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March 29, 2010

Comments

Hi Eric....

First, God created a perfect world with two perfect people in it. Problem is...in order for them to be perfect....they had to be perfectly....free to choose. God allowed them to have perfect freedom to choose...which meant the potential to fail. Thats the price of being perfectly free...the possiblity of failure.

That they chose (of their own free will) evil instead of good is obvious. Why did they choose to sin? Not sure. I can only surmise from what I would do if was allowed to do anything I wanted to anyone i chose with no restraint whatsoever.

At any rate...God knew this would happen...and He knew that once sin was introduced to His perfect creation...His creation would never again be perfect. But....He had a plan....and it was working exactly as He wanted it to.

Evidently sin HAD to be allowed simply because sin is the obvious result of free "creatures" making choices. He could have made robots that obeyed Him perfectly...but He did not want robots. (angels come pretty close to being robots)

Here is the beauty of His plan. He planned BOTH the fall AND the redemption of the fallen so that we could have the original perfection restored...WITHOUT US PAYING THE PRICE FOR OUR TRANSGRESSIONS.

That is why we say that salvation is...of the LORD, and Him alone.

That is not 100% satisfying to us sinners but i'm afraid it will have to do since we see through the glass darkly....

Hi Jannie... I'll give it a shot.

You are essentially asking teh basic question.."If all is predestinated...why worry about trying to please God..because no matter what you do...you will not change what God has predetermined to come to pass?

First...anyone who is truly a Christian will do as he does out of grattitude to His
Creator..for what he knows Christ has already done for him. He does not concern himself with what "reward" He may recieve. (He already HAS eternal life..what more can he desire????) He knows that "The Lord of all the earth will do right"...and lives his life accordingly.

The beauty of God's grace is precisley the point that my salvation does NOT depend upon how good I am...and If God is for me...all is truely well with my soul. On the other hand if i think I can earn God's mercy by being good...i am lost and without hope because the fact of the matter is...I most certainly canNOT be...good...enough. Why not? Because good enough isn't. There is more..but i have been on here too long today. Hope this helps a little.

Eric...

God did not make any mistake in creating people He knew would sin and cause the fallen world. It was ALL part of His plan...and not one jot or tittle will fail to come to pass...just as he ordains it to.

He did nor cause them to sin...but for sure, He knew what giving any created being a free will would do to them (and us)...but He went ahead with it anyway because he did not want robots...and....because that was only part of the plan. He knew the would fail and He also knew He would provide a way for them to be redeemed. (By giving Himself)

Hi Janney, here's a paragraph from Chapter 3 of the Westminster Confession of Faith which is Calvinism systemitized.

>>I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.[3]>>

The Calvinist minister would preach with the knowledge that God's eternal decree is not incompatible with human freedom. He would know that the words he speaks have an effect that will give motivations to act in a certain way. There have been many attempts to reconcile the sovereignty/freewill issue, but there's no space to look further at them here. The term given for the Calvinist view is "compatiblism".

If you were motivated to search out whether Calvinism is a reasonable, defensible exegetical system, I think you'd be hard pressed to deny that it is.

Back to WCF 3.1, mans freedom to be who he is, and do as he *wants* to do will never be infringed by God, even while He intervenes.

Vic:

Thanks for the warning about attaching importance to winning. I will give you the same admonition when you are on the winning end.

Eric...

You ask how God can create people who He knows will sin.

He can do so, Eric because He has a plan...a plan of which not one jot nor tittle will fail to come to pass.

Creating people who WILL sin (because they have been given a perfectly free will).....thats only the first part of the plan.

Knowing His created subjects will fail...He, in His infinite wisdom and mercy also provides a way for them to be redeemed......by giving Himself as payment, no less.

Why did God do it this way? I can only guess. Evidently the price for creating perfectly free creatures...is a perfect sacrifice

Eric...

Can you explain why you are undeceided about Calvinsim?

In his last video Mr. Koukl asks atheists: “who holds us responsible for the wrong we do if in fact there is no God?” But this turns out to be a trick question: Mr. Koukl believes that there is a God, but not that He holds us responsible for the wrong we do.

This rather undermines the charge, routinely made, that atheists have no morals (beyond what they sponge off religious people) because they don't believe they're answerable to a higher power. Not to mention the charge that, if atheism were true, then life would be purposeless and empty. Such charges can just as appropriately be leveled at a worldview which says we deserve, and should expect, eternal torture because of what we are, regardless of what we do. Hitler himself, after all, isn't burning in hell for what he did; if he is burning, he's burning for the same reason we can all expect to burn.

The time you spend in this life is nothing compared to the eternity to follow (in addition to being mathematically obvious, this is another ambient cultural tidbit I've picked up). If what you do in this life is irrelevant to how you'll spend that eternity, then God Himself could command you to control your sinful urges, and it would ring hollow—it just doesn't matter.

Eric...

Sorry for the delay in getting back...was not able to post for some reasson...

Anyway..to your question.."How can God create people that He knows will sin...and still punish them?"

ALL sin has to be punished wherever it is found. God has raised up some people so that God can show His power in bringing them down. The book says so. There is no way to deny it. Further it says that the very reason he does this...is the "good pleasure of HIS will".

The main reason this seems to be a problem for most is that we want to give credit to God for being soveriegn....but not THAT soveriegn.

Johnnie...

Didn't mean to admonish. It was a serious question. Nothing wrong with "winning". However...I think we both would agree truth is what counts?

Janney...

I'm confused. Why would Greg ever intimate that God does not hold us responsible for our lives???

Who is saying atheists have no morals?? Of course they do. Its just that without a transcendent God to tell us what those morals objectively ought to be...atheists get to make up their own as they go. You DO see the problem (for the atheist) with that....don't you?

The reason it DOES matter is because God has made it clear to all of us what IS objectively right and what IS objectively wrong...and has promised us nothing but wrath if we pretend that He has lied to us about that truth.

Vic,

I'm confused. Why would Greg ever intimate that God does not hold us responsible for our lives???

I'm also confused. You and Mr. Koukl agree—right?—that we deserve eternal torture because of what we are, and you agree that in any event God must be free, in principle, to damn everyone regardless of what anyone does. In what sense, then, can it be said that He will “hold us responsible for our lives”?

Who is saying atheists have no morals?? Of course they do. Its just that without a transcendent God to tell us what those morals objectively ought to be...atheists get to make up their own as they go. You DO see the problem (for the atheist) with that....don't you?

I'm familiar with the problem presented to atheists; I'm curious why no Calvinist sees a moral problem for Calvinists. In what sense can God's transcendent morality be said to matter to anyone, if we've all earned eternal damnation by our nature?

The reason it DOES matter is because God has made it clear to all of us what IS objectively right and what IS objectively wrong...and has promised us nothing but wrath if we pretend that He has lied to us about that truth.

Are you suggesting that divine wrath should somehow be more intimidating than eternal torture?

If hell were a fraction as bad as folks say, then the possibility of spending eternity there would be the only thing of consequence in human existence. You and Mr. Koukl assure me that this is the case, and that it's the only fate anyone has a right to expect. I submit that, in that case, life on earth is as empty and purposeless as Christians think atheists think it is.

The good news is: no one has anything to lose.

Janney...

No..not quite right. We do not deserve death for what we are but rather for what we have done. (sinned)

What God is free to do is...grant or withhold mercy as he sees fit. He OWES no one mercy.

I am sure it bothers you that we can be held responsible in ANY fashion let alone be held accountable for the sin that Adam did in the garden. However...it is almost (but not quite) a moot point since there is obviously plenty of sin to account for in each of our own lives. We could not have had a better representative for us in the garden...and when he (perfect as he was) failed, he demonstrated the seriousness of sin....in that that one sin contaminated all of us. Don't like that idea? Can't help it.

Point is.. ALL deserve death and God in His infinite mercy has saved some. He would have been justified to wipe the slate completely clean. So... We have nothing to complain about. Why or how He distributes mercy is non of our business.

You ask.."In what sense can God's morality matter?"

In this sense. If He was not merciful, no one would ever be saved. You obviously think God is immoral because He punishes innocent people...and you are wrong. He never punishes the innocent..because there ARE no innocents. By the same token He never saves innocent people either...we are ALL guilty.

Equating "divine wrath" and "eternal damnation" would be an exercise in futility. WhatEVER each means we are assured we wont be happy with it.

No one has anything to lose? REally? Then way are you wasting your time here? Is it dark out there where you are whistling?

Acts 2: 37-38 According to a Particular Calvinist:

37: Now when they heard this, they were pricked to the heart, and said unto Vic and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what are we to do?

38: Then Vic said unto them, Really, the idea that you can do something to gain eternal life is a lot of malarkey, as if we can accept something from God. But if you get baptized and stuff and do good works, you may be able to convince yourselves that God must have elected you for salvation; otherwise, why would you be doing all these works?

Johnie...

The reason for any good works is because "You have BEEN (past tense) reconciled". In other words, the joy of knowing you have been redeemed drives the gratittude you now freely display. For sure...you will not always FEEL reconciled (because of ongoing sin)...but feelings do not effect the objective truth of what Christ has (past tense) already done. When He said "It is finished".....He meant it.

How do you know if you have BEEN reconciled? Simple. Do you trust that Christ has already done ALL that is needed for you to be saved....and that you NEED the righteousnous that only He can provide? If you can...then He has promised you eternal life. If you can't do that then you can know you are NOT saved...at least to this point in time.

Vic,

We do not deserve death for what we are but rather for what we have done.

To argue that punishment is deserved “for what we have done”—equally, by everyone, by virtue of being born—is to redefine what it means to “have done” something. But that's fine: if you wish to claim that this what-we-have-done is not included in our nature, then I'll take your word for it. It's a means of pre-emptive condemnation in any event.

What God is free to do is...grant or withhold mercy as he sees fit. He OWES no one mercy.

Got it.

I am sure it bothers you that we can be held responsible in ANY fashion.... Don't like that idea? Can't help it.

Yes, yes, the Argument from Great Unpleasantness, thank you, got it.

He never punishes the innocent..because there ARE no innocents. By the same token He never saves innocent people either...we are ALL guilty.

Got it.

Equating "divine wrath" and "eternal damnation" would be an exercise in futility.

I don't know what this means, but here's the problem: eternal torture is kind of a worst-case scenario, and if that's all anyone has a right to expect, then there's really not much God can threaten us with. He's spent His threat capital, as it were.

No one has anything to lose? REally? Then way are you wasting your time here? Is it dark out there where you are whistling?

Vic, you have nothing to lose. I know you can be trusted to behave according to divine law because you're a good Calvinist, but really, if you decided to drink the blood of babies it wouldn't matter. You're going to burn whatever you do; you have no right to expect otherwise. And next to eternity, your life here is too small to see anyway. It doesn't matter.

Here are some simple consequences which flow from the worldview you're describing:

If hell is half of what folks say it is, then the possibility of spending eternity there is the only thing of consequence in human existence. God Himself shrinks to irrelevance, except inasmuch as He might get you out.

If God has given us eternal life, and condemned us to eternal torture, then gratitude, even if you experience it yourself, is not a response you can reasonably expect from anyone else.

If your behavior in this life is irrelevant to your fate in the next, then this life is as empty and purposeless as Christians think atheists think it is.


PS:

Do you trust that Christ has already done ALL that is needed for you to be saved....and that you NEED the righteousnous that only He can provide? If you can...then He has promised you eternal life.

If accepting Jesus is an action which can be taken in this life, and which earns salvation in the next, then clearly God rewards people who take that particular action. If accepting Jesus is a gift God gives to particular people, then it's incoherent to talk about it as though it were a possible course of action. Inasmuch as you equivocate between the two, you're equivocating. Which one is it?

"Accepting", that's a funny word.

Really interesting posts here guys. Sam, your contributions are really helpful and you see the arguments and the real points of contention better than most. If you recommend 'Freedom of the Will' then here's me recommending "Calvinism: A Closer look" by Daniel Gracely (free to read at xcalivinist.com). Eric in his last post brought up one of the more important questions in this discussion. You all are kind in your dialogue (mostly). Blessings,
-K

"If your behavior in this life is irrelevant to your fate in the next, then this life is as empty and purposeless as Christians think atheists think it is."

This puts the cart squarely in front of the horse.

Let's suppose that I'm a shopkeeper, and I see a rich young child in my shop. He asks me how much a pack of gum is. I could easily say "One hundred dollars", and get that from him. But I don't. Now consider two possibilities:

1) I would have really really liked to swindle the callow youth, but I'm afraid word will get about (if you like, we may imagine that there another customer in the shop who might witness my deception) and it will destroy business.

2) I know with near certainty, that I could get away with the swindle without anyone being the wiser. Perhaps the store is empty and unmonitored, and I know that the youth's memory is so poor that he will not remember what he paid for the gum moments after he leaves my shop. But I recognize that my act would be a form of wicked theft. Because of this, and this alone, I refrain.

In which of the two cases have I acted in a morally praiseworthy manner? Clearly, the second, where there was no selfish outcome riding on my action.

If salvation were by works, not one of my actions could ever be morally praiseworthy. They would all be tainted with my own self-interest. It's only when you take the eternal consequences of sin off the table that you can ever perform a right action out of respect for the moral law.

So without salvation apart from works, we seem to be in this situation: we are powerless to perform any righteous act. On the other hand, we have all the freedom in the world to sin.

Janney...

I think I like your term "pre-emtive condemnation". Ultimately, I think it fits in Gods plan very well. The main reason it fits is because it certainly is true that we can do nothing about it. All we can do is live out its effects....unless someting altogether gracious happens TO us.

I have nothing to lose? True, at least not now. Nothing that important anyway. I am still a sinner and there are still bumps in the road though.

You say my life is too small to worry about in relation to eternity. Perhaps from YOUR standpoint...but i really do live in my person and eternity is a pretty long time to have gotten it all wrong, eh?

Hell the only consequence of human existence?? Thats the point, Janney. It doesn't have to be. Especially for folks like yourself. Forget who is predestined and who is not. Admit what you know is true about the reality you inhabit and act accordingly...and all will be well.
"eternal torture is a worst case scenario"....I knew could agree on a few things! For sure, Doesn't get too much worse than that! Has it registered though...that the reality is much much worse than the threat??

Gratittude not a normal response for having been released from all your sin?? Janney, we have to talk.

No Janney...I said nothing about any "accepting" on our part in order to qualify for heaven. Thnink about it. Us..."accept"....HIM? The Creator and sustainer of all of reality...and we say we agree to put up with Him?? If you are looking for absurdity in religion...there it is!

There is no "accepting". All there is ...is acknowledgment...just as Paul tells us in Romans 1. We all KNOW, Janney. Especially you.

How can i equivocate?? Its completely out of my hands. All i am trying to do is get you to admit what you know is true. The rest will ultimately be a piece of cake.

Wisdomlover, mind if I quote your last post there? That last part was really insightful.

"mind if I quote your last post"

No problem Keith. As long as you give the lion's share of credit to Kant and Luther. I just put two ideas together.

The basic idea that acts are morally praiseworthy only if done out of respect for the law was Kant's. You can find it in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.

And that final recognition is really just the basis of the Lutheran doctrine of single predestination. It's why God gets all the credit for the salvation of the saved, but the damned get all the blame for their damnation.

Good grief, I apologize already for using the word “accepting.” I picked it up from some evangelist somewhere. I take it back. The point stands.

Vic,

I think I like your term "pre-emtive condemnation". Ultimately, I think it fits in Gods plan very well.

Then in what sense can it be said that He will “hold us responsible for our lives”? Hitler himself is not burning in hell for what he did on earth. He might not be burning in hell at all. In either case, he's certainly not being held responsible for the things he did in his lifetime.

You say my life is too small to worry about in relation to eternity. Perhaps from YOUR standpoint...but i really do live in my person and eternity is a pretty long time to have gotten it all wrong, eh?

But there's nothing “to have gotten wrong.” You just finished saying that all we can do is live in pre-emptive condemnation “unless something altogether gracious happens TO us.”

Forget who is predestined and who is not. Admit what you know is true about the reality you inhabit and act accordingly...and all will be well.

If this “admission” is an act which can be taken in this life, and which can affect my fate in the next, then clearly God's freedom is constrained by people who take this particular action. If it's a gift bestowed by God, then it's incoherent to talk about it as though it were a course of action. Which one is it?

"eternal torture is a worst case scenario"....I knew could agree on a few things! For sure, Doesn't get too much worse than that!

Then we agree that God's blown His threat allowance. If the worst possible scenario were assured—and you assure me that it is—then nothing else He had to say would carry the slightest persuasive power.


WisdomLover,

If salvation were by works, not one of my actions could ever be morally praiseworthy.

Here is Mr. Koukl's solution to that problem: make moral praiseworthiness irrelevant to salvation. Make salvation a lottery, with its results definitively divorced from events in the material world. Make the material world meaningless, at least as far as the lottery is concerned.

Neither of us is saying anything complicated, at least not yet.

Janney...

How do you know what Hitlers ultimate fate is? I'm not saying I DO know...i'm just wondering how you think you do.

Its a gift Janney...but not everyone is able to take it.

You seem to be hung up on the idea that God must think a lot like you do. Just so you know..he assures us that is not the case.

The fact that all is predestined has no influence on our daily lives...EXCEPT for those who are able (by His mercy) rejoice in it. The reason that ANY of us sinners will live with God in eternity is because He has chosen some for that destiny. The rest He has simply passed over...as he has the complete right to do. No one has any legitimate complaint about any of it.

What will most certainly condemn you (especially since you have been given a lot more information than most) is pretending its unclear or unfair concerning the obviousness of His existence.

I might ask...which are you...atheist or confused evangelical?

Vic,

How do you know what Hitlers ultimate fate is? I'm not saying I DO know...i'm just wondering how you think you do.

I don't know anyone's ultimate fate. I've just been taking you at your word. You've been very outspoken about everyone's ultimate fate until now. Why would you now imply that we can't know anything about Hitler's?

You seem to be hung up on the idea that God must think a lot like you do. Just so you know..he assures us that is not the case.

But, again, I've just been taking you at your word. You've been telling me how things work. I've simply been talking about the unappetizing moral consequences that follow, if you're right.

Its a gift Janney...but not everyone is able to take it.
...
The fact that all is predestined has no influence on our daily lives...EXCEPT for those who are able (by His mercy) rejoice in it. The reason that ANY of us sinners will live with God in eternity is because He has chosen some for that destiny. The rest He has simply passed over...as he has the complete right to do. No one has any legitimate complaint about any of it.

Then my point stands: if your fate in the next life is a lottery, unaffected by anything in this life, then it has no power to compel moral behavior in this life. Calvinists who behave morally anyway are either closeted secular humanists, or hoping that they're wrong.

What will most certainly condemn you (especially since you have been given a lot more information than most) is pretending its unclear or unfair concerning the obviousness of His existence.

On the contrary, you've been pretty clear that everyone will almost certainly be condemned in any event. “Pre-emptive condemnation,” remember? Nothing good you do can get you off the hook, and nothing bad you do can make your punishment any worse. Nothing in this life matters to the next—not the amount of information you're given, not your belief in God, nothing. Remember?

Or are you now telling me that's not what you mean?

Janney...

I hesitate to say anything of Hitler's fate becauee I simply do not know if God granted him mercy or not. From our standpoint it doesn't look too favorable for Hitler...but I wasn't there and God most certainly could have saved him.

There are no "unappetizing moral consequences" for those who call upon their Creator for mercy and forgiveness.

Sorry...you have no point in saying that ultimately our fate is a lottery. In fact, Thats the point...there is no uncertainty...from God's standpoint...nor ours. What has been ordained cannot not come to pass. Since you and I do not see the end from the beginning (as God does)....as Christians we can NEVER say anyone else will be chosen and who will not. However As i said...there is a way to know if YOU are saved personally. Predictions for others in eternity are not our forte. All we can say is that ALL of us deserve the same fate of damnation and do all we can to convince others to admit what they see is real and all will be well, as I said.

For you, the sceptic....the best you can do is to learn to love your Creator (to whom you owe everything including your next breath)...and ask Him to forgive you. Don't feel like it? Then just keep on doing what your are doing. Keep daring God to show himself before you will believe and He may just do so. Don't recommend that route though. Very few were happy when He did grant them their wish.

Telling you thats not what I mean? To the contrary...EVERYTHING in this life matters. It all counts...every sneeze, bridge taken, slaughtered unborn baby, message board reply and every medal of honor won.

Are we ready to stop the games yet?

Vic:

I don't know why Janney took back the word "accepting". Every post of yours to him uses a verb that implies it. The latest:

For you, the sceptic....the best you can do is to learn to love your Creator (to whom you owe everything including your next breath)...and ask Him to forgive you. Don't feel like it? Then just keep on doing what your are doing. Keep daring God to show himself before you will believe and He may just do so.

Three of the four verbs (not "daring") indicate that you are telling Janney that he has to want something. Sound a lot like something he will accept if it has been given.

Incidentally, Janney and I are not the same person. That Janney gives up on acceptance doesn't mean I have.

Johnnie...

I am confused. (surprize!) You want to equate "wanting"...with accepting??? Do we need to go to websters...or are you going to try a different angle?

Let me be clear Johnnie....no one can WANT anything unless God ordains it. No one EVER wants salvation unless God quickens our heart.

What is quickening? It is God's role in the salvation process. There is a PRIORITY to the chain of events that occurs when a human being is "saved". In its simplist form it is thus:

Regeneration (being born again)....PRECEEDS faith.

All that means is that "No one ....CAN....come to me...unless it is given to them by the Father" (John 6:65)

Do people "accept" Jesus as their personal savior? You bet they do...but ONLY after God quickens their hearts.

If God does not do the quickening...then no salvation is possible.

Vic,

I hesitate to say anything of Hitler's fate becauee I simply do not know if God granted him mercy or not.

No, you haven't claimed to know “if God granted him mercy or not.” But, by the rules you've given me, if Hitler is in hell, he's not there because he's being held responsible for the wrong he did in this life—he's there for the same reason you and I can expect to go there someday. “Pre-emptive condemnation,” remember? No good deed can get you off the hook. No bad deed can make your punishment any worse. You have assured me that this is the case.

...there is no uncertainty...from God's standpoint...nor ours. What has been ordained cannot not come to pass. Since you and I do not see the end from the beginning (as God does)....as Christians we can NEVER say anyone else will be chosen and who will not.

Do you mean that “there is no uncertainty” from our standpoint, or that “you and I do not see the end from the beginning,” and “we can NEVER say” etc etc?

For you, the sceptic....the best you can do is to learn to love your Creator (to whom you owe everything including your next breath)...and ask Him to forgive you. Don't feel like it? Then just keep on doing what your are doing.

But I can't “learn to love [my] Creator,” or “ask Him to forgive me,” and expect a response. You just made this clear (again!) to Johnnie: “....no one can WANT anything unless God ordains it. No one EVER wants salvation unless God quickens our heart.” (So, in fact, I can't perform these actions at all.)

Why do you insist on phrasing things like this as though they were courses of action available to freely motivated people with power over their circumstances?

...EVERYTHING in this life matters. It all counts...every sneeze, bridge taken, slaughtered unborn baby, message board reply and every medal of honor won.

Not to our fate in the next life it doesn't. You have assured me of this, repeatedly. Pre-emptive condemnation, remember? “He never punishes the innocent..because there ARE no innocents,” and “He never saves innocent people either...we are ALL guilty.”

Here is what you have told me: first, no action one takes in this life can have any effect on one's fate in the next life; and second, we all deserve eternal torture in hell. These are not complicated ideas, and they have a not-complicated moral consequence: God has no power to compel, or even encourage, moral behavior in this life. The next life is the one that matters (I think we can all agree on that) but, by definition, that life is beyond our influence, and hell is all we have to hope for.

Therefore, I maintain, if you are a Calvinist and you behave morally in this life, you are either doing it because you're a secular humanist on the inside, or you're doing it just in case you're wrong about God (or, I suppose, you could be doing it because you haven't given the matter any thought, and you're on behavioral autopilot).

Janney...nope...you still haven't got it, Im afraid. You simply ignore what I am telling you about the difference in persepctive compared to God.

Its never "pre-emptive" anything from our standpoint. God certainly knows who He will "raise up" for destruction...or everlasting glory...but we do not. No matter how it looks to us..medal of Honor winner to a Ted Bundy...we simply do not know all the facts and have no business suggesting we do.

As i said.."The Lord of all the earth will do right"...and probably wont be asking for our advice on how it could have been done better.

Do not think I am saying that just because God has chosen us for salvation that we cannot be involved in tradegy and not die violently or some such. How we die may well be an indication of either God's mercy or the withholding of it. We simply cannot know.

Janney-

Your challenge is this: to show how it is even possible to perform a morally praiseworthy act if salvation is by works.

Salvation by good works is a self-defeating idea.

This logical concern trumps any quibble you might have with God's unilateral redemption of the saved.

Vic,

I did not equate wanting with accepting. I said that wanting implied accepting. So it is not a new angle, it is the same angle I used when you got clobbered the first time.

Galations 3:21 says that the law does not quicken. It does not say that quickening comes first. Most references to "quicken" are in Psalm 119. For example:

119:40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

The Psalmist already had the law and knew that it did not quicken. Note that his longing (those pesky verbs again!) comes before the quickening he is asking for.

Vic,

...you still haven't got it, Im afraid. You simply ignore what I am telling you about the difference in persepctive compared to God.

I have to insist, again, that I’m only taking you at your word. I’m working exclusively with the things you tell me. But your word is awfully ambivalent in places.

Its never “pre-emptive” anything from our standpoint.

But earlier you said, “I think I like your term ‘pre-emtive condemnation’. Ultimately, I think it fits in Gods plan very well.” In fact, you were quite precise: the term fits “because it certainly is true that we can do nothing about it.” Why does it no longer fit?

No matter how it looks to us...we simply do not know all the facts and have no business suggesting we do.

Who is “we”? I don’t know any of the facts. And you continue to talk as though you do know, if not all the facts, at least a great many of them.

Do not think I am saying that just because God has chosen us for salvation that we cannot be involved in tradegy and not die violently or some such. How we die may well be an indication of either God's mercy or the withholding of it. We simply cannot know.

This has nothing to do with anything.


WisdomLover,

Your challenge is this: to show how it is even possible to perform a morally praiseworthy act if salvation is by works.

My challenge, evidently, is to get a straight answer to the question: “Why should a Calvinist be good?” You are welcome to provide one. I’m beginning to suspect that the answer is complicated.

Salvation by good works is a self-defeating idea.
This logical concern trumps any quibble you might have with God's unilateral redemption of the saved.

That’s your defense of salvation by grace?

Johnnie-

Sorry, but when did Vic mention anything about the Law quickening? Gal. 3 clearly teaches that the law only holds us in bondage and shows us that we need salvation apart from works of the law.

As for Psalm 119:40. The Psalmist is speaking of being quickened to follow the law. This happens long after an individual is saved. Individuals who do not think they need to be saved, and individuals who believe they can be saved by their own righteousness, cannot even perform one righteous act.

The Psalmist was first quickened to repentance and saved. Only after that did he (or could he) long after the law and pray to be quickened to follow the law.

Johnnie...

If I'm too dull to present the gospel in a way that you can understand....take a good look at wisdomlovers post above.

If you still think you are going to please God by your effort... do what you gotta do. He has promised that no one...not even you, is going to stand justified by ANYTHING you ever do or do not do.

I KNOW that is a hard thing to swallow for us prideful sinners. Doesn't matter if we don't like it though.

I've tried to distill the theology down to simple truth but you want none of it. The gospel assures us that there really are only two ways that God will ever accept us. Either we save ourselves by accepting, abiding...and trying really really hard....and doing it all PERFECTLY...or God saves us.

In other words.."Salvation is of the Lord" (I'll add "alone" just for you)

Vic:

Help WisdomLover out by giving the particular verse citation of quickening you are using in your 7:57 p.m. post.

WisdomLover:

I suppose we have "pre-quickening" now. How many quickenings do we have to have?

Both:

I seem to easily find scriptures that show people performing actions, such as believing in or upon, in accepting God's saving grace. Why is it so hard for you to find scriptures that say that being saved is purely passive?

Janney: Why should a Calvinist be good?

You are not asking that question. Not really. You have never asked that question. You are asking the question "What's in it for the Calvinist to be good?" Rest assured that any answer you supply for that question will totally undermine the possibility of the Calvinist's being good.

The answer to the question "Why be good?" is "Out of respect for the moral law and the One who gives it." You can't act out of respect for the moral law if you're thinking about what's in it for you. So again:

Your challenge is this: to show how it is even possible to perform a morally praiseworthy act if salvation is by works.

Let's be clear, I'm not trying to defend the idea of salvation apart from works. I'm pointing out to you, Janney, that your view is logically incoherent.

"Help WisdomLover out by giving the particular verse citation of quickening you are using in your 7:57 p.m. post."

If you will re-read Vic's post, you'll see that he did give the citation. You will also see that you cited Gal. 3:21 in your response. Could it have eluded you that I was responding to your citation, not Vic's.

"I suppose we have "pre-quickening" now. How many quickenings do we have to have?"

What is your point? Are we now to apply Ockham's Razor to quickenings? There is nothing wrong with the answer "As many as it takes."

The point on Psalm 119 is this. Do you think the Psalmist was unsaved? I don't. As such, the verse, and the quickening it refers to, is entirely irrelevant to the question of how one is saved. The verse is relevant to the use of the law as a guide.

Gal. 3, on the other hand, is about the law's use to show us our sin. And the reliance on human effort for salvation is precisely what Paul chastised the Galatians for.

Wisdom Lover:

I don't see a scripture citation referring to quickening in Vic's 7:57 post. Nor do I see it in John 6:65.

Nor any scriptures from you. I'm not asking you to use Ockam's Razor. I'm asking you to use Scripture.

WisdomLover,

You are not asking that question [“Why should a Calvinist be good?”]. Not really. You have never asked that question. You are asking the question "What's in it for the Calvinist to be good?"

Oh, boy. Oh, my words, my precious words, they've been changed slightly.

The answer to the question “Why be good?” is “Out of respect for the moral law and the One who gives it.” You can't act out of respect for the moral law if you're thinking about what's in it for you.

That does sound familiar. Vic has also made several mentions of “gratitude for what's been done for us,” or words to that effect.

The fact remains that the consequences of good behavior are identical to the consequences of any other kind of behavior. Do you agree? If not, what is the minimal change in wording which would make the sentence into something you would agree with?

Your challenge is this: to show how it is even possible to perform a morally praiseworthy act if salvation is by works.

No, WisdomLover, I am not offering to defend “salvation by works.” I am trying to understand “salvation by grace.” Please refrain from telling me that's not what I'm doing.

Johnnie,

I'll remind you that it was you and not I who derisively asked how many quickenings we need. You did not cite Scripture when you asked that question. My question about Ockham's Razor underscores your failure to do so. You seem to be appealing to some principle of reason that says we should not get ourselves involved in too many quickenings.

Now, on John 6. In verse 53, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." and in 56-58 "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."

So we are dead without the body and blood of Christ, and alive with it. That is, we are brought to life, i.e. quickened.

Many of Jesus disciples grumbled at this. In explaining, He said in 63-65 "'The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.'...He went on to say, 'This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.'"

So just in case you were thinking that you receive the body and blood of Christ by your own effort, be aware that no one can go to Christ unless God enables him. The receiving of the quickening mentioned in verses 53-58 is thus God's work. Without that, we are all among those who "turned back and no longer followed him. (v66)"

WisdomLover:

Obviously I did not cite scripture when I was asking for it. You are the one, not me, putting faith in Ockham's Razor if you assert that it underscores failure in someone.

My John 6:65 (King James) says "except it were given me of my Father" instead of speaking of "enabling". Is this a variation in translation? Another reference of giving by the Father is in Romans 1:24:

"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves."

This giving came after that which is known of God was made manifest in them (v19). They became vain in their imaginations, after knowing God but not glorifying him (v21).

The giving by God here is not an enabling.

My take on John 6:65 and these verses in Romans is that we are all in God's hand. We all are shown God. Some accept God and are given to Jesus. The rest are given to themselves. A poor alternative.

Ooh! Sorry about using the NIV. My bad. However, the NIV doesn't do too badly here.

The NASB says:

"For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."

So if it is not granted by the Father that I can come to Christ, then I cannot come to Christ. That is, God must give me the power to come to Christ. Or to put it another way, God must enable me to come to Christ.

Romans 1:24 uses the word "paradidomi", whereas John 6 uses "didomi". For all I know there's not a dime's worth of difference between them. So that's just an FYI.

The main point is that in Romans 1, it's people who are given to their own lusts. While in John 6, it's power that's given to individuals so that they can come to Christ.

Also John 6:44 makes the same point without reference to giving:

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him"

WisdomLover:

The KJV does not use the word "power", but a power is precisely what the ability to accept, eat, drink, believe, is.

"The KJV does not use the word 'power'"

Nice try Johnnie.

The KJV says this:

"And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."

When we say that X can do Y, we mean that X has the power to do Y. So, the KJV is, in effect, saying:

"And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man has the power to come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."

"power is precisely what the ability to accept, eat, drink, believe, is."

I already anticipated and refuted this point when I noted that "just in case you were thinking that you receive the body and blood of Christ by your own effort, be aware that no one can go to Christ unless God enables him. The receiving of the quickening mentioned in verses 53-58 is thus God's work."

Janney-

You bristle when I note that you are really asking "What's in it for the Calvinist to be good?", but in almost the same cyber-breath you start asking me to compare the consequences of good behavior to the consequences of bad behavior.

Good grief!

The word "draw" is the Greek word "helko", which has the meaning *drag*, *lead by inward power*, or *to impel*. Vines says that it's used in the sense of a fisherman dragging his net in. It is the same word used in Acts 21:30 and James 2:6, among other scriptures. Each verse is describing a person being moved against their intentions. John 6:44 is not to be construed in such a way as to imply that God is wooing any more than a fisherman "woos" fish into his boat.

Nice one, Brad.

I should have been paying more attention to verse 44. In verse 65, Christ himself indicates that He is just repeating a point he made earlier (namely, if verse 44). The bit about the Father dragging us to Christ is important.

WisdomLover,

You bristle when I note that you are really asking “What's in it for the Calvinist to be good?”, but in almost the same cyber-breath you start asking me to compare the consequences of good behavior to the consequences of bad behavior.

I'm sorry, my snark didn't make my shrug clear: if your alteration of my question helps you, then it's fine with me. I don't see a meaningful difference. A related question that has come up is, “in what sense can it be said that God holds us responsible for our lives?” You're welcome to rephrase that one too, if it will help you to answer it.

You define true goodness pretty much the way Vic does, except he talks about “gratitude” instead of “respect.” If I understand correctly: true goodness, the only kind that really counts, is a gift from God; you can't fake it, you can't earn it, and you can't profit from it, at least not on purpose.

But I'm not convinced that this is even in conflict with my point (more or less, “if Mr. Koukl is right, then what you do in this life doesn't matter”). And given its obviousness, and your apparent concern with lexical precision, I'm trying to figure out what choice of words would result in a sentence you would give the nod to. This, I thought, was an easy one:

“The consequences of good behavior are identical to the consequences of any other kind of behavior.”

Do you agree? If not, what is the minimal change in wording which would make the sentence into something you would agree with?

I recognize that I'm addressing myself only to the things it is within one's power to actually do—for example, behave in particular ways. You are welcome to refuse to address good behavior altogether, since it's a grubby feature of the real world which has no bearing on the purity of the real thing; but that would kind of drive my point home, too, since the real thing is beyond anyone's capacity to apply an active verb to.

Hey, do you agree with this one? “True goodness, the only kind that really counts, is a gift from God; you can't fake it, you can't earn it, and you can't profit from it, at least not on purpose.”

How about this one? “If Mr. Koukl is right, then what you do in this life doesn't matter.”

WisdomLover:

I thought I was agreeing with you. That's what my "try" was. We are both in agreement that a power is given. So your anticipation that you think is a refutation has no more effect this time than it did last time, namely, none.

Then Brad jumps in. It seems that we have a disputation of you and me versus Brad rather than you and Brad versus me.

The word "draw" brings to my mind the parable of the dragnet (Matthew 14:37). The drawing was not the separation process. The separation happened after the drawing.

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