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The nature of human free will
1986 | R.C. Sproul

Posted on 02/24/2003 9:12:32 AM PST by Frumanchu

PREDESTINATION seems to cast a shadow on the very heart of human freedom. If God has decided our destinies from all eternity, that strongly suggests that our free choices are but charades, empty exercises in predetermined playacting. It is as though God wrote the script for us in concrete and we are merely carrying out his scenario.

To get a handle on the puzzling relationship between predestination and free will, we must first define free will. That definition itself is a matter of great debate. Probably the most common definition says free will is the ability to make choices without any prior prejudice, inclination, or disposition. For the will to be free it must act from a posture of neutrality, with absolutely no bias.

On the surface this is very appealing. There are no elements of coercion, either internal or external, to be found in it. Below the surface, however, lurk two serious problems. On the one hand, if we make our choices strictly from a neutral posture, with no prior inclination, then we make choices for no reason. If we have no reason for our choices, if our choices are utterly spontaneous, then our choices have no moral significance. If a choice just happens—it just pops out, with no rhyme or reason for it—then it cannot be judged good or bad. When God evaluates our choices, he is concerned about our motives.

Consider the case of Joseph and his brothers. When Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, God’s providence was at work. Years later, when Joseph was reunited with his brothers in Egypt, he declared to them, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). Here the motive was the decisive factor determining whether the act was good or evil. God’s involvement in Joseph’s dilemma was good; the brothers’ involvement was evil. There was a reason why Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. They had an evil motivation. Their decision was neither spontaneous nor neutral. They were jealous of their brother. Their choice to sell him was prompted by their evil desires.

The second problem this popular view faces is not so much moral as it is rational. If there is no prior inclination, desire, or bent, no prior motivation or reason for a choice, how can a choice even be made? If the will is totally neutral, why would it choose the right or the left? It is something like the problem encountered by Alice in Wonderland when she came to a fork in the road. She did not know which way to turn. She saw the grinning Cheshire cat in the tree. She asked the cat, “Which way should I turn?” The cat replied, “Where are you going?” Alice answered, “I don’t know.” “Then,” replied the Cheshire cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

Consider Alice’s dilemma. Actually she had four options from which to choose. She could have taken the left fork or the right fork. She also could have chosen to return the way she had come. Or she could have stood fixed at the spot of indecision until she died there. For her to take a step in any direction, she would need some motivation or inclination to do so. Without any motivation, any prior inclination, her only real option would be to stand there and perish.

Another famous illustration of the same problem is found in the story of the neutral-willed mule. The mule had no prior desires, or equal desires in two directions. His owner put a basket of oats to his left and a basket of wheat on his right. If the mule had no desire whatsoever for either oats or wheat he would choose neither and starve. If he had an exactly equal disposition toward oats as he had toward wheat he would still starve. His equal disposition would leave him paralyzed. There would be no motive. Without motive there would be no choice. Without choice there would be no food. Without food soon there would be no mule.

We must reject the neutral-will theory not only because it is irrational but because, as we shall see, it is radically unbiblical.

Christian thinkers have given us two very important definitions of free will. We will consider first the definition offered by Jonathan Edwards in his classic work, On the Freedom of the Will.

Edwards defined the will as “the mind choosing.” Before we ever can make moral choices we must first have some idea of what it is we are choosing. Our selection is then based upon what the mind approves or rejects. Our understanding of values has a crucial role to play in our decision-making. My inclinations and motives as well as my actual choices are shaped by my mind. Again, if the mind is not involved, then the choice is made for no reason and with no reason. It is then an arbitrary and morally meaningless act. Instinct and choice are two different things.

A second definition of free will is “the ability to choose what we want.” This rests on the important foundation of human desire. To have free will is to be able to choose according to our desires. Here desire plays the vital role of providing a motivation or a reason for making a choice.

Now for the tricky part. According to Edwards a human being is not only free to choose what he desires but he must choose what he desires to be able to choose at all. What I call Edwards Law of Choice is this: “The will always chooses according to its strongest inclination at the moment.” This means that every choice is free and every choice is determined.

I said it was tricky. This sounds like a blatant contradiction to say that every choice is free and yet every choice is determined. But “determined” here does not mean that some external force coerces the will. Rather it refers to one’s internal motivation or desire. In shorthand the law is this: Our choices are determined by our desires. They remain our choices because they are motivated by our own desires. This is what we call self-determination, which is the essence of freedom.

Think for a minute about your own choices. How and why are they made? At this very instant you are reading the pages of this book. Why? Did you pick up this book because you have an interest in the subject of predestination, a desire to learn more about this complex subject? Perhaps. Maybe this book has been given to you to read as an assignment. Perhaps you are thinking, “I have no desire to read this whatsoever. I have to read it, and I am grimly wading through it to fulfill somebody else’s desire that I read it. All things being equal I would never choose to read this book.”

But all things are not equal, are they? If you are reading this out of some kind of duty or to fulfill a requirement, you still had to make a decision about fulfilling the requirement or not fulfilling the requirement. You obviously decided that it was better or more desirable for you to read this than to leave it unread. Of that much I am sure, or you would not be reading it right now.

Every decision you make is made for a reason. The next time you go into a public place and choose a seat (in a theater, a classroom, a church building), ask yourself why you are sitting where you are sitting. Perhaps it is the only seat available and you prefer to sit rather than to stand. Perhaps you discover that there is an almost unconscious pattern emerging in your seating decisions. Maybe you discover that whenever possible you sit toward the front of the room or toward the rear. Why? Maybe it has something to do with your eyesight. Perhaps you are shy or gregarious. You may think that you sit where you sit for no reason, but the seat that you choose will always be chosen by the strongest inclination you have at the moment of decision. That inclination may merely be that the seat closest to you is free and that you don’t like to walk long distances to find a place to sit down.

Decision-making is a complex matter because the options we encounter are often varied and many. Add to that that we are creatures with many and varied desires. We have different, often even conflicting, motivations.

Consider the matter of ice cream cones. Oh, do I have trouble with ice cream cones and ice cream sundaes. I love ice cream. If it is possible to be addicted to ice cream then I must be classified as an ice cream addict. I am at least fifteen pounds overweight, and I am sure that at least twenty of the pounds that make up my body are there because of ice cream. Ice cream proves the adage to me, “A second on the lips; a lifetime on the hips.” And, “Those who indulge bulge.” Because of ice cream I have to buy my shirts with a bump in them.

Now, all things being equal, I would like to have a slim, trim body. I don’t like squeezing into my suits and having little old ladies pat me on the tummy. Tummy-patting seems to be an irresistible temptation for some folks. I know what I have to do to get rid of those excess pounds. I have to stop eating ice cream. So I go on a diet. I go on the diet because I want to go on the diet. I want to lose weight. I desire to look better. Everything is fine until someone invites me to Swenson’s. Swenson’s makes the greatest “Super Sundaes” in the world. I know I shouldn’t go to Swenson’s. But I like to go to Swenson’s. When the moment of decision comes I am faced with conflicting desires. I have a desire to be thin and I have a desire for a Super Sundae. Whichever desire is greater at the time of decision is the desire I will choose. It’s that simple.

Now consider my wife. As we prepare to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary I am aware that she is exactly the same weight as she was the day we were married. Her wedding gown still fits her perfectly. She has no great problem with ice cream. Most eating establishments only carry vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Any of those make my mouth water, but they offer no enticement to my wife. Aha! But there is Baskin Robbins. They have pralines and cream ice cream. When we go to the mall and pass a Baskin Robbins my wife goes through a strange transformation. Her pace decelerates, her hands get clammy, and I can almost detect the beginning of salivation. (That’s salivation, not salvation.) Now she experiences the conflict of desires that assaults me daily.

We always choose according to our strongest inclination at the moment. Even external acts of coercion cannot totally take away our freedom. Coercion involves acting with some kind of force, imposing choices upon people that, if left to themselves, they would not choose. I certainly have no desire to pay the kind of income taxes that the government makes me pay. I can refuse to pay them, but the consequences are less desirable than paying them. By threatening me with jail the government is able to impose its will upon me to pay taxes.

Or consider the case of armed robbery. A gunman steps up to me and says, “Your money or your life.” He has just restricted my options to two. All things being equal I have no desire to donate my money to him. There are far more worthy charities than he. But suddenly my desires have changed as a result of his act of external coercion. He is using force to provoke certain desires within me. Now I must choose between my desire to live and my desire to give him my money. I might as well give him the money because if he kills me he will take my money anyway. Some people might choose to refuse, saying, “I would rather die than choose to hand this gunman my money. He’ll have to take it from my dead body.”

In either case, a choice is made. And it is made according to the strongest inclination at the moment. Think, if you can, of any choice you have ever made that was not according to the strongest inclination you had at the moment of decision. What about sin? Every Christian has some desire in his heart to obey Christ. We love Christ and we want to please him. Yet every Christian sins. The hard truth is that at the moment of our sin we desire the sin more strongly than we desire to obey Christ. If we always desired to obey Christ more than we desired to sin, we would never sin.

Does not the Apostle Paul teach otherwise? Does he not recount for us a situation in which he acts against his desires? He says in Romans, “The good that I would, I do not, and that which I would not, that I do” (Rom. 7:19, KJV). Here it sounds as if, under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, Paul is teaching clearly that there are times in which he acts against his strongest inclination.

It is extremely unlikely that the apostle is here giving us a revelation about the technical operation of the will. Rather, he is stating plainly what every one of us has experienced. We all have a desire to flee from sin. The “all things being equal” syndrome is in view here. All things being equal, I would like to be perfect. I would like to be rid of sin, just as I would like to be rid of my excess weight. But my desires do not remain constant. They fluctuate. When my stomach is full it is easy to go on a diet. When my stomach is empty my desire level changes. Temptations arise with the changing of my desires and appetites. Then I do things that, all things being equal, I would not want to do.

Paul sets before us the very real conflict of human desires, desires that yield evil choices. The Christian lives within a battlefield of conflicting desires. Christian growth involves the strengthening of desires to please Christ accompanied by the weakening of desires to sin. Paul called it the warfare between the flesh and the Spirit.

To say that we always choose according to our strongest inclination at the moment is to say that we always choose what we want. At every point of choice we are free and self-determined. To be self-determined is not the same thing as determinism. Determinism means that we are forced or coerced to do things by external forces. External forces can, as we have seen, severely limit our options, but they cannot destroy choice altogether. They cannot impose delight in things we hate. When that happens, when hatred turns to delight, it is a matter of persuasion, not coercion. I cannot be forced to do what I take delight in doing already.

The neutral view of free will is impossible. It involves choice without desire. That is like having an effect without a cause. It is something from nothing, which is irrational. The Bible makes it clear that we choose out of our desires. A wicked desire produces wicked choices and wicked actions. A godly desire produces godly deeds. Jesus spoke in terms of corrupt trees producing corrupt fruit. A fig tree does not yield apples and an apple tree produces no figs. So righteous desires produce righteous choices and evil desires produce evil choices.

Sproul, R. (. C. 1986. Chosen by God. Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, IL


TOPICS: Apologetics; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; Theology
KEYWORDS: calvinism; freewill; totaldepravity
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I apologize for the length of this post, but I felt extremely relevant to recent discussions involving free will and sovereignty. I found it interesting that some of the statements made on both sides of the argument in these threads match almost word for word to points mentioned in this chapter.

This is chapter 3 from the book entitled Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul. Please do bear in mind in discussing this that this is only one chapter and that some of the points here are further developed and explored throughout the book.

1 posted on 02/24/2003 9:12:32 AM PST by Frumanchu
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To: RnMomof7; Jean Chauvin; OrthodoxPresbyterian; xzins; fortheDeclaration; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; ...
Perhaps this will explain a little better the Reformed view of the nature of man's free will. Bump anyone I missed!
2 posted on 02/24/2003 9:15:37 AM PST by Frumanchu (Warning - the post you just read may contain statements of an offensive nature. Truth hurts...)
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To: Frumanchu
Thanks for the ping
3 posted on 02/24/2003 9:23:09 AM PST by Wrigley (33 hours til freedom)
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To: Frumanchu; RnMomof7
The neutral view of free will is impossible. It involves choice without desire. That is like having an effect without a cause. It is something from nothing, which is irrational.

While i understand what Dr. Sproul is getting at, this is an unfortunate statement. Something from nothing is not irrational, it is indeed, how the creation came about, and no one has ever successfully accused God of irrationality! It would have been better to say that for finite, limited human beings, it is something from nothing, which is irrational...ex nihilo, nihilo fit only applies to the creation, not the Creator.

4 posted on 02/24/2003 10:16:30 AM PST by Calvinist_Dark_Lord (He must increase, but I must decrease)
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To: Calvinist_Dark_Lord
Something from nothing is not irrational, it is indeed, how the creation came about, and no one has ever successfully accused God of irrationality!

I would agree in the case of God's creative power. He created the Universe from nothing. But in the case above we're addressing human will. Indeed, does not God's will (at least as far as we're concerned) also operate by the same principle as ours insofar as God does not make random choices but rather those according to His desires (which, fortunately for us, happen to be immutably good)?

5 posted on 02/24/2003 11:18:39 AM PST by Frumanchu (Warning - the post you just read may contain statements of an offensive nature. Truth hurts...)
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To: Frumanchu
Bookmarked to read later.
6 posted on 02/24/2003 11:20:18 AM PST by Corin Stormhands (free drstevej)
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To: Frumanchu
God is the pure Good, to which we contribute in image and His hope in us to its aspiration.
7 posted on 02/24/2003 12:59:33 PM PST by onedoug
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To: Frumanchu; xzins; Corin Stormhands; ShadowAce
Decision-making is a complex matter because the options we encounter are often varied and many. Add to that that we are creatures with many and varied desires. We have different, often even conflicting, motivations.

So, in the end what is the final decision maker?

If in a believer, with a new nature, facing the temptations to sin, why does he sin and when he does is it God willing him to do so?

Moreover, Sproul is setting up a strawman to knockdown.

No one is defending the neutral theory since choices are based on desires.

The question is what the the ultimate source and thus, who bears the responsiblity for that choice, God or man?

In other words, when we sin, we must reject God's Holy Spirit, and do our own will.

Is that part of God's will for our lives, to sin?

The problem the Calvinists have is that they will not concede that man can resist God's will a resistance that God allows and does control, but nevertheless a resistance against God and foreknown by Him. (Acts.7:51)

8 posted on 02/24/2003 1:30:09 PM PST by fortheDeclaration
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To: Frumanchu
read later
9 posted on 02/24/2003 3:50:56 PM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: Frumanchu
He created the Universe from nothing.

Would you mind supplying a passage of Scripture that indicates that God created the material univers from, "nothing." And, while you're at it, you might take a stab at explaining exactly what you believe "nothing" is?

I will supply Scriptures that indicate the Material Universe was created by God, but not from "nothing."

Hank

10 posted on 02/24/2003 5:41:36 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Frumanchu; RnMomof7; Jean Chauvin; OrthodoxPresbyterian; xzins; fortheDeclaration; ...
"Free will," is a meaningless expression invented by Calvinists to undermine the concept of volition, or that aspect of human nature that reguires all thought and action to made by choice.

The question is not whether or not men can choose, but whether it is possible to surrender choice to whim or passion and not be responsible. It is impossble for a human beings to do anything without choosing to do it.

Here is a something I wrote for another purpose, but fits here:

The Nature of Choice

Everything we do as human beings we must choose to do. Even to do nothing requires a choice.

Before we go any further, let's get something out of the way. As soon as you mention choice, someone will bring up the question of, "free will." Don't ever get caught in that trap. The meaning of that expression is hopelessly muddled and has nothing to do with this matter of choice.

"Do you really believe people have free will?" you will be asked. "You can't do just anything you want," it will be argued. "People's behavior is determined by many things, their nature, their heredity, their subconscious, their environment, their education, their economic status....blah, blah, blah."

All of that has nothing to do with the fact that to do anything, you must choose to do it. You do not have to study theology, psychology, and philosophy for a million years to know this is true. You can test it for yourself, once and for all, and never have to worry about this question again.

Sit down in a chair somewhere. (You'll have to choose to do it.) Now make one more choice. Choose not to choose anything else. Just sit there and let your nature, your heredity, your subconscious, environmental influences, your education, or your money determine your actions.

What happens when you do that? Nothing!

If you never choose anything again, you will never do anything again, but notice, even to not choose you must choose.

The ability to choose, which we call volition, is not about what can be chosen, or how one chooses, or why one chooses, but the fact that a human being not only can choose, but must choose, and that this necessity of choice cannot be avoided or bypassed so long as one is fully conscious. It means that everything a human being does is done by choice.

I am convinced the non-concept called, "free will," is impossible of meaning, and is always a confusion of desire and choice, which are totally different concepts.

The terms "free", and "choice", and "will" all appear in Scripture, and always they are clearly differentiated. The devilishly confused expression, "fee will," never appears in Scripture.

What Calvinits hate about the undeniable fact that human beings cannot do anything without choosing to do it is its converse, which is, if human beings do anything, they have to have choosen to do it.

It is impossible for a human being to do anything without choosing to do it. It is impossible for a person to believe in Jesus Christ without choosing to do it. Salvation is not an accident that happens to someone.

Hank


11 posted on 02/24/2003 5:52:22 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: fortheDeclaration; Hank Kerchief
Hank, you can redefine and cast aside terms all you want. Or we can come to an agreement on definitions and proceed to an actual discussion of the matters at hand. All your post says is that Calvinists intentionally cloud the issue by inventing and redefining terms. Well, that's not my intent. My intent is to discuss and explorer with you the nature and logic behind human will and how it relates to the sovereignty of God. We are all agreed that man has at least some amount of choice (or there would be no accountability) and that God has at least some measure of sovereignty (or there would be no hope). Our attempt here is to figure out how they interact and co-exist. There is no reason why we can't take a rational look at this relationship in an attempt for us to all better understand it.
12 posted on 02/25/2003 9:31:20 AM PST by Frumanchu (Warning - the post you just read may contain statements of an offensive nature. Truth hurts...)
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To: Hank Kerchief
Would you mind supplying a passage of Scripture that indicates that God created the material univers from, "nothing." And, while you're at it, you might take a stab at explaining exactly what you believe "nothing" is?

Ok, I'll play. If God created the universe from pre-existent matter, where did that matter come from? Regardless of how far back you want to take it, at some point there existed only God. Unless you want to argue for the eternal nature of the universe itself apart from God, at which point I will throw out my Bible.

13 posted on 02/25/2003 9:42:36 AM PST by Frumanchu (Warning - the post you just read may contain statements of an offensive nature. Truth hurts...)
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To: Hank Kerchief
I will supply Scriptures that indicate the Material Universe was created by God, but not from "nothing."

Provide a scripture that says He didnt..And remember that before the first line of Genesis the Universe was already in existance and the Spirit of God was already brooding over it .Genesis is about the "organization " of the earth ..

14 posted on 02/25/2003 10:09:40 AM PST by RnMomof7 (tear out 1John 4:19 along with Romans 9)
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To: Frumanchu
We are all agreed that man has at least some amount of choice (or there would be no accountability) and that God has at least some measure of sovereignty (or there would be no hope). Our attempt here is to figure out how they interact and co-exist. There is no reason why we can't take a rational look at this relationship in an attempt for us to all better understand it.

That is fine. I have never questioned your sincerity in honestly seeking the truth in this or any other issue, and I also appreciate differences of opinion rationally presented, as yours always are.

On this issue, I cannot accept any concept that mixes "desire" and the human capacity/necessity to think and act by choice, called volition. My argument is that a human being cannot do anything that is strictly human without consciously choosing to do so, and if a human being does anything without consciously choosing to do so, (like coughing or sneezing) it is not strictly speaking a human action, but merely a biological or caused event.

I also cannot consider anything to have moral consequence if is not by choice. Any human behavior that is not the result of conscious choice, has no moral character, but is like a sneeze or cough, merely a caused event.

There is an attempt by some to becloud this issue by claiming that choice itself is, somehow, determined. But that which is determined is not chosen, but merely a naturally (or if God is the determiner) a supernaturally caused event.

Then how can God be Sovereign if everything a human being does is by uncaused and undetermined choice?

That this seems a problem for some has always amazed me. On the one hand they seem to say, God is omnipotent and omniscient and nothing can happen that he does not determine, but on the other hand they seem to say, if man really can and must choose everything he does and thinks, that would make it impossible for God to be sovereign. But that is putting a limitation on God. Why couldn't God determine everything if man is truly a volitional being? What is the limitation on the God that prevents Him from determining everything even if man's volition choice is not caused by anything?

Now, to be honest, I know what the apparent contradiction is. If God determines everything, but man's choice is not determined, then everything is not determined, and God does not determine everything. And this would be a contradiction, too, if one simple thing, called context, was not being ignored. Human beings live in a material temporal world and all their choices and actions are made in that context. Within that context none of their choices are determined. But God is not bound by the limits of time and materiality, and within the context of the super-existense, of which our material existense is only a subset, there is no reason events in the temporal/material existense cannot be completely determined, including all that every human being will ever do, and do by their uncaused volitional choice.

This does not solve all the problems, and great care must be maintained to keep these two contexts separate, but I see no philosophical, logical, or even theological problem with this view. While it solves the problem, it does so in a way the will not be acceptable to those bent on holding their Calvinist views, no-matter-what.

Hank

15 posted on 02/25/2003 10:56:23 AM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Hank Kerchief
Hank, I believe we are in complete agreement as far as what you've just stated. I do also believe that the Calvinist position (not necessarily the all the "Calvinists" themselves) affirms the same things. Hashing this all out promises to be fun, but I promise to carry through if you do:) If you wish to do so in private that's fine too.
16 posted on 02/25/2003 11:23:02 AM PST by Frumanchu (Warning - the post you just read may contain statements of an offensive nature. Truth hurts...)
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To: Frumanchu
Ok, I'll play. If God created the universe from pre-existent matter, where did that matter come from? Regardless of how far back you want to take it, at some point there existed only God. Unless you want to argue for the eternal nature of the universe itself apart from God, at which point I will throw out my Bible.

I assure you, this is not a game.

You begin with an assumption, when you say, "If God created the universe from pre-existent matter...." Matter is the substance of the material universe, what we call the natural world. But the material universe is not all that God created, and probably only an infinitesimal part of all He has created. We know He created everything, which includes not only the material universe, but all of the supernatural, or what the Bible calls, the celestial realms of Angels and other wonderful subpernatural beings, as well.

Regardless of how far back you want to take it, at some point there existed only God.

This, also, I think is a mistake. When wouldn't there have been God? In fact, the idea that God is eternal means that there never was a time when God wasn't. And when was God's nature different? The Bible clearly declares that God works and creates, it is His naure (part of it, I mean). Also, you statment suggests that the works of god are done in, "time," and that some eternal things can exist before or after other eternal things. Surely you don't suppose God is limited to creating things which are not eternal, not existent in the same way he is. Then, if God makes eternal things, there would never be a state, in time or otherwise, when those eternal things which God creates and God Himself, did not both exist.

The Bible frequently distinguishes between the natural material world and the supernatural world as the seen (natural or temporal world) and unseen (supernatural or eternal world). For example, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:18)

Now surely, the things which are not seen are not nothing, else what would our faith be in? "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb 11:1) Certainly faith is not evidence of nothing. So the "not seen" is not "nothing."

Now the Bible clearly says, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Heb 11:3) So we see, the things which are seen (that is, the material temporal world) are not made out of nothing, that is ex nihilo, but for things which cannot be seen (the eternal and supernatural).

The problem with the concept of ex nihilo is that it was derived from an amalgum of mathematical concepts and paganism. In fact, there cannot be, "nothing," and nothing can come from what is not, but must also come from something.

So long as God is, there is something. And this is another way to consider the question. You mentioned the peculiar conscept of, "there existed only God." I'll ignore the obvious implication of a temporal quality to God's existense this introduces, and ask this question, what does "only God," mean? Since we cannot say, "was there a time when God had not yet created anything, since that suggests God exists with temporal limits, which we know is not true, what can we say? Is there some sense in which, in some mode, God can be called existent even thought there is nothing else existent, so that we would have to describe God in this imagined mode as existing nowhere doing nothing ....

It is inconceiveable. It is absurd. It is not possible for God to be and for nothing else to be, unless God were unable to be the source of all that is, and there were nothing else. If God is, there is always all that is eternal with Him.

The material world had a beginning, because the material world is temporal and constrained by the laws of material existence. The supernatural world of which God is the source, and it all "springs" from him is eternal. That does not mean that everything in the supernatural realm is eternal, but that the realm itself must be, else it could not be God's realm.

The natural world is a subset of the supernatural world, and was (as a technical explanation) differentiated from the supernatural world by the imposition of those qualtities we call the spatial/temporal(physical)laws of nature.

If you say God made the material world out of nothing, it makes God nothing.

Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Col. 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Hank

17 posted on 02/25/2003 11:46:47 AM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: RnMomof7; Frumanchu
You quoted me: I will supply Scriptures that indicate the Material Universe was created by God, but not from "nothing."

Then you said: Provide a scripture that says He didnt...

Can you provide a Scripture that says God didn't make the world from peach pits? Can you provide a Scripture that says God did not make the world from Heaven's trash? (Sometimes it seems like that's what it is.)

Of course you can't, and I'm pulling your leg a little for asking me a question you knew wasn't exactly kosher. Never mind, I did provide just such a verse, or verses, in my response to Frumanchu, here, post #17.

Hank

18 posted on 02/25/2003 12:18:38 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Hank Kerchief
OK, I'm the victim of poor word choice here. When I said "regardless of how far back you want to take it" I was speaking in terms of reduction based on the premise of working with what I termed "pre-existent matter." I see now that you were referring to something else.

It is inconceiveable. It is absurd. It is not possible for God to be and for nothing else to be, unless God were unable to be the source of all that is, and there were nothing else. If God is, there is always all that is eternal with Him.

I admittedly have a difficulty with this from a logical standpoint. Here's why. The very act of creation carries with it a 'before' and 'after.' Otherwise they were not created...they simply were. You and I were clearly created. We are promised eternity with God, meaning that we shall be with Him eternally...going forward. Do you maintaint that our souls pre-existed our incarnation? Satan had to already exist at the point of creation. Satan cannot have been in the bottomless pit while simultaneously appearing in Eden.

I think we're off on a tangent here, but it raises some interesting questions. I certainly maintain that God not only creates but sustains all things.

19 posted on 02/25/2003 12:34:02 PM PST by Frumanchu (Warning - the post you just read may contain statements of an offensive nature. Truth hurts...)
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To: Hank Kerchief
Jhn 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

What were all those "things made from?

We can argue over the hebrew word for create...But unless you do not believe the truth of the New Testament ...John stated it lest there be any misunderstanding

Made
ginomai {ghin'-om-ahee}

TDNT Reference Root Word

TDNT - 1:681,117 a prolongation and middle voice form of a primary verb

Part of Speech

v Outline of Biblical Usage

1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being

2) to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen
a) of events
3) to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage
a) of men appearing in public
4) to be made, finished
a) of miracles, to be performed, wrought
5) to become, be made

Psa 33:6   By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth

20 posted on 02/25/2003 3:08:41 PM PST by RnMomof7 (Pro 16:2 All the ways of a man [are] clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits)
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To: RnMomof7
John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Of course, as well as, Heb. 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.

And many other like verses. This has never been questioned. What is it you are arguing for? Is it creation, ex nihilo

? There is nothing in any verse of Scripture that says God created the material world or universe out of nothing. Do you believe nothing existed before this material universe? Do you believe God is "nothing?" What do you suppose this means, "For in him we live, and move, and have our being...." (Acts 17:28)? And this, "and he is before all things, and by him all things consist" (Col. 1:17)?

Now this verse plainly says the worlds were made of something: "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Heb. 11:3) It does not say, "things which are seen are made of nothing," it says, "things which are seen are made of things which do not appear," that is, things which are invisible, or "not seen."

Now the, "not seen," is not "nothing" or this verse would mean our faith was in nothing:

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Now I explained all of this in an earlier post which I referred you to. I do not believe you are being entirely sincere in this. What difference does it make if the material world is made out of the eternal unseen supernatural existense? That does not damage to the nature of God, since all things spring from Him, including that very supernatural world this world is made from.

Ex nihilo is not taught in Scripture, it is a pagan idea. Why do you want to defend it?

Hank

21 posted on 02/25/2003 7:00:13 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Hank Kerchief
God , who has existed before and outside of time, has created both time and space. If He created it from something else then either He is not the creator, or He created that something else and that means He created that something from nothing.

Contingency is what Aquinas called it.

The Koran is a good example of a book that is considered completely sufficient and which therefore leads the likes of bin Laden to kill innocents.

The Bible does not contain everything that you need to know unless you are allowed to use you intellect to discover what it means in conjunction with revelation.

But Divine guidance is necessary. That guidance was not guaranteed to anyone outside of the Apostles and they passed it on. That is called the teaching authority of the Church. Think ofthe Bible as a Divine Constitution. Can anyone just stand up and interpret it? No! But we should not reduce God's Word to a set of books that can be missinterpreted by every person to their own whim.

So when we say that God created everything from nothing we can site scriptures which refer to the void before creation. But we can also state catagorically that only God is the Creator and therefore He made everything from nothing. Otherwise someone else would have to get the credit.

22 posted on 02/25/2003 8:04:51 PM PST by RichardMoore
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To: Frumanchu
I admittedly have a difficulty with this from a logical standpoint. Here's why. The very act of creation carries with it a 'before' and 'after.' Otherwise they were not created...they simply were. You and I were clearly created. We are promised eternity with God, meaning that we shall be with Him eternally...going forward. Do you maintaint that our souls pre-existed our incarnation? Satan had to already exist at the point of creation. Satan cannot have been in the bottomless pit while simultaneously appearing in Eden.

I see I have given you a wrong impression, which is my fault for attempting to discuss something quite complex as thought it could be expressed with a few off-hand comments.

I did not mean to imply that everything that is in the supernatural realm, such as angels, fallen or faithful, were necessarily eternal in the sense of co-existing with their creator from eternity to eternity. I also did not mean to imply that eternal things cannot change their state, which they surely can, as Satan exemplifies. Nevertheless, change cannot mean the same thing in the superantural world as it does in the temporal world, because change in the temporal world always requires, "time," which cannot be the case where "time" does not have meaning, which it does not in the eternal unseen.

Maybe this will be a better approach to the subject. In that realm we call the supernatural realm of God and angels, we might properly say, all things spring from God and have their origin in Him. I do not believe the word "create" is correct with regard to supernatural beings or events, however. The reason we think that way, is because we tend to think of the eternal realms in the same we think about the temporal realm, but in the eternal realm, things do not have beginnings and ends in time, but it is impossible for us to imagine beginnings and ends in any other way, because we are temporal beings.

With regard to the natural world, the world of matter, space, and time, it is correct to say all was created by God, because in this realm, things begin in time. I believe that is exactly what the Bible teaches, as well. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," does not mean, by heaven, the supernatural realm, but the very same we mean when we point to the stars and refer to them as the heavens.

The problem with the ex nihilo is that the concept of, "nothing," is meaningless. Nothing is zero, non-existense, total void. But God fills all-in-all, and wherever God is, there cannot be 'nothing' because God is something.

Let me say it this way. There is no existense independent of God, but God cannot be if there is no existense, and because God is, existense is, and that existense that must be because God is, is eternal, because God is eternal.

Hank

23 posted on 02/25/2003 8:41:10 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: RichardMoore
God, who has existed before and outside of time, has created both time and space. If He created it from something else then either He is not the creator, or He created that something else and that means He created that something from nothing.

You might want to explain how something can be "before" something where there is no time. If the above is your premise, it is mistaken. "Time" and "space" are not things, but parameters or qualities, by which the material (spatial/temproal) world is measured. Time is a relational quality, the relationship between events. Space is nothing more than the measure of the relationship of material entities to one another in terms of direction and distance.

What God created is the material universe of entities and events which have those spacial/temporal qualities that are the province of the physical sciences.

Since there can never be nothing, because God is something, to say anything is done "out of nothing" is an absurdity that Aquinas fell for.

So when we say that God created everything from nothing we can site scriptures which refer to the void before creation.

Please do provide the Scripture you believe describes or names a "void," before creation. Remember, a void means a place where there is nothing. Ask yourself, is God nothing? Is there anyplace where there is not God. If there is not any place where God is not, and God is something, there can be no void.

Hank

24 posted on 02/25/2003 9:22:26 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: RichardMoore
But Divine guidance is necessary. That guidance was not guaranteed to anyone outside of the Apostles and they passed it on.

Divine guidance is promised to all those who are children of God, and none needs to depend on the teaching or instruction of others, no matter who they claim to be.

Jas. 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

Just thought you ought to have God's perspective on these issues, since men and churches usually have their own agenda, which is seldom the same as God's.

Hank

25 posted on 02/25/2003 9:30:53 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Frumanchu
I don't know if you were serious before when you wanted to talk or just dispute LDS. That aside I like your topic of pondering these concepts of Time, Space and Matter.

My big trouble is my commnand of the language because of the Dyslexia. I can speak on things a lot easier. But I am working on the written word.

When I was a child around 10-11 I would wonder about the beganning of existence.

The Lord tells us there is no beganning nor end. I guess in the scheme of eternal, that is true. Spirits are eternal!

26 posted on 02/25/2003 9:53:02 PM PST by restornu (If the Lord has confidence in you, preserve it, and take a course to produce more.)
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To: restornu
They are interesting things to ponder to be sure. The danger is when they hijack your personal faith and distract you from the tasks at hand.

Unfortunately, the purpose of this thread wasn't to discuss what we're now discussing. We kinda got off on a tangent and I'm hoping to return to the issue at hand, which is the relationship between God's sovereignty and omniscience and man's will.

27 posted on 02/26/2003 5:42:32 AM PST by Frumanchu (Warning - the post you just read may contain statements of an offensive nature. Truth hurts...)
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To: Frumanchu
I respect that I will depart- Thank you
28 posted on 02/26/2003 6:12:10 AM PST by restornu (If the Lord has confidence in you, preserve it, and take a course to produce more.)
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To: Frumanchu; Hank Kerchief; xzins
We are all agreed that man has at least some amount of choice (or there would be no accountability) and that God has at least some measure of sovereignty (or there would be no hope). Our attempt here is to figure out how they interact and co-exist. There is no reason why we can't take a rational look at this relationship in an attempt for us to all better understand it.

If you accept the idea that man has some choice (and by 'choice' I mean the ability to decide between alternatives, not just the ability to do what 'he wants') then we have no disagreement!

We agree that God is in total control, that all events will take place as He has stated they will.

That man is responsible for sin and his own damnation, not God.

29 posted on 02/26/2003 1:04:09 PM PST by fortheDeclaration
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To: Hank Kerchief
Amen! Excellent post!
30 posted on 02/26/2003 1:27:00 PM PST by fortheDeclaration
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To: fortheDeclaration
If you accept the idea that man has some choice (and by 'choice' I mean the ability to decide between alternatives, not just the ability to do what 'he wants') then we have no disagreement!

Between WHAT alternatives? Does man have the ability to decide between choosing and rejecting Christ? Yes. Does he have a cognitive ability to deny God's election? No. The reason we do disagree is because the relationship you see between the two is the exact opposite of what I see. You see God's election proceeding from man's choice, I see it the other way around.

We agree that God is in total control, that all events will take place as He has stated they will.

Your statement is not consistent. The first half you make God sovereign, but in the second you relegate Him to a prophetic role. What it should read is either "We agree that God is in total control, that all events will take place as He wills" or "We agree that God is in partial control, that all events will take place as He has stated they will."

That man is responsible for sin and his own damnation, not God.

I agree. Man is condemned by His own sinfulness, his own choice to reject God.

I actually came up with an interesting way to look at the relationship we're debating. I think I can actually better explain it using program logic, so if I get a chance I'll try to post the "source code" for the operation of redemption :)

31 posted on 02/27/2003 5:43:18 AM PST by Frumanchu (Warning - the post you just read may contain statements of an offensive nature. Truth hurts...)
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To: Frumanchu; xzins; Hank Kerchief
If you accept the idea that man has some choice (and by 'choice' I mean the ability to decide between alternatives, not just the ability to do what 'he wants') then we have no disagreement! Between WHAT alternatives? Does man have the ability to decide between choosing and rejecting Christ? Yes.

You do not see a contradiction in what you said?

You state man has a 'choice' in accepting or rejecting Christ but, according to you, the 'choice' has already been made for Him by God!

Do you see the frustration that myself and 'Hank' have over this misuse of language?

Does he have a cognitive ability to deny God's election? No.

What do you mean by 'cognitive' ability?

Either the choice can be made or it is not a choice!

The reason we do disagree is because the relationship you see between the two is the exact opposite of what I see.

Yes, I see a choice being made, which means choosing between alternatives, for or against Christ.

You see God's election proceeding from man's choice, I see it the other way around.

Well, then what you are saying is not a choice, at least by man!

We agree that God is in total control, that all events will take place as He has stated they will. Your statement is not consistent. The first half you make God sovereign, but in the second you relegate Him to a prophetic role.

Not at all. I know that God is able to handle free will decisions and factor them into His Plan.

God can be sovereign both directly and indirectly. God is still in total control, but is allowing that which He would not prefer to happen, happen.

Sin is an example of this, unless you are going to state that God wants you to sin?

What it should read is either "We agree that God is in total control, that all events will take place as He wills" or "We agree that God is in partial control, that all events will take place as He has stated they will."

Depends on what you mean 'control'.

God is not responsible for the evil actions of either man or angel.

Thus, God does not make them do those evil acts which He deplores (Pr.6), but because He has given some limited freedom He allows those acts to happen and brings about good despite the acts.

He allows those acts because, if man were not free to reject God, they would not be free to accept God, an act that God takes pleasure in (Abraham, David, Moses, Paul).

Love demands a free response on the part of the both parties, and God gets pleasure out of being loved as well as loving. (Rev.4:11)

God after all, is Love (1Jn.4:9)

That man is responsible for sin and his own damnation, not God. I agree. Man is condemned by His own sinfulness, his own choice to reject God.

But you just said above that man does not have a choice to accept God, but he does have a 'choice' to reject Him?

This is the Calvinist redefinition of 'choice' that it consists of doing what one wants to do and not actually having a choice between alternatives (which is the normal usage of the term)

I actually came up with an interesting way to look at the relationship we're debating. I think I can actually better explain it using program logic, so if I get a chance I'll try to post the "source code" for the operation of redemption :)

Thank you. I will take a look at it, although I am not much good with computers. My former Pastor also used 'program' logic to show how God factored in free will to His Plan.

32 posted on 02/28/2003 2:17:27 PM PST by fortheDeclaration
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To: Hank Kerchief
Nothing of physical substance OUTSIDE of God . Everything in time and space had a beginning..God created out of nothing..BUT he is not nothing..
33 posted on 02/28/2003 2:53:50 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: fortheDeclaration; Hank Kerchief; nobdysfool; drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian
You do not see a contradiction in what you said? You state man has a 'choice' in accepting or rejecting Christ but, according to you, the 'choice' has already been made for Him by God! What do you mean by 'cognitive' ability?

There is no contradiction. A paradox maybe, but no contradiction. Man's choice was not made for him. There are two separate choices in this equation: God's and man's. That God's choice does necessarily affect man's choice does not mean He makes the choice for him.

By cognitive ability, I mean that man has no knowledge of God's elective choice. The choice man is responsible for it whether or not to accept Christ, NOT whether or not to go along with God's elective choice. It's not like God chooses you and then tells you about it and you have to decide whether or not to go along with it. And even if it were, you still have to account for what leads to that decision which Arminians have not. It goes right back to the "secret ingredient" in man that causes him to choose or reject Christ.

Yes, I see a choice being made, which means choosing between alternatives, for or against Christ.
>>You see God's election proceeding from man's choice, I see it the other way around.
Well, then what you are saying is not a choice, at least by man!

Notice I said 'proceeding from' not 'made by.' There is a distinct difference. In both Arminianism and Calvinism man has responsibility for his choice, and it is a valid choice...a choice as you said between two alternatives: accepting Christ or rejecting Him. That choice must proceed from something however...unless you maintain that it's random, in which case it is morally neutral and cannot therefore be justly condemnable. Man chooses based on desire, unless you believe that there is something within a man that would potentially compel him to choose against his desire (which in turn begs the questions "What is it?" and "Who put it there?"). If man's desire, as a result of the fall, is to sin and reject Christ, something must occur for him to change that...otherwise he's choosing against his desire without any rational motivation.

So clearly there is some means of external intervention (ie-"prevenient grace"). The question is this: what does that grace do to man's desire? If it brings it to a neutral place, how can man make any decision at all? If it takes it from desiring against to desiring for Christ, then that creates a problem for the Arminians who believe that prevenient grace is universally applied. Either some then choose against that desire (which as stated begs other questions that must be answered), or all choose Christ and are saved. Obviously the latter is not scripturally viable. I maintain that you cannot come to an answer for the questions raised by the former that does not leave God as the determining factor is who is saved and who is not.

But you just said above that man does not have a choice to accept God, but he does have a 'choice' to reject Him? This is the Calvinist redefinition of 'choice' that it consists of doing what one wants to do and not actually having a choice between alternatives (which is the normal usage of the term)

No, that's not what I said. You are falsely assuming that man makes his salvific choice in a vacuum, which is not the case. As the article at the beginning of this thread points out, choice is not made in a vacuum. There is a matter of influence, a matter of desire.

34 posted on 03/03/2003 7:12:39 AM PST by Frumanchu (mene mene tekel upharsin)
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To: Frumanchu
There is no contradiction. A paradox maybe, but no contradiction.

Just for the record, a paradox is a contradiction. In fact, there can be no paradoxes. If you think you have found one, you have made a mistake.

Hank

35 posted on 03/03/2003 1:01:13 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Frumanchu; xzins; Hank Kerchief; Corin Stormhands
You do not see a contradiction in what you said? You state man has a 'choice' in accepting or rejecting Christ but, according to you, the 'choice' has already been made for Him by God! What do you mean by 'cognitive' ability? There is no contradiction. A paradox maybe, but no contradiction. Man's choice was not made for him. There are two separate choices in this equation: God's and man's. That God's choice does necessarily affect man's choice does not mean He makes the choice for him.

If God unconditionarly elected one and left the other one not elected, the choice has been made for him.

That is not a paradox, that is simple human language.

God's choice doesn't 'influence' man's choice, (according to Calvinism) it is the choice.

By cognitive ability, I mean that man has no knowledge of God's elective choice. The choice man is responsible for it whether or not to accept Christ, NOT whether or not to go along with God's elective choice. It's not like God chooses you and then tells you about it and you have to decide whether or not to go along with it. And even if it were, you still have to account for what leads to that decision which Arminians have not. It goes right back to the "secret ingredient" in man that causes him to choose or reject Christ.

The issue is not wheather man 'knows' about the choice, the issue is what does the Bible say of it!

The Bible clearly states that God wants all men saved (1Tim.2:4, 2Pet.3:9) and it is man who is rejecting God, not God rejecting man.

It is the preconceived philosophial view of the nature of God's sovereignity (that God would not allow man to resist His will)that forces Calvinism to avoid the statements of clear scripture that speak of God's love and desire for all men to be saved.

Yes, I see a choice being made, which means choosing between alternatives, for or against Christ. >>You see God's election proceeding from man's choice, I see it the other way around. Well, then what you are saying is not a choice, at least by man! Notice I said 'proceeding from' not 'made by.' There is a distinct difference.

Well, we set that issue aside. The fact is that man is not making the 'choice' and the 'choice' is only being revealed through him.

That is not a 'choice' by man, but only the seen choice of God.

In both Arminianism and Calvinism man has responsibility for his choice, and it is a valid choice...a choice as you said between two alternatives: accepting Christ or rejecting Him.

Well, here is responsiblity without any ability to decide.

How can one be responsible for that which he is not responsible for!

That choice must proceed from something however...unless you maintain that it's random, in which case it is morally neutral and cannot therefore be justly condemnable.

Now, how did you jump to the issue of it being 'random'?

God foresaw the free choices men would make and factored those choices (choosing between alternatives) and that is why 'man is without excuse'

Romans 1 clearly states that man had the knowledge of God and rejected it.

Man chooses based on desire, unless you believe that there is something within a man that would potentially compel him to choose against his desire (which in turn begs the questions "What is it?" and "Who put it there?").

God placed that 'desire' in man to understand and seek God.

Thus, while man is spiritually dead, he still has a conscience and the glory of God is evident in nature.

Thus, God is seeking man and if man responds to that seeking, God will give him the light of the Gospel (Psa.119:30)

See, what you are starting with is a man in the Fallen state.

How did man get into that state?

Adam had free will and was perfect so what happened?

What happened (according to Calvinism) is that God wanted Adam to fall to put man into a condemned state so that He could save some and condemn the rest.

Thus, according to Calvinism, it is God who is responsible for the state that man is in and not man, and this for 'God's glory'.

It is very nice circuclar reasoning, starting with a philosophical premise of God's Sovereignity, that God cannot handle free will,but must Decree everything from His own directive will.

Calvinists want to put up alot of 'dust' hoping that one does not trace the source back to its origins, but when does, it is God who is responsible for the very thing that He is stating in Scripture that He hates, sin and evil.

Thus, you will use selective proof-texts and ignore clear scripture that contradicts those texts.

Then, as the final defense, it is the secret will and the unknowable God, not the God of the Bible.

So clearly there is some means of external intervention (ie-"prevenient grace"). The question is this: what does that grace do to man's desire? If it brings it to a neutral place, how can man make any decision at all?

Because man has a will and that will can make a decision with the light shown it.

If it takes it from desiring against to desiring for Christ, then that creates a problem for the Arminians who believe that prevenient grace is universally applied.

Why should it?

The Arminians simply state that one can resist that desire as one can any desire.

If an alternative desire is created, then one has a decision between responding to that desire or going back to the old desire.

We make that decision everytime we sin.(Rom.7)

Either some then choose against that desire (which as stated begs other questions that must be answered), or all choose Christ and are saved.

That is exactly what does happen! So how does that 'beg' the question?

The 'will' makes a decision against two desires. Now, because one may make an irrational decision (and choose against Christ) should be not suprise to us, since we do the same when we sin!

Obviously the latter is not scripturally viable.

Oh, no, it is the only viable answer, since it fits scripture, which states that God desires all men to be saved, and it is man that is rejecting God, not God rejecting man (with a pre-eternal uncontitional election)

I maintain that you cannot come to an answer for the questions raised by the former that does not leave God as the determining factor is who is saved and who is not.

I maintain that your argument is not logical but rhetorical.

It does not start with God's revealed attributes, but starts with a preconceived notion of God and then fits certain proof texts to fit that notion of both God and man.

When you push Calvinism to its logical premise, you have an unknown God who is not revealed in Scripture, but contradicts Himself in Scripture.

Calvinism makes Christiantiy all 'smoke and mirrors' and is thus mysticism.

Here is a letter by a former Calvinist in David's Hunts' Berean Call that you might find interesting,

I have read your book, What Love Is This? and enjoyed it very much. I am saddened to see so many write with such disrespect...I was a Calvinist....I thought, 'How can anyone be so stupid as not believe the true doctrines of the Reformed faith? It is so logical; it is so scriptural. 'I was quick to point out people's errors in doctrine'....Ater graduation, a friend challanged me regarding the interpetation of John. 3:16....As I started to open my mouth to give the standard 'clear' interpretation, I stopped. I saw something that I hadn't seen before....I told my friend' give me three days and I'll come and answer you'....For three days I wrestled with the 'standard' interpretation and the plain, normal reading of Scripture....I found that many of the 'standard' Calvinistic interpretations were not according to the plain, normal reading of the text, but understood with special definitions, and lengthy cross references and arguments. Taking Scripture in its plain, normal sense simply could not explain the Calvinistic interpetation....I am no longer a Calvinist. No longer do I want to understand and interpret the Bible using special manmade definitions of words to force peculiar interpetations' (Berean Call-Feb,2003)

Calvinism rejects the basic rules of Biblical interpetation that clear scripture interpret obscure scripture and that scripture cannot contradict scripture.

Thus, when a Calvinist does interpet scripture correctly (see Spurgeon 1Tim.2;4, Calvin,2Pet.3:9) he must resolve the contradiction by appealing to a 'secret will' that explains away what the scripture is clearly teaching.

Thus, you have a faith based on a philosophial premise and not a Biblical one

But you just said above that man does not have a choice to accept God, but he does have a 'choice' to reject Him? This is the Calvinist redefinition of 'choice' that it consists of doing what one wants to do and not actually having a choice between alternatives (which is the normal usage of the term) No, that's not what I said. You are falsely assuming that man makes his salvific choice in a vacuum, which is not the case.

No, the issue was wheather man had a choice (alternatives to choose from) and that Calvinism uses 'double-talk' in its explanation.

With all due respect, you have shown that is exactly what Calvinism does.

You maintain that because you cannot understand how man can make this choice, that it is really God who making the choice for man, but it appeals it is man's choice, so we will consider it as such! LOL!

As the article at the beginning of this thread points out, choice is not made in a vacuum. There is a matter of influence, a matter of desire.

Exactly right, and God has given man a desire for Him, that even with the fall has not been totally removed.

Spiritual death constitutes the fact that man's desire in the flesh is away from God, and hides from God, but the Bible clearly states that God will seek man (as He did with the spirtually dead Adam, who still could talk with God, as he did with the spiritually dead Cain who could talk with God, as He did with Pharoah,(Gen.20) who talked with God)

Your concept of 'spiritual death' is made to fit your preconceived notion of God's sovereignity, and is not scriptural.

God seeks man and God in His omnipotence and wisdom has no problem in giving even spiritually dead men a decision to make.

That is based on clear scripture, not the imagination of the Father of the most mystical system in existance, Roman Catholicism, Augustine, the father also of Calvinism.

I hope the tone of my reponse was respectful and I apologize in advance if I said anything personally offensive.

36 posted on 03/03/2003 1:28:31 PM PST by fortheDeclaration
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To: Hank Kerchief
Just for the record, a paradox is a contradiction.

Just for the record, you better grab your dictionary, Hank.

par·a·dox
n.
1. A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true: the paradox that standing is more tiring than walking.
2. One exhibiting inexplicable or contradictory aspects: “The silence of midnight, to speak truly, though apparently a paradox, rung in my ears” (Mary Shelley).
3. An assertion that is essentially self-contradictory, though based on a valid deduction from acceptable premises.
4. A statement contrary to received opinion. ----------------------------------------------------------- Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

37 posted on 03/03/2003 6:16:21 PM PST by Frumanchu (And Calvinists are the ones redefining terms?!? :))
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To: fortheDeclaration
I hope the tone of my reponse was respectful and I apologize in advance if I said anything personally offensive.

Well, I won't say it didn't make my blood boil, but it was at least civil ;)

I will respond tomorrow as I have some work to do tonight (RedHat 8, here I come!)

38 posted on 03/03/2003 6:27:22 PM PST by Frumanchu (Can we please dispense with the 'proof-texting' charge...it's getting laughable...)
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To: Frumanchu
...a paradox is a contradiction.

Just for the record, you better grab your dictionary, Hank

Interestingly, I almost captured that same page and quoted it to you.

If a paradox is not a contradiction, then what is it. The whole point of apparent paradoxes are, they seem, or some people are able to believe that two things can be true, which, if true, would contradict each other. That is always what it means. If things only "seem" like contradictions, they are not truly paradoxical. To think they are is just a mistake.

In truth, there can be no contradictions, and no true "paradox," where paradox means, two propositions which are both true and contradict each other.

Most people confuse irony with paradox.

Hank

39 posted on 03/03/2003 8:38:31 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Hank Kerchief
Oh for crying out loud. If it makes you feel better, strike that sentence from my #34!

Jeez, people.... :D

40 posted on 03/04/2003 6:01:36 AM PST by Frumanchu (Paradox = drstevej + the_doc)
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To: fortheDeclaration
Well, here is responsiblity without any ability to decide. How can one be responsible for that which he is not responsible for!

You are drawing a false conclusion. You assume that since the same decision is made every time there was no real decision in the first place. If I always choose Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream over any other flavor, does that mean I was not really presented with a choice in the first place?

Now, how did you jump to the issue of it being 'random'?

Did you actually read the article above? See paragraph 3.

God foresaw the free choices men would make and factored those choices (choosing between alternatives) and that is why 'man is without excuse.' Romans 1 clearly states that man had the knowledge of God and rejected it.

You still have not accounted for the point being raised in the article. What motivates, causes or leads to man's choice?

The 'will' makes a decision against two desires. Now, because one may make an irrational decision (and choose against Christ) should be not suprise to us, since we do the same when we sin!

And once again, you have not gone the next step to ask what makes one person make an irrational decision while another makes a rational one?

Oh, no, it is the only viable answer, since it fits scripture, which states that God desires all men to be saved, and it is man that is rejecting God, not God rejecting man (with a pre-eternal uncontitional election)

I'm going to assume that you misread the latter half of that statement because I know you are not a universalist.

I maintain that your argument is not logical but rhetorical. It does not start with God's revealed attributes, but starts with a preconceived notion of God and then fits certain proof texts to fit that notion of both God and man. When you push Calvinism to its logical premise, you have an unknown God who is not revealed in Scripture, but contradicts Himself in Scripture. Calvinism makes Christiantiy all 'smoke and mirrors' and is thus mysticism.

Ahh, yes...the old proof-texting argument again. Talk about rhetoric. When you push Arminianism to its logical premise...you have a God who is not omniscient, not omnipotent and not just. Now see, doesn't that add a lot to this argument? :D

And thanks for posting that little excerpt which has nothing to do with the article I posted. I'm sure I could find a dozen more from former Arminians, which again would add so much weight to my argument </sarcasm>

Calvinism rejects the basic rules of Biblical interpetation that clear scripture interpret obscure scripture and that scripture cannot contradict scripture.

Right...just like Romans 8, Ephesians 1, and John 6.

You maintain that because you cannot understand how man can make this choice, that it is really God who making the choice for man, but it appeals it is man's choice, so we will consider it as such! LOL!

And you still cannot explain at all why, if the effect of the Fall is somehow miraculously removed before all people by 'prevenient grace,' some choose and some reject. You can't point to anything...just this vague notion of free will than you still can't even define to a logical satisfaction. But I'm the mystical one because I maintain that God chooses whom He will and that just because we're not privi to His reasoning behind His choice doesn't mean it's capricious or arbitrary. You somehow demand full disclosure from God.

Your concept of 'spiritual death' is made to fit your preconceived notion of God's sovereignity, and is not scriptural.

I thought your pefect King James Authorized Version wasn't missing anything. Clearly it is if you stand by the statement you just made.

That is based on clear scripture, not the imagination of the Father of the most mystical system in existance, Roman Catholicism, Augustine, the father also of Calvinism.

Yes, thank God for Arminius and Wesley, who pulled the church of Jesus Christ out of the apostasy that began shortly after the ascension. Oh wait...that was Joseph Smith...

Now, if it's all the same to you, I'd like to return to the initial point of this thread, which is to discuss the nature of man's 'free will.' I would like your definition of 'free will' and an explanation of how man makes choices.

41 posted on 03/04/2003 10:03:24 AM PST by Frumanchu (Paradox = drstevej + the_doc)
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To: Frumanchu
(Paradox = drstevej + the_doc)

Gods grace

42 posted on 03/04/2003 10:40:36 AM PST by RnMomof7
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To: Frumanchu; xzins; Hank Kerchief; Corin Stormhands
Well, here is responsiblity without any ability to decide. How can one be responsible for that which he is not responsible for! You are drawing a false conclusion. You assume that since the same decision is made every time there was no real decision in the first place. If I always choose Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream over any other flavor, does that mean I was not really presented with a choice in the first place?

No, I am not 'assuming' that.

What I am 'assuming' is that (according to Calvinism) the 'choice' of what 'ice cream' flavor has already been made for the individual.

The individual only thinks it is his choice.

Ofcourse, God and the Calvinists know otherwise.

Now, how did you jump to the issue of it being 'random'? Did you actually read the article above? See paragraph 3. God foresaw the free choices men would make and factored those choices (choosing between alternatives) and that is why 'man is without excuse.' Romans 1 clearly states that man had the knowledge of God and rejected it. You still have not accounted for the point being raised in the article. What motivates, causes or leads to man's choice?

I have said a number of times, it is the will that makes a choice between various desires (ice cream vs cake etc)

Sometimes those decisions might be viewed as 'irrational' or 'short-termed', they are nevertheless real choices between two alternatives.

A 'person' by definition is someone who has 'intellect, sensibility and will'

The 'will' makes a decision against two desires. Now, because one may make an irrational decision (and choose against Christ) should be not suprise to us, since we do the same when we sin! And once again, you have not gone the next step to ask what makes one person make an irrational decision while another makes a rational one?

That is the individual will deciding between alternatives.

How the individual views those decisions (ice cream vs cake) is based on a varied combination of choices.

No decision is made in a vacuum.

Good choices lead to other good choices, likewise bad choices lead to other bad choices. That is how 'habits' are formed, good and bad, choosing to do something over and over until you no longer even give it a thought, it becomes impulsive.

The chain is very difficult to break.

It can be broken however, as we see good men go bad and bad men become good. (Demas and Mannasah)

Oh, no, it is the only viable answer, since it fits scripture, which states that God desires all men to be saved, and it is man that is rejecting God, not God rejecting man (with a pre-eternal uncontitional election) I'm going to assume that you misread the latter half of that statement because I know you are not a universalist.

And what part do you think a misread?

God does want all men to be saved (1Tim.2:4, 2Pet.3:9)

I maintain that your argument is not logical but rhetorical. It does not start with God's revealed attributes, but starts with a preconceived notion of God and then fits certain proof texts to fit that notion of both God and man. When you push Calvinism to its logical premise, you have an unknown God who is not revealed in Scripture, but contradicts Himself in Scripture. Calvinism makes Christiantiy all 'smoke and mirrors' and is thus mysticism. Ahh, yes...the old proof-texting argument again. Talk about rhetoric. When you push Arminianism to its logical premise...you have a God who is not omniscient, not omnipotent and not just. Now see, doesn't that add a lot to this argument? :D

I have not seen that done yet. I have seen a lot of straw man arguments against Arminians, but according to what both Arminus and Wesley actually taught (both believing in God's control of history), the Arminians/Wesley/Baptist view is based on clear scripture, that God loves His creation and has allowed rational creatures to make irrational decisions against Him, just as we do when we sin.

And thanks for posting that little excerpt which has nothing to do with the article I posted. I'm sure I could find a dozen more from former Arminians, which again would add so much weight to my argument

No, the point was that the individual saw that the scripture twisting and redefining of terms was not Biblical.

When you have to figure a way to explain away Jn.3:16 your system is in big trouble!

Calvinism rejects the basic rules of Biblical interpetation that clear scripture interpret obscure scripture and that scripture cannot contradict scripture. Right...just like Romans 8, Ephesians 1, and John 6.

In Rom.8 I see foreknowledge preceding Predestination. After John 6, I see Christ saying in John 12 that He will draw all men to Him. In Eph.1:4 I see someone predestinated who is in Christ.

You do not get into Christ except by faith (Eph.2:8-)

I do see Rom.5:18 left unanswered. Along with 1Tim.2:4, 4:10, Acts.17:30, Heb.2:9, 1Jn.2:2, 2Pet.2:1, Isa.53:6, Heb.10:39, Ezek.33:11 etc.

Your 'proof-texts' can be handled quite easily, but in order for the Calvinists to deal with those above, they have to either twist them, or appeal to a 'secret will'

You maintain that because you cannot understand how man can make this choice, that it is really God who making the choice for man, but it appeals it is man's choice, so we will consider it as such! LOL! And you still cannot explain at all why, if the effect of the Fall is somehow miraculously removed before all people by 'prevenient grace,' some choose and some reject. You can't point to anything...just this vague notion of free will than you still can't even define to a logical satisfaction. But I'm the mystical one because I maintain that God chooses whom He will and that just because we're not privi to His reasoning behind His choice doesn't mean it's capricious or arbitrary. You somehow demand full disclosure from God.

It is you are demanding 'full understanding'

You want an explaination of the 'irrational', which cannot be made, except that man wanted to do it!

The will makes a choice between various desires and weighs them and decides based on different prefences.

This is why some people spend all the money they make and some others invest and save it.

Many different motives can go into the same action.

So, when you sin, you have to choose to do so (1Cor.10:13) and thus, 'grieve and quench' the Holy Spirit.

So, is your 'choice' involved or did God want you to sin?

Sin is irrational, but it nevertheless is a choice that Christians still make after being saved.

Now, we have the Holy Spirit in us and yet, we can still resist that power.

Now, is it God willing you to do it?

In Romans 7, Paul makes it very clear that it is a war that goes on between desires and it is the will that chooses between them.

If we have made constant bad decisions for sin, our will is very weak, if good ones it is strong.

However, even strong believers (like David and Peter) can still fall into sin, through giving into their desires, an act of the will.

Your concept of 'spiritual death' is made to fit your preconceived notion of God's sovereignity, and is not scriptural. I thought your pefect King James Authorized Version wasn't missing anything. Clearly it is if you stand by the statement you just made.

A very obtuse statement.

Physical death is separation of soul and spirit from the body, spiritual death is the separation of soul and spirit from God and second death is the final and permanent form of spiritual death if the individual has not been saved from that. (Chafer, Systematic Theology, Doctrinal Summarization) So, what is the problem?

That is based on clear scripture, not the imagination of the Father of the most mystical system in existance, Roman Catholicism, Augustine, the father also of Calvinism. Yes, thank God for Arminius and Wesley, who pulled the church of Jesus Christ out of the apostasy that began shortly after the ascension. Oh wait...that was Joseph Smith...

I will thank God for those men before (1-3 centuries) Augustine who did not teach such nonsense that one is elected by God and the rest are damned.

I will thank God for men like Arminus and Wesley who stood for the truth against a system that would make God a liar in His scriptures (He doesn't really love all mankind, and doesn't really want them saved, He was 'just kidding' when He said it)

Now, if it's all the same to you, I'd like to return to the initial point of this thread, which is to discuss the nature of man's 'free will.' I would like your definition of 'free will' and an explanation of how man makes choices.

Fine, the final decider is the will of man.

Man's will is subject to varying factors which it must weigh and finally make a decision.

That decision is a real choice that it makes.

In the spiritual realm, it is first, to respond to God's call to all men (1Tim.4:10, Acts.17:30) by accepting the free gift of salvation (Rom.6:23)

If that is done and the individual becomes saved, then the issue becomes the Christian walk, which means more decisions have to made regarding the Christian life.

Here the will again comes into play, either giving power to the Old Sin Nature and living in sin or giving power to the residing Holy Spirit and letting Him control your life (Phil.2:12-13, Eph.4:30, 1Thess. 5:19)

Now, we do not always choose for God despite the residence of God in us.(1Jn.1:8)

So, either those choices are ours (irrational as they are, since sin is irrational) or they are really God's, who really wants us to sin for His glory (Rom.6:1-2)

So, you explain to me why we still sin.

43 posted on 03/04/2003 12:07:43 PM PST by fortheDeclaration
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To: fortheDeclaration; Frumanchu; RnMomof7
The one thing you and most Arminians continually gloss over in this whole discussion is the whole question of whether sin is something a man DOES or is is it something that he is incapable of NOT doing. Arminians tend to downplay the total depravity of man after the Fall. A sinful man can do nothing but sin. Scripture states that the plowing of the wicked is sin. Since when is plowing a field a sinful act? Scripture ties the act to the one who commits it, and declares both to be sinful. The sinner sins, the righteous do righteousness. Each acts according to his nature. It is the nature of fallen man to sin, no matter what he does. He can freely choose to do whatever he will, but if he is a sinner, his actions are sin. At the heart of every one of them will be selfish intent, self-appeasement or self-aggrandizement. Every time. Therefore, Fallen Man is incapable of choosing God, even if he knows God exists and has a right to be worshipped.

You argue for choice with no limitations. Every choice is limited, by what is, what can be, and what is available. There is no such thing as truly free and unfettered choice. Alternatives imply limitations by the word's very meaning. One cannot choose that which is not possible. One can wish for it, conceive of it, think about it, but if they cannot actually choose it, it is no choice. Certain choices render other choices unavailable. The fact of the matter is, because of Adam's poor choice, all mankind is limited as to what they can choose. That's why God must choose whom He will save, because if God didn't choose, all would perish, because of Adam's poor choice. We were in Adam at the time he chose, therefore we suffer the consequences of that choice.

That is the beauty of Christ's redemptive work. When God chooses us and we respond, we are in Christ, the same way we were in Adam, and therefore partakers of the blessings of Christ the same way we partook of the curse of Adam. It is not a "representative" joining, as some would teach, but an "actual" joining. That is the significance of Christ being the Second Adam.

The depths of depravity and sin are glossed over by Arminians. To them, sin is only what someone does, and habitual sin is what makes man a sinner, not the circumstances of his birth. That's why they think that man can freely choose God as easily as he chooses sin. They make the choice for God the moral equivalent of any other choice, rather than accept the fact that the choice for God is not available to them until and unless God first chooses them. The scream it's not fair when presented with the fact that they cannot choose God apart from His choosing them, ignoring the fact that apart from God's choosing, no one wants to choose God (the Book of Romans goes into great detail about that). Yet they will charge God with unfairness if they can't choose God, even though that choice is not available to them apart from God. At the heart of this is the idea that man has some sort of redeeming worth that would cause God to choose any particular individual. There is none, and they don't like it. But that doesn't make God unfair, nor does it make His choice arbitrary. It is totally within God's power to choose whom He will, and to not choose whom He will.
44 posted on 03/04/2003 1:08:33 PM PST by nobdysfool (No matter where you go, there you are...)
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To: nobdysfool; fortheDeclaration; xzins; Revelation 911
At the heart of this is the idea that man has some sort of redeeming worth that would cause God to choose any particular individual.

No THAT is exactly what is at the heart of Calvinism. God chose you and not the poor shmuck down the street.

Your mis-charaterizations of Arminianism show that you clearly do not understand Arminianism. Arminians do not deny original sin.

But, unlike Calvinists, we don't focus on how bad man is.

We focus on how good God is.

45 posted on 03/04/2003 1:25:45 PM PST by Corin Stormhands (Objects in this tagline are closer than they appear.)
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To: Corin Stormhands
God chose you and not the poor shmuck down the street.

Proves you don't understand Calvinism, either. You see God's choice as arbitrary and capricious.

Arminians do not deny original sin.

Never said you did. But you do not properly understand the depths of Original Sin, nor do you understand that it renders choice for God impossible to the sinner apart from God's first choosing them. You also ignore God's stated right to create some vessels for honor, and some for dishonor, i.e. destruction.

But, unlike Calvinists, we don't focus on how bad man is. We focus on how good God is.

You will never really understand how good God is until you understand just how bad you were before He saved you.

46 posted on 03/04/2003 1:34:11 PM PST by nobdysfool (No matter where you go, there you are...)
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To: nobdysfool
The one thing you and most Arminians continually gloss over in this whole discussion is the whole question of whether sin is something a man DOES or is is it something that he is incapable of NOT doing. Arminians tend to downplay the total depravity of man after the Fall. A sinful man can do nothing but sin. Scripture states that the plowing of the wicked is sin. Since when is plowing a field a sinful act? Scripture ties the act to the one who commits it, and declares both to be sinful. The sinner sins, the righteous do righteousness. Each acts according to his nature. It is the nature of fallen man to sin, no matter what he does. He can freely choose to do whatever he will, but if he is a sinner, his actions are sin. At the heart of every one of them will be selfish intent, self-appeasement or self-aggrandizement. Every time. Therefore, Fallen Man is incapable of choosing God, even if he knows God exists and has a right to be worshipped.

No one underestimates the depravity of man, both Arminius and Wesley were strong in making it clear that man was helpless in his own salvation.

However, that does not mean that man cannot make a choice, once God seeks him, and man is able to make that choice because God gave him that ability.

Finally, if it is only an issue of 'natures', then why do you and I, with our 'new' natures continue to sin?

You argue for choice with no limitations.

Now, where did I ever say that!

That is they typical Calvinistic straw man that must be placed in every discussion.

All choices are limited, but that does not mean that they are not still choices even if limited to only two alternatives!

Every choice is limited, by what is, what can be, and what is available. There is no such thing as truly free and unfettered choice. Alternatives imply limitations by the word's very meaning. One cannot choose that which is not possible. One can wish for it, conceive of it, think about it, but if they cannot actually choose it, it is no choice. Certain choices render other choices unavailable. The fact of the matter is, because of Adam's poor choice, all mankind is limited as to what they can choose.

Did Adam make a 'choice'?

Not according to Calvinism he didn't, he was predestinated to make that 'choice' so it was not really a choice.

That's why God must choose whom He will save, because if God didn't choose, all would perish, because of Adam's poor choice. We were in Adam at the time he chose, therefore we suffer the consequences of that choice.

Even if all that were true, the fact is that Romans 5 makes it very clear that we are dead in Adam but all savable by the Second Adam (Rom.5:18)

That is the beauty of Christ's redemptive work. When God chooses us and we respond, we are in Christ, the same way we were in Adam, and therefore partakers of the blessings of Christ the same way we partook of the curse of Adam. It is not a "representative" joining, as some would teach, but an "actual" joining. That is the significance of Christ being the Second Adam.

The 'significance' of Christ being the Second Adam, is that Grace had 'trumped' sin and everyone is savable because of what the Second Adam did, just as everyone was damned for what the first Adam did.

The depths of depravity and sin are glossed over by Arminians. To them, sin is only what someone does, and habitual sin is what makes man a sinner, not the circumstances of his birth. That's why they think that man can freely choose God as easily as he chooses sin. They make the choice for God the moral equivalent of any other choice, rather than accept the fact that the choice for God is not available to them until and unless God first chooses them. The scream it's not fair when presented with the fact that they cannot choose God apart from His choosing them, ignoring the fact that apart from God's choosing, no one wants to choose God (the Book of Romans goes into great detail about that). Yet they will charge God with unfairness if they can't choose God, even though that choice is not available to them apart from God. At the heart of this is the idea that man has some sort of redeeming worth that would cause God to choose any particular individual. There is none, and they don't like it. But that doesn't make God unfair, nor does it make His choice arbitrary. It is totally within God's power to choose whom He will, and to not choose whom He will.

We are not talking about what it is in God's power to do, we are dealing with what He says in Scripture He wants to do, that is save all men!(1Tim.2:4, 2Pet.3:9, Jn.3:16, Acts.17:30.

Thank you for the post.

47 posted on 03/04/2003 1:37:17 PM PST by fortheDeclaration
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To: nobdysfool; fortheDeclaration; xzins
Much to the contrary, after spending three years in a "five-point" Calvinist church and after more than a year in and around these parts, I understand Calvinism all too well.

And that's what bothers you guys.

48 posted on 03/04/2003 1:39:15 PM PST by Corin Stormhands (Objects in this tagline are closer than they appear.)
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To: fortheDeclaration
I have said a number of times, it is the will that makes a choice between various desires (ice cream vs cake etc)

But what is implied is that the desires are equal and without individual merit. You're playing the argument about regarding the neutral-willed mule. If the desires are equal WHAT LEADS TO THE CHOICE?!?

That is the individual will deciding between alternatives. How the individual views those decisions (ice cream vs cake) is based on a varied combination of choices. No decision is made in a vacuum. Good choices lead to other good choices, likewise bad choices lead to other bad choices. That is how 'habits' are formed, good and bad, choosing to do something over and over until you no longer even give it a thought, it becomes impulsive. The chain is very difficult to break. It can be broken however, as we see good men go bad and bad men become good. (Demas and Mannasah)

All true...however you STILL have not shown how those decisions come about. There are two possibilities as to why the will would choose one alternative and not the other: it is a random decision without any motiviation, or it is a prior inclination. In the case of the former, as I've stated several times, the decision is morally neutral...not one of preference and not one that could be justly condemned. In the case of the latter, we must ask the question, "Where did the prior inclination come from?" If, as you say, it is mere habit, it still must have a point of origination. The inclination toward one or the other is dictated by desire, dec.

And what part do you think a misread? God does want all men to be saved (1Tim.2:4, 2Pet.3:9)

My original statement was "Either some then choose against that desire (which as stated begs other questions that must be answered), or all choose Christ and are saved." Obviously all don't choose Christ (which would lead to universal salvation) and I've never seen any indication that you believe such, so like I said I think you just misread what I wrote.

I have not seen that done yet. I have seen a lot of straw man arguments against Arminians, but according to what both Arminus and Wesley actually taught (both believing in God's control of history), the Arminians/Wesley/Baptist view is based on clear scripture, that God loves His creation and has allowed rational creatures to make irrational decisions against Him, just as we do when we sin.

Straw man arguments come in two flavors: intentional and unintentional. The intentional ones stem from intellectual dishonesty, the unintentional from a lack of understanding the original position. I think the latter are mischaracterized as the former a little too often, much to the detriment of civil conversation. I tend to give you the benefit of the doubt:)

Your 'proof-texts' can be handled quite easily, but in order for the Calvinists to deal with those above, they have to either twist them, or appeal to a 'secret will'

That's funny...we Calvinists look at your proof-texts the same way:) This particular thread wasn't intended to continue the same old debate over those select texts pointed to by both sides, so I'm not going to go over that ground again, at least not until we've gotten through the issue at hand.

It is you are demanding 'full understanding' You want an explaination of the 'irrational', which cannot be made, except that man wanted to do it! The will makes a choice between various desires and weighs them and decides based on different prefences. This is why some people spend all the money they make and some others invest and save it. Many different motives can go into the same action.

And this is what kills me about the argument, dec! If I'm demanding to know why a man chooses the way he does, I'm unreasonable. I'm just supposed to accept that some choose one way and some another without thought to where that motivation originated. But when I take the same approach with God...when I accept that He chooses to elect some according to His own choices/desires/etc...I'm again being unreasonable?!? Regarding the above statements, you still haven't/cannot answer a) WHY man wanted to do it, b) HOW those 'different preferences' came about, or c) where those different motives originated. As created beings these are essential points!

Fine, the final decider is the will of man. Man's will is subject to varying factors which it must weigh and finally make a decision. That decision is a real choice that it makes.

Ok. Now to what types of 'factors' are you referring?

I'll have to address the rest later...time to head out of here...

49 posted on 03/04/2003 1:44:21 PM PST by Frumanchu (Paradox = drstevej + the_doc)
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To: Frumanchu
have said a number of times, it is the will that makes a choice between various desires (ice cream vs cake etc) But what is implied is that the desires are equal and without individual merit. You're playing the argument about regarding the neutral-willed mule. If the desires are equal WHAT LEADS TO THE CHOICE?!?

Now, what makes you think that the desire are equal!

But even if they were, the mind would make one or the other have a heavier weight, adding other factors.

For example, in the ice cream issue, you might like both flavors, but are trying to lose weight so pick the one with fewer calories.

That is the individual will deciding between alternatives. How the individual views those decisions (ice cream vs cake) is based on a varied combination of choices. No decision is made in a vacuum. Good choices lead to other good choices, likewise bad choices lead to other bad choices. That is how 'habits' are formed, good and bad, choosing to do something over and over until you no longer even give it a thought, it becomes impulsive. The chain is very difficult to break. It can be broken however, as we see good men go bad and bad men become good. (Demas and Mannasah) All true...however you STILL have not shown how those decisions come about. There are two possibilities as to why the will would choose one alternative and not the other: it is a random decision without any motiviation, or it is a prior inclination.

First, the idea that the decision is random is a non-starter, I do not know anyone who is defending that view.

a prior inclination is a big factor, as I stated before, but it can be resisted and changed.

In the case of the former, as I've stated several times, the decision is morally neutral...not one of preference and not one that could be justly condemned. In the case of the latter, we must ask the question, "Where did the prior inclination come from?" If, as you say, it is mere habit, it still must have a point of origination. The inclination toward one or the other is dictated by desire, dec.

I will grant that sin goes back to the beginning, but we still do resist sin since most of us do not do all the sin we are capable of doing.

That is why in Romans 1 we are held accountable because we have a conscience and do know right and wrong.

And what part do you think a misread? God does want all men to be saved (1Tim.2:4, 2Pet.3:9) My original statement was "Either some then choose against that desire (which as stated begs other questions that must be answered), or all choose Christ and are saved." Obviously all don't choose Christ (which would lead to universal salvation) and I've never seen any indication that you believe such, so like I said I think you just misread what I wrote.

No, you framed that question wrongly.

All those who are condemned do choose against God, choosing to follow another desire (Jn.3:19) over the desire for God (Psa.10)

I have not seen that done yet. I have seen a lot of straw man arguments against Arminians, but according to what both Arminus and Wesley actually taught (both believing in God's control of history), the Arminians/Wesley/Baptist view is based on clear scripture, that God loves His creation and has allowed rational creatures to make irrational decisions against Him, just as we do when we sin. Straw man arguments come in two flavors: intentional and unintentional. The intentional ones stem from intellectual dishonesty, the unintentional from a lack of understanding the original position. I think the latter are mischaracterized as the former a little too often, much to the detriment of civil conversation. I tend to give you the benefit of the doubt:)

Thank you.

Your 'proof-texts' can be handled quite easily, but in order for the Calvinists to deal with those above, they have to either twist them, or appeal to a 'secret will' That's funny...we Calvinists look at your proof-texts the same way:) This particular thread wasn't intended to continue the same old debate over those select texts pointed to by both sides, so I'm not going to go over that ground again, at least not until we've gotten through the issue at hand.

I never saw an Arminian appeal to a 'secret will'!

It is you are demanding 'full understanding' You want an explaination of the 'irrational', which cannot be made, except that man wanted to do it! The will makes a choice between various desires and weighs them and decides based on different prefences. This is why some people spend all the money they make and some others invest and save it. Many different motives can go into the same action. And this is what kills me about the argument, dec! If I'm demanding to know why a man chooses the way he does, I'm unreasonable. I'm just supposed to accept that some choose one way and some another without thought to where that motivation originated. But when I take the same approach with God...when I accept that He chooses to elect some according to His own choices/desires/etc...I'm again being unreasonable?!?

Yes, because you want us to think that it is still man who is choosing!

That is what the issue is really about, who is doing the choosing.

Now, according to your view, man is choosing since he is acting according to how he wants, yet it is really God who is 'pulling the strings' so to speak.

Still, despite that, man is to be held responsible for something he has no control of.

Now, as for my positon, the choices a man makes are based on a mydrid of factors with the final decider being his own will which judges all the factors and makes a decision.

It is his decision to make, based on evalution of the facts

Regarding the above statements, you still haven't/cannot answer a) WHY man wanted to do it, b) HOW those 'different preferences' came about, or c) where those different motives originated. As created beings these are essential points!

The Bible is very clear that God is not responsible for sin (James 1:13) yet, we still do so!

So, when we are tempted, we give into our lust and it conceives sin, we make a decision based on a desire of our Flesh, and have to resist the desire of the Holy Spirit who'lusteth against the flesh' (Gal.5:17).

Now, either God is lying and He does want you to sin, or it is your own will that is making the decision to sin and choose against God!

Fine, the final decider is the will of man. Man's will is subject to varying factors which it must weigh and finally make a decision. That decision is a real choice that it makes. Ok. Now to what types of 'factors' are you referring?

There are many factors which influence choices, both physical and cultural.

Yet these only influence the choices, they are not their determinates, the will is.

50 posted on 03/04/2003 2:29:56 PM PST by fortheDeclaration
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