Willing to Believe: Introduction

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by skypair, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Seemingly expressing his motivation for the book...

    ...Sproul begins by comparing the Reformer's present experience among primarily semi-Pelagian evangelicals (or "humanism that reflects more of a Pelagian view") to the Israelites taken captivity by the Babylonians in that they [Reformers] are losing the identity with their distinctives. -- mainly human inability, sovereignty of God in grace, and the implications of those upon the human will. (They feel this pressure, I believe, on account of some fairly untenable, outdated views on these issues which even as we discuss the book, we will see clearly.)

    Thus begins the apologetic: "The classic issue ... Augustinian theology ... (ordo salutis) ... [regeneration] must precede faith. // Evangelicals* ... embrace sola fide but jettison sola gratia that undergirds it. ... Because the good response people make to the gospel becomes the ultimate determining factor in salvation." (which for RT is sola gratia, grace only)

    That "good response," for Sproul, elicits the counterpoint of -- not predestination and election (whose antithesis is not "human freedom" but "human autonomy" because God cannot be sovereign and man autonomous), -- but of original sin and the grace of God. So here is the paradigm (after rejecting the "puppet" and "clay" inert-human analogies ususally made against RT) -- "Scripture describes man as having a heart and being a responsible moral agent. Without a functional will, his moral agency perishes." On the other hand, "[God] is sovereign but He also has other attributes [holiness and righteousness]. ... If man has no 'choice' and is merely a passive instrument of divine sovereignty, then it certainly seems that God would be unrighteous to hold creatures responsible for their actions and to punish them for what they are powerless not to do."

    "How we view the will of man, then, touches heavily on our view of our humanity and God's character." These are the 3 issues mainly dealt with in the book.

    *Evangelicals," in current useage of the word, designates those who go out actively calling people to receive Christ.

    skypair
     
    #1 skypair, Feb 1, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2008
  2. swaimj

    swaimj
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/swaimj.gif>

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2000
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Skypair,

    I'll have some time tomorrow to sit down and look at the introduction and I'll try to reply. It's been several years since I read the book.

    Sproul presents a pretty good argement for his position. His weakness, to me, is that he is arguing historical theology, not biblical theology. There is a particular place in the book where he drops his own argument momentarily and exposes his own weakness. When we get to it, I'll point it out.
     
  3. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think you are exactly right on that last point! If there is a progression to his works/books, I would say he is starting to "convert!" :laugh:

    His book before this one, Getting the Gospel Right, he seems to speak of "justification" like I see it. Took me quite aback!

    skypair
     
  4. swaimj

    swaimj
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/swaimj.gif>

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2000
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here is a difficulty that I find in Sproul's argument in his introduction. On page 23, he says
    Then on page 25 he says
    My question then, is, what is the difference between Sproul's view and full determinism? I don't see how he avoids determinism in the argument he is making.
     
  5. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    We're about to see this in Augustine -- there's a difference between "free will" and "liberty." Calvinist "free will" is freedom from esternal coercion. "Liberty," on the other hand, is freedom from internal coercion of the sin nature (i.e. there is a quite "magical" release from internal bondage). It's enough to make your head spin!

    skypair
     
  6. Isaiah40:28

    Isaiah40:28
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    0
    We don't own that Sproul book so I can't see the context of either citations you provided, so my answer may not fit exactly Sproul's intended meaning.

    In the first quote, I've bolded what I see to be the link between the two statements.
    Faith is a fruit of regeneration.
    It is what we naturally and inevitably produce when we have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
    God's Spirit frees our enslaved will, enabling it to respond positively with faith which is our belief in Christ crucified for us.
    Saving faith is evidence that God's Spirit has changed us.

    I don't see a conflict between the two statements at all.
     
  7. russell55

    russell55
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Messages:
    2,424
    Likes Received:
    0
    Has Sproul claimed that he is not a determinist?
     
  8. swaimj

    swaimj
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/swaimj.gif>

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2000
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have never read anyone who claims to be a determinist no matter how deterministic their theology is. I assume that applies to Sproul. I am not aware that he identifies himself as a determinist in this book. His argumentation tends to make me think he wishes to avoid the label.
     
  9. swaimj

    swaimj
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/swaimj.gif>

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2000
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    0
    Isaiah 40:28 said
    So without regeneration a person cannot exercise faith and with regeneration a person cannot avoid ultimatiely exercising faith and a person has no part in their own regeneration.

    Am I understanding you correctly?

    Is this determinism? Why or why not?
     
  10. Isaiah40:28

    Isaiah40:28
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm a determinist. A Biblical one.
     
  11. Isaiah40:28

    Isaiah40:28
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, it's all of grace.

    I answered that before I saw this post.
    I'm good. :laugh:
     
  12. swaimj

    swaimj
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/swaimj.gif>

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2000
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for your honesty. In my experience, people who hold your view studiously avoid and strenuously object to this term.

    BTW, what is the difference between a biblical determinist and an unbiblical determinist?
     
  13. Isaiah40:28

    Isaiah40:28
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    0
    Biblical determinism says that all things happen in the exact way God foreordained them and that man is accountable to God.
    As far as I have studied, it can also be called compatibilism.
     
  14. swaimj

    swaimj
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/swaimj.gif>

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2000
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm pretty familiar with compatibalism in the writings of D.A. Carson. I think that compatibalism is not the same as determinism and Carson would reject the description of determinist for himself.
     
  15. Isaiah40:28

    Isaiah40:28
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    0
    I also am familiar with Carson and am not sure what he thinks of the term determinism. Here's a quote from an article from Monergism.com.
    Here's the full link...http://www.reformationtheology.com/2007/08/compatibilistic_determinism.php
     
  16. swaimj

    swaimj
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/swaimj.gif>

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2000
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for your reply. I accept compatibalism but I reject determinism. I think we may be down to a case of semantics with no real disagreement.
     
  17. russell55

    russell55
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Messages:
    2,424
    Likes Received:
    0
    All Calvinists are determinists. What Calvinists object to is being called fatalists.

    Most Calvinists are compatibalists, but compatibalism is a form of soft determinism. Compatibalism is defined as the belief that determinism is compatible with human freedom.

    A very few Calvinists are not compatibalists, and they'd be called hard determinists.

    Both R. C. Sproul and D. A. Carson are compatibalists, so both are soft determinists. For instance, in Carson's sermon On Preparing for Suffering and Evil, he says that
    Evil is directly attributable to secondary causes. But what make those secondary causes secondary it that the first cause, even of evil things, is God. It is God who determines what will happen, but it is accomplished through and directly attributable to the secondary causes that actually do the evil. However, when it comes to good acts, God is the one who determines what will happen and he is the one who accomplishes them and to whom they are directly attributable.

    The quotes you posted from Sproul are talking only about a good act: believing unto salvation. It is directly attributable to God because it is accomplished by the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit.

    By the way, D. A. believes that it is a monergistic work of the Spirit that brings about saving faith, too.
     
    #17 russell55, Feb 6, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2008
  18. Andy T.

    Andy T.
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2005
    Messages:
    3,147
    Likes Received:
    0
    Russell, very good, succinct summary of the issues at hand.
     
  19. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Semantics are at the center of Calvinism, don't you know?! If they could ever agree to the common definitions of terms or quit making up nuanced words, we wouldn't be having these rows!

    BTW, Dr Rogers used to say that "Satan will most gladly use our words if we agree to use his dictionary."

    skypair
     
    #19 skypair, Feb 7, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2008
  20. skypair

    skypair
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    We'll get into this soon enough but this has been an accusation since Calvinism was known as Augustinianism (since about 400 AD).

    Cassian, the semi-Pelagian response to Augustine said predestination "cripples the force of preaching, reproof, and moral energy,...plunges men into dipair," and intorduces "a certain fatal necessity." (underline mine)

    There is no way around the accusation but to say that predestination means something it doesn't -- like saying it means it describes "God's foreknowledge" when you really mean "God's will." This way God's will becomes NECESSITY such that God actually is in control of it.

    skypair
     

Share This Page

Loading...