Why the Doctrines of Grace is not Determinism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Herald, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. Herald

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    Let me start by saying that there is a doctrine that fits the Determinist label. It is called Hyper-Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinism is as much the enemy to the Doctrines of Grace (for the purpose of this post, a.k.a. "Calvinism") as is any of the free will positions; with Arminianism being the most popular term used.

    Hyper-Calvinism starts with the same premise as the Doctrines of Grace: to exalt God's sovereignty. It errs because it "stresses the sovereignty of God by over-emphasizing the secret over the revealed will of God and eternity over time, that it minimizes the responsibility of sinners" (New Dictionary of Theology). There are secret and hidden things that only God knows (Deut. 29:29). God predestines and elects individuals to faith in Christ according to the secret counsel of His own will (Rom. 9:16). He does so by a not-so-secret process; namely the preaching of the Word (1 Co. 1:21). Another hidden component is how man's choices work within God's prescriptive will. Common sense reveals that mankind is not a species of robots or automatons. We choose freely, although with constraint. The saint is able to choose sin or righteousness. Having been freed from sin (Rom. 6:2) we are not to walk in it, although we still have the capacity to sin. The believer has the ability not to sin (non posse peccare) and the ability to sin (posse peccare). The sinner does not posses the ability no to sin. The sinner only posses the ability to sin (posse peccare; 1 Co. 2:14). The believer has the ability to choose between sin and righteousness, whereas the sinner has only one available choice at all times - sin; this is because the sinner is in bondage to sin (Rom. 6:20). A sinner sins because it is in his nature to do so. The believer is categorically different than the sinner. The believer is no longer considered a sinner. Therefore, when the believer sins he does so while being in the light (1 John 1:5-10). Both groups choose freely, although both groups do so for different reasons and according to different abilities.

    The Doctrines of Grace is as far from Determinism as an opposite of something can be, although the line of demarcation is nearly invisibly thin for those who are not careful. Error always accompanies truth. That has been true ever since the Garden when the serpent said, "Has God said?" Instead of a rigid God who is running roughshod over His creation, God works in and through His creation to accomplish His will. However, He does not do this by imbuing the sinner with the ability to exercise faith without that faith being gifted by God; not because God saw that they the sinner would exercise faith, but simply because it pleases God to do so for His own reasons.

    Phil Johnson wrote a good article on this a number of years ago. I think it is still available somewhere online. I'll source him here as the inspiration behind this post.
     
  2. Jerome

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    'Founders' bigwig Tom Nettles:

    "I personally am happy that such a reality as determinism exists. The world is made that way, I gain security every day from an implicit confidence in determinism, and my security before God is nurtured by deterministic assurance of divine revelation."

    http://www.founders.org/journal/fj81/article1.html
     
  3. Iconoclast

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    THE DECREES OF GOD

    The decrees of God may be defined as that just, wise, and holy purpose or plan by which eternally, and within himself, he determines all things whatsoever that come to pass.

    I. This purpose or plan is just, wise, and holy. Since it is formed by God it must have this character. His nature forbids that anything otherwise shall proceed from him. Though what he permits may be unrighteous, or foolish, or sinful, these characteristics belong to it because of others; while his will, purpose, or plan continues just, wise, and holy.

    It is needful that this fact be always remembered.

    1. Since, on account of the ignorance of man, there must be much in connection with this subject, which cannot be comprehended; because (1.) man's finite knowledge cannot compass the nature, and mode, and reasons of the will, and action of the infinite God, (2.) because of the difficulty of reconciling the free agency and responsibility of man, with the pre-existent knowledge and purposes of God, and (3.) because of the perplexities which arise from the existence of sin in a world planned, created and governed by a holy, all-wise, and almighty God.

    2. The same fact should also not be forgotten, because of the natural corruption of the human heart, which makes it (1.) revolt against the sovereignty of God, (2.) seek refuge from the condemnation justly due to sin, and (3.) endeavor to find excuses for continuance therein.

    It is our duty, therefore, (1.) to seek to learn all the facts made known by reason and revelation, (2.) to accept them, (3.) to recognize them as the testimony of God, (4.) to admit that our knowledge is still imperfect, (5.) to believe that further information will still further remove the difficulties, (6.) to refuse on account of the difficulties to reject what God has actually taught, and (7.) amid all, to believe that whatever that teaching is, it must accord with justice, wisdom and holy perfection, because it is God of whom these things are affirmed.

    II. These decrees are properly defined to be God's purpose or plan.

    The term "decree" is liable to some misapprehension and objection, because it conveys the idea of an edict, or of some compulsory determination. "Purpose" has been suggested as a better word. "Plan" will sometimes be still more suitable. The mere use of these words will remove from many some difficulties and prejudices which make them unwilling to accept this doctrine. They perceive that, in the creation, preservation, and government of the world, God must have had a plan, and that that plan must have been just, wise and holy, tending both to his own glory and the happiness of his creatures. They recognize that a man who has no purpose, nor aim, especially in important matters, and who cannot, or does not, devise the means by which to carry out his purpose, is without wisdom and capacity, and unworthy of his nature. Consequently, they readily believe and admit that the more comprehensive, and, at the same time, the more definite is the plan of God, the more worthy is it of infinite wisdom. Indeed they are compelled to the conclusion that God cannot be what he is, without forming such a purpose or plan.

    III. Any such plan or purpose of God must have been formed eternally, and within himself.

    1. It must have been eternally purposed, because God's only mode of existence, as has been heretofore proved, is eternal, and therefore his thoughts, and purpose, and plan must be eternal. The fact also that his knowledge is infinite, and cannot be increased, forbids the forming of plans in time, which, as they become known to him, would add to that knowledge. It is also to be remembered that the plan must precede its execution, but as time began with that execution, the plan must not have been formed in time, and must be eternal.

    2. In like manner, also, was it formed within himself. He needed not to go without himself, either for the impulse which led to it, or the knowledge in which it was conceived. He had all knowledge, both of the actual and the possible, all wisdom as to the best end and means, all power to execute what he devised in the use, or without the use of appropriate secondary means, and free will to select, of all possible plans and means, whatever he himself should please, and the impulse which moved him existed alone in that knowledge and will.

    The chief difficulty connected with the doctrine of decrees arises from the existence of' sin. According to that doctrine, sin has not accidentally occurred, nor was it simply foreknown, but it was a part of the plan and purpose of God, that it should exist. The difficulty is freely admitted. In this respect the dispensation of God is surrounded with "clouds and darkness."

    The following statements, however, may be made:

    (1.) That its being a part of the purpose or plan of God, renders its presence no more difficult of explanation than that he should have foreknown its appearance, and not exerted his unquestioned power to prevent it.

    (2.) That, amid all the darkness, we can yet see that God is so overruling sin as to cause it greatly to redound to his glory and the happiness of his creatures.

    (3.) That even without any explanation of it, we can rest in our knowledge of the justice, wisdom, and goodness of God.

    (4.) That we cannot see how its possible entrance into the world could have been prevented, consistently with the creation and putting upon probation of beings with moral natures, endowed with free will, and necessarily fallible because mere creatures; while the right thus to put on probation, without such influence as would make his creatures certainly persevere in holiness, is one which none could justly deny to God. But that which God could possibly (under any contingency) permit, cannot, if it has actual existence, militate against his pure and holy character.

    The Scriptural authority for the doctrine of decrees will appear from the following statements and references, gathered with slight modifications from Hodge's Outlines, pp, 205-213:

    1. God's decrees are eternal. Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:4; 3:11; 1 Pet. 1:20; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 2:7.

    2. They are immutable. Ps. 33:11; Isa. 46:9.

    3. They comprehend all events.

    (1.) The Scriptures assert this of the whole system in general embraced in the divine decrees. Dan. 4:34, 35; Acts 17:26; Eph 1:11.

    (2.) They affirm the same of fortuitous events. Prov. 16:33; Matt. 10:29, 30.

    (3.) Also of the free actions of men. Eph. 2:10, 11; Phil. 2:13.

    (4.) Even the wicked actions of men. Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28; 13:29; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4; Rev. 17:17. As to the history of Joseph, compare Gen. 37:28, with Gen. 45:7, 8, and Gen. 50:20. See also Ps. 17:13, 14; Isa. 10:5, 15.

    4. The decrees of God are not conditional. Ps. 33:11; Prov. 19:21; Isa. 14:24, 27 ; 46:10; Rom. 9:11.

    5. They are sovereign. Isa. 40:13, 14; Dan. 4:35; Matt. 11:25, 26; Rom. 9:11, 15-18; Eph. 1:5, 11.

    6. They include the means. Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2.

    7. They determine the free actions of men. Acts 4:27, 28 ; Eph. 2:10.

    8. God himself works in his people that faith and obedience which are called the conditions of salvation. Eph. 2:8 ; Phil. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:25.

    9. The decree renders the event certain. Matt. 16:21; Luke 18:31-33; 24:46; Acts 2:23; 13:29; 1 Cor. 11:19.

    10. While God has decreed the free acts of men, the actors have been none the less responsible. Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:27, 28

    JP BOYCE
     
  4. convicted1

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    Brother Herald, free will doesn't harm the doctrines of grace whatsoever. Please refrain from saying such in the future.
     
  5. Winman

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    This is easily shown to be error.

    Jer 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

    Jer 19:5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

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

    Now how in the world can God decree or ordain that which he never commanded, and which never came into his heart or mind?

    Please answer this question.
     
  6. Herald

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    There are two basic views of soteriology: monergism and synergism. The first sees God as completely sovereign. God does not elect based any future meritorious act by the individual. The sinner does not possess either the desire or ability to believe until given by God at the time of His calling of the sinner. Synergism teaches that man's will is not completely fallen; that somewhere within the sinner is the ability to believe without God having to impart that ability prior to belief.

    Now, I used the term "free will" in place of semi-Pelagianism (which I believe is the more technically accurate term) in order not seem inflammatory. I'm genuinely sorry if it offends you, but it's virtually impossible not to offend someone in this type of discussion. Believe me when I say that my motivation is to express the truth in love.
     
  7. Benjamin

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    Educate yourself about the doctrines behind "Prevenient Grace" and that might help you understand that your presumed offering of the only alternative is of "semi-Pelagianism" is merely a fallacious false dilemma tactic.

    BTW, your title question begs much. ;)
     
  8. Iconoclast

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    Your not understanding these verses at all.What you are suggesting is not describing the biblical God. Do you actually believe that the biblical God ....does not know something??? Do you actually believe God needs to learn anything????

    Can you not see that all of these kind of verses.....have another meaning other than what you suggest? verses that say God repents, etc.....he does not need to.Until you get this....you will repeat this post as you do over and over . Any answer I offer or anyone else offers will be rejected by you as you do not want an answer.:type:
     
  9. Winman

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    Obviously God knew the Jews were sacrificing their children to false gods or he could not speak about it. It seems it is you that cannot comprehend my question.

    How can God decree or ordain something that he never commanded? Isn't a decree by definition a commandment?

    Try answering the question this time.
     
  10. Iconoclast

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    Winman,

    I think you are sincere. I will try:love2:

    God did not command them to worship Idols. It never entered His mind to command them to worship idols which is sin.

    God did not command them to sacrifice babies to molech- Such sin never would enter His mind.....he is not the author of evil in anyway....

    12 Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

    13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

    He has men write scripture in a way we can understand. Do you see it now?:thumbsup:

    God is perfect,lacking nothing.Perfect in all His HOLY attributes.

    God ordained the events of the cross...but did not make anyone do it...they with wicked hands have crucified and slain the Holy One
     
  11. OldRegular

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    There are some on this Forum who advocate using science to determine the meaning of certain Scripture. There are others who advocate the use of rationalism to determine the meaning of certain Scripture.
     
  12. Iconoclast

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    It is easier to obey God on this;
     
  13. Winman

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    I believe you are mistaken, God did not ordain that Judas would betray Jesus, and God did not ordain or decree that the Jews and Romans would crucify Jesus. You are correct, God never decrees or ordains sin.

    What God did ordain and decree is that Jesus would willingly allow himself to be sacrificed on the cross. Jesus willingly giving his life to save us is not sin.

    But back to this specific event. God himself said he never commanded the Jews to sacrifice their children to false gods, and this sin never came into his heart or mind.

    So how could God decree or ordain that which he never commanded?

    You are being evasive and avoiding the issue. God said he never commanded this sin, so how could he possibly have decreed or ordained it?

    I want you to explain how God can ordain something he never commanded. Please answer this question and do not deflect.
     
  14. Benjamin

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    Better said: There are some on this Forum who advocate using "logical truth and reasoning" to determine the meaning of certain Scripture, because God is Truth.

    (Isa 1:18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

    Uh, yes, be rational and use one's God given abilities of reason and intellect rather than strict irrational adherence to support some traditional systematic theological doctrine to determine the meaning of Scripture would be a good idea. ;)

    Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
     
    #14 Benjamin, Dec 14, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2012
  15. Iconoclast

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    Winman,

    I am in toledo now.... My company has told me that Oregon is lost and i must find it by Tuesday morning 530 am.....so I must now head west until i get into nebraska...:laugh:

    Re-read the post slowly...I have offered an answer if you think about it .
    Judas betrayal was foretold before Judas was born psalm 41;9...yet he did what he wanted. the events of the cross were ordained...think about it..

    What if...[there is not what if, however} what if everyone liked Jesus and said...we do not want to put Him to death....what then ???plan b?:laugh:

    Everything that comes to pass is ordained by God or it would not come to pass. Nothing can come to pass that God has not ordained...even the sinful acts of sinful men, or demons are under God's control as per Job..
    getting a coffee and heading out:laugh:
     
  16. Winman

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    You keep trying to change the subject, I want to talk about the verses I showed in Jeremiah. God said he did not command the Jews to sacrifice their children to idols.

    Once again, how can God decree or ordain that which he never commanded?

    Please attempt to answer the question. This SPECIFIC question. We can talk about Judas later.
     
  17. quantumfaith

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    Well said Benjamin. :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
    One cannot interpret scripture without using their intellect and rational thought in one form or another.
     
  18. HeirofSalvation

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    #18 HeirofSalvation, Dec 14, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2012
  19. HeirofSalvation

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    Ok.........thus, according to what you have stated and we have all observed...the "sinner" is "incapable" (your words) of choosing anything but evil, and he "cannot" choose good except God grant him that capacity...
    Moreover....I'm going to go out on a limb and ask you whether once God has "graced" that "sinner" with his pre-ordained will to be redeemed whether that "sinner" is capable of refusing or resisting God's grace, and if not....
    1.) Then as a "sinner" he is incapable of choosing "good". And God has chosen that he be born in said state also.
    2.) If God pre-ordaines that he be given the "grace" to be redeemed than he is
    a.] Incapable of rejecting or refusing it
    b.] subsequently provided the ability to "choose" then, between right and wrong.

    So........what then is the difference exactly between "Determinism" as you understand it and the spurious term "Doctrines of Grace"????
     
  20. Winman

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    Exactly.

    Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
     

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