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

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Question for Consideration

A regular visitor to this blog, Colin Maxwell (aka "goodnightsafehome") has asked that we consider this question:

"Yes or No – Answer first and then qualify afterwards, Could Pilate have said “No” to the Jews’ demand to have Christ crucified and let Him go?"
He asked it before when discussing Calvinism with another visitor and, perhaps because it seemed like a rabbit trail, it was not taken up.

After thinking about it and seeing some of the passages that actually pertain to this question, I think it is worth the time to discuss, so please - share your thoughts in the comment section. Thanks!

146 Comments:

  • Hi Rose,

    I appreciate you taking up the subject here. Perhaps we could keep this debate strictly to Scripture alone without any outward reference to theological systems etc., of whatever hue. Then maybe we can avoid rabbit trails etc.,

    Regards,

    P/s For the record, I hold that although Pilate is to be condemned for his great sense of injustice towards the Son of God whom he was convinced had done no wrong (having said so a number of times) yet he still came together with Herod "For to do whatsoever [God's] hand and [God's] counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 4:27-28) (Pilate is specifically named in Acts 4:27)and therefore the occasion was unavoidable. Had Pilate let Jesus go, then our Passover Lamb sacrficied for us (1 Corinthians 5:7) would not have been so and we would still be in our sins.

    The issue here is how do we explain how a Holy God can ordain sinful acts to take place (in this case, Pilate breaking every law of justice by ordering the crucifixion of the Innocent)and yet be Himself without sin and still hold the instrument used (in this case: Pilate)to be guilty.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/18/2008 9:26 AM  

  • Yes.
    But Christ would have been crucified anyways because it was God's plan. Someone else would have been the one to do the actual sin of condemning the son of God.

    Either way, God knew it would be the way it was.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/18/2008 9:29 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Was the Cross foreseen by God and thus became (as a kind of afterthought)the instrument of our redemption or was the Cross ordained of God (as a kind of first thought)to become the instrument of our salvation?

    On what did God's plan (as you rightly call it) depend? Did it depend on anything?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/18/2008 9:45 AM  

  • Yes, I think he could have, but the likelihood was very slim. Jesus offered no defense, politically Pilate was bound to maintain order and carry out both Jewish and Roman Law. I believe Pilate's ability to choose was manipulated by the chief priests and elders, not by God.

    By Blogger Missy, at 8/18/2008 11:40 AM  

  • Hi Missy,

    So what would have been the consequences for us i.e. our Redemption if Pilate had've face down the agitating Jews?

    How do you square Pilate's actions with Acts 4:28 which is very specific that, along with Herod, he came to do whatsoever [God's] hand and [God's] counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 4:27-28)

    I agree with you that he was manipulated by the Jews who took advantage of his ambition to remain Ceasar's friend. I would not word it that he was manipulated by God but I do not see that fatal day ever being allowed to pass without God's Son hanging on the Cross for our sins.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/18/2008 11:47 AM  

  • Possibly.

    Whatever happened, Christ would have been crucified as this was God's plan.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at 8/18/2008 1:30 PM  

  • Pilate tried to say, "No," But the Jewish leaders would have none of it.

    In a very real sense Pilate could have said "No," but had to say "Yes."

    Thus was satisfied both the Jews need to execute one they saw as a blasphemer, and God's requirement for the payment for sin.

    By Blogger Joe, at 8/18/2008 2:07 PM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    I would contend that not only was it God's plan to crucify Christ i.e. God delivered Him up for us (Romans 8:32) but that it was God's plan to deliver Him up on that very day and exactly in that very manner. Again, the participants came together to do whatsoever [God's] hand and [God's] counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 4:27-28) Had Pilate faced down the Jews who for envy had delivered Him, then where did this leave (say) the betrayal of Judas which was foretold in Psalm 109 and covered by the all embracing observation that the Son of Man indeed goeth as it is written of Him? (Mark 14:21)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/18/2008 2:10 PM  

  • Colin,

    I'm sure only God knows what other options were available for our redemption, but the slaughter of Christ is what we chose.

    First let me say that I am of the persuasion that there was more than one possibility in every stage of the scenario. I see repentence preached in all things.

    I think (based on other translations of Acts 4:28) that God allowed the scenario to play out the way it did similar to how God allowed the scenario with Job to play out.

    Second, sin has a predictable course that can only be broken by repentence. God knows the human heart far beyond my ability, and I can even predict the course of a sin for many years, if not generations. But repentence is always a possibility. Sin and repentence is the underlying theme of scripture, and I cannot ignore this backdrop.

    Finally, I think God can allow for two things to be possible and still know that only one (duh!) will occur. There is no need for hope nor would there be any instance of hope if an allowance of that sort is never possible.

    On the otherhand...

    these are my philosophical opinions, as I find no definitive scripture against them. And seeing that there are no definitive scripture against the possibility, I do concede that Pilate could very well of had no choice. God clearly requested men to kill throughout scripture - so how could this action be sinful if it was the will of God?

    Yes, both possibilities exist. I find it more consistent with the story God tells me in scripture that repentence is always possible.

    Missy
    (sorry I keep flip-flopping ID's!)

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/18/2008 3:54 PM  

  • Hi Missy,

    I think we need to avoid the idea that God latched on to something here and used it to bring about redemption through the Blood. This is the thrust of my querying Rose in her views.

    However, it is good that we are seeking to get to the bottom (if that is do-able) of these things.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/18/2008 4:31 PM  

  • Colin, I don't understand your rebuke. I certainly did not present the idea you are anticipating, but why should I avoid "the idea that God latched on to something here and used it to bring about redemption through the Blood"?

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/18/2008 7:14 PM  

  • Let me add this perspective. At one point, only God existed in eternity. God, in all eternity, knew what he was going to create along with all the ramifications of it. God's knowledge was complete, perfect, and good -- because God is complete, perfect, and good. Because God's knowledge was complete and perfect, he did not at any point say, I wonder what will happen if..., then muse and ruminate over it, then think, hmmm, how about if I do this..., then ruminate over that.

    God, being perfect and omnipotent, also had perfectly set his thoughts and plans from all eternity. There are many alternative ways in which God could have planned everything -- but God had perfectly arranged in his mind all that will be.

    So, before the foundation of the world, God had arranged in his mind -- to use an anthropomorphic analogy -- that Adam would fall, that sin would enter the world, that Christ would be arrested, that Peter would deny Christ, that the disciples would flee Christ, that Pilate would pronounce the death sentence on Christ and have him crucified.

    These are logical necessities of a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent God. No matter how you dice it and slice it, I don't see how you can get around it, unless you deny some basic feature of the classically known attributes of God.

    In the past, various theologians have tried to get around the problem -- including Molinism and "Middle Knowledge" -- but that is a theory that the Bible is silent about and really ends up with a predetermined universe anyway.

    Others have tried to say that God chooses people who will choose God. However, that is a linguistic convenience -- because God from all eternity had arranged his thoughts so that, by logical necessity, determined who will choose him.

    A Calvinist at this point will say that we have no theory of why God chooses, other than in one sense it pleased him (using an anthropomorphic analogy) in his perfect and good will to have things happen this way and that God does things for his glory and the good of his people. Does this mean that God takes delight in punishing people? No. Understanding God requires much more subtle and nuanced thinking than trying to force extremes out these logical results in understanding God.

    Asking the question, could Pilate have done anything other than what God had planned? The question actually has multiple senses to it, which makes it an ambiguous question. This is part of the problem with arguments in theology -- people are not precise in what they say AND there is a point where our reasoning cannot take us further.

    The question, could Pilate have done anything other than what God had planned? has at least these possible meanings:

    (1) Logically speaking, could Pilate have done anything else other than what God had in his mind about Pilate from all eternity?

    (2) Physically and emotionally, was there anything that was preventing Pilate from acquitting Christ?

    (3) In Pilate's spiritual condition, was Pilate able to do the right thing?

    The answer to (1) is no. This follows from God's omniscience and omnipotence in arranging all things so that the answer follows just as you prove a theorem in geometry.

    The answer to (2) is no. There is nothing in Pilate's physical nature and condition that made him condemn Christ. Pilate was under pressure from the leaders and people around him, but Pilate was not coerced in some ultimate sense. He was free to do as he wished.

    The answer to (3) is no. Pilate was in enmity and rebellion against God. As Romans 3 points out, this is the natural condition of all human kind. This, along with the freedom of coercion, makes all of us guilty before God -- and all of us deserve death. God is not required to intervene to save us from our rebellion -- precisely because we deserve it. This part is hard to understand in today's society, because we don't really believe we all deserve death. We think God owes us a chance -- but if we think in any way like this, then we are saying we don't deserve death.

    God was not required to step in an apply grace to Pilate -- just as God was not required to apply grace to your life. You deserve death. That means God did not have to send Jesus to die for you whatsoever.

    But blessed are you that you do see, that Jesus did die for you. To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God. Rejoice and marvel at God being for you and rescuing you -- when you did not deserve it at all.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/18/2008 8:11 PM  

  • ...my apologies -- Hi Rose.

    Thank you for asking the question in this way. I think you'll get a lot of interesting discussion.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/18/2008 8:25 PM  

  • Good morning Rose/Missy/Earl:

    Missy: No rebuke intended at all. If God latched unto something (say, by His mere foreknowledge) and decided to hang our salvation on it, then our salvation is effectively an afterthought with God.

    Besides,to foresee something happening means that it is bound to happen. You cannot foresee an uncertainty. (Not that I am accusing you of this, but just an observation.)

    Earl: I tend you agree with you, although maybe we should keep it Scriptural with proof texts as opposed to theological with references to various doctrinal positions. The question above was rescued from a comment section that got bogged down in the customary wars between doctrinal positions which tend to detract from serious Scriptural study.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/19/2008 3:53 AM  

  • Hi sis. I think this is a very interesting discussion.

    To answer first, as requested, I would have to say, “yes”, but to qualify; he could only have done otherwise with God. With God all things are possible (Mat. 19:26) but being apart from God in Christ we have neither the option nor the power to avoid sin (John 8:44). Had Pilot obeyed the Gospel he would not have been bound to sin and cold have set Christ free(2 Co. 3:17), but neither this nor any other difference in circumstance could have thwarted God’s plan and purpose in Christ (Eph. 1:10).

    I will happily honor Colin's request to avoid any logical argument. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/19/2008 5:20 AM  

  • Colin,

    God has all knowledge - not just "mere foreknowledge." In my opinion, it is inconceivable for God to have an "afterthought." If God uses that to carry through with His will, who am I to decide that is beneath Him? Where, scripturally, does it say that I cannot consider this?

    Just because something is foreseen and therefore bound to happen does not mean it does not happen of choice.

    If man's will is never separate of God's desire - what is it we are saved from?

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/19/2008 7:32 AM  

  • Hi Missy,

    I agree with you that it is inconceivable for God to have an afterthought (and also that God has all knowledge) – which would, of course, render such exercises as considering otherwise somewhat futile.

    Pilate was determined to let Jesus go (Acts 3:13) but caved in to the demands of the Jews. I would agree that he willingly did so – preferring his relationship to Caesar of higher value than his obligations to justice and equity. Therefore, we rightly hold Pilate to be guilty and accountable for his sin. He willing agreed to do what had been determined before hand in the sovereign counsel of God would be done.

    On the matter of God’s desire, we come into the deeper waters of whether it is God’s desire in the sense of His precepts or of His counsels. What appears to be two matters with us is, of course, one with Him, but we see on one hand that He says: “Thou shalt not kill” (His precept) but sees this command violated everyday. OTOH: He decreed that His Son would hang on the Cross of shame on the very day Pilate abandoned Him to the Jews, and this was done as had been always intended, without any shadow of doubt whatsoever.

    In all things, we are saved from the bondage of sin which can offer us nothing but heartache and misery and death. OTOH: We are delivered to pleasing God by seeking to do what He has conmmanded us to do.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/19/2008 7:54 AM  

  • Avoiding a misunderstanding:

    Opening paragraph should read:

    I agree with you that it is inconceivable for God to have an afterthought (and I also agree with you that God has all knowledge) – which would, of course, render such exercises as considering otherwise somewhat futile.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/19/2008 9:06 AM  

  • Hi Colin,

    Thanks for the wise counsel. Just a comment on some of the approach. I should have left out all references to other systems, such as Calvinism and Molinism. But in the general discussion, I am curious about what people reject from the classical view of God held by Roman Catholics and classic Protestants. This can serve as a pointer where further scriptural analysis needs to be applied. If people hold to the classical attributes of God, then the discussion can be focused in other areas.

    Also, I hope that the comment not to use logical arguments by another was simply tongue-in-cheek. If we don't use logic, then anything goes. God is good, God is bad, God is omniscient, God is not omniscient, etc.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/19/2008 9:11 AM  

  • Colin,

    I say it is inconceivable for God to have an afterthought because He is the I AM - not the "I WAS" or "I WILL BE" - in this way, I also find it inconceivable for God to have a "beforethought."

    Why do you find it inconceivable for God to have an afterthought?

    You said:

    "Pilate was determined to let Jesus go (Acts 3:13) but caved in to the demands of the Jews. I would agree that he willingly did so – preferring his relationship to Caesar of higher value than his obligations to justice and equity. Therefore, we rightly hold Pilate to be guilty and accountable for his sin. He willing agreed to do what had been determined before hand in the sovereign counsel of God would be done."

    You assume Pilate was willing. If Pilate was unable to say, "No" is it possible it was unwillingly? Why or why not?

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/19/2008 10:25 AM  

  • Missy,

    I agree with you again that the Eternal God – the I AM THAT I AM – cannot have a before or an after thought. I have no other reason to put forth rather than this.

    I assume Pilate was willing, (or rather became willing)because the Bible links the decision to hand him over to the baying crowd to the desire to remain a friend of Caesar (John 19:12-13) It is clear from the various accounts that Pilate thought Christ to be innocent and sought ways to ward off the death sentence. He was therefore unwilling nin that sense. The issue was not of Pilate’s immediate choosing. He did not go looking for trouble. Peter in Acts 3 even tells us that Pilate was determined to let Him go once the trouble came to his door. But when he saw that rather a tumult would be made, (Matthew 27:24) then to avoid trouble with Caesar, he freely decided against his conscience that he should cave into the Jews. I do not see how we can argue otherwise from the Bible.

    Your question is a good one to ask in this debate i.e. If Pilate was unable to say, "No" is it possible it was unwillingly? because it deals with the issue of God’s will and man’s will. I hold that Pilate sinned, even despite his attempts to shift the blame unto the Jews and deny his own guilt. I do not believe that God lured Pilate into sin, but left him to his own devices, yet doing so in such a way as to see that His will would be infallibly carried out. Sometimes God intervened to prevent the early death of Christ. We read of Christ simply walking through a murderous crowd because His hour had not yet come - there was evidently a restraining of man’s will on those occasions. Here, the opposite is allowed to happen. Pilate caved in to the demand of the Jews, even despite his own misgivings and determination, because God withdrew from him any moral strength that hitherto he had been given. Sin that had been hitherto restrained in Pilate’s heart reigned again and Pilate was its willing slave. Therefore we hold Pilate guilty for his wickedness, while observing how God used it for His own glory.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/19/2008 10:52 AM  

  • Colin, you do realize what you have written in that last paragraph requires quite a bit of timely afterthought from God? :)

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/19/2008 11:18 AM  

  • I don't see how, Missy.

    I go back again to Pilate doing whatsoever [God's] hand and [God's] counsel determined before to be done"

    Interpet the last paragraph in light of the first paragraph. What God does, He has always determined to do so.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/19/2008 11:26 AM  

  • Colin,
    Sorry it took me so long to get back to your question.

    "On what did God's plan (as you rightly call it) depend?" You ask.

    God allowed the frailties of Pilate's humanity to bring about Christ's death. Can I say then that God's plan depended on Pilate's sin? Or would we rather say that God's plan was Pilate's sin? (or vice versa - which is what I think you are saying.)

    Colin,
    Is man's sin ever separate from God's desire?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/19/2008 11:36 AM  

  • Colin, I find it inconsistent to beleive that 1) God has determined all to be so with 2) God pulling strings throughout the event to make it be so. On the one hand you say that I should avoid making it appear as though Christ was an afterthought and yet you present the manipulation of the timing of the will of men as an afterthought to the event. I say an afterthought does not exist - you say an afterthought exists in the one but not the other.

    My belief is that the only one required to walk in God's will at that moment (or any moment for that matter) was Jesus and all that He did, in accordance with God's will, accomplished the task. In my opinion, it is man's will that is the afterthought - insignificant to the one who walks whole in unity with God's will.

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/19/2008 11:36 AM  

  • Hi Sis.

    Earl wrote:

    “Also, I hope that the comment not to use logical arguments by another was simply tongue-in-cheek.”

    ;-)

    Colin actually requested we avoid using “theological” arguments. I reduced the term to “logical” as I don’t perceive that the answer to this question has any real theological implication but rather addresses the philosophical concept of potentiality.

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/19/2008 11:42 AM  

  • Missy,
    Thanks for your very thoughtful contributions here.

    Earl,
    I also appreciate yours. I saved your comment to read until this morning. I find Molinism quite compelling. But we won't get into all of that here. ;~)

    Matthew,
    I agree.

    Joe,

    In a very real sense Pilate could have said "No," but had to say "Yes."
    That is so JOE! I like it.

    KC,
    Welcome!!! (Red carpet rolling out) I am so glad to see you on lthis blog. I hope everything is well with you. I like your answer too.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/19/2008 12:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    If we are prepared to say that God’s plan was that Pilate would willingly sin, then we must qualify it by denying that God has any sinful desire in the matter and also by establishing that Pilate was guilty. I feel that Acts 4:27-28 with special reference to God’s predetermine counsel and hand is a pretty strong verse.

    Re: God’s desire and sin. We know that He willingly allowed circumstances to come about that enabled sin to enter into the world in the first place when that could have been prevented.

    Is the thought of the Cross being an afterthought with God being a “No-no” with you also?

    Missy: Even if we reduce things down to a bare permission, yet such still is given with the full knowledge that it will lead to sin. I cannot agree with you that only Jesus was required to walk in God’s will at that moment. Acts 2:23 indicts the Jews with wicked hands for their part in the Crucifixion.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/19/2008 12:24 PM  

  • Is there something wrong with the idea that God made people with the ability to decide the evil that they will or won't do and then, having forseen it, work it into His plan?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/19/2008 12:25 PM  

  • Alvin,
    I know you have some good things to add to this! :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/19/2008 12:26 PM  

  • Colin, you say:
    "If we are prepared to say that God’s plan was that Pilate would willingly sin..."

    I can't. God does not tempt any one with evil. How can God, out of the blue of His plan, decide someone will sin... and not be responsible for them doing it? It makes no sense.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/19/2008 12:30 PM  

  • KC, you point out something interesting. The very word "theological argument" means, discussion, thought, words, reasoned, (logical of theological) about God (theo as in theological). In one sense, any discussion attempting to show a point about God using scripture is by definition a theological argument.

    I understand Colin's concern, to start from a theological perspective and then prove your theological point -- that is circular reasoning. Hopefully we aren't doing that.

    Another voice -- strictly speaking, it is logically consistent for God to determine in advance all the things that will happen -- including God's direct action and God's inaction. So what Colin is presenting is logically consistent.

    Rose, you ask: Can I say then that God's plan depended on Pilate's sin? Or would we rather say that God's plan was Pilate's sin? I think the answer is yes :o). These are not mutually logically exclusive positions. I think there is also an asymmetry in God's action. There is a "permission" of God where man is permitted to sin. God's grace, on the other hand, is more of an active rescue of a man in spite of himself and his sin.

    ps -- Molinism as defined by William Lane Craig is something that is possible and fits with the concepts of strong omniscience and omnipotence. There are things I like about it too, and I could go further why I like Dr. Craig's version of it -- but that is another discussion, like you say. :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/19/2008 12:30 PM  

  • Maybe the better question is..

    "Could Adam have said no to the forbidden fruit?"

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 8/19/2008 12:31 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    You ask: Is there something wrong with the idea that God made people with the ability to decide the evil that they will or won't do and then, having foreseen it, work it into His plan? The answer is, that something foreseen is certain to happen because you cannot foresee an uncertainty. There was therefore no chance on that fatal day that Pilate would have told the Jews to “Get lost!” and have ordered in the troops to put down the feared tumult.

    On the matter of God working it into His plan that Pilate would sin which you say that He (God) wouldn’t, then did God plan that Pilate would not let Jesus go and did Pilate go against the plan of God, even though he came together with Herod to do whatsoever [God's] hand and [God's] counsel determined before to be done?" (Acts 4:27-28) I think Acts 4:27-28 is the key verse here. Obviously God’s counsel and hand (denoting His plans and His enabling power) determined this to be done and yet in a way that did not involve God tempting Pilate with sin. Which is why I qualified my statement above which I gave here in full: If we are prepared to say that God’s plan was that Pilate would willingly sin, then we must qualify it by denying that God has any sinful desire in the matter and also by establishing that Pilate was guilty.

    BTW, I’m off for a very busy few days, so I might or might not get back to this debate. However, if it is still going, I’m sure that I’ll get time to read all the comments and make some appropriate comment. Hopefully, someone will tackle Acts 4:27-28 without weakening any of its strong statements.

    Regards,

    P/s I hope your invited guest can keep his comments to the matter at hand.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/19/2008 1:50 PM  

  • I got this in an email. I think it is very good and shows the Scriptural reasons why the answer is "yes."

    Concerning his own crucifixion, Jesus Christ made an interesting statement: "And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!" (Luke 22:22)
    Although Jesus Christ had to be crucified, no one man was ordained to do it. Notice what Jesus Christ said about his betrayer: "Good were it for that man if he had never been born" (Mark 14:21).
    *If Judas had not been born then someone else would have done it.*

    Paul says the same thing about Pilate and Herod: "Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory" (1 Cor 2:8)

    So Pilate and Herod were not sovereignly ordained before the foundation of the world to crucify the Son of God. Pilate, in his "determinate council," wanted to let Christ go: "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go" (Acts 3:13).

    No one is ever foreordained to commit any sin.

    "to make no distinction between evil as opposed to good and sin is to impugn the nature of God. Because God is holy, He not only hates sin, he cannot sin: (Job 34:10; Psa. 5:4; Hab 1:13) (Vance)

    Scripture shows that if Pilate would have known who Jesus was he wouldn't have crucified Him. But it was determined by God to happen. Just like Rebekah, it was determined by God to happen, but God didn't overrule her free will.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/19/2008 2:39 PM  

  • Colin, I think the problem with our use of the word "foreknowledge" is that to us, it is before it happens, but to God, somehow these things all happen at once right before His eyes. There is not a future to God - in a sense - He sees the whole timeline from above. That is why the Bible says that Christ was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. So with that in mind, this statement seems like a dog chasing its tail:
    The answer is, that something foreseen is certain to happen because you cannot foresee an uncertainty.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/19/2008 2:42 PM  

  • Bob,
    That would be a good question to kick around!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/19/2008 2:43 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Less than 10 minutes off our prayer meeting, so a well thought out reply is impossible here! Acts 4:27-28 specifically names Herod and Pilate in the predetermined doing.

    It would be good to tell us what Acts 4:27-28 does mean as opposed to what it doesn't mean.

    I think that Good for that man had he never been born relates to the punishment which Judas partook of. Better never to have been born than to perish in hell forever.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/19/2008 2:52 PM  

  • The reason I brought Adam up was to surface the area of temptation and whether it is reasonable to say that it was possible for Pilate to resist temptation and say no to the crucifiction of Christ. Of course one could say that only the Holy Spirit can enable one to resist temptation.. if that were true then one would have to wonder how unbelievers resist temptation.. and of course they do.

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 8/19/2008 2:53 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/19/2008 3:10 PM  

  • Hi, Rose, I hope all is well with you and your family.

    I certainly don't wish to trivialize what is a stimulating conversation, but I must ask the question: "Does it matter?"

    While our various theological perspectives may cause us to see Pilates actions as either controlled by God, Satan or man, I think we would all agree that the cross was inevitable.

    Again, I don't mean to trivialize the discussion. Am I missing something that would indicate there is a possibility that had Pilate acted differently the outcome would have been different?

    God bless.

    By Anonymous GordonCloud, at 8/19/2008 3:32 PM  

  • Rose: You wrote above: Scripture shows that if Pilate would have known who Jesus was he wouldn't have crucified Him. But it was determined by God to happen. Just like Rebekah, it was determined by God to happen, but God didn't overrule her free will.

    I didn’t get the chance to answer this. It seems a bit strange to say that the matter was determined by God to happen, but that this determination was bounded by Pilate’s freewill which (at least in theory) could have overruled God’s less than solid determination. Is it true then to say that you think it was possible then that Pilate could’ve thwarted the divine plan? Did Pilate have the last say? Did they have equal say?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/19/2008 4:58 PM  

  • Yes, Earl, I agree. Colin's logic is consistent.

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/19/2008 5:40 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Good question. I would say that Pilate's actions were certain, but not necessary. In human terms, an event does not take place because we know of it. Instead we know of it because it takes place. The same principle applies to God's foreknowledge.

    Thomas Ralston wrote that: The truth is, the prediction depends on the foreknowledge, and the foreknowledge on the event itself. The error of the necessitarians on this subject is, they put the effect for the cause, and the cause for the effect. They make the foreknowledge the cause of the event, whereas the event is the cause of the foreknowledge. No event ever took place merely because God foreknew it; on the contrary, the taking place of the event is the cause of his having foreknown it.

    By Blogger Pizza Man, at 8/20/2008 1:08 AM  

  • a ps to Rose, I have a conjecture about Molinism and Calvinism.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/20/2008 2:20 AM  

  • The problem with Thomas Ralston's quote is his mistaken notion of cause and effect. Philosophically, every effect requires a prior cause. God is not an effect. By virtue of his eternity, his asiety, his self-sufficiency, God does not have a cause, neither does his foreknowledge have a cause.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/20/2008 2:24 AM  

  • Rose, you say: No one is ever foreordained to commit any sin. The word ordained is one of the most misunderstood words in theology, particularly when people think of a not to be mentioned group (for the purposes of this discussion ;o).

    God has given humans a free will that is not coerced by anything. God also has arranged his mind from all eternity that logically implies what will come to be. That arrangement is what is properly known as ordaining all that will come to pass. By implication, God has ordained Pilate to condemn Christ, by virtual that we know from history that Pilate did that with the implication that God had known and arranged his mind from eternity that such a thing would happen. But Pilate was not coerced.



    ps, you may be surprised that ordain in Molinism is very similar, if not identical to Calvinism -- but that is a discussion we're not to have here (sorry Colin).

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/20/2008 2:36 AM  

  • Rose you’re too kind. All is well but very busy. ;-)

    Earl, given this understanding what distinction would you make between ”ordination” and ”foreordination”?

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/20/2008 2:52 AM  

  • Hi Rose!

    Colin said:
    It would be good to tell us what Acts 4:27-28 does mean as opposed to what it doesn't mean.

    I think that Good for that man had he never been born relates to the punishment which Judas partook of. Better never to have been born than to perish in hell forever.

    Acts 4: 27 For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.(NASB)

    Hi Colin,

    My tuppence worth.

    What God purposed to occur:

    Acts 3:18 "But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.

    Here a conclusion must be reached that God predetermined that Jesus would suffer, but not that Herod and Pontius Plate would be the instruments of the suffering.

    A parallel is found here:

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)Matthew 26
    24 "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."

    Here there is no requirement that Judas was the one "fingered" for the purpose: there were enough alternative candidiates for that, it could even have been Peter. See:

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;

    An interesting study was done (I'll try to find the link) on why God raised the Medes to punish the Babylonians:

    Isaiah 13:1-22
    3. I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness. 4. The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle. 5. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.

    Medes are "sanctified"?

    17. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

    By Blogger Anton, at 8/20/2008 4:25 AM  

  • Earl, I don't agree with Molinism.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at 8/20/2008 5:08 AM  

  • Matthew -- neither do I, but a lot of people I respect do, some notable Christian philosophers.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/20/2008 7:47 AM  

  • kc,

    what distinction would you make between ”ordination” and ”foreordination”?

    None. Whatever God ordained before the foundation of the world is precisely the same thing he foreordained. And whatever we see that God ordained, by logical inference, God had also foreordained it.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/20/2008 7:53 AM  

  • I don't understand how would-be counterfactuals could be consistent with a libertarian view of free-will.

    I was rather surpised that William Lane Craig did not address this question in his book.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at 8/20/2008 9:19 AM  

  • I have not read the thread, but here is my opinion.........

    Yes and no. Pilate had the free will to let Jesus go, but that will was in bondage to what was best for Pilate. The circumstances came together in such a way that God did not have to intervene directly as a first cause. However, he could and would have had it become necessary.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 8/20/2008 9:52 AM  

  • So, Anton, in Acts 4:27, this prayer is proclaiming and encouraging the believers that the death of Christ was Gods plan even though it seemed to be a conspired ploy by an enemy - that what the enemy did was carry out what God had already decided should happen and that Jesus' death was not the end?

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/20/2008 9:55 AM  

  • Hi Rose
    The answer is yes, because this verse clearly states the fact that if they had known they would not have done it!



    "Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory" (1 Cor 2:8)



    We see that if Pilate would have had the facts he would have made a different decision.



    Why would God want us to know that fact?



    I believe because it shows that God didn’t have to force them to do it, but they did it of their own free-will and are therefore responsible for their actions.



    Just as in salvation every person is responsible for making the right decision, and will not be able to say they didn’t know like Pilate.



    alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at 8/20/2008 10:26 AM  

  • Wayne, suppose a hypnotist causes a person to want do a thing.

    Her will is in bondage. But is she still free?

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at 8/20/2008 1:08 PM  

  • Oh, hello there, Jazzycat.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/20/2008 2:01 PM  

  • I just realized that I have a typo in the title of this post - how lame!! So sorry.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/20/2008 2:03 PM  

  • Hi Rose (and Another Voice)

    God's Word Translatiion Luke 22
    42 "Father, if it is your will, take this cup [of suffering] away from me. However, your will must be done, not mine."

    God accomplishes His Will THROUGH men.

    Think Adam's failure: disobedience

    Think Israel's failure: disobedience

    Think Jesus' success: obedience.

    Think reward: the Resurrection!

    When the woman at the well asked for "living water" why did Jesus ask her to bring her husband? See:

    NASB John 4:
    15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.”16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.”

    By Blogger Anton, at 8/20/2008 4:21 PM  

  • Earl, you said: Philosophically, every effect requires a prior cause.

    What is the cause of evil?

    By Blogger Pizza Man, at 8/20/2008 5:38 PM  

  • Anton,

    "When the woman at the well asked for "living water" why did Jesus ask her to bring her husband?"

    To open a dialogue? Never thought about it before.

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/20/2008 5:39 PM  

  • What is the cause of evil?

    Pizza Man, that is a good question. My first stab at it -- it was caused by Satan, who being created as good, decided to do evil.

    What are your thoughts? I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/21/2008 12:15 AM  

  • I believe because it shows that God didn’t have to force them to do it, but they did it of their own free-will and are therefore responsible for their actions.

    Alvin, along with others, I also agree with your answer. But, as I said earlier, the question has at least three different senses or interpretations:

    (1) Logically speaking, could Pilate have done anything else other than what God had in his mind about Pilate from all eternity?

    (2) Physically and emotionally, could Pilate acquit Christ?

    (3) In Pilate's spiritual condition, was Pilate able to do the right thing?

    Alvin, you answered version (2) of the question. God did not coerce Pilate, and I agree with you. Now here is where it gets difficult for most people. They don't see the other ways this question is being asked. For instance, if we phrase the question if God knew from all eternity that Pilate would condemn Jesus, then is it logically possible for Pilate to do anything other than what God knew in his mind what Pilate would do? When asked that way, the answer is no.

    Do you see the different senses in which this question can be asked and answered? Does anyone else?

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/21/2008 12:30 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Anton, at 8/21/2008 3:09 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Anton, at 8/21/2008 3:10 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Missy said:
    To open a dialogue.


    Hi Missy!

    Correct. As a stepping stone to this:

    NASB John 4
    19The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.

    Which is the same as this:

    NASB John 1
    49 Nathanael answered Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel."

    God desires to teach you how you can be a Child of God and in the Bible many terms are used that mean the same thing:

    turn back to Him, repent, abide, believe, have faith, walk in the Light, eat the bread of life, drink of the living waters...

    they all mean that we acknowledge that we ARE a Child of God. A Child of God has an identity of his/her Father:

    (NASB ©1995) John 14
    10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

    When we identify with our Father, we manifest works:

    NASB Mathew 5
    16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

    This is what is meant by:

    NASB John 4
    14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

    You drink of the water Jesus gives, the people who see the works/words in your life drink of the water that springs from you.

    NASB John 21
    15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs."

    Missy are you feeling like letting your light shine before men today? ;^)

    By Blogger Anton, at 8/21/2008 3:10 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Earl, you asked:

    (1) Logically speaking, could Pilate have done anything else other than what God had in his mind about Pilate from all eternity?

    No, because God saw it happen, and being God is eternal not time bound like us, it was present before Him.

    (2) Physically and emotionally, could Pilate acquit Christ?

    The Scripture clearly says that if he had known who Christ was, he would not have crucified Him.

    (3) In Pilate's spiritual condition, was Pilate able to do the right thing?

    Even Pilate not knowing who Jesus was wanted to let Him go. And Scripture said if he had knew he would have done the right thing, which is a fact.

    "Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory" (1 Cor 2:8)

    What we need to see from this is that God can allow free will and if man sins it has nothing to do with God but all to do with man. Mans sin does not please God, like some have espoused! God is not the first cause of sin, nor tempts anyone to sin. God hates sin,and took it all out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. God could not even look upon His own Son because of sin, when He became sin for the world.
    For some to say it pleased God for Adam to sin is blasphemy!
    God is Holy, and can't even look upon sin.
    alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at 8/21/2008 3:49 AM  

  • Alvin,

    Thanks for analyzing the three distinctions to the original question. How you answer it is very similar to how I approach answering it, particularly with (1) and (2). How I go about answering (1) and (2) a would be a little different -- but for what I want to discuss at this moment, I want to point out the senses of in which we discuss this. The reason I want to point out the senses (the three ways to understand the question) is because the debate on these issues often fails to see those distinctions -- and we end up arguing without regard to those distinctions and we misunderstand what we are saying.

    I am glad you see those distinctions. What I would ask is that you allow us to hold those distinctions too in the discussion. So, I also agree the God does not cause sin -- in great part because God did not coerce anyone to sin (the point brought in the second sense of the question). But Pilate could do no other because of the first sense of the question. You add a bit to the theory (because God foresaw where I would not state a theory) -- but we are in basic agreement on that point. Here is where Calvinists and non-Calvinists (sorry Colin) are in agreement where it is often assumed we do not agree on this.

    What I am asking is careful consideration of what we are saying -- seeing the different senses in which this question is discussed, and granting that each side is a little more rational than often assumed.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/21/2008 8:54 AM  

  • Yes, Anton. Thank you.

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/21/2008 9:57 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Hate to change the subject, but can't let Anton go unchecked.

    Anton,

    Not only are you ecumenical in your thinking but what you said is false:

    God desires to teach you how you can be a Child of God and in the Bible many terms are used that mean the same thing:

    turn back to Him, repent, abide, believe, have faith, walk in the Light, eat the bread of life, drink of the living waters...



    How many times did the women at the well have to drink the living water? At the moment she believed she passed from death to life. She would never thirst again for the living water Jesus gave. And drinking the living water that springs up into eternal life is a gift one can take freely.

    compared to:

    Abiding is conditional, and has to do with bearing fruit, which is discipleship.
    "IF you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
    "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.

    By Blogger alvin, at 8/22/2008 4:34 AM  

  • Hi all,

    If the answer to this question lies in the fact that had the princes of this world known, then they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory (1 Corinthians 2:9) then this leads to another question:

    Why did they not know?

    I think the answer lies in two facts:

    1) Because they did not want to know - it was not for the want of proof on Christ's part - He did so many miracles etc., - and were therefore willingly ignorant.

    2) Had they have known and therefore no crucifixion - then had they have known - no redemption for sinners which is based entirely on Christ our Passover Lamb being sacrificed for us.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/22/2008 10:49 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Colin said:
    1) Because they did not want to know - it was not for the want of proof on Christ's part - He did so many miracles etc., - and were therefore willingly ignorant.

    Hi Colin,

    Judas, Herod and Pilate looked for opportunies to further themselves from their encounter with Jesus based on evidence that the world recognises: power. As long as Jesus manifested power, they were willing to be swayed by His views. Once He displayed what was the principle behind His actions (submitting to God's will), they stopped listening. They believed it would only lead to His death (you and I both know better).

    One may fault Peter for many things, but inspite of incomplete understanding, he stuck it out:

    NASB John 6
    68 Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.

    By Blogger Anton, at 8/22/2008 3:10 PM  

  • Hi Rose

    Alvin said:
    Abiding is conditional, and has to do with bearing fruit, which is discipleship.
    "IF you abide in Me,..."

    Hi Alvin,

    Are you forming your entire argument around the presence of the word "If" in the passage you quoted? If so, then Salvation is conditional too:

    NASB John 4
    10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.

    By Blogger Anton, at 8/22/2008 3:19 PM  

  • Good morning, Rose:

    I am trying to focus in this debate (among other things) on the thought: "What if Christ had not have been crucified?" If we follow some of the views here, then it seems that our salvation was left hanging in the balance.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/23/2008 5:55 AM  

  • Hi Rose



    It’s hard to be the One who orchestrated everything when it never entered your mind.



    Jeremiah 19:3 and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle.
    4 “Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents 5 (they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind),

    By Blogger alvin, at 8/25/2008 10:12 AM  

  • Good morning Alvin:

    Did God not even foresee this happening then?

    IMO: It obviously did come into God's mind - in the sense that He knew that it would happen - but even though it ran against His revealed will (i.e. He did not command or speak it) yet He still allowed to happen, even when He could have prevented it from happening.

    I think we would have agreement on this view (?)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/25/2008 10:27 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Hi Colin,

    Yes I agree!


    But there are those who consider the foreknowledge of God simply the matter of Him seeing what He has already decreed. I found this comment by Vance interesting, and am still processing it.

    If God determined the crucifixion of his Son by a sovereign, eternal decree, with no foreknowledge at all involved (it was unconditional), then we are left with the gastly, draconian thought that God decreed the death of his Son and then created man so he could fall and God could bring about his decree of the crucifixion.(V)

    I believe foreknowledge clearly has to do with us, because God doesn't need foreknowledge to know what is going to happen. God being outside of time, and seeing everything at once. He has allowed man to make choices and be responsible for those choices but still that is within His sovereignty. I believe we can take the sovereignty way to far so we have God being the cause of a pin dropping. I was at work a couple of nights ago, and was walking around a building at night. And thinking what if I come upon two men, of course I would draw my gun. At that very moment a propane cylinder released some pressure right next to me. I must have jumped at least a foot. Then the thought came to my mind "did God do that to scar me?" I just believe there is so much God isn't really concerned about, whether you open a door with your right hand or your left. I just believe that God can be sovereign but yet be much freedom of choice. As Kurt has shown God is grieved by our choices but yet has allowed those choices. The biggest choice we make is whether to listen to God or not. I believe those ones who He knows will listen He can do wondrous things in before they even believe. And still He is not violating their free will because He knows.

    I will leave this at this, going further will only show my great ignorance, if it hasn't already shown...Ha!Ha! God will always do what's right, and in keeping with His character.

    By Blogger alvin, at 8/25/2008 11:23 PM  

  • Alvin,
    I like the tone of that comment very much. Please continue such a tone - it becomes you! :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/26/2008 12:58 PM  

  • Colin,
    You say:
    I am trying to focus in this debate (among other things) on the thought: "What if Christ had not have been crucified?"

    Well, I would say that this is not what I am postulating at all when I answer "yes." I think someone else would have done what Pilate did... if Pilate hadn't done it.
    It is sort of moot, though, becuase God knew it would happen and therefore inspired those prophets to write about it in detail.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/26/2008 1:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I think here that the whole force of Acts 4:27-28 is being seriously weakened. We seem to be moving from what God’s mind and hand determined before to be done, in relation to Pilate and Herod, to a much weaker, “God saw beforehand…” That to me is a watering down of Scripture.

    Maybe we wil ljust have to agree to disagree on this one. (Again)

    :0)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/26/2008 1:13 PM  

  • Hi Sis.

    Colin it seems you interpret these verses to indicate that Herod, Pilate and “the Gentiles” were the ones that were predestined rather than Christ. Do you find no room for an alternative to this interpretation? Regarding Vs. 28 Wesley wrote:

    ”The sense is, but they could do no more than thou wast pleased to permit, according to thy determinate counsel, to save mankind by the sufferings of thy Son. And what was needful for this end, thou didst before determine to permit to be done.”

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/26/2008 2:20 PM  

  • Hi Kc,

    Even Wesley seems to allow that it was determined that Herod and Pilate should be the prosecuting parties in this matter of having Christ crucified. To determine to permit in the long (or short) run means little more than to determine especially when special reference is made both to God’s counsel and hand.

    My focussing in on Herod, Pilate and the Gentiles in this debate does not logically mean that I deny that Christ was predestined to be crucified. Indeed, by arguing for the former’s guaranteed participation, I am ensuring that the latter took place.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/26/2008 2:31 PM  

  • Colin thanks for another opportunity for discussion.

    I would find the difference between ”determine to permit” and ”determine” is predestination.

    If God determined beforehand that these persons would act as they did then they were predestined whereas if He determined to permit them to act as He knew beforehand that they would then they were not predestined but were acting of their own volition. Do you see this distinction?

    I find the reference to the Council of God in Vs. 28 pertaining to Christ. I do not find that God’s will is bound by the actions of men.

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/26/2008 2:58 PM  

  • Hi Kc,

    I see the difference as you put forth but the text in question (Acts 4:27-28) does not allow mere permission, but actively attributes the happening both to the counsel and hand of God. I do not deny the voluntary aspect of what Herod and Pilate did, but neither do I see it left to chance either as to whether or not they would do what they did.

    It is true that God’s will is not bound by the actions of men, but rather that the actions of men are bounded by the will of God. Example: Naaman who could not curse Israel despite his obvious desire to do so. Part of the Redemption story involved Christ being murdered by the very world whom He came to came to save – therefore it was ordained that He should crucified by the leading lights from both the Jewish and Gentile world – and this invariably came to pass as pre-ordained.

    Enjoy chatting you!

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/26/2008 5:15 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/26/2008 5:54 PM  

  • Let me redo this...

    If God determined beforehand that these persons would act as they did then they were predestined whereas if He determined to permit them to act as He knew beforehand that they would then they were not predestined but were acting of their own volition. Do you see this distinction?

    I'll add my perspective. The English language can be sooo imprecise. Sometimes logic can help. There is a notion in logic known as the general condition and the more specific condition.

    Consider the statements:

    (1) God determined to permit them to act as He knew beforehand

    (2) God determined.

    Statement (2) is the more general condition, statement (1) is the more specific condition. This is because statement (1) is a more detailed specification of statement (2). Statement (1) has God's determination which is contained in statement (2), along with the more specific to permit them to act as He knew beforehand.

    The word determine means: "to fix conclusively or authoritatively" (see determine in www.m-c.com, the words "to permit them to act as He knew beforehand" is an addition to determine, but the word still implies "to fix conclusively or authoritatively". You'll notice there are other possible definitions of determine, such as "to find out or come to a decision about by investigation, reasoning" -- but the problem with that sense of the definition is that God needed no finding out, he knew from all eternity. Thus the statement God determined to permit them to act as He knew beforehand implies the simple statement that God predetermined.

    We can reason further another way. Because (1) happened before the foundation of the world, it means by the definition of predetermined, that God predetermined their actions before they existed. There is no temporal sequence in God's foreknowledge, or in his foreordaining -- because God's foreknowledge and purposes are unchanging (otherwise at one point in time there was knowledge about the future that God did not possess -- which would make him not omniscient at that point, which contradicts God's character and being).

    It is possible to logically order God's predeterminations because that is not temporally ordered; logical ordering is true for all eternity. We can say that someone's future activity will imply God's foreknowledge of it and thus imply God's permissive foreordaining. But logical orderings need not be unique, and in most cases they are not unique. Another equally valid logical ordering is that is God's foreordaining necessitates the actions of people in the future.

    So, consider the case: God determined beforehand to permit someone to act as He knew beforehand. This implies the action of someone in the future necessitates God's knowledge of the person's action in the future. But the reverse ordering is also true: God's predetermined knowledge necessitates someone to act in a particular way. When it deals with someone's ultimate destination, then that is predestination.

    In other words, in all cases, God predetermining and God's predetermining to permit all result in predestining.

    Do you follow?

    ps, the other part of the problem is "free will" is undefined in the discusion.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/26/2008 8:42 PM  

  • You know, trying to wrap our minds around an infinite, eternal God is going to strain our brains. There are going to be some things that look rather strange and incomprehensible, which is what you'd expect from God, whose thoughts are above our thoughts.

    How many things in the physical world are really weird? There's Special and General Relativity. That's pretty weird and strange. Then there is Quantum Physics -- that stuff is very strange. If the physical universe is a very strange place (meaning, very surprising and counter intuitive in its features), how much more God, the creator and sustainer of the universe?

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/26/2008 11:34 PM  

  • Hi again Sis. ;-)

    Colin, it’s a blessing for me as always. ;-)

    Aside from predestination would you say Pilot’s actions would have been left to chance or does the scripture allow room that it was his choice? It would seem to me that this interpretation would give real meaning to foreknowledge where predestination requires foreknowledge be equivalent to foreordination.

    Let me try another approach. Would you say that God tempted Pilate or was he drawn away by his own lust?

    Earl please forgive me for not engaging your thoughts at this moment. I consider you a great thinker with a generous spirit and as much as I know I would enjoy discussion with you I’m afraid I lack the time at present to offer a response worthy of your effort. I would very much appreciate another opportunity in the future. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/27/2008 2:26 AM  

  • Good morning Rose (again) Kc/Earl:

    Kc:- I do not believe that God tempted Pilate to sin at all, for (as we both know) God does not tempt any man to sin. That would violate His own holiness and make Him a partaker in a crime against Himself. I believe that Pilate was drawn away in his own lust – as far as Pilate was concerned, his friendship with Caesar could not be compromised and if that meant that Jesus which is called Christ would have to die, then so be it.

    I do not believe that the Cross was left to chance in any shape or form. Neither do I believe that the Cross was an afterthought with God i.e. that God foresaw the events of that fatal day and decided to harness them for His own holy ends i.e. our redemption. Unless you are prepared to go down the afterthought route, then you will start putting in place certain unmoveable and invariable matters which must be played out. To imply that God left it kind of open but would still ensure that someone would do it does not really solve anything. Ultimately, there was either a chance that no one would make the fatal decision or, if there was no chance, then we have an absolute certainty as decreed by God and this lands you into my position with the consequence objections needing to be faced.

    Earl: I appreciate your imput as well. I think the secret here is striking the balance between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. I would like to think that I maintain each in equal measures, although that might come across on these blogs.

    Here! I have work to do :o)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/27/2008 5:35 AM  

  • Rose -- this has been a delightful discussion. Thank you for your hospitality. You set the standard that we all try to aim for.

    Colin -- It is a pleasure to interact with you. I learn from both our public and private conversations. Thank you. You have tremendous insights, as well as a gentle spirit.

    Kurt -- I am blown away by your taking the time to acknowledge what I wrote and that you don't have the time to respond. Your kind words to me were very encouraging. Very few people will do what you do, acknowledge a response that for various reason that cannot respond to at the moment. I can't tell how much respect this gives me for you. You truly exhibit a gracious character even with (or especially with) those whom you disagree with. I have much to learn from you.

    Missy -- Thank you for your patience with me during these various conversations. Your thinking, honesty and graciousness are delightful and very refreshing.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/27/2008 8:11 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Colin said:
    I think the secret here is striking the balance between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. I would like to think that I maintain each in equal measures, although that might come across on these blogs.

    Ummm.... not so fast. Are we saying that the coexistence of concepts like God's sovereignty and Man's freewill comes under the category of mystery, paradox, like the coexistence of one God and Three Persons , maybe even the contradictory states observed in Quantum Physics? Frankly, I'm not convinced that "paradox" is a vaild heuristic category. A better view would be that the state of science does not allow the interpretation of the observed phenomenon. There goes Logical Positivism ( a subset of Aristotlean logic ), right out the window.

    In this instance, conditions for God's sovereignty and Man's freewill to coexist seems to be at askance:

    NASB 2 Timothy 2
    21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

    By Blogger Anton, at 8/27/2008 8:51 AM  

  • Anton,

    I see both God's sovereignty and man's resposibility taught in scripture. I cannot tell you where one meets the other. I just cut the knot and believe both. I know that pragmatism is no great argument, but my posaition really does work just fine for me.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/27/2008 8:59 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Hi Colin, our God is a rational God. More than that, evidence abounds that He desires to communicate. He is after all The Word.

    What sense would it make for Him to communicate contradictions to us?

    Especially information that would contradict this:

    NASB 1 John 4
    8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/27/2008 9:27 AM  

  • Hi Anonymous

    Not a name I like talking to, perhaps you can identify yourself?)


    1) Agreed
    2) None
    3) None again

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/27/2008 9:36 AM  

  • Colin,

    At the risk of getting back into another long chain of debate :) :)

    I believe that Sovereignty is defined as absolute authority. Do you agree?

    Sometimes I hear Sovereignty used to describe absolute control. I do not believe that what God means when he says he is the Sovereign God or Sovereign Lord.

    If that absolute authority is the case (which I believe it is), then it is perfectly harmonious (without paradox) that God is Sovereign (authority) and he gives free-will to man....but man is subject to his authority.

    Your thoughts?

    Kurt

    By Blogger Kurt, at 8/27/2008 11:01 AM  

  • Hi Kurt,

    I would see God’s sovereignty as extending to both absolute authority and absolute control. Obviously, when you say that God gives freewill to man you still have it limited because you finish your sentence with the words, “…but man is subject to his authority.” You are basically (and rightly) denying man the freedom to cast off his subjection to God. Man cannot free himself from subjection to the Commandments and expect to break them without paying the dread price nor decide to forgo the Day of Judgement etc. So we both agree that man’s freedom is limited by God. (I also believe that man’s freedom is further limited – and that by sin. He that commits sin is the servant [bondslave] of sin.)

    If God is not in complete control, then either He has willingly surrendered this up or it has been somewhat violently taken from Him. I doubt if you would run with the second option, but I suspect that you are suggesting the first. If the first, I suggest then that you are still going to maintain that God has not left Himself vulnerable and is still therefore in overall control. Which effectively means that He hasn’t given it up at all.

    When we come to God’s foreknowledge (i.e. God foresees certain events from the standpoint of what is to us the past eternity) we know that God either purposes allows certain things to take place or purposes to forbid them. The classic case is when the Jews were often ready to murder Christ, but they could not because His [appointed] hour had not yet come. Here we have God exercising His absolute control again – denying the freely exercised desires of His creatures in order to maintain the certainty of His own wisely thought out agenda. Yes, they had the “freedom” to forge their plans according to their corrupt desires, but they were subject to God’s control and so were prevented. I assume that you believe that God is still in absolute control?

    Enjoying discussing these things with you.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/27/2008 11:40 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Hi Colin,

    Oooops! The anonymous poster was me. I don't know how it happened: possibly a result of the carpool screaming at me "Enough already!"

    Thanks for your gracious replies. And I understand the compulsion to defend God's Majesty...

    Just that I feel the same way about communicating His great love...

    Blessings.

    By Blogger Anton, at 8/27/2008 3:43 PM  

  • Hi Anton:

    Thanks for your gracious replies. And I understand the compulsion to defend God's Majesty...
    Just that I feel the same way about communicating His great love...


    Let each of us defend and communicate both.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/27/2008 3:47 PM  

  • Hi!

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/27/2008 3:51 PM  

  • (that was so I could be #100)

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/27/2008 3:51 PM  

  • Missy!

    I was actually going to publicly ask where you were when I posted my last post. Only I forgot and I couldn't obviously use the 100th posting myself. But I did think of you. You must've been waiting there for ages, waiting to pounce.

    :0)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/27/2008 3:54 PM  

  • No, it was fate or predetermined by God, whatever floats your boat. {c;

    Thanks for thinking of me, Colin!

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/27/2008 5:05 PM  

  • There, I finally fixed that typo in the title of this post.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/28/2008 9:16 AM  

  • Rose, here is a useless question based on what you did just now :o) -- the fact that you changed it only now, and the fact that God know from all eternity that you would it at this moment, could you have done otherwise? I am going to post an article at my blog at 12:01 AM tomorrow discussing some articles on some academic philosophical research on this question.


    One of the problems of focusing on just the narrow topic of God's foreknowledge is that it is done often without considering all of God's attributes, such as God's love, mercy, grace, justice, holiness, etc. ...

    The problem of focusing on one attribute, such as God's love, is that it is like using a magnifying glass in examining someone's face. The mole or other feature of the face is magnified so big that it distorts the overall picture of the person. So it is when we focus on just one aspect of God.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/28/2008 9:30 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger anton, at 8/28/2008 3:42 PM  

  • Hi Rose

    To all,

    Two questions:

    1) God can create anything. Can God create "love"?

    2) Is there any weakness in my reasoning
    here.

    In THAT thread, I went out on a limb and committed to a view (he made me do it: he's not calling himself a catalyst for nothing!)

    I'm in a cold sweat with some of the implications, as I've submitted on THIS thread that if we cleanse ourself of "these things" we will be "prepared" (predestined) for good works.

    By Blogger anton, at 8/28/2008 3:52 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Thanks for fixing the typo.....now can you go back through all of my comments and fix my typos as well? :)

    Kurt

    By Blogger Kurt, at 8/28/2008 5:31 PM  

  • ...and mine too!
    ...and my sloppy thinking.
    ...and my bad theology.
    ...and the times I griped.

    hmmm, to correct just my typos and mispelingss cawd take yars.

    By Blogger Earl, at 8/28/2008 5:42 PM  

  • Hi Sis.

    Colin please forgive my slow response.

    We agree in this:

    ”Kc:- I do not believe that God tempted Pilate to sin at all, for (as we both know) God does not tempt any man to sin. That would violate His own holiness and make Him a partaker in a crime against Himself. I believe that Pilate was drawn away in his own lust – as far as Pilate was concerned, his friendship with Caesar could not be compromised and if that meant that Jesus which is called Christ would have to die, then so be it.”

    I can also agree in this:

    ”I do not believe that the Cross was left to chance in any shape or form. Neither do I believe that the Cross was an afterthought with God i.e. that God foresaw the events of that fatal day and decided to harness them for His own holy ends i.e. our redemption.”

    It seems where we contend is not in the scripture but in your philosophy. You wrote:

    ”Unless you are prepared to go down the afterthought route, then you will start putting in place certain unmoveable and invariable matters which must be played out.”

    Would you agree that our contention here is centered on the logic of Determinism?

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/29/2008 6:08 AM  

  • Good morning Rose/Kc.,

    I’m unsure as to what you exactly mean re: the logic of Determinism? so I’ll refrain from answering. The word “philosophy” also frightens me. I do not see myself as a philosopher and I am a lot more comfortable discussing/debating these things from the Bible alone.

    We both agree then that the Cross was not left to chance or to being an afterthought with God. Unless I am mistaken , this leaves us with the thought that God thought of the Cross first i.e. redemption through the shedding of His Son’s blood. What came next i.e. having thought up the idea, how did He flesh it out? (Speaking after the manner of men)

    All in your own time!

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/29/2008 7:18 AM  

  • Hi Sis.

    Colin thanks once more for your kindness and patience.

    You previously reasoned that:

    ”Unless you are prepared to go down the afterthought route, then you will start putting in place certain unmoveable and invariable matters which must be played out.”

    My point is that your contention that Pilot could not have said “No” to the Jews’ demand to have Christ crucified and let Him go presupposes that there are ”certain unmoveable and invariable matters which must be played out” (Determinism) because you find that to be the only logical possibility.

    This being the case then the only way we can find agreement is to determine whether Determinism is true. Our debate then does not concern the interpretation of scripture but rather the logic of Determinism.

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/29/2008 8:02 AM  

  • Kc:-

    What would you say is the alternative to “certain unmoveable and invariable matters which must be played out” other than “chance in any shape or form” which we both reject?

    Back to the Cross: What came next i.e. having thought up the idea, how did God flesh it out (speaking after the manner of men) to ensure that His plan would see exact fulfilment as He intended?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/29/2008 8:44 AM  

  • Brother I will have to delve into my theology and philosophy to address those questions. I am happy to do so with you but I must confess that I place little confidence in either as they both tend to change. ;-)

    ”What would you say is the alternative to “certain unmoveable and invariable matters which must be played out” other than “chance in any shape or form” which we both reject?”

    I would say Pilot’s choice and God’s foreknowledge of it.

    ”Back to the Cross: What came next i.e. having thought up the idea, how did God flesh it out (speaking after the manner of men) to ensure that His plan would see exact fulfilment as He intended?”

    Here again I would say that omniscience (foreknowledge) precludes the necessity of any logical considerations but I would not go so far as to equate foreknowledge with foreordination. The fact that God knew beforehand what Pilot would do does not infer that God determined he would do so.

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/29/2008 9:12 AM  

  • Kc:-

    You still have Pilate leading the matter and God playing second fiddle, do you not? Even in the eternal mind, you have Pilate’s action coming before the knowledge. If God could foresee Pilate’s action, then the action (at least in the foreknowledge part) precedes the knowledge of it. (If you follow my gist) On the your basis i.e. that God knew what Pilate would (later) do, God then builds the scenario that would incorporate Pilate’s actions and then ordains that such would be for the salvation of the lost. That is the Cross being an afterthought – something which we both agreed was not the case.

    Furthermore, if there is no certainty attached to the matter, then it was certainly chancy (even when God came to foresee Pilate’s response to the demand of the Jews) whether Pilate would cave in. It was certainly touch and go when God foresaw that Pilate was determined to release Christ (as we read in Acts 3:23) and argued consistently for Christ to be let go. Indeed, it was touch and go the whole way in the foreknowledge of God until Caesar’s name was mentioned –and even then, it could still have gone anyway – but after this, the deed was done and what Pilate had written (or would write) would stand. Even in your argument of the foreknowledge of God it was all so uncertain. There was nothing fixed by the divine decree because you have brought in Pilate first and hinged it all on what God would foresee him doing first.

    I have tried not to overdo anything here, but seek to take your argument to its logical conclusions. As Acts 4:27-28 stands, I still have Pilate (and Herod etc.,) doing what God counsel and hand determined before to be done. Here we have God in the driving seat where He always sits.

    I am enjoying this discussion with you. Thanks for your patience!

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/29/2008 11:41 AM  

  • Kc:-

    Sorry to come at you twice in a row on this, but surely if God always knew that Pilate was going to crucify the Lord Jesus, then Pilate was always going to crucify the Lord Jesus, because you can’t certainly know an uncertainty. If it was not uncertain, then it was certain.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/29/2008 11:51 AM  

  • Earl,
    It wasn't my question! haha - Goodnight asked that I post this question for discussion and I agreed. :~)

    Kurt, in blogger you can't edit comments. It would take me too long anyways! :~)

    KC and Colin, go ahead and continue. I enjoy reading your discussion. Of course, I am always going to agree with KC, whatever he says. (except that one time....)

    Anton,
    I clicked on that link and I could not find what you had said in that forum. Perhaps you could bring your comment over here and just go ahead and post it as a comment.... or email it to me and maybe I will make a post out of it if I think it will bring a good discussion. It sounds interesting from what you said in the comment above. rcole@ambt.net

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/29/2008 12:07 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Of course, I am always going to agree with KC, whatever he says. (except that one time....)

    Well, even Pilate was determined was he not? But it turned otherwise. You're not beyond hope.

    :o)

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/29/2008 12:11 PM  

  • Colin,

    Is there hope for me too? ;-)

    I will try and address each of your points. You know my affection for you so if my comments seem “snippy” it is only because the rhetoric conveys my understanding with some much-needed brevity on my part.

    ”…surely if God always knew that Pilate was going to crucify the Lord Jesus, then Pilate was always going to crucify the Lord Jesus, because you can’t certainly know an uncertainty. If it was not uncertain, then it was certain.”

    If I understand your point here then you are saying you believe that God’s actions are constrained by His omniscience and that even He is predestined and is not free to reorder or set in order anything at anytime. Is this your premise or am I missing your point?

    If this is so then how is it that the law was added (Gal. 3:19)?

    ” As Acts 4:27-28 stands, I still have Pilate (and Herod etc.,) doing what God counsel and hand determined before to be done”

    I suspect our contention is not in the fact that Pilate, Et. Al. did what God had determined would be done but rather in what it was that God determined would be done. IOW it was not Pilate who stood as a slaughterer before the foundation of the world.

    ” There was nothing fixed by the divine decree because you have brought in Pilate first and hinged it all on what God would foresee him doing first”

    I only find the scripture to teach Christ predestined before the foundation of the world with no mention that it was contingent on any particular order or any other prerequisite “certainty”. I do not find that Christ’ sacrifice was contingent upon the actions of Pilate or any other.

    ” You still have Pilate leading the matter and God playing second fiddle, do you not? Even in the eternal mind, you have Pilate’s action coming before the knowledge. If God could foresee Pilate’s action, then the action (at least in the foreknowledge part) precedes the knowledge of it. (If you follow my gist) On the your basis i.e. that God knew what Pilate would (later) do, God then builds the scenario that would incorporate Pilate’s actions and then ordains that such would be for the salvation of the lost. That is the Cross being an afterthought – something which we both agreed was not the case.”

    Here again it seems that you would limit God to His foreknowledge. Colin I have to ask, in your opinion, had Pilate freed Christ would Christ have been crucified?

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/29/2008 1:06 PM  

  • Hi Kc,

    I certainly appreciate the tone of our discussions. I was thinking of how Rose has committed herself (in writing too – Quick! Get the web page saved) to always agreeing with you. If I can convince you then I’ll get two birds with the one stone :o)

    Re: God’s omniscience: God’s actions are constrained by His wisdom and purpose. Consider Job 23:13 where we read: But God is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.

    1) He does whatever He desires
    2) (From other Scripture) His desires are bounded only by His own attributes i.e. He cannot desire anything unwise, unholy etc.,
    3) He is not in two minds about what He desires – bit of one mind
    4) His thoughts cannot be turned away from what He desires
    5) Whatever He desires, He does

    He does not need to change His mind and since His original thoughts are entirely perfect and in total and absolute conformity with His wisdom and holiness etc., then He does not want to change His mind. We only change our minds because of weakness. Either our first decision was weak and needed improvement or our new decision is weak – we have yielded to an inferior suggestion because of some want on our part, be it a lack of wisdom, holiness or power. God is not a man that He should repent (Numbers 23:19) i.e. change His mind. With God, there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)

    Why was the law added? Not because God suddenly thought it up or discovered a better way than before. God’s ways to us may have the appearance of change (which is why the Bible uses the seemingly contradictory expression that “God repented”) but what He does, He had always purposed to do.

    I don’t think that God was dependent upon Pilate in the sense that (say) the somewhat helpless Jews were. God’s sceptre had not departed out of Judea. But God’s purposes are attained through the use of means and part of the means that God ensure that His Son would die on the Cross on that particular day was Pilate’s moral weakness in refusing to face down the Jews.

    Your last question hinges on an effective “if” (or “had”). I am reminded of the comforting words of a good brother of mine in Christ: “There are no “ifs” in the providence of God.” If nothing else, it saves me probably about 3 more paragraphs in my reply here.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/29/2008 1:48 PM  

  • Colin perhaps I should rephrase the question. ”Could” Christ have been crucified if Pilate had freed Him?
    ;-)

    ” Why was the law added? Not because God suddenly thought it up or discovered a better way than before. God’s ways to us may have the appearance of change (which is why the Bible uses the seemingly contradictory expression that “God repented”) but what He does, He had always purposed to do.”

    I could ask a similar question here. If there had been no transgression would the law have been added?

    We do find agreement in this:

    “There are no “ifs” in the providence of God.”

    It would seem we only disagree concerning man and not God. Where I would say there are many ”if’s” that would apply to men I would understand you to say there are none.

    BTW, you do know that you’d always be welcome on our side of the fence, don’t you? ;-)

    (Sis, thanks again for the space.)

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/29/2008 2:37 PM  

  • kc,

    It's getting late here. I hope to continue this discussion in the morning.

    "This will we do, if the Lord permit." (Hebrews 6:3)

    P/s I actually prefer your side of the fence...



    ...from this side of the fence

    :0)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/29/2008 5:07 PM  

  • Rose: Appreciate as ever your hosting of this continued debate.

    Kc: Manward, I think there are many “ifs” for us to consider. In my preaching, I tell sinners: “IF you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, then you will be saved.” Followed up with the same idea only cast into the negative: ”IF you don’t believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, then you will be lost” The sinner is, of course, absolutely responsible and must be encouraged and exhorted Act 17:27 “That they should seek the Lord, IF haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us”

    Let us go back to Pilate. If Pilate had’ve heeded his own wife to have nothing to do with this just man (by which I understand she meant him to draw no crime upon his head by condemning the innocent) and indeed his own conscience (testified to by his washing of hands) then he could not be condemned for the sin of having Christ crucified. Manward, that is a big “if” – as further seen by the tactics of the Jews i.e. the rousing up of an angry multitude and the “silver bullet” argument – “”IF thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend”

    Godward, there was no “if” at all. God ward, providence arranged for everything that took place on that day – and (as agreed) there are no “if’s” in the providence of God.

    Manward, I suppose that had Pilate refused to crucify Jesus, a lynching mob might have done the work if able to beat back the Roman army. But then that would have left things very skewed indeed. For one, it would have been a very exclusively Jewish crime, when Psalm 2 (invoked in our passage in Acts 4:25-28) gives it a universal aspect. To my mind, this magnifies the grace of God that He should give His Son to die for the very world whose hands were stained with the Saviour’s blood.

    I think it still boils down to the first and second fiddle idea again. It appears to me that you have God reacting to what His foreknowledge witnessed taking place. To me this lessens the glory of God and leaves me thanking all the various participants, Judas, Pilate, Pharisees etc., who made it all possible (and, of course, God Himself) without whom my redemption through the Passover Lamb sacrificed for us would not have taken place.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/30/2008 5:54 AM  

  • Colin I am always most blessed when our exchange moves from debate to discussion. ;-)

    I can appreciate your perspective and even agree with most, if not all you wrote. As best as I can determine the thing you find most offensive in my perspective is the implication that God is not sovereign if He reacts to the actions of men.

    I think we would all do well to keep in mind that, in His sovereignty, God does not react but has established boundaries, which we cannot cross. Within these boundaries He determined to set before us choices that we must make and has already determined His actions in either event. If a man will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ then God has already determined to intervene with his fate and give him eternal life but if a man rejects Christ then God has already determined to have no part with him. Here we have only man reacting to God’s sure and unchanging word ”if” only he believes.

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/30/2008 6:43 AM  

  • Kc

    I love these wee fireside chats as well. Are you comfortable? Can I get you another cushion?

    OK – Back to the war on terror :o)

    I agree with your “if’s” in the matter of salvation – at least as far as it appears to us and even comes across in our preaching. I interact with the sinner. I give him the facts of the case and load him up with his responsibility to respond positively to the gospel invitation. I appeal to him to embrace the offered grace. Behind the scenes (as it were) I know that the “if” is largely redundant. There is no “if” as to whether or not, Saul of Tarsus (or even myself, or indeed any of the elect of God ) would believe. There was absolutely no chance of God having an empty heaven, void of any believing sinners. If I read you right, you must declare that there was a chance. Indeed, the more we explore the doctrine of man’s depravity, then the more likely we would have to admit that the chance of great. The heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked etc., - the malignant devil seeking whom he may devour – the strong, almost gravitational pull of the world – the absolute necessity of the new birth with the new heart etc., Therefore, while I will run with the “if you…God will” idea in my witnessing to sinners, yet this is only because this is the part of the overall picture which proves most helpful to them at this time. Obviously the last thing I want to do is load the enquiring sinner down with a ton weight of heavy theology. A driving instructor does not need to lift the bonnet [hood] of the car and explain every last working of a combustion engine to get his pupil safely driving on the road.

    I think your view here has only shown us that God is determined to react. The word react certainly is not redundant. It is not reactionary, perhaps, in the sense whereby He must analyse the next move before knowing what to do next. In this debate, I do not what your next argument may be. I may intelligently guess, drawing from many several previous debates with others, but my reaction will still be strictly conditioned on what you actually say. I must wait and see until then. So it is true that God is not reactionary in that ignorance enforced sense of the word. But it is still reactionary and creature driven, is it not?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/30/2008 7:46 AM  

  • Very cozy indeed, thank you. ;-)

    If you allow I will abstain from discussing election for the moment but we both know we’ll get back to it. ;-) I think your perspective approach (Godward or manward) will prove very helpful in that discussion. We would agree there was no chance for an ”empty heaven” but I would attribute that fact to foreknowledge and not foreordination.

    Regarding the ”cause” for God’s intervention on our behalf I think we would both agree that it is not a reaction to anything we might do or say but only because of His great love.

    It seems at this point that our contention concerns whether or not a man must be saved. I would say this grace is only secured by faith and by no other means. Is it fair to say that you find it is only secured by foreordination?

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/30/2008 8:45 AM  

  • Hi Kc

    I think it is more accurate to say that salvation is

    [i] Sourced entirely in the free grace of God without human contribution of any kind
    [ii] Secured (OK forget alliteration: Appropriated) by faith

    Yes, we have agreement here, but then I source faith itself in the grace of God and furthermore, I see that this grace of saving faith is not given to each and every man ever born. I’m not trying to be disagreeable here, but it is no use having an apparent agreement. Overall, we agree (as Evangelicals) but we disagree in the details.

    If we go back to the foreknowledge bit again. With all due respect, it seems to me that your whole concept of foreknowledge is a passive thing. It lacks any warmth – it is mere information and strictly nothing else. It is like examining a multiplication table – all it is conveying are facts regardless of the feelings or desires of the user. 12x12=144 whether the user is extremely happy, depressingly sad or bordering on average. Re: An empty heaven: in your concept, the information must be there first (even if still un-acted out in time) and God has got a sneak preview of it. (Not sneaky, of course, in any wrong sense.) Before God opens the Book (as it were) to see, it is there that the very big chance lies that Heaven might or might not be unpopulated.

    Regards,

    P/s Do you think anyone will jump in here before Missy claims the 200th posting spot?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/30/2008 9:23 AM  

  • Colin, I am joyfully standing by! I am simply a young Christian in the midst of a discussion between two wise men. If I mature any in the course of this discussion it will only occur through my silence. Carry on!

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 8/30/2008 10:22 AM  

  • Missy I can assure you that there is at least one old fool in this discussion and it isn’t Colin but even this old fool can attest to God’s great love and mercy. ;-)

    Colin we agree that very sadly and unbelievably not all men will have faith in Christ. I do find the scripture is clear concerning the will of God as well as His desire on this matter. We know God is not willing that any should perish (2nd Peter 3:9) and according to the word of Christ recorded in John 6:40 it is God’s will that everyone who perceives (sees) Christ and believes on Him have everlasting life and He shall raise them up raise at the last day …but… not all who see Him believe on Him. These are they who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18,19) for God has revealed Christ in them but they became vain in their foolish imaginations and their heart was darkened.

    We have record of many who rejected the grace of God. In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13) the seed of truth was planted even in the heart of those by the way side but they neglected it and refused to consider it and would not believe. In John 6:33 Jesus told those who had followed after Him seeking gain that they had seen Him but would not believe. There are a great many other examples of those who refused to believe but in all of these can we attribute their unbelief to God’s choosing? The grace of God that brings salvation was made manifest in them all but they believed not and God would not give them to Christ. Was it that they lacked the ability to form a belief? Even the most simple-minded man possesses the ability to form a belief. The grace of God that brings salvation is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is not then imputed on a man to believe, it is incumbent on Him to believe and we cannot charge God for any failure to obey the Gospel command nor with any lack of an ability to do so. There is no “if” concerning God’s providence, as you have made clear and we agree. It is absolute and most certain and the only “if” is “if” you will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/30/2008 11:11 AM  

  • Kc,

    The sin of unbelief is always rightly blamed on the sinner himself. We may also observe that God often leaves some in their chosen sin of unbelief and when this is the case, then those so left have no room to complain. We may also observe that God does not leave all in their unbelief and that some others, who lived so long in unbelief, have been graciously and savingly drawn to Christ where they have at last believed on the name of the Lord. The sovereignty of God in this matter is no excuse for those who reject the gospel.

    It is my belief that the natural man does lack the ability to savingly believe on Jesus Christ. This lack is due to sin and is therefore self inflicted. God does not rob natural man of his ability to believe, but still requires it of him (as justice would demand) but does not see His way (for whatever wise reasons known to Himself) to necessarily impart it to him. What grace then is shown in those cases where saving faith is imparted!

    Regards, (from the second old fool in this debate)

    Boys, we are really flagellating ourselves on this blog today. :0)

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/30/2008 11:35 AM  

  • Perhaps we should leave off with the self-flagellation. That’s a bit too, ..well.. you know. ;-)

    This is from an article I wrote previously but as I understand it we “hear” when God reveals the spoken word of truth in our heart. This is the implanting of the word that is accomplished through “the foolishness of preaching” by the power of His Spirit and it’s in this I find that men have no choice at all. I consider every aspect of this as being God’s grace by which we are saved and I honestly believe it is truly irresistible. When God determines that a man will hear the truth, he will hear it. If a man must be altered in any way in order to receive God’s grace then that man can rightly glory in his new and special ability. It is a gift from God to glorify the man and he is created a new creature, apart from Christ and apart from faith. If on the other hand God’s grace is imparted to a man, just as he is, lost and undone without any hope at all, then let all praise and glory be to God the Savior! That man is a creature thoroughly bound in sin and has no new or special ability at all but in His infinite love God has mercifully revealed the truth to Him.

    God has determined that all who will believe the truth of the Gospel be no longer condemned but receive instead the gift of eternal life. This belief is nothing less than the creation of our faith through which God’s grace is imparted to us and it is incumbent, not imputed, on us to believe. God has authored our faith by revealing His word in which lies the power of salvation for all who believe. Those who believe are born of the Spirit by the conception of His grace through our faith. This is the spirit birth and it is then that we become a new creature, created in Christ Jesus. All those who would find the word foolishness and refuse to obey the Gospel command to believe must remain condemned with no hope at all and the word will be a testimony against them. This clearly leaves man alone responsible for unbelief but God alone the author of all salvation. A man cannot glory in his faith as it is incumbent on all men to believe but if he believes not then one day he must face the shame of his disobedience and he is without excuse.

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/30/2008 12:33 PM  

  • Hi Kc,

    I think it would be a bit silly glorying in faith (which is but the means) rather than glorying in Christ, which is, of course, the end to which the means brings us. Certainly (as far as I can see) there is no NT warrant for us to glory in faith – at least in the subjective sense of the word.

    I agree with you that is incumbent upon all sinners to believe. I do not believe that faith is imputed (which is a banking term which we use about the forensic act of justification) but imparted and furthermore (as said before) it is the sinner who believes – not God believing for the sinner. I do not believe that being created a new creature is something separate from Christ or separate from faith. I have never encountered anyone within the Evangelical camp who believes that.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/30/2008 2:37 PM  

  • Colin thanks again for your consideration.

    I suspect that few, if any, are aware that they glory in faith but when we say that our faith is imparted/imputed/placed on/in us by God then we glorify faith by making it a divine act rather than our own reasonable reaction to the Truth of God’s word (seed) which truly is divinely imparted/implanted/placed in us.

    Likewise when we claim to be divinely changed in order to be able to believe then we are made a new creature apart from faith and apart from Christ. In short, grace is not faith and faith is not salvation.

    I would say that the spirit birth is typified in the Immaculate Conception and the birth of our Lord, the Divine working through the flesh to create the perfect man.

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/30/2008 4:56 PM  

  • Kc,

    Would you say then that Luke introduces this undesirable understanding re: faith when he spoke of those who believed through grace in Acts 18:27? Or Paul himself when he spoke of the gift of faith in Philippians 1:29?
    Unto you it was given, not only to believe…”?

    For my own part, I have always been very careful to say that God did not believe for me, although He did enable me to believe by taking away the blindness and hardness of my heart and opening my eyes to the beauty and the desirability of having Christ.

    I’m away to bed! Have a good Lord’s Day tomorrow.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/30/2008 5:22 PM  

  • Colin I suspect we read these verses differently. I understand Acts 18:27 to say that, through grace, Paul greatly helped those that believed. With respect to Philippians 1:29 I understand the giving in this verse is not the impartation of a new or special ability but the granting of a great privilege.

    Brother I have no doubt concerning your care for the Gospel message and I pray that both you and your congregation (who I envy) have a most blessed day and service. ;-)

    Please remember us all as we prepare for Hurricane Gustav. We are uncertain at this point whether we will have to evacuate and I may not be able to communicate for a few days or more.

    By Blogger Kc, at 8/30/2008 8:28 PM  

  • Good morning Rose/Kc:-

    Kc: There's me offering you another cushion for your comfort, instead of offering to get you another sheet of 12'x8' for your survival.

    I'm heading away tomorrow myself for a few days, so maybe here is a good place to stop. It has been a good fireside chat but the embers are getting low (Is this poetry?) - I have really enjoyed chatting you.

    I hope that you don't have to evacuate and that Hurricane Gustuv blows itself out very soon. Perhaps one word of comfort/assurance lies in the text:

    "Stormy wind fulfilling His word" (Psalm 148:8)

    Have a good Lord's Day,

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/31/2008 3:57 AM  

  • P/s Thanks Rose for accomodating us here.

    And for fixing the typo on the post heading a wheen o' days ago It jarred me when I read it, so if I said something unscriptural, I can put it down to my thought patterns being distracted :o)

    PP/S Has John given up blogging?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 8/31/2008 3:59 AM  

  • "Has John given up blogging?"

    Hello Colin,

    I'll take the liberty to answer this one for myself. I have not lost my passion for writing and teaching. In fact, I have done some preaching also, as of late, and I enjoy it very much.

    I am currently expanding in three areas of life: body, mind, and soul. I am running five miles every other day and biking nearly 12 miles on my off days. I will be entering a 10k race in October see this excelent site. It takes too much time presently for me to blog and maintain balance in my passionate pursuit of being conformed to the immage of Christ.

    The short of it is, that for now, I am halted in the blogosphere until I feel I have more time. At this time it is not profitable for me to be ever explaining myself to one or two cantankerous people who never seem to see things from any other view but their own, and insist on badgering others who disagree with them. The childish insults, and name-calling is a real put-off especially when I was (earlier) trying to build up a group of believers into the faith, who in turn are put-off from the fundamentals of the faith because of such belligerent comments.

    Thank you for asking about me. May God continue to bless you.
    brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 8/31/2008 11:51 AM  

  • That is to say there are more profitable ways to use the precious little time that God has given me.

    In His service,
    John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 8/31/2008 11:56 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger anton, at 9/01/2008 4:06 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Sorry for the delay: check your e-mail!

    Colin said:
    If God is not in complete control, then either He has willingly surrendered this up or it has been somewhat violently taken from Him. I doubt if you would run with the second option, but I suspect that you are suggesting the first. If the first, I suggest then that you are still going to maintain that God has not left Himself vulnerable and is still therefore in overall control. Which effectively means that He hasn’t given it up at all.

    Hi Colin,

    What if there are other options? What if God, in His desire to achieve a goal, put into place a plan that:

    1) required Him to act as if being God was not "something to be grasped" but "rather, he emptied himself" of that prerogative, that of being in control.

    2) but also allowed Him to act in ways such that Scripture said of Him:

    "THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED."

    By Blogger anton, at 9/01/2008 4:39 AM  

  • Good morning Rose/John/Anton,

    John:I agree that blogging takes up time. At least, you have Rose there to hold the fort for you.

    Anton: Are your “what if” questions merely theoretical or do you see them as possible or even probable?

    As I read your words here, I see that you want to let God hold on to the reins of power, despite the other risks that you are willing that He should take. Your last quote (from Psalm 51 and repeated in Romans 3) still has Him prevailing and so the victory is His and always would be. He wouldn’t therefore have lost control.

    Furthermore, when you have God expressing ”a desire to achieve a goal” then we are reminded of the Scripture which declares: But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. (Psalm 115:3) What God desires – at least with the force of a decree – He gets, for none can stay His hand, nor say unto Him, “What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35)

    Regards,


    P/s I am heading away for a few days so the lines will be down…at least from this end
    I hope Kc is surviving Hurricane Gushav

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 9/01/2008 4:51 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Colin said:
    But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. (Psalm 115:3) What God desires – at least with the force of a decree – He gets, for none can stay His hand, nor say unto Him, “What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35)

    Hi Colin,

    Can God decree "Love"?

    Or can "love" only be nurtured under specific conditions? For example, no messing with "free will"? Actually you can't have love when the latter happens. (Hey, Morgan Freeman does a very good impersonation of God, doesn't he?) :^)

    And if there are instances where God seems to over ride a person's free will, is it possible that He "WILL PREVAIL WHEN JUDGED"?

    God limiting Himself to act within a set of rules isn't a very uncommon view, you know.

    Quote
    In fact, in some traditions of Orthodox Judaism, God Himself is bound to the Torah of Moses like an engineer is bound to the finished blueprints of an Architect.

    http://www.hebrew4christian.org/Articles/Olam_Hatorah/OlamHaTorah.pdf

    By Blogger anton, at 9/02/2008 4:15 AM  

  • By Blogger anton, at 9/02/2008 4:23 AM  

  • Hi, Rose!

    This thread may have run it's course, but I ran into this verse in another sort of study and it reminded of your post here. No one brought it up here, and it has me thinking...

    Colossians 2:14
    "He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 9/18/2008 8:18 PM  

  • Thanks for sharing that, Missy. I just re-read Colin's question. How do you think it pertains to his question about whether or not Pilate could have made a different decision - or were you thinking it pertained to another train of thought that was brought up in the comments? Thanks. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 9/19/2008 7:36 AM  

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