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March 25, 2015

Comments

BTW - above I was just adding to WL's thought from his earlier comment. The comment, of course, is related to the question of God's role in the crucifixion.

Goat Head 5 had trouble with that one and never really answered it except to say, in short, "That's different".

God was a mere spectator to Christ's death. He said:

God allowed it. Jesus chose it

"How is it possible that a perfectly good God can cause a flood to rain down and wipe out a multitude" - in that case God is rightly executing judgment.

"God's role in the crucifixion" - we do have to take that off the table. God is not forcing an innocent to take our punishment like a wrongly convicted individual, He is willingly taking it upon Himself.

RobertNotBob,

I’m not sure you understood my point (probably unclear) in my comment. I was merely repeating the fact that God has used evil to accomplish His glorious ends – namely the suffering and death of Christ which was an incredibly evil act.

Did God use Pilate? Yes. Of course He Did.

And since I'm on the subject, how bout some John 19?

So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above

Yep.

Adam was made upright...the serpent enticed him...God allowed the test but was in no way surprised...after all the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. How was God guilty there?

Robertnotbob, maybe you would do better to consider the case of Job where God pretty much says to Satan...do anything to him to prove him, but you cant take his life. Even then, you will be answered....by scripture.

"God's role in the crucifixion" - we do have to take that off the table. God is not forcing an innocent to take our punishment like a wrongly convicted individual, He is willingly taking it upon Himself.
Jesus was not innocent?

Jesus was not wrongly convicted?

The death of Christ is very much on the table.

"That is what I object to. Of course, we can just wave our hands and say that, somehow God can do this and not be evil himself. Presto!

And also, Viola! God can determine everything, his wants trumping all, yet we can somehow also have free choices.

If you want to say, "well, that is how it is, it is just a mystery", OK."

Hi Goat Head 5, I never claimed mystery. I've asked you several times for an argument to support your claim that mans free agency is dependent on God having to give up control. [Any control, not even all control].

You haven't done that at all, you dont interact with the scriptures...I've told you before, this isn't my scheme, I was brought kicking and screaming, like you are right now, to this most glorious and blessed truth.

Several have tried to get you to see that it is a comfort to know Who is in ultimate control and that the cross should quiet any concerns of His motives and ends. You are missing it...sad, so sad.

FWIW, I wont do the work to make the case for the Goat Head 5 or RNB if he's even interested but I will say this:

It is one of the most self evident things that we mankind are free agents...maybe there are a few running around who do believe that another is forcing them to do things they dont want to do but the majority of us experience self determination. We also have God's Word, the speckial revelation that reveals to us things not quite so evident from nature's revelation. Our experience and God's revelation are not at odds.

scblhrm on the first page said this:

"To assert that my (actual) will's (actual) freedom is some sort of stand-alone essence which stands "apart-from-God" is to assert the *existence* of said freedom and of said will apart from God. Which is nonsense *both* when we speak of His Decree and of His Power. God alone - Actuality alone - can by will decree and by power sustain actual freedom amid actual ranges of motion amid actual ontological real estate within (actual) mutable and contingent worlds."

WL prompted this from scbrownlhrm by something he wrote prior to it, and then after, he affirmed scb's paragraph even though stronger meaning. I would note that he points out no small thing, and that his point also fits will within WCF Chapter III Of God's Eternal Decree paragraph 1

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

typo...special revelation, not speckial.

Brad B.

The WCF:

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

Hand waving. Poof! 2+2=5. and 6.

If God decided, had the final word, we didn't.

Simple as that.

But I guess we've both stated our position many times here.

KWM,

"Goat Head 5 had trouble with that one and never really answered it except to say, in short, "That's different".

God was a mere spectator to Christ's death. He said:

God allowed it. Jesus chose it"

Straw Man much? God and Jesus are the same thing. Jesus went into passion week with His eyes wide open. He decided for himself, in concert with the Father. (Himself) But maybe you and WL aren't Trinitarians....

If you and WL can't see the difference between what Jesus did on the cross and God planning, arranging and making certain that evil happens to an unsuspecting innocent person..... well, can't help with that....

Brad B,

"You are missing it...sad, so sad."

Ditto. Right back atcha. Hard to understand how you can't see that the inevitable consequence of your theology is a God whose actions cannot be distinguished from the Devil's.

"If God decided, had the final word, we didn't."

Of course this is true. That's what "final" means.

But what you have never even tried to argue for, GH5, is that this somehow implies that God is the author of sin or that God's power does not establish the liberty and contingency of secondary causes. Much less that it does violence to the will of God's creatures, or takes away the liberty and contingency of secondary causes.

Instead, you've simply repeated phrases like the one at the start of this post (phrases that no one disagrees with) as if they settle the matter. Such phrases are, of course, miles away from settling anything.

In contrast, Brad and the rest have repeatedly argued for their position. I will not repeat those arguments here.

I say this not because I expect you to miraculously start arguing for anything on this front. But to call it to the attention of anyone who happens to be following along.

"God and Jesus are the same thing. Jesus went into passion week with His eyes wide open. He decided for himself, in concert with the Father."

And this somehow makes Jesus not an innocent victim whom God afflicted with suffering?

Hi Goat Head 5, I can be pursuaded by a clear argument...your asserting over and over again that God must relinquish control for man to be a free agent has no power to convince me otherwise.

Stating a position without logical argumentation many times is akin to never stating a position once.

"If you and WL can't see the difference between what Jesus did on the cross and God planning, arranging and making certain that evil happens to an unsuspecting innocent person..... well, can't help with that...."

In Christ, God certainly did plan arrange and make certain that evil happens to an innocent person...to the only innocent human person.

Apparently, there's a lot of importance to the unsuspecting angle?

How does the presence of suspicion in the victim that they are going to be afflicted with suffering get the one who so afflicts them off the hook?

"If you and WL can't see the difference between what Jesus did on the cross and God planning, arranging and making certain that evil happens to an unsuspecting innocent person..... well, can't help with that...."

OK. Let’s try this:

God planning

You have no problem with God planning I assume.

arranging things

You have no problem with God arranging things I assume.

making certain

You have no problem with God making things certain I assume.

So now we’re left with the method of Christ’s crucifixion:

How in the world was that supposed to happen without the presence of evil and evil actions?

italics error. Oops.

unsuspecting innocent person

Good grief.

As it relates to evil, we should all be suspecting! Look at the title of this post for goodness sake.

As it relates to innocence, we sure fail that test don’t we? We are, in fact, sinful.

So we have evil happening to suspecting and sinful people if anything.

"Hard to understand how you can't see that the inevitable consequence of your theology is a God whose actions cannot be distinguished from the Devil's."

One reason this might be hard to see, GH5, is that you have never argued for this claim. You have only asserted it to be true.

Don't be surprised that people can't see it if you never show it to them.

Well, back to the table. I am not uninterested in this discussion but unfortunately have limited time to be on computer keeping in the live discussion. I will try to add some new ideas to the mix. I too, am just a brother “working out his salvation with fear and trembling.”
WL “You want a case of God willing evil on an innocent victim, and I give you the example of Christ”
On one hand that is the “only” answer as Christ is the only innocent. It’s not really the answer to the spirit of the question which was more asking for God’s application of evil to the undeserving (like a child in the examples given). I feel it’s off the table to the original question because as has been pointed out God and Jesus are, well, God and Jesus. This is unique. There is no other example to be given. There is no Monty Python moment here. God willingly took the punishment on Himself. Was Jesus wrongly convicted? Of course. But He is God and this was His role from the beginning.
So we get back to “God uses evil without doing evil” and the WCF. Is this then just an axiom? Because it’s not an argument.

Now, I’m not suggesting God is evil. As again, God by His nature is Good. We by our nature are not.
But where is the argument/reason/response to the person who asks?
I prefer to say God uses OUR evil for His good intentions. Unfortunately the way this discussion has gone suggests God owns OUR evil. I’d like to hear how to answer to that.

But He is God and this was His role from the beginning.

So we get back to “God uses evil without doing evil” and the WCF. Is this then just an axiom? Because it’s not an argument.

But, even though He is God, He is an innocent victim. God can, and does, cause suffering to innocent victims.

Let's get over that hurdle.

If we are over that hurdle, let's move on to the question of whether the suffering of an innocent victim can be an evil, and God can cause it, without God Himself being evil.

Do you think Christ's sufferings were an instance of physical evil?

Do you think Pilate did moral evil when he afflicted Christ with His sufferings?

Do you think God did moral evil when he afflicted Christ with His sufferings?

The terms "moral evil" and "physical evil" are standard terms in discussions of the problem of evil...personally, I prefer Hume's terms "wickedness" and "misery".

Using Hume's terminology, I think Christ's sufferings were an instance of misery, and I think Pilate was wicked for causing them to be visited upon Christ.

But I do not think God was wicked for causing them to be visited upon Christ.

That is because God knows things Pilate doesn't.

Don't you see how important that fact is?

God knows exactly how Christ's sufferings are an evil needed to bring about the salvation of humanity. God knows not just that the necessary evil serves the greater good, He knows how the one serves the other. Because of this, He did not behave wickedly in causing Christ to suffer.

Pilate had no such knowledge. Because of that, he did behave wickedly.

Couldn't it be that all evils that exist are like that? Evils needed for some greater good? And it is precisely when we cause evil without any knowledge how a greater good is served that we behave wickedly ourselves.

Of course, we are never in a position to know how our actions serve a greater good. So that justification, that always applies to God, can never apply to us.

So in the end it is purpose and ultimate ends. Anything God does is in serving the purpose of the greater good - the salvation of mankind (the ultimate good). Anything God does to serve that purpose though miserable, cannot be called wicked. Fair deal.

Guys, I'm going to post some of Goat Head 5's and WisdomLover's comments on the blog tomorrow and point people to your conversation. I think it's been really helpful. Thanks!

Hi RobertNotBob, I will post the scripture proofs for WCF III paragraph 1 tonight and we can wrestle with the scriptures to see if it be so...being Berean if you will. Working out our salvation in fear and trembling is at home in God's word.

fwiw...a lot of philosophy in building worldviews may appear to be independently inferred but are in fact grounded and guided by scripture, and again philosophy is at home when grounded in the scriptures...the only place it can be grounded.

Two further things:
1) “God can, and does, cause suffering to innocent victims.” or “And it is precisely when we cause evil (but God could have stopped that evil) without any knowledge how a greater good is served that we behave wickedly ourselves” -So how does one tell the victim to accept their rape was “necessary” for God to fulfill His plan.
And 2) back to the OP….
We as a church have dug our own hole. How many times have you heard someone tell a new believer to write their testimony. And the formula is always, “how bad your life was before Christ” followed by “how great your life is now with Christ.”

BradB, I look forward to reading and engaging further but I have Life Group tonight and will not be at all near my computer till ~ Thurs...RnB

I'm not a Christian therapist, so I'm probably the last person to ask about how to deal with the problem of acute misery or the wickedness that often brings it about.

I will say this though. I think the best thing to keep your eyes fixed on is the fact that Christ's sufferings include whatever the person is going through. Christ suffered with them. Christ's sufferings weren't just the lashes, nails, cross, thorns and jeers that Pilate condemned Him to suffer. They were also what God laid on Him, the Sin of the whole world, that He suffered for us.

God would not have endured that for no reason. We may never know what the reason for the suffering is, but He suffered with us. We may just have to trust Him that there was a reason.

A quick observation...who among us is free? I mean autonomously free...the bible tells us in no uncertain terms you are a slave to sin and death or a slave to righteousness and life in Christ. But yet we still are self determined...every action we take is the product of a unburdened choice...a reasonable choice that we alone make and own .

WL, I think more along “Christ's sufferings 'include' whatever the person is going through“ He knows our pain – full stop.
I have heard the “Christ suffered 'with' them” idea presented suggesting His presence at the event and “gazing into His eyes” for strength while enduring...
and quite frankly I think that makes the situation even worse.

RNB-

By “Christ suffered 'with' them” I don't mean that He is holding their hand while they suffer, or gazing into their eyes as they suffer. I agree, that tends to make it worse. I mean that He feels exactly the pain they feel, or at least the pain they feel.

WL, KWM,

Jesus participated with the Father in planning, choosing, and making certain that the evil of the cross happened.

This is obviously very different than God planning, choosing and making certain that evil befalls a person who has no choice in the matter.

Can you see the difference?

WL

"For starters, no one has said God likes evil. Please stop acting as if anyone has. It's both silly and dishonest."

Dude. Brush up on your reading comprehension before you start throwing insults. Not a good look for you.

Amy,

What really decided this for me was reading Jesus' lament over Jerusalem in Luke and Matthew.

Jesus wanted something so badly He was weeping. He didn't get what He wanted because of the free choices of the people to reject God.

So I can't accept the idea that God always has the final say, that what He wants is always what happens. I can't explain this away with twisty, clever arguments about the "1000 different wills of God"

There are many other reasons to reject Divine Determinism, but this passage sealed the deal for me.

"Hypothetical: An evil woman tortures her infant son to death.

In what way is God in "absolute control" of this event?

This is not some kind of "gotcha" thing. I'm really curious about what you mean."

In what way is God "not" in control? He allows it... He knew before the creation of all that this would happen... And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Well, GH5, I can't say I'm surprised by the quality of your response.

Would you care to point to the poster who said that God likes sin, O reading expert?

No doubt you infer such a claim from the fact that someone claimed that God wills sin, and liking a thing and willing a thing are obviously one and the same. Or you make some equally sophomoric confusion.

Hi RobertNotBob, here again is WCF III paragraph 1... the numbers are referencing the scripture proofs below.

I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeable ordain whatsoever comes to pass;65 yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin 66, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established 67.

Bear with the KJV ;-)

65
EPH 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. ROM 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! HEB 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath. ROM 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

66
JAM 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 1JO 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

67
ACT 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. MAT 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. ACT 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. JOH 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. PRO 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

WL,

You snarked:

"For starters, no one has said God likes evil. Please stop acting as if anyone has. It's both silly and dishonest."

Please point to where I acted like anyone had said God likes evil. After that, explain how I am lying about anyone.

Seriously, you are a real piece of work.

Ketchasketch,

God allowing something is very different than planning and making certain something.

God "working all things" after the fact is also very different than determining everything before the fact.

As KWM earlier said, God being in control means that He has the last word and everything happens just as He wants it.

Very different than allowing free choices to people.

I dunno GH5, could be this:

If everything that happens was planned by God, and it happens exactly as God wanted it to happen, either God just likes evil, or, as WL and you seem to say, evil is necessary to accomplish some unknowable good end.
Which suggests that Amy and I hold the necessary-evil view, while others hold the God-likes-evil view

Or this:

In response to my claim that sometimes God wills evil on innocent victims (Christ being the example that proves the point). You said this:

This is like saying, "well, apparently, sometimes God wants infants tortured just for fun". How does this make sense?"
It seems to me, that in that post you said that my view is just like saying that God wants infants tortured for fun.

Then again, maybe I need to brush up my reading skills.

The dishonesty of your remarks comes in from the fact that the views of the regular posters on this site have been repeatedly and carefully explained and re-explained. But you consistently return, as if your interlocutors have said nothing, to your tired old refrain that if God planned evil, then God is evil, even though counter-example after counter-example has been presented.

At some point, fair play requires that you engage the counter-examples. Simply ridiculing them as involving (according your last exaggeration) 1000 wills won't do.

In fairness, this remark "God wants infants tortured just for fun" is ambiguous.

It might mean that God, just for the fun of it, wants infants tortured. Which is very much a "God likes evil" aspersion.

On the other hand, it might mean "God wants it to be the case that infants are tortured by someone who does the torturing just for the fun of it". God might, in that case, have some other purpose than pure fun in mind. He might even hate it, even though the torturer doesn't.

In context, I could see it going either way. The first reading is the reading that gives punch to the question "How does this make sense?" The second reading comes in closer to your example of the wicked mother.

If you want to tell me right now GH5, that you meant it in the second way, I'll believe you.

The other comment is another matter. It was that comment that I was directly responding to with the post that got under your skin. And it still suggests that guys like Brad or KWM might think that God likes evil.

BradB - appreciate the follow through. I will spend some time with it this weekend. Have a blessed Easter.............RnB

WL.

If I wanted to say that others were saying God likes evil, that's what I would have said. And I have repeatedly engaged your "counterexample" of Christ's death on the cross.

On the other hand, I have repeatedly asked you and KWM to explain your position on God being in absolute control using KWM's definition. In that definition, it must follow that every evil that happens, happens because God wants it to happen.

KWM just doesn't respond. You seem to respond with, "every evil is a necessary evil to accomplish some greater good". So, every evil, no matter how vile or disgusting is something God plans and makes certain happens, for some planned greater good. Using your beloved Father and bicycle example, a mass murder would be like a child skinning her knee while learning to ride her bike. Am I understanding you, or does that deserve more insults?

Hi RobertNotBob, for reference and convenience is WCF Chapter V paragraph IV with scripture references...probably best to deal with both sets since there is some overlap. btw, you can find all of chapter 5 on the previous page near the bottom but I only included the scripture proofs for paragraph 4:

"IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.
Proverbs 16:4 "The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil."

ROM 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. 33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

2SA 24:1 And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

1CH 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. 1KI 22:22 And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. 23 Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.

1CH 10:4 Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.

2SA 16:10 And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?

ACT 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

ACT 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

ACT 14:16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. PSA 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. 2KI 19:28 Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest. GEN 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

ISA 10:6 I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. 12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks."

And thanks for the Easter wishes...same to you and all who read and participate in these discussions.

Brad B, WL,


Brad B brought up a good point on Freedom:


“A point we most likely all agree with on the surface of it...of course the word freely would cause significant division when it gets hashed out. I would suggest that the term "rational, free agent, moral beings" is more precise...God Is such in perfection, man are also, but as to perfection...not so much.”


God’s freedom entails a void of any line of contingency in the stuff of His Nature.


In Man, or, in the stuff of Man’s Nature we find a line of contingency upon something ipso facto. Man himself is a contingent being and there we come to some sort of stopping point.


While Man’s Sin in the Old Man and man’s Faith in the Old Man (Hebrews 11 etc.) are probably stopping points we (on some level) disagree with, we may agree that we do in fact find that Man’s Freedom is not Perfect in that Man’s *contingent* status hits a hard stop at volition, or at the “I”, as that which is the stopping point rather than any kind of mechanistic stopping point. Or, a True Self lies at the end there. But for Man this is all still something that is contingent and thus cannot be the sort of Freedom which the Necessary Being “has”, or rather, “is”. And we find this to be the case in all possible states of affairs for any contingent being.


A few words on Perfect Freedom may (or may not) help us here as we find Man necessary beholden to Another, and that finds culpability and ought - whereas - in God we do not find such indebtedness.


The Necessary Being is the Perfectly Free Being.


The phrase, “God is under no moral obligation, no duty, not beholden to, offer Mercy, Ransom” will, rightly, arise. Also, the phrase, “God is under no moral obligation, no duty, not beholden to, offer Justice, Wrath” will, rightly, arise. And this is the case, ad infinitum, in all “directions” (to borrow the semantics of our contingent world of contingent parts). All analogies here then which juxtapose God and Man, or, God and X, end in what is overall a wash within the Part-Less Singularity Who just is Triune Divine Simplicity.

The Necessary Being on ontological regress has no Duty, no Obligation, no Restraint. He is Perfectly Free, and here the Physicalist / Determinist will rant that such cannot be, for surely we find in Him some-X contingent upon some-Y, all his semantics constrained by his contingent matrix made up of contingent parts. The physicalist / determinist knows no other language.


To say He is “unfree” because He cannot make round-squares takes nothing from Him. To say He is “unfree” because He cannot sin only just reveals an ignorance of Privation, of Insufficiency in that Privation – the Pure-Self in isolation as such stands in the Contingent Self (Man in our case) as compared to the Uncreated (Necessary) Self (God). Of course in Trinity God can and does motion into the Pure-Self and in doing so He lands on that which any Contingent Self never can land on: the Great I AM, on All-Sufficiency. On necessity He cannot – therein (as Man can) – extricate Lack, Want, Insufficiency (sin) with any motion inside of Privation, as the term Privation in His case just means All-Sufficiency. The assertion that the Necessary Being is unfree because He cannot be In-Sufficient is just as vacuous as the bit about round squares.


The semantics from here inside of our contingent matrix made up of contingent parts fail over there inside of what just is the Necessary Being. Wholly Free, Wholly Volitional Multiple Perfect Distincts just is the definition of Perfect Freedom. Divine Simplicity frustrates the Physicalist / Determinist as much as the Triune’s Multiple Perfect Distincts frustrates him as he cannot get his physicalist thinking around that landscape void of the contingent over there in what just is Necessity’s Triune Divine Simplicity – the Singularity Who just is the Perfectly Free Being.


“Love ought to save” and “Justice ought to punish” are valid in so far as they make claims on their own particular vector, but are invalid if and when they attempt to extend such a claim to the Volitional Whole Himself Who is Wholly Volitional Mercy Himself Who is Wholly Volitional Justice Himself Who is Wholly Volitional Love Himself……… ad infinitum.

The farther we push this the more we begin to see just how it is that God just “cannot” be “under” a kind of compulsion or “beholden” to some form of “ought” for such would demand that He be literally diced up into ontological “volitional slices” all competing with each other, which is nonsense. If that were possible then God could tell a lie for then His Word would not be His-Power which is His-Self which is His……ad infinitum”.


The Physicalist / Determinist cannot fathom Divine Simplicity nor the Triune nor Perfect Love nor Perfect Justice nor Perfect Mercy nor Perfect Wrath nor Perfect Will all as the I, all as the Self, all as the Unmoved Mover.


Perfect Freedom just is Perfect Freedom in all directions – whatever “direction” means amid the Part-Less Singularity Who is Perfectly Free. So, the Physicalist / Determinist just denies it on physicalist’s terms: God just must be made of parts and parts must just make Him unfree because…. because…. well physicalism, and because….. well…. because contingency. He speaks of some non-god god only with and in the terms he knows of from here inside of his contingent matrix made up of contingent parts.


We find no obligation in God to avoid lying. Huh? The determinist will rant: “But *god* is not free to lie! He “cannot” lie!”


So?


As if “the” Necessary Being’s “Word” is not His-Self is not His-Will is not His-Power is not His-Justice is not His-Mercy is not Actuality is not Reality is not the Necessary-Being is not Necessity. There inside of what just is the Singularity that just is Triune Divine Simplicity that is precisely what Word just is. There is no “Non-God-Part” which “God” (pause) “has”.


From a slightly different direction: To say [Necessity Cannot Lie] is to say Necessity cannot command round squares to exist.

There are things unfree, obligated to move thusly, constrained to do this and not that, only, such are found unfree by contingency, and amid Necessary Multiple Perfect Distincts we cannot find Contingency, nor can we find Imperfection, nor can we find In-Sufficiency, as God just is that Part-Less Singularity that just is that Triune Divine Simplicity. If there is no contingent any-thing there can be no determined any-thing. There is only Freedom and that sort which houses Volitionality through and through just is the definition of Perfect Freedom.


The Critic wants to assert that if there is no contingent any-thing, there is still no freedom, but that is illogical, for a determined motion is so by its contingent-upon-X-status. But no such thing is found inside of the Part-Less Singularity of Triune Divine Simplicity.


Ascribing “God Can’t Do X” when X is some form of absurdity or some degree of In-Sufficiency or some form of Non-Actuality of He Who Is Actuality, Whose Word is His-Self is His-Power is His-Will is Actuality is Reality is Necessity, and so on, all Perfectly-Un-Contingent-Upon-X, all Perfectly Volitional, well……. all of those moves of the determinist fail ipso facto and leave Perfect Freedom untouched, unmoved, unchanged. The Necessary Being is the Perfectly Free Being.

This “If God has a Nature then He is Determined” has been tried often by determinists. Since the capacity to be unmoved – to sit still and ponder – and move-not / move, being wholly untouched, wholly free, is of a Nature we call volition wholly unmoved by ANY-thing, the end of regress there is I.


Now, that being undefeatable the determinist has of late gone down this road, that of “If Nature, Then Moved”, or, in other words, if Being X has a Nature, it cannot Not-Move thereby/therein, as the Nature trumps the I. Or, another way of trying to say this is simply that If Nature – Then Determined. The I is differentiated from the Nature. But this is nothing more than taking the I out of the Throne and demanding there be some some-thing which moves the I. But nothing moves the I. The I is the end of regress. And this is the very definition of Person, and in God’s case, of the Unmoved Person. Stuck with that in God’s case the determinist must then try to differentiate between Omnipotence vs. Omni-Benevolence vs. Omni-Justice vs. Omni-Mercy and so on ad infinitum. If determinism, something has to win-out and thereby push the I.


This is the physicalist’s definition of how personhood “works”. We are made of up of a lot of neurobiological substrate and all that stuff drives the I. Note the difference between the Substrate/Stuff, and the I.


Whereas, in Theism, there is no difference, no dividing point. God is I AM. To say He is “unfree” because He cannot make round-squares takes nothing from Him. To say He is “unfree” because He cannot sin just reveals an ignorance of Privation – the Pure-Self in isolation as such stands in the Contingent Self (Man in our case) as compared to the Uncreated Self (God). Of course in Trinity God motions into the Pure-Self. And in doing so He lands on the Great I AM, on All-Sufficiency. He cannot sin – and there again the assertion that God is unfree because He cannot be In-Sufficient is just as vacuous as the bit about round squares.

To be Free amid Multiple Perfect Distincts, and to be unmoved by said Distincts, the I the end of regress, is the definition of Perfect Freedom. Divine Simplicity frustrates the Determinist as much as the Triune’s Multiple Perfect Distincts as he cannot get his physical-ist thinking around God – the Perfectly Free Being.


The Determinist cannot fathom Divine Simplicity nor Trinity nor Perfect Love nor Perfect Justice all before the Unmoved Mover. Perfect Freedom just is Perfect Freedom, and in all directions….whatever “direction” means amid the Part-Less Being Who is Perfectly Free. So, he just denies it on physicalist’s terms and rants the absurd: God has a nature and so just must be made of parts and those parts must just make Him unfree to make round squares, or must just make Him unfree to be In-Sufficient (Sin). Because He must be made of parts and parts just make Him unfree because….because….well physicalism.

Instead of discovering our own limits here as we find in our own Contingency, we find in the Necessary Being Perfect Freedom. There are things unfree, only, such are found unfree by contingency, and amid His Multiple Perfect Distincts we find no Contingency, no Imperfection, no In-Sufficiency, as God is the Part-Less One there within the Triune’s Divine Simplicity. If there is no contingent any-thing there is no determined any-thing. There is only Freedom.

The Critic wants to assert that if there is no contingent any-thing, there is still no freedom, but that is illogical, for a determined motion is so via its contingent-upon-X-status.


God has no parts. We find no contingency in Him, and worse, we find only All-Sufficiency, only Perfection, and thus, there is only Perfect Freedom.


The Critic’s employment of the phrase “mystical components” isn’t a defeater of any sort here and in fact again uses the terminology of parts/components. Or….. *god* rather than God.


Another problem for the *god* of the physicalist:


To say of the Necessary Being that He “has” “a” Nature is to ascribe a part to God. As in, there is God and there is some some-thing, some Part that “He” (pause) “has”. But the semantics here just do not work for the Necessary Being as He is not made of parts. The Necessary Being does not “have” “a” Necessary Being. Many thus say of God that He does not “have a nature” in the sense we think of such semantics from here within a contingent matrix/universe. In The Necessary Being there is no such some-thing as a motion that is contingent-upon-X.


The Physicalist will not like that…… because all of his thinking is housed within a physical universe, a contingent world made up of parts. Thus, he just keeps employing the only semantics he knows….. that of parts, that of contingent-upon-X-motions. But “not liking” the fact that the Necessary Being is the Perfectly Free Being is not a defeater of God and grants no credibility to *god*.


Man's Contingent Freedom:


It seems to me that Man's Nature can by God's Wisdom and Power house Volition of the sort that is among Real Selves - I/You - Self/Other - and what have you. Now that is just Trinity's topography in another set of words. But such Freedom in Man is - ceaselessly - contingent, and thus indebted.

If we are Free - and I believe we are free to motion into Self/Other, provided God opens Doors, opens Himself, and so on - well then we are so by the Power and Decree and Grace of God.

Such Glory we find landing in the stopping point that is the Lap of God.

If I wanted to say that others were saying God likes evil, that's what I would have said.
But, you see, that's what you did say. According to your remark, anyone who
  1. Affirms that everything that happens was planned by God, and happens exactly as God wanted it to happen

    AND

  2. Denies that evil is necessary to accomplish some unknowable good end
Is saying that God likes evil.

------------------------------

I have repeatedly engaged your "counterexample" of Christ's death on the cross.
I guess that depends on what you mean by "engagement". Certainly you have made a number of comments that mention the counter-example. If that's what you mean, then bully for you...you win.

I mean that you have not objected to the counter-example in any way that is responsive and not openly fallacious.

Let's survey your comments to see whether I'm right.

Comment 1:

The death of Jesus was a singularity. Happened once. Won't ever happen again.

How does it pertain?

So Christ was a Mulligan?

Engagement count: 0

Comment 2:

WL,

"apparently God sometimes wills evil on innocent victims."

Aside from the case of Jesus, why would you think this?

"That doesn't count" doesn't count.

Engagement count: still 0

Comment 3:

This is like saying, "well, apparently, sometimes God wants infants tortured just for fun". How does this make sense?
I still am not sure what you mean here.

On the one hand, it looks like you are saying that my view is that God takes pleasure in evil.

Engagement Count: still 0

On the other hand, you might be saying that sometimes God wants it to be the case that some evil person takes pleasure in evil-doing. Since the latter is what I did just say, I'm not quite getting how this addresses my point.

What do you think of this 'engagement'.

GH5: Humans are free.

WL: You seem to be saying humans are free.

GH5: That's what I said.

WL: Thus, I refute you! HA!

GH5: What???

I don't think that, if that exchange had ever taken place, I would be engaging your view at all.

Since that's essentially what comment 3 does, even under the more charitable interpretation...

Engagement count: still 0

Comment 4:

Christ is not a sufficient counterexample, for obvious reasons.

Christ suffered through the free will choices of evil men. God allowed it. Jesus chose it for the greater good that the suffering, etc. caused.

This is light years away from God causing evil to an innocent for no reason.

"Christ suffered through the free will choices of evil men. God allowed it." Making it like all suffering that stems from moral evil. So obviously not applicable.

Hang on...scratch that.

Making it highly applicable...that's what I meant to say.

"Jesus chose it for the greater good that the suffering, etc. caused." So Christ's suffering was justified because it served some higher purpose.

Where have I heard that before???

Wasn't that the whole point of the counter-example and precisely what makes it a counter-example.

And, once again, I never said, nor has anyone said, that God causes evil for fun, for no purpose, because He likes it, because He is Himself evil or for any of the similar straw man reasons that you are so fond of attributing to your interlocutors.

Agreeing with that the counter-example defeats your view (since you are accepting the moral rectitude of allowing necessary evils for the sake of a higher purpose) is not really engaging the counter-example.

Characterizing my view in one of your myriad variations of "WL says that God is evil" is also, not an engagement.

Engagement count: still 0

Comment 5a (to KWM):

Straw Man much? God and Jesus are the same thing. Jesus went into passion week with His eyes wide open. He decided for himself, in concert with the Father. (Himself) But maybe you and WL aren't Trinitarians....
Yes, you've uncovered my dark secret. I repeatedly argue in favor of Trinitarianism. It's one of my favorite topics. And I always argue for the traditional view.

But I'm a secret Arian. One day...when I've got everyone lulled into a false sense of security, I'm going to burst out and and say

There was once a time when he was not.
He was made and not begot.
So hang this sign on the willow tree knot:
There was once a time when he was not!
Bwahahaha!

Wait...were you trying, here, to provide an example of a Straw Man?

Engagement count: still 0

Comment 5b (to KWM):

If you and WL can't see the difference between what Jesus did on the cross and God planning, arranging and making certain that evil happens to an unsuspecting innocent person..... well, can't help with that....
The only difference here is that the non-Christ person is unsuspecting. But you never spelled out why that was important. We could put this down as an engagement if you'd care to spell that out. But you seem to express here an unwillingness to do so, so...

Engagement count: still 0.

Comment 6:

Jesus participated with the Father in planning, choosing, and making certain that the evil of the cross happened.

This is obviously very different than God planning, choosing and making certain that evil befalls a person who has no choice in the matter.

Can you see the difference?

No. I can't

The only difference here is that the person who suffers the evil in one case had a choice and in the other didn't. Otherwise the planning, making sure and so forth are present in both cases.

Again, if you'd care to explain why the sufferer not having a choice is relevant, you might have the beginnings of an engagement. Until then...

Engagement count: still 0.

Just to clarify. There are all sorts of ways that Jesus is different from other people. Just pointing out that He is different in that way does not make for a relevant objection to the general point that God sometimes allows/causes evil to befall people as a necessary means to a higher end (as it is proven that He does in the case of Christ).

------------------------------

So, every evil, no matter how vile or disgusting is something God plans and makes certain happens, for some planned greater good. Using your beloved Father and bicycle example, a mass murder would be like a child skinning her knee while learning to ride her bike.
Another gotcha.

No one said that a mass murderer was like a child skinning her knee in the sense that you so obviously want to spin it. That is, no one is trying to minimize the depth and horror of evils that occur in our world. Though, of course, you would obviously like to be able to <not> accuse your interlocutors of that in the same way that you did <not> accuse your interlocutors of saying that God likes evil.

I guess it's an insult to notice that that's your game.

On a related point, I don't think I ever said that the evil the child suffered was a skinned knee. She suffered some unspecified evil as a result of being pushed over.

The example certainly does not require that the evil be a skinned knee. If the alternative is getting run over and killed by a car... the necessary evil (that a good and loving father would permit, or even cause) could be anything from momentary embarrassment to a leg amputation.

Perhaps you can't win as many debater points if you ask whether mass murders are like leg amputations.

Notice that even if I were to blindly walk into your trap and say "yes, the mass murder is like the skinned knee", you still haven't actually engaged the argument. The fact that you could then crow about how you would rather believe in a God who wasn't so powerful than to so minimize evil doesn't mean that I have minimized evil. It doesn't count against the truth of my claim. It doesn't address anything at all. It wins debater points...that's it.

Now, every event that occurs is like every other event that occurs in some way. So, of course, of course, the mass murder is like the child skinning her knee in some way. Both are events that occur in space and time, for starters. Neither event can be characterized as good. The persons subjected to the suffering are liable not to understand why they had to suffer. The persons who suffer the evil performed no specific acts for which the evil could be seen as punishment. Etc.

The events are also unlike in some ways. Because any two distinct events are always unlike in some ways. For starters, the two events are likely to have occurred in different places and times. For the mass murder, there was an identifiable human that performed the act. For the skinned knee, there might not be (the father might have simply chosen not to catch the child as she accidentally fell). The damages caused in the case of the mass murder are irreversible this side of glory, not so for the skinned knee. Etc.

But what is relevant in the current debate isn't those events at all. The question isn't how the murder is like the skinned knee, or even the amputated leg. The question is how God who allowed the murder is like the good father who allowed the skinned knee. I think they are alike in the following way: He allows and even causes some evils to happen. Evils he hates, but that serve some higher purpose. A purpose we may sometimes see and understand, but often do not.

The good father has the final say on what will happen. That's also true of God. The good father's final say on what will happen does not take away all the child's control over events. That's also true of God. The good father is still good, even though he allows and even causes evils that he could prevent. Evils that he hates. That's also true of God.

Even if we cannot understand the higher purpose served by every evil, we can understand how a good God like a good father could allow the evil to happen.

And, thus far, no argument has been advanced to suggest that God is not like that loving father.

WL,

Obviously we don't see eye to eye.

Truths that I see as so blindingly obvious that a third grader should see them, you consider silly and dishonest.

Points that you consider ridiculously simple I see as obviously false.

So, the last word is yours.

I rejoice this weekend that we serve a God who knows us completely yet still loves us.

Goat Head 5

Hi scbrownlhrm, there is a lot in that post. Man needs to understand his creature-ness contra, Creator-ness...you did well to elaborate.

Several things come to mind after reading your post. I will try to develope this theme, if possible, by throwing a few things in there.

Here is one element...a kind of a thought experiment.

Man 1 has an island of 10 sq. miles and on it is everything he needs in minimal variety to be happy and content... He sees outward afar other islands but his desires do not present any yearning away from his 10 sq.miles. [There are no possible means to travel to other islands.]

Man 2 has an island of 10000 sq. miles and on it is everthing he needs in maximal variety to be happy and content. He sees outward afar other islands and feels the draw of them. [There are no possible means to travel to other islands.]

Who experiences more freedom? Why?
Who has more freedom? Why?

I wont pollute the well with what I think. Anyone, please answer and explain if you would. BTW, I dont think there is a right answer to this, just a point to be made about boundries and freedom.

My earlier post here on God being the Perfectly Free Being and on Man's Contingent Freedom help focus that a bit. Faith in the Old Man in the O.T. / Hebrews 11 do not rise to the level of sufficiency. Nor did volition there rise to the level of sufficiency. Faith and Volition are real there in Hebrews 11, and so on, but cannot fill Man with God. Man is never sufficient in himself - free or unfree, full of faith or void of faith. On Freedom, Where God's lines house no contingent-upon-X vectors, and thus He is the Perfectly Free Being, Man ipso facto finds less freedom whether in obedience or in disobedience, whether in God our outside of God, as alluded to in talk of his contingent freedom. Also, Christ has opened up, satisfied, provided the Means to the Ends and also the Ends - both of which are Himself. Where Person and where Being are concerned, in our case, Man, the Means/Ends literally cannot be some lesser some-thing for any Contingent Being, and, are literally actualized in and through, and by, Christ.

If we have any freedom, and we do, we have such by Christ, by God's Power and Decree - which is His Will. That is to say, which is His complete and completed Will in and of and for Man. There are far more lines which come in Christ and through Christ than our own liberation, our own rescue, our own freedom, far more in fact, but, that particular area is not made less literal, less actual, by those many other lines.


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