Does Calvinism ever really answer the major objection?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Dec 16, 2011.

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  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    Most, if not all, believers when first confronted with the Calvinistic dogma fight against it. Even Calvinists testify that they are "dragged kicking and screaming to the doctrine by the scripture." (ref. see Sproul's "Chosen by God")

    Calvinists often point toward this repulsion that we as believers have to their doctrines as being some kind of badge of honor. They often argue that the repulsion that humanity feels to such doctrines are warned about in scripture and therefore offer more validity to their claims.

    What is it about the Calvinistic dogma that believers hate so much? And does the scripture really ever warn us about such things?

    I remember when I first was confronted by Calvinism my objection had to do with RESPONSIBLITY. Who is responsible? How can God be in complete control of my choices and still hold me responsible? How can I be unable to respond and still resonsible for my response?

    This is a reasonable question and one I think Calvinists must answer. And they do...at least they THINK they do.

    They go to Romans 9 and quote, "God has mercy on who he wants to have mercy and he hardens who he wants to harden. Then one of you will say to me, then why does he still blame us, for who resists his will?"

    They actually believe that Paul is addressing this objection concerning responsiblity in salvation, but is Paul really answering this objection? Is Paul really intending to say that God holds people responsible for their choices even though He ultimately controls them?

    If so, then Calvinists have a good case, but if not they have no real answer to this objection.

    I believe it can be shown:

    1. That those who God has hardened were deserving of their being judicial hardened by God due to their FREE rebellion, and thus their being hardened was not a result of God's prior choice to not elect them. In other words, they were judicially hardened or sealed by God in their ALREADY rebellious condition, rather than being placed in that condition from birth by God due to the Fall of Adam.

    2. That those who God has hardened may still be saved. (see Romans 11:14ff)

    These two points completely undermine the Calvinistic premise that God hold's men responsible for choices that He controls because it shows that the men are responsible for their hardened condition in the first place and that God's hardening process may actually lead to their salvation rather than certain condemnation as would be the case for the non-elect reprobates of their system.
     
    #1 Skandelon, Dec 16, 2011
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  2. The Archangel

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    You have a false premise which sends your entire line of reasoning off kilter.

    You state: "How can God be in complete control of my choices and still hold me responsible?"

    You go on to state further examples of the same misunderstanding that is seen here. You are basically saying that God is "deterministic" and, as such, He is in control of us and we have no control of ourselves.

    Of course, we Calvinists, for the most part, do not say that God "controls" our actions.

    You must remember: The Bible does indeed put forward two truths--1. God is absolutely sovereign and 2. Man is absolutely responsible. These two things go together in a mysterious way.

    Your question shows your line of reasoning and your understanding of what our position is to be faulty and this leads you to ask a question that cannot be satisfactorily answered because to answer it would be to answer according to your presupposition and not according to the text. In essence you are trying to create a square circle.

    The Archangel
     
  3. Earth Wind and Fire

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    ....Or he is trying to create controversy :smilewinkgrin:
     
  4. Skandelon

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    I understand, and have expounded numerous times, on the various Calvinistic explanations regarding God's "control" of our "free" choices (choices made according to our desire... i.e. compatibilism) I can't point you to those posts if you so desire, but for the purpose of this thread I simplified the view with the word "control." If you'd like to replace that with "compatiblistic control," then fine. It all amounts to the same thing. You have God in ultimate control (i.e. the determining factor) of your choices. However you want to nuance that doesn't change that simple fact.

    Agreed. But how is that to be defined? Does "sovereign" mean 'in equal control over darkness and light' as if for God to be sovereign He must 'play both side of the chess board' to ensure victory? OR is 'sovereign' defined as God being so powerful, knowledgable and omnipresent that He is able to permit other free moral authorities and agents to reek havoc while maintaining His ultimate plan and purpose in and through a fallen world? Is God so sovereign, so powerful, so knowledgable that He is able to play chess with an actual independent opponent and thus still ensure victory?

    See the difference?


    What in particular is 'faulty' about my understanding?

    Is God not in control over your choices? Did you choose according to God's prior decree/choice or not? Is your choice determined by God or isn't it? What did I say that is faulty and why, Archangel?
     
  5. preacher4truth

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    [snipped - resorts to personal and inflammatory attacks rather than discussing the topic of the thread]
     
    #5 preacher4truth, Dec 16, 2011
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  6. Skandelon

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    Right, I created the controversy over free will and sovereignty. :rolleyes:

    And heaven forbid someone bring up a theological point of controversy on a theological debate forum. :eek:
     
  7. Benjamin

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    Seems its a mystery Skandelon. ;)
     
  8. preacher4truth

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    It looks like the basis of this thread starts with, which is commonplace, the ideal that God being Sovereign, yet holding us responsible is "unfair."

    We see most of the non-cal varieties of theology holding this presupposition and belief in their deficient understanding, namely; "If that is true then God is unfair." This is quite an unfortunate allegation.

    Though the above is true, (that God is Sovereign and holds man responsible) I believe the real question and problem with this thread starts with its title.

    It is not "Calvinism" that has to answer this at all here, for "Calvinism" didn't invent this truth, it is directly from the Scriptures themselves. Since the above is true, the one in question for Sovereign control while holding men responsible is the God of Scriptures, not a theology based in this truth, albeit this is not easily answered.

    Furthermore, what is being said in the thread title is that one objects to the idea of the truth that: 1) God is in Sovereign control 2) Man is yet responsible.

    I don't object to that, nor to this truth concerning God. He's the Potter, I won't reply against Him:

    So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Romans 9:18-20

    We see that man will object to this act of God. It happens often. I believe the "major objection" to not be with Calvinism at all, but rather with the revelation of truth.

    - Peace
     
    #8 preacher4truth, Dec 16, 2011
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  9. Skandelon

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    Thanks for that post Ben. It clearly shows that my premise is not at all 'faulty' or 'misrepresentative' of their views. When they claim that (1) God is absolutely sovereign (i.e. 'in complete control over all things...including men's choices') and (2) man is held responsible for those choices then the objection I've presented in the OP has been affirmed. Why does he deem my premise of his views faulty while defending it?
     
  10. preacher4truth

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    Excellent answer. :thumbsup:
     
  11. Skandelon

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    Your response is inaccurate, which is commonplace, because we affirm God's Sovereignty and man's responsibility. The problem is in how one defines 'sovereignty,' as I presented in the post above.

    Fallacy: Begging the Question.

    "The fallacy of petitio principii, or "begging the question", is committed "when a proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof." For example: "Scripture presents the claims of Calvinism." To answer I must simple say, "Scripture presents the claims of Arminianism," and then we enter into the endless cycle of nuh...huh, uh...huh......

    Please make an argument and avoid the fallacies.

    Actually, the objection is not against biblical sovereignty, but against the claims of Calvinists about biblical sovereignty, which presumes that God is in control of human choice....something AA seems to deny while defending it, which is mysterious indeed.
     
  12. JesusFan

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    God is in control over all that happens, or else he would not be God!
    sometimes I chose as God willed directly, other time as I chose to, both times, He is still in control, working out all things per His will for my life in Christ, as per Romans...

    Do you have a problem withthe teaching of Paul regarding Election?

    I MUCH rather have God determing events and my life than myself, as I know per Bible that all things WILL and DO work out for the best, as He is the One steering the ship to the shore!
     
  13. Skandelon

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    Free moral agents are in control over their free moral choices, or else they would not be free moral agents.

    Now, do you affirm my statement as true? If so, then reconcile your statement with mine. There is the 'mystery' to which AA referred. I reconcile the two statements by insisting that God can maintain 'control' over that which he permits without having to be the cause or determination of such moral choices. How he does this is mysterious, I agree, but I don't deny that the ultimate cause of a free moral agent's choice is the free moral agent, not the One who created the free moral agent.
     
  14. JesusFan

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    that which was created will always be under that which created it...

    satan tried to assert 'absolute free will" how did that go for him?
    adam tried same, ditto, was he happier after excercising it?

    Thing is that Will of God will ALWAYS be the best, so why would any other will want to be done in ultimate sense?

    In the Final state, isn't it that the Will of God will be done in aperfect fashion what we all long for?
     
    #14 JesusFan, Dec 16, 2011
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  15. The Archangel

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    You're still using the word "control," which we would not affirm.

    Again, you are making an assumption--calling it "control"--that we do not affirm and scripture does not affirm "control." Compatibilism is not "control." You may have tried to simplify the view by using the word "control" and in using the word "control" you have demonstrated that you do not, in fact, understand the position, no matter how much you've expounded on it or may have held to it at one time.

    Frankly, to call what we believe "control" is tantamount to us calling what you believe "Pelagianism."

    The answer is neither. God does not "play chess with an...opponent" because there is no such thing as an adequate opponent for God. To theorize an adequate opponent you'd have to delve into the Eastern Religion concept of yin and yang--something the Bible completely rejects.

    We don't claim that God plays both sides. We don't claim that there are "free moral authorities" either. God is the only "free moral authority." We humans are not free in the libertarian sense.

    What we do claim is that God fore-ordains (which is not the same as causing) the free and sometimes sinful actions of human beings to suit His purposes and display His glory.

    I am in "control" over my choices to the extent that my nature defines my choices and leads to my desires. The new nature of the believer still deals with the baggage of the sin nature. As believers in this present age, we are able to sin and able not to sin. Before we become believers, we are unable not to sin--because of our sin nature.

    But, your reasoning is faulty precisely because you attribute active control to God when the scripture doesn't.

    The life of Joseph is a perfect illustration of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility and how God ordains (remember: ordain is not "cause" or "control") everything.

    I'll write about Joseph in a few minutes.

    The Archangel
     
  16. The Archangel

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    No. You're arguing for a libertarian understanding of moral agency and free will. We are not unfettered moral agents; we are bound by our sin nature. To argue that we are unbound by any inkling of sin nature is to argue that Pelagius was right.

    The Archangel
     
  17. Pastor David

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    "Another real problem created by the doctrine of the divine sovereignty has to do with the will of man. If God rules His universe by His sovereign decrees, how is it possible for man to exercise free choice? And if he can not exercise freedom of choice, how can he be held responsible for his conduct? Is he not a mere puppet whose actions are determined by a behind-the-scenes God who pulls the strings as it pleases Him?

    The attempt to answer these questions has divided the Christian church neatly into two camps which have borne the names of two distinguished theologians, Jacobus Arminius and John Calvin. Most Christians are content to get into one camp or the other and deny either sovereignty to God or free will to man. It appears possible, however, to reconcile these two positions without doing violence to either, although the effort that follows may prove deficient to partisans of one camp or the other.

    Here is my view: God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, “What doest thou?” Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so." - A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy
     
  18. Skandelon

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    You mean like a parent is in control over their teenager? :tongue3:

    We agree that God is in control, but we may define 'control' a bit differently. I believe God can control that which he permits without being the cause of the independent choices of others.

    What does that even mean? Are you saying God made Satan rebel or are you saying that Satan rebelled by asserting free will? I have now idea what you are arguing here.

    So it is God's will that children are molested?

    You fail to differentiate between God's permissive will and his decretive plans.
     
  19. preacher4truth

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    My response is accurate. Follow along.

    You're talking about "givens" up above, and of course we know you affirm both, yet struggle with the Sovereign side. I apologize for not clarifying these givens within answering, and instead going on as thinking you held comprehension to this already, which makes me at fault. I apologize for assuming.

    When re-reading my last post, you'll find that what I am really addressing is Gods Sovereignty, and the objection towards this Sovereignty. This should suffice to clear this up for you.

    It has been noted your premise is inaccurate. One has stated it is "a mystery" (the truths of Sovereignty in Calvinist theology) to which you latched onto as proof you are correct, which is, mind you, an absurd proof and grasping for anything for such an end. It comes across as desperate for validation in retrospect. I mean this is a debate forum, correct, and you're using that statement as proof you're correct? OK. Nothing in this statement proves you are correct. Can we agree here that in so doing, grasping that as proof you are correct is rather untrue, and what we might call tomfoolery?

    So, can you use some good argument instead of embracing fallacy? This is what you've done by embracing a quip as proof you're correct, which proves your entire OP is, in fact, begging the question.

    Two others in this thread claim that your premise is faulty, and have provided a concise enough answer, although it is agreeable the answers aren't easy. What was easy is showing that the basis of your OP is faulty. See the difference?

    What we have shown is that we don't have an objection with Sovereign God in this truth. Another thing that is shown is that we, finite man, don't have to come up with an perfect answer to appease mans conscience and mans objection to this truth. It all boils down to do we yet trust God in all of this, or, do we object. From the OP to now, all I see is an objection against this aspect of Gods Sovereignty and the underlying "it's unfair" assertion.

    Begging the question is what your thread is based upon: A question to which you already have an (your) answer to, assuming you are already correct. Then it goes into the "huh, uh...nuh" mode. Keep in mind I am well aware of definitions, and also, keep in mind I considered that you would have understood we are talking here of Sovereignty, something I thought you would have caught onto immediately.

    I made my argument. It also contains Scriptures that represent the basis of your objections rather descriptively, and exposes the error of your objection, and that the objection you have is not toward Calvinists whatsoever.

    The biggest fallacy that lends itself toward your faulty objection is in your deficient view of Gods Sovereignty. This is really what you are "replying against." Most, if not all non-cal theologies have this chasm like fault within their theology.

    I will add that, in addition, not only is your qualm of what we hold to as Biblical Sovereignty questionable, and your theology there somewhat deficient, I might also suggest a study on freewill for your further study and enlightenment.


    Thanks.
     
    #19 preacher4truth, Dec 16, 2011
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  20. Skandelon

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    I love this quote from Tozer! :thumbsup:
     
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