Sunday, February 23, 2014

Online Theological Discussion

UPDATE - July 7, 2014
My interlocutor in the following discussion
insists that Calvinists must necessarily affirm
that God is the author of sin.
Here is a post by Colin Maxwell titled
Does Calvinism believe or teach that God is the Author of Man's Sin?
that clearly shows the opposite.

Last year I engaged in a discussion with another member, in the private messaging section of an internet forum. Here is the entirety of that discussion except for the first post from each of us, and selected portions from his subsequent posts. The sole purpose of the redactions is to hide the identity of the other member.

My text will appear non-italicized, while his will appear in blue italics.

– – – –

Thu, July 11: In [a thread on the forum] I refuted your statement about Hyper-Calvinists and prayer. I noticed you dropped the HYPER label in your article. Clearly you refuse to be corrected concerning your error.

– – – –

Fri, July 12: Your primary argument against synergists is a strawman at best. Just because a person asks God to save someone, doesn't mean we are telling God to save them against their will. God can cause circumstances (as He did with Paul) that can (not WILL) make it hard (not impossible) to "kick against the pricks", but I, nor any logical Non Calvinist Baptist pray with the idea of God imposing an irresistible salvation upon the subject of our prayers.

However, if you a monergist, then you don't believe that a person's prayer would lead to anyone's salvation because the elect are already predetermined. Thus that would make you a hypocrite for accusing a synergist of something that you don't believer yourself.

And it is not a "Hyper" Calvinist that believes this. The Westminster Confession clearly states that God from eternity determined all things WHATSOEVER comes to pass. Knowing that this deterministic statement would lead to the obvious result of God being the author of sin, they included a pre-emptive clause "so as that He is not the author of sin". Well, yes, that does make Him the author of sin. Only an honest Calvinist like A.W. Pink was bold enough to admit it, and bold enough to admit that God doesn't love everybody.

Nevertheless, if God determines all things whatsoever comes to pass, then there is no need to pray because it's going to happen whether you pray for something or not. The Calvinist by praying for anything is asking God to alter the course of predetermined events which is in conflict with Calvinist theology.

And no, I will not be "corrected" because I spent far too much time reading and memorizing the Bible then studying man-made creeds, catechisms, confessions, and Calvin the baby sprinkling, amillennial, murdering Augustinian.

– – – –

Fri, July 12: Part 2

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. Rom 10:1

What happened to Israel after Paul prayed that? Paul wrote them off in Acts 28, and TItus wiped out Jerusalem, and for 2000 years Israel has been under blindness (Rom 11:25-26).

Now if Paul KNEW that Israel was elected to be saved according the Calvinist view, then why would Paul make this prayer?

– – – –

Fri, July 12: You clearly do not see the difference between the END God has purposed and the MEANS to that end. The Scripture commands believers to make disciples, so Calvinists obey the command as no one can believe without hearing, they cannot hear without a preacher, and they cannot preach unless they are sent (Rom. 10:14-15).

What I notice missing from your writing is any attempt to comprehend that which Calvinists actually affirm. You raise arguments that have been responded to by numerous people over the years, information that is readily available online. It appears that you would rather misrepresent your brothers in Christ than make the attempt to understand the actual views.

– – – –

Fri, July 12:

Psalm 5:5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.

Psalm 11:5 The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

It's not very bold to agree with the text of Scripture that clearly shows that God doesn't love everybody. He in fact hates a few people.

– – – –

Fri, July 12: I was a Calvinist in the Presbyterian church after I left Judaism long before I became a Baptist 20 years ago. I understand Calvinism all the the Confessions quite well.

The typical Calvinist response is "you don't understand Calvinism". As a Jew, I had to memorize Genesis through Deuteronomy by the time I was 13. When I joined the Presbyterian church I memorized the Westminster Confession of 1646, and 1689, the Helvitic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. I've read Augustine's City of God several times, Calvin's Institutes (I have them in 3 volumes), and several books by John Gill, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Martin Lloyd Jones, BB Warfield, JI Packer, Hodges, Mohler, Sproul, Piper, MacArthur, Carey, et al. My college textbook for Systematic Theology was by a Calvinist (Wayne Grudem) and all of the books for my masters in counseling were Calvinist authors (Jay Adams).

So yeah, I have quite an extensive history in "understanding" Calvinism. The reason that I give the answers that I do is BECAUSE I HAVE studied all of the other sources. I choose to believe the Bible, not how some committee that met at a synod told me I should believe it based on the Augustinian views of election and predestination which is the basis of Calvinist theology. Augustine derived his beliefs from Manicheaism a Gnostic and Buddhist system of beliefs. Not to mention the involvement that the Freemasons had in Calvinism. Study the history of James Anderson and the Apartheid imposed on Afrikans by the Dutch Reformed Church (whose logo was the Queen of Heaven). and how Freemason Calvinist churches were established in Afrika to exploit slaves (Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield were both slave owners).

I am an independent fundamental Baptist and want no part of ANYTHING that smells like Rome.

– – – –

Sat, July 13: So with all your reading you SHOULD know the difference between means and ends. The only option left is that you feel it's ok then to MISREPRESENT your brothers in Christ. With your knowledge you should be able to refute what Calvinist's actually believe and provide exegesis of the relevant passages to show the error. Where is that form of refutation?

I am not as well read as you, but currently am halfway through Pink's Sovereignty of God. I'm sure you will appreciate my unwillingness to accept your statement that Pink "was bold enough to admit it" (the it being that God is the author of sin) without you providing the source. From our interaction here I would not be surprised to find that any such statement (if he in fact made it) was taken out of context by you.

– – – –

Sat, July 13: From Pink's Sovereignty of God. I'm assuming you have read chapter 1.

"God is sovereign in the exercise of His love. Ah! that is a hard saying, who then can receive it? It is written, "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27). When we say that God is sovereign in the exercise of His love, we mean that He loves whom He chooses. God does not love everybody;[2] if He did, He would love the Devil. Why does not God love the Devil? Because there is nothing in him to love; because there is nothing in him to attract the heart of God. Nor is there anything to attract God’s love in any of the fallen sons of Adam, for all of them are, by nature, "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3). If then there is nothing in any member of the human race to attract God’s love, and if, notwithstanding, He does love some, then it necessarily follows that the cause of His love must be found in Himself, which is only another way of saying that the exercise of God’s love towards the fallen sons of men is according to His own good pleasure."

Chapter 11,

"Can God "love" the one on whom His "wrath" abides? Again; is it not evident that the words "The love of God which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:39) mark a limitation, both in the sphere and objects of His love? Again; is it not plain from the words "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:13) that God does not love everybody?"

Like I said, Pink was one of the few honest Calvinists that had the guts to be honest with the implications of his theology.

– – – –

Sat, July 13: So where is the quote from Pink that says "God is the author of sin"?

Feel free to stop using the phrase "few honest Calvinists" implying that most of us are only intent on deceiving people into embracing Calvinism. As a self-professed former Calvinist you know that to be untrue.

– – – –

Sat, July 13: I'll make this really simple. Where does sin come from? Calvinists will admit that it comes from man's will. But Calvinism holds that compatibilist freedom determines the persons nature. Thefore a person can only act out of that nature which he has been programmed with. If man does not have the liberty to choose between decisions that are not determined by any external factors, then they must be internal. If they are internal then God is the author of that persons will (which Calvinism admits). That only delays the issue one more step but the implication is still the same. If man is determined to do sin of which he has no choice, then it is still the programmers fault because ultimately, it is the programmer that determined that he sin which still makes God the author of sin.

If man does not have free libertian will, then sin could not have originated with any choice that man made because he was determined to make that choice.

You can not hold that God determines ALL THINGS whatsoever comes to pass, and at the same time exclude sin from the equation. In Calvinist theology, God is ultimately the author of sin.

– – – –
Sun, July 14:

Well, yes, that does make Him the author of sin. Only an honest Calvinist like A.W. Pink was bold enough to admit it, and bold enough to admit that God doesn't love everybody.

This is the 3rd time now that I have asked you to provide the source in Pink's writing where (according to you) he admitted that God is the author of sin. Apparently you cannot provide that source!

You claim to have been "a Calvinist in the Presbyterian church" and to have widely read Calvinist writers and thus to "have quite an extensive history in "understanding" Calvinism.

In this correspondence you have shown that you have no interest in understanding what your brothers in Christ actually affirm, and are intent on purposeful misrepresentation. You join the vast numbers of men who, because they cannot refute actual Calvinism, are forced to resort to misrepresentation, in an attempt to discredit that view.

– – – –

Sun, August 11: I am close to the end of Pink's Sovereignty of God. In Chapter 8 (page 158 of the edition I am reading) he writes:

Let it be emphatically said that God does not produce the sinful dispositions of any of His creatures, though He does restrain and direct them to the accomplishing of His own purposes. Hence He is neither the Author nor the Approver of sin."[emphasis mine]

A clear refutation of your statement above.

– – – –

Sun, August 11: What you have there is merely a preemptive denial that gives Calvinism plausible deniability in the even that someone accuses Calvinism of holding that God is the author of sin. Just because he denies it's implications, does not mean he can explain why the denial is legitimate. If God determines ALL THINGS, then how is He NOT the author of sin? Is sin not a thing? Does sin have some kind of existence that we do not know about? Why then do we call sin sin if sin is not knowable? If, however, sin IS knowable, and from the Bible definitions of it, it most certainly is, then sin exists. If sin exists, then it must logically be included in all things. Common sense says that if God determines ALL things, then that includes sin.

You can not walk away from the implication just because someone offers a summary denial of it. How many times has a police detective heard "he could not have possibly killed that person, he's just not capable. He's the most generous and kind person I've ever met and not a violent bone in his body", only to later find out that the accused actually IS guilty. Just because someone makes a blanket denial does not change the facts. Simply stating a blanket denial only absolves God of being the author of sin in theory, it doesn't offer any explanation as to how or WHY He is NOT the author of sin if He indeed determines ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER come to pass.

The ONLY explanation that does not ascribe sin to God is that man has libertarian free will and chooses to sin, and that man's choice was not caused by any other influences or compulsion than the man's own decision to sin. Calvinism merely delays that obvious implication by stating that mans will is acted out by the nature that he has been given, and he therefore can not act otherwise, even though he could if he wanted to, but he doesn't want to because it is not in his nature to want to, and thus he does not have the ability to choose good or do good. But that still does not resolve the problem. If man has the total inability to act other than the nature that God gave him, then ultimately man can not be held accountable for his inability to act otherwise, and if he is acting in a way of which he is incapable of acting otherwise, then God is still the author of his sin because He created a will in the 'non elect' that can not act other than how it was programmed to act, and if man is only acting out of that which he was programmed, then man can not be the author of his own sin because he is not sinning because he choose to sin, but because someone gave him a will that prevents him from doing otherwise. Implication: God is the author of sin and evil. There is no way to get around that implication.

– – – –

Mon, August 12: You made a false claim. I have refuted your claim.

Now you insist that Calvinism MUST affirm something which is completely contrary to Scripture - that God is the Author of sin. The Bible is clear that man is responsible for his own sin and every Calvinist will affirm that.

In Peter's sermon recorded in Acts 2:22-24 you have 2 things that are clear: the 'men of Israel' with 'lawless hands" crucified Jesus, who at the same time was "delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God."

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. [NKJV]

Calvinists affirm that man is solely responsible for his sin and thus his condemnation is just, in keeping with the text of Scripture.

In that same chapter of Pink's work he writes:

Should someone respond, Then is God the Author of Sin? We would have to ask, in turn, What is meant by "Author"? Plainly it was God's will that sin should enter this world otherwise it would not have entered, for nothing happens save as God has eternally decreed. Moreover, there was more than a bare permission for God only permits that which He has purposed.

God clearly has a purpose in permitting sin to exist, but such purpose cannot make God the author of sin. If you deny that purpose you end up with sin existing without purpose and God having no control over the world he created.

- - - -

Sun, August 11: Can not you see the contradictory logic of Pink's statement? If God willed sin, then He is the author of it. Pink even admitted that everything that is willed by God is decreed by God, and all things that God decreed are what He created. If God wills what He decrees, and He willed sin, then it necessarily follows that He decreed sin as well, and if He decreed sin then He is the author of it. Thus, you make God dependent on sin to prove His sovereignty which means that God was not wholly God until sin was created, thus a Creator that existed for eternity was not wholly omnipotent until He had an opportunity to demonstrate His sovereignty by decreeing sin in order to triumph over it.

Now just exactly who did God have to prove this too? Before God was sovereign over creation, He was loving someone from eternity, but in Calvinism, God gets more glory by determining that some spend eternity in hell, then He would if He had determined that all would freely worship Him which God COULD HAVE done, but He didn't, and if He didn't, then it means He determined others to hell because He wanted to. If that's the god you serve I feel sorry for you, because that's not the God of the Bible. The Bible is clear that mercy rejoices against judgment (James 2:13), and there are things that God said specifically that He did not decree or desire,

"And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin." Jeremiah 32:35.

Furthermore, you are misinterpreting Acts 4. I have written a short explanation of this verse so I won't repost it here. [website redacted]

Calvinism only says in theory that man is still responsible for sin by ignoring the implications of their theology. Calvinism does NOT hold that man has the ability to choose whether or not to sin because that is the entire crux of total inability. If you understand the compatibilist view of freedom, and boil it down to it's core, the implications are illogical and contradictory because Calvinism only says that man is accountable due to God's saying so, but without explaining logically or Biblically how compatibilist freedom does not make God not only the author of sin and evil, but how a loving God could WANT and DESIRE the damnation of anyone by a predetermined arbitrary decree. God does not need the "purpose" of sin to be God, He was God before sin was ever considerable and do claim that sin is necessary to God is to give sin an equally deified status that rivals the sovereignty of God, makes God dependent upon evil which is a form of pantheism.

- - - -
Mon, August 12:
If God willed sin, then He is the author of it.

NO, willed for a purpose, which neither I nor you actually knows.

If that's the god you serve I feel sorry for you, because that's not the God of the Bible.

I don't serve your misinterpretation of the God of the Bible.

Furthermore, you are misinterpreting Acts 4.

I referenced Acts 2, not 4.

Calvinism does NOT hold that man has the ability to choose whether or not to sin because that is the entire crux of total inability.

True! Adam as representative for mankind chose for us. He made the wrong choice with the result that all mankind is spiritually dead. If you are unwilling to accept Adam as our 1st representative you must not be willing to accept Christ as the 2nd representative. Romans 5:12-19

I understand that you intensely dislike Calvinism, and that's OK. In order to refute it though you will need to actually refute what the view affirms, not what you think it should affirm.

- - - -

Thu, August 15: I finished reading Pink this morning.

In Appendix 2: The Case of Adam (pg.249 in my copy) he writes:

Here then is the difficulty: If God has eternally decreed that Adam should eat of the tree, how could he be held responsible not to eat of it? Formidable as the problem appears, nevertheless, it is capable of a solution, a solution, moreover, which can be grasped even by the finite mind. The solution is to be found in the distinction between God's secret will and His revealed will. As stated in Appendix I, human responsibility is measured by our knowledge of God's revealed will; what God has told us, not what He has not told us, is the definer of our duty. So it was with Adam.

That God had decreed sin should enter this world through the disobedience of our first parents was a secret hid in His own breast. Of this Adam knew nothing, and that made all the difference so far as his responsibility was concerned. Adam was quite unacquainted with the Creator's hidden counsels. What concerned him was God's revealed will. And that was plain! God had forbidden him to eat of the tree, and that was enough. But God went further: He even warned Adam of the dire consequences which would follow should he disobey—death would be the penalty. Transgression, then, on the part of Adam was entirely excuseless. Created with no evil nature in him, with a will in perfect equipoise, placed in the fairest environment, given dominion over all the lower creation, allowed full liberty with only a single restriction upon him, plainly warned of what would follow an act of insubordination to God, there was every possible inducement for Adam to preserve his innocence; and, should he fail and fall, then by every principle of righteousness his blood must lie upon his own head, and his guilt be imputed to all in whose behalf he acted.
He continues on pg.251:

To affirm that God decreed the entrance of sin into His universe, and that He foreordained all its fruits and activities, is to say that which, at first may shock the reader; but reflection should show that it is far more shocking to insist that sin has invaded His dominions against His will, and that its exercise is outside His jurisdiction: for in such a case where would be His omnipotency? [emphasis mine]

In your statement above you appear to insist that sin has invaded His dominions against His will!

The ONLY explanation that does not ascribe sin to God is that man has libertarian free will and chooses to sin, and that man's choice was not caused by any other influences or compulsion than the man's own decision to sin.

Pink continues on pg.252:

Thus, though God is not the Author of sin, and though sin is contrary to His holy nature, yet the existence and operations of it are not contrary to His will, but subservient to it. God never tempts man to sin, but He has, by His eternal counsels (which He is now executing), determined its course.

So there you have it. Contrary to your false statement above:

Well, yes, that does make Him the author of sin. Only an honest Calvinist like A.W. Pink was bold enough to admit it, and bold enough to admit that God doesn't love everybody.

I have shown that Pink (along with all the other Calvinists that I know) affirms that the scripture declares that God is not the author of sin. For you to insist that Calvinists must affirm that God in fact is the author of sin, based on some logic of yours, and to then use that logic to prove Calvinism to be false is to misrepresent your brothers in Christ.

I call on you to desist from such misrepresentation!

- - - -

Sun, August 11: All you have shown which is what I have consistently maintained, is that Calvinism offers a mere DECLARATION that God is not the author of sin. But even your quotes from Pink say that God WILLS it, and wills its course. Just because you admit to everything BUT God being the author of sin, does not mean that rejecting the conclusion of your theology eliminates the implications. You, nor any other Calvinist, has proven that Calvinist theology does not make God the author of sin, you have simply denied the implications and frankly, in a very inconsistent and illogical manner.

It's a very simple concept. Sin exists. Sin had an origin. Sin was introduced to the world through Adam. If God determined all of Adam's actions, then Adam did not truly have a choice to NOT sin. Therefore claiming that God is the author of Adam's actions, but not his sin is absurd because you can not separate the 2. If God determined and willed for Adam to sin, then God is ultimately the author of sin.

Notice this example in your own quote from Pink, how that Pink ADMITS the problem, but simply offers a mere preemptive exclusion to the implication:

"To affirm that God decreed the entrance of sin into His universe, and that He foreordained all its fruits and activities, is to say that which, at first may shock the reader; but reflection should show that it is far more shocking to insist that sin has invaded His dominions against His will, and that its exercise is outside His jurisdiction: for in such a case where would be His omnipotency?"

Does begging the question resolve the negative implication? No it doesn't. This is not an explanation, it's a justification for the premise without tackling the implication in a manner consistent with Scripture or Calvinism's own stated premise on the determination of God. So OF COURSE is shocks the reader. What Pink did NOT do here, is PROVE how that sin being the result of mans own choice to sin INVADES God's dominion. He simply stated such as a question rather than proving the assertion. If God's omnipotence requires that He control every event, then you can not rightly say that He is omnipotent because there is nothing to compare His omnipotence to that He Himself does not control. The very fact that actions resulting from free agency exist and that God responds to those actions either in judgment or justification offers a demonstration of God's power against evil and for good. Premises contrary to that are simply offering no better explanation than that God is having a universal chess match with Himself.

- - - -

Thu, September 5: Earlier I referenced Peter's sermon recorded in Acts 2. In Genesis 50:20, we have another similar example of mans wickedness and God's purpose being joined.

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

If we both agree that the text of scripture is accurate, we both must necessarily agree that this passage affirms that God was not the author of the evil done to Joseph by his brothers, yet the evil served the purpose of God.

Where we disagree is your insistence, based on some logic in your own mind, that my affirmation that the evil served a purpose, requires me to affirm that God was the author of their sin. Calvinism agrees with the scripture that God is not the author of sin. Your insistence that Calvinism must affirm that which the scripture denies and your apparent crusade to refute Calvinism on that basis is pure misrepresentation.