Calvinism – the hot topic of late among some LDS

I need to get up to speed and read everybody’s internet conversations.

This is incredible.  What an awesome topic.  I have been meditating on this theme since our past Sunday School lesson on “Salvation”.

Several thoughts . . .

1.  My wife and I were recently in Salt Lake City listening to Celtic Woman.  I was spellbound for two and half hours this Tuesday night.  Have you ever heard the song, “The Voice”?  All I could think about was the merciful, efficacious calling of God upon my life in S.E. Idaho.

2. But let me throw out some quick humor before I check out again (It has been very busy this week):  The LDS Authorities love and appreciate Calvinistic theology.  Don’t you guys all know that?  For almost 200 years, they have kept the KJV Bible together and untouched, even despite what their first prophet tried to do with his pen. 

3.  Seriously, here is a humble adomonition from the translators at the close of the KJV preface:

Many other things we might give thee warning of, gentle Reader, if we had not exceeded the measure of a preface already.  It remaineth that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of his grace, which is able to build further than we can ask or think.  He removeth the scales from our eyes, the vail from our hearts, opening our wits that we may understand his word, enlarging our hearts, yea, correcting our affections, that we may love it above gold and silver, yea, that we may love it to the end.  Ye are brought unto fountains of living water which ye digged not; do not cast earth into them, with the Philistines, neither prefer broken pits before them, with the wicked Jews.  Others have laboured, and you may enter into their labours.  O receive not so great things in vain:  O despise not so great salvation.  Be not like swine to tread under foot so precious things, neither yet like dogs to tear and abuse holy things.  Say not to our Saviour with the Gergesites, Depart out of coasts; neither yet with Esau sell your birthright for a mess of pottage.  If light be come into the world, love not darkness more than light: if food, if clothing, be offered, go not naked, starve not yourselves.  Remember the advice of Nazianzene, It is a grievous thing (or dangerous) to neglect a great fair, and to seek to make markets afterwards: also the encouragement of S. Chrysostome, It is altogether impossible, that he that is sober (and watchful) should at any time be neglected: lastly, the admonition and menacing of S. Augustine, They that despise God’s will inviting them shall feel God’s will taking vengeance of them.  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; but a blessed thing it is, and will bring us to everlasting blessedness in the end, when God speaketh unto us, to hearken; when he setteth his word before us, to read it; when he stretcheth out his hand and calleth, to answer, Here am I, here we are to do thy will, O God.  The Lord work a care and conscience in us to know him and serve him, that we may be acknowledged of him at the appearing of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, to whom with the Holy Ghost be all praise and thanksgiving.  Amen.

Nicely written.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite in the I- 15 Corridor.  Some might think the KJV translators were involved in a conspiratory cover-up about who God is and what He does.  I don’t.  May the God of the reformation, Who is clearly declared in the KJV Bible, advance His Kingdom by sovereign grace. 

Verily, He will.

4.  Have you ever watched the movie, Emma Smith?  She sings the hymn, “Come Thou Fount”.  I can’t think of a better hymn on the sovereign grace of God in salvation to be broadcasted almost every week.  I do love the God of John Calvin.

Later, friends.

And maybe I can try to catch up on some internet threads . . .

169 comments

  1. What does the KJV have to do with John Calvin? His philosophy about a Torturer God aren’t in the New Testament, whether KJV or otherwise.

  2. John f., I think the translators of the KJV Bible were Calvinistic (chuckling – despite what even some independent Baptists tell me). From Tyndale to the Geneva translators to the KJV, how can one not appreciate sovereign grace in the salvation of men and women?

    Btw, have you been to Geneva?

  3. One more thing, John, with you being in England, study up on KJV translators and their relationships with some of the nonconformists in prison.

    Did the KJV translators believe in a Torturer God, too?

    (And if I make it to any of the KJV celebrations in England in 2011, I need to look you up, John. Take your family to dinner. I would try to not get into any debates. 🙂 )

  4. Actually, Anglicans gave us the KJV (I write this as an Anglican). And many if not most early Anglicans held to a form of Calvinism, read the 39 Articles.

  5. Verily, Joel.

    And they were brilliant men.

    I wonder what they would think of their translation of the Bible being in almost every home in S.E. Idaho, 400 years later, and how it is used today . . . from Darby to Joseph Smith.

    They would not be happy campers.

  6. Todd: Interesting you mention Darby and Smith in the same breath…

    It is also interesting that none of the copies of the KJV’s you mention are complete. The original KJV included the Deutero-canonical books.

  7. 1. Though I am a progressive dispensational, I mentioned Darby for Joel. 🙂 Not wanting to be hypocritical in my use of the KJV, I do admit where I have mildly departed from the KJV translators’ interpretation.

    2. And I have an original fascimile: I like reading the Deutero-canonical books; and I think I would take perhaps a similar position to the KJV translators in lumping them all together in a separate section.

    But you know I favor the radical aspects of the Puritans over the Anglicans when it comes to church tradition, bibliology, and government, etc.

  8. When I started attending BYU, there was an a cappella group on campus called InsideOut. I always adored their rendition of Come Thou Fount. For some reason Mormons are pretty fond of that song.

    And while I’m not Calvinist, I loves me some Caedmon’s Call. Their music almost makes me wish I was Calvinist.

    How was Emma Smith, Todd? I have it in my Netflix queue. Does it mention polygamy at all?

  9. BJM, thanks for the link. I could listen to this music over and over and over again, tonight. But I need to quit.

    Jericho Road sings it, too:

    http://www.imeem.com/srey772002/music/UUCKceQ5/jericho-road-come-thou-fount-of-every-blessing/

    But they change “by Thy good pleasure” to “by some good measure”. (Talk about being antis to a God Who does things according to His own good pleasure . . . )

    Around 350 years ago, the 22 year old author penned some more words to this hymn. Check out the last verse that I have not yet heard an LDS friend sing . . . “How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace”.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/15060954/Come-Thou-Fount-original-5-verses-by-Robert-Robinson-guitar-chords

    It is a marvelous, marvelous hymn.

    (And as I recall about the movie, I think there was some famous one liner when she [Emma] was asked about the polygamy of her husband. But I can’t remember the exact words.)

  10. Arthur, a God who creates billions of people for the sole purpose of damning them to hell (i.e. by not unconditionally electing them to salvation) to endure eternal torture is a Torturer God, no? If you believe that God predetermined before you were born that you would be saved, then you must necessarily believe that he predetermined all those who would not believe and therefore not be saved; thus, he created them for the sole purpose of sending them to eternal torture in hell.

    This isn’t biblical even if John Calvin derived it from his misreading of Pauline writings, so it’s safe to say that it’s not in the KJV, when you read that translation without the lens of Calvinism. Although the KJV translators themselves might have been influenced by Calvinistic philosophies, the text itself (fortunately) remains independent of its taint, particularly when reading Pauline material in context and in relationship to writings of Peter and James.

  11. John F. – how is it any better to have a god who knows that many multitudes will fall into outer darkness due to their free will and yet creates the world anyway? AND, he sends spirits who are already with him into this world to forget who they were and then run the risk of falling away due to free will? If arbitrary standards of what God can and can’t do are the judge, how does the free-will god come off any better?

  12. It’s a lot better to have a God who creates his children with free will to choose to follow him, and then provides a way for them to do so if they choose, complete with vicarious ordinances for those who did not have the opportunity, than to have a God who chooses who will be saved and who will not before people are even born and with no choice at all on their part.

    With free will, we choose whether or not to accept Jesus Christ and obey his teachings (the latter being an extremely important factor in the process, in conjunction with repentance for the myriad times that one fails to obey). God’s will is for all of us to do so. He has chosen this. Unfortunately, many choose to reject him. However, under the Gospel properly understood, every single person ever born will have the opportunity to accept or reject the Atonement of Jesus Christ out of his or her own free will and choice. This is because God is our Heavenly Father who wants the best for his children, specifically, he wants them to inherit all that he has as joint-heirs with Christ.

    Understanding that this is God’s desire and purpose promotes true humility on the part of us as his children and encourages us to make true efforts to obey his commandments and receive the ordinances necessary for us to become like him through the grace of Jesus Christ.

  13. Joel, some LDS will take it a step further and deny that God is omniscient in an absolute sense. Somewhere down the road this is the logical step to the wild world of open theism – that God simply does not know what will happen in the world.

  14. John, did God know the future or not? If he did, then no matter if he gave his creatures free will or not, he knew that many of them would be plunged into torment if he created the world, and yet he did it anyway. Granting free will in the LDS sense does not get God off the hook in terms of being responsible for what was going to happen. He could have not created the world and spared untold amounts of suffering or ‘torture.’

    Furthermore, Calvinism grants the ability of people to make choices, whether or not they are determined by God in advance. This accords with Acts 2.23 amongst other verses. Men do what they want and God ordains.

  15. John F: I’m confused a little (from a Mormon perspective) by something you wrote: “It’s a lot better to have a God who creates his children with free will…” I don’t think you meant it to read like this, but it could be understood that you are saying that God created us. I think the Book of Abraham, not to mention several quotes from Joseph Smith, indicates that we have always existed. Much like how we view the rest of creation, we reject creatio ex nihilo as it applies to physical matter but also as it applies to intelligences.

    Thus, in response to joelmartin and anon, I would say that God created an opportunity where none existed; without this world, no one would have had any chance of progression at all. That doesn’t answer the whole question, of course; there is still much to address, such as how LDS view hell (like Anon, “plunged into torment” or some other way), whether God has absolute foreknowledge, and (most importantly) whether God forced us to come join his party in the first place.

  16. Brian, even the view that God allowed intelligences to progress by creating this world means that he foresaw a future that included rape, murder, torture and misery and went ahead and did it anyway. None of these approaches absolves God of this responsibility and I think it is odd to only go after Calvinism as responsible for suffering.

  17. joelmartin, in Calvinism, people suffer eternal torment because God did not choose them (unconditionally elect them) to be saved. That is categorically different from a God who still provided a means by which his children could exercise their moral agency and choose to follow him or not.

  18. That is a crude summation of an entire theology John. It fails to deal with violence, God’s character, the nature of sin, the “will”, and many other things.

    But you haven’t really responded to what I am asking. If the LDS God knows the future, then how is it ok for him to sanction a future in which people are raped, serial killers exist, million are aborted in the womb, people are beat, tortured etc. How does your God get off the hook for all this evil simply because he (somehow) isn’t in control of it? He started the process knowing what would happen, so isn’t he just as ‘evil’ as the Calvinist God?

  19. joelmartin: I think you assume that our lives before God created this earth were all peaches and cream; i.e., that as intelligences we didn’t suffer in some way, even if it was only suffering from a lack of opportunity. You also assume that God forced us to come to this earth.

    I should be clear that in my theology I’m not trying to absolve God of any and all responsibility for suffering. I’m just trying to correct what I see as incorrect assumptions in this Calvinist/Mormon comparison. For sake of argument, let’s say that both the Calvinist and the Mormon Gods are responsible for suffering—I’m interested in what kind of responsibility they hold. Depending on one’s perspective: the Mormon God is negligent and reckless; he knowingly sends his children into danger. The Calvinist God is arbitrary and uncaring; he could alleviate the suffering of many of his children but doesn’t.

    Do you completely absolve the Calvinist God of any responsibility for suffering?

  20. joelmartin, the answer is that God lets his children choose whether to do good or evil. There are consequences for everyone’s actions and all works will figure into the equation at the Judgment Bar where all people will be judged according to their works, whether those works were good or evil.

    Those who accepted Jesus Christ and the Atonement will have been cleansed from their evil works. Others will inherit the glory that their works deserve. Those who suffered at the hands of people who made evil choices will find peace and healing — and their suffering will be part of the calculus that figures into their own judgment.

    This is because God, as Mormons understand him, is good. He loves all of his children and wants them all to inherit all that he has as joint-heirs with Christ. Mormon scripture (the lost Prophecies of Enoch mentioned in Jude and contained in the Book of Moses in Mormon scripture) reveals God’s sadness at the wickedness of his children — that they choose the superficial pleasures and are swayed by the superficial gains of the world over choosing the narrow path that leads back to him. Nevertheless, he respects their choices even though he mourns that they will suffer the consequences of separation from his presence at the Judgment Seat.

    It is a category error to equate God understood in this way with the God philosophized by John Calvin based on misreadings of certain verses on Pauline writings. If Calvin would have at least read those verses as part of the broader corpus of New Testament writings, particularly as informed by Peter and James, then that alone would have ameliorated the awefulness of Calvin’s idea of God — an entity, alien to the creatures he has created, who elects a few to be saved (without any input from or choice by those whom he has chosen) and who thereby elects billions to be born, live in suffering and misery and then die without having ever heard of Jesus Christ much less choose to accept or reject his Atonement. These billions were created only to suffer during life, remain in ignorance, and then suffer eternal torture in hell because of their ignorance.

    What’s so hard about this, joelmartin?

  21. “Others will inherit the glory that their works deserve.”

    You seem to be under the impression that good and evil deeds are positive and negative “points” in the eyes of God. Rather, I suggest that “good” is adequate rather than outstanding, that the most righteous acts of man are what is acceptable in the eyes of God.

    As an analogy, consider America’s traffic laws. If you drive perfectly, it is adequate and what is expected by the law. If you fail on a single point (speeding, wrong lane, running a stoplight) you have committed a traffic violation. The police give no rewards for perfect drivers, only punishments for those who violate traffic law. Perfect driving is adequate driving. You cannot run a stop sign and argue to the officer that the previous hundred miles you drove would cover over any part of the violation.

    It is the same way with God’s law. I can help the poor, fast, sacrifice time and energy, and keep myself pure, yet this is what I ought to be doing, not something above and beyond obedience.

    Thus, a single violation of God’s law would render all your “good works” inadequate. Like a drop of deadly poison in your bloodstream, the inadequacy of our sin outweighs the adequacy of our righteousness, thus condemning us to death.

    To conclude, is the God advocated by Calvinism being unfairly cruel to those He condemns or unfairly kind to those He saves? If men are righteous by nature, then sending them to Hell is certainly a wicked act. If men are evil and justly exiled eternally from the presence of a righteous God, then that He would tolerate evil by many for the opportunity to save a few, sacrifice His Son, and claim those initially vile creatures who were an affront and aberration to His Holiness as His own children would be a supreme act of unmerited love.

  22. BrianJ,

    How could a Calvinist absolve God of anything? Understanding the creature to creator relationship we know that we are not in a position to judge God. For that matter we know that if God does something it is for his pourposes and his pirposes are rightious.

  23. Brian I wouldn’t put God in the dock, period. As Paul said, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” Acting as if there are some standards whereby we can judge God implies that He is not self-existent, and I reject that idea.

    It is enough for me to agree with what Nathan Wilson says: “We do not need to know why God does a thing to know that His authority allows for it. He rains on us, and in the end He kills every one of us. I am not puzzled, nor do I see a problem. If we embrace Him, then we embrace mystery, and mystery in the transcendant makes sense.”

    Does LDS theology hold that ‘intelligences’ suffer in the pre-mortal world?

    I am not assuming that the LDS God forces people to come to earth. It is the very fact that he created this earth knowing full well that a woman would be raped (to use one example) that implicates him just as much as does the Calvinist view. The bottom line is that neither the “free agent LDS” view or the Calvinist view gets God off the hook from these attacks.

  24. John, you are going to be unable to accept monergism because you have a magisterial passage in Alma 31 that seems to be attacking Presbyterianism! Nevertheless, let me throw out some responses:

    [1] What works of Calvin’s have you read? You seem to be casting him in the most unfavorable light possible. Do you think Calvin didn’t read Peter and James? See this:

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/calvin/cc45/index.htm

    [2] Did godless men choose to kill Jesus (Acts 2.23)?

    [3] God sent Assyria to punish Israel, yet it was not Assyria’s intention to do God’s bidding; see Isaiah 10.6-7. This is predestination. The ‘causal joint’ where our will ends and His begins is never revealed to us, nor can it be.

    [4] In some sense, the Mormon god could be said to be even MORE at fault, because he experienced his own cycle of mortality and saw the evil and misery on his own world, and yet he still chooses to create this world and doom humans to lives of woe and pain.

    [5] The Church also holds that:
    (a) People choose good or evil.
    (b) All will be judged on their works.
    (c) God is good.
    We would of course differ on “deserving glory.”

    In the end, the LDS faith is universalist (as I discussed here: http://livingtext.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/lds-inclusion-lds-exclusion/), all will be saved in some sense, with the sons of perdition being the only exception. So it is better to never be a Mormon than to be an apostate Mormon. All that suffering on earth and in the end, it’s just to see where you land in the pecking order in the hereafter.

  25. joelmartin, the rape you are hypothesizing is an irrelevant red herring. At issue is the theory preferred by Calvin and which now underlies much of American Evangelical protestantism that God created billions of people for the sole purpose of damning them to eternal torture. The possibility that they might choose to believe in him and accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ isn’t even on the table here because it is God who unconditionally elects those who will be saved (and those who will be damned) and not people themselves who choose to accept (or reject) Jesus Christ and the Atonement.

    Despite the overwhelming emphasis that the New Testament puts on convincing individuals themselves to accept Jesus Christ and reject evil, a fundamental misreading* of a few isolated verses in Paul have become the source of a very dark theology indeed, overshadowing all the Gospel light that is found in the New Testament. The resulting Torturer God of Calvinism is nowhere found in the God of the New Testament, which is an anthology of scriptures that, cumulatively, teaches very clearly that all must choose to come unto Christ, choose to become his disciples and follow him by being born again through baptism by immersion by one holding proper priesthood authority, and through thereafter receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    Those who accept Jesus Christ (this acceptance is a “work”, see James) and specifically his Atonement will be cleansed from all of their sins and will be exalted by virtue of the Atonement (i.e. by the grace of Christ) to live with God again, inheriting all that the Father has as joint-heirs with His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. This is the faith and belief of Mormons. That Evangelical creedalists insist that Mormons aren’t Christian in the face of this fundamental belief of Mormons reveals a disingenuous and slanderous agenda.

    Three main points seem to lie at the heart of this disingenuous and, frankly, dishonest Evangelical creedalist treatment of Mormons. To be sure, these items are indeed provocations and it is easy to see why the natural man would bristle in the face of such Gospel effrontery:

    (1) The main catch, it seems, is that accepting Jesus Christ and his Atonement means (as Jesus and Peter clearly taught in the New Testmanent — in The Gospel of John and Acts, respectively) being baptized by one duly authorized to perform this ordinance for it to be binding in heaven as it is on earth. Because the only authorized priesthood to perform these ordinances is found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (having been conveyed by the laying on of hands by the resurrected John the Baptist and the resurrected Peter, James and John — sorry, Paul wasn’t involved in that particular instance), many creedalist preachers whose authority is thereby undercut are understandably outraged by this Mormon adherence to fundamental New Testament principles.

    (2) That Mormons bypass the philosophies of John Calvin and others in deriving doctrine and Gospel principles straight from the New Testament is another blow that Evangelical creedalists aren’t likely to excuse, given the level of veneration that they give Calvin and his disciples. This veneration appears to result from the fact that Calvin and those who followed him in this particular philosophy based their constructs on fourth-century creeds crafted by Catholic politician-bishops and so therefore their theories are deemed acceptable to such an extent that modern-day Evangelical creedalists are willing to literally force the teachings and words of Jesus Christ himself (and Peter and James) into the mold created by Calvin and others. Make no mistake, the New Testament writings of Peter, for example, are nonsensical in the face of Calvin’s Pauline interpretations.

    (3) Finally, most obviously on a superficial level, Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon is a legitimate companion book of scripture to the Bible that testifies from cover to cover of the divinity of Jesus Christ and his Atonement. Of course, anyone willing to take a neutral position would have to agree that it is reasonable to think that God can and did speak with other prophets than those whose revelations and writings are recorded in the Old and New Testaments. The purpose of God speaking to prophets in this manner, as was the case in the Old and New Testaments, was to provide them with similar guidance, particularly in the situation where a group of people were permanently cut off from the Holy Land setting of the Old and New Testaments. Mormons believe that in ancient times God was speaking to prophets in the Western Hemisphere who were teaching their peoples about the Gospel of Jesus Christ based on such communication from God — and that these teachings were preserved in the Book of Mormon. This was occurring at the same time that God was speaking to prophets in the Old Testament and Apostles in the New Testament. In fact, Mormons believe that God was not only speaking to prophets in the Old and New Testaments and the Book of Mormon at various stages in the history of humanity but also to prophets among other peoples on other continents who were also geographically isolated from God’s voice in the Holy Land in the same way and that the scriptures produced as a result of such ancient revelation will some day come to light and will be consistent with the Gospel truths as contained in the Restored Gospel. This concept on the face of it might be reasonable for the casual observer but is apparently inexcusable for Evangelical creedalists who espouse a belief in an ad hoc and actually non-Biblical theory/philosophy of Biblical sufficiency. Believing that God can and does still provide guidance to a living prophet as He did in Old Testament times and New Testament times, and in the Book of Mormon, and long before that to Adam, Enoch, Abraham and Moses and myriad others, is therefore deemed such a heresy that Evangelical creedalists dismiss the concept without even having read the Book of Mormon (right Todd?) — and this despite the fact that there is no actual religious foundation for such rejection aside from the tradition of Biblical sufficiency.

    ————-
    * I am giving Calvin and his disciples the benefit of the doubt here by ascribing this pernicious philosophy to a misreading of isolated and proof-texted Pauline verses rather than assuming that they were deliberately tampering with the Gospel’s light of truth and love.

  26. joelmartin,

    The LDS cosmic view posits a God situated in a universe just as eternal as He is, surrounded by eternal intelligences which he did not create out of nothing.

    He turns to these intelligences and seeks to raise them up as his own children. “Peers” if you want.

    In order to have a free and loving relationship with another being, that love cannot be forced. If God manufactures me ex nihilo and designs me in such a way that I will love him – well, that’s not love by any standard humans would recognize or relate to (cue drumroll for an Evangelical to offer the tired old excuse of “God’s ways aren’t our ways”).

    Since God seeks peers rather than “herds and believers,” free will and choice are vital. This means that evil must be allowed. Great suffering on earth must be allowed, because to prevent it would lead to a greater evil of the annihilation of human free will.

    For the record, I know a lot of Mormons who are basically Arminian in their views of God’s sovereignty and human free will. They believe that God possesses exhaustive foreknowledge of everything that will happen.

    I personally think this is because most Mormons haven’t really thought the issue through. I personally find Open Theism more compatible with Mormon theology than Arminian explanations (and certainly more than Calvinist explanations).

  27. Seth:

    “If God manufactures me ex nihilo and designs me in such a way that I will love him”

    The latter doesn’t necessarily follow from the former. That’s the whole point. Love must be free. That is why “sovereign grace” (“irresistable grace” actually) is an oxymoron. Humans are created with a capacity to love God, for the purpose of loving God, but not such that they MUST love God.

    OTOH, if the Mormon account is correct, then the term “God” in reality loses its meaning. As Tillich used to say, “God is not simply another Being among beings”.

  28. I wouldn’t say it loses its meaning Greg. Just gains a new one.

    Curious – does E. Orthodoxy hew to a “compatibilist” notion of free will or a “libertarian” one?

  29. Gundeck, joelmartin:

    …we are not in a position to judge God.
    ~
    I wouldn’t put God in the dock, period. As Paul said, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” Acting as if there are some standards whereby we can judge God implies that He is not self-existent, and I reject that idea.

    Fine. I reject your notions of God whereby you reject my question. Now where does that leave us? And why are we even having this discussion?! God is so mighty and so untouchable that we mere men cannot even discuss who he is or what he does. In fact, we shouldn’t even say his name—or think about him, or anything.

    Look, you entered into a discussion about God and I’m trying to ask you how you view your God just as you’re asking about my view of my God. For this argument, I don’t care who God is because we don’t agree on who he is. That’s what’s “on trial” here.

    The bottom line is that neither the “free agent LDS” view or the Calvinist view gets God off the hook from these attacks.

    And thank you very much for answering. To be clear then, joelmartin, you believe that God is responsible for the suffering in the world?

    Does LDS theology hold that ‘intelligences’ suffer in the pre-mortal world?

    Nope. But it leaves open that possibility.

    I am not assuming that the LDS God forces people to come to earth.

    To be clearer, I think you assume that God forced intelligences to follow his plan—that he forced intelligences that have always existed (yes, apart from him) to become his spirit children and sign on to the possibility of salvation or damnation. I see in Mormon theology the possibility that when presented by God with the opportunity, some intelligences said, “I’ll pass.”

  30. Seth

    (cue drumroll for an Evangelical to offer the tired old excuse of “God’s ways aren’t our ways”).

    Umm, didn’t you read comments on May 20, 2009 at 4:08 pm and 5:36 pm?

  31. Seth: fair enough, but I for one have a great deal of difficulty identifying this new “god” as “God”.

    As to your question, it is often quite difficult to correlate such categories with Eastern Orthodoxy. The basic idea would be that the omnipotent God creates humanity with free will, at the same time recognizing that this human freedom is compromised by the fall. Further, unlike Calvin, Augustine, etc., any doctrine of predestination in Orthodoxy must take into account Divine “foreknowledge” mentioned by St. Paul in Romans 8.

  32. By the way Todd. Open Theism does not deny God’s omniscience.

    It simply has a different view on what there is to be omniscient about.

  33. Hmmm, I tried to post this last night:

    John, you are going to be unable to accept monergism because you have a magisterial passage in Alma 31 that seems to be attacking Presbyterianism! Nevertheless, let me throw out some responses:

    [1] What works of Calvin’s have you read? You seem to be casting him in the most unfavorable light possible. Do you think Calvin didn’t read Peter and James?

    [2] Did godless men choose to kill Jesus (Acts 2.23)?

    [3] God sent Assyria to punish Israel, yet it was not Assyria’s intention to do God’s bidding; see Isaiah 10.6-7. This is predestination. The ‘causal joint’ where our will ends and His begins is never revealed to us, nor can it be.

    [4] In some sense, the Mormon god could be said to be even MORE at fault, because he experienced his own cycle of mortality and saw the evil and misery on his own world, and yet he still chooses to create this world and doom humans to lives of woe and pain.

    [5] The Church also holds that:
    (a) People choose good or evil.
    (b) All will be judged on their works.
    (c) God is good.
    We would of course differ on “deserving glory.”

    In the end, the LDS faith is universalist, all will be saved in some sense, with the sons of perdition being the only exception. So it is better to never be a Mormon than to be an apostate Mormon. All that suffering on earth and in the end, it’s just to see where you land in the pecking order in the hereafter.

  34. joelmartin, what you are saying is ridiculous and is not on point. The God Calvin envisioned creates creatures for the sole purpose of suffering and damnation since he is the one who unconditionally elects them not to be saved.

    In the Mormon understanding, suffering occurs during mortality because people are making evil choices that are against God’s will. He knew that people would make evil choices and yet he loves everyone enough to endow them with free will to make their own choices.

    The latter sounds like a much more loving and powerful being to me. Furthermore, the latter is much more compatible with the scriptures, even if we arbitrarily limit ourselves to only the Old and New Testaments as currently constituted in American Evangelical Bibles.

  35. “In some sense, the Mormon god could be said to be even MORE at fault, because he experienced his own cycle of mortality and saw the evil and misery on his own world, and yet he still chooses to create this world and doom humans to lives of woe and pain.”

    Which is a ridiculous accusation coming from someone who believes in God’s omniscience.

    Are you suggesting joel, that your God does not understand human feelings and the human condition?

    Never heard that one before.

    joel, if a person is going to be tormented for eternity for the way God made him, wouldn’t it have just been nicer if God didn’t create him in the first place?

    I realize that Calvinists get around this by defining free will differently, but it seems rather artificial to me.

    To break it down, there are two different models of human free will.

    1. Libertarian Free Will – this basically asserts that a choice is only “free” if a person was able to choose differently than they actually chose.

    Calvinists typically deny libertarian free will. They assert that God created us the way we are and is in control of all that happens – including our choices. Thus a person was never, in any moment, capable of choosing differently than what he or she actually chose.

    But a Calvinist will still be very adamant that God was not responsible for evil choices – we are. How do they get around this?

    By defining free will differently.

    2. Compatibilist Free Will – this theory of free will holds that any being is free, as long as they are capable of choosing what they intrinsically desire. So if I intrinsically want to be a murderer, and I murder – that was a free choice. I chose what I wanted.

    Problem is, this is no answer to the evil problem because in that scenario, God created me in such a way that I would desire to murder. My desires are entirely contingent on God’s will. So yes, I chose according to my desires, but my desires are still from God. God was still ultimately responsible for it.

    It also seems like a pretty stupid definition of free will to me. Any desires that are forced from me are obviously not free just based on a common sense interpretation of the word.

    So I reject compatibilism on purely common-sense grounds. Sure, you can argue it from the Bible. But you can get libertarian free will from the Bible too.

    Arminians, for example, assert that humans have libertarian free will, but that God is like a master chess player who is always many steps ahead of the game. He possesses what is called “middle knowledge” (basically, it means that he can perfectly predict everything that is going to happen – even our free choices). So God perfectly anticipates everything we choose and do and adjusts the playing field, or rigs the game, such that his will is always done.

    You can get that read from the Bible too. You don’t have to be a Calvinist. A lot of Mormons actually have exactly the same view of God’s omniscience and human free will as the Arminians. Several people in my current ward do – and so did my wife until recently.

    I don’t think the Arminian view of God’s omniscience works either.

    Middle knowledge does a fine job of making sure God knows everything that will happen, but it doesn’t result in an ultimately powerful God.

    Think about it this way – even if God had perfect meticulous foreknowledge of the future – what good would it do him?

    If God knows at time1 that there will be a nuclear detonation in Paris in the future at time2, can he stop it?

    The answer is, God is powerless to stop the nuclear detonation at time2 because that would mean he was incorrect at time1. Since God cannot scripturally believe at time1 something that isn’t true, it follows that God must have been correct at time1 in predicting the nuclear disaster and he cannot change it – even if he wishes to.

    So God winds up being just as powerless and impotent before the fate of the universe as we are. This is the main reason why I think the Arminian notion of middle knowledge doesn’t work.

    Calvinists avoid this problem by putting God directly in charge of everything that happens in the universe – down to the last brain synapse and molecule.

    But there’s just no way to avoid the conclusion that God deliberately created and is responsible for evil. Sure, Calvinism presents a biblical view of the world – but the view is so utterly filthy and reprehensible that frankly, who cares?

    So you solved the Bible puzzle*… bully for you! Now, why should I care?

    I’ve tended to notice that Calvinists tend to resort to the Bible a lot. No matter what you say to them, they’ll always respond with a bible proof-text.

    I’ve started to come to the conclusion that this is because – deep down – they know their theology is rather repulsive and morally indefensible. So they retreat to the Bible as a smoke-screen.

    Hey, our religion may be repulsive. But at least it’s biblical!

    Well… Good for you… I guess…

    *Of course, there are other coherent ways to read the Bible, so it’s not even like Calvinists have come up with the only solution to the “Bible puzzle.”

  36. Of course, there is another option.

    You could just say that humans have libertarian free will, but that God still meticulously controls everything in the universe.

    Then when someone points out to you that this makes absolutely no coherent sense, you just shrug your shoulders and claim it’s a mystery.

    I actually don’t mind this approach. It seems to work for a lot of Christians and they probably get more actual Christian work done (feeding the poor and comforting the suffering and all that) because they aren’t wasting time agonizing over the theology.

    But it’s still incoherent. Which is fine, as long as they mind their own business and don’t try to tell me why my theology doesn’t make sense.

    If you’re going to debate theology, your own had better make sense. Otherwise, you’d best not engage in the debate in the first place.

  37. Now, Seth, I have some LDS friends tell me that there are things in the Bible they would consider, using your words, “rather repulsive and morally indefensible.” So I ask them, “Why are they going around carrying that Bible?”

    And this statement is provocative:

    A lot of Mormons actually have exactly the same view of God’s omniscience and human free will as the Arminians.

    Hmmm . . . I would like to see an upacking of LDS belief in free will exactly in line with Jacobus Arminius. Is this only a late phenomena or early, too?

  38. I don’t think that theologically they’ve really thought it through Todd. I’m not arguing that Mormons are perfectly complete Arminians.

    But their view of God’s omniscience and free will is often very-much Arminian. On other areas, we obviously differ.

    And don’t think for a moment that I think the Calvinist read on the bible is the only coherent one. I merely conceded that biblically, Calvinism works.

    But that isn’t enough Todd. It is never enough.

  39. Since people are fond of putting words in John Calvin’s mouth, this is an example of what he has to say on the subject of free will.

    “…we allow that man has choice and that it is self-determined, so that if he does anything evil, it should be imputed to him and to his own voluntary choosing. We do away with coercion and force, because this contradicts the nature of the will and cannot coexist with it. We deny that choice is free, because through man’s innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil. And from this it is possible to deduce what a great difference there is between necessity and coercion. For we do not say that man is dragged unwillingly into sinning, but that because his will is corrupt he is held captive under the yoke of sin and therefore of necessity will in an evil way. For where there is bondage, there is necessity. But it makes a great difference whether the bondage is voluntary or coerced. We locate the necessity to sin precisely in corruption of the will, from which follows that it is self-determined.
    John Calvin from Bondage and Liberation of the Will, pg. 69-70

  40. BrianJ,

    The point of my comment was that I am not in a position to judge God. When we ask the serious question about the existence of evil in the world it is natural to place the responsibility on God’s shoulders. It is natural because we are sinners and are looking to absolve ourselves of the responsibility of our sins. Look at, for example, God’s response to Job in Job 38:1-3ff. “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Paul answers the problem of evil in Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death”. This is not God’s problem it is ours. Man brought sin into the world. Man bought death into the world.

    Paul gives us another answer to the problem of evil and that is that God is the solution for it, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe…” (Rom 3:21, 22)

  41. Gundeck: and the point of my response was that you are in a position to judge your notion and my notion of God. This has nothing to do with whether we are sinners or not.

    Thanks for the Calvin quote.

  42. Gundeck,

    That quote from Calvin shows pretty clearly the problem. Calvin is using the tired old compatibilists arguments for free will. The problem is that compatibilism simply eviscerates the idea of free will so much as to make it useless. Basically Calvin is saying “people do what they want to do”. The problem is that God creates them to want to do that stuff and in Calvinism people can’t choose to want anything else or to be anything else.

    So John F. has a very good point when he says the God described by Calvinist theology logically can be called a torturer and a sadist. That God creates most people simply to torture them after they die forever. (I do like that some theologians are at least wondering about annihilation of souls rather than perma-torture BTW) I think the God of Calvinism is best compared to the character “Sid” from Toy Story. He tortures his toys and his toys can do nothing to avoid it. The fact that he dotes on a few does not make that alleged being good.

  43. You are the culprit. You are welcome to come over here anytime, Geoff.

    Hey, I have a question. Do you think the Bible passes the test for being logical?

  44. Geoff J,

    You are overlooking one of the most important things. God is our creator, our moral responsibility for absolute obedience to God is based on this fact, not in our ability to act with libertarian free will.

    Your comparison to Sid falls flat in that Sid is not a creator. He is not infinite, his toys do not have a moral obligation for perfect obedience to Sid’s will. A toy’s sin against Sid is not an infinite rebellion against their sovereign creator. Judgment of Sid as sadistic torturer of toys uses our social norms, and we certainly cannot use our standard to judge God.

    You can accuse Calvin’s argument of being tired and old (it is the 500th anniversary of his birth) but yours is just a rehash of Pelagius.

  45. Alright Gundeck — then let’s compare the God of Calvinism to a Geppetto with the sadistic tendencies of Sid. He creates them all but plans to torture and burn a huge number of them from the beginning. Any way we look at it that is hardly a being that can reasonable be called good.

    A toy’s sin against Sid is not an infinite rebellion against their sovereign creator.

    In a universe where only one being (God) has libertarian free will, one one being (God) is morally culpable for sins. In other words, if God creates beings that sin but cannot choose otherwise then God would be morally responsible for those sins.

    Judgment of Sid as sadistic torturer of toys uses our social norms, and we certainly cannot use our standard to judge God.

    Hehe. So in other words sadism is ok as long as God is the sadist in question. Therein lies the glaring problem with Calvinism. (So much for WWJD eh?)

    but yours is just a rehash of Pelagius.

    True. I contend Pelagius was right and Augustine was wrong on the free will thing. Augustine won the political battle with Pelagius and the Christian world has been saddled with some of his horrendous mistakes regarding free will and ever since.

  46. How about this, Geoff? Would you agree with this?

    “Whether we believe in a Creator God, an Eastern tradition, or our secular humanists, we make the meaning of our lives, to live a good life, in all these ways. And we act without knowing everything. What should and can we do in the face of the ignorance that we confront? Our choice is between life and death. If we choose life, we must live with faith and courage, forward, unknowing. To do so is the mandate of life itself in a partially lawless, co-constructing universe, biotic, and human world. In face of this unknowing, many find security in faith in God. We can also choose to face this unknown using our full human responsibility, without appealing to a Creator God, even though we cannot know everything we need to know. On contemplation, there is something sublime in this action in the face of uncertainty. Our faith and courage are, in fact, sacred–they are our persistent choice for life itself.”

    Or this . . .

    “The reinvention of the sacred is our own choice of what we will hold sacred in an emergent universe exhibiting ceaseless creativity. Those who believe in a theistic, all-powerful, all-good Creator God confront the theological problem of evil. How can an omnipotent, omniscient loving God allow evil to occur in the world? Within the Abrahamic traditions, there are are a variety of answers to the problem of evil. Recent Jesuit thought includes the concept of God outside of space and time, is a generator of the universe, but neither omniscient nor omnipotent. This is one answer to the problem of evil. If we are to reinvent the sacred with ourselves as part of the real world, with all its wondrous creativity around us, then we have to come to terms with the fact that evil happens at our own hands, let alone for causes beyond our control. There is nothing sacred about killing one or millions of people, in the names of God or otherwise. Thus, there can be no place for implacable religious fundamentalisms–in the civilization we must create. . . . We do not need moral fundamentalisms any more than we need religious fundamentalisms.”

    Or what about this . . .

    “Neither God nor human beings know how the biosphere, the economy, and culture will evolve. Even if this God exists, reason remains an insufficient guide to action. Even if this God exists but cannot know, this God cannot reliably answer prayer. If, as I advocate, we rename God, not as the Generator of the universe, but as the creativity in the natural universe itself, the two views share a common core: we are responsible, not God. . . . What more do we really need of a God, if we also accept that we, at last, are responsible to the best of our forever-limited wisdom?”

    And this . . .

    “What if God and gods are our invention, our homes for our deepest spiritual nature? Is the Old Testament any less sacred if it is our invention, our language, our discourse? Is the King James Bible any the less miraculous if it is the writings of humans, not the transcription of God’s words?”

    – Stuart A. Kauffman (2008)

    What do you think, Geoff?

  47. Geoff J,

    Your comparison bears no resemblance to Reformed theology. You basing man’s postlapsarian state and the inability of the natural man to do good without regard to the state of Adam at his creation prior to the fall. Adam had the ability to obey God his, failure introduced sin into the world, its all downhill from there for the natural man.

    Enslaved to sin, the natural man says I am free. He judges God, finding him wanting he declares himself King.

    This is the failure in open theism, and all forms of Pelagianism, they fail to take into account the seriousness of sin and the affect sin had on the nature of creation.

  48. Sin.

    Hmm . . . Stuart Kauffman doesn’t agree with what the Bible says about his sin.

  49. Gundeck,

    Even if we assume Adam had libertarian free will (which I am not sure if Calvinists do assume or not) that has nothing to do with the rest of us if none of us have LFW as well. One can’t be morally culpable for actions one cannot avoid.

    Therefore I find your gripe against open theism baffling. What is “sin” in a universe where there are no free choices? It is a myth and nonsense. Sin implies choices and in a Calvinist universe there are no real choices by humans — there is only the illusion of choices. Pelagians and open theists have the massive advantage of a theology that allows for real moral responsibility.

    Enslaved to sin, the natural man says I am free. He judges God, finding him wanting he declares himself King.

    Who is morally responsible for the puppet saying or doing anything in a Calvinist universe? The puppetmaster bears that responsibility and in Calvinism God is the creator and puppetmaster and the only morally culpable actor.

  50. Todd,

    Those quotes of yours seem to assume we have libertarian free will and the real ability to make choices (contra Calvinism) so I agree with that sentiment at least.

  51. Geoff J,

    I did not mean Adam had libertarian free will, sorry if you misunderstood. I meant that in his prelapsarian state he was not corrupted by sin and was able follow the will of God. While the fall was decreed by God, Adam was free to sin or to maintain his relationship with God. His free choice introduced sin into his posterity, corrupting our nature. The solution for this was also decreed by God. Christs death on the cross while a decreed of God does not exonerate those who freely chose to kill him.

    You are arguing against a puppet master deity. This is denied by the Reformed confessions generally and by Calvin in particular. It is also inconsistent with Biblical testimony that shows that the decrees of God are not inconsistent with free agency and moral responsibility of men.

  52. Gundeck: While the fall was decreed by God, Adam was free to sin or to maintain his relationship with God.

    Not so. If Adam never had libertarian free will he never was free to choose anything other than his predestined fate. He was fated to fall and when and how he did and was not free to choose either the result or even the timing.

    Christs death on the cross while a decreed of God does not exonerate those who freely chose to kill him.

    Since in the universe you are describing God is the only being who makes any free choices, I agree that in Calvinism God cannot be exonerated for freely choosing to kill Christ.

    You are arguing against a puppet master deity. This is denied by the Reformed confessions generally and by Calvin in particular.

    They might deny the logical necessities of their theology but that does not mean they escape them.

    It is also inconsistent with Biblical testimony that shows that the decrees of God are not inconsistent with free agency and moral responsibility of men.

    If you want to believe the decrees of God aren’t inconsistent with free agency then simply abandon Calvinism and its pernicious fatalism. Insisting predestination and real free will are compatible is like insisting there can be “round squares”. In other words, it is absolute and astonishingly obvious nonsense.

    It takes a special brand of group think to ignore such blatant nonsense in my opinion.

  53. Geoff,

    You continue to insist that Reformed theology places man at the whims of a deity that controls their actions this goes against biblical testimony (Gen 50:19, 20; Act 2:23; 4:27, 48) and makes the incorrect assumption that God must personally effect his decree.

    There is no other way to explain any predictive prophecy or the foreknowledge of Gad than the acceptance of his righteous sovereignty.

    The places in the Bible that speak of the sovereignty of God and the moral responsibility of man are more numerous than is necessary to post, but there is not a single example in Scripture where the inspired writers implicitly or explicitly demonstrate that there is a contradiction between the decree of God or the free will of man. Nowhere do the writers of scripture try to harmonise God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom. What you are trying to do goes beyond the text and what we know about God.

  54. Gundeck: There is no other way to explain any predictive prophecy or the foreknowledge of Gad than the acceptance of his righteous sovereignty.

    Sort of true. I would clarify by saying that there is no way real free will is compatible with exhaustive foreknowledge. This is true because real free will requires an open and non-existent future and exhaustive foreknowledge requires a fixed future that exists to be known now. But since there is no value in exhaustive foreknowledge (since God couldn’t change it either if it is fixed) and there is infinite value in real free will, choosing a theology that preaches a non-knowable and open future is a no-brainer.

    You can freely choose to pine away for exhaustive foreknowledge and real free will co-existing if you want but it is the equivalent of pining away for the existence of a round square.

  55. Geoff,

    Thanks for the interaction but you have denied so much of the biblical revelation about God in your last statement that there really isn’t much need to carry on. You feel comfortable to recreate God in the likeness of your own logic and imagination. I do not.

    “For if we reflect how prone the human mind is to lapse into forgetfulness of God, how readily inclined to every kind of error, how bent every now and then on devising new and fictitious religions, it will be easy to understand how necessary it was to make such a depository of doctrine as would secure it from either perishing by the neglect, vanishing away amid the errors, or being corrupted by the presumptuous audacity of men. It being thus manifest that God, foreseeing the inefficiency of his image imprinted on the fair form of the universe, has given the assistance of his Word to all whom he has ever been pleased to instruct effectually, we, too, must pursue this straight path, if we aspire in earnest to a genuine contemplation of God;—we must go, I say, to the Word, where the character of God, drawn from his works is described accurately and to the life; these works being estimated, not by our depraved Judgment, but by the standard of eternal truth.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.6.3)

  56. “You feel comfortable to recreate God in the likeness of your own logic and imagination. I do not.”

    If God cannot appeal to us based on logic and human imagination, then I would submit that none of us have any basis for talking about God at all.

  57. Take away a Calvinist’s biblical proof-texts, and you end up with a religion that really has nothing to recommend to it – other than being internally consistent.

  58. Gundeck: Thanks for the interaction but you have denied so much of the biblical revelation about God in your last statement

    If the Bible insisted there that round squares exist there would be the same problem. We would have to assume the Bible authors used different definitions of the words “round” or “square” than our definitions or that one or both concepts were mistranslated or that the author was just wrong. (And none of those assumptions would make God wrong — they would just prove the ridiculous notion of an inerrant Bible to be wrong). The same approach should be taken with other logical contradictions like libertarian free will co-existing with exhaustive foreknowledge. The best solution is to interpret “foreknowledge” very loosely in my opinion.

    Again, I certainly won’t try to stop you from believing self-contradicting nonsense if you want. But if I were you I would think long and hard about adhering to a theology that inadvertently paints God as a horrible, cruel, narcissistic monster as Calvinism does.

  59. Seth,

    You complain that Calvinist is nowhere without scripture proofs and I have to admit that I am guilty as charged. To seek God without the aid of His Word is a blunder.

  60. Geoff,

    To consistently adopt an open theist view, one would need to reject all predictive prophesy. Every single verse of prophesy from Gen 3:15 to Rev 22:20 is a fraud, a lie, and not to be trusted. I am not sure if you are a Mormon but you would need to reject all of Joseph Smiths and the other Mormon prophets predictive prophesy as well, because they are all frauds, lies and not to be trusted. This would include NT statements attributed to Jesus Christ, such as John 13:38. A lie, each and every predictive prophesy ever told is a lie. This would include the holy grail of Mormon prophesy, the NT predictions of the great apostasy must be misinterpreted because there is no such thing as predictive prophesy.

    Continuing, we need to reject any statement of God where he claims power that he certainly would not have, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isa. 46:9b-10) comes to mind because of its direct relation to the decree of God.

    We would also need to question the “promises” of this open deity. Did he really mean it when he promised not to flood the earth in Gen 8:21, or has a new reality he was unaware of made him reconsider his covenant. I think this would have considerations for Mormons and their priesthoods, this is something for them to reflect on.

    We can disregard the Wisdom books, with statements like, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Now the beginning of wisdom is our own logic and we need not worry about holy.

    Paul most certainly was in error in describing the open deity in Romans 11 “33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” How wrong Paul was. The open deity’s judgments aren’t unsearchable; they aren’t even all that divine, they just happen.

    I cannot even imagine what open theism logically does to the doctrine of the atonement, but we will have to accept that none of the OT prophesies that were thought to be referring to Jesus Christ could have been. The charge of divine child abuse begins to sound true, accepting an open deity. In fact every divine judgment from the flood to the destruction of Jerusalem begins to appear rather capricious. I mean how did the open deity know these people would not repent the day after his spiteful wrath was reigned down?

  61. Not really Gundeck,

    If you accept that God is all-knowing (as Open Theism affirms), then you also accept that God knows everything there is to know about the present. He perfectly knows our present character and the course of current human events.

    Based on this omniscience, he can adequately predict the overall course of human events and perfectly respond to human choices as they arise. Such a being can, in fact, provide guarantee of fulfillment of all Biblical prophesies.

    I can absolutely trust in such a being. His will shall be done. That is certain. But that doesn’t mean he knows the outcome of free human choices.

  62. I’m sorry Seth that doesn’t work. I have seen the character of men change in an instant. Combat, the loss of a limb, marriage, children and number of outside influences change men. The open deity would not know how men would respond to any number of external stimulants because its omniscience is fixed in time.

    The only way for the open deity to guarantee biblical prophesies would be to use force.

  63. Biblical prophesies almost always deal in generalities and the ultimate course of events for large groups of people.

    Even if God cannot know of a certainty the individual choice, he can know of a certainty the outcome at the macro level.

  64. So let me see if I’m following this right: the open theist God knows when the world is going to end, but He doesn’t know what color of underwear I’m going to wear tomorrow, correct?

  65. That doesn’t work either Seth. Men and women shape history, the open deity cannot know how particular people will react prior to their existence. It also would not know how a group would respond to to a given circumstance. All it can do is use some outside influence to try to force a given reaction. As the omniscience of the open deity is fixed in the present it has to wait until the free agent responds. Once again all the open deity can do is use some type of force against the free agent, trying to create a situation that will result in the circumstance the deity desires.

    Now instead of a God who acts according to his righteous and eternal decree with divine foreknowledge you have a deity that has made promises that it is not sure it can keep because it has to rely on the freewill of man to develop the results it desires.

    If you are claiming that the open deity knows how people will respond to an infinite number of circumstances and is able to postulate this into the future then you have given the open deity foreknowledge akin to the knowledge that is traditional ascribed to God. Any action that this open deity takes to change a foreknown future result is in effect taking away the free will of men. Any interaction of the open deity with mankind is a force against the free agent.

  66. No Seth, neither in the micro or macro of history does it matter. Macro events are shaped by many micro events, if anything this would cause the open deity to force micro events to make a change on the macro level. Ask any combat veteran, battles are won or last at the squad level.

    For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
    For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
    For want of a horse the rider was lost.
    For want of a rider the battle was lost.
    For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
    And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

    A horseshoe nail, a rain storm, a wrong turn, each time the open deity would need to force the free agent aginst their natural will to ensure an outcome. Hitler was a one man macro event.

    While many Biblical predictive prophesies deal with generalities the prophecies concerning Jesus Christ are specific. How does the open theist explain this? Cyrus and the return from Exile was pretty specific too. How does the open deity bring this about?

    The open theist believe that the sovereignty of God stops where the free will of man begins. This is inconsistent with the gift of the Holy Spirit that clearly affect the will. How can we look to the new covenant of Jer 31:33 and Heb 8:10; 10:16 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

    We haven’t even looked at predictive prophesy and the theology of revelation in Mormonism, I am not sure how you can square with that with open theism, but I should let you settle that in house.

    Open theism does not present a rational view of God, it provides you with a theological pet rock that you can mold into your own liking. This isn’t new it is a fuzzy version of Jefferson’s deism or Arminianism on steroids.

    Your so worried about your own free will you have forgotten about your maker’s will. True free will, biblical free will, only comes when we are in a perfect relationship with God and with the law written on our hearts we are able to perfectly obey his will. Until you understand this you will not understand Calvin, the reformation, or Reformed theology. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, (1 Cor. 10:31, Rom. 11:36) and to enjoy him for ever. (Ps. 73:25–28) (WSC 1)

  67. Gundeck,

    In my estimation there are two parts to the predictive power of God in a universe where real free will exists.

    A. God has access to all the data and is the ultimate predictor. (Seth mentioned this one already)
    B. God is an actor in our lives and can intervene on earth whenever he wants.

    One of these alone might be enough but both of them together make it exceedingly easy to understand how God could be sure that all the prophesies he gives come to pass. He has all the power, influence, knowledge, and time he needs to see to it that all of his purposes are fulfilled. So for instance if he for some reason wants Jack to where polka dot underwear tomorrow he has plenty of influence to see to it that happens.

    The advantage of accepting that God is powerful and smart enough to do accomplish all of his purposes even with an open (thus unknowable) future is we are not forced accept the pernicious fatalism rejecting libertarian free will entails. It also explains why Abraham and other prophets were able to literally barter with the Lord in the Bible. It allows for the real possibility that our prayers actually matter because it allows for the possibility of a persuadable God. Last, it allows us to permanently reject the atrocious theological baggage that come with Calvinism.

  68. Geoff,

    I am sorry those won’t work because both of the reasons you present would violate freewill. If the open deity (OD for short) has access to all the data and is the ultimate predictor then it has foreknowledge of a specific but only plausible, at the time of the prediction, future reality. Anything that the OD does to bring about this plausible future would violate someones freewill.

    While the OD may in fact be an actor in history it could not, without violating freewill, manufacture events in such a way to bring about a predictive prophesy. To use its influence, either internal or external to the free agent, would be an exertion of force against the natural intent of the free agent and thus the freewill of man. This turns the OD into a scientist standing over a maze of mice, controlling their actions by outside stimulus. Not such a pretty picture.

    This rule should also be logically applied to any promises of divine help or favor from the OD to a particular people. In fact thinking about this logically we would have to conclude that for the OD to make promises shows that it is willing to interfere with freewill in order to keep it, so we can now remove not only predictive prophesy from the Bible but any promise that was ever made. This brings us to the veracity of the OD. Can you honestly trust a deity that will make predictions that it can only ensure by violating free will? Can you honestly trust a deity that will make promises that it can only keep by violating the free will of other people? So logically we must conclude that the OD is not all that honest either. Or is it that you are not so worried about everybody else’s freewill, just yours? Once again I am not sure if you are a Mormon but I think we can both conclude that this will have an impact on their theology.

    You were correct in your original denial of foreknowledge. I would offer that the OD would not only fail to have exhaustive foreknowledge but that it would not have any foreknowledge, except what it could postulate from its exhaustive knowledge of the present. The postulations of the OD about the future could not be describe as foreknowledge as understood in the Bible because for the OD to act to bring about these predictions would by the very nature of the OD’s actions violate the freewill of free agents.

  69. Gundeck is right in at least some respects here. Open Theism does get rid of the iron-clad guarantee that God will save you that Calvinists treasure so much. Salvation becomes, at least in some sense, dependent on you.

    Some people will find that scary and threatening. Others will find it exciting.

    But Gundeck, in exchange for that security, you really have made God into a rather reprehensible being.

    There are a lot of theological and scriptural tradeoffs in accepting your version of God too.

    For one thing, it creates a God who is incapable of responding to our prayers.

    That idea, I find to be utterly at odds with the central idea of all scripture.

  70. I think this is why God does not inspire much specific prophecy. He seems to commpuicate more of a process (the plan of salvation) and principles that lead to happiness and peace in this life, and eternal life in the world to come. He is willing to help us if we ask for it.

    He can perfectly predict that His plans and purposes will work.

    I don’t think God cares whether BJM where polka dot underwear tomorrow or not. And we do not have prophesies like that for a reason.

  71. You also run into the problem in the Bible of instances where God very clearly seems to be changing direction based on HUMAN factors. Like Jonah’s “failed prophesy” of the destruction of Ninevah, or Moses bargaining with God not to destroy the children of Israel.

    I’ve heard Calvinist explanations for Jonah that seem sorta OK – though not really convincing. But I really don’t know how Calvinists get around God’s bargaining session with Moses.

  72. Talk about a leap, we have not even established that the open deity (OD for short) can preform predictive prophecy and you want me to allow that the OD can provide salvation? Salvation from what? IF my free will is what is important why do I need salvation?

    Eric, I do not see much of a a distinction from a plan and a predictive prophecy. In Oder for the OD ensure that its plan is comes to fruition the OD will have to exert force over the free will of the free agent. What stops the OD from acquiring information that it did not have and changing his mind and switching to plan B? Sorry, no hope there either.

    So far we have an OD with questionable powers to influence history, an inability to prophecy about the future, and of questionable veracity. We have ruled out any section of the bible that supports these claims and with Eric’s help we will toss the prophets out of the Old Testament. We no longer need to worry about the OD spirit contaminating our free will by writing the law on our hearts. I am not sure where we are with the commands of the OD and a requirement for perfect obedience or sin or what our requirements are to this OD? But hey, we have free will.

  73. An OD is like Edward Cullen in Twilight. But Edward didn’t know one girl’s thoughts. After all, that is possible. And that makes it even more tantalizing and exciting for some in the Corridor.

    But sometimes Hollywood brings out the opposite “human hero” like Nicholas Cage in Next.

    Of course, Hollywood like the Ancient Near Eastern Religions need a lot of superheroes that complement each other where they are lacking.

    ____

    And let me ask my LDS friends, which open theism theologians today prefer the KJV for their standard authority?

  74. I admittedly have not read all these comments in depth, so I may have missed it, but I see no suggestion here, from either side, of an understanding that God transcends time, that past, present, AND FUTURE are always directly present to the Most Blessed Trinity, that time, too, is a creature. I’m pretty sure that Mormonism denies this. What of Calvinism?

  75. Gundeck: I am sorry those won’t work because both of the reasons you present would violate freewill.

    I think you are simply wrong on this assertion. Is there any reason anyone should take this unsupported claim seriously?

    There is no violation of free will in God looking at tendencies, character, and all other causal/influential factors to predict future results. There is no violation of free will at all in God influencing people — just like there is no violation of free will at all when people influence people.

    Perhaps you are confusing free will with the liberty to do whatever one wants? They are not the same thing. A quadriplegic has just as much free will as a completely healthy person.

    So your argument on that front is completely unpersuasive. All it does is indicate that you describe a God who had no persuasive influence whatsoever over our lives. So in trying to show the power of God you seem to end up describing a completely impotent god.

  76. And let me ask my LDS friends, which open theism theologians today prefer the KJV for their standard authority?

    I’m afraid I neither know nor care Todd. But if you want to research that question for some reason maybe you could start with wikipedia…

  77. For one who believes in an OD, where else are they going to go? You may think the idea is weak, but it beats a Calvinist God.

    This OD has been right before – the resurrection of Christ as an example. He has a good track record. He knows his plan works, likely because it has worked before. He obviously knows vastly more than anyone else. His words sound and feel better than any other options. Ultimately it is the spirit that leads to all truth. Following this OD (If that is a proper term) feels right.

    Tossing out communication from this being as you suggest is absurd. There is no better sources to go by. Unless one can replace this communication and plan with something better, it makes no sence to ignore it.

  78. FrGreg,

    Actually Mormon scripture is pretty clear that God is outside time. More clear than the Bible actually.

    This is one of the biggest hurdles, in my opinion, that a Mormon open theist has to overcome. The vast majority of Open Theist scholarship posits a temporal God. Not that he was ever bound by time – but that the moment God created time, time began to exist for him as well as all of us. Thus the Open Theist God is temporal.

    Mormon scripture clearly creates problems for this theory. It speaks of a God who is outside time and how all things are one before him. Mormon authorities have dubbed the concept “the eternal now.”

    So if you’re a Mormon, and you want to be an Open Theist, you’ll have to get over that scriptural hurdle.

  79. I don’t think it is impossible Gundeck. But I won’t pretend I’ve worked the problem out enough to argue about it.

    I believe Blake Ostler is an open theist. Perhaps he’s worked out a solution.

  80. Geoff,

    I am not confusing freewill and liberty. But I think you are confusing a postulation of the future from omniscience of the present with a certain knowledge of the future. If the OD is able to postulate the future with certainty than any act it takes to change history violates the free choice of some being. So the choice is yours foreknowledge or freewill.

    Eric,

    If the OD has perfect knowledge of the present and is able to postulate the future perfectly as has been proposed and then chooses to communicate with a free agent in order to influence that free agent while using the omniscient knowledge that it can in fact influence a change the OD is taking the free will away from the free agent. I am sorry if you want to be free of God you must be free from God.

    Think happy thoughts.

  81. Gundeck,

    I already told you I emphatically reject exhaustive foreknowledge. God can know what he will do and what he will bring to pass in the future but he does not need to future to already exist to have the power and knowledge necessary for that.

    And as I said, influencing someone is no violation of their free will at all. Your argument in this case rests on that false assumption.

    PS — I think it is true that the future cannot exist for real free will to exist so I reject all of the “God transcends time” talk as nonsense (even though that particular theological silliness is popular among Mormons too).

  82. Seth: Mormon scripture clearly creates problems for this theory. It speaks of a God who is outside time and how all things are one before him. Mormon authorities have dubbed the concept “the eternal now.”

    I obviously disagree with the interpretation of the scriptures you are describing Seth.

    We all live in the “eternal now” because none of us are time travelers.

  83. Geoff,

    If you emphatically reject exhaustive foreknowledge then you logicaly must reject predictive prophisy as well.

    Define inexhaustive foreknowlege. How far can the OD postulate? Is it your position that the OD makes/has made decisions arbitrily without all of the relevent data and without taking into account of all of the actions of the free agents?

    PS I knew that you would reject a transendent God and I don’t have any foreknowledge.

  84. Gundeck: If you emphatically reject exhaustive foreknowledge then you logicaly must reject predictive prophisy as well.

    Not so. For instance, God can prophesy that Jesus will return one day with full power to fulfill that prophesy. Can you name a single scriptural prophesy that cannot be explained using the criteria I have outlined? (Answer: no. But you can try me if you’d like)

    So if if we can explain all prophesy and not have to reject the intuitive and obvious claim that we have real free will why would we not? Besides, as I said in a recent post:

    But exhaustive foreknowledge is fool’s gold — what good would it do God to know the fixed, unchangeable future? If it is really fixed and unchangeable then by definition even God could not change it. And the fact is that if God has the capacity to accurately predict [or bring to pass] future events well enough to fulfill all of his purposes and promises what would the practical difference be for us anyway?

  85. And I am waiting for LDS authorities or “theologians” to show enough human responsibility/will to come up with a standard of Bible that better reveals what they desire to believe about their gods.

    Still amused. To use the protestant, traditional, calvinistic KJV with the classic, transcendent God of all?

    I don’t think there is enough LDS free will to break through LDS tradition. Sorry.

    Well, beyond doubt, no one will be able to break the fundamentals of the sovereign will/word of God. Jesus also said in John’s Gospel, “Scripture can’t be broken.”

  86. Gundeck,

    I’m glad you chose the thrice denial example because that is probably the toughest example and yet it is rather easy to explain with the criteria I have given.

    Setup: Christ predicts Peter denying him three times before the rooster crows.

    God uses A.) All available data to predict future behavior of free willed people and B.) His ability to intervene and influence as necessary.

    God knows exactly how Peter normally reacts to stimulus God knows all of the external factors and stimulus that are at his disposal that evening. Through a simple process of divine promptings and nudgings God steers Peter into situations he knows will lead Peter to say “I don’t know that man”. All God has to do is open to eyes of some woman so she recognizes Peter here, or prompt a mobber to point Peter out there and the prophesy is easily fulfilled under divine influence. In this scenario no free will is compromised. God is plenty powerful enough to bring about all of his prophesies even though the future does not exist to be exhaustively known. Or are you saying God isn’t powerful and competent enough to do that if the future doesn’t exist to be known already?

  87. Todd: And I am waiting for LDS authorities or “theologians” to show enough human responsibility/will to come up with a standard of Bible that better reveals what they desire to believe about their gods.

    Can you explain what this sentence mean Todd? I can’t decipher it.

  88. Do you think the LDS Church has shown good responsibility to their members and to outsiders by still using and defending this God of the KJV Bible in 2009?

    Does the KJV Bible really drive home to readers what you are fervently trying to communicate in this thread?

  89. Geoff,

    Sorry you are allowing that the OD “Through a simple process of divine promptings and nudgings…”, “…steers Peter into situations he knows will lead Peter to say “I don’t know that man””. In this case the OD has used a supernatural act of influence to affect the actions of Peter. In this case the OD has forced Peter into a situation that it knew would cause Peter’s denial. What you have proposed is a case of divine kidnapping.

    The OD can affect the natural world or animals but as soon as it exerts influence over any human actions you loose freewill.

    And Eric you may or may not be correct, influence even divine influence may not guarantee change. But as soon as the OD preforms an act of divine influence, even the simplest prompting or nudging, it violates the freewill of the free agent.

  90. Eric, do you believe that it might be possible for you someday to read someone else’s mind and know all the possible factors in the “eternal now” as Geoff is suggesting here?

  91. Gundeck: In this case the OD has used a supernatural act of influence to affect the actions of Peter.

    True.

    In this case the OD has forced Peter into a situation that it knew would cause Peter’s denial.

    False.

    Where is the forcing? If Peter listens to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and freely chooses to follow it there is nothing remotely like “forcing” involved.

    The OD can affect the natural world or animals but as soon as it exerts influence over any human actions you loose freewill.

    False.

    People can persuade other people. There is no loss of free will in that. Yet you are trying to claim that God is so impotent he can’t even do what any human being can do — persuade someone to freely choose one thing or another. That is a ridiculous claim to make.

  92. Just because God helps you make an informed decision does not violate free will. People reject good advice all the time.

    Todd:

    My kids still surprise me sometimes. I am not that bright, especially when it comes to people and things social.

  93. Geoff,

    You need to go ahead and define your version of freewill, because in any definition of libertarian free will I have ever read as soon as a deity applies a cause to a free agent it has violated the freewill of the human.

    A deity, in this case the OD, is not just another human using persuasion, you have granted the OD supernatural powers of perfect omniscience and understanding, how this is possible for a being fixed in time you have not explained (good point Todd). The OD in this situation knew how Peter would react in an infinate number situations. Knowing that Peter would deny 3 times if he was in the high priests court, and not content to allow Peter to decide where and what he wanted to do, the OD used a “a simple process of divine promptings and nudgings” (your words not mine) to bring about the future reality it desired, in this case Peter’s denial.

    This is a case of classic determinism. I am not claiming God to be impotent, I am claiming that libertarian freewill is inconsistent with a God that acts in history to bring about his will. The problem you have is causality, anything (even a simple process of divine promptings and nudgings) that the OD does to set up events determines those events. That is determinism.

  94. I didn’t like Geoff’s explanation entirely either.

    But I reject the either-or false dichotomy that Gundeck is trying to push here of either 100% control or 0%, and nothing in between allowed.

    Also Todd, don’t think that just declaring the KJV Calvinist makes it so. I think you are simply wrong that the God of the KJV is Calvinist.

  95. Are there any LDS who have become perfect in this life by the strength of human free will?

  96. Gundeck: as soon as a deity applies a cause to a free agent it has violated the freewill of the human.

    I don’t know what you mean about “applying a cause”. I am talking about a free person receiving a quiet prompting, idea, or revelation from the Holy Spirit. That free person decides whether to act on that suggestion from God or not. There is nothing controversial about the definition of libertarian free will I am using here.

    This is a case of classic determinism.

    False. In fact it is expressly contradictory to determinism. God communicates with Peter and waits for Peter’s freel chosen response. In this case God knows how to elicit the responses he wants in the time period he wants but there is hardly anything miraculous about that. Humans can influence and even manipulate one another and that is not accused of violating free will.

    So there is no causation when Peter freely chooses between actually open options. If you thing there is you misunderstand causal determinism.

  97. Seth,

    If you would like to articulate your objections to my position I will be happy to try to answer any questions you have about it.

  98. Seth, do you ever get perturbed when LDS scripture or the writings of LDS authorities are ripped from historical context?

    Yes, I honestly bounce back and forth between amusement and anger in how LDS use protestant scriptures, protestant hymns, and even protestant architecture and then wage an apologetics battle against the transcendent, all-knowing God of all.

    The OD god[s] need relationship with humans. They have needs. Loud and clear needs as I am hearing in this thread and reading between the lines. But the transcendent God of the KJV Bible does not have needs in His knowing or whatever else in relationships with creaturely men and women. Blake and others say His love is conditional. No. It is unconditional. C.S. Lewis writes about God’s unconditional love – “bottomlessly selfless by very definition; it has everything to give and nothing to receive.”

    Let the God of the KJV Bible triumph in the Corridor. Every knee will bow.

  99. The “simple process of divine promptings and nudgings” is the cause of the denial. You admitted OD knew that Peter would deny if placed in the proper situation, in this case the OD chose freely to use a “simple process of divine promptings and nudgings” to ensure that Peter was in the exact situation designed to generate a desired outcome violating Peters freewill in the process.

    Where were the other disciples? John only speaks of Peter and another disciple. Why did they split up? Would Peter have denied with the moral support of the other disciples in the high priests courtyard? Would Peter have denied if he had stayed with the other disciples? We will never know because In your version the OD, knowing that Peter would deny if placed in the high priests court yard with only one other disciple, used a “simple process of divine promptings and nudgings” to ensure that Peter went to the high priests courtyard. The OD “steers Peter into situations he knows will lead Peter to say “I don’t know that man”” You call that free will?

  100. Gundeck: The “simple process of divine promptings and nudgings” is the cause of the denial.

    No, Peter freely choosing to deny Christ when the opportunity arose is the cause of the denial. God might have known Peter’s tendencies and might have used that knowledge to influence Peter but as a free agent Peter had the power to act out of character and not deny Christ in that situation if he chose to. There is a world of difference between that and a causal relationship where Peter has no power to act out of character at all. Peter is morally responsible only if he at least has the real power to act contrary to all stimulus and influences. The same applies to all of us.

    In this case who knows how many tries it took for God to get Peter to finally deny him three times? I have always assumed God was three for three — but the record doesn’t go into that. In any case God had enough power to fulfill his words and that is what matters.

    Again, the glaring weakness of your position here is that you are conflating influence with causation. They are very different things.

    The shocking thing is that you are essentially arguing that God is too pathetic and inept to sufficiently influence free-willed people like Peter in cases like that so he must have exhaustive foreknowledge instead. Why not put a little more faith in God’s competence?

  101. The man, Jesus Christ, is remarkable in John’s Gospel about what he knows about all the disciples, Geoff. From their future character to their future actions, this man knows differently than you and I.

    Your last question does sting me a little . . .

    It makes think of this quote:

    “How often do we attempt to work for God to the limit of our incompetency rather than to the limit of God’s omnipotency.”

  102. Geoff,

    You know that I am not arguing that God is inept or pathetic. Remember I am the one who subscribes to the Westminster Standards and uses the Shorter Catechism 6 days a week with my children. (Question 54 What does the third commandment require? was this week).

    I am not conflating causation and influence. In fact I would assign the OD as the efficient cause in this situation as it set up the “conditions prior to an effect that guarantee an effect.”

    If Peter is acting out of character or not is not the question and has nothing to do with the violation of his free will. Peter’s characteristic response only became a reality because of the “conditions that were created prior” to his denial. These conditions were a creation of the OD. Since according to freewill we cannot hold someone accountable for “choices they didn’t cause” and by controlling this circumstance that precipitated Peters denial the OD steered Peter into a situation that the OD knew the outcome of, we must acknowledge that Peter never had libertine freewill in this situation. It was taken from him when the OD set up the “conditions prior to the effect”

  103. Gundick,

    Here is my question to you: If we really have robust will (LFW) and therefore the future does not exist to be known, do you think God is competent enough to see to it that all of his prophesies come to pass?

    My guess is you do think God if competent enough to achieve that result under those circumstances.

    Now in response to your comment: One plausible answer is that God only knew Peter had chosen to deny Christ three times after Peter chose the third time to deny Christ. Until then God simply predicted his efforts would work. But obviously the record is silent on these things so we can only speculate the details.

    Again, God is competent enough to know how to bring to pass all of his words. He doesn’t need exhaustive foreknowledge to be that competent as I think you’d agree.

  104. Geoff,

    First let me thank you again for an enjoyable discussion. Clearly we are not going to agree on much, but you have presented your position without being unnessarily harsh and this is probably the main reason I have continued with it for so long.

    In all honesty and I mean this sincerely I do not see how you can square a deity that 1) has a plan 2) is willing to effect the plan with relation to free agents and 3)total LFW of man. Could the OD bring about it’s plan without divine foreknowledge? It is plausible, but I don’t think it do it and maintain the LFW of man.

    I don’t remember where I read it but there is a quote about open theism, something like, “the sovereignty of God ends where the free will of man begins.” I cannot express what a totally man centered comment this is when viewed from the perspective of Reformed theology.

    The Sovereignty of God is unsearchable. You could spend a lifetime pondering the mystery. What I am certain of is that God is Sovereign, His decrees are certain, and man is morally obligated to perfect obedience to His will. Woe is me, without his grace.

    The Lord’s Day approaches, so let me end with another Quote. This time not from Calvin, but a good Reformed man none the less. Richard Baxter was a nonconformist (Puritan) minister in England. He was ejected from the Church of England in 1662 and put in prison 3 times for preaching the Word. This comes from “A Christian Directory” Chapter 2, Directive IV

    “Plunge not yourselves to soon in controversies: For, (1.) It will be exceedingly to your loss, by diverting your souls from the greater and more necessary things: you may more increase of your holiness, and spend your time more pleasingly to God, by drinking in deeper the substantials of religion, and improving them on your hearts and lives.”
    With that said I will see you around the web.”

    It continues from there for another 3 double column pages (the Puritans are not known for brevity). Take a look at it. It is available on Google Books for free.

    Grace and peace to you

  105. Gundeck: It is plausible

    Hey as long as you are willing to admit that a universe with real LFW and an open future is plausible I am satisfied.

    In parting here are my thoughts: There are lots of ways to interpret the Bible. We can freely choose which is the most likely interpretation. One way to choose a theology is to follow its assumptions to their logical ends. As I and other have said in this thread, the logical ends of Calvinism is a God that we could only describe as capricious, cruel, sadistic and uncaring. Based on that it seems like a no-brainer to me that we should run from Calvinism as if it were a contagious plague. This is especially true when there are plausible alternatives that that lead to the conclusion that God is kind, loving, and responsive to our humble pleas and petitions.

    It has been fun debating with you as well. Grace and peace to you. And of course, live long and prosper.

  106. And in the midst of all your grace and peace, Geoff, I will try to annoy you some more in future days (just not on your blog).

    Signing out tonight,
    the annoying, spineless, passive/aggressive and so outgunned on the scriptures . . . spud in Idaho

    (still chuckling)

  107. Seth R. I believe that it is fairly clear that neither the Bible nor any Mormon scripture teaches that God transcends time altogether, tho his relation to time may differ from ours. It is rather clear that there is still a past, present and future from God’s perspective given scriptural statements.

    Gundeck: You’ve cited the prophecy of Peter denials. I have several responses, the best of which is probably already given by Jack here: http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2009/05/24/thus-saith-the-lord-thou-wilt-probably-maybe-most-likely/#more-969

    Given that reading of the text, Peter’s denial is a matter of following Christ’s commands and a narrative of his obedience even when it was hardest, and not a prophecy that came to pass.

    However, technically Peter’s denial is not a prophecy because we don’t have the prophecy before the act prophesied since the text was written down about 50 years after the events. It is likely that the prophecy is actualized and dramatized for narrative presentation.

    That said, it isn’t enough to proof-text. You also have a number of narratives that are very difficult to explain on the assumption of God’s complete foreknowledge. I have discussed them here: http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2007/01/hermeneutical-assumptions-and-open-theism/319/#more-319

    So you also have a number of scriptural passages that expressly say that God changes his mind, repents of what he thought he was going to do and intended, and that one future is traded for another in the moment of the bargain. There are prophecies where the point of the text is that the prophecy failed (e.g., Jonah and Nineveh).

    You challenge Geoff as follows: “In all honesty and I mean this sincerely I do not see how you can square a deity that 1) has a plan 2) is willing to effect the plan with relation to free agents and 3)total LFW of man. Could the OD bring about it’s plan without divine foreknowledge? It is plausible, but I don’t think it do it and maintain the LFW of man.”

    Actually, it is quite straightforward how God can achieve his plan without having exhaustive foreknowledge. Consider that: (1) God knows now what his purposes are. (2) God knows now all possibilities and the present probability of any possible future. (3) God knows now what he can do, given any possible future, what he can do to achieve his purposes and his plan. (4) God does not know now what each free agent will freely choose.

    God is much more resourceful on such a view than the view that there is a single, fixed future. He is like a master chess player against a novice. He doesn’t know exactly which choices the novice will make; but he knows how to meet any such choice and to win the game.

    The problems with Calvinism and predestination are rather obvious and I’d rather focus on them. God is evil on such a view because he damns some he could save. That isn’t loving on any reasonable or sensitive view. Any being that is like Calvin describes ain’t loving and thus ain’t God. It is really that simple.

  108. Todd says: “Blake and others say His love is conditional.”

    No I don’t. Where did you get that? I have an entire chapter on God’s unconditional love in my second volume.

  109. Thanks for the note. I must have picked up the idea in some broad sense by some past blog discussion. Maybe it was on some LDS temple discussion, I can’t remember.

    Yes, I see here in the book you seeking to make a distinction between the fellowship love and the universal love of the LDS God.

    In order for an LDS person to remain in the relationship with His LDS God, he has got to continually abide by the conditions of the covenant or he is out.

  110. Yeah, Todd, if you keep his commandments then you abide in his love. Look it up, it is stated repeatedly in John and 1 John.

  111. And is there a potential to struggle with that throughout eternity?

    (We start John 15 this next Sunday.)

  112. Todd, love is not a struggle. However, love always leaves the beloved free to say “no” to the relationship. Love cannot be coerced are caused in us by another. That is the single biggest problem with Calvinism — it makes anything worthy of designation “love” impossible. For Calvinists, God irresistibly causes us to return God’s love — which is to say that genuine love is impossible on such a view.

  113. Geoff J.

    You asked me what verses I was referring to when I stated that the Mormon God of the scriptures appears to be outside time. Here is a list of scripture cites. I’d be interested in your thoughts on them:

    Alma 40:8
    D&C 130:4, 5, 7
    D&C 84:100
    D&C 88:110
    Moses 1:6
    Rev 10:6

    And this quote:

    “…the past, the present, and the future were and are, with him, one eternal now.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 220.

    I’d be interested on your thoughts on the matter. Or anyone’s really. And I still would like to know if Blake Ostler has figured out a way around these verses for a Mormon-style Open Theism (assuming he does advocate Open Theist elements in his own theology).

  114. Blake, there are old LDS people here in S.E. Idaho who struggle with lusts, fears, doubts, and plenty of weaknesses, etc. And their God will never release them from that ongoing struggle. “Just keep holdin’ on throughout all eternity,” their kind Coach tells them, “But remember, if you let go of your grip, you are out. Come on, show me what you are made of.”

    This God sounds pretty sick to me.

  115. Seth: I address all of these in my book at some length.

    Note that Alma 40:8 speaks of time being “measured” and like it being a “day” for God, and a day is a temporal measure. It is impossible to empty the term “day” of all temporal content. Time is still measured for God, about 1 day to a thousand years as as symbol according to other scriptures.

    D&C 130 doesn’t say that all things past present and future are before God, but that “all things for their [the angels’] glory are manifest past, present and future . . .” That simply means that God’s plans to bless his angels are manifest without regard to temporal ordering. Note that in D&C 130:4 (the verse just before that you didn’t note) speaks of “the reckoning of God’s time” and reckons it according to a specific frame of reference. So how do you reconcile the fact that it expressly states that God is in a time?

    D&C 84:100 and 110 merely means only that our temporal order, as it now exists, is finished. Since it speaks of Satan being bound and “time is no longer,” are you suggesting that Satan is timeless too? There is a new time because the earth is renewed when Christ returns.

    D&C 88:110 seems to contradict your view since it says that “there shall be time no longer; and satan shall be bound . . . and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years.” If time is no longer, as you suggest (meaning timelessness), then how could there be a thousand years as this clearly states?

    Moses 1:6 merely says that all things are present before God, which I take to mean that all that now exists is open to his gaze. That hardly entails timelessness.

    The final statement from the Times & Seasons is incomplete. First, it was probably ghost written by W. W. Phelps and not Joseph Smith. Second, it says in context: “The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before ever it rolled into existence.” (p. TPJS 220) Note that the discourse is about God contemplating and planning the plan of salvation “before” the earth was created. Quite clearly if it was “before” the earth was created, then there is a temporal interval of before and after. Further, God is planning for something that hasn’t happened yet even from his perspective. If something hasn’t yet happened yet from God’s perspective, it can’t be already in existence in an eternal now from that perspective. It goes on to say that “he ordered all things according to the council of his own will, and made ample provision for their redemption.” God’s knowledge of things past, present and future is dependent on his plan and what he plans to bring about — not the supposed notion that everything past present and future already exist all at once. What is before him all at once in an eternal now is the outcome of his plan of salvation and the blessings it graciously bestows. That hardly entails divine timelessness.

  116. Todd: Perhaps the notion of enduring to the end is foreign to you — and that is too bad because only the true disciple endures to the end. However, I suspect that you struggle with these same challenges even tho you claim to be saved. Do you deny that even tho you claim to have “tasted the good word of God,” that it is impossible for you to “fall from grace” as Gal. 5:4 and Heb. 6:6 state?

  117. Todd: “there are old LDS people here in S.E. Idaho who struggle with lusts, fears, doubts, and plenty of weaknesses, etc. And their God will never release them from that ongoing struggle. “

    That just isn’t true. When they die they are released from bodily lusts, mortal fears and doubts about life after death. However, they will continue to grow into the perfect image of the likeness of Christ.

  118. Blake,

    As I have shown in the discussion with Geoff you simply cannot have LFW if the OD creates the “conditions prior to the effect” to achieve the desired effect.

    As to your second proposal, without getting into the speculation required, you have now made the OD the author of sin by commanding the denial.

    As to any verse you wish to site that portrays an interaction with God and his creatures where God’s mind is “changed” you are assuming that the “change of mind” was not part of the eternal decree of God. For instance does the Reformed Church abandon prayer or evangelism? Certainly not. While understanding that God’s decree has been set before eternity we understand that our prayers and evangelism, as He has commanded, are the means of bring about His decree. What a privliedge this is to know that our imperfect prayers and foolish attempts at evangelism are decreed to be part of Gods plan.

  119. If you call arguing to a stalemate and each of you repeating your own conclusions “showing” Gundeck… then yeah.

    You showed us alright.

  120. Gundeck,

    Seth is right. You have made unsupported assertions, but you certainly didn’t “show” a causal effect between God’s interventions and the choices of free willed individuals.

    God has a causal effect on his own actions of course. And he can influence humans. But there is no direct causal effect in influence. The free agent ultimately causes his or her own actions via free choices even when responding to stimulus/influences.

    Also the fact that that Calvinists still pray is no evidence at all to support your position. It certainly doesn’t save Calvinism from its own abominable implications. In the end those implications remain the elephant in the room.

  121. Blake, it is impossible for those “in Christ”. What can separate me from Christ?

    But not true when it comes to the LDS Coach. He keeps saying “bye bye” to the many ex-LDS as they go out the revolving doors in the back. They are confused . . . rightfully angry . . . at the LFW Coach who “compassionately” brought them into the entrance of the large, free-will, towering gymnasium with all the talk of unconditional love and such absolute promises of seeing loved ones forever.

    On the ugly inside of the building, the big carnival is over. Look at the plaques on the walls, “There is no free grace for fellowship!” “Start showing your grit if you are to ascend in this place!” So people are working hard. But some are letting go of their sweaty grip, they are falling from floor level windows, second floor windows, and third level windows.

    And look at the front page of yesterday’s local paper in The Post Register about how Idaho rates in suicide. The LDS Coach of some had better start hollering louder about the things that need to improve around here.

    For eternity, he is not going to contain the hell. Yeah, his love is pretty sick. And he calls himself God?

    Keep pushing the LFW Coach, friends, and you will have a burned out district for the whole I-15 Corridor.

    Oh, I can hear him right now over the loud speaker on this Memorial Day in 2009: “You want to improve? You want to be like me? Back to work! And it will be this way forever! Whatever you do, don’t let go of your grip!”

  122. And Geoff, since I do have Tourette’s Syndrome for questions (though I don’t “constantly curse” (Blake’s Vol.2, p. 395), I have two questions.

    1. I know what you think of the God of John Calvin. But what do you think of the God as portrayed in the KJV by the apostle Paul? We will take Paul for starters because I am assuming that you might see multiple portrayals of God in the Bible by the human authors.

    2. And secondly, give me the 50 KJV references for arguing your kind of God. All I need is the references. For now, I am not interested in you waxing eloquently on your logic. Just the KJV verse references. (It might be close to the same 50 verses as reserved by free-will independent fundamental Baptists who love their KJV.)

  123. Todd,

    1. I think all my views are describing the God of the KJV.

    2. And no, I am not interested in taking up your homework assignment. But if you want to come up with your top 50 arguments from the KJV against free will I will be happy to respond.

  124. In the book “Why I Am Not a Calvinist” the authors define LFW as, “The essence of this view is that a free action is one that does not have a sufficient condition or cause prior to its occurrence…” In your description of the OD you said he “Through a simple process of divine promptings and nudgings God steers Peter into situations he knows will lead Peter to say “I don’t know that man”.” I can only see “divine promptings and nudgings” as the creation of a “sufficient conditions”. Blake at least has the logical integrity to claim that John 13:38 was not a predictive prophesy but a command, ignoring that this makes Jesus the author of sin.

    I have asked for your definition of LFW, because if by your definition a deity can create a situation that achieves the desired result in a free agent by prompting or nudging that free agent, you are not using LFW as it is commonly understood. Without your definition, useful as it would have been to our conversation I have to use resources that I have available. I have little doubt that since you find yourself immanently qualified to fashion deities in the image of your infinite powers of reason and logic, you will have little difficulty drafting a definition tailor made to meet your conclusions .

    I have refrained, sir, from attacking you or your theology personally. Unfortunately, you sir, have decided to return your practice of ignoring the argument and resorting to the use of disparaging and abusive language, in the description of my beliefs and by association to me personally. Should we exchange comments in the future, I would hope, sir, that you could do so in a manner befitting a gentleman, or at least with the respect fitting the subject. Something that you have pointedly failed to accomplish in your less than useless diatribe against the Reformed faith.

  125. Also, regarding your anti-work comment to Blake: If one considers it hard and painful work to love God and to love one’s neighbors I can see why one would wish we had no free will. (Of course without robust free will there is no real or meaningful love to begin with.)

  126. Gundeck,

    I am not using a particularly unusual definition of libertarian free will (LFW). A very basic definition of LFW is that free will exists and determinism does not exist for humans (see here for example). All that is required for LFW to exist is the real possibility for the agent to veto any stimulus or influence on his/her actions. If a free agent goes with the flow at any given time and chooses not to veto his/her natural reactions to stimulus that has no bearing on whether that agent still has LFW. So if I encourage my child to do something useful for her she still retains LFW even when she complies with my strong encouragement.

    You seem to want a definition of free will that can only exist in a vacuum with zero stimulus on the agent at all. There is no such thing as that.

    I have little doubt that since you find yourself immanently qualified to fashion deities in the image of your infinite powers of reason and logic

    Well now that you are going here, I will agree that I am probably significantly smarter than you. Yet I know that my intelligence has nothing to do with the real God I am describing to you. (And you’ll note that while I have aggressively attacked Calvinism up until now in this conversation I haven’t attacked you. I don’t know why you think it is a good idea to start the personal insults but I can play along if you’d like).

    Also, you claim I have ignored your arguments… which of your arguments have I ignored? I think I have addressed any argument of substance you have presented.

  127. Geoff, are you loving your neighbor perfectly? The LDS Coach is saying, “Come on. You can do it, buddy, in this lifetime. What is wrong with you? Look how I have progressed! Be like me in choosing the right!”

    He needs you, Geoff. He really does need you to help boost the publicity for his three-tiered “paradise.” But don’t let his authentic need for you flatter you.

  128. “I think all my views are describing the God of the KJV.”

    Yes, isn’t the Coach nice? He did not tell his human authors where exactly is the error in the original autographs, and what needs to be corrected as they wrote; but all the while, he was whispering in their ears, “Be perfect.”

    Let’s give the Coach a pat on the back for being so sweet and so patient as he is probably laughing in the background over how people can go off on all kinds of tangents from erroneous data in his workout manual.

    Well, he knows the errors (or maybe he doesn’t know all the errors).

    It could be that the Coach still doesn’t know what is wrong about his manuals. That could be why he is not showing confident and robust free will. He needs you, Geoff, to help him figure out the factual from the fancy.

  129. Todd: He needs you, Geoff. He really does need you

    I’ll assume you are referring to my proverbial neighbor here, and I agree. My neighbor does need my love and service and kindness.

    Interestingly, Jesus said: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

    I’ll leave it to Jesus to decide how well I serve him through the least of these his brethren though.

  130. Geoff,

    You claim that I, “seem to want a definition of free will that can only exist in a vacuum with zero stimulus on the agent at all. There is no such thing as that.” But the link you provided says “For the supernaturalistic libertarian although causality applies to the inanimate and animal worlds, it cannot extend to human actions and decisions.” This would preclude “…a simple process of divine promptings and nudgings God steers Peter into situations he knows will lead Peter to say “I don’t know that man”.

  131. Leave it to Jesus?

    Come on, Geoff.

    No, you show me some robust free will. It is not ultimately up to your Coach. It is up to you.

  132. Oh I don’t leave my choices to Jesus Todd. I leave judgment to him. He is the judge.

    Note: If we didn’t have robust free will there would be no reason to refer to Jesus as the judge because with no real choices here on earth he would have nothing to judge.

  133. BTW — I like this new feistier version of you Todd.

    Did you choose to be feistier or was it your predestined fate? (grin)

  134. Are you sure your judge knows everything, Geoff? He surely doesn’t know everything as your coach.

    I don’t what my Judge only like you and me.

  135. Gundeck,

    You are wrong. Inanimate objects and animals not being able to veto their natural reactions to stimulus has nothing to do with humans who can veto their natural reaction to stimulus. If I stub my toe my natural reaction might be to scream or even cuss. But because I have LFW there is an ever so small space between the stimulus and my chosen action. I have a choice as to how I will react to stimulus precisely because I have LFW. A rock has no such choice in how it reacts to stimulus.

  136. Todd,

    I have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (including faith in his knowledge and power etc). That suffices me.

    Plus that is what my KJV tells me — along with the other stuff I have mentioned in this thread.

  137. Geoff, I am signing off for now. I have stomach flu and am staying close to the bathroom. My God knew I was going to have such a miserable day, physically.

    But I suppose I could in future days write up some real sarcastic posts about your God[s] And on HI4LDS, I could address the posts to you.

    Gifts to Geoff, who likes feistiness. Too bad your Authorities aren’t like that.

    I would really like to tango with them in future days.

  138. If it’s sarcastic posts you want Todd, I think other “ministry to the Mormons” blogs have that angle covered nicely.

  139. Geoff,

    How am I wrong, it is the deffinition you provided? “For the supernaturalistic libertarian although causality applies to the inanimate and animal worlds, it cannot extend to human actions and decisions.” In other word the OD is allowed to act within nature but cannot or would not act an any way on the free agent.

    This has nothing to do with the rock. By this deffinition, that you provided, there can be no supernatural causality against the free agent for LFW to exist. None. Not even, “…a simple process of divine promptings and nudgings God steers Peter into situations he knows will lead Peter to say “I don’t know that man”.

  140. Gundeck,

    Alright, let me try again. Here is the quote:

    “For the supernaturalistic libertarian although causality applies to the inanimate and animal worlds, it cannot extend to human actions and decisions”

    This fit perfectly with my position. LFW humans choices are not caused by stimulus. Rather they are caused by the free choice of the the agent about how to act upon stimulus. By contrast, the reactions of non LFW objects and animals are indeed caused by stimulus. Assuming dogs do not have free will, the reactions of dogs are entirely caused by the stimulus acting upon them rather than as a free choice they make. Non-LFW animals can’t choose their reactions — they can only react as the stimulus dictates.

    So if a person were whispering in Peter’s ear to do something Peter could choose to do it or not. The same is true with God suggesting ideas to Peter through the Holy Spirit — Peter was free to choose to follow the suggestions or not.

  141. Gundeck, you still haven’t explained how people can be morally responsible for their own sins under Calvinist views since they are not actually free to commit those sins. As your quote from Calvin much earlier in the comments above points out, Calvin suggests that people sin out of necessity — they are merely acting on their desires and their desires are fundamentally corrupt and evil. The kicker is, as Geoff J. and Seth R. have extremely clearly written above, that God created them with these desires. People had no choice whether to be created or not and are created fundamentally evil in a state in which every action they do is a sin as a result — they act this way out of necessity as they are in bondage to sin because of their corrupt nature. God is therefore the only agent capable of moral responsibility for any sin, if sin can even exist in a situation where there is no choice.

    Another point that Seth R. mentioned above that you have conveniently ignored is that, although Seth concedes that Calvinism “works” based on the Bible (I strongly disagree with this by the way — I think that Calvinism is blatantly and fundamentally unbiblical and that as a philosophy, it stems from blatant misreadings of isolated and proof-texted verses in the writings of Paul or his acolytes), it is not the necessary reading of the Bible and that other interpretations are equally or even more strongly supported by the Bible. Thus, even assuming that the Bible supports the Calvinistic perspective (I do not believe it does), the Bible also supports perspectives that are essentially the opposite of what Calvin suggested. As such, it is wise to interpret the Bible as describing God as a loving entity who has created us as his children with the freedom to choose to follow Jesus Christ. The New Testament is very specific that people should convert and become disciples of Christ; in other words, we should all choose to become followers of Jesus Christ. This is illusory in a Calvinist world and one wonders what is the purpose of the Gospels and many other New Testament writings.

  142. Todd, I think that Elder Holland has been speaking to you of late — but you seem oddly oblivious. Sometimes I think that you do not understand or know Mormons like you think you do.

  143. John f.

    I only said that Calvinism is one way to read the Bible. It has a lot of internal consistency and is a philosophically complete system. It’s parts fit together well making it look highly logical. It has a lot of Biblical support. Paul himself has been described as a sort of proto-Calvinist and I think there is a lot of support for this view.

    However, I never claimed that the Calvinist position was scripturally airtight. As you mentioned, it has serious holes in it. And not just general ethical holes (like Geoff J. has been focusing on), but real biblical holes (as you allude to). The same can be said of Arminianism or Open Theism or other theological frameworks. No one has a perfect theological paradigm. All of them run into problems with the Bible.

    I think a major selling point for Calvinism is its simplicity. But I also think this is one of it’s biggest weaknesses. I find powerful scriptural arguments, powerful ethical arguments, and powerful logical arguments against Calvinism. But even I don’t pretend it doesn’t have its real advantages. Nor do I think that Todd Wood or Aaron S. or Gundeck are “idiots” for believing in it.

    Oh, and thanks to Gundeck for attempting to mount a defense of Calvinism while keeping it civil. The same can’t always be said of other Protestants and Mormons who get into these kind of conversations.

  144. Gundeck: Libertarian free will is the belief that given all of the prior laws and events to at time t an agent has genuinely open alternatives among which to choose at t. The act of an agent free in a libertarian sense is adequately explained only if the causal activity of the agent qua agent is added to the prior events and laws. Your assertion that there is no sufficient explanation is simply false. There is an adequate and sufficient explanation for an event E brought about by an agent, but the agent’s power to choose must be added to all prior events and existing laws as part of the explanation to be sufficient.

    Gundeck says: “Blake at least has the logical integrity to claim that John 13:38 was not a predictive prophesy but a command, ignoring that this makes Jesus the author of sin.”

    Nonsense. You make an assertion without anything to back it up. No reasoning. Nothing. At the very least you owe some explanation as to how your assertion follows from the view I have adopted. Until you do that, your assertion is merely an unsupported and quite nonsensical assertion.

    Todd: It is as I expected — you believe that there is nothing you can do that would separate you from Christ. Are you claiming that it is impossible for you to deny Christ? I have known plenty of folks who claimed to be saved who later became atheists. Their earlier claim didn’t mean they didn’t truly accept Christ, it meant they changed and lost their salvation. Or do you claim that you can deny Christ and still be saved?

    The fact is that you just don’t believe your own scriptures. Gal. 5.4 clearly states that one call fall from grace. Hebrews clearly states that those who are justified can lose their justification by denying Christ. You claim to be beyond these concerns shows that you are in danger and blind to real problems.

  145. Blake, I am thinking today of my glorious God and Savior. He won’t let me get away from Him.

    I have been reading in another book today, too, which directed me to “The Hound of Heaven.”

    I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
    I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
    I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
    I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
    Up vistaed hopes I sped;
    And shot, precipitated,
    Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
    From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

    http://poetry.elcore.net/HoundOfHeavenInRtT.html

    Blake, it was not your God(s) who has captured my heart. It was my God. He has captured me forever.

    (And yes the warnings in Scripture do make me shudder.)

  146. Todd: The belief that you are beyond doing anything that would separate you from grace, as Paul clearly taught was possible, is an arrogant and proud view — and a dangerous one.

    You say that you shudder at the warnings in scripture. Why would you shudder at warnings in scripture if what they warn against is impossible given the Calvinistic doctrine eternal security? Why all the talk about enduring to the end if such endurance is guaranteed? As Matthew 24:13 very clearly states: “But the person who endures to the end will be saved.” How do you reconcile that statement with the view that you, who have not already endured to the end because your end hasn’t yet come, are already eternally secure in salvation?

    You still haven’t responded at all to Gal. 5.4: “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Do you notice the words “alienated from Christ” (implying that one was once not alienated from Christ but previously “in Christ”) and also the notion of having “fallen from grace”? The very notion of “falling from grace” is just impossible on your view.

    You have also ignored Hebrews 6:4-6: “4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

    You see, this last scripture talks about those who have tasted the heavenly gift and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost. It states very clearly that they can fall away. So can you.

    Here is what is frustrating. I make arguments and you avoid them. I cite scriptures to back up my points and you ignore them. It isn’t much of a dialogue when the very essence of the discussion is just ignored.

  147. Blake wrote:

    Why all the talk about enduring to the end if such endurance is guaranteed?

    that is one excellent question

    I realize that there are other scriptures that speak strongly of how we will not be lost from the Father’s hand, but at the very least, we are in the presence of a biblical tension to be taken seriously, and charitably 🙂

  148. For some vague reason, it seems like I have had this conversation before, Blake.

    Invicible grace doctrine is considered very dangerous here in the Corridor – that is why it is not taught from week to week in any of the wards. Teaching the truths concerning tsunami grace is considered arrogant, reckless, and irresponsible, etc.

    It is the sovereign grace that enables me to endure to the end (Matthew 24:13). Todd Wood free-will will not be the ultimate source for endurance against persecution. Put a gun to my head, and I could capitulate on a number of things, if it rested upon my will. I am just like Peter.

    Galatians 5 and Hebrews 6 are interesting case studies. In fact, both books in the sum total of their messages would be arguing the supremacy of Christ and his grace alone. Leaving their past religious systems, people are attracted to the idea of Christ in complete equality with the Father as God. People are attracted to the grace of Christ for full salvation. They taste it. They engage themselves in this new world as “brothers and sisters”.

    But some of them return back to comfortable ruts. They turn from this Christ and his gospel grace and go back to their previous thoughts on temples, priesthood, works, and their traditions, etc., or just their own system of making life work for themselves.

    How can they then be saved when they do this? Outside of Christ and His gospel grace alone, it is impossible.

    These people were partakers but they were not regenerated and sealed by the Spirit, or cleansed by the blood of Christ, or kept by the power of God.

    I will be back, Blake. I need to get caught up on a pile of stuff today.

  149. Ok, I am back for a minute . . . thinking first about Hebrews.

    Serious Warning
    Hebrews 6:4-6 – “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the power of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

    Serious Assurance
    Hebrews 6:9 – “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.”

    Serious Warning
    Hebrews 10:38 – “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”

    Serious Assurance
    Hebrews 10:39 – “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

    The warnings are to be given to brothers and sisters because not all brothers and sisters are regenerated brothers and sisters. They perish.

    It reminds me of the Israel who perished among the Israel in the O.T.

    I Corinthians 10:1-5 – “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”

    But going back to Hebrews. The author of the book does command us: “Hold fast” (Heb. 10:23). But I picture it like this. I am fiercely, passionately clinging to the hand of Christ. But He is the one carrying me while I am clinging. And where is He carrying me? The path of full, eternal salvation (Heb. 7:25).

    Praise Him.

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