Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Another Quote

"...free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having."

--The Case for Christianity, C. S. Lewis

I never even considered that people might not have a free will until I came across Calvinism, quite some time after my conversion. For me - I see free will and choice as the whole reason that the LORD did not create man confirmed in holiness, or without the choice to disobey. I had always read of the Garden of Eden and the one tree that the first couple must not eat of ... and thought that God must want them to have something that they can do to show that they trust and love Him. It made evil possible, but IF they had obeyed, it also provided the opportunity for love, goodness, trust and joy .... a two-way relationship.

65 Comments:

  • There are some complicated philosophical issues here, but yes, I agree.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 7/27/2007 8:47 AM  

  • Nice.

    Unfortunately, within the philosophical matrix of Calvinism, God is too threatened ontologically to allow for any kind of two-way relationship, so much so that even the human will of Christ is of necessity swallowed up in the divine decree and absolute foreordination of God.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/27/2007 8:55 AM  

  • Oh DM, you always make me think.

    I agree completely with this statement:


    "....the philosophical matrix of Calvinism, God is too threatened ontologically to allow for any kind of two-way relationship,"


    Can you give me more about this:

    "....so that even the human will of Christ is of necessity swallowed up in the divine decree and absolute foreordination of God."

    By Blogger mary, at 7/27/2007 12:13 PM  

  • Hey Rose

    Good thoughts. I personally think that the question of God's will vs. human will is completely non-sequitur, as it presupposes that the relationship between God and humanity is somehow categorically reducible to over-power: i.e., who is able to actualize reality over and against the reality of another.

    To me, a much better way of looking at the issue is that of the reciprocity of love. God's love is most revealed to humanity not only in that God has granted a share in existence to us, but moreover that God graciously invites us to participate within the cycle of gift-ing that demarcates the nature of the love that exists between the persons of the Godhead.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 7/27/2007 1:29 PM  

  • "Unfortunately, within the philosophical matrix of Calvinism, God is too threatened ontologically to allow for any kind of two-way relationship, so much so that even the human will of Christ is of necessity swallowed up in the divine decree and absolute foreordination of God."

    Really? How do you figure?

    But let's take Calvinism, and/or John Calvin out of the equation. Is this what the Scriptures teach?

    As one who embraces the complete sovereignty of God, I enjoy a very personal two-way relationship with Him.

    By Blogger Gayla, at 7/27/2007 1:47 PM  

  • Philosphically, the issue boils down to a technical term called "capatibilism". The question is: is God's decrees before the foundation of the world compatible with human freedom?

    There are those, like me, who say yes. There are those who say no. Either approach is an unprovable assumption -- and our theologies start branching at that point. Both sides marshall lots of biblical verses to butress their assumption. Language in our proofs often incorporate our assumption of compatability or incompatiblity.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/27/2007 3:22 PM  

  • Gayla, I think all of consider ourselves to be following the Scriptures as we understand them.

    Perhaps you dislike the term 'Calvinism', but essentially you interpret the Scriptures through a set of assumptions that are derived from Augustinian-Calvinist theology, just as I also view the scriptures through the lens of Classic Dispensational theological assumptions.

    We all have an interpretive system for understanding the Word.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 7/27/2007 3:24 PM  

  • Great thinking, Rose,

    Complicated, yet simple...

    Being a victim of Calvinism as a teenager I exercised my free will and rejected the Calvinism into which I was born and raised.

    Forty years later I understood God's love, exercised my free will, took God at His Word and decided to trust Jesus Christ as my Savior.

    Not complicated. 2 Corinthians 11:3 "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."

    Herein is love --- Jesus Christ, the propitiation for our sins -- not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at 7/27/2007 3:55 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/27/2007 4:13 PM  

  • "I exercised my free will and rejected ..."

    That is a classic "incompatiblist" viewpoint, using the incompatiblist assumption.

    My compatiblist argument will basically make a similar short argument, calling upon my assumption. I used my freedom to trust in Christ, but discovered I was elect all along and that God granted me faith.

    This line of thought will be incomprehensible to an incompatabilist, and I can talk myself blue in the face to no avail. An incompatiblist will talk themselves blue in the face and I won't "get" their argument.

    This would be funny if there weren't so much animosity found in each of the communities towards each other.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/27/2007 4:15 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 7/27/2007 8:26 PM  

  • Earl writes:
    ----------
    I used my freedom to trust in Christ, but discovered I was elect all along and that God granted me faith.

    This line of thought will be incomprehensible to an incompatabilist
    ----------
    Rather, this "compatablism" (sp?) will be incomprehensible to anyone who cannot consciously hold two contradictory thoughts at the same time. It is absurd to state that man operates in free will if God has unilaterally decided his every action beforehand. Only if the legitimate contents of the meaning of "free will" are evacuated and one imports into its shell the paradoxical and mysterious [ed. read contradictory] presuppositional tenets of deductionistic traditionalism can one marry absolute decretal theology with human free will.

    This particular brand of nonsense poses as theological astuteness, much in the same way that evolutionary cosmology is passed off as science.

    This type of theology is anti-rational, and requires that we give up all reason and logic, adopting a presuppositional, Van Tillian attitude toward the Bible.

    If God arbitrated every detail of the course of history and has executed those determinations in the lives and acts of moral creatures, necessarily bringing them to pass, we would merely be marionettes, and He, the 'Sovereign' Puppet Master.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 7/27/2007 8:40 PM  

  • Earl says: ""I used my freedom to trust in Christ, but discovered I was elect all along and that God granted me faith.""

    So you realized that it wasn't really you who trusted in Christ but God who had to first grant you the ability to trust in Christ? Wasn't really your freedom at all?


    Can anybody tell me, does that definition of Compatibilism linked look right?

    By Anonymous Mary, at 7/27/2007 9:24 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/27/2007 9:24 PM  

  • This is the line I'm questioning about compatabilism


    God is ultimately sovereign and therefore must have at least permitted any choice that a human could make, but at the same time God is right to hold humans accountable because from their perspective within the confines of serial time, humans make moral choices between good and evil.

    By Anonymous Mary, at 7/27/2007 9:27 PM  

  • Antonio, you're obviously an incompatabilist -- naturally you would see that this is a contradiction. Of course you'd see me as irrational. :o)

    We can each name a string of philosphical heavyweights to support our views. For instance, I'd point to Alvin Plantinga professor of philosophy at Notre Dame. You can name yours. ;-)

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/27/2007 9:29 PM  

  • Mary and others,

    I understand your struggle. On the issue of human responsibility or freedom and God’s sovereignty there is a major divide:

    (1) The view that human freedom and God’s sovereignty are mutually logically compatible.
    (2) The view that human freedom and God’s sovereignty (or God’s foreknowledge or foreordaining) are mutually incompatible, that is they are logically contradictory.

    Our viewpoints are so closely tied to the basic divide on this that it is hard to recognize the assumption – or that there could be another view on this.

    For instance, when I said, “I used my freedom to trust in Christ, but discovered I was elect all along and that God granted me faith.” – that is operating from an assumption that viewpoint (1) is logical and not contradictory.

    When someone asks, doesn’t that really mean that I didn’t have freedom at all, that is basic stance of viewpoint (2).

    Let me give you an example from another area, plane geometry. For thousands of years the axioms of geometry included the axiom for any parallel lines, they remain at a constant distance to each other along all the line. A couple of centuries ago, some mathematicians in geometry played around with that axiom and developed several non-Euclidean geometries. Many thought that replacing the assumption was bizarre. However, some of those geometries became very useful in describing the universe around us. These were counter-intuitive ideas that revolutionized understanding physics.

    In theology, the compatibility assumption (view 1) was quite popular in many areas, but it tended to fall out of favor in many Christian circles in the last couple of centuries. Theologians that write from viewpoint 1 include Jonathon Edwards in Freedom of the Will, and philosophers include Alvin Plantinga. A cross between is William Lane Craig, who is a Molenist, dealing with a concept of middle-knowledge.

    Most of you reading this are incompatiblists. Wherever I talk about human freedom and God’s foreordination being logically compatible – that will be incomprehensible to you, gobbledygook, completely illogical.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/27/2007 10:39 PM  

  • I totally agree with you Rose. And I didn't run into Calvinism till last August on the blogworld. It's been an uphill struggle to understand and also to be accepted. But because I believe God places people and situations in my life to teach me I am trying to figure out the common ground we share. Perhaps it is only at the foot of the cross. selahV

    By Anonymous selahV, at 7/28/2007 12:50 AM  

  • Good morning Rose! I hope you have the coffee steaming beside you for this one below :-)

    So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt…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. (Genesis 50:8/20)

    A quick break down of these famous words of Joseph to his errant, but repentant brethren shows perfectly the balance between God's Sovereignty and man's responsibility as believed by Calvinists.

    1) God purposed from eternity past to deliver the Israelites out from Egypt and make them a nation in their own right. But first he purposed to bring them into Egypt through Joseph.

    2) To this end, he ordained a famine to afflict the entire region and arranged that Joseph would be already in Egypt to be the backbone of the relief operation, which ultimately saved many people alive.

    3) Joseph came into Egypt through the malice of his brethren, over which they later tore themselves apart in sorrow and this was now the reason why they were seeking his pardon, fearing that he would take revenge for their horrible deed.

    4) Joseph explained why he would pardon them, because that ultimately they had not sent him to Egypt, but God. Selah! Let the non Calvinist think about this one. God ordained this ungodly event to take place and Joseph places Him at its centre and says to the culprits, "It was not you who sent me hither…" Yet, we know from his earlier actions that he did not hold them guiltless, and indicts them further in the quote above for their evil intentions.

    5) Their sending of Joseph into Egypt had evil intentions behind it, but God meant it for good. God can ordain sinful events, ensure that they take place, use sinful people to the point (again) that any observer can say: "It was not you…but God" and yet God remain pure and the sinful people stand in need of repentance as sinful, responsible people.

    6) This great event, along with every last detail, was ordained in the purposes of God from all eternity. There was no chance that it would not happen, nor that it would happen differently from the way that he did. If it was not ordained from all eternity, then there was a point in time when God changed His mind - why? Was it because He came into fresh information? Did He see an improvement upon His previous plans? Are there things yet to happen outside His plan, if there has been things in the past happened outside His plan? Does He think "on the hoof" i.e. as He goes along, modifying His plans according to man's decisions? Is He the great Second Fiddler of the Universe? Anticipating someone saying that God foreknew from eternity that the brethren would do this and ordained it to happen and turned the tables is a logical absurdity. If God foresaw it happening, then it must have been certain, because you cannot foresee an uncertainty. When all is said and done, Joseph could say, "It was not you that sent me hither…but God."

    7) Before any one charges me with erecting straw men, i.e. in the sixth point, I am merely asking questions to make a point. I am not saying that non Calvinists actually believe these things, although it would be nice to hear someone categorically deny it and offer the alternative view.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 7/28/2007 4:33 AM  

  • Sorry I should have added the following point

    8) Joseph's brethren made no complaint that they were forced in any way to do what they did by God, and in the end, no sinner does, because every mouth will be stopped and the whole world wil lstand guilty before God (Romans 3:19) The Bible teaches that what they did, they did willingly, although evidently as people in bondage to a greater power i.e. the Devil who successfully tempted them into the sins of jealousy, hatred, murder [in thought though not in deed] selling their brother in slavery, lying to their father, and that continually and despite his great grief etc.,

    We are not called to fully understand and explain how these things can be so, but we are called to believe them, otherwise we reduce the Bible to a book of contradictions.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 7/28/2007 4:41 AM  

  • mary-

    Can you give me more about this:

    "....so that even the human will of Christ is of necessity swallowed up in the divine decree and absolute foreordination of God."


    I'll try. One of the fundamental Christological understandings is that Christ had both a human and a divine will. This was in opposition to heretical thought that understood the human will of Christ as being either non-existent or swallowed up in the divine Logos.

    One example would be the garden scene- there seems to be a tension between the will of self-preservation (let this cup pass) and the will to do God's will. (thy will be done.) If human wills in general are under the meticulous control of divine sovereignty, the Jesus' human will would be as subject to that as any other human's will. Thus, Jesus' will would have been nothing more than an instrument of the divine will.

    I actually wrote a post about this a few months ago..It would probably make more sense than this brief reply, if you care to take a look here

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/28/2007 8:59 AM  

  • gayla-

    Really? How do you figure?

    Calvinism (and theologies that view God in terms of power and sovereignty) essentially creates an equation with God in relation to power- God has to have 100% of it to be God. Thus, if some other entity, being, etc., had any form of power, God would cease to be God.

    Of course, this essentially lowers God to same ontological level as creation, since is made to interact with power in the same way as creation- the only difference being that God has all of it.

    But let's take Calvinism, and/or John Calvin out of the equation. Is this what the Scriptures teach?

    Is 'what' what the scriptures teach? That God executes meticulous sovereignty and swallows up the wills of all other agents into God's own will? Probably not.

    As one who embraces the complete sovereignty of God, I enjoy a very personal two-way relationship with Him.

    I also affirm the complete sovereignty of God, although I have no doubt that I would disagree as to what sovereignty refers to than what Calvinists would think it means.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/28/2007 9:04 AM  

  • earl

    The question is: is God's decrees before the foundation of the world compatible with human freedom?

    The better question is: do God's decrees, (whatever that means) ontologically speaking, operate on the same power level as that of creation?

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/28/2007 9:09 AM  

  • goodnightsafehome-

    Their sending of Joseph into Egypt had evil intentions behind it, but God meant it for good. God can ordain sinful events, ensure that they take place, use sinful people to the point (again) that any observer can say: "It was not you…but God" and yet God remain pure and the sinful people stand in need of repentance as sinful, responsible people.

    Ok, let's say a father rapes his little girl. So you would advocate that God ordained the sinful action, ordained the situation in which the action occurred, ordained the rising of lustful feelings within the father for his daughter, ordained the physiological effects of that lust, and then ordained the culmination of the rape?

    So I am assuming, based upon God's ordaining of all events being based upon God's pure will, that this event is naturally a part of God's pure will, and as a consequence flows from God's pure will.

    I guess an observer can stand back and say "It was not you, but God." After all, you say that "This great event, along with every last detail, was ordained in the purposes of God from all eternity."

    I guess when she's in therapy later the knowledge that God the Father planned and ensured that every last detail of this horrific event would in fact occur (horrific, at least from her perspective- for God it's all pure and good) will bring her a lot of comfort. At least she can stand back and say "It's wasn't my father who did this, but my heavenly Father." And be absolutely correct.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/28/2007 9:23 AM  

  • Sis I am afraid that a great deal of the controversy over will and choice are due to the ambiguities in our language. I honestly don’t believe the scripture teaches “free will” anymore than it teaches Determinism, that this is strictly a philosophical argument and that neither is true. The problem becomes even more difficult to resolve with the scripture when we introduce the term “free” into the argument.

    When we speak of will we could be referring to ability, as in power and authority, or to choice, as in desire or determination, or to both. If we fail to distinguish between the two then we create a dilemma for ourselves that cannot be reconciled to the scripture. When we attempt to determine whether we are either completely free or completely incapable in either of these, that is free to exercise power and authority or free to choose, then we take another step away from the scripture.

    I am persuaded that this is not an either or problem but rather that the problem is in identifying, accepting and distinguishing between those things that God has determined and those things that God requires we determine for ourselves. If we accept that God has or does determine all things then we reduce faith to nothing more than an involuntary reflex.

    By Blogger Kc, at 7/28/2007 9:36 AM  

  • DM:- Ok, let's say a father rapes his little girl. So you would advocate that God ordained the sinful action, ordained the situation in which the action occurred, ordained the rising of lustful feelings within the father for his daughter, ordained the physiological effects of that lust, and then ordained the culmination of the rape?

    In such a sad case, I would indict the father for his sins, report him to the appropriate authorities and advocate that he meet with the full penalty of the law etc., I would hold him fully responsibilities of his hideous sin and crime which runs contrary to all that is expected of fathers, as expressed in the Scriptures of Truth and in natural law etc.,.

    On a pastoral level, I would seek to comfort the little girl by assuring her that our Heavenly Father brings comfort to those who seek Him in their hour of need and encourage her to pray to Him and seek His help. Where other help is required, on a medical level etc., I would encourage the seeking of it also. Certainly, I would not introduce any subject that would not immediately help her or be able to be borne at this particular time. Our Lord Jesus took this route in John 16:12, although in obviously different circumstances, but the idea is the same. Even if the "little girl" was not so little ( I assume for effect you are talking about a very young girl) but a mature adult etc., I would still withhold information which, even if true, would not be immediately helpful.

    Theologically, like here and now on this discussion, and looking at the Bible at the whole, I would say that by allowing these things to happen…from the lust etc., right through, God certainly ordained the event and the things which lead to it. What are the alternatives?

    A/ God didn't know these things would happen and was as shocked and outraged as the rest of us when He learned the details?
    B/ God knew, but didn't care although He did look decidedly uncomfortable when He saw the ambulance men and police men puke on the ground afterwards and the social worker cry her eyes out.
    C/ God knew, but was so unable to do anything about it
    D/ God knew, but only prevents it from happening if and when his freewilled creatures give Him the go ahead.
    E/ God knew, but even though He has intervened before and still does and presumably still will do so in the future, decided that this one should go ahead, and let it look as if the Devil was running the whole show and that He sits sidelined by choice (even though He knew when He allowed sin to enter the Universe that things like this would happen)
    F/ Some other reason why, other than it being somehow (Don't ask me how) for His glory, for He does make the wrath of man to praise Him, and the remainder of wrath, He does restrain: Psalm 76:10)

    To go back to Joseph again and his nightmare experience, I notice that it was the victim who drew comfort from the truth and that he applied it to the penitent guilty. What part of "It was not you…but God…" applies to each and every event in Genesis 37/39 as the young, pious Joseph was brutalised, traumatised, left (temporary) to die by starvation/thirst in a dark pit, brought out, but not to be set free, but bound and sold by his own kith and kin into slavery, auctioned to the highest bidder no matter how beastly he might be, at the mercy of a seductress keen to ruin his body and effectively damn his soul, falsely accused, disbelieved in his defence, imprisoned in fetters and iron that hurt his feet, forgotten in his appeal for help and feeling abandoned etc.? Somewhere along the line here, God plays His part, not so much overriding, but alongside the actions of Joseph's brethren, so that He can give God the glory. Where? Could He have brought deliverance by any other means? (I think we would both answer, "Yes" ) But He chose otherwise, went down this very difficult route, and takes all the glory for letting it happen and ordaining it to be the case. Otherwise, as suggested in the original post, something happened to induce Him to change His mind and either to get involved in the first place from a position of indifference or helplessness, but not because He was there in any real meaning of the word.

    Sorry this post is so long, but the subject matter demands it.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 7/28/2007 10:55 AM  

  • DF,
    Very true. Thanks for visiting.

    Monk,
    Thank you. Please do the meme in the above post?

    Mary,
    Thanks for visiting.

    Exist~Dissolve,
    That isa great comment. Thank you for it.

    Hi Gayla,
    Thanks for visiting. I am glad that you enjoy a two way relationship with the Lord. He is so good, isn't He? Bless you.

    Hi Earl,
    Thank you for the lesson on compatabilism. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/28/2007 12:34 PM  

  • Exprecherman,
    Thank you for your story! Did the way you were raised make God seem not very loving? I am just curious what you thought of the LORD as a child, with that teaching in your background.


    Earl,
    This would be funny if there weren't so much animosity found in each of the communities towards each other.

    I feel ya!


    Hi Antonio! Godd to see you, brother.
    Thank you for your comments. You know I see it the same way as you.

    Selah,

    Ha! Isn't it interesting that one can be a Christian for so long and never hear of these things? There is common ground we share and for that I am thankful and count them as brothers. I do wish somehow we could be of the same mind - someday we will.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/28/2007 12:40 PM  

  • Hey KC!
    I am glad you stopped by. I am with you in your thinking - there are some things that are certain and others that aren't. It is as you say: the problem is in identifying, accepting and distinguishing between those things that God has determined and those things that God requires we determine for ourselves. If we accept that God has or does determine all things then we reduce faith to nothing more than an involuntary reflex.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/28/2007 12:42 PM  

  • Goodnight,
    I see Deviant is answering the conundrum you present. I will think about it some more. My coffee is gone and I need to paint my family room. BUT ... let me ask you - what do you think of the thought in the post? Is it rubbish?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/28/2007 12:44 PM  

  • goodnight-

    In such a sad case, I would indict the father for his sins, report him to the appropriate authorities and advocate that he meet with the full penalty of the law etc.,

    Indict someone for following the will and ordination of God? Why?

    If these 'sins' flow from the perfect and pure will of God, and occur infallibly because of God's ordination, how could they be properly called 'sins?' Are you saying that God, from all of eternity, desired for sin to occur?

    If both God's will for good and God's will for sin flow from the same pure and perfect will, then to speak of something as 'good' or 'sinful' is completely meaningless. Thus, this hypothetical rape, Joseph's enslavement, etc., are on the same moral level as buying an newspaper or helping an elderly lay across the street.

    I would hold him fully responsibilities of his hideous sin and crime which runs contrary to all that is expected of fathers, as expressed in the Scriptures of Truth and in natural law etc.,.

    Hideous to you or me, but apparently not to God, since God desires for it to happen; indeed, not only desires, but actualizes its inevitable coming to pass.

    Certainly, I would not introduce any subject that would not immediately help her or be able to be borne at this particular time.

    By this I assume you mean the truth that God not only wanted this to happen to her, but actualized its happening?

    Even if the "little girl" was not so little ( I assume for effect you are talking about a very young girl) but a mature adult etc., I would still withhold information which, even if true, would not be immediately helpful.

    So exactly when is the truth that God wanted this to happen to her and actualized it through the instrument of her father going to be helpful? You realize, of course, that this theological idea that you are presenting of God the Father operates on the same level of over-power as the father who raped her.

    Theologically, like here and now on this discussion, and looking at the Bible at the whole, I would say that by allowing these things to happen…from the lust etc., right through, God certainly ordained the event and the things which lead to it.

    Ok, you have taken quite the step back from your previous assertions. Earlier you said

    "God can ordain sinful events, ensure that they take place,"

    For God to 'ensure that they take place', would require that God not merely 'allow' them, but that God actualize them. You said that 'every last detail' was ordained in the purposes of God from all eternity. Presumably, you would place this ordination before the creation or existence of anything, which means that all events which come to pass, by virtue of their ordination and sustenance from God, flow from the will and actualization of God.

    As you already said- God ordains every detail. This means God's actualization of every thought, every action, every movement. That being the case, the lust flows from the will of God and is actualized by God's power, the sexual arousal flows from the will of God and is actualized by God's power, etc.

    What are the alternatives?

    All the alternatives you present picture God's relation to universe as one of power. That is, within your theological framework, unless God has 100% of power, God ceases to be God and the universe runs amok. Of course, conceiving of God through the lens of a hypothetical power struggle places God on the same ontological level as the rest of creation; that is, God is simply the most powerful being that is and is therefore God because this being is able to exert power over-against the rest of that which exists.

    As Rose's post notes, the way in which love and goodness is possible is freedom from the over-power brokering you seem to advocate respective of God.

    Somewhere along the line here, God plays His part, not so much overriding, but alongside the actions of Joseph's brethren, so that He can give God the glory.

    Answer me this- how could God be spoken of even possibly overriding Joseph's brothers' actions when God, presumably from all eternity, ordained and actualized those very actions?

    But He chose otherwise, went down this very difficult route, and takes all the glory for letting it happen and ordaining it to be the case.

    So much for God's eternal and unchangeable will. If God, from all eternity, ordained what would come to pass, then there is no possible room for contingency, since the existence of any contingency would be primordially predicated upon God's willing it to be.

    As for taking all the glory- how could God, no matter what occurred or what didn't occur, not be glorified? Is God's being glorified contingent upon certain actions and events taking place?

    As for 'letting it happen'- If God ordained it to be, then necessarily actualized its being, there is no meaningful room to speak of 'letting it happen.' Otherwise, you have completely overthrown your own conception of God ordaining all that comes to pass.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/28/2007 2:16 PM  

  • So which one of GNSH's choices below do YOU pick Deviant Monk?

    [A/ God didn't know these things would happen and was as shocked and outraged as the rest of us when He learned the details?
    B/ God knew, but didn't care although He did look decidedly uncomfortable when He saw the ambulance men and police men puke on the ground afterwards and the social worker cry her eyes out.
    C/ God knew, but was so unable to do anything about it
    D/ God knew, but only prevents it from happening if and when his freewilled creatures give Him the go ahead.
    E/ God knew, but even though He has intervened before and still does and presumably still will do so in the future, decided that this one should go ahead, and let it look as if the Devil was running the whole show and that He sits sidelined by choice (even though He knew when He allowed sin to enter the Universe that things like this would happen)
    F/ Some other reason why, other than it being somehow (Don't ask me how) for His glory, for He does make the wrath of man to praise Him, and the remainder of wrath, He does restrain: Psalm 76:10) ]

    By Anonymous VA ~Susan, at 7/28/2007 3:58 PM  

  • Rose,

    You asked:
    "Thank you for your story! Did the way you were raised make God seem not very loving? I am just curious what you thought of the LORD as a child, with that teaching in your background."

    Early in my life, God and Jesus were "taught" mostly in a fairy tale way, as best I recall, neither loving nor hating, just as gods.. My parents had no idea of Bible teachings nor that they were trapped in a Calvinist doctrinal enclave.. Attending was just the social thing to do.. Elitism at its best (sorta typical). We never discussed "religion," and because my folks were blank-slate "Calvinists" I guess they just assumed (because they had been told), we were all chosen to be "saved" from the foundation of the earth. ... so many things were illogical -- without any real truth-teaching. The LORD was just assumed -- not taught. I rebelled.. Long story.

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at 7/28/2007 8:51 PM  

  • Rose-

    Monk,
    Thank you. Please do the meme in the above post?


    I'm not quite sure what you are referring to. I looked for one, but I didn't see it.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/29/2007 1:16 AM  

  • va susan-

    So which one of GNSH's choices below do YOU pick Deviant Monk?

    None of the above.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/29/2007 1:20 AM  

  • Good morning Rose!

    I am currently preparing an answer for Deviant Monk, which will take a little time. Two messages to preach this Lord's Day and a house load of welcome visitors in between, so it may well be tomorrow before I can articulate my reply.

    In response to your question, the crunch term is "freewill" and what is meant by it. If you mean that man's will is completely free to do good or evil according as he sees fit, then the answer is that I do not
    believe in freewill in that sense. Man's will is not free, but is in bondage to sin. I always wonder how folk professing to believe in the fall of Adam can run with such a freewill definition. If freewill is dependent on the availability of the "power of opposite choice" i.e. the will is not free unless it can choose the alternative, then God does not have a freewill because He cannot choose to sin or deny Himself etc., Can He?

    However, if you mean that man is free to follow the dictates of his heart then I will answer "yes" although Calvinists prefer the term "Free Agency" to designate this position. It puts ground between us and the other notion. Man is not a puppet or a robot, but a fully responsible being and therefore may be warned, exhorted, pleaded with, reasoned with, promised and rewarded (or punished) as fitting his position as a free agent.

    This being the case, I do notrubbish Lewis's statement if free will is interpreted in this way. God does not force anyone to love Him, but He does regenerate the heart and enable it to render Him the love that a redeemed soul wants to give. He may work in the heart, both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13) but He does not hijack the heart. When I believe through grace, it is me that believes, not God believing on my part.

    As said, hopefully, I get back to DM later on. I wish though he would answer the questions I had posed and to which you and VA~Susan draw attention. I hate playing dentists i.e. pulling teeth in such discussions.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 7/29/2007 4:56 AM  

  • For those who might be interested in a Reformed and Lutheran discussion of free will, check this week's program of the White Horse Inn. Most of these guys take a compatiblist view.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/29/2007 9:49 AM  

  • ...although, they are also interviewing Roger Olsen, who is an "Arminian" theologian who takes a different view of these things. btw, Roger Olsen's The Store of Theology is an excellent book to read. I love it, even though I disagree with his slant from time to time.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/29/2007 9:51 AM  

  • Monk,
    Thank you. Please do the meme in the above post?


    lol...I'm going to expose my ignorance- I found what you were referring to, but I'm not quite sure what you want me to do.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/29/2007 4:58 PM  

  • VA Susan: So which one of GNSH's choices below do YOU pick Deviant Monk?

    DM: None of the above.]

    So then, what would be your explanation?

    By Anonymous VA ~Susan, at 7/29/2007 6:42 PM  

  • [Rose wrote: I never even considered that people might not have a free will until I came across Calvinism, quite some time after my conversion. For me - I see free will and choice as the whole reason that the LORD did not create man confirmed in holiness, or without the choice to disobey. I had always read of the Garden of Eden and the one tree that the first couple must not eat of ... and thought that God must want them to have something that they can do to show that they trust and love Him. It made evil possible, but IF they had obeyed, it also provided the opportunity for love, goodness, trust and joy .... a two-way relationship.]
    Rose,

    Here's what the London Baptist Confession says about free will. It is a revision of the more famous Westminster Confession allowing for differences about baptism with some other minor differences.

    The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith

    LBCF — Chapter IX: Of Free Will
    1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.
    2. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it.
    3. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
    4. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
    5. This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only.

    By Anonymous VA ~Susan, at 7/29/2007 11:21 PM  

  • ...also, on the issue of free will, any Christian who holds to God's perfect foreknowledge also has a problem with free will.

    Consider. God in his perfect foreknowldge knows I will wear a blue shirt tomorrow. The event, my wearing the shirt, has not happened. I am not free to do anything other than what God knows. It is immutable then that I will wear a blue shirt.

    Some free will, huh?

    You see, its not just Calvinists who have the problem. The problem tolls for you too. ;-)

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/29/2007 11:36 PM  

  • Good morning, Rose.

    Deviant Monk:

    It is very easy for us all to ask questions and yet play our own cards very close to our chests (if you will excuse the worldly picture) when we are asked for our thoughts. You have yet to venture yourthoughts on how Joseph could speak these words to his brethren and say that it was God who brought him into Egypt through their sinful activity without God contracting sin.

    You appear to query the idea that it is possible to carry out God's designs and yet be sinful, yet the case at hand is a classic example as indeed is example of the Cross where wicked hands carried out that which was determined by God (Acts 2:23) We discern what is sinful by the word of God, and not by the decreeof God. It is the word of God that is the light unto our path and which is, in these matters, clear and plain, whereas the decree of God often lies beyond our knowledge, as to the whys and the wherefores. It is sufficient for us to know, by faith, that God's way is perfect and that He can make the wrath of man to praise Him and yet remain untouched and unblemished by using their sin to achieve His ways. Is it this not so? Therefore Calvinists usually use the word "permit" when we are referring to those actions on the part of sinners which run contrary to God's revealed word i.e. their sins.

    We might ask you where was God in your Father-rapes-little-daughter scenario? Did He know this was going to happen? Could He have prevented it? Has He ever prevented such matters in then past? If so, why not this case? Did He know that when He allowed man freedom of choice that these things would happen? If so, why then go down that road? The only difference between Calvinists and you (assuming that you take the alternative view to Calvinism, within the Evangelical fold) is that the Calvinist draws his lines very clearly in the sand and takes the stick. You prefer the fuzzy kind and find it easier to ask questions than answer them.

    You have yet to explain yourself who exactly is in control of this universe. Is God in total control or is it being currently shared with Another - some evil force that can keep God at bay while he/it goes on the rampage while God looks on? I know that this sounds to you as if we are defining sovereignty by power alone, but we have not purported to give a comprehensive study of this Doctrine of God 's sovereignty. Calvinists do not exalt God's power over His other attributes of justice, love etc., However, often the battle rages over the extent of God's power and you cannot run away from it. So I ask again: Is God sharing His sovereignty with another force, agreeing not to interfere with his/its allotted territory?

    In closing, I would rather that you answered these questions, rather than simply analysedthem, and sought to answer your own questions, (which, as said) are very easily asked, but which often apply to both sides and cause problems to us all.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 7/30/2007 8:40 AM  

  • Consider. God in his perfect foreknowldge knows I will wear a blue shirt tomorrow. The event, my wearing the shirt, has not happened. I am not free to do anything other than what God knows. It is immutable then that I will wear a blue shirt.

    I hardly see how any of these conclusions are philosophically necessary. Such considerations assume that the nature of God's "knowing" particular events that obtain within space/time is equivalent to the functions and methodologies of human epistemology. However, given that God is not bound to the parameters of temporality with its inevitable "tensed" understanding of that which occurs, I hardly see why one should begin from the starting presupposition that the content and operation of God's knowledge must align with this same tensed experience of knowledge and reality.

    In effect, to say that God "knows" that you are going to wear a blue shirt "before" you wear a blue shirt is to conflate the eternality of God's knowledge with the subjectivities of finite, created experience, for it delineates the content and operation of God's will on the basis of human epistemology.

    Of course, once these untenable starting presuppositions are undermined (as I have done simply above), there no longer remains any need to think of the "inevitability" of the objects of God's knowledge obtaining in reality, of if God's knowledge cannot be spoken of as operating according to the limited parameters of human epistemology, to think of ordination in the same way would be nothing more than the compounding of a fallacious philosophy, such as what one can to witness occurring within the matrices of Reformed thought.

    Some free will, huh?

    According to Reformed theology, the least free will is that of God, for God is eternally constrained to act in accordance with the philosophical speculations of that which God has created, as well as within the narrow parameters of their creaturely existence. In such a scenario, it is difficult how God could have created in the first place, given the fact that prior to creation, the criteria for propriety in divine action would have been unactualized within the epistemology of God's creations.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 7/30/2007 8:53 AM  

  • Such considerations assume that the nature of God's "knowing" particular events that obtain within space/time is equivalent to the functions and methodologies of human epistemology.

    The problem is that the issue of free will is stated in a time/space tensed sense. Those saying there is a problem give it from that perspective.

    Look at Rose's discription of the problem. There needs to be a two way relationship. Adam and Eve were given a choice, the implication is that from the our human tensed viewpoint, if God had already preodrained what Adam and Eve would do, then there would be no real realtionship. However, at this point, non-Calvinists, with respect to foreknowledge, flip over to eternality of God, say there is no problem, then flip back to tensed space/time to foreordination and say, gee wiz, look at the problem Calvinists have.

    The problem is not that easily resolved for the omnicient foreknowledge non-Calvinist. The language in scripture is tensed in describing God's forknowledge (the very word foreknowledge is tensed -- knowledge before it happens).

    A lot of the issues is removed when we look at it from an eternal, timeless perspective. But if we speak in those terms, we can't talk about foreknowledge and predestination -- these are tensed words -- and biblical words.

    So, I don't buy the trick of going to eternal perspective to get out of the non-Calvinist view of foreknowledge, while holding the Calvinist feet to the fire in the tensed area with foreordination.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/30/2007 11:35 AM  

  • ...also, Calvinists are often accused of getting too philosophical in their arguments on predestination (with the implication that those philosophical arguments are not biblical).

    But -- I see some heavy philosophy with non-biblical terms in this very thread. Words like "ontological" equivalence, tenseless, etc.

    I’m not against philosophy at all. But let’s recognize we all engage in it.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/30/2007 12:03 PM  

  • I was away from the blogs for a couple of days and look what happens! I will continue to think about it, but I have no time to respond to all that is here. Thanks for participating so I can read your thoughts. I read every one and I even think about them. I just can't afford the time right now to comment - there is so much here.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/30/2007 12:17 PM  

  • It is very easy for us all to ask questions and yet play our own cards very close to our chests (if you will excuse the worldly picture) when we are asked for our thoughts.

    um, ok.

    You have yet to venture yourthoughts on how Joseph could speak these words to his brethren and say that it was God who brought him into Egypt through their sinful activity without God contracting sin.

    Since I don't have access to Joseph's thoughts or reasoning, it's rather difficult to speculate as to why he would say such a thing or what would prompt such a statement.

    That he intends to imply that their evil actions were actualized by divine decree certainly isn't explicit or implicit within the story. Rather, such an interpretation is indicative of the underlying presupposition of determinism.

    It seems just as likely that, in hindsight, he can see how God has brought good out what was intended for evil.

    You appear to query the idea that it is possible to carry out God's designs and yet be sinful, yet the case at hand is a classic example as indeed is example of the Cross where wicked hands carried out that which was determined by God (Acts 2:23)

    Acts 2:23 again does not causally link God's purpose and foreknowledge with the wicked acts in crucifying Christ. Peter's purpose seems to be more in line with showing that Christ was not forcefully subjected to the cross by the Romans and the Jews, but rather, as Christ himself said- no one had the power to take his life from him, but he willingly laid it down.

    We discern what is sinful by the word of God, and not by the decreeof God. It is the word of God that is the light unto our path and which is, in these matters, clear and plain, whereas the decree of God often lies beyond our knowledge, as to the whys and the wherefores.

    Very well. If choosing to murder someone is sinful, (as the scriptures say) then God, having willed (by divine decree no less) and carried out the murder of the Son of God, is sinful. Since the only actions that occur in the universe occur at the impetus of the divine decree, then every sinful thought that compelled those who crucified Christ to do so find their origination in the will and decree of God.

    It is sufficient for us to know, by faith, that God's way is perfect and that He can make the wrath of man to praise Him and yet remain untouched and unblemished by using their sin to achieve His ways.

    If God's way is perfect, and that 'way' actualizes all that comes to pass, including sin, then that way is of necessity inclusive of and originated in part by sin.

    Therefore Calvinists usually use the word "permit" when we are referring to those actions on the part of sinners which run contrary to God's revealed word i.e. their sins.

    If you are going to locate sin within the divine decree of God, drop this 'permits' rubbish. It is surely an inaccurate way of describing it, and according to your insistence on actualizing everything through divine decree, is actually quite blasphemous, for you would of necessity have to posit a contingency, which has no place within the divine decree conceptual framework. It would also imply that something happened contrary to what God wanted to happen, which, according to your philosophy, is completely impossible.

    How could something that God clearly 1. desires to occur and 2. causes to occur be contrary to God's revealed word? The very revelation of God's word and the sinful actions which it supposedly denounces are precipitated and actuated by the very same divine decree and will.

    We might ask you where was God in your Father-rapes-little-daughter scenario? Did He know this was going to happen?

    Presumably, although most likely not in the same way that a human would 'know' something was going to happen.

    Could He have prevented it?

    Seeing as God is the sustainer and creator of existence, God certainly could have.

    Has He ever prevented such matters in then past?

    Perhaps

    If so, why not this case?

    Seeing as I do not have access to the mind of God, such a question is unanswerable.

    Did He know that when He allowed man freedom of choice that these things would happen? If so, why then go down that road?

    Since God is the source of all 'knowledge', presumably God would 'know' that such and such could occur. Again, God's epistemological perception of reality is radically different than ours.

    The only difference between Calvinists and you (assuming that you take the alternative view to Calvinism, within the Evangelical fold) is that the Calvinist draws his lines very clearly in the sand and takes the stick.

    No, I really don't consider myself to take the alternative view. I agree that the two are similar.

    You prefer the fuzzy kind and find it easier to ask questions than answer them.

    Such are the vagrancies of human knowing.

    You have yet to explain yourself who exactly is in control of this universe. Is God in total control or is it being currently shared with Another - some evil force that can keep God at bay while he/it goes on the rampage while God looks on?

    Your perception of how God must be in control unfailingly places God on the same ontological level as what is created, i.e., the universe. You seem to think that unless God causally actualizes everything, God doesn't have 'control.'

    God is creator and sustainer of the universe; thus, ultimately everything depends upon God. The movements of a universe that has no self-existence do not have the ability to ontologically influence God, thus, God has no need to have the kind of control over the universe that you predicate of God.

    In fact, your philosophy creates within God the ontological necessity to have power over the universe on the same ontological level as the created order. Such a necessity, borne out of the eternal divine decree, essentially necessitates the existence of the universe so that God can attain to ontological reality, which seems like outright pantheism.

    Evil isn't a force, nor is liable to God's control, by virtue of it's non-being. Therefore I don't see how evil, as non-being, can go on a universal rampage.

    Your philosophy necessitates ontological reality for evil, making it substantive. If it is substantive, it must either have been created by God (curious, since God called what God created 'good') or eternal, presumably as part of God, unless one wants to posit a Manichean dualism.

    Calvinists do not exalt God's power over His other attributes of justice, love etc.,

    I wouldn't say that they do- Rather, the conclusion is that they are all wrapped up in the same divine decree.

    However, often the battle rages over the extent of God's power and you cannot run away from it.

    Yet if God's power is inescapable, in the sense that God actualizes everything that comes to pass, then the very 'battle that rages over the extent of God's power' is precipitated by God's 'power.'

    So I ask again: Is God sharing His sovereignty with another force, agreeing not to interfere with his/its allotted territory?

    I have already answered this. God isn't on the same ontological level as any other 'force', therefore to speak of allotted territory and interference is nonsensical.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 7/31/2007 10:27 PM  

  • DM:

    To what did God deliver up His own Son and not spare Him in Romans 8:32? I answer: The suffering of the Cross, ensuring the shedding of blood, without which there is no remission. How could God so deliver Him up, except there be all the things either in place or certain to be in place to so deliver Him? Although none could force Christ upon the Cross, against His will, yet neither was He going to beat Himself up or nail Himself to the tree. Therefore the Son of Man went (willingly) as it was written of Him i.e. it was written that He would be betrayed etc., scourged, mocked, crucified etc.,

    You seem to have God ordaining but the end and not the means thereto. Which leaves the accomplishment of those means to mere chance. Again should any argue (I'm not saying that you are, but wording like this for sake of argument) that God foresaw the wicked heart of Judas and the weakness of Pilate and the envy of the Jews etc., then even this foreknowledge made the event certain, because you can't foresee an uncertainty.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/01/2007 8:45 AM  

  • goodnight-

    How could God so deliver Him up, except there be all the things either in place or certain to be in place to so deliver Him?

    With this question, and by categorically placing God on the same causal and ontological level as that which is created, you have essentially made God's will and ordination dependent upon that which is created. By doing so, this introduces into the ontology of God the 'need' for that which occurs phenomenologically and therefore that which is created.

    Although none could force Christ upon the Cross, against His will, yet neither was He going to beat Himself up or nail Himself to the tree.

    I fail to see how you can, with fidelity to the presuppositions you have already advanced, maintain this assertion, since what precipitates the need for Christ's sacrifice upon the cross and the times and circumstances and actualities of such find their impetus and actualization in God's eternal will.

    Since God willed, ordained, and actualized the hands that drove the nails, the lips that mocked and the thoughts and motives which led to such, and since these can only attain to actuality through the will and ordination of God, God in fact could be the only party capable of bringing about such an act.

    Therefore the Son of Man went (willingly) as it was written of Him i.e. it was written that He would be betrayed etc., scourged, mocked, crucified etc.,

    I also don't see how you could reasonably maintain this either. If all of this is compelled, actualized, and ordained by the will of God, then Christ's going to the cross is as wrapped up within and essential to that divine decree as someone picking their nose or wiping after going to the bathroom.

    You seem to have God ordaining but the end and not the means thereto.

    If by 'ordain' you mean the sheer causality that you advocate, I would disagree.

    Which leaves the accomplishment of those means to mere chance.

    Chance isn't properly an ontological category, nor is it a force, so I don't see how that's a reasonable critique.

    Again should any argue (I'm not saying that you are, but wording like this for sake of argument) that God foresaw the wicked heart of Judas and the weakness of Pilate and the envy of the Jews etc., then even this foreknowledge made the event certain, because you can't foresee an uncertainty.

    I would agree with this critique, if God were on the same ontological and epistemological level as humans. However, given the presupposition that God transcends the finitude of our means of knowing, I see no reason to automatically assume a causal link between foreknowledge and the actualization of a certain reality.

    To even speak of God having foreknowledge is a misnomer, because to know something 'before' assumes the location of one's means of knowing within a linear continuum of time. The presumption of theism is generally that God isn't of necessity located within such a construct.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 8/04/2007 11:42 AM  

  • DM

    You speak as if God had not revealed Hismelf to us in the manner that He did. Indeed, I dare say that you sound more agnostic than Christian.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/04/2007 1:02 PM  

  • goodnight-

    You speak as if God had not revealed Hismelf to us in the manner that He did.

    Why would you say this? I don't see that I have either said or implied this anywhere in what I have said.

    Indeed, I dare say that you sound more agnostic than Christian.

    Well, that may very well be your opinion of how I 'sound', but I fail to see how such a characterization is relevant or even begins to deal with the things we've been speaking about.

    How exactly do I need to speak to sound 'Christian' to you?

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 8/04/2007 8:51 PM  

  • wow rose...I wish i could get the kind of web traffic you do. 50+ comments. Nicely done.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 8/05/2007 12:04 PM  

  • DM

    You have sat this whole discussion constantly knocking down points made (I've no problem with that as that's the way it is in such debates) but you have failed to replace those points with anything positive of substance.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/06/2007 9:08 AM  

  • Hey Rose! Hard to believe summer's almost over!

    DM, I really appreciated your posts on this thread. Lot's of good stuff I'm saving for future reference. Thanks for your time and effort.

    By Anonymous Mary, at 8/06/2007 3:04 PM  

  • goodnight-

    You have sat this whole discussion constantly knocking down points made (I've no problem with that as that's the way it is in such debates)

    Then why bring it up?

    but you have failed to replace those points with anything positive of substance.

    Which points would you like me to replace with something positive of substance?

    I have tried to answer your questions and rebuttals, so I don't quite know what you're looking for.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 8/06/2007 7:31 PM  

  • mary-

    DM, I really appreciated your posts on this thread. Lot's of good stuff I'm saving for future reference. Thanks for your time and effort.

    Thanks! :-)

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 8/06/2007 7:32 PM  

  • DM said: Which points would you like me to replace with something positive of substance? I have tried to answer your questions and rebuttals, so I don't quite know what you're looking for.

    Come on! Away back in my first reply to you, (28th July)I listed some alternatives to my views on the incest scenario which you raised and asked which of these did you consider the true answer. Both Rose and VA~Susan pressed for an answer, and yet all we effectively got was: "None of the above"

    What then is the alternative? In positive and easy to understand language, please. I don't blogs are the place for long drawn out debates, especially when there are so many of them and subjects tend to move on.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/07/2007 3:55 AM  

  • Come on! Away back in my first reply to you, (28th July)I listed some alternatives to my views on the incest scenario which you raised and asked which of these did you consider the true answer. Both Rose and VA~Susan pressed for an answer, and yet all we effectively got was: "None of the above"

    If you are going to ask a multiple choice question, you should expect a multiple choice answer.

    What then is the alternative? In positive and easy to understand language, please.

    I fail to see how either 'positive' or 'easy to understand' should be the criteria for this discussion, since theology, as it attempts to describe the ineffable, necessarily employs the negative and necessarily makes use of terminology and modes of description that are specifically tailored to it use.

    However, that notwithstanding, I believe I have already advanced alternatives.

    In response to this very question I said earlier:

    "As Rose's post notes, the way in which love and goodness is possible is freedom from the over-power brokering you seem to advocate respective of God."

    I have also posited some positive aspects of God, such as God being the creator and sustainer of all things. That presupposes the impossibility of God being subject, ontologically, to potentiality. This also precludes the necessity of God to exert over-power upon creation.

    I have also posited some positive aspects of humanity, such as love. Implied within the ability to love is both the positive aspect of freedom to choose to love or not to love as well as the negative aspect of freedom from over-power. (The latter is really a misnomer, since it is only able to be spoken of in relation to those who predicate over-power of God.)

    You may dislike the negative language, but it is crucial. I have spoken of sin in negative language, because it is really the only way in which to speak of something that doesn't have ontological existence. Thus, as I have already said, it's not properly subject to God's control, and thus one cannot posit anything positive of it in relation to God.

    As for an explanation, the most crucial explanation is that, in the case of the scenario I advanced, the man exerted over-power against the girl, the act in all it's stages and fruition being completely antithetical to the eternal will of God. Thus, the responsibility is his alone, since it was neither willed nor ordained by God, since sin, as being a privation of good, is not able to be ordained or actualized by God.

    As to why God would allow such to happen: the answer is ultimately an impossible one, since an answer would presuppose access to the mind of God. Arguing from an anthropological perspective- which would seem to be justified to some extent upon the reality of the Incarnation- love is only possible in the reality of freedom, and with that freedom comes the possibility, so to speak, of evil. But only within that love, presumably, is existence real and meaningful, since love is the very nature of God.

    The real answer to this question is found in the cross, where God takes upon Godself the brutal effects of sin in all its ugliness and fury, where God bears the brunt of our rebellion and truly suffers alongside us all. The hope of the resurrection is that God is in the process of making all things new, and that though we continue to suffer, all things will be reconciled to God eventually.

    There is also the aspect that a part of the healing of our race is found within the very race itself- thus, we are to be God's ambassadors to the world and a part of its healing. That happens through the freedom we are given by God, and as we choose to love, as we choose to be a part of the kingdom of God, we manifest it in the world.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 8/08/2007 8:52 AM  

  • DM says in his last post re: sin: it's not properly subject to God's control, and thus one cannot posit anything positive of it in relation to God.

    Any one else out there happy with this statement that sin is outside God's control?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/08/2007 1:24 PM  

  • goodnight-

    Any one else out there happy with this statement that sin is outside God's control?

    I didn't say that sin is outside of God's control- I said it isn't properly subject to God's control.

    And this isn't mere semantic acrobatics- to be 'outside' of God's control would imply that something has ontological actuality, yet exists independent of God's creating/sustaining power., which is a conception of sin that is essentially Manichean.

    However, to not be properly subject to God's control is predicated upon the lack of ontological actuality that is inherent to sin, so to speak. Thus, since sin isn't being- or, to put it another way, doesn't have existence- it's not liable to God's creating and sustaining power.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 8/09/2007 7:37 AM  

  • DM

    You would need to define what you mean by not properly subject although whatever way you look at it, where it is not properly subject is where it is outside God's control.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/09/2007 11:34 AM  

  • goodnight-

    You would need to define what you mean by not properly subject

    I am pretty sure I already have. Twice. Sin, lacking existence, is no more subject to God's control than a pink magical pendragon. Thus, it cannot be 'outside' of God's control because it doesn't exist. Is that definitive enough?

    although whatever way you look at it, where it is not properly subject is where it is outside God's control.

    If by 'outside God's control' you mean things that have no ontological reality, I completely agree. However, the connotation of 'outside' implies that sin exists likes anything else that exists, and is subject to God's creative and sustaining power. Since I disagree that sin exists, to speak of it as outside of God's control or power is a misnomer.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 8/09/2007 3:41 PM  

  • DM

    Your statement that "sin does not exist" is so ludicrous, that I think I am wasting my time taking this conversation any further with you. Try telling that to the little girl in the scenario you raise earlier.

    Adieu

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/09/2007 4:38 PM  

  • Your statement that "sin does not exist" is so ludicrous, that I think I am wasting my time taking this conversation any further with you.

    Why is it ludicrous? Do you believe sin to be a substantive force or entity?

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at 8/09/2007 11:10 PM  

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