ARMINIAN JABBERWOCKY[1]

Daniel 4:34-35 “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

Psalm 135:6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.

Proverbs 16:4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.

KJV Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

KJV Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

Now, given the above verses, you would think an Arminian would at least reconsider their original thoughts regarding the Doctrines of Grace, especially as they relate to developing a right understanding of the Free and Proper Kingship of God.[2] But when we begin to posit the biblical notion that God is sovereign over all things, including the truth that He ordains evil from the sense of primary causation, then we start to hear some jabberwocky like this:

“Just because God ordains some evil acts does not mean that He ordains or wills all evil acts or sin.”

Now, even it was granted that such a statement is true, Arminianism’s most important non-negotiable presupposition, libertarian free will, would be crushed by the weight of the felled oak of God’s decree in even ordaining some evil events. And that jabberwocky leads to the following brief discourse.

Problem # 1: This still has God ordaining evil. First, if the Arminian agrees that God ordains some evil events to bring about a greater good then this is no different than what the Calvinist says except only in degree. The Calvinist believes that God ordains *all* events, both good and evil as a means to bring the maximum glory to Himself and bring the greatest benefit to His children (Rom. 8:28-29 through 9:1-31). Second, if God ordains some evil with fixity then the precious rock of libertarianism is ground to power on the anvil of theological fixity, even if it is a limited fixity. Of course, we will see later that the Arminian’s arbitrariness backfires on him when he seeks to demonstrate that some biblical events involving evil demonstrates said limited fixity thereby causing him to (1) embrace the very thing he originally despised, namely Calvinism, (2) become a heretic, or (3) remain inconsistent. Now here’s where problem # 2 can come in, especially in light of the following verses,

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

So what jabberwocky can our Arminian friends come up with in light of the preceding passage? Probably a retort like this may follow:

“The cross was a REACTION to our sin. Except this was not one of judgment but one of mercy. So, I am not compelled to believe that this means that God willed and ordained ALL evil/sin . . .”

And there goes Problem # 2. This is time to stop and think hard about what’s being said in this objection. “The cross was a REACTION.” Of course it was a divine reaction, but a reaction to what? Sin! But why was this grand response to sin *decreed* from eternity past? In other words, why did God choose to create the world knowing from eternity past that Adam and Eve would fall yet He didn’t do anything different about it. Given classic Arminianism, God has infallible foreknowledge of future “free” events (called “simple passive foreknowledge”). Now, philosophically speaking, if God has fixed and certain knowledge of future free events (as all classical Arminians have believed) then history is fixed (i.e., decreed) from God’s perspective. However, our Arminian friend will surely come back and just restate the ole’ mantra,

“I am not compelled to believe that this means that God willed and ordained all evil/sin.”

You are not compelled to pay your federal income taxes either, but if you fail to do so, you can be sure that the IRS will come a knockin’, and in theological circles, when you fail to owe up to your own presuppositions, you can be sure you’ll be writing checks you can’t cash. Any cursory reading of open theist heretics John Saunders, Clark Pinnock, and Greg Boyd will demonstrate what I’m referring to. They all say: “If God has infallible knowledge of all future free events as classical Arminianism has historically believed, then that still means that the future is fixed and man doesn’t have libertarian free will.” So, in their efforts to be consistent with themselves, they’ve “one-upped” the classical Arminian both theologically and philosophically because they, in attempting to be consistent have denied the sovereignty, omniscience, and infallible foreknowledge of God and embraced idolatry. All of the open theist authors above rightly point out the following given the presupposition of libertarian free will:

1. The traditional formulation of the Christian God in classical theism (both historical Calvinists and Arminians) holds that the Triune God has the divine attributes of omniscience and omnipotence.

2. If God is omniscient then He has fixed and infallible knowledge of all future events, including evil.

3. If an omnipotent God created the world with infallible knowledge from eternity past of all events that would take place (including evil), then that omnipotent God could’ve stopped that evil as He’s all powerful.

4. Evil exists.

5. Therefore, in some sense, God wills all evil that takes place since He hasn’t stopped it when He could have.

Thus, the open theist rightly drops the doctrine of God’s omniscience because to hold on to it, sacrifices libertarian free will on the altar of God’s sovereign, fixed decree. Thus, the inconsistency is resolved but an idol is crafted. However, the Calvinists have simply said Amen and amen, ergo classical, confessional Calvinism.

However, the Arminian is not going to let us off the hook so easily. His unassailable presupposition regarding the absolute necessity libertarian free will won’t allow him to begin questioning his beloved Arminianism. Instead, he’ll try to shove the burden of proof back on the Calvinist by calling into question the conclusion of the syllogism above (# 5). He may do so by saying something like this,

“I disagree with the conclusion above because of the way it’s stated (#5). I say this because God willed human/angelic freedom (read = libertarian freedom). But I would not say that He necessarily willed or even wanted the negative consequence of that freedom.”

However, when our Arminian friend attempts to answer this difficult situation he does so by SKIRTING the issue altogether. Remember, for the Arminian, the issue boils down to this problem: If the omniscient and omnipotent God created the world the knowing what it would become, then it LOGICALLY follows that in some sense He desired for the world to exist as it presently does. If our Arminian friend rejects # 5, then he’s left with the following options:

1. God, could not stop the fall even though He infallibly and exhaustively knew what man would do, hence denying His omnipotence, which then leads to the heresy of “finite godism/process theology.”

OR

2. God did not know the fall would occur because He didn’t have infallible and exhaustive knowledge of what man would do, which then leads to the heresy of open theism.

OR

3. God not only knew that the fall would occur, but He planned/decreed it through secondary causation (i.e., Satan, man, etc.). This makes Him the primary cause of all things, yet leaves Him guilt-free as to His character and accomplishes the greatest benefit for His elect and achieves the maximum glory for Himself.

So, there are only three logical options if our Arminian brothers want become theologically consistent: (1) they can remain on the horns of a dilemma thereby staying inconsistent and we’ll continue to point out their philosophical and theological jabberwocky to them, (2) they can become heretics, or (3) they can simply become Calvinists. ________________________________________

[1] Humorous or whimsical verse that features absurd characters and actions and often contains evocative but meaningless words coined for the verse (http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9373587).

[2] Just another way of describing God’s sovereignty.


Love in the Lamb,

Pastor Dustin S. Segers
Shepherd’s Fellowship of Greensboro Baptist Church

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Doctrinal Issues, Soteriology

11 Comments on “ARMINIAN JABBERWOCKY[1]”

  1. drew Says:

    In permitting the fall for his own glory, has God elevated (his) glory to the supreme end to which to strive? If yes, is this OK because in some way his glory is “synonymous” with himself (id est, glory ≈ God)? If no, then what do we make of God permitting the fall–thus sacrificing the perfection of what he had created–so that glory would be had? Does this imply an insuffiency (read: need or imperfection) in God that he would need to seek glory?

  2. drew Says:

    Excellent, poignant post I might add!

  3. Jesse Says:

    Yes! I have long thought this is one of the strongest arguments for Calvinism. God is not God unless all things, good and evil, are decreed by God. This argument is simple, airtight, and if you ask me, intuitive. I think we all know deep down that if there is an all powerful God, that necessarily means all things must be predestined. However, most of us do not like it, so we try to find clever ways around it.

    This post lays this argument out very well. It is much like John Owen’s argument for limited atonement. It leaves you with no choice but to agree or openly declare your inconsistency or heresy.

  4. Mathew Sims Says:

    Great thoughts! I have always the argument used about pretty persuasive. Arminians of course would argue against God’s decreeing any part of evil, yet he knew evil would exist and decided to create the world anyway in their scheme–which really proves the Calvinist point. God did commit the sins but as the primary cause He is sovereign over both the good and bad.

    What hope we can have knowing that even the “bad” things that happen to us are in the hand of God. What hope!

    MBS
    Soli Deo Gloria

  5. Peter Says:

    You started off this whole chain of arguments on a somehow formulated Arminian response of : ” “Just because God ordains some evil acts does not mean that He ordains or wills all evil acts or sin.” ”
    Could you refer to me which Arminians say this? I’d like to see what other things they’ve written. I’ve never heard an Arminian say something like that before.

    At the end you state the third option (which you later equate it to “(3) they can simply become Calvinists”) here:
    “3. God not only knew that the fall would occur, but He planned/decreed it through secondary causation (i.e., Satan, man, etc.). This makes Him the primary cause of all things, yet leaves Him guilt-free as to His character and accomplishes the greatest benefit for His elect and achieves the maximum glory for Himself.”

    Now keeping your statement in mind, how would you interpret Arminius’ own words here:
    “for the word “ordain” is commonly, though in a catachrestical sense, used to mean simply and absolutely to decree, the will determining and approving an act; which catachresis is very frequent in forensic use. But to us, who are bound to observe religiously, in this argument, the propriety of terms, to ordain is nothing else than to arrange the order in acts, and in each thing according to its mode. It is one thing to decree acts absolutely, and another to decree the order of acts, in each thing, according to its mode. The former is immediate, the latter, from the beginning to the end, regards the means, which in all things, pertain to the order of events. In the former signification, the Minor is denied; for it is entirely at variance with the truth, since God is never the author of evil (that is, of evil involving guilt). In the latter signification the Major is denied, for it is not according to the truth, nor is it necessary in any respect that the same person who disposes the order of actions and, in each thing, according to its mode: should be the author of those actions. The actor is one thing, the action is another,-and the arranger of the action is yet another. He who performs an evil deed is the author of evil. He, who disposes the order in the doer and in the evil deed, is not the author of evil, but the disposer of an evil act to a good end.” (Sixth Proposition of Arminius, “Works of James Arminius, Vol 3.)

    Faithfully,
    Peter

  6. Peter Says:

    Correction! Junius’s own words, not Arminius.

    Peter

  7. David Hewitt Says:

    Pastor Segers, an excellent post! Thanks for taking the time to write it.


  8. Gentlemen,

    Thank you for your responses. I apreciate Peter’s willingness to interact with this information and post the Arminius quotation. As for the “Arminian” quotes, I simply adapted them from a debate that I’m having with an Arminian that I’m developing a great friendship with. He has actually received most of his retorts from Steve Gregg (www.thenarrowpath.com). Steve Gregg is also a man whom I’ve interacted with on these issues before, as he’s a self-professed, five point Arminian. Steve is a truly fine gentlemen, and as far as Arminians go, he displays much better Christian character than most nasty Calvinists I’ve ran across over the last few years in cyberspace I’m so sick of that kinda’ mess, but I’ll digress ad infinitum ad nauseum if I step on that soapbox.

    As for the Arminius quote:

    (1) he is essentially saying that the Calvinistic understanding of God’s decree is not equivalent with the biblical definition, to which I’d obviously disagree. The idea that God only “arrange[s] the order in acts” yet doesn’t in some sense will the details surrounding the acts themselves still skirts the issue because, in God’s omniscience He possessed EXHAUSTIVE and INFALLIBLE knowledge of how all the minutae would fall out even if he only “arrange[ed] the order in acts.” (cf. Matt. 10:29 for one example) Thus, He’s still left with the same “problem” He’s accusing the Calvinist of, namely, that God still created the world knowing that it would fester up the ugly and hideous bumps-n-warts of evil/sin, yet CHOSE to create anyway, thus showing that in some sense He willed it to be the way that it is.

    (2) The fact that He’d say the following in regards to foreordination, “[God’s] will determining and approving an act” shows that he, like all of his doctrinal students after him, still does consistently carry forward a Biblical understanding of primary and secondary causation, despite the fact that he begins to argue this way in the latter 1/3 of the quote you posted.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  9. Francesco Says:

    I generally agree with the article, even if I find even more consistent the following explanation of the matter: http://www.vincentcheung.com/2006/09/15/gods-holiness-and-evil-thoughts/.
    Just a suggestion, not an argument for debate.

  10. Gene Says:

    The idea that God only “arrange[s] the order in acts” yet doesn’t in1) he is essentially saying that the Calvinistic understanding of God’s decree is not equivalent with the biblical definition, to which I’d obviously disagree. The idea that God only “arrange[s] the order in acts” yet doesn’t in some sense will the details surrounding the acts themselves still skirts the issue because, in God’s omniscience He possessed EXHAUSTIVE and INFALLIBLE knowledge of how all the minutae would fall out even if he only “arrange[ed] the order in acts.”

    Yep, and this is highly ironic, since Reformed folk are generally told our theodicy is derivative of Greek (NeoPlatonic) philosophy. Yet, it is this very philosophy that asserts that the will is libertarian in nature and that God knows and arranges the broad outline but does not necessarilyh know or arrange the concrete particulars. Sound familiar? It should, because this is the essence of Open Theism.

  11. Peter Says:

    Um, if im not mistaken, that quotation was the answer of Junius, not Arminius. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/arminius/works3.iv.viii.html
    Perhaps the lack of formatting on that page threw me off. But I’m pretty certain that was Junius’ words, not Arminius. I mistyped in the original post and corrected myself in the above post.

    Junius was defending Calvin and Beza. I was just asking how your view compared to that quote in order to get a finer grasp on what you were talking about. So I guess you would be disagreeing with Junius?

    In terms of the arminian that made those paraphrased quotes that you wrote, are you talking about Brody Cobb? Cuz I remember that debate you had and his relationship to Gregg. With all due respect, is Cobb pretty reliable in explaining the Arminian stance? I remember people in that debate post a while back saying that he didnt seem to know his own views very well either. Have you had a chance to read Dr. Robert Picirilli’s “Grace, Faith, and Free Will”? Im going through it at the moment and he seems to be keeping to classic Arminianism and I believe he would disagree vehemently with Brody Cobb. Check out the link below.

    Also, Gene, I’m not sure where this Open-Theism association is coming from, especially in light of the Junius correction. In any case, Picirilli wrote an article that might interest you on the classical Arminian viewpoint on the topic. http://etsjets.org/jets/journal/44/44-3/44-3-PP467-492_JETS.pdf


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: