Logical Implications of the Synergistic View of God’s Knowledge: Part I

By Pastor Dustin S. Segers

Christian theology is a study that should be founded upon the idea that the Bible is God’s inspired and inerrant message to mankind. Over the past two thousand years, Christian theologians have searched the Scriptures diligently, developed scholarly principles of hermeneutics, and studied various lexical and grammatical issues related to the original languages in an effort to clearly communicate and caudify what God’s nature and attributes are without any admixture of error. Historical evidence of this can be seen in Article One of the 1644/1646 Baptist Confession of Faith regarding the nature of God;

THE Lord our God is but one God, whose subsistence is in Himself; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light, which no man can approach unto; who is in Himself most holy, every way infinite, in greatness, wisdom, power, love: merciful and gracious, long- suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; who giveth being, moving and preservation to all creatures. [1]

Notice the grand importance the confession places on defining God’s nature and attributes. The classical theists that formed the 1644/1646 Confession understood that the nature, essence, and attributes of God are of utmost importance, for an improper understanding of God’s nature will lead to aberrant or heretical beliefs that can have eternal consequences. Historically, any theology that approached heresy or heterodoxy lead to passionate debate and scholarship. Bible-believers are fortunate that this usually resulted in a much deeper understanding of the Scriptures and further clarification of essential Christian doctrine. As R. C. Sproul has said, “Christians tend to argue with each other about theology because they understand that truth, especially theological truth, is of eternal consequences. Passions rise because the stakes are so high.”[2] Indeed, when the consequences of theological ideas are eternal, the passions will rise amongst godly men and Scriptural truth will be defended with a vigor and tenacity that not even the hottest devil in hell can refute.

The purpose of this series will be to provide an internal critique of the simple passive foreknowledge view as espoused by synergistic Baptists as used to provide the philosophical foundation for their doctrine of libertarian free will. Part one of this series will discuss the problems associated with synergistic Arminianism [3] by showing where their presuppositions have their logical end and how this creates theological problems for their traditional, classical view of God as held in common with their opposing soteriological position, monergistic Calvinism. This will be accomplished by way of reductio ad absurdum [4] through showing how this view of divine foreknowledge logically leads to the heresy of open theism.[5]

Part two of this study will focus on the practical, pastoral implications of the failure of the synergist’s simple passive foreknowledge view of God’s knowledge because it’s logical end in open theism leads to the view that God is a God of risks who cannot guarantee answered prayer and cannot be a Sovereign Guide of hope in times of suffering and despair. These practical consequences will then be countered with the biblical hope that is provided with an understanding of the control that the Sovereign God of the universe has over the lives of suffering Christians.

PART I: THE PROBLEMS DISCUSSED

The following major section will discuss the theological issues related to the basic presuppositions and faulty assumptions of the synergist and how the open theist has used this view to undermine the traditional, classical view of God’s exhaustive and infallible, divine foreknowledge. and how this creates theological problems in relation to the classical view of God.

Basic Presuppositions of Open Theists

The open theist’s foundational belief consists of a redefining of foreknowledge and omniscience because they see a problem with the concept of foreknowledge as it is defined in classical Arminian theology. This leads the open theist to reject the classical understanding of God’s omniscience, which logically leads to their denial of classical theism altogether. It is based on these areas that the open theist feels that classical Arminian theology falls short of the biblical presentation, thus they then suggest answers to these perceived problems and develop a new theology of God based on their own theological presuppositions. We will address all of these issues in detail.

Perceived Problems with the Classical Arminian View of God:

Denial of God’s Infallible and Exhaustive Foreknowledge

Traditional Arminian theology has always held that God is omniscient in the sense that he passively foreknows what will occur in the future without fatalistically determining what will happen. [6] Open theists posit that if God knows the future with meticulous, infallible foreknowledge then a type of determinism must be posited that cannot be accounted for by the doctrine of simple passive foreknowledge as held in traditional Arminianism. [7] Former Calvinist turned open theist Clark Pinnock states, “Total knowledge of the future would imply a fixity of events. Nothing in the future would need to be decided. It also would imply that human freedom is an illusion, that we make no difference and are not responsible.”[8] Thus, the open theist believes that if God has infallible knowledge of future free will decisions, then by logical extension, freedom is illusory. [9] One classical Arminian, Norman Geisler responds to this by stating, “Of course, from God’s perspective (since He knows the future infallibly) everything is certain . . . . this does not mean that from the human standpoint these actions are not chosen freely. It is simply that God knew for certain how people would freely exercise their choice.” [10] Thus, Geisler commenting from a libertarian free will point of view believes that the problem of simple passive foreknowledge is not a problem at all, but a simple misunderstanding of what God’s foreknowledge consists of from the open theist’s perspective. Most Arminians would be quick to point out that just because God infallibly knows the future doesn’t mean that He fatalistically determined it [11] and the open theist would point out that the Arminian is being inconsistent and illogical. It is on this point of inconsistency and this point alone that the monergistic Calvinist will agree with the open theist.

Second, open theists also assert that there is no ontological basis for the Arminian view of God’s simple foreknowledge. Calvinist Bruce Ware describes the open theist’s argument against God’s ontological basis for simple foreknowledge in the following manner, “How can God know the future comprehensively, they ask, when much of that future will be constituted by future free choices and actions of humans and other free moral agents?”[12] Clark Pinnock, open theism’s most popular proponent makes a revealing statement in his book The Most Moved Mover, “But no being, not even God, can know in advance precisely what free agents will do, even though he may predict it with great accuracy.” [13] Pinnock also states earlier, “Though God knows all there is to know about the world, there are aspects about the future that even God does not know” [14] and he then follows up with this statement, “Scripture makes a distinction with respect to the future; God is certain about some aspects of it and uncertain about other aspects.” [15]

Thus, the open theist contradicts the classical Arminian by using their own presuppositions to deny that God can have infallible knowledge of future free will decisions because either the future does not yet exist (thus not even God can logically know what does not yet exist), or God is impotent in the face of man’s libertarian free will choices and must make a “guess” as to what the future will be. Both classical Arminians and Calvinists have traditionally answered this question by stating that God infallibly knows the future events of free creatures because He is not limited by time, which is a part of the created universe. [16] Therefore, because God is not limited by time but is instead outside of it He sees all of history as one eternal now. [17]

Next, open theists assert that the traditional Arminian view of simple passive foreknowledge does not help God in any providentially beneficial way. As Basinger states,

“Since there can never be a time when a God who possesses complete SFK [simple foreknowledge] does not know all that will occur, and since foreknowledge can be utilized in a providentially beneficial manner only if there is a time at which what is foreknown can influence a divine decision that is itself not also already foreknown, there can exist not conceivable context in which SFK would enable God to make providentially beneficial decisions that he would not be able to make without this knowledge.” [18]

The open theist posits that because God knows all future free will decisions and actions infallibly (including His own actions towards man’s future actions), God cannot influence or respond to any of the future free will choices and actions of man because these future free will actions, including God’s, are fixed in history and logically by extension must occur without interference. [19] Thus, the open theist posits that if the simple passive foreknowledge view of traditional Arminianism is correct, then God must simply accept the future freewill decisions that man will make, which according to the open theist, destroys the concept that God could use information about the future in a helpful, beneficial, or providential way, since history is already fixed for mankind and cannot be changed. [20]

In conclusion, the open theist believes that commitment to the classical Arminian view of exhaustive, yet passive simple foreknowledge logically destroys what the Arminian desires to preserve the most, man’s libertarian free will. Thus, the open theist posits that if God infallibly knows all future choices and actions, then it follows that those choices and actions are not free, that genuine freedom related to human behavior is destroyed, the authentic providential control of the universe is undermined, that real relationship and intimacy with God is only apparent and illusory, and that in spite of all efforts to preserve libertarian free will, a fatalistically determined view of the Creator/Creation relationship must be adopted. In part two, we will discuss the effects of a denial of Classical Theism’s Eternal Decree of God as proclaimed in the Bible and summarized in the historic, Protestant Confessions of Faith and how such a denial is successfully accomplished only by systematically denying the truth and clarity provided by the monergistic understanding of divine foreknowledge as taught within the realm of Reformed Theology.

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[1] This updated version of the 1644/1646 Baptist Confession of Faith can be found at http://www.ntrmin.org/.

[2] R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), xv.

[3] The word synergist comes from two Greek words, sun = together, and ergon = work. So synergism is the teaching that two individuals, namely God and man are working together for the common salvation of the individual man. Such a view is the standard for classical Arminianism and the modern Baptist variations thereof and the term synergist will be used to refer to such non-Calvinistic modern Baptists.

[4] Reductio ad absurdum is a form of logical argumentation whereby you reduce your opponent’s position to absurdity by showing that given his own presuppositions, his view leads to an absurd conclusion.

[5] Open Theism teaches that God doesn’t have exhaustive, infallible knowledge of future events but that He only makes very accurate guesses as to what will transpire. As a result, they posit that God can and has made mistakes and false prophecies.

[6] Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1999), 261-263. In the article titled, “Free Will”on p. 263, Geisler makes arguments for libertarian free will using God’s omniscience as an example. He states, “God can determine the future by free choice, since he omnisciently knows for sure how they will freely act. So it is determined from the standpoint of God’s infallible knowledge but free from the vantage point of human choice.” [italicized words in original] Therefore, by utilizing the traditional Arminian argument for God’s passive foreknowledge of future events, Geisler argues for man’s libertarian free will based on God’s infallible (yet passive) omniscience. Of course, one still wonders what the basis of God’s infallible knowledge is if it is not rooted in His eternal decree? (cf. Isa. 46:10; Eph. 1:4-5, 11; Rom. 11:33; Psa. 115:3, 135:6, 33:15; Prov. 16:33, 21:1; Isa. 45:7; Jer. 14:22; Amos 3:6; Prov. 16:4.

[7] Bruce Ware, God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism (Wheaton, Ill.: Good News Publishers, 2000), 36. In footnote 12 of p. 36, Ware quotes the open theist William Hasker as stating, “those who seek to maintain the compatibility of free will and foreknowledge are in the end forced to abandon, implicitly if not explicitly, the libertarian conception of freedom . . .” (154).

[8] Clark Pinnock, “Systematic Theology” in Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders, William Hasker, and David Basinger, The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1994), 121.

[9] It would be important to note that open theists view libertarian free will as essential to a moral universe. John Sanders, a popular open theist posits that if libertarian free will does not exist, then God is ammoral. cf. “Does God Know the Future?” A Moderated Public Debate: Dr. James White vs. Dr. John Sanders. http://www.aomin.org/

[10] Norman Geisler, Neotheism: The Dangers of Making God in Our Image (Rancho Santa Margarita, Cal.: Christian Research Institute, 1998), p. 4 of the electronic journal article available at http://www.equip.org/.

[11] In his recent attempt at countering Calvinism, Dave Hunt, like Geisler, also demonstrates that he holds a view similar to the classical Arminian view of simple foreknowledge when he states, “We simply can’t find a verse anywhere that uses ‘foreknowledge’ in any other way than to express the fact of knowing in advance.” Dave Hunt, What Love Is This: Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God (Sisters, OR.: Loyal Publishing, 2002), 227.

[12] Ware, 34.

[13] Clark Pinnock, The Most Moved Mover (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker: 2001), 100.

[14] Pinnock, 32.

[15] Pinnock, 47.

[16] For an in-depth explanation of God’s timelessness as related to His infallible knowledge from a monergistic perspective, see Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Nashville, TENN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998), 343-380. For a synergistic, molinistic perspective, see William Lane Craig, God, Time, and Eternity (Norwell, MA.: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001), 3-42.

[17] James White, The Sovereign Grace of God (Lindenhurst, NY: Reformation Press, 2003), 24-27.

[18] Ware, 37. This quote is taken from p. 37 footnote 15, where Dr. Ware references David Basinger, Case for Freewill Theism, 55.

[19] It is important to point out that the open theist will also argue against the classical theist (both Arminian and Calvinist) by arguing backwards in time and applying the classical theist’s logic to the beginning of creation in order to posit that God must be the author of sin and evil. Cf. John M. Frame, No Other God: A Response to Open Theism (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2001), 135-136. On these pages, Frame rehearses the open theist’s argument against the classical theistic view of God’s infallible, exhaustive foreknowledge of future events, “But if God created the world, knowing that sin and evil would certainly enter it, how is his action different from causing or foreordaining evil? It was he who set the process in motion, knowing where it would go. All the things and persons in the world are his creations. The order of events begins in him. If he sets everything in motion, knowing what will happen, how is that different from intending the result? And if the result is evil, how can he avoid the charge that he intended evil?”

[20] Space will not permit a detailed discussion of all the open theist’s problems with the simple foreknowledge view of classical Arminianism. For an overall summary of the open theist’s opinion regarding the uselessness of the simple foreknowledge view, cf. William Hasker, God, Time, and Knowledge (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989), pp. 55-63.

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22 Comments on “Logical Implications of the Synergistic View of God’s Knowledge: Part I”

  1. Josh Buice Says:

    Pastor Dustin,

    Those who denigrate the true foreknowledge of God by suggesting God operates upon “prescience” rather than “pre-arrangement” and “pre-selection” violate much of the nature of God! For instance – they violate His omniscience! God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) – not upon “prescience” but according to His own good pleasure and His own will (Ephesians 1:4-6). Furthermore, God’s own purpose and will is carried forth by His own omniscience [power] rather than man’s choice. If God simply allowed man to make choices and He based His choice upon man’s choice – God would cease to be sovereign.

    Furthermore, if those who reject Classic Calvinistic doctrine of election would simply go to 1 Peter 1:2 and dissect that verse by true exegesis – they would be forced to reject their former doctrine! Foreknowedge in 1 Peter 1:2 is not “prescience” – but rather – prognosis {prog’-no-sis} = “pre-arrangement or forethought” – which is quite different than prescience.

    The God of the Bible does not operate by chance or luck – He operates through His divine and perfect will which will be carried out through His omniscience!

    All for the glory of God – and the God of glory!

    Josh Buice
    Practical Theology Discussions
    http://www.joshbuice.blogspot.com

  2. J.D. Says:

    By providence I was just posting on a forum and was trying to explain the way that the concept of contigent election leads to open theism. You’ve helped me greatly.

    BTW I’ve yet to see any of the BaptistFire folks posting comments here in spite of SBF’s open, almost pleading, invitation. I guess they really do prefer inbreeding their theology.


  3. […] In our first series, we noted that positing the classical Arminian view of exhaustive, yet passive simple foreknowledge logically destroys what the Arminian desires to preserve the most, man’s libertarian free will. We then noted how the open theist rightly concludes that commitment to said teaching from an Arminian doctrinal platform leads to finite godism. In other words, the open theist believes that if the classical Arminian wants to posit that God infallibly knows all future choices and actions, then it follows that those choices and actions are not free (in a libertarian sense), that genuine freedom related to human behavior is destroyed, the authentic providential control of the universe is undermined, that real relationship and intimacy with God is only apparent and illusory, and that in spite of all efforts to preserve libertarian free will, a fatalistically determined view of the Creator/Creation relationship must be adopted. […]


  4. […] It has been over a month since I posted Part II of this series. This is because I am a very busy man. I think you’ll understand when I explain the following: I work 40+ hours/week at a secular job, I am one of the elders of a Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, I am working on a second seminary degree in Biblical Languages, and I have a family to provide for and spend time with. Therefore, the frequency of my posts will be much lower than the average blogger. Nevertheless, Part III of this series will present an overview of open theism’s suggested answers to the perceived problems of the classical Arminian view of God so as to demonstrate that the Arminian must either reject their traditional simple passive view of God’s foreknowledge only to adopt the Calvinistic view of God’s preordination of whatever comes to pass or they must logically opt for the heresy of open theism so as to remain internally consistent with their own theology. (Here you can find Part 1 and Part 2 of this series). […]

  5. Jack Says:

    The problem with the Open Theist and the Determinist (Calvinist) is that they both believe that absolute foreknowledge precludes libertarian free will. Absolute foreknowledge is compatible with libertarian free will. God knows all true propositions necessary and contingent; and this foreknowledge does not preclude free will. The epistemic implication (gKp ->p) is a logical implication and not causal. If it were causal it might threaten free will but since it is logical it doesn’t. It is the same implication with all knowledge and concerning all knowers.

    For example I know that if you add 2+2 tonight, you will arrive at the number 4, I know this with certainty. I also know that if I were to have you over for dinner tonight and I offered you a choice between lobster and poison; I know with near certainty that you will freely choose the lobster. You might say that (Pkp ->p) which means if Pelagius knows you will choose lobster, then you will choose lobster. Yet my foreknowledge of your free will choice and of your adding 2+2 did not cause you to choose the lobster nor did it cause 2+2 to equal 4; my foreknowledge and God’s foreknowledge are no threat to free will.

    He does not ordain all events, He simply knows them. Some have referred to this as a logically or semantically settled future. Now how does God know the future? Well the biggest mistake we make is in limiting His acquisition of knowledge to that of the human domain which is thru experience and reason; yet I find this unreasonable to place such limitations on the creator and I think that since we the finite will never know the infinite; it is safe to assume that God acquires knowledge of the future in ways unknowable to our minds; sort of like the concept of “revelation knowledge”.

    Free will is a self evident truth, absolute foreknowledge is a biblical truth. So the two mistakes that Calvinists and Open Theists make are 1. they assume that logical implication precludes free will and 2. God’s knowledge acquisition is limited to that of the domain of human knowledge acquisition.

    by the way my definition of omniscience being viz. God knows all true propositions is not “backwards causation” again because His knowledge of the future is a logical implication not a causal implication. If I choose to do B tonight; God knew it; if I choose to do not B tonight, God knew it; yet I will do B or not B of my own free will.


  6. Hi Jack,

    You said, “Free will is a self evident truth . . .”

    If you define “free will” as “the power of contrary choice” so that said freedom provides unregenerate men the ability to freely choose Christ apart from or prior to the regeneration of their constituent natures, then your entire post fails. The Scripture contradicts such a notion of freedom because it says that the lost sinner is *unable* and *unwilling* to respond to the free offer of forgiveness through Christ unless God first does a work of grace in regeneration by removing their hearts of stone and giving them a heart of flesh (1 John 5:1 says literally, “The one believing that Jesus is the Christ, has been born of God” – i.e., the phrase “has been born” is the perfect passive 3rd person singular of gennao and it is used by John to show that regeneration logically precedes saving faith; just as John noted in John 1:12-13 and as he recorded Jesus implying elsewhere such as in John 6:44, 65). Only a heart of flesh can respond appropriately to the Gospel call of salvation because all men are dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-5). They don’t become this way through life (contra Pelagius and the Moral Government Theologians), they are born this way (Psa. 58:3).

    Calvinists have historically held that people do exactly what they want to do and act in accordance with their natures; whether lost or saved (cf. John 8:44). Thus, lost people are willing and voluntary slaves to their own sinful natures.

    You also said, “absolute foreknowledge is a biblical truth.” Indeed, but if such is the case, what is the basis for God’s knowledge? Is it found in His own Sovereign determinate counsel as Scripture declares or by mere simple passive foreknowledge, which Scripture denies (Eph. 1:3-11; Acts 4:27-28)? Calvinists do not limit God’s ability for possessing certain, infallible, and fixed knowledge of all future and past events through human epistemologies, for we do not have to know the exact mechanics of God’s omniscience. To say that we are attempting to posit such is a straw man on your part. We simply make our arguments about God’s knowledge *exegetically*, based upon what God has already told us in His word, namely, that he works all things in accordance with the counsel of His will; which of course, includes all things (Eph. 1:11).


  7. Jack,

    Here’s a link to an article that discusses some of the problems historic Calvinistic Baptists had with the idea of libertarian free will. It was written in 1646 by Benjamin Cox, a first generation Particular Baptist and author of the Appendix of the 1646 London Confession. In the first series of propositions he takes on the Pelagian notion of libertarian free will and in my opinion does a good job of showing how the supposed Scriptural support thereof is lacking.

  8. Jack Says:

    Dustin wrote: If you define “free will” as “the power of contrary choice” so that said freedom provides unregenerate men the ability to freely choose Christ apart from or prior to the regeneration of their constituent natures, then your entire post fails.

    Jack wrote: Dustin, the concept of a sin nature is not taught in the bible, it is classic deterministic thinking brought in to the church by Augustine; ontologically, men are free moral agents. If they sin they do it from free choice, even Jesus said any man that sins is a slave to sin. Men become enslaved to sin of their own free will not from an ostensible sin nature.

    I have studied the classic biblical deffense for the sin nature and it isn’t even a tenuous argument. Men are cursed because of Adam & Eve but no where does it imply that a sin nature is a result of the fall.

    Free will is patently known to be true by all men; even the Calvinists for even they rule their lives in accordance with free will. Per the Eternal Decree, men can’t even choose according to their own “fallen natures” for the ED states that God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass. This includes absolutely all decisions of men; the Calvinsitic attempt to credit man with some sort of freedom within his fallen nature is nothing short of lip service and contradictory to their Decree.


  9. Hi Jack,

    You said, “Dustin, the concept of a sin nature is not taught in the bible.”

    This is patently false. The Bible explicitly states in Psalm 51:5 and 58:3 that we were conceived in the womb as sinners, came forth from the womb behaving like wicked sinners, and later in Ephesians 2:3 Paul explicitly says that as a result of being constituted as sinners, we are *by nature* children of wrath before conversion. We’ll look at Psalm 51:5 first.

    NAU Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

    In the above verse, David declares that he, as a conceptus in his mother’s womb, was reckoned a sinner. If you want to deny that this verse means such, you’re left with the absurd notion that (1) this verse is teaching that the sexual intimacy between David’s father and mother which brought about his conception was a sinful act, an interpretation that would contradict the clear Scriptural teaching that says that making love to your wife is a good and godly thing, especially when it results in children [Psalm 127:3; Song of Songs; Hebrews 13:4], and (2) all major commentators I’ve ever read agree with my basic interpretation of Psalm 51:5. So, in order to say that David wasn’t reckoned a sinner, you’re left with an interpretation of this passage that would force you to contradict the rest of Scripture and also you are opposing all orthodox, historic Protestant interpretations of said passage. Of course, such doesn’t necessarily make my interpretation right, but it surely should give you cause for pause. If you want to hold your position in order to avoid what the majority of commentators have held, then fine. I’ll stick with the traditional interpretation as it gels better with the totality of Scripture and maintains internal consistency with the rest of God’s word.

    NAU Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth.

    Little infants are not sin-free and innocent blank slates, but Scripture clearly teaches that when you compare their moral constitution to God, they are at enmity with Him from their mothers’ wombs. This is what theologians have called the “sinful nature”. This affects them physically and spiritually. If such wasn’t the case, then there would be no infant mortality. But babies die; either by the hands of abortionists, some through miscarriages, and others through infanticide or devastating diseases. But regardless, infants die. So, whether they die from homicide, disease, or unexplainable causes, they die because of sin (“for the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23). No sin = no death. But Adam sinned, and consequently, the death of infants proves that they have sin because sin = death. Such things teach us that the effects of Adam’s sin are pervasive; even to such an extent that a baby in the womb dies because of the sin that they inherited from Adam. Thus, they are conceived and born as sinners, with a disposition and innate desire to sin. As Scripture says, “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child”, “the wages of sin is death . . .” and “in Adam all die” (Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:22). If they were innocent, they wouldn’t die (even through the sin of another), but because they are sinners by nature, and such as they are in Adam, they die.

    However, God does not punish the innocent because ultimately, when it comes to being compared to His righteous standard, there are *no* innocent people, including infants (Romans 3:10-11). You may appeal to passages like Ezekiel 18:20, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.”

    As a non-Calvinist, it appears that you are doing the same thing that the Jews did in Ezekiel’s day. The Jews wrongly re-interpreted both the actions of their ancestors and their own actions in an attempt to vindicate themselves. In Ezekiel’s day they were being punished with captivity, so they argued, “We are not the guilty ones. Our fathers were. This captivity is not fair to us.” But the truth is, the Jews in captivity had not learned the lesson any more than their fathers had. They inherited their father’s guilt, sin and disposition. They were no different and were being rightly punished accordingly. They were being punished for both their fathers’ sin and their own. Again, God does not punish innocent people because there are no innocent people (except Christ of course).

    Passages like those of Ezekiel 18:4, 20 do nothing to disprove that people are conceived as sinful in Adam. This is because the same Bible teaches elsewhere that God visits the iniquity of the parents onto their children, which for the sake of argument, even if Original Sin wasn’t true, on such a standard God still wouldn’t be considered fair and just. This is because since God did in fact visit the iniquity of the fathers onto their offspring via actual sins committed by their ancestors through external influences such as idolatry and rebelliousness leading Israel into captivity, then the whole basis for the “God isn’t fair to hold me responsible for what Adam did and have me be born with a sinful nature” argument melts away and the very foundation used to raise any objection against the Biblical doctrine of Original Sin is demolished.

    Ephesians 2:3, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

    Jack, this verse refers to what the Ephesians were *by nature* before their conversions not that they did this to themselves by their willful actions. You asserted that we are “cursed because of Adam & Eve” yet you deny that men are sinners by nature. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You seem to want to make a dichotomy between man being cursed in Adam (i.e., being given a blank slate at birth but put into a situation where at some point [i.e., an “age of accountability”] he, as a morally neutral being operating in a cursed creation, will exercise his libertarian freedom to choose evil and only then at that time become a bona-fide sinner). If you believe such, then you (1) contradict Scripture as shown above and (2) you are saying that the Creation is subjected to the bondage of the curse brought about by Adam and Eve per Romans 8:20-23 yet man, as a part of that Created order is actually exempt from said bondage. If such is your view, then I leave the reader to decide who has made a Scriptural case in light of my previous presentation.

    In summary, the first man Adam rebelled against God (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-19) and his offspring continues to rebel against God to this day by refusing to honor Him and be thankful (Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 1:18-32; Psalm 14). As a result of the first sin of Adam, all men are consequently evil and sinful from the womb (Psalm 51:5; 58:3). God made all people sinners in Adam (Romans 5:19), and not one is good, not even one (Psalm 143:2; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10-18, 23). The hearts of lost men are sick with sin (Jeremiah 17:9) and God will hold every single person accountable for their actions (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

    Thanks for the response Jack. Although I strongly disagree, I appreciate your interaction.

  10. Jack Says:

    Psalm 51:5 doesn’t state that David was born with a sin nature within him but rather that he was conceived in sin. I believe that Jesse didn’t present David to Samuel because David was a bastard, a child of fornication (conceived in sin) and didn’t have a standing as Jesse’s son in the Jewish culture.

    Whatever the case may be this scripture does not teach “sin nature”. There is by the way 3 views of Original Sin (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox). The Orthodox Church teaches that men maintained thier free will (As Adam before the fall).

    You need to focus on the scriptures that teach how God is honored when men live holy, how He boasted over Job who didn’t sin through his trials and get away from the horrible teaching of “total depravity” which teaches that you are a slave to sin until the day you go to the grave. Read Romans 6 “…you are no longer under law but grace, therefore sin shall ot have dominion over you”. If anyone sins daily, he is under the dominion of sin and is not walking in grace.


  11. Jack,

    You said,

    “Psalm 51:5 doesn’t state that David was born with a sin nature within him but rather that he was conceived in sin.”

    And so (1) you blatantly contradict all major orthodox Protestant commentators on this verse. You may not care about contradicting the Regula Fide of the Church of Jesus Christ, but doing so should give any man cause for pause. Were not talking about mere details of eschatology, but core doctrines of the faith once for all handed down to the saints, some of which you seem to reject. Also, (2) your statement above doesn’t help anyway since you only state what the verse itself states and what you *don’t* believe about the verse. We want to know what you think it means. State positively what it means not just what it says. If you continue to remain aloof as to your interpretation of it then you are being disingenuous and refuse to meaningfully deal with it. You also have yet to deal with Psalm 58:3.

    I am familiar with the different understandings of Original Sin, but since you deny them all, why make an appeal to them?

    You went on to say,

    “You need to focus on the scriptures that teach how God is honored when men live holy, how He boasted over Job who didn’t sin through his trials and get away from the horrible teaching of “total depravity” which teaches that you are a slave to sin until the day you go to the grave.”

    This is a straw man misrepresentation of what Calvinists believe. We believe that the *unregenerate* sinner is totally unable to come to Christ *before* conversion lest Christ set him free from the bondage of his own cherished sin. Once regenerated and set free by God’s regenerating grace, the redeemed saint willingly comes to Christ, adores Him forever, and desires to take up his cross, deny himself, and follow after Jesus. The redeemed saint is *not* a slave to sin, but a slave of Christ. Is he completely sin-free? NO! That will not happen till he is in glory; but as a redeemed saint, he now has the ability, the desire, and the freedom to please God and the freedom to sin. If you say a redeemed saint cannot sin, then you contradict Scripture again:

    NAU 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

    If you believe that the redeemed sinner is able in this earthly life to become completely sin free then according to the apostle John you are self-deceived and the truth is not in you.

    You said further,

    “Read Romans 6 “…you are no longer under law but grace, therefore sin shall not have dominion over you”. If anyone sins daily, he is under the dominion of sin and is not walking in grace.”

    If a person is habitually practicing sin and no chastisement or repentance is present, that person is self-deceived, lost, and does not know God.

    NAU 1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;

    NAU 1 John 2:4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

    NAU 1 John 3:7-10 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

  12. Darrin Says:

    Pastor Dustin – Your posts are very useful, and refreshing in light of scripture and historical Christianity.
    Jack – You are treading on very dangerous theological ground. Please be careful.


  13. Pastor Dustin:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Darrin’s last statement. Do you think you might edit your responses to Jack and post them on the main page?

    Thanks,
    -Andrew


  14. […] Introduction:  What follows is an interaction that I had with an SBF combox commenter named “Jack” under Part I of my series titled “The Logical Implications of the Synergistic View of God’s Knowledge.”  Jack denies compatibalistic freedom in favor of libertarian version and also denies that people are conceived in the womb and born with a sin nature. […]

  15. Jack Says:

    What is standardly taught in creed doesn’t make it true – Luther was considered a heretic by the established church; the same council that condemned Pelagius would have condemned Calvin as well.

    “Nature” as taught in the bible means “manner of life”, not some coercive force that governs man; like Adam, man is a free moral agent as well.

    Peter tells us to be partakers of the divine nature; Paul tells us to “put on Christ”… this does not imply some coercive force that conforming us to holiness. “By nature children of wrath…” doesn’t in any way imply being born with a coercive sin nature and how you can get that implication is only by theological bias. People are children of wrath by their willful continuance in a sinful lifestyle.

    Back to free will and foreknowledge; it might help us to understand the sinfulness of man if we look at what we call “natural law”. Natural laws of gravity, probability…are not coercive laws but are descriptive.

    They are contingent propositions describing the world, and gain their truth from a correspondence to “fitting the facts”. Another words we don’t float away from the surface of the earth because we are constrained by a law of gravity; rather we don’t float away because that’s the way the world is! Men don’t sin because they are forced to by a law of original sin or fallen nature; rather they sin because they choose to, and this deliberate choice time and time again has given the truth value to the ostensible law of original sin. Again; a coin doesn’t approach 50% head every 200 tosses because of a law of probability rather the law of probability gets its truth from the fact that the coin will approach 50% head every 2000 times it is tossed.

    Often unbelievers will try to ascribe creation to the law of probability as if this law is coercive when in fact it is merely descriptive. Why do men universally sin? I believe once Adam was expelled from the Garden, He lost his fellowship with God, he also lost his hedge and men are now subjected to a world full of myriads of demons and sinners all enticing him to sin. This is why all men will sin, because they choose to selfishly satisfy their pleasures and follow the enticements of the evil-doers.

  16. Jack Says:

    Dustin: NAU 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If you believe that the redeemed sinner is able in this earthly life to become completely sin free then according to the apostle John you are self-deceived and the truth is not in you.

    Jack: Well then we have a problem reconcilling 1 John 1:8 with all of chapters 2 and 3!

    I believe that 1 John 1:8 was dealing with the Gnostics who denied the concept of sin. John was speaking to those Gnostics and refuting their teachings, they claimed to be enlightened and denied any sort of sin. They claimed to have the truth within them, yet denied the need of redemption from sin. This is evident because if you go on to read the epistle you will see that John expects believers to live in holiness and without sin especially chapters 2 and 3.


  17. […] Introduction: What follows is a continuation of my discussion with our friend “Jack”, a man who holds to libertarian freedom and denies that people possess a sin nature from conception. […]

  18. Jack Says:

    Dustin PS 58 The wicked are estranged from the womb;
    they go astray from birth, speaking lies.

    Jack: Hyperbole, peotic, do you know of anyone who was speaking lie as an infant? Come on…. this is not Original Sin, I have heard all the arguments for the doctrine and as I said before, they are tenuous at best. Original Sin was not taught by the Ante-Nicene Church; it is an Augustinian invention that he brought in to the church with his Manichean determinism

  19. Dustin Says:

    Hi Jack,

    Here’s my response: http://strangebaptistfire.com/2008/07/05/no-sin-nature-conclusion-and-summary/

    I’m going to have to bow out at this point and give you the last word since I have pressing family responsibilities. Thank you for the interaction!

  20. Jack Says:

    Last word from Jack: God’s foreknowledge is not a challenge to libertarian free will since the implication between knowledge and truth is logical not causal. Additionally if one holds to the eternal decree viz. God has ordained “whatsoever” comes to pass; then any belief that man can have any free will is a chimera. If God has ordained “whatsoever”, He has ordained every single event in history, thus pecluding any free will on man’s behalf. The so-called compatiblism that allows man a degree of free will within his fallen nature is an absurdity.

    Enjoyed the discussion,

    Jack
    ordained SC Deacon

  21. sandrar Says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.


  22. A belated “Thanks!” to sandrar.

    Re: Jack.

    Notice that Jack’s strongest argument is philosophical: “God’s foreknowledge is not a challenge to libertarian free will since the implication between knowledge and truth is logical not causal.”

    Notice also that it fails to account for all the relevant biblical data.

    In supporting his Pelagianism, Jack gives a preposterous response in regards to Psalm 51 and does not interact with Ephesians 2 at all.


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