. 

I agree, but what about a man is bound to sin? His desires or his body? If his desires alone, then per compatiblism, he is free.

JH: We are not talking about not being free to choose which toothpaste we are going to use tomorrow morning. We are talking about does a fallen person have the ability to make a good saving choice apart from the work of the Holy Spirit

In the compatiblist sense in which a depraved man can use Colgate or not, he can accept Christ or not.

JH: The Bible seems pretty clear on this.
I agree. I affirm depraved man is unable to trust and obey. I mean this in the common man's sense of the term inability, the sense Christ uses - depraved man does not have libertarian freedom with respect to trusting Christ and pleasing God.

77 comments:

Anonymous said...

A very thought provoking post. I'm trying to boil it all down to something manageable, so I'm wondering if the following would be a decent way to sum up the inconsistency:

1) Under Total Depravity, we wouldn't have the ability to come to Jesus even if we wanted to.

2) Under Compatibilism, we would have the ability to come to Jesus if we wanted to.

Grac and peace,
David D.

Godismyjudge said...

David,

Outstanding nutshellization!

God be with you,
Dan

Anonymous said...

Nutshellization – I guess when you blog this well, you’re entitled to make up your own words now and then. I’m not often able to comment on things, but I am an avid reader of what you write. This post really caught my attention - it was so bang on. Makes me wonder how I didn’t see it before. Was this something you realized, or something you’d heard/been taught? Again, thanks for the work you do on this blog; it continues to be both a challenge and a blessing to me.

Grace (not 'grac' like I wrote earlier...) & peace,

David D.

Godismyjudge said...

David,

That's too kind of you. I guess I realized it when Steve Hays said 1 Corinthians 10:13 was only about apostasy. That made me realize the sense in which we cannot fall away (per Calvinism) must not be a compatiblist sense. We would fall away, were it not for God's restraining us.

For more, see the section "Deterministic reading of 1 Corinthians 10:13 without compatibilism" within:

http://www.traditionalbaptistchronicles.com/2012/10/1-corinthians-1013-teaches-libertarian.html

But the same must apply to other points of Calvinism as well, including total depravity and irresistable grace.

God be with you,
Dan

Isaac H said...

Dan and David,
Total depravity does not teach that we "wouldn't have the ability to come to Christ even if we wanted to." It teaches that no one wants too, period (Rom 3). Hence the hypothetical "if we wanted to" doesn't apply. If anyone at any time ever wanted to, then total depravity would be untrue altogether.

Compatibilism is a redefinition of what free will is so that our "freedom" is not descriptive of uncaused actions, but rather voluntary choices (according to our desires) that are predetermined by a sovereign God. That means that David's second bullit point above is correct. But of course we are only totally depraved as long as we are unregenerate. The moment we are indwelt, we receive the mind of Christ. At that point we who are in Christ (Eph 1) are a new creation (2 Cor 5).

I hope this helps you two.

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Isaac,

Thanks for commenting. I actually agree with your comments, though I suspect we may disagree with the implications of your granting point 2. Most of the negative impacts of granting point 2 are outlined above. Do you agree with them?

Thanks!

God be with you,
Dan

Isaac H said...

Thanks Dan,

In reading through your article I get the feeling you don't understand compatibilism. I have problems with every premise you offer except #3 - which indicates that you're arguing against a straw man (sorry, I know no one likes hearing that). It follows that I disagree with your conclusions as well. That is why I offered some clarification above without interacting specifically with what you said.

I think I understand what you're trying to say, and I think it comes from a confusion of terms. On compatibilism there are no free actions, only those actions which God predetermined to take place. But instead of leaving it there and concluding that we are nothing more than glorified robots, compatibilism also asserts that - although our actions are not free - they are still voluntary. This preserves both the bondage of our will to our depraved (or regenerate) state and our responsibility for our actions.

So in granting David's second point, I'm merely admitting the obvious: that on compatibilism, if the Spirit regenerates us we will come to Jesus voluntarily because we want to. This doesn't conflict with the doctrine of total depravity, it's just what happens when God sovereignly saves totally depraved sinners who would never come to know Christ voluntarily. Their depraved nature has determined that (left to themselves) they will always voluntarily choose to rebel (please notice I did not say freely, I said voluntarily).

I hope you both have a blessed Lord's day tomorrow. And I hope this clarified the issue a bit for you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Isaac;

Thanks for your response. Just to let you know, in my neck of the woods, I often hear teaching on total depravity that includes the “…even if we wanted to” part. I think it’s done to emphasize that total depravity is also about total inability. Total inability seems to me to be aimed, at least partly, at undermining the idea of prevenient grace.

My understanding of prevenient grace is that through it we can want to come to Christ. At the same time, we may also choose to resist that grace. When total inability is stressed along the lines of the phrase “...even if we wanted to” , I’ve understood that to mean that even if we wanted to come to Jesus (through prevenient grace) we still wouldn’t have the ability to come to Him.

You can see then how the typical teaching I’ve heard on total depravity where desire does not equal ability is at odds with compatibilism’s affirmation that desire does equal ability. When I hear that ability is the decisive factor rather than desire, I see an inconsistency between it and what I understand about compatibilism. As long as I keep hearing that kind of teaching on total depravity, I guess point #1 is going to have some validity to me.

Grace and peace,

David D.
PS: I know I'm writing at an absurd time in the morning, but I've got tomorrow off so I can sleep in late :^)

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Isaac,

Your response convinces me that I need to come up with another way of wording the argument. A way that addresses ability and doesn't rely on the technical jargon of compatiblist free will. But it's not a straw man. Some Calvinist do hold to CFW, even if others do not. Take for example:

An alternative concept of freedom, one consistent with Reformed theology and held by a number of philosophers (the Stoics, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Hobart, Richard Double et al) is often called “compatibilism,” for on that basis, free will and determinism (the view that all events in creation are caused) are compatible. … Reformed theology recognizes that all people have freedom in the compatibilist sense… I believe that compatibilist freedom is the main kind of freedom necessary to moral responsibility.

http://www.frame-poythress.org/free-will-and-moral-responsibility/

That said, I will try to do better.

God be with you,
Dan

Isaac H said...

David,

I appreciate the response and I'm sorry that you have never been told what total depravity actually asserts. That could be why you reject it - at least in the Calvinistic sense. What you have been taught sounds a lot like an Arminian mischaracterization of total depravity - not the doctrine itself. What sense does it make to suggest that God condemns those who really want to be saved? Romans 3, and dozens of other passages, tell us that no one wants to be saved - which (according to Calvinism) results from our depraved nature. Desires are determined consequences of our nature - and I know of no Calvinist (or Augustinian, to be fair) that would disagree.

You're right that prevenient grace is an attempt to counter the idea of total depravity (or vis verse, if you prefer). The reason Arminians get labeled semi-pelagians is because (practically speaking) there is no different between someone being born morally neutral (like Palegius asserts - men have the ability to choose either way) and individuals who have received prevenient grace (like Wesleyians assert - men have the ability to choose either way). Now, either you argue that everyone receives prevenient grace and only those who are willing come to Christ, or you argue that only certain individuals receive prevenient grace and all who receive it freely choose to come to Christ (but if they all do, did they really have a choice?). Either way, you still end up (practically speaking) largely on one end of the spectrum; either on Pelagius' side or Augustine's. I know there is much to be said on that but I must not go on.

Isaac H said...

Dan,
I think you have misunderstood Frame. His use of "freedom" is not the same as yours. See:
http://www.frame-poythress.org/determinism-chance-and-freedom/

Especially this passage:
"Libertarians argue that we must have this kind of freedom because (1) our intuition reveals that we have it, and (2) it is necessary for moral responsibility, for we cannot be held responsible for anything we are determined to do.

Opponents of libertarianism, however, reply that (1) Human intuition reveals that we choose among various alternatives, but it never reveals to us that any of our choices are absolutely uncaused. Intuition cannot prove a universal negative. (2) Far from teaching that libertarian freedom is essential to moral responsibility, Scripture never mentions libertarian freedom. (3) This doctrine would make it impossible for us to judge anyone’s guilt in a court of law. For to prove someone responsible for a crime and therefore guilty, the prosecution would have to take on the impossible burden of proof of showing that the decision of the accused had no cause whatsoever. (4) Law courts, indeed, assume the opposite of libertarianism, namely that people are responsible only for actions that they are sufficiently motivated to perform. If it could be shown that an accused person committed a crime without any sufficient cause or motivation at all he would most likely be judged insane rather than guilty. (5) Scripture contradicts libertarianism, by ascribing divine causes to human decisions (Exod. 34:24, Is. 44:28, Dan. 1:9, John 19:24, Acts 13:48, 16:14), even sinful ones (Gen. 45:5-8, Ps. 105:24, Luke 22:22, Acts 2:23-24, 3:18, 4:27-28, Rom. 9:17). In none of these (or many other) cases does divine causation eliminate human responsibility. In fact, these texts often mention human responsibility in the same context. (6) Scripture also contradicts libertarianism by teaching that human decisions are governed by the heart (Luke 6:45), and by teaching that the human heart itself is under God’s control (Ps. 33:15, Prov. 21:1). (7) In Scripture, the basis of human responsibility is not libertarian freedom, but (a) God’s sovereign right to evaluate the conduct of his creatures (Rom. 9:19-21), and (b) the knowledge (Luke 12:47-48, Rom. 1:18-32) and resources (Matt. 25:14-29) God has given to each person. (b) shows that in Scripture there is an important relation between responsibility and ability, but the abilities in view here do not include the absolute ability to choose opposite courses of action."

Thank you both for the discussion so far!

Godismyjudge said...

Isaac,

I tried to be clear that there's a difference between libertarian free will and compatiblist free will and when I was speaking about each. Where do you think I might have misunderstood or strawmaned compatiblist free will?

God be with you,
Dan

Anonymous said...

Hi Isaac;

I hope I haven’t given you the wrong impression – I don’t reject the idea of total depravity. I should also say that the additional sense given to total inability I spoke of – we aren’t able to come to Christ even if we wanted to – has come from Calvinistic teachers I’ve personally heard explaining the doctrine. Like I said, I think they do it to preclude any other form of grace outside of the irresistible sort. I don’t think they’ve put it alongside compatibilism to compare them in regards to their implications for desires and ability which would reveal the inconsistency. In the end, that’s a problem for them to sort out, rather than you :^)

I don’t know about the thought that the doctrine of prevenient grace counters the idea of total depravity though. I’m fairly sure it actually counters irresistible grace. From what I know of Arminianism and of Arminius himself, total depravity is fully embraced by both. I don’t self-identify as Arminian, but I have been on a theological journey away from Calvinism in recent years. Along that journey I have invested some time in reading from Arminians about what Arminians believe. With that in mind, I wouldn’t say that Arminians could be labeled as semi or full-pelagian in their doctrine of prevenient grace. Even on a practical level, the Arminian teaching of prevenient grace and the idea of moral neutrality seem significantly different to me. I’ve understood moral neutrality/Pelagianism as being about choosing to come to Christ on our own, whereas prevenient grace’s choice is in whether to resist its work to bring us to Christ. In any case, that’s enough from this cowboy on this for now. Thanks for the interaction brother, it’s been a pleasure.

Grace and peace

David D.

Isaac H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isaac H said...

Sorry, i needed to repost todiz a few words choices...

Thank you both for the conversation.

Dan,
I wasn't implying that you didn't understand the difference between compatibilism and libertarianism, just that you misunderstood Frame's use of free will. The quote you mentioned is not an example of "free will" in the sense that you were using it. Frame affirms compatibilistic determinism, and in the article I linked he makes it clear that "some" determinists argue for certain actions being free (or uncaused) while most do not. And here is the important point I think you both need to understand: Calvin (and Augustine before him) were not compatibilistic free will guys, but were compatilistic determinists. The fact that some individuals who call themselves Calvinists argue for an inconsistent determinism/free will does not make them Calvinists - hence, why I called it a straw man (from a historically Calvinistic position). I'm sure you can appreciate the difference.

David,
The same applies to your post. Total depravity is a description of our desires, resulting in our ability (or inability) to save ourselves... which means the phrase "even if we wanted to" is completely nonsensical. Any "Calvinistic" teacher that said such a thing would be thoroughly inconsistent and historically straying from the Calvinist line. But I suppose you're right, that's for them to figure out. However, quoting some inconsistent calvinists (as if they represent Calvinism) and then pointing out the blatant inconsistency, seems like a poor way to argue. There are plenty of inconsistent Arminian arguments (indeed, I would argue they all are), but it doesn't help for me to pick out one's that you would argree are inconsistent and then refute them. I think you would agree.

To your second point, I would clarify that the concept of prevenient grace is meant to counter act the effects of total depravity. In other words, on the Wesleyan view, prevenient grace elinimates the practical consequences of total depravity, enabling men to make a "free" choice to either follow God or not. In that sense, someone who has received prevenient grace has the ability to choose - just like Pelagius argued. How Wesley and Pelagius got there may be different, but the practical consequences are the same: robbing God of all the glory (as Calvinists would argue).

Thank you both again.

Isaac H said...

Sorry for the typos. That what I get for trying to repost on my iPhone. :)

Godismyjudge said...

Isaac,

It's anachronistic to call Augustine or Calvin compatiblists. Some of the basics are there, but the fuller articulations of compatiblism come later. By Turretin/Twisse's time it was fairly clear that Calvinists were compatiblists and Edwards and the Princeton Divines were about as compatiblists as they come.

By compatiblism I mean the idea that free will and determinism are compatible. Obviously compatiblists hold to a different notion of freedom than libertarians, as Frame explains. But they do affirm free will. I am not talking about those who try to hold both Calvinism and libertarian free will in tension. Rather I am talking about those who define freedom differently than libertarians, so as to have it fit with determinism. That's not what CFW means and I am not addressing that issue.

Anywho, I do think all this can be skipped if I reword the argument above.

God be with you,
Dan



Isaac H said...

Dan,

Perhaps the term wasnt around yet, but the concept and its components certainly were. Calvin states: "In this way, then, man is said to have free will, not because he has a free choice of good and evil, but because he acts voluntarily, and not by compulsion." (Institutes, Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 7 - the compaitiblist view of freedom)

and after citing Augustine several times with approval he also states "God is deemed omnipotent, not because he can act though he may cease or be idle, or because by a general instinct he continues the order of nature previously appointed; but because, governing heaven and earth by his providence, he so overrules all things that nothing happens without his counsel...this rather is the solace of the faithful, in their adversity, that everything which they endure is by the ordination and command of God." (Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 16, Section3 - the compatibilist view of determinism).

That sure sounds a lot like the two components of Frame's definition of compatibilism. That is supposedly the one your arguing against, but I feel like I was clear that your premises above are only accurately describing the form of compatibilism (CFW) you supposedly aren't addressing.

Let me give you an example: your first conclusion states that depraved man is free (in the compaibilist sense) to follow God. From the outset you have misrepresented compatibilism, since the freedom to choose contrary to one's nature is a libertarian concept. Compatibilists (like Calvin above) do not affirm the possibility of contrary choice, but rather affirm that a totally depraved man only has the ability to voluntarily (freely) rebel. What you have done is insert a libertarian concept of free will into the very heart of the inaccurate compatibilism that you are arguing against, and then concluded that it is inconsistent. In that regard, I agree with you.

But unfortunately for your argument it doesn't present a problem for Calvinism in the slightest.

Anonymous said...

Hi Isaac;

Again, thanks for your reply. Given your concerns, I feel like it might be worthwhile to point out that I found Dan’s original post helpful because it put into words an inconsistency within a Calvinistic argument with which I’ve had real-life experience. I also think Dan’s on to something and am looking forward to seeing what his revision looks like. However, I’m not trying to mount an argument against Calvinism in general or refine a method of argument here.

Thanks for the clarification on your earlier comment regarding prevenient grace – that makes more sense. However, I don’t quite follow you on the whole Arminian/Pelagian connection. I’m no uber-authority on the matter, but from what I’ve come to understand of Arminius’ vs Pelagius’ teaching, they can’t be lumped together. Their differing paths regarding choice didn’t land them in the same place, even in their practice. In know you’ve referenced Wesley in your comments, rather than Arminius, but I’m not all that familiar with Wesley’s teaching. Still he was an Arminian, so I think it’s fair to look at what the founder of Wesley’s beliefs had to say.

Pelagius believed in a choosing that derived its initial power outside of God’s grace and denied total depravity. Arminius clearly did not agree on either points. That means Pelagius practiced a ‘free’ choice, whereas Arminius practiced a ‘freed’ choice. After including in my theological world the writings of Arminius and Arminians on what they believe, I saw a significant enough difference between the two teachings that I could no longer conflate the two. Though Calvinists may continue to press Arminianism and Pelagianism together, I have to chalk that up to misinformation.

Feel free to comment further, brother, but that’s enough for me on this thread. I’ve appreciated your irenic tone throughout our discussion (ok, you wobbled a bit on the whole Arminianism-robs-all-God’s-glory comment ;^)) and enjoyed the thoughtfulness of your replies.

Grace and peace,

David D.

Godismyjudge said...

Isaac,

You seem to be saying if someone talks about the ability to do otherwise they are not compatiblists. Here are 5 examples of Calvinists asserting the ability to do otherwise, in a compatiblist sense:

It is objected that our repentance for having chosen wrong, always implies the feeling that we might have chosen otherwise, had we pleased. I reply, Yes; but not unless that choice had been preceded at the time by a different view of the preferable.

http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/dabney/free_agn.htm#13

In the strictest propriety of speech, a man has a thing in his power, if he has it in his choice, or at his election: and a man cannot be truly said to be unable to do a thing, when he can do it if he will.

http://www.reformedreader.org/rbb/edwards/fowp01s04.htm

Nor does it follow from the absolute certainty of a person's acts that he could not have acted otherwise. He could have acted otherwise if he had chosen to have done so.

http://www.bloomingtonrpchurch.org/refdocpre/16.htm

By far, the majority position in Reformed thought on free will has been what is
referred to as the classical compatibilist model…. Classic compatibilism answers that we can insofar as we have a power or ability to avoid eating Lucky Charms and there are no constraints keeping us from not eating Lucky Charms. So in answer to the “could you do otherwise” question, classical compatibilism says you could do otherwise in this sense: if you had wanted to do otherwise, then you would have.

http://analytictheologye4c5.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/free-will-and-moral-responsibility-intro11.pdf

They [compatibilists] have offered hypothetical interpretations of the slogan along this line: "P could have done otherwise" understood as "P did x, but he was able to do y instead, and he would have done y if he had preferred to do so" or as "P did x, but he was able to refrain from x, and he would have refrained if he had preferred to do so.(p 467)

http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/35/35-4/JETS_35-4_463-479_Ciocchi.pdf

Calvinists use CFW (the ability to do otherwise - in a compatiblist sense) to explain passages like 1 Corinthians 10:13. This is the issue I am addressing.

God be with you,
Dan

Robert said...

(part 1)

I was reading over Isaac’s comments about “free will” and see some problems/errors with these comments. Isaac gave what I presume to be his best 7 arguments against LFW when he wrote:

“Opponents of libertarianism, however, reply that (1) Human intuition reveals that we choose among various alternatives, but it never reveals to us that any of our choices are absolutely uncaused. Intuition cannot prove a universal negative. . . . . . (7) In Scripture, the basis of human responsibility is not libertarian freedom, but . . . ."

There are lots of problems with each of these arguments. Here are some of them:

Take the first.

What LFW proponent claims that “but it never reveals to us that any of our choices are absolutely uncaused.”???
Plantinga and others who hold to LFW argue for agent causation, that a person when choosing freely is self determining their own actions. That means they themselves are the cause of their action. This is not even close to “choices [that] are absolutely uncaused.” Making a choice freely is not at all like a choice that is not caused by even the person making the choice!

Why do determinists repeatedly bring up this misrepresentation of LFW?

Or take 2.

Isaac says that “Scripture never mentions libertarian freedom.” If you mean the actual words “libertarian free will”, then No, the Bible never has that phrase. But this is an argument from silence. The Bible also never has the phrase “compatibilistic freedom” either. What we need to look for in the Bible is whether or not there are any instances of situations where the people are presented has really having a choice and then making a choice. If they have a choice where both differing options are known to them, available to them and accessible to them. And if they then make a choice from one of these alternative possibilities, then what people ordinarily refer to as free will, what is technically called Libertarian free will is present. We experience these situations daily and the Bible presents clear cases where the person both had and then made a choice.

Or take 3.

This third argument like the first assumes that LFW involves **uncaused choices**. Again this is not true at all. According to proponents of LFW the self or person or agent is the cause of their own choices when they act freely. And when doing so they choose for reasons, so the choice is neither necessitated nor random. The legal field by the way presupposes LFW as examination of its history shows (i.e. the American legal system is based upon English Common Law which includes a strong presumption that people act freely when they have choices). In courtrooms the ordinary sense of free will is a presumption only questioned in cases where there may be coercion or when the person’s mental stability is at issue.

Or take 4.

Isaac speaks of actions that people do that are “sufficiently motivated to perform.” Isaac **assumes** that “sufficiently motivated” means that motives necessitate actions. But that is a deterministic/compatibilistic assumption. Say a person is choosing what to order at a restaurant. One option is one of their favorites another offering is another one of their favorites but involves a special discount (say 50% off). This person has two motives competing, one is for say the ribs, and another is for say the steak that is discounted. Whichever way he chooses his motives are involved, but he decides what choice to make, his motives are not causal factors that necessitate his actions. He chooses which reason he will act upon.

Robert

Robert said...

(part 2)

Or take 5.

Isaac again claims that LFW involves non-caused actions. He says instead that the Bible presents human decisions as the cause of choices. But every decision is itself the result of a freely made choice. When we decide we consider at least two different alternative possibiities and then we select one rather than the other. So the very nature of a decision presumes LFW. If the “choice” is not our decision, then we did not really make a choice. Furthermore, the disagreement is about how those decisions come about. Are they freely made by the person/agent? Or are they necessitated by factors that necessitate the choice?

Or take 6.

The Bible does not say that our particular choices are necessitated by our hearts. It says their source is our “heart”. And this is a metaphor, our physical heart muscle does not actually think nor is it involved in decisions. The metaphor refers to the **inner man**, to the person’s mind, their thoughts, their desires. You can’t (or shouldn’t push this metaphor too far when it comes to arguing for determinism or LFW).

Or take 7.

No one is denying that we are responsible to God for our choices. The Bible is clear that all will be judged for what they have done. But this responsibility is neither based upon your view of free will as being LFW or being compatibilism. Those are merely our views of the nature of our choosing. Responsibility is based upon the fact that the actions we are responsible for are our own actions not the actions of others.

I could point out other problems with these seven arguments but it should be obvious that none of them is a strong or persuasive argument against LFW (unless of course you are determinist and must absolutely not grant the existence of LFW for ideological reasons! :-)) None of these arguments comes close to showing that LFW is not real or that we never experience it.

Robert

Robert said...

(part 3)

In another post Isaac wrote:

“From the outset you have misrepresented compatibilism, since the freedom to choose contrary to one's nature is a libertarian concept. Compatibilists (like Calvin above) do not affirm the possibility of contrary choice, but rather affirm that a totally depraved man only has the ability to voluntarily (freely) rebel.”

I wonder what you mean by choosing “contrary to one’s nature”?

It is my understanding of calvinists such as yourself that that phrase means that according to you people’s choices are **necessitated** by their “natures”. This is problematic for multiple reasons.

First of all, there is no such thing as a “nature” that causes anything. There is no causal force in this world that we could refer to as a “nature”. Persons cause their own actions, their “natures” do not cause anything.

Second, you assume that the nonbeliever has a fallen nature which necessitates that they can only choose to do evil. The only way in your thinking that the nonbeliever could ever make the good choice of choosing to trust in Christ for salvation is if they are regenerated first (i.e. this new nature given in regeneration then necessitates their good choice of choosing to trust in Christ for salvation). But scripture appears to teach that faith precedes regeneration. Scripture also speaks of even the nonbeliever choosing to do the right thing sometimes (didn’t Jesus say of nonbelievers that even they will give good gifts not evil gifts to their own children?). Put simply even the worst sinner sometimes makes a good choice (unless of course you redefine choice so that the sinner is incapable of ever making a good choice, but that is simply “winning by stipulating the definitions”, try telling people who have had their houses spared or themselves saved by an unregenerate firefighter that the actions of the firefighter were not really **good**).

A third problem with this concept is that it involves begging the question on the part of the calvinist. According to their theology the nonbeliever is only capable of choosing in line with their fallen/sinful nature: so by definition since the choice of trusting in Christ for salvation is a good decision, the nonbeliever cannot make this choice until he receives regeneration/the new nature that necessitates his choice of trusting in Christ (but all of this is simply calvinist assumptions piled up on one another: for those who do not hold the same concepts or assumptions, this argument has no force at all).

A fourth problem that I have with this calvinist talk about only acting according to nature is that it falls apart in the area of Christian santification. If regeneration, a new nature necessarily always causes us to choose to do the right thing, then how do believers still continue to sin? The Bible says that believers continue to sin which is why we need to ask for forgiveness and repent or our sin as believers. But if the believer has this new nature via regeneration which caused him to make the right choice to trust in Christ for salvation, then why aren’t all Christians who have a new nature (the biblical teaching is that all believers have been regenerated) always choosing to do the right thing? This talk then about not choosing against nature may seem to make sense when talking about nonbelievers, but if we extend this thinking out to believers who presumably have this regenerate nature, it falls apart.

I could make other points but I just wanted to show that Isaac’s arguments concerning LFW are lacking any punch at all.

Robert

Isaac H said...

Wow... thank you David, Dan, and Robert for your thoughtful replies. A bit much to respond too but I'll try to succinctly.

Dan,
I feel like we're two ships passing in the night. Those references you provide are not Calvinists arguing for the ABSOLUTE ability to choose the contrary. If they were, then your conclusions would be correct about their inconsistency - but then they wouldn't really be determinists either. And of course I don't know any Calvinist that asserts that, nor do the one's you quoted assert that. Instead, what they are saying is that creatures have the ability (in the non-coercion sense) to choose the contrary, if their desires were different.

So, to go back to your conclusion that, on compatibilism, totally depraved individuals have the ability to choose God, the answer is
a) yes, in the sense that they are not being coerced or forced against their will's to choose to act in a way contrary to God's character; and...
b) no, in the sense of absolute ability, because their depraved nature is bound to sin, to choose contrary to God's character.

Hence, a) is only important if you deny the reality of b). In order for their to be an inconsistency in Calvinism the way your article asserts, Calvinists would have to be saying "yes" in both senses. I assumed we all were aware of this distinction...hence, my problem from the very beginning.

In regards to 1 Corinthians 10:13, I think the distinction above is crucial. You assert that "we would fall away were it not for God restraining us" From that, you conclude that per Calvinism we cannot be free in the compatibilist sense because God is coercing us into not falling away (at least, I think this is what you are concluding). The problem, of course, is that there are several assumptions in your reasoning in regards to what apostacy means, what the regenerate state is, etc. I don't think it worth the time to dive into that now, but suffice to say I feel your conclusion is wholy unfounded.

But Calvin's commentary on this passage is useful here: "Now God helps us in two ways, that we may not be overcome by the temptation; for he supplies us with strength, and he sets limits to the temptation. It is of the second of these ways that the Apostle here chiefly speaks. At the same time, he does not exclude the former - that God alleviates temptations, that they may not overpower us by their weight. For he knows the measure of our power, which he has himself conferred. According to that, he regulates our temptations."

Where is the inconsistency in this passage with regard to compatibilism?

Thank you again for the cordial discourse and thoughtful responses.

Isaac H said...

David,

I appreciate your thoughtful responses as well, brother. I wouldn't say that I "conflate" Arminian and Pelagian theology together. The former is merely in error, but latter a heresy. Rather, I am merely pointing out that, at the end of the day, Arminians will end up more closer to Pelagias that Augustine. They are not the same, but they have the same practical consequences.

Anyways, I hope your journey leads you back to the submissive theology of Calvinism eventually :)

Isaac H said...

Robert,

I think you may have missed the fact that those seven arguments were actually a quote from John Frame's article on determinism. Although, in all fairness I agree with him so I'll shortly respond to your points:
1) I suppose the LFW argument here is sufficient reasoning, if you're satisfied with an endless regress. Our own agency cannot be the ultimate cause of our actions, since we are finite beings.
2) Frame was merely saying that scripture never asserts that "uncaused" actions are necessary for responsibility. He was merely responding to the common libertarian argument that uncaused choices are necessary for reponsibility.
3) Besides the problem mentioned above in 1), your description of what the law presupposes neither conflicts with compatibilism nor supports the only consistent form of libertarian free will (i.e. the one Frame was describing).
4) You're making several assumptions as well. But the question was not whether he "could" have chosen otherwise (since that is a libertarian concept), but rather whether the court holds that someone is guilty of actions which had no cause (i.e. was not motivated). Again, this presents a problem for LFW.
5)You missed the point. The Bible ascribes sinful human actions ultimately to divine causation. Libertarians can't deal with that, since that overrules uncaused actions (or, if you prefer, self-determined actions)
6) If God is in control of the heart/inner man/thoughts/mind/etc. then it follows that man is not.
7) Agreed, so why are you a libertarian?

Now, in regards to the portion I wrote that you interacted with, let me respond:
1) I wouldn't get too hung up on the word "nature" so much. In John 8, Jesus explains to the pharisees "Why do you not understand what i say? It is because you CANNOT bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own CHARACTER, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

Hence, Satan lies because he's a liar. We sin because we are sinners - our nature necessitates it.

2) You assume the Arminian concept that faith precedes regeneration. I disagree, since the Bible so clearly teaches we are dead in our trespasses. Where I come from, dead things don't react to anything.

3) You conflat regeneration with glorification. A regenerate man does not ONLY have pure desires, but is enabled to have pure desires. A glorified man is not able to have impure desires. This is all very Augustinian so I suggest you read some of his work.

Thank you for the interaction, Robert.

Godismyjudge said...

Hey Isaac,

“A” is basically what what I was talking about in the premises. I disagree that “A” is unimportant unless a person also denies “B”. My post explores the importance of “A”.

Compatiblists say “A”, 1) is the common man's notion of free will and 2) grounds moral responsibility and 3) explains biblical statements of man's abilities and choices. That's important in and of itself.

As for 1 Corinthians 10:13, I haven't argued much based on that text here, because that's an ascent problem rather than a decent problem with compatiblism. It's one thing to say compatiblism isn't true based on texts like 1 Corinthians 10:13, another to say if compatiblism is true, here are some bad consequences. The post above deals with the consequences.

Here's a post arguing compatiblism is not true, based on 1 Corinthians 10:13:

http://www.traditionalbaptistchronicles.com/2012/10/1-corinthians-1013-teaches-libertarian.html

God be with you,
Dan

Isaac H said...

Ok Dan,

I'm sorry I misunderstood you.

Now that I do, would it be fair to say that you disagree with the Calvinistic assumption that man can be compatibilistically free and morally not free? That seems to me to be the only way you reach your first conlcusion.

Robert said...



Hello Isaac, (part 1)

Seeing your latest comments suggests that perhaps you are unfamiliar with what the best representatives of LFW have presented.

You take your arguments from Frame unfortunately Frame has created a caricature of LFW where it means “uncaused actions.” I have read Frame and he repeatedly creates and presents this false caricature, this straw man which views LFW as positing that freely made choices are UNCAUSED ACTIONS. But this is a false representation, examination of major proponents of LFW such as Plantinga and Hasker shows they never present LFW as involving UNCAUSED ACTIONS.

They present LFW as involving self determined actions. This means the self or person causes their own actions. If they are acting freely then their actions are neither necessitated nor random. They are done for reasons though these reasons in themselves are not the causes of the choices.

This notion that choices are UNCAUSED ACTIONS is nonsensical as any event that occurs is caused by something or someone.

Or perhaps in ***your*** thinking if an action is not NECESSITATED, then it must be UNCAUSED. Is that what you think?

Do you believe that all events are either necessitated or random?

And how do you come to the conclusion that self determined actions are uncaused actions?

You may also be unaware that the best model of what LFW choices look like as Plantinga repeatedly reminds us are the freely made choices by God Himself. God acts as a rational agent who considers differing options (he first has a choice available to him with options that are accessible to Him) and then he makes a choice from among these alternatie possibilities His choices are not necessitated nor random but are done for reasons. His freely made choices involve no infinite regress but procede from Himself (i.e. they are self caused, not necessitated by some necessitating factor, so his choices are exmaples of self determined choices). God’s freely choosing is the best example of LFW that is available and is itself the model for human choices involving LFW (i.e. part of being created in the image of God is being a personal agent who sometimes has and makes their own choices, just as He does).

Judging by your comments you seem to view LFW as uncaused actions. I would reject LFW too if that is what it meant.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello Isaac (part 2)

A few of your comments indicate that you mistakenly view LFW as involving UNCAUSED ACTIONS (probably under the influence of Frame).

“1) I suppose the LFW argument here is sufficient reasoning, if you're satisfied with an endless regress.“

Where is the infinite regress when God acts freely and his choice involves LFW?

If a choice has as its source a personal agent, then there is no infinite regress.

“2) Frame was merely saying that scripture never asserts that "uncaused" actions are necessary for responsibility. He was merely responding to the common libertarian argument that uncaused choices are necessary for reponsibility.”

Here we clearly see the error of Frame which apparently you have adopted as well: you say here that Frame in speaking of LFW choices says they involve UNCAUSED ACTIONS. In the second line this false representation of LFW appears again: “that uncaused choices are necessary for responsibility.”

Isaac could you provide an example of a major proponent of LFW that says it involves “uncaused actions”?

And one last example of how you mistakenly equate LFW with UNCAUSED ACTIONS:

“5) You missed the point. . . . Libertarians can't deal with that, since that overrules uncaused actions (or, if you prefer, self-determined actions)”

I note here that you explicitly equate LFW and UNCAUSED ACTIONS when you wrote: “since that overrules uncaused actions (or, if you prefer, self-determined actions)”.

When God acts freely His actions are self determined and not uncaused. They are caused by Himself: hence self determined. And when God freely makes a choice in this way His choice is a great example of LFW in action.

I don’t think it will be profitable to discuss LFW any further as long as you maintain the false representation/the caricature that Frame has created.

Robert

Godismyjudge said...

Isaac,

No problem, but I appreciate you saying that none the less.

It's not that sense A and sense B contradict each other, but rather that they create some exegetical and practical problems.

For example, you called sense B moral freedom. But Frame says "I believe that compatibilist freedom [i.e. sense A] is the main kind of freedom necessary to moral responsibility." (see the quote above)

So Calvinism has the odd result moral freedom isn't the main kind of freedom needed for moral responsibility. Along the same lines, we are often told that unlike Arminianism, in Calvinism God gets all the glory, because man is totally depraved and God's grace is irresistible. But why does God get all the glory, if man already has the main kind of freedom needed for moral responsibility?

Anyways, that's just one example (others are in the post above.

God be with you,
Dan

Isaac H said...

Dan,

You said "Calvinism has the odd result moral freedom isn't the main kind of freedom needed for moral responsibility."
By "odd" I assume you mean problematic, or inconsistent. I disagree.

But the only alternative is that:
1) Moral freedom is the main kind of freedom necessary for moral responsibility...

or put negatively;

2) Without moral freedom there is no moral responsibility.

If you don't like the Calvinist approach, it seems like you're left with a delimma: either you accept both 1 and 2 and deny total depravity (per premise #3)...or you accept 1 and deny 2(which would be inconsistent).


You also said: "But why does God get all the glory, if man already has the main kind of freedom needed for moral responsibility?"
Because Calvinists hold that moral responsibility does not imply moral ability (freedom to act morally)...hence, God receives the glory for moral acts we were responsible (but unable) to perform.

Contrastly, on Arminianism we are both responsible and able (free to act morally). Why should God get the glory for only making something possible?

Isaac H said...

Robert,

Thank you for the response.

You said "If a choice has as its source a personal agent, then there is no infinite regress."
Cause and effect actions must always find their way back to God as the ultimate cause. You are implying that we can be the source of "first cause" events.

You said "Isaac could you provide an example of a major proponent of LFW that says it involves “uncaused actions”?"
I never said that's what libertarians argued - just that that is the logical, necessary consequence of LFW philosophy.

You said "When God acts freely His actions are self determined and not uncaused. They are caused by Himself: hence self determined. And when God freely makes a choice in this way His choice is a great example of LFW in action."
That isn't the example I gave. The example I gave was when the Bible states human actions find their source in divine causes (i.e. they are not self-determined...like Acts 2)

God making a choice according to his nature (according to his desires) is not an example of LFW. On the contrary, it's an example of compatibilist free will. Does God have the ability to choose the contrary? That is, to choose evil?

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Isaac,

I affirm LFW and disagree "A" is valid or the main sense needed for moral responsibility. So for example when Christ says we can't come to Him without the Fathers drawing I take Him to be denying we have LFW with respect to conversion. Likewise I take 1 Corinthians 10:13 as saying believers have LFW with respect to temptations.

By odd I mean strange, not a contradiction. But even though affirming A and B is not a contradiction, I would say your saying God not man is responsible for faith implies the contradiction that CFW is and is not the main sense of freedom in discussing moral responsibility.

God does not believe for us so we have some responsibility in that. But faith would be impossible without God's drawing but it would also be useless without God's mercy. That's why God gets all the credit for salvation.

I don't mind answering questing about what I believe but that is basically changing the subject unless you can show the issues here are not unique to CFW.

God be with you,
Dan

SLW said...

Isaac H,
Sorry to chime in so late in the discussion but you said, Does God have the ability to choose the contrary? That is, to choose evil?

Are you assuming that evil is something preexisting God? It seems to me that you would have to be. God makes choices according to his desire, which would by nature only be good by virtue of him making them. Evil can only exist when there is an agent that can choose in opposition to God's will.

Isaac H said...

Dan,

That is the problem with denying compatibilism. If you think moral freedom is the main type of freedom necessary for moral responsibility, you're left saying that people are not responsible for that which they are unable to do (i.e. conversion).

However if we say that moral freedom is NOT the main type of freedom necessary for moral responsibility (per compatibilism), then we can affirm that men who are not converted are responsible for that unconversion while also affirming God's complete responsibility for our moral acts (including conversion).

You also said "I would say your saying God not man is responsible for faith implies the contradiction that CFW is and is not the main sense of freedom in discussing moral responsibility."
Well that's because you think the Bible teaches a soteriology where faith precedes regeneration. I affirm the opposite as do all Calvinists. From that viewpoint, God is responsible for regeneration (chaning man from a depraved natuer to a regenerate nature) and man is responsible for the compatibilistic action of faith. However, God is still worthy of all the glory because in our regenerate state we are only following the desires of our regenerate nature, which is only as good or pure as God has decreed that it would be (and indeed, it will continue to become more so as we are further sanctified).

Isaac H said...

Slw,

I have a lot of problems with what you said.

1) I don't believe evil exists in the sense that it is an actual "thing". Obviously, it exists in some sense but not in the same sense God exists.

2) Actions aren't right because God made them, nor does God make them because they are right. Those are both problematic statements. Rather, God's character is holy and he acts according to it. Anything that is contrary to his nature is sin.

3) Your last comment seems to imply God isn't in control of evil. Yikes, that would be a scary universe to exist in; where God wouldn't or couldn't stop Hitler even though he wanted to. You don't really think God is that weak and/or cruel, do you?

My original question was actually a rhetorical question that of course anyone would answer no too. But it was meant to display the idea that God cannot choose otherwise, in a libertarian sense. Hence, the conclusion that God does not have LFW.

I hope that helps.

SLW said...

Thank you Isaac H for your response.

As to your first point, thanks for the clarification. I think we agree. If there was only God, would there be evil? I don't see how there could be.

On the second point, the first part is equivocal in my view. If God acts according to his nature, then in fact, what God does is good just because he does it. The fact of his doing it would be sufficient to conclude it was good. I do agree with your definition of sin.

On your third point, I do not see the implication you speak of, it makes no sense to me. If evil (or sin since we can agree on your definition) exists, it must exist independently of God (in accord with the first point). Evil represents a will contrary to God. To be enabled to express contrariness says nothing of control but only of allowance, so your illustration concerning Hitler is empty in my view.

As to the last point, the more generalized issue at hand, free will cannot be described any better than looking at the model of God as Robert asserted. What being can be possibly more free of necessity than God (as even a compatibilist would admit I would think)? God does as he wants, which, it seems to me, is a much more fundamental notion of freewill than being able to do otherwise.

Isaac H said...

SLW,

Thank you for the response as well and let me see if I can clarify a bit more.

I'm not sure we entirely agree on the nature of evil, but that's not really important here.

The second point is actually very important philosophically and evangelistically. If you say something is good because God does it, it implies that morality is arbitrarily implemented by God (or at least could be). If you say that God does things because they are good, then it implies a standard to which even God is subject. Those are both problematic for obvious reasons. That is why I defined morality simply as a reflection of God's character.

On the third point, you said in your original post that "evil can only exist when there is an agent that can choose in opposition to God's will."
That, to me, implies God either cannot or will not stop evil things from happening EVEN THOUGH it is his will that they not occur. I disagree because I see God as ordaining evil things to happen for good purposes (so that in some sense his will is that they do occur, not that he is just allowing them to happen).

Acts 2:22-23 and Acts 4:25-28 give the greatest examples of this. Scripture clearly teaches that God decrees evil things to happen (like the death of his son by wicked men), for his glory (like the salvation of the church).

On the last point, you sound like a compatibilist. You said "God does as he wants, which, it seems to me, is a much more fundamental notion of free will than being able to do otherwise."
I agree, which is why I reject the notion that God has LFW, as defined by libertarians. God does not have the freedom to choose contrary to his nature, but rather only the freedom to choose in accordance with his nature (so in one sense, he does act out of necessity, but not compulsion). However God does have complete moral freedom to always choose to act morally. That is the main type of freedom that we, in our depraved state, lack.

And yes, I agree that the common man's understanding of free will is the idea that we can choose what we want. The idea of contrary choice cannot be found in God's example or our own.

Godismyjudge said...

Isaac,

Christ affirms our inability and responsibility quite plainly. Not that I trow out “ought implies can” altogether, it still applies before the fall and for man under God's enabling grace, and for the relatively 'good' acts unbelievers perform. But Christ says no one can come unless the Father draws him.

This paragraph seems like an open contradiction to me: “However if we say that moral freedom is NOT the main type of freedom necessary for moral responsibility (per compatibilism), then we can affirm that men who are not converted are responsible for that unconversion while also affirming God's complete responsibility for our moral acts (including conversion).”

So God is completely responsible for something we are responsible for. That's like saying this thing that's 100% black is white.

When you said God is responsible for regeneration and we are responsible for faith – that made sense to me. Regeneration is not faith - God is responsible for one part, we are responsible for another. But here, when you said God is completely responsible for conversion (including faith) while we are responsible for conversion, that doesn't make sense to me.

Likewise, to say God is responsible for our desires, but we are responsible for acting on those desires, would be fine, but to say God is fully responsible for both our desires and acting on those desires, yet we are responsible for acting on those desires doesn't make sense.

Compatiblism is coherent because it clearly separates desires from actions. But when it comes to responsibility it looks like your conflating then.

God be with you,
Dan

SLW said...

Isaac H,

I do, in fact, personally believe that there is no objective morality, there is only God and what he says and does. God is the definition of good, so in my mind it is actually baseless to speak of God as having to abide by something, even himself. It's like saying blue must be blue because it's blue. It's empty. That is just me, however.

Anyhow, it seems we've come to the rub between Arminians and Calvinists. You see God determining evil for good purposes, I see that as an unscriptural and untenable contradiction. The very essence of evil is its opposition to God. If God ordains evil things, i.e. determines them by necessity, then they are in fact not evil. For a thing to be evil it actually has to be against God, but by your reckoning it would only apparently be so while "secretly" being the very expression of his will. Under a deterministic framework, I submit that evil cannot exist, and certainly not as an objective reality.

Scripturally we have texts such as James 1:13-4, 1 John 1:5, and Jer 7:31, 19:5, 32:35 which directly or indirectly reveal that evil is not an expression of God's will, not even his "musings." Evil is not determined by God, it is not his will, indeed, by definition it cannot be or it would cease being evil.

Acts 2:22-23 doesn't say that the crucifixion was evil, it says that godless men were the agents of the action. It is reading into things more than a little to use this text to try to prove that God ordains evil for good purposes. I think that same holds for the Acts 4 passage. Unless, of course, in your reckoning it is evil to offer a sacrifice.

Although I have a level of sympathy for LFW, I do believe in depravity. I see this a bit differently than others, which I won't get into here, but suffice it to say, I don't see how doing as one wants excludes have contrary choice. I merely suggest that doing as one wants is the more fundamental description.

Isaac H said...

Dan,

It seems as though you're saying that, without prevenient grace, God could not hold individuals responsible for their rebellion. On that view, what's the practical difference between pre-fall and post-fall man in relation to their responsibility for rebelling?

Also,I didn't meant to say that we are responsible for faith in a compatibilistic sense. That was a poor choice of words indeed. I affirm with scripture that faith is a gift of the HS as God santifies us.

I understand moral ablity as "the ability to do good in spite of obstacles". CFW is the freedom to follow our desires. So when the Bible speaks of freedom from sin, I take it to mean that as the HS regenerates us and gives us faith, that we act accordingly, but not in a compatibilistic sense. In other words, I think that in our depraved state we are responsible for our actions as we follow our desires. In a regenerate state we are compatibilistically free except when the HS grants us moral freedom to act contrary to our depraved nature.

In other words, all of our evil and immoral acts can be justly accounted to us as guilt while the good moral acts we do can only be accounted to the HS working in us to provide moral freedom. This is the only way I can understand Matthew 5:16 when Jesus says "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Why would men glorify for acts that he is not responsible for?

That, to me, is a conherent system. One which requires the glory to be given to God, and wrestles any responsibility we from us.

Isaac H said...

SLW,

The Bible tells us that God doesn't change (Jam 1:17;Heb 13:8). Is God objectively real? I have a big problem with the statement that "there is no objective morality". That, to me, is like saying that God is not objectively real. Maybe that's not what you meant, but those statements present massive problems for a Christian worldview, so be careful. It's also ironic to say such a thing when you turn around and say that a deterministic framework rules out the idea of objective evil. Well, why do you care? If there is no objective good then there is no objective evil either, right?

And I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion that the crucifixion wasn't an evil act. Jesus, the only innocent person who ever lived, was brutally beaten and killed for telling the truth. It was a self-sacrifice, indeed. It was also murder. Are you seriously suggesting that Pilot and the Pharisees were only offering a sacrifice? That stretches credulity. And my point was that those men were determined by the "definite plan and foreknowledge of God" to kill Jesus. However, what they did was still murder, as testified to by the Gospels.

Denying God wants evil to exist presents multiple problems; not only philosophically but also Biblically. You're left saying that either God is too weak to stop evil from happening, or that libertarian free will is so good that is God willing to put up with evil to acheive it's reality.

And I didn't say the freedom to follow desires excludes contrary choice; rather, what I said was that it is the primary understanding of freedom (i guess we would both agree on that). Hence, LFW and the ability to choose otherwise is unnecessary.

Robert said...

(part 1)

The more that I read Isaac’s comments on LFW, the more I am becoming convinced that Isaac prefers to attack the caricatures of LFW created by Frame.

From Isaac’s words it appears that he prefers to maintain these caricatures so that he can attack them believing he is attacking LFW. This is both sad and unnecessary. Isaac’s latest comments show that he continues to hang onto these caricatures:

“You said "Isaac could you provide an example of a major proponent of LFW that says it involves “uncaused actions”?"
I never said that's what libertarians argued - just that that is the logical, necessary consequence of LFW philosophy.”

Frame says that LFW involves “uncaused actions” is Isaac now granting that Frame is wrong about this?

Secondly, notice that Isaac now grants that libertarians do not argue that LFW involves “uncaused actions.”

But notice that Isaac does not stop with this truth. He continues to want to believe that LFW must involve “uncaused actions.”

He now argues that LFW involving “uncaused actions” is the “logical, necessary consequence of LFW philosophy.”

Again Isaac is presenting an intentional misrepresentation of LFW.

Isaac cannot demonstrate that LFW logically and necessrily as a consequence involves “uncaused actions”. This is yet another intentional misrepresentation of the nature of LFW. Isaac continues to parrot Frame.

“You said "When God acts freely His actions are self determined and not uncaused. They are caused by Himself: hence self determined. And when God freely makes a choice in this way His choice is a great example of LFW in action."
That isn't the example I gave.”

God remains the best example of the nature of LFW. Again, His freely made choices are neither uncaused nor random. Instead His choices are done for reasons and self determined. Plantinga argues that God is the best example of LFW. I have seen nothing in Isaac’s words that shows Plantinga to be mistaken about this. Isaac just keeps presenting caricatures and misrepresentations of LFW.

Robert

Robert said...

(part 2)

“God making a choice according to his nature (according to his desires) is not an example of LFW. On the contrary, it's an example of compatibilist free will. Does God have the ability to choose the contrary? That is, to choose evil?”

Isaac again presents a common caricature of LFW developed and promoted by calvinists. It is the claim that LFW involves the ability to choose good or evil. Notice he explicitly defines LFW by the question “Does God have the ability to choose the contrary?” and then answering: “That is, to choose evil.”

So according to ISAAC LFW is the ability to choose the contrary and this *****must**** also mean that the person can choose evil.

According to THAT definition, since God cannot and does not choose evil, therefore God cannot choose to the contrary and so God never experiences LFW. But the problem is in the claim that in order to have LFW, a person must be capable of choosing evil. Does every choice that we face involve a choice between and good and evil? Could a choice involve two options neither of which is evil? For example when we order our meal at a restaurant, is every option good or evil?

Isaac is missing an important distinction between a person having the capacity to make a choice from two different alternatives (i.e. the capacity to have and make your own choice). And a person’s range of choices (i.e choices that are within a particular person’s range of choices).


Donald Trump and I both have the capacity for having and making our own choices. And in fact both of us daily experience the experience of having and making our own choices (e.g. both of us can choose from among alternative possibilities what we had for breakfast this morning). At the same time Trump and I have very different ranges of choices. Regarding purchasing multiple million dollar properties this week: Trump has this particular choice within his range of choices, I do not. I cannot choose to purchase multiple million dollar properties this week, I lack the connections and resources to do so. Trump on the other hand has this particular choice within his range of choices.

Now do we infer that because Trump has this choice and I do not, that therefore I never ever have and make my own choices? No, we both experience the ordinary sense of free will (i.e. having and making our own choices). There is however a difference in our range of choices.

Or say I am a black belt while Trump is not. Just because Trump cannot choose to do some of the physical moves that I can choose to do, do we conclude that Trump has no free will?

Robert

Robert said...

(part 3)

This same distinction between the capacity for free will and his range of choices also applies to God.

God has the capacity for free will and the creation of the universe is a perfect example of him experiencing LFW. He had the choice to create or not create this universe, that choice was up to Him, that choice was not necessitated by any necessitating factor, that choice was not determined by any antecedent factors. It was His choice and He could have done otherwise and chosen not to create this world. Or take the fact that God chooses whom He will have mercy upon (again that choice is up to Him, not necessitated by any necessitating factor, that choice is not determined by any antecedent factors).

So it is obvious that God experiences LFW, non-necessitated choices. At the same time, God cannot do evil.

Do we infer from the fact that choosing to do evil is not within God’s range of choices that therefore God never ever has any choices? No.

And yet determinists regularly define LFW as the ability to choose the contrary and according to them this must include evil. They then point out that God cannot choose to do evil. Therefore, they conclude that since God cannot choose to do evil, he never can “choose to the contrary”. But this does not follow at all as the example of God choosing to create the universe or not involved “choosing to the contrary” but did not involve a good versus and evil choice.

God most definitely experiences LFW or choosing between two different options He is considering. It is an intentional misrepresentation to argue/claim/suggest that unless an option is evil, a choice does not and cannot involve LFW.

Robert

Isaac H said...

Robert,

You misunderstand me. It's not that I'm trying to knock down a straw man. I'm simply arguing that LFW leads to the conclusion that actions are, to a certain extent, uncaused. Let me quote from an article by John Byl:

"Libertarianism assumes that our choices are not entirely caused by such things as character and circumstances. This implies that our choices are, at least to some extent, indeterministic. Only thus, with an element of pure chance, might the same agent choose differently in identical situations. Hence Bartholomew asserts, ‘The reality of chance is not merely compatible with the doctrine of creation but is required by it . . . only in a world with real uncertainty can people grow into free responsible children of their heavenly Father’ (1984:145).

Not all libertarians believe that our choices require an element of randomness. The evangelical theologian Norman Geisler (1999), for example, contends that human decisions are neither determined nor uncaused but, rather, self-caused. Now, the issue is not whether a human self makes its own decisions, after due deliberation and without external coercion. That much is granted by compatibilists. The issue is whether the circumstances and constitution of the self fully determine its decisions. Will the same self, under the same conditions, always make the same decision? Libertarians answer ‘no’. But then we must ask: what is the decisive factor in making a choice, if not the internal constitution of the self and its external circumstances? What other cause can there be? The inevitable implication of libertarianism is that the self’s decisions are, at least to some extent, uncaused.

The libertarian lack of a sufficient cause implies that our decisions involve an essential element of genuine chance. Such a position faces much the same difficulties as quantum chance. For one, the notion that our choices are to some extent uncaused contradicts the basic principle of sufficient reason (i.e., that nothing happens without a sufficient reason). Hence David Hume (1777:105), arguing against libertarian free will, writes, ‘Liberty, when opposed to necessity, not to constraint, is the same thing with chance; which is universally allowed to have no existence."

I don't see how any libertarian can argue with this reasoning.

Isaac H said...

Here is the link for the entire article: http://www.the-highway.com/freewill_Byl.html

Robert said...

Isaac keeps beating on his dead horse that LFW involves “uncaused actions”. I point out to him that this is a caricature, a misrepresentation of LFW and yet he continues to beat on this dead horse:

“It's not that I'm trying to knock down a straw man. I'm simply arguing that LFW leads to the conclusion that actions are, to a certain extent, uncaused.”

Again this is blatantly and absolutely false as a self caused action is caused by, THE SELF.

Isaac now tries to strengthen his argument by appealing to Byl. And note the argument that Byl presents is that old favorite of determinists that LFW must involve CHANCE:

"Libertarianism assumes that our choices are not entirely caused by such things as character and circumstances. This implies that our choices are, at least to some extent, indeterministic. Only thus, with an element of pure chance, might the same agent choose differently in identical situations.”

According to Byl if a choice is “indeterministic” it must involve an element of “pure chance”. Byl actually makes the ridiculous claim that only if CHANCE were involved “might the same agent choose differently in identical situations.”

To show the absurdity of this argument again consider the paradigm example of LFW, God when he chooses freely between differing alternatives.

We can again use the example of God freely choosing to create the universe. This was a freely made choice by God involving LFW, it was done for good reasons so it was neither necessitated nor CHANCE. It was a self determined choice, with God being the cause of His own choice.

According to Byl if the person acts freely and this choice involves LFW the only way he/she could “choose differently in identical situations” is “Only thus, with an element of pure chance”.

According to this logic then, if God had instead of freely choosing to create the universe had freely chosen not to create the universe, then this was due to CHANCE. Is this really true? Is it only possible for God to choose otherwise than he in fact does, if his action involves or is caused by CHANCE? No. This is really a weak argument and it is surprising that determinists keep presenting it.

We could take ourselves as examples to show the futility of this argument as well. Say that last night at the restaurant that I freely choose steak as my entrée. If instead I had freely chosen BBQ ribs as my entrée, do we conclude that my choice was caused by or involved CHANCE? Fact is, if I freely choose to do anything for reasons, then my action is not caused by nor does it involve CHANCE, it is yet again a self determined action.

Robert

Robert said...


(part 2)

It is significant that Sam Harris one of the most famous atheists has written a book arguing against LFW. Alvin Plantinga wrote a critique of this book and shows the arguments are really weak on the part of Harris.

For our purposes here it is relevant that one of Harris’ arguments is the very same argument of Byl that a choice must be determined or else it is the result of CHANCE.

Look at how Plantinga just destroys this argument:

“Harris puts it like this: "Either our wills [i.e., our decisions and choices—AP] are determined by prior causes and we are not responsible for them, or they are the product of chance and we are not responsible for them." Another way to put it: either I am determined to do what I do by prior causes, or I do what I do by chance. In the first case I clearly don't have freedom. But the same holds in the second: if what I do happens just by **chance**, then too I don't do it freely (if I can be said to do it at all), at least not in a way which implies that I am responsible for that action.

This is a familiar argument, and one with a long history. But is it a **good** argument? I don't think so. Why think that if it is within my power to perform an action, but also within my power to refrain from so doing, then what I do happens just by **chance*? Maybe I have a **good reason** for doing what I do on that occasion—then it wouldn't be just by **chance** that I do it. Last Sunday you contributed money to your church; no doubt on that occasion it was within your power to refrain from contributing. But it surely wasn't just by chance that you made that contribution. It isn't as if you just flipped a coin: "Heads, I'll contribute; tails, I won't." No; you had a good reason for contributing: you want to promote the good things your church does. We Christians think God **freely** arranged the whole marvelous scheme of Incarnation and Atonement, whereby we sinners can once more be in a proper relationship with God. God did this, and did it freely; it was within his power to refrain from so doing, thus leaving us in our sins. But it surely doesn't follow that he did it just by chance!

This argument is a complete failure.”

I agree with Plantinga this argument **is** a complete failure.

Robert

Robert said...

(part 3)

In the same citation of Byl Isaac then switches again to his argument that LFW involves “uncaused actions”.

He starts by noting that some libertarians do not believe our choices require randomness (Hmm, as far as I know the best representatives of LFW never claim that LFW involves chance/randomness):

“Not all libertarians believe that our choices require an element of randomness. The evangelical theologian Norman Geisler (1999), for example, contends that human decisions are neither determined nor uncaused but, rather, self-caused.”

Geisler is actually a good example of someone who holds to LFW and argues that it involves self determined actions that are neither necessitated nor random.

“Now, the issue is not whether a human self makes its own decisions, after due deliberation and without external coercion. That much is granted by compatibilists.”

Actually this statement by Byl is not true at all. Every decision involves having a choice between at least two different alternatives and then making the choice of one of them. Thus all genuine decisions by their very nature involve LFW.

But calvinist determinists in contrast do not believe that we ever have such genuine decisions. Instead they argue that every decision is already made by God beforehand and that human persons merely actualize the choice that God had already predetermined they would make. In this scheme there the person does not have a choice, they cannot choose either option but can only, and must choose the option they were predetermined to choose. So when Byl says that “the human self makes its own decisions”, this is not true if that decision is predetermined. In that case there is only the illusion of having and making your own decision. The reality is that the human self never has any choices if all is predetermined.

Byl goes on:

“The issue is whether the circumstances and constitution of the self fully determine its decisions. Will the same self, under the same conditions, always make the same decision? Libertarians answer ‘no’. But then we must ask: what is the decisive factor in making a choice, if not the internal constitution of the self and its external circumstances? What other cause can there be? The inevitable implication of libertarianism is that the self’s decisions are, at least to some extent, uncaused.”

Well there it is again, according to Byl, LFW involves “uncaused actions”. And again we must remind everyone that the example of God experiencing LFW choices completely wipes out this claim.
Again, if we went back to the moment when God decided to create the universe, He would be “the same self, under the same conditions” and yet he could have chosen otherwise, chosen not to create the universe. And in choosing otherwise “what is the decisive factor in making a choice” for God? It is again Himself. His freely made choice of either creating the universe or not creating the universe, in either case is not determined by “the internal constitution of the self” or “external circumstances”. Byl asks “What other cause can there be?” And again considering that self caused action would be involved on the part of God, He is the cause of His own choice.

And this is not mysterious at all, as every one of us experiences these kind of self caused choices every day. We know that while we ordered the steak last night we could just as easily have freely chosen the ribs last night (and in either case, our choice was caused by our self, i.e. self determined, we could have done otherwise if we were choosing freely, and no factor necessitated our choice).

Robert

Robert said...

(part 4)

At the end of his fallacious reasoning Byl concludes:

“The inevitable implication of libertarianism is that the self’s decisions are, at least to some extent, uncaused.”

And again looking at God’s freely made choice to create the universe, we don’t conclude that His decisions “are, at least to some extent, uncaused.” No, we conclude His freely made decisions are SELF CAUSED. He has the ability when faced with two different options, to freely choose one and not the other. And as he was acting freely, as his choice involved LFW, he could have done otherwise had he chosen to do so. And if he had chosen to do otherwise, his freely made choice is neither necessitated nor CHANCE nor UNCAUSED. Instead it is caused by Himself.


Byl goes on:

“The libertarian lack of a sufficient cause implies that our decisions involve an essential element of genuine chance. Such a position faces much the same difficulties as quantum chance. For one, the notion that our choices are to some extent uncaused contradicts the basic principle of sufficient reason (i.e., that nothing happens without a sufficient reason). Hence David Hume (1777:105), arguing against libertarian free will, writes, ‘Liberty, when opposed to necessity, not to constraint, is the same thing with chance; which is universally allowed to have no existence."

So again accordinig to Byl LFW choices must involve CHANCE. The example of God himself refutes this and Plantinga destroys this argument as well, and correctly concludes it is a “total failure.”

Isaac then writes after quoting Byl:

“I don't see how any libertarian can argue with this reasoning.”

I guess Isaac has never carefully considered the example of God Himself when he freely makes choices.

I also believe that Isaac must be unaware that people like Plantinga have absolutely destroyed this feeble argument that LFW must involve CHANCE.

Robert

Godismyjudge said...

Isaac,

Sometimes God holds us accountable for sins we cannot avoid.
It seems like you are defining CFW as freedom when we do bad, but moral freedom as freedom when we do good. That’s not how other Calvinists typically describe compatible freedom, or the types of freedom I am addressing in the argument above. But as to the idea itself, the regenerate still follow their desires when they do good.
As for Matthew 5:16, sure God is responsible for our good acts in many ways, but not in every way (it’s not as if He does the acts and we do not).

God be with you,
Dan

Isaac H said...

Dan,

Sorry for the rabit trails. Compatibilists merely assert that we are free to follow our desires. Since we also affirm total depravity (which means our desires are always evil), we are free to follow those desires. But "moral freedom" is more about the Holy Spirit loosing us from the bondage of our depraved state to act in a moral (rather than immoral) way - hence, it is a different understanding of freedom that works on a different plane and in a different way.

I think other compatibilists would agree with me on this. Frame says "The following kinds of freedom are of particular interest to theologians and apologists: (1) Moral freedom, or the ability to do good, despite the barrier of our sinful condition. God gives us this freedom by his grace (John 8:32-36, Rom. 6:7, 18-23, 8:2). When Scripture speaks of human freedom, it is almost always in this sense.

(2) The freedom to act according to our own desires. This kind of freedom is sometimes called compatibilism, because it is compatible with determinism. Scripture doesn’t describe this capacity as “freedom,” but it does ascribe this capacity to all human beings. Jesus teaches, for example, that the good person acts out of the desires of his good heart, the wicked person out of his wicked heart (Matt. 12:35). There are times, of course, when we are unable to do what we “want” to do, at some level of wanting (as Rom. 7:15). But in most of the decisions of life, we do what we want, in the face of potential obstacles.

(3) Freedom from natural necessity, the freedom to act without the constraint of natural causes. This is the freedom mentioned in my earlier reference to the Westminster Confession. Its theological importance is its implication that human choice is not necessarily or always the result of natural causes. As image of God, we have dominion over the earth and in some ways transcend the world process. And we may not excuse our sins by saying that they were forced upon us by heredity or environment.

(4) Freedom from all causation, sometimes called libertarianism. I have freedom in the libertarian sense when, no matter what I choose to do, I might equally have chosen the opposite. So my choices are not only free from natural causes (as in (3)) but also from divine causation. Indeed, my libertarian choices are also free from myself in a way, for they are not determined by my character, dispositions, or desires. These inner motives may influence a free decision in this sense, but they never determine it. So a libertarian free decision is entirely indeterminate, uncaused. Thus libertarianism is sometimes called incompatibilism, since it is incompatible with determinism."

Not to "beat on a dead horse", but I guess my problem with your original article started at conclusion #1. Saying that per compatibilism, depraved individuals are free to follow Jesus is, to me, nonsensical.

Again, sorry this thread got so off topic.

Isaac H said...

Robert,

Plantinga doesn't demonstrate that we have libertarian free will - he assumes it.

Intuition cannot tell us that we have the ability to choose the contrary; it can only tell us that we make choices. In other words, you can't prove that you had the ability to choose other than you did. I don't even know how someone would try to prove a universal negative like that. Plantinga doesn't try, he just assumes it - so do you.

The question is, what is the cause of our decisions? Libertarians presuppose our choices are "self caused". Since as Christians we believe God caused the self to exist, it cannot be without cause; neither can it be free from God omnipotent rule - hence, it cannot be free from causes.

If you disagree, fine. But so far your third person responses have only assumed what you are trying to prove.

Godismyjudge said...

Isaac,

This was the comment that I don't think Frame would agree with:

"In a regenerate state we are compatibilistically free except when the HS grants us moral freedom to act contrary to our depraved nature."

Regeneration does not remove CFW, rather it gives us good desires.

I am fine with CFW and moral freedom operating on different plains. But with plain is responsibilty on? Per compatiblism, on the CFW plain, not on the moral freedom plain. So for moral responsiblity, it does not matter that God regerates us and gives us good desires on the moral freedom plain. That's on a different plain, not the plain that responsiblity works on. Responsiblity is on the CFW plain.

God be with you,
Dan

Robert said...




Isaac you must be so committed to your determinism that you don’t understand something that is extremely clear. YOU had brought up the “chance argument” against LFW through your quotation of **third person** John Byl. I replied by quoting Plantinga with ***specific reference*** to this ***specific argument***. I did not bring up Plantinga to “demonstrate that we have libertarian free will”, but to destroy Byl’s argument that LFW involves CHANCE.

You have no answer for Plantinga’s comments against this extremely feeble argument of Byl’s. So you shift the focus away from the argument that Plantinga is dealing with and write:

“Plantinga doesn't demonstrate that we have libertarian free will - he assumes it.”

And Plantinga was not attempting to demonstrate that we have libertarian free will: in the portion that I quoted, Plantinga is dealing **specifically with this argument that LFW involves chance**.

“Intuition cannot tell us that we have the ability to choose the contrary; it can only tell us that we make choices. In other words, you can't prove that you had the ability to choose other than you did. I don't even know how someone would try to prove a universal negative like that. Plantinga doesn't try, he just assumes it - so do you.”

And again, Plantinga was not demonstrating that we have LFW, he was decimating Byl’s argument that LFW involves chance.

I will requote myself to show that I clearly brought up Plantinga to refute Byl’s argument.

I started by noting that Byl presents the same argument that Sam Harris brings up:

“It is significant that Sam Harris one of the most famous atheists has written a book arguing against LFW. Alvin Plantinga wrote a critique of this book and shows the ARGUMENTS are really weak on the part of Harris.”

Note I said here that Plantinga “shows the ARGUMENTS are really weak on the part of Harris.”

I went on to say:

“For our purposes here it is relevant that one of Harris’ arguments is the very same argument of Byl that a choice must be determined or else it is the result of CHANCE.”

Note I said that Harris brings up “the very same ARGUMENT of Byl that a choice must be determined or else it is the result of CHANCE.” So clearly I am talking about a specific argument. And clearly I am showing how Plantinga refutes this specific ARGUMENT:

“Look at how Plantinga just destroys this argument:” [followed by Plantinga’s words about this particular ARGUMENT]

So I did not quote Plantinga to demonstrate that we have libertarian free will as you claim: rather, I quoted Plantinga to show how weak this argument of Byl’s is that LFW involves CHANCE.

And note Plantinga’s OWN WORDS concerning this argument:

“This argument is a complete failure.”

Isaac instead of trying to change the topic and shift what Plantinga did, you need to deal with the fact that one of your arguments via Byl is “a complete failure.”

Robert

Robert said...

Isaac wrote:

“The question is, what is the cause of our decisions?”

The answer to this one is simple unless you are a determinist. The cause of OUR OWN freely made decisions is US. Note Isaac even has the pronoun “our” in his question. It is not rocket science to know and understand that if WE make a decision and it is OUR decision, then we are the cause of this decision. This is called a “self determined” choice because it is we ourselves who cause the decision.

“Libertarians presuppose our choices are "self caused".”

It is not just a presupposition, it is a given according to scripture. The bible says for example, that our words flow from our hearts. Hearts is a metaphor for our inner man, our minds, our own thinking, our own decisions.

Isaac next launches into a strange and confused argument:

“ Since as Christians we believe God caused the self to exist,”

True, God created our soul, this is standards Christian belief among even Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as well as Protestants, no controversy there.

“it cannot be without cause;”

If Isaac means the creation of the human soul, that “it cannot be without cause” then that is true, God is the cause of our soul existing.

“neither can it be free from God omnipotent rule”

Now if Isaac means by “God omnipotent rule” that everything falls within God’s sovereignty, this is again true. God is sovereign over every thing, which means that in each and every case He does as He pleases.

What determinsts forget or intentionally do not want to acknowledge is that God was sovereign over the design of mankind. God designed us to be as He pleased us to be. So whatever we are is due to God’s sovereignty.

He could have created us with four arms and ten legs. Instead he created us with two arms and two legs. He also created us with the cognitive faculties to be capable of having and making our own choices (i.e. the capacity for free will, the capacity for freely making our own decisions/choices).

If that is the way that he sovereignly decided to create us, then that is the way we are: regardless of the determinists who reject and despise this reality.

“ - hence, it cannot be free from causes.”

Isaac has switched things in mid argument. He starts by claiming that God had to create the human soul, that it could not exist unless God caused its creation. And this is true. But then in the middle of this argument he switches to the claim that “it cannot be free from causes”. If he means by this that the human soul’s freely made choices are necessited, caused by antecedent and necessitating causes, he has made no argument for this whatsoever. Arguing that God created the human soul is not at all like arguing that the soul’s choices are necessitated/determined by necessitating factors. Isaac made no argument for this conclusion at all.

Finally Isaac writes this rather strange comment at the end of his post:

“If you disagree, fine. But so far your third person responses have only assumed what you are trying to prove.”

It is Isaac who has brought up **third persons** (i.e. John Frame and John Byl) attempting to present his arguments against LFW. I responded by providing Alvin Plantinga and his words showing how really weak the argument against LFW claiming that it involves chance is.

Why is it OK for Isaac to quote Frame and Byl but not OK for me to quote Plantinga????

And Plantinga does not merely assume “what you are trying to prove”: he decimates Harris and Byl’e argument that LFW involves chance.

Isaac is saying that what is good for the goose (himself) is not good for the gander (me). But that is totally hypocritical. If Isaac HIMSELF brings up THIRD PERSONS to bring up his arguments, then I am perfectly entitled to bring up other third persons to show the feebleness and inadequacy of the arguments that his THIRD PERSONS present.

Robert

Isaac H said...

Dan,

Maybe that wasn't the best choice of words, but I think the distinction is hard to make at that point. Paul's post-conversion experience in Romans 7 displays (I would argue) that in some sense he can't do what he wants, and he does what he doesn't want, even after regeneration. So, there is certainly a way going on and I'm not sure CFW is the primary type of freedom Paul has all the time. I also believe that the righteousness God gives us at justification/regeneration (2 Cor 5:21) and the good works we do (Ephesians 2:10) are both alien to our naturally depraved selves - which calls into question CFW, sense that would argue against coercion.

So I'm not sure we always have CFW, but I would argue that CFW is the primary freedom necessary for moral responsibility. I think moral freedom can overlap with CFW so as to be one and the same sometimes, but obviously I don't see that happening pre-conversion at all. I would say that God can hold us responsible for whatever actions he wants to as his view of justice is higher than ours. And since you've already admitted that you think God can hold us responsible for actions we are compelled (in some sense) to commit, then I don't see why you continue to argue for LFW.

Isaac H said...

Robert,

All of your posts (except one) refer to me in the third person ("Isaac") instead of the second person ("you"), which indicates you're talking past me, not at me. I don't mind you referencing Plantinga.

What I have a problem with is when you said "The bible says for example, that our words flow from our hearts. Hearts is a metaphor for our inner man, our minds, our own thinking, our own decisions."

But the Bible says "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will." Proverbs 21:1

Your presupposition that our hearts are free from divine causes is (per Proverbs) unbiblical. For LFW to be true as you presuppose, our hearts would have to be free from divine causes. So far, you have used CFW's understanding of freedom (our ability to choose as we desire) to presuppose LFW's reality (freedom to choose the contrary free from necessitating causes).

If you continue to insist with such passion that God created us to act independently of his causes, you must demonstrate from scripture that God has somehow abdicated his omnipotent rule over our hearts.

Isaac H said...

Dan,

I don't think the first part of my comments above were that clear. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't have a problem with conceeding that in certain circumstances we don't have free will (even CFW) during the process of santification.

And my question for you is, if (by your own admission) moral responsibility can be upheld even in situations where LFW is not present, then why continue to argue for LFW? I guess always thought that LFWer's main problem with determinism and Calvinism is their assertion that moral responsibility cannot be upheld where LFW is not present.

SLW said...

Isaac H,

Is God objectively real? ..."there is no objective morality"

I said that there was only God and what he says and does. Did you miss something? Morality is not something the exists on its own as if it is a measuring stick for God. Quite the opposite: God is the measuring stick for morality.

There is nothing ironic about my comments concerning that on determinism there can be no objective evil. There can be no evil at all, since the only objective thing is God, and there is nothing which is against his will if determinism is true. What is not ironic, but incoherent is for a determinist to talk as if evil existed. It can't within their framework. You never responded to the point.

As for the crucifixion being evil, I have to admit that bit of Calvinist claptrap grates on my nerves. There is nothing evil about God offering his Son as a perfect sacrifice for sin, nor in his Son willingly taking on our sin and dying in them. As for your citation of the Gospels referring to the crucifixion being murder, good luck finding chapter and verse for that one. Maybe you would find this one more helpful : "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." John 10:18. Apparently Jesus didn't think his life was taken from him in an evil act of murder.

...or that libertarian free will is so good that [is] God willing to put up with evil to acheive it's reality.
Bingo. God made man in his image and called it good. With man capable of willing as does God but capable of doing so in opposition to him, evil is possible.

Hence, LFW and the ability to choose otherwise is unnecessary.
Only if one is supralapsarian. Otherwise, Adam and Eve must have had the power of contrary choice for the Fall to occur.

Isaac H said...

SLW,

I didn't like your verbage and I explained why. If you say there is no objective morality, then it appears to imply that God can change his character so as to make sin to not be a sin if he desired. I disagree with that concept. If God doesn't change (per James 1:17 and Heb 13:8), then morality as it reflects his character will never change - hence, morality is objectively real in the sense that we can't change it...and neither can God insofar as he can't change himself.

The irony in your earlier comments is that you deny objective morality (thereby eliminating the possibility of evil existing in an objective sense), only to turn around and argue that CFW undermines the existence of evil. That's the pot calling the kettle black - hence, irony.

You said, "What is not ironic, but incoherent is for a determinist to talk as if evil existed. It can't within their framework."
Only if you presuppose that God ordaining evil is the same as being guilty of it - I don't know of any Calvinist that believes that.

Regarding the crucifixion, I admitted that it was a self-sacrifice (per your reference above). However, Jesus asked the Father to forgive his murderers (Luke 23:34). I'm not sure why you are denying that other than the fact that would present problems for your philosophical presuppositions.

You said "God made man in his image and called it good. With man capable of willing as does God but capable of doing so in opposition to him, evil is possible."
On your own terms, this doesn't remove God of responsibility for the existence of evil - unless of course you deny God's omnipotence or omniscience.

Lastly, supra or infralapsarian views aren't really important here since that is more about the order of decrees and less about whether there were decrees. The question is more of: Did God decree the fall at all? Revelation 13:8 and Ephesians 1 both tell us that salvation through the death of Jesus Christ were planned from the foundation of the world - hence I would argue that God's plan of Redemption was his sole purpose in Creation. I don't see any scriptural evidence to suggest that God's main desire was to create other omnipotent creatures - which is essentially what you seem to arguing (per "Bingo").

SLW said...

Isaac H

If you say there is no objective morality, then it appears to imply that God can change his character so as to make sin to not be a sin if he desired

It does nothing of the sort. In the way I framed it, morality was anchored to God's character and statements as it should be. If you do agree that God does not change, you should have no problem with this conception. Morality cannot be objective in the sense that it is not independent of God, nor could any sense of it be laid against God as if to see if he measured up to it. Morality, as humans understand it, must arise from a revelation of what God is like and what he's told us.

you deny objective morality (thereby eliminating the possibility of evil existing in an objective sense)

No, I do not. The objective sense of evil is that it is that which is contrary to God's will. As morality is measured by what God is like and what God says to us, so evil is measured by contrariness to God's will and word. But my perspective on this was not what I was arguing. I was taking the perspective of determinism. From that perspective (not mine) there can be no evil, for all that happens only happens because is was willed by God. If evil could exist on determinism (it can't), it could only do so because God is evil (he isn't).

... if you presuppose that God ordaining evil is the same as being guilty of it - I don't know of any Calvinist that believes that.
Now that's a good trick. Since all is determined just as he willed it, exactly who else can be guilty of it?

...to forgive his murderers
You're reading into the text. There is no necessity to take it that way. That is why I'm denying it, it's never cast that way in the Word. I think it is your presuppositions that are putting it there rather than mine taking it away.

...this doesn't remove God of responsibility for the existence of evil
I've never made that claim. God does bear a kind of responsibility for evil in that he chose to make beings with the capacity to contradict him and sustains their existence in doing so. However, he saw that as good, and I'm willing to accede to his judgment. But evil is not from him or of him, and he has put into place that which will ultimately extinguish it.

to create other omnipotent creatures
I'm not sure that is even worthy of comment.

Isaac H said...

SLW,

On morality: I think you know we substantively agree but that I don't like your verbage or the potential implications.

You said "the objective sense of evil is that it is that which is contrary to God's will."
Ok, then the objective sense of morality is that which is in accordance with God's will. Why play the word games when you know I'm saying essentially the same thing? With relativism so much on the rise, saying "there is no objective morality" has much worse connotations than you intend. That was my point and I made it very clear since you, initially, did not.

"...exactly who can be guilty of it?"
2 Samuel 24:1 "Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, 'Go, number Israel and Judah."
Verse 10 "But David's heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done."
No doubt you'll doo some gymnastics here but it's very clear God directly caused David to sin and yet David was held responsible (and the people were punished for it). And yet, I find much more comfort in knowing that God "works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Eph 1:11)...not just things he does control, which doesn't include evil or sin. Your problem is with the Bible, not Calvinism.

"you're reading into the text." Right, so when the Pharisees held secret counsel on how they could "destroy him", when they decided to release a murderer instead of Jesus, and when they yelled "crucify him", they were really thinking, "let's offer a propitiatory sacrifice to Yahweh." The question isn't what God's intent was, but what was their intent, and could God hold them accountable for it? The answer is yes (Matt 26:24; 27:3).

"God does bear a kind of resonsibility" I agree with the second half here - but it's not really an arguement against Calvinism. The first half is a presupposition that you cannot find in scripture.

"I'm not sure that is even worthy of comment." My point was that if God created creatures with the "capacity to contradict him", then he would by definition be abdicating some of his omnipotence and giving at least some sense of omnipotent (autonomy) to his creatures. LFW often has a very peculiar and convenient understanding of God's omnipotence which doesn't square with the Bible.

SLW said...

Isaac H,

Why play the word games when you know I'm saying essentially the same thing?
That wasn't really my intent, I just didn't agree with your reasoning for making your initial objection. We agree about the basic premise, and can leave it at that.

How do you incorporate the parallel passage (2 Chronicles 21:1)? It appears that God was "guilty" of no more than letting Satan have an opportunity to tempt David as a result of prior misdeeds of Israel. So your characterization that God caused David to sin fails in its space and also in taking into account James 1:13. No gymnastics necessary. Your or my comfort with anything God does is inconsequential--what matters is truth.

You are reading into the text concerning your characterization of Jesus death. All of the deductions in the world made from a viewpoint not necessitated by the Word itself won't change that. If you want to depend on intent, the Pharisees intent, in so far as we can suppose it from what the Word does say, was driven by unbelief. They considered Jesus a blasphemer and a threat to their "national security". They did what they thought was expedient to stop a deceiver and inciter of revolt against the Romans. They went through proper channels and Jesus had a trial. How is that murder, even just from the human side of the equation? I've already demonstrated it wasn't murder from the divine side of the equation. When Jesus asked his Father to forgive them because they did not know what they did, he wasn't talking about killing, they knew precisely that they were doing that.

We have kind of lost track of the initial argument here. Dan argued that Calvinist formulations of Total Depravity (moral inability) and CFW (moral responsibility) are irreconciliable. I am happy to let our side discussions abate in order to return to the subject at hand.

Thank you Isaac, for the engagement.

Isaac H said...

SLW,

Since you were the one who began this little excursion to nowhere, please permit me to have the last word.

1 Chron 21:1 does not dictate the interpretation of 2 Sam 24, or vis versa. Rather, my point was that, whether by primary or secondary causes, God was still the ultimate and primary cause (per 2 Sam 24) of David's sin. Proverbs 21:1 says "the King's heart is a stream in the hand of the Lord; he turns him where he wills." God doesn't just "allow" sin, he ordains that it "exist" in some sense for his good purposes.

Regarding the crucifixion, we are likely going to have to agree to disagree. However, your explanation fails to comport with the fact that they executed in brutal fashion someone who the "proper chanels" had found innocent. Whatever their motives, it doesn't excuse capital punishment of an innocent man - hence Jesus' condemnation of Judas. You are doing gymnatics.

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Isaac,

The main reason I hold to LFW is that I find it taught in scripture. Certainly passages like 1 Corinthians 10:13 or Deuteronomy 30:19 help but even passages like John 6:44 help because they are denying LFW with respect to conversion (not some other concept).

Likewise God's relationship with sin only makes sense with LFW. He hates sin, laments it, takes efforts to avoid it and it's against His will. Take the fall of Adam. If LFW doesn't exist then it can't be between God and the fall.

Many other reasons can be given, such as a sincere offer in the Gospel and genuine relationships but hopefully that suffices.

Maybe it would help if I explained my views on the relationship between LFW and responsibility To be precise, I said we are sometimes morally responsible without the ability to obey, not that we are morally responsible without LFW. We can still choose between evil options or between non moral options.

When it comes to ought implies can I think we face two sub concepts. First, commanding the impossible seems unjust. But holding someone responsible for obedience after they incapacitate themselves seems fine, like drunk drivers. And I think God's moral commands were given in seed form in the Garden of Eden and indeed they flow from His very nature.

Second, we have the moral intuition that responsibility passes up the causal chain if our actions are not fundamentally up to us. If someone else is calling the shots they should take responsibility. And this is why it's important that I only said we don't always have the ability to obey not that we don't have LFW. Our actions are not being predetermined by God.

Also I do hold to enabling grace even if everyone is not always able to trust and obey. But I do think God gives everyone at some point sufficient grace to lead to conversion.

I am sure more could be said, but I will leave it at that for now. If it helps, here's a few posts where I get into this a little more:

http://www.traditionalbaptistchronicles.com/2008/05/commands-and-invitations-for-impossible.html

http://www.traditionalbaptistchronicles.com/2010/08/trials-and-theodicy.html

God be with you,
Dan

Isaac H said...

Thanks Dan,

I appreciate the explanation and the links. Of course I disagree with your conclusions.

The scriptures you cite only refer to our ability (or inability) to make choices. They don't teach LFW or a freedom from God's determined will. That these passages describe LFW, I would think you could admit, is a presuppositionally caused conclusion.

I would argue that God has both a revealed and secret will (per the example of Abraham being commanded by God to sacrifice Isaac while God secretly decreeing that he would not). Therefore we should not presume to think that God's desire to prevent sin and his lament over it eliminates the possibility that he secretly decreed it's reality for his own glory.

And I don't see any "genuine offer of the gospel" in the NT. Instead, the example we see is "repent, believe, and you will be saved." It's a command, not an offer.

When it comes to "ought implies can", let me ask you this: Does it remove your responsibility if you provide someone with alcohol or drugs when you know with absolute certainty they will incapacitate themselves and be unable to obey? My moral intuition tells me that seems wrong too.

And to your second sub-point, I can only think of Romans 9:19-23.

Godismyjudge said...

Isaac,

I have argued and explained my conclusions inch by inch, so no they are not just presuppositions.

On the sincere offer, to you agree with the WCF 10.2:

II. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man,[9] who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,[10] he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

On drunks, I think we are saying the same thing.

On Romans 9, here's my thoughts:

http://www.traditionalbaptistchronicles.com/2010/01/index-to-posts-on-romans-9-11.html

God be with you,
Dan


Isaac H said...

Thanks Dan,

My point was simply that I think your presuppositions are driving your reasons (and therefore your interpretation) of those passages.

In regard to the Confession, I fail to see your point. 10.1 makes it clear that the effectual call is given only to those who are elect. When you referred to a "free offer of the gospel" in your post above, I assumed you were referring to evangelism, not conversion. The NT presents evangelism as an announcement of what God has done for sinners and a command to repent and obey. Grace is offered and conveyed to those who through regeneration repent and believe in response to hearing the command. There is no conflict here between what I said and the WCF.

In regards to the drunk, I don't think we're saying the same thing. My point was that since God had the foreknowledge that by providing Adam with free will he would (or "could") fall and that inability to obey would ensue, and since God had both the power and opportunity to prevent such an event, then he is no less "responsible" than a man who provides alcohol to an individual who is certain to get drunk and then holds that person responsible for disobedience they can't help. In other words, I don't think (on your own terms) you're alleviating God of responsiblity.

I read your article on Romans 9:19-23 and found it inaccurate and unconvincing. But I'll give you credit for creativity :)

Thanks again and please don't feel the need to respond any more if you don't want to. I'm sure this has worn you out too!

Godismyjudge said...

Thanks Isaac, we can leave it at that. If you have a blog or something, let me know.

God be with you,
Dan

Robert said...

(part 1)

I had stated the biblical truth that our words flow from our hearts (which is why we are told to guard our hearts: note it is our responsibility to monitor what comes out of our mouths). Isaac responded by bringing up a favorite determinist/calvinist proof text (Proverbs 21:1). There are some problems with using 21:1 as your proof of the determinists view of how God controls us.

First, they assume that this verse is teaching that at all times God directly controls the King, in a way similar to the way a puppet master directly controls his puppets. I call this “puppet like control” because it involves the idea that God directly, continously and continously controls us the way the puppet is controlled by his puppet master.

This is what determinists like Isaac would like to believe, but it runs into all sorts of problems when scripture is looked at in its totality.

Does Prov. 21:1 say that God controls every king every moment?

No, this is assumed by the determinist.

Does it say that God controls every person every moment?

No, this is extrapolated from the determinists interpretation of 21:1.
There are problems with this interpretation. The verse occurs in Proverbs, which involves a genre that is often figurative (clearly 21:1 is figurative language) and conveys general truths in figurative and aphoristic ways. You cannot take every verse in Proverbs as stating an absolute truth with no conditions whatsoever.

For example Prov. 12:21 says that “No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.” Is that always true? No, Jesus was both righteous and sinless and yet he was crucified. Numerous saints have been persecuted and at times it seems as if the wicked prosper and get away with things (cf. Psalm 73 where Asaph laments this reality).

While 12:21 may not state an absolute and unconditioned truth, it is saying that generally speaking living in a righteous way avoids a lot of problems and God does protect the righteous.

Robert

Robert said...

(part 2)

Another real problem with absolutizing 21:1 into a statement that God is continually exercising puppet like control over every individual is that Proverbs also contains clear passages that present individual persons having genuine choices where the choice they make is up to them not predetermined and consequences are conditional upon people’s choices.

Take one of the most famous and also one of my favorites: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him. And He will make your paths straight” (3:5-6). Note the conditions, trusting the Lord, leaning not or not trusting in your own understanding and acknowledging the Lord in all your ways. The outcome if you choose to do that is that “He will make your paths straight.” And what if you don’t make those choices? Will He still make your paths straight?


Or take another clear example of a passage teaching that we have genuine choices that are up to us further in chapter 3: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, Go, and come back. And tomorrow I will give it, When you have it with you.” (3:27-28). What is the choice that we have here? One option is to choose to help a person in need when we can do so. The other option is to choose to not help that person when it is within our power to do so. Who makes this choice? We do. We can choose to do the right thing or choose to do the wrong thing, either way the choice is up to us. We are not controlled to do the wrong thing here or controlled to do the right thing here, it is a choice that is up to us.

The NT parallel passage to this is found in James 4:17: “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James says if you are in a situation where you know what the right thing to do is, but instead choose not to do it, you choose to do otherwise, it is sin for you.

Note that both in Prov. 3:27-28 and James 4:17 the biblical writers presuppose that the person has it within their power to do either option, but one option is sin and the other is the right thing to do. In both passages the biblical writers presuppose the person has the freedom and the capacity to do either option and that the choice of which option they actualize is up to them. If everything instead was predetermined, then we would never have these choices (whatever God had predecided we would do, is what we would have to do and it would be impossible for us to do otherwise, in fact if all were predetermined we would never ever have the ability to do otherwise, to do either option).

In contrast to exhaustive determinism, the bible and our own daily experience show that we have lots of choices to make, choices that are up to us and are not predetermined. So if interpret Prov 21:1 a certain way, then you can convince yourself that we never ever have a choice, that God controls us like puppets.

But if you look at other scripture, including scripture in the book of Proverbs itself, you find that we have genuine choices, choices that are not and cannot be predetermined (if they were, then in fact we would have no choice to make).

Robert

Robert said...

(part 3)

Another thing that you notice if you were to look at all the verses about Kings in Proverbs is that they seem to speak positively about what the King does. In other words, they are talking about how a righteous King behaves in a certain way.

If we look at the other scriptures, especially in the OT, we find that Israel sometimes had very evil Kings. For example Ahab and Manassah who led the people into idolatry and had high places set up and led people away from the Lord.

Was the Lord controlling them to do so?

God repeatedly condemned and prohibited idolatry (e.g. in the 10 commandments) are we to believe that he simultaneously controlled these evil kings so that they led people into idolatry?

If you are going to argue this way, as consistent determinists will do, then you make God the author of all sin. He controls people so that they have to sin, so that it is impossible for them to do otherwise, than to do the sins that God controls them to commit.

Is this the way the Bible presents sin and God’s relation to sin? No, we are told repeatedly that God is holy, that he hates sin, that he is separate from sin, that he wants people not to sin and to be Holy themselves.

If we take all of this into consideration, it is possible that Prov. 21:1 is speaking of a righteous King. The righteous King because he acknowledges the Lord in all of His ways, trusts the Lord, does not lean on his own understanding (cf. Prov. 3:5-6) will have God direct his paths. In other words, the condition for which God directs the heart of the King wherever God wants it to go, is that the King is righteous and acknowledges the Lord in all of his ways. This makes sense in light of what other passages in the bible say.

This also differentiates a righteous King from an evil King like Ahab. Ahab was not controlled by God so that he sinned and led the people into idolatry, so that he built the high places. Ahab did not live out Prov. 3:5-6 he did not acknowledge the Lord in all of his ways, nor did Ahab trust the Lord, and Ahab leaned on his own understanding, which led to idolatry and evil. Ahab (and other evil Kings) instead of being righteous and trusting in the Lord and acknowledging Him in all their ways: did the opposite. So instead of having the Lord direct their paths and making them straight, they did what was right in their own eyes, resulting in evil and crooked paths.

This theme of choosing the righteous path versus the wrong path is a prominent them throughout Proverbs and the rest of the OT. All of this is ignored by those who seek to isolate and proof text from certain passages while ignoring what other scriptures say.

Robert

Isaac H said...

Dan,

Thank you for the thoughtful dialogue and articles on this website. Even though I disagree I appreciate your interest in theology and your attempt to attack Calvinism head on.

Godismyjudge said...

Thanks Isaac. I appreciate the peaceful conversation as well.

God be with you,
Dan