Sunday, May 30, 2010

Formal Calvinism vs. Arminianism Debate, Cross-ex part 4 of 4

This is the first "formal" debate in which I've participated (with rules and such). For readers who are on facebook, they may find both sides of the debate here. If others are interested, they may email me for a word document. The format, set by my opponent, will be as follows:

"Opening Statement period (~1,000 words each)

First Rebuttal period (really depends on the opening statement, and you can provide as much rebuttal as possible)

Second Rebuttal period (really depends on the first rebuttal statements, and you can provide as much rebuttal as possible)

Cross Examination - each side asks 10 questions (there is no limit to the response word count)

Closing Statement period (~2,000 maximum, otherwise below that number is fine)"


Question 7 (me): Reply to the following arguments:

1. Those for whom Christ died are freely given all things (Romans 8:32). Reprobates are not freely given all things (e.g. sufficient desire to believe). Therefore, Christ did not die for reprobates.

2. All who are given to Christ by the Father come to Christ (John 6:37). Not all men without exception come to Christ. Therefore, not all men without exception were given to Christ.

3. God does as He pleases (Psalm 115:3). Not all men without exception are saved. Therefore, God was not pleased to save all men without exception.

(Word count: 100)

Answer 7 (Arminian): Let us take the Calvinist’s lens off our eyes when we read your question. Starting with part 1 of your question you declare, “[Those] for whom Christ died...” are you declaring an elect few preordained afore-time, or those elect few that have [decided] through God’s constant calls to our hearts and in his Word, to come to the knowledge of Christ and Salvation? As how I regard myself coming from an extreme depraved state, and thus thereafter, it was [me] who made the choice of wanting Christ in my heart!

Proverbs 1:23
(23) Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

This is why I do not understand God suddenly ‘zapping’ me with some form of irresistible grace, to spark a ‘regeneration’ in me, and thus for me to have faith. Quite the opposite and thus I am thankful to Yeshua for being patient with me while I slowly removed the ignorant mindset during my depraved state. Any Christian here, reading this, will agree with me on the same testimonial basis on how awesome it is when they, through research and a will to search for the truth, stumbled across a wonderful truth in the Gospel.

Even Satanists “look for the truth” but they have yet to find it. Why haven’t they found it yet? First of all, what every human being needs to do is to remove his presuppositions and preconceived or indoctrinated ideologies on religion and start afresh. That is what I did, comparing every religion out there. What have I come to understand now? Proverbs 9:10 so dearly is the answer. As far as the Satanists go, because of their ignorant narrow mindedness to cling onto Luciferianic ideologies even if they honestly declare, “we read the bible also”, Paul gives an answer as to what happens if this is the case, 2 Corinthians 4:4
(4) In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Was I a depraved person during my adventure? Oh yes! Am I as much of a sinner as I was after declaring, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”? No! Why? Because this is one of the glorious obvious truths to [know] that Yeshua does exist, and he does mean what he promises, that if I have faith and I lovingly come to understand in all awe and reverent fear of who he really is – he gives me life, truth and a passage unto eternal righteousness (regeneration), John 14:6
(6) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 11:25-26
(25) Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
(26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Galatians 6:15
(15) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Don’t equate this line of thought with synergism either. Didn’t Christ do it all on the cross (τετελεσται)? Therefore, how can you (Ryan) declare that the non-elect in whom make [their] own choice on coming to the saving faith of Christ (according to what the Arminianist would say) have personal equal merit within salvation (hence synergism)?

This is ridiculous because he/she who is receiving this awesome [free] gift – cannot be doing any form of merited work! They are simply [receiving] that which is completely undeserved at all! But because God so loved the world – thus he died for all, in this truth, he cries that all should theoretically be in his eternal glory.

Does it mean that God failed if Anton LaVey is not saved? No! Why? Because how can God be blamed conditionally on the choices that Anton LaVey makes; in regards to whether he makes the choice to adhere to Luciferanistic stupidity or the saving Gospel / relationship with Christ?

“All are not saved by Christ’s death, but all which are saved, are saved by Christ’s death: His death is sufficient to save all, as the sun is sufficient to lighten all; but if any man wink, the sun will not give him light.” – Henry Smith

“That mystical Sun of Righteousness (saith St. Ambrose) is risen to all, come to all, did suffer and rise again for all—but if any one doth not believe in Christ, he defrauds himself of the general benefit. As if one shutting the windows should exclude the beams of the sun, the sun is not therefore not risen to all.” - Isaac Barrow

Therefore, “freely given all things” can be seen in the lens of, Revelation 21:7
(7) He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

I did [make] the choice by the way. Anton LaVey likewise had that choice to repent and be saved, until his death of course.

Oh, and let us define “given all things” – because that does not equate, “sufficient desire to believe”.

Are you declaring that since we are automata (as understood by TULIP), that God gives his special ‘elect’ a peculiar cryptograph in their hearts / mind, to [make] them believe!?

Thus if this was the case, obviously Christ would not die for [other] reprobates – because it all comes to an absolute understanding of a [fixed] predestinational / fatalistic ideology that God has already planned even before creation (when he actually planned the Mashiach sacrifice from Genesis 3:15 onwards), who will be saved and who will be damned.

The ridiculous irony that no Calvinist seems to understand is that Ryan Hedrich is as much of a sinner as Anton LaVey was, so why did God choose to regenerate Ryan (towards saving faith; according to TULIP, regeneration precedes faith) over Anton LaVey?

Yes, Anton LaVey would have been saved and would have inherited the fruits of the Spirit, if he so desired to fully understand, 1 John 4:15
(15) Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

Part 2 of your question, you summarise, “Therefore, not all men without exception were given to Christ”. This then implies limited atonement, correct?

I differ because Christ was the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

By a willingness to reject the Gospel of Christ – the person stays depraved in his/her state. This does not mean God has “given up” on them.

For those that have accepted the Gospel, that is where John 6 comes into mind. Notice, John 6:35-40
(35) And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
(36) But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
(37) All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
(38) For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
(39) And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
(40) And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

And thus, this is only possible, because Christ died for all – in whom if they make the choice to accept this free gift, they will be indeed raised up on the last day. Hebrews 2:9
(9) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

1 Timothy 2:6
(6) Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

When we look at part 3 of your question, “God does as He pleases (Psalm 115:3)”

But a sovereign God cannot lie, deceive, murder, rape, et al.? Take note of these passages, Genesis 50:19-20
(19) And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
(20) But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Deuteronomy 32:4
(4) He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

Psalms 12:6
(6) The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalms 18:30
(30) As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

Psalms 119:140
(140) Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.

Proverbs 30:5
(5) Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

“Not all men without exception are saved.”

Because, 2 Timothy 4:2-4
(2) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
(3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
(4) And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

“Therefore, God was not pleased to save all men without exception.”


Do you love and wished for Anton LaVey to have been saved? In fact, do you [not] have a weeping sorrow that he is indeed awaiting an eternal Hell fire?

1 John 4:8
(8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Mark 9:23-24
(23) Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
(24) And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou MINE UNBELIEF.

Question 7 (Arminian): Michael Heiser, an esteemed biblical scholar specifically in Semitic languages, has released an interesting May 25th 2008 blog entry titled, “The Ends, Not Necessarily the Means (Sovereignty and Free Will Addendum)” in further response to his “Predestination and Free Will: A Summary Position” a few days prior. The reason is because not many people understood his overview that,

* God foreknows ALL events
* God foreknows events that never happen
* Therefore, the fact that God foreknows an event doesn’t require that it will come to pass.
* Therefore, there is no cause and effect relationship between foreknowledge and predestination.

“The short version of all this: All I’m really saying is that God foreknows all events, predestinates certain (but not all) events, and is not responsible for sin and evil.”

Therefore, he further declares, “When I say that I don’t believe God predestines every event, I mean that, but the way I explain it needs some work.

For one, I need to be clear that I don’t think the terms “sovereignty” and “predestination” are synonymous. I have hinted at this in Chapter 4 and some posts, but looking back I don’t think it’s clear. What I really believe is that God predestines the ends to which all things work, but not necessarily the means. He predestinates the end point, but not necessarily the path to the end point (though he can). How things end up can’t be random in that God has to be satisfied with the way it all ends and isn’t surprised or anything like that.

God’s sovereignty is shown in that he has the ability to influence and oversee the paths, paying close attention to what is happening in the course of human history. I reject deism for this reason (among others). God is intimately involved in using human and non-human free agents and his Spirit to move things along as he wishes. He of course can foresee both what humans actually will do and what they could do (Keilah). He knows what choices he’d like to see made and works to influence those choices. Humans sometimes make the desired choices, but when they don’t, God remains at work. This kind of program requires omniscience in my view.

Lastly, God has told us in Scripture that he did predestinate certain events (e.g., election of a remnant; the sacrificial death of the messiah who was incarnate deity). I don’t believe that the paths to these events was necessarily predetermined, though (see my previous reply to Phil’s comment about the crucifixion; all that prophecy required was consistency with the typology of sacrifice and Passover).

I think this position allows genuine freedom, does not impinge on God’s sovereignty (which is not predestination), and allows God to predestinate certain events. It also has God not causing sin or doing evil to accomplish things, even things that are predestinated.”

What is your take on this?

Words: 105 (excluding quotes)

Answer 7 (me): Robert’s seventh cross-ex question is puzzlingly similar to his first. The important points I made which I will not hereafter repeat are as follows:

- “knowledge beforehand” is not the only concept in the semantic domain of “foreknowledge” and “foreknow.”
- contexts determine which concept is implied.
- “proginosko” and “prognosis” are never used as referents of God’s knowledge of counter-factual conditionals.
- God’s knowledge is not predicated on created things like man’s will.
- God’s eternal knowledge is predicated on the fact He has unconditionally determined all things from eternity. That God knows counter-factual conditionals is unsurprising, then, for such suggests God knows what would have occurred had He decreed that events should unfold in a manner different than He actually decreed.

There is really only one other point from the blog entry which bears mentioning:

“All I’m really saying is that God foreknows all events, predestinates certain (but not all) events...”

The idea that God doesn’t predestine all things – or, if He does, He [sometimes] does so conditionally – can be rebutted a number of different ways. The simplest way – the one which I have repeated most often – is that such would mean God cannot be eternally omniscient. Since Robert has cited this “esteemed biblical scholar,” I will assume that his understanding of God’s eternal omniscience – or at least Robert’s inference of his understanding – is not much different from Robert’s own (expressed most explicitly in his answer to my fifth cross-ex question). Given this assumption, which, if false, Robert is free (!) to correct along with providing an explanation as to how the author explains God can be eternally omniscient apart from causing all things, I will examine Robert’s own long-winded beliefs as to how God’s eternal omniscience is compatible with human freedom. His 1,500 word reply can really be condensed to the following:

//…self-determinists respond that God can predetermine in several ways…

1. Contrary to free choice (forcing the person to do what he or she does not choose to do);
2. Based on free choices already made (waiting to see what the person will do);
3. Knowing omnisciently what the person will do.//

Let’s examine these alternatives:

1. If this is supposed to be a caricature of my beliefs, it’s a straw man. I anticipated this argument before Robert ever made it when, in my opening statement, I wrote:

//Calvinists are quick to point out that men are not “forced” to will; that is a contradiction in terms. Rather, insofar as man always chooses in accordance with his most strongest desire, and insofar as God determines our desires (directly or indirectly), our will is determined and yet voluntary.//

2. How does God know these “free choices already made”? Robert’s answer is clear: God “waits to see what the person will do.” But that’s the problem! If God’s knowledge is predicated on the wills of temporal creatures, God’s knowledge by DEFINITION cannot be eternal.

3. What does “omnisciently” mean? This is obviously a not-so-subtle tautology: “God knows because He knows.” This doesn’t answer my question: HOW does He know if not by the fact He caused? A circular argument doesn’t cut it.

Robert’s citation of Romans 8:29 and 1 Peter 1:2 in support of the latter two [bad] explanations of God’s eternal knowledge presupposes he has shown there is only one biblical definition of foreknowledge. As no indication has been given that Robert is even aware I rebutted this presupposition in my first cross-ex answer, however, one really has to wonder if Robert even understands the problem. He should reread my fifth cross-ex question.

(Word count: 600)

[Since my opponent has abandoned the debate following the eigth question, the following questions are provided only to show what I would have asked]

Question 8 (Ryan): I would like for you to respond to two arguments I’ve made:

1. For God to choose to save some men on the basis of their free will (as defined in my opening post) would contradict God’s eternal omniscience. Particularly, I wish you to interact with my remarks in my seventh cross-ex answer.

2. The paragraph in my first rebuttal which begins: “Robert also argues that predestination is not unto faith, but rather subsequent spiritual blessings…” Particularly, I wish you to show that, given my argument in that paragraph, conditioning predestination on faith is not circular.

(Word count: 100)

[No answer]

Question 9 (Ryan): I believe I have sufficiently exposed the fact you have failed to address the mutual exclusivity of eternal omniscience and free will. Let’s suppose, however, that the two doctrines are compatible. You’ve written:

“There is no problem in saying that God created men with free will so that they could return His love, even though He knows that some will not make that decision.”

How is God any more loving by creating men He knows will “freely” choose that which will damn them forever than if He had created reprobates for the sake of the elect?

(Word count: 100)

[No answer]

Question 10 (Ryan): [I would probably have asked a question relating to one of Robert’s replies to questions 8 and 9]


Tao said...

The rejection of deism accords with shortcomings of deism, but those are fully addressed by pandeism--which it must be remembered fully accounts for ALL the illusory appearances of an "active" deity in our Universe, as filtered through the engine of the ever-wanting human mind!!

Ryan said...

What does that have to do with this post, and how does "pandeism" address the epistemological shortcomings of deism?