Does love necessitate free-will?

Most of us have seen a TV show or have read a story in which the plot involves the use of a love potion. Usually, the case is one of unrequited love: The guy cherishes a girl who barely recognizes his existence. A love potion is obtained (typically from an elderly gypsy lady), applied to the girl, and she magically begins to return his affection. Generally, this leads to disastrous results, contrary to the enamored guy’s intentions, and the relationship ends- either permanently, or in such a way that the guy must re-win the girl’s affections through normal means.

The viewer or reader understands this storyline because we recognize the use of a love potion as a violation of a person’s will. The Arminian capitalizes on this line of thought in arguing against the doctrine of Irresistible grace. The Arminian argues that just as a love potion cannot be ethically used to bring someone into a human relationship, God cannot act by sovereign decree to bring an individual to Himself, if a relationship of love is to be established. God must (the reasoning goes) either preserve or restore a sinner’s free-will so that he or she can freely choose to either accept or reject His offer of grace. We see an example of this argument during the first episode of the five-part debate on Calvinism between James White and Steve Gregg [the entire debate can be heard HERE.]

Gregg asserted:

Salvation is itself a relationship with God, and relationships are not of really very much worth if they are forced. If a person is forced to be in relationship with someone they don’t want to be in a relationship with, or did not previously want to be in– they were made to– that’s not the same thing as a relationship.

Notice, however, that the analogy between the divine-to-human relationship and human-to-human relationships is only effective if the human-to-human relationship under examination is one between people who are equal in status. If a man forces a woman to be in a relationship with him, either through use of deception (as in the fanciful example of love potions, or in real examples where a man tells lies to a woman to win her affection) or through coercion, this is clearly wrong.

But consider an alternative example: When my son was born, he was, at first, always staring at his mother and me, he ate eagerly at meal-times and he seemed to enjoy our attention. But then, for a brief time, he got ill (I think due to an elevated bilirubin level) he no longer wanted anything except to be left alone to sleep. When we held him, he was unresponsive and we had to force him to eat. His mother, loving him, would hold him close while he very weakly tried to push her away; she would loudly repeat, “Look at me!” while he would try to squench his eyes shut and return to slumber; she would force him to cling to her, to draw sustenance from her, to love her, when he didn’t care about her or anything except his desire to remain asleep.

What if she had said to him, “Son, you have free-will, and I cannot force you to love me; I am offering you life, but you must choose to receive it”? He would have then ‘freely chosen’ to starve to death. Everyone would recognize that the baby did not know what was best for him and that we did; no-one would have said, “If you exercise sovereignty over his choice, then you are not loving him.”

How much greater is God’s prerogative over us than our power over a newborn child? The natural Man pridefully imagines God to be his equal in terms of establishing a relationship; The truth is that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts [cf. Isaiah 55:9]. With this in mind, I wish to replace the love potion analogy of Irresistible grace with the following analogy of this doctrine, taken from lines 1-50 and 155-182 of the classic poem, “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. 5
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase, 10
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’ 15
 
I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,
Yet was I sore adread 20
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside).
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to.
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled, 25
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon; 30
With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy, 35
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet, 40
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot ’thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue. 45
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat— 50
‘Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.’
Now of that long pursuit 155
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
‘And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me! 160
Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),
‘And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited— 165
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me? 170
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home: 175
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, 180
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’
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46 Comments on “Does love necessitate free-will?”

  1. Pat McGee Says:

    It goes further than what you have said. We were not merely of a lower order than God. We were DEAD in our trespasses and sin. God miraculously brought us to spiritual life. Gregg’s analogy is silly, reducing what God has done to a merely human relationship.

  2. Paul Says:

    Yes, the relationship is not one of friendship or mutual affection but a relationship of BIRTH which has nothing to do with the “will” of the one born, see John 1:12 AND 13.

  3. Andrew Says:

    Pat,

    Good point! Reminds me of something I read recently. 🙂

    -Andrew


  4. I have proposed to people who offer this canard, did the humanity of Christ include the ability to reject the Father. Imbedded in this is, did the humanity of Christ contain sin. Other things that flow out of this is the original creation of Adam and Eve. Were they created both good and evil in the image of God. The seriousness of Gregg’s error is often overlooked. Because, the ability to reject God’s love is sin. But, Eve did not have this ability. So, finally, the libertarian free-will position misunderstands the pre-lapse condition of the new creation, it doesn’t comprehend the nature of the laspe and in the end, it does not comprehend the true nature of God. For, wouldn’t the persons of the Godhead necessarily have to have the ability to not love one another in Gregg’s formulation of love. And, if that is the case we do not have the God of Scripture who is without shadow of turning, we have a god who is YinYang, both light and dark, the god of the Gnostics.

    It is a serious heresy, and those who hold to it generally do not know just how serious their doctrine is taken by the God to whom they have to give an account.

  5. S.J. Walker Says:

    This is very good. It reminds me of what I am working on currently (a compilation of excerpts of notes, Sunday Lessons, letters and articles on the book of Ephesians). I have loved that Poem since I first ever heard it. Thanks you!

    Here are a few thoughts on Ephesians 1:13 in relation to the surrounding texts and the nature of this post.

    “In Him you also trusted, after hearing the
    word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in Whom also,
    having believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of
    promise,…”–Ephesians 1:13

    a. According to God’s perfect plan, we must hear
    the Word of Truth, that is, the Gospel in order to be able
    to believe it. Thus far, it has been clear as to ‘why’
    Salvation comes to any man. It is however, on the merit of
    Christ’s sacrifice, by hearing His Word that is the ‘how’.
    (Romans C. 10, v. 14-16; John C. 1, v. 12-13) We are told
    that if we believe this Truth, that Christ is our only hope
    of redemption, that it is for His glory, that He has called to
    us, that He is indeed the One He says He is, we are His
    sheep. Belief, of any kind, but especially of such
    significance as saving belief, precedes confession. The
    confession is all that a man can lay hold to himself and is
    of itself worthless as paper. The belief itself, the true and
    inexplicable doubtlessness of God, Jesus Christ the Living
    Word, and His promises is nothing short of miraculous.
    The nature of belief itself being thus, it is therefore
    impossible for man to say he ‘chose’ and by his choice the
    work is sealed. Sealed it might be, but the man is
    deceived. He can explain when pointedly asked where and
    when he made his decision, but it is a mystery to him
    what preceded his confession. In fact, he might even be
    surprised by the question. The ‘decision’ is easy, but no
    man can put in plain words how he not only believes, but
    knows without man defined proof that Jesus is the Christ
    and his mortal has put on immortal. Some do know
    precisely when they were saved, but they rest not on that
    moment or circumstance for they know that God was at
    work before they were aware of His presence—before the
    foundation of the world itself. Belief is caused, not simply
    chosen.”–Studies in Ephesians, S.J. Walker

  6. S.J. Walker Says:

    Here is the other part of the verses response, sorry.

    b. The Seal of Salvation bears the mark of Heaven and not man’s choice. The Seal of Heaven bears the mark of incorruptible and not corruptible. We must confess, yes, but that is not our seal and assurance. It is, when not only sincere but genuine, an outpouring or indication of God’s Seal. That is, saying one believes is not the final stroke of salvation. It is a result rather of the Work that has been accomplished by God in us prior to that. We dare not trust a thing we said alone to indicate our assurance of salvation. We must examine ourselves. (1st Corinthians 13:5) What this does make clear and will continue to do so is that when someone truly does believe; they will never be taken from Him. They will get discouraged at times and even come to temporary despair, but the true believer is protected from completely turning and walking away, because there is a power greater than themselves at work in them. If we could not be trusted and capable of saving ourselves without Christ literally intervening and calling to us, how could we then remove ourselves from His grasp? He said that no man can pluck us from the Father’s hand and that He and the Father are one. That ‘no one’ includes us. The reputation of the Father rests on the Faithful remaining faithful. This is something we cannot do. For all our subtleties, we have not strength enough to endure on our own. And just as the initial action of salvation in faith was completed not by ourselves but by the Holy Spirit, the keeping of it is thus under the protection of the Same. (Philippians C. 1,v.6)–Studies in Ephesians, S.J. Walker

    Sorry these were so long. But I’m too lazy to retype my thoughts. That’s something i need to work on. 🙂

  7. Barry Says:

    If there was ever a single theme that recurrs in the bible it is choosing. In almost any book one cares to read it is plainly laid out that people must “choose” to follow the correct path if they are to be successful. It is driven home time and time again that people MUST choose the Lord if they want all the good things to happen to them.

    It is completely encompassed in Deuterotomy 30:15-20 and we see it in virtually every book of the prophets who repeat continually that God is going to come down on people if they don’t toe the line.

    The thread of constant threats in the Bible is to instill fear in people so they’ll “choose” to do the right thing which includes following God.

    And, it is rife in the NT as well. Look at Matthew 24:37-39. Time and again it refers to people “unwilling”.

    God does not force you to love him or love your neighbor or love the girl you knew in High School.

    You do that on your own.

  8. Barry Says:

    Pardon me.

    I meant Matthew 23:37-39.

    Sorry.

  9. Howard Says:

    “God does not force you to love him or love your neighbor or love the girl you knew in High School.”

    This is like saying that my dad didn’t force me to obey him when he told me to do my chores. He just would spank the skin off of my butt and ground me. If that is not forced by compulsion, I don’t know what is.

    The question really comes down to ability. Civic righteousness will send a people to hell just as much as unbelief. Are men truly able to come to Christ?

  10. Pat McGee Says:

    OkAndrew, don’t keep me in suspense. What did you read?

  11. Bryan Riley Says:

    It seems to me that all you’ve done is show that the analogy can be attacked, as most can. They are generally only meant to give a limited picture of something difficult to understand. I honestly don’t know how God’s sovereignty and human free will interact – call me postmodern – and I don’t think I have to know. I want to know and will continue to seek more intimacy with and knowledge of Him, but I will rest in knowing that I can trust Him for He is infinitely good, loving, merciful, just, kind, compassionate, faithful, and more. I will rest in the understanding that “such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”


  12. “If there was ever a single theme that recurrs in the bible it is choosing.”

    If there ever was a single theme that precedes man’s choosing it is God’s choice. Before man chose, God chose to create him. If there is a single facet of God’s work among men, it is that out of the whole of humanity, God chose only some. He chose Abel, not Cain, he chose the eight and not the rest, he chose Abraham but left Babylon behind. He went before Abraham’s servant and chose one bride from a particular people and rejected the nations all around. He choose Isaac, and no Ishmael, Jacob, and not Essau, Israel and not the nations all around. He chooses only some from the Jews and some from the Gentiles.

    God loves himself, he seeks his own highest good. That highest good is his own glorification. He created man in his image, likewise, to love himself and to seek his own highest good. Man’s own highest good is to glorify God in all that he does.

    The question then must be asked, what is choice? God has choice, but is it free to choose to dishonor himself and therefore profane his own glory? Is God capable of being opposed to himself? If God created man in his image did he create him in an image that can both be glorifying to God, and not? If he can create man in his image able to oppose that image, what image is that? How can it both be in the image and not in the image at the same time and not be evil? God is not both good and evil is he?

    True choice, and that choice which alone is free, is that choice which is only able to choose the good. For this is the image of the true God. And, as it is written, we see Jesus in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells as the true image of the invisible God made manifest who did only that which he saw the Father choosing. It is the image of God in Christ to which we are being conformed, unable to choose evil, is it not? In the perfect estate, if we will not be able to choose not to love God, if we are unable to not love our neighbor, will God then be guilty of forcing us to love?

    The question that must be asked, is do you believe in a god that is able to deny himself so that his choice is “free”, or do you believe in a God who is not “free” being able to choose only good so that his choice is truly free in the highest sense of the image of God who can do none other than seek God’s own glory. If that is the image that you believe that you have been recreated in, then you know the new creation.

    God does not receive the praises of the doubleminded. If you are able to choose either to reject or accept, that is the image of the doublemind. It is not the image of God. It is sin to possess the ability to choose between God or not. The new mind, that is the mind of Christ is required for the right confession, for the right choice, to choose that which Christ would choose, to do the will of the Father. Christ is not divided against himself such that he could choose to deny his own will. And the flesh is incapable of ridding itself of its doublemindedness. Though it would feign love by choosing it, that choice proceeds out of a corrupt heart, unfaithful, polluted, a mixed cup. It is a false testimony which says, “Lord, Lord”, but the heart is far from him. God will not accept that choice which is made while the thoughts of adultery are still present in the heart. Adultery, idolatry and rebellion against the husband is that which honors God with its lips only. But if the heart has other lovers, others that it could go to, if it so chooses, it is unsure and uncertain, and is not the heart of faith. That is not the image of Christ. That is not the love of God that is shed abroad in the the hearts of those who choose to follow the Lord.

    God does not force himself to love particularly either, but he does not love out of fear of punishment, which he would be liable to if he denied himself, for that is the law which can never bring salvation. Instead, he is love, and therefore loves what is good. The regenerate man knows the true fear of God, that man was made in the image of God to glorify God, and that regenerate man does so because love has been created in him as a new heart; undivided, sure and certain and compelled by its nature to seek its own highest good, the glory of God.

    It is not love that can choose to do evil. Libertarian free-will is a confession that one does not have the love of God dwelling in their heart. The ability to choose not to love God, is called sin.

  13. Pat McGee Says:

    Excellent, Thomas

  14. Dan Church Says:

    “True choice, and that choice which alone is free, is that choice which is only able to choose the good. For this is the image of the true God.”

    “The question that must be asked, is do you believe in a god that is able to deny himself so that his choice is “free”, or do you believe in a God who is not “free” being able to choose only good so that his choice is truly free in the highest sense of the image of God who can do none other than seek God’s own glory. If that is the image that you believe that you have been recreated in, then you know the new creation.”

    “It is not love that can choose to do evil. Libertarian free-will is a confession that one does not have the love of God dwelling in their heart. The ability to choose not to love God, is called sin.”

    Great points Thomas…thankyou very much…this is extremely helpful!

    Its interesting how many will become hesitant and seemingly timid to think of our future estate in Heaven…in that when the truth is taught concerning our “choices” being only good and glorifying in Heaven they seem to be frustrated that it will be so.

    Many will assert “…but we won’t be robots…” and I would agree, however, a consistent and thorough examination of that line of thinking will show God is a “robot” since He can only choose “Good”.


  15. Barry:

    You wrote, “God does not force you to love him or love your neighbor or love the girl you knew in High School. You do that on your own.”

    -Would you also assert, “You do that on your own,” in regards to a sinner choosing to love God?

    Bryan:

    You wrote, “It seems to me that all you’ve done is show that the analogy can be attacked.”

    -This is true, in a sense. It was not my intention in this post to offer an exegetical defense of Irresistible grace, but to show a weakness in the Arminian philosophical pre-conception of “love” that forces the Arminian to deny Irresistible grace.

  16. Barry Says:

    Andrew,

    I would say yes.

    If we focus on God of our own volition without another person swaying us, or if we focus on God because we are swayed by another person, we are making an active decision. It is a choice.

    Now, the argument could be advanced that the only people who choose to love God are those that God, himself, chose to offer love to him.

    I don’t find that argument particularly plausible. You could tell anybody, good or bad, that if they believe in God that it is because they were “chosen” by God and then “persuaded” them to believe.

    Even if this were the case, they still made the choice.


  17. I don’t find that argument particularly plausible.

    Which begs these questions:

    Where does love come from?
    Is the flesh capable of love?
    Is sin a choice or a condition?

    You could tell anybody, good or bad, that if they believe in God that it is because they were “chosen” by God and then “persuaded” them to believe.

    Which begs the question:

    Is faith a persuasion of what is not really known, or is it truth; trusting, convinced, revealed knowledge?

    We have the testimony of Scripture that it is not we who choose God: John 15:12-25. The contrast is clear. God chooses and gives love to those whom love him. But, he does not give love to those whom he has not chosen. Those who he chooses to give love of God to bear the fruit of love of God. Those he does not choose bear the fruit that is void of love of God. Indeed:

    For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God…The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    The conclusion of Scripture is that a man cannot be convinced of the truth. He is not capable. Unless one has been given the Spirit which is the mind of Christ to love the Father, he will not. The natural man cannot understand, his nature is sin and sin rejects the sovereignty of another and it cannot love any god but itself because it sees itself as the creator. The creator chooses his own choices and rejects the choices made for him by another. The result is that Jesus says they hated him without cause for the choices that he made were all good, but they reject that his choices are good for them. Instead, they usurp what only belongs to God our Lord, the freedom and right to choose between good and evil, a knowledge that rightfully belongs to him alone.

  18. Barry Says:

    To use John 15:16 as a blanket testimony that our choice becomes ineffectual is to misrepresent scripture and to deny other scripture (staggering amounts) which refers to people choosing.

    John 15:16 is a passage that deals specifically with Jesus calling the apostles specifically. He did choose them and they did respond of their own free will.

    To offer the posit that we don’t choose based on this very narrow context of Jesus talking to his apostles and transmuting it to mean everyone in the world is misleading.

    This is what I call cherry-picking 101.

  19. S.J. Walker Says:

    Barry,

    Agreed that we should consider context in every citation. But John 15:16 is not alone, and is despite your objections, applicable to aid in understanding whether God reacts to man, being thus affected by some thought or actions of intellect of man; or man reacts to God, being thus affected by a supernatural breathing of the Holy Spirit.

    What can we say to these other witnesses?

    Romans 8:28-39
    Ephesians 1:11-14
    Ephesians 2:1-10
    Romans 9:10-25

    To name a few other passages. It is undenyable that there is more to salvation than picking one bus over another going the opposite direction. The real question I had to answer when thinking about this and still when i struggle to understand these things is this: “Son of man, can these dead bones live? And I answered, “oh, Lord God, You know.” Ezekiel 37:1-8

    Just ponder on that for a bit. No ponder on it a long time. I had to and I still don’t understand how God works this great salvation in me lat alone any one else, “but I know Whom I have believed”, and I do not know any way but through Him that I believed at all.

    SW


  20. John 15:16

    You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

    Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil ?”

    So, Barry, there is a qualitative difference between the disciples and believers in general? But, how does that negate the fact that Jesus chose them first and to a specific end, that they would bring forth fruit according to the Father’s will?

    In the second quote out of chapter six. Is what you are saying is that Jesus did not know who Judas was, until after Judas had made the choice to betray? Or, was the choice that Judas would make predetermined by:

    While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

    What is free-will, (the libertarian type) Barry? If LFW is the ability to choose evil, then, wouldn’t that mean that it is born out of a heart that was capable of choosing evil; Luke 6:43; Luke 6:45; 1 Timothy 1:5? Can an evil heart choose the good, or can a good heart choose evil? Jesus said no. What say you? Could Jesus have chosen to violate his Father’s will, could he have done evil? Was he incarnated the only begotten Son, the exact expression of his Father, good and evil? Is God both good and evil?

    You have not interacted with a thing that was said concerning the nature of God and the image in which Adam was created, or the image of Christ into which we are being conformed, except to isolate one statement from Jesus and restrict its context so tightly that it chokes off any reality of the entirety of what that chapter has to say, let alone the Bible. Who is the creator of choice Barry, who is the providential provider of everthing? Who was it that lead the Israelites by the way of the desert so that they could not exercise their sinful libertarian free-will and return to Egypt. The rebellious heart of sinful man will always reject the will of God, as was mentioned out of Romans. Even in doing what appears to be good, like confessing Jesus as Lord, when it retains to itself choice outside the willing of that choice by God, it stands in oppostition to him.

  21. charles Says:

    it’s interesting that you would interpret Jesus admonition to them in john15 to “go and bear fruit” and “love one another” as exclusively apostolic…but there are a lot more verses than that which suggest that God’s choosing is foundational to our choosing. the very idiom of “new birth” is something which should help you understand that it was not ultimately your choice anymore than it was your choice to be born the 1st time. spiritual birth is something caused by God (1pet1:3)…not of the will of the flesh or the will of man, but of God (john 1:13)…the wind/Spirit blows where it/He wishes (john3:8).

    when peter dropped his nets and followed Christ, he really did “choose.” but his choice was grounded in the eternal choosing of Christ…such that Jesus could encourage them that their choice was not foundational (i suspect this probably helped peter quite a bit as he contemplated both his choice to deny Jesus and Jesus’ certainty that he was going to do so.)

    if you believe that you are choosing God of your own volition while your unsaved neighbor rejects God of his own volition – presumably you believe that God is equally desirous and active in pursuing you both – then the only distinction between you and your unsaved neighbor is that goodness in your volition (humility? wisdom? spiritual sensitivity?) which your neighbor lacked. where did it come from? if God didn’t give it to you (why wouldn’t He have given it to your neighbor?), then did you generate that goodness yourself? if it’s of yourself, why not boast that you were smarter than your neighbor in that you understood the value of the gospel? more humble in your willingness to accept Jesus as Lord?

    i’m sure you understand that the bible teaches that you are not to boast, though. if you take another look, i think you’ll understand the reasoning why:

    1cor1:26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

  22. Barry Says:

    Dear Thomas,

    I was reacting to your use of John 15:16 in trying to posit that this verse is irrefutable proof that we don’t choose.

    Nothing more or less.

    To look at the vein of everything you have touched on, just now, would take us outside the scope of this post. And, it would be lengthy and probably boring for most (reading my thoughts anyway) to digest.

    I see and accept that choosing and being chosen is a refrain in the bible. However, for me to completely deny that we ourselves don’t choose would mean that I am completely willing to dismiss the bulk of the bible.

    Even without the bible, just the thought that we don’t ourselves have the capacity to choose seems completely foolish.

    I would have loved it if Belinda Sorensen would have fallen in love with me in 6th grade but she didn’t and I had to move on (when you’re skinny, ugly and stupid you don’t have much to offer a girl). But, things usually work out, I’m fat, ugly and still stupid but I have a beautiful wife and we have three beautiful grown daughters.


  23. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

    Okay Barry let’s take this apart then:

    You did not choose me

    Any questions about that? Is it refutable that they did not choose? And, if they did it could not have been at this level that Christ is addressing, for it is in the past tense, not present or future, true?

    Next:

    I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide

    Any question as to who did the choosing? Further, if man’s choice, (no one here denies choice- what is being denied is free-will {LFW precisely}) happens, it is excluded from the first eschelon, that belongs to Christ, and it is not alone, but produces that thing which it was sent to do. Now, is the choice to follow Christ a good fruit? And, does it abide, that is, is it eternal? Keep in mind that Jesus has said that no one can produce anything except that he abides in them. Is right choice, that is obedience to the commands of God, a fruit that is produced by the Spirit of God by the appointment of Christ in accordance with the will of the Father who has appointed good works so that we would walk in them?

    To look at the vein of everything you have touched on, just now, would take us outside the scope of this post. And, it would be lengthy and probably boring for most (reading my thoughts anyway) to digest.

    No, it wouldn’t be boring, and no, it does not take us outside the scope of this post, for the point of this post is biblical love as opposed to the world’s view of what love is. Love has everything to do with predestination: For God so loved the world… The word so means “in this way.” How does God love? By halting between two equal and opposite choices or, does he always choose the one and reject the other? Man’s view of love is one of selection between two equal and oppostitional things. But, there is no equality between good and evil and God’s love knows no opposition. Is it valid to say that God loves evil as much as good, but chooses good? In other words, is God like fallen man? For not even Adam was created with the capability of choosing in that way. Instead he was commanded, to reflect the God in whose image he was created, only to choose the good, if indeed that is who God is. Adam was created to choose good and forbidden from any choice of evil. To say it differently, he was not given a choice between the two but was commanded to act in accordance with the way he was created and choose the only choice given, good. A forbidden thing, is not a choice, Barry. The love of God is not like the fallen nature of man. The love of God forbids the choice of evil, it does not allow it, it does not even consider it a choice.

    As Andrew explained

    The natural Man pridefully imagines God to be his equal in terms of establishing a relationship

    and as you keep doing, the position that Gregg took always brings God down to man’s level, and fallen man’s level, at that.

    Even without the bible, just the thought that we don’t ourselves have the capacity to choose seems completely foolish.

    Again, what is being discussed is not whether there is choice. Rather what is being asked is if there is no choice to refuse the good, is there love? Now it should make sense that choosing evil is never love, so too, neither is the ability to do so, as I referenced above. But, love always rejoices in and desires what is good, and does not consider (lust) for what is evil. So I would caution you here, because the wisdom of God surely does look as foolishness to men, because to men not having an alternative is no choice. And men thinking themselves wise enough to choose what they willed, became fools and their foolish hearts were darkened and they were bound by that foolishness to choose only evil things. Only one question needs to be answered here Barry: Can God choose evil? If the answer is yes, then God is not God but the devil. If the answer is no, then he created man in his image, only able to choose the good and it was through deception that he choose what was not a choice.

  24. charles Says:

    barry, your interpretation of john 15:16 is that it “deals specifically with Jesus calling the apostles specifically. He did choose them and they did respond of their own free will.” the verse OTOH says specifies that they were chosen to “go and bear fruit” and “love one another” as opposed to being called to uniquely apostolic functions, AND rather than say “I chose you and then you responded of your own free will,” it says that “I chose you, you did NOT choose me.” can you shed a little more light on why you interpret this verse as you do?

    you say: “Even without the bible, just the thought that we don’t ourselves have the capacity to choose seems completely foolish.”

    i think you mean “without the bible, the thought that we don’t have the capacity to choose seems completely foolish.” the only reason reformed theologians come to the conclusions that they do is the revelation of God in scripture. (hey, if Jesus hadn’t told peter “I chose you, you didn’t choose Me,” how would peter have known he didn’t choose? if all the info peter had was that he dropped his nets and left everything to follow Christ, of course he would conclude that he had chosen his own course of action…and that he deserved credit for recognizing Jesus’ importance.)

    i agree with you that it is a natural conclusion of human logic that if an agent has no capacity except to do evil (i.e. cannot choose to do otherwise), then that agent is not responsible for the evil. but i believe that scripture has more authority than mere human logic.

    the 1st time pharoah is mentioned in exod 3, God tells moses that pharoah will not let the people of israel until God strikes them with a series of miracles. unless God could fail in predicting the future, pharoah was absolutely certain to oppose moses. further, we are told that God even went so far as to harden pharoah in this opposition…and that God raised pharoah up in the first place precisely so that he would provide this opposition.

    but the human logic of “well, then pharoah had no choice…it really wasn’t his fault” is addressed directly in scripture:

    rom9:19One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?

    i agree with you that scripture teaches that we are responsible for how we choose. but i disagree with your assumption, derived as it is from human logic, that that responsibility necessarily implies capacity/ability.

  25. S.J. Walker Says:

    Charles,

    Preach it brother.

  26. Barry Says:

    Is this a debate or a pie throwing contest?

    Stick to one or two thoughts at a time please. Not twenty.

    The question here is not whether God can choose evil. That is an inane concept.

    The question here is: Can man choose?

    The bible is soaked with the answer that, yes, man can and does choose.

    We might better go on to the more fun topics of Total Depravity and Original Sin. Now these are two topics, Andrew of course permitting (and initiating), that attract some fascinating thoughts.

    As you might suppose, I’m not “down” with either one (although I should be with Original Sin as I’m a RC).

    I’m happy for you to bash away at me but I think it is only fair, Charles and Thomas, to stick to one or two thoughts at a time to discuss, otherwise we become like a couple of ten year olds in a school parking lot trying to outdo one another by throwing out as much verbage as we can. That is not a tactic which is persuasive or actually gets us anywhere.


  27. The question here is not whether God can choose evil. That is an inane concept.

    Well, Barry, you have refused to answer any questions, so I have been rephrasing and couching them in various concepts. I’ll try one more time, can love choose evil? Now, your response is most likely going to be, that is not a fair question, the question is can man choose evil, right? So, I have to ask what is the nature of the new man? Or, its antithesis, what is the nature of the old man?

    It has been stated repeatedly that man does indeed choose. The question at hand is does the inability to choose other than God negate love? Or, its antithesis, can that which is evil by nature, man in his fallen state, choose God?

    The point of the post was the humanistic evaluation of God as defined by the image of fallen man, able to choose between two opposite and equal things. So, the question as to the nature of God is not inane. But, absolutely indispensible in a discussion of what true love, pure and undefiled, really is. So, I asked, did God create man with a nature in the image of God unable to choose evil, or did he create man with a nature in the image of God able to choose evil. The consequence of the answer is of all importance. To say that God created man in the image of God able to choose evil, is to accuse God of having an inherent nature that is evil.

    Man’s concept of love is that it can choose evil. It can either love God or love something else. But, the Scriptural view of love is that it only loves God and has no other competitor, Isaiah 46. So also I asked, could Jesus, the express image of the invisible God who is love, choose other than to love his Father? And, if it is the image of Christ in us, the mind of Christ given us, is that new man able to choose other than God? And, if he could have, then when the Jews accused Jesus of having an unclean spirit, they were right. But if he could not, then his righteousness was truely righteousness, and if we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, then we love God as Christ did, in true righteousness, not with second thoughts, but from a pure heart that can only choose its own highest good, which is the glory of God.

    So, Barry, yes the bible is soaked with the fact that man does choose. The question is, what is choice as it is presented in Scripture in both its kinds, as that of fallen sinful man, and that of the new man which comes down out of heaven? Which chooses freely, that which is in bondage to sin and can only choose sin, or that which has been set free in Christ to only love God, the only good?

    We might better go on to the more fun topics of Total Depravity

    This is a discussion of TD. Total depravity means the absence of righteousness, without which no man will see God, without which no man can love. The wonderful thing about being born from above is we have been given the perfect fullness of Christ’s righteousness, which always loves to do the Father’s will which is to glorify him. Unfortunately for many, they believe that our imperfect attempts at love, the choices that we make out of our sin nature, will satisfy the demands of the commandments. But, they never can. Against the RC, or romanist position that Gregg takes, the Reformed camp places the finished work in Christ on the cross so that his perfect love is given to us as faith. His righteousness is given to us. That is what grace is. It is not as Gregg and the RC believe, that it is a smidgeon of grace, which assists us in gaining more. The Reformed view of faith, and the correct biblical faith, is completed when it is graced to us. It is a finished sacrifice, once and for all, completed in Christ the author and finisher of our faith. He has been given for us and to us, a perfected love. Our confidence then, does not abide in our choosing him, but his choosing us. We follow him because as Ephesians says we are now seated with him in the heavenlies and have already received the reward of obedience, our inheritance with him as co-heirs. We obey the commandments because he first loved us, and therefore, we love him. It is impossible to do the first or second commandment except that we have been given the mind of Christ. We cannot even understand what it means to love, without it.

    Finally, love is the very nature of God and being eternal always loves. And this is the inheritance of the saints, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his only begotten Son to do for us what we were unable to do, love God. If you have understood that it is impossible to choose to do evil if you are born again, then you have as John says, the Seed abiding in you; 1 John 3:9 c.f., Galatians 5:17. But, if you think that it was because you chose good over evil, that is to love God over not loving him, that choice was born out of a heart that was divided, and not the heart which is formed after the image of God’s own. For as Paul says there in Galatians we began this by the Spirit, and not by the flesh, and the Spirit prevents us by doing for us what we would not do if left to choose by our own LFW.

  28. S.J. Walker Says:

    If there was ever a single theme that recurrs in the bible it is choosing.; The bible is soaked with the answer that, yes, man can and does choose.; to completely deny that we ourselves don’t choose would mean that I am completely willing to dismiss the bulk of the bible.

    Barry,

    Could you do me a favor and show me some applicable citations such as you claim in the sentences above?

    So for, you have been offered several citations (at least 6 from me) that bolster the truth of Sovereign Grace, with plenty of good and faithful explanation of all the concepts therein. It doesn’t make your view any more plausible to claim over and over that “the Bible says” anything if you can’t give examples. You see my point?
    Thanks.
    1 Timothy 4:12-13

  29. Barry Says:

    Thomas,

    Now you’re being completely churlish, suggesting that I haven’t answered your questions.

    When you have the habit of throwing out a long response filled with thirty fragmented thoughts you not only make it difficult for people to reply you make it undesireable for one to wish to reply. Do us all a favor and keep your replies short and to the point. You don’t need to write an epic each time. I’m happy to reply to your love/evil/man/God/choosing senario but you throw around too much at a time. You know? You ask if God can choose to do evil? If God is God I’m going to guess he can do whatever he wants. I think the question here is what man can do. Can man choose? Does man have a “free-will”? I’m saying yes and I’ve already backed that up–many times.

    S. J. Walker,

    You want a citation for man choosing? Pick up the bible anywhere you want. Start with Deuterotomy 30:15-20. You can work forward or backward from there.


  30. You ask if God can choose to do evil? If God is God I’m going to guess he can do whatever he wants.

    You claim to know Scripture and that it establishes libertarian free-will, along with the above. Do you agree that:

    …God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one…it is impossible for God to lie…

    Does that not say that God does not have what you would define as feed choice?

    If you only guess at what Scripture says about God, are you only guessing that the Scripture establishes “free-will”?

    What would you say about:

    The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

    If that is the case, how can man know what choice is love or not?

    I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

    Is it love that would “make” them to walk and keep? Is this one of those verses that you assert to know so well as to prove that man has freedom to choose as he will? That OT verse perfectly meshes with this in the NT:

    …for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

    The problem with those who claim that God has set apart from himself the autonomous free-will of man is that it by default makes God the slave of man; they do not know the God of Scripture who bows to no other’s will, so they must deny who God is.

    No Barry, God cannot choose to do evil. He cannot become what he is not. God is by nature good, as Jesus said:

    I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me

    And,

    You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

    There was no tendency in Christ to do evil, because there is no tendency in God, no shadow of turning, that he might do anything other than good. What you have said of God is to make him no more than another fallen creature, and not God at all.

  31. charles Says:

    sorry to doubleteam you, barry, i know that’s rude. i’ll make one more post for your consideration – more of an effort to explain what i see as the typical sticking point in understanding the reformed/calvinist position than something requiring a response – and then bow out and you and thomas can discuss without interference…

    so just for reference, your basic argument centers on verses such as deut 30:19 “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

    we would agree that this verse teaches that man is responsible for his choices…that God has a right to hold man responsible for those choices. as our Creator, God has a right to demand anything of us He chooses (even impossibly difficult things like “be perfect” or “love God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength.”)

    but you go further than that and infer logically that if man is responsible to obey, then man must also be capable…you presume, for example, that man must be free to choose life and not just death or else God would be unfair to make the offer. this very common supposition is grounded solely in human logic and not in scripture.

    OTOH, as i wrote above, scripture clearly teaches that God raised up pharaoh in order to oppose Him such that miraculous means would be necessary to resolve their disagreement (exod3 & rom9)…pharaoh was raised up because he WOULD (not “maybe/perhaps/might”) oppose the will the God. we are even told that God hardens him further to ensure that he chooses death.

    there is nothing to suggest that pharaoh had the capacity to choose life…that is the whole point of rom 9:19: paul imagines pharaoh making an argument based on your logic – “if God put me in a position where i was doomed to fail…if God ‘set me up to fail’…how can i be blamed for acting how He ordained beforehand that i should act?” while this would be a reasonable argument in a human court, God’s response shoves that “logic” aside and reminds us that as the Creator, He is beyond any human jurisdiction.

    and pharaoh was not unique. “no one seeks God” and we “have all gone astray.” “every inclination of man’s heart is evil from childhood.” (gen8:21) God could justly choose to harden each of us to our own destruction.

    the good news is that God is free to mercy those He chooses. the pharisee saul was identical in guilt to those Jesus condemned in matt23, right down to “killing the prophets and stoning those sent” (acts22:20)…but God showed him mercy and stopped him cold on his “freely” chosen path of persecution. this is why paul contends in rom9 that salvation is not based on man’s desire or effort…not whether man wills or runs (as paul had been choosing, not out of any coersion but out of the desires of his own fallen will, to oppose Jesus rather than run to follow Him)…but on God who has mercy.

  32. Barry Says:

    Thomas,

    As Alexander Pope said: Presume not God to scan. The proper study of mankind is man.

    You keep wishing to bring into the view a description what God is capable of. Why?

    You ask if I agree that “God cannot be tempted with evil…that he tempts no one…that it is impossible for him to lie?” I’m not an authority on God.

    And, by the way, I do thank you for keeping your response of reasonable length.

    I’ll end with your second question which is right in line with Total Depravity.

    Throughout Jeremiah, you are quoting 17:9 I believe, like so much of both the OT and NT was topical. A crisis is usually what promulgated the work, whether it was the fall of Jerusalem or the persecution of early Christians (Revelation). Sure the author(s) of Jeremiah were right in considering there was a fickleness in one’s heart and that we were (are) certainly capable of doing bad. That doesn’t mean I take it literally, any more than I take it literally what Jeremiah said in 19:9 when he was going to have people eat the flesh of their sons and daughters.

    But, we are straying here.

    Charles,

    I agree. If God put us here he can expect a great deal from us as a return for this blessing. Whether we give back to him adequately is one of the questions.


  33. Whether we give back to him adequately is one of the questions.

    We’ve already discussed this. The answer is given to us:

    But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing we can do is adequate.

    I’m not an authority on God.

    But, you know that God created man with LFW? You know that God does not superintend upon the choices of man now? Why not just agree with Scripture? James 1:13; Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2; Proverbs 21:1; Proverbs 16:1; Proverbs 16:9; Mark 13:11 ( for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit).

    The worst source of the study of man, is man:

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    Not only does this tell us that man is a fool who suppresses truth in unrighteousness (remember Jeremiah) it tells us that we can indeed becomes authorities on God, but because of evil hearts refuse to, imaginining what we know of God rather than accepting what he says about himself.

    Beyond that we are expected to know God:

    And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

    But you say:

    You keep wishing to bring into the view a description what God is capable of. Why?

    And quote Pope as an authority?

    “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
    The proper study of Mankind is Man.
    Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
    A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
    With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
    With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
    He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
    In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
    In doubt his mind and body to prefer;
    Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
    Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
    Whether he thinks to little, or too much;
    Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d;
    Still by himself, abus’d or disabus’d;
    Created half to rise and half to fall;
    Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
    Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;
    The glory, jest and riddle of the world.”

    The problem with your assessment here as is demonstrated by this poem is that Pope was dismissing man as capable of truly knowing anything as a man attempting to know man. The conclusion of the poem is that man left to himself can know nothing of himself or of God except pride-filled confusion. When left to himself to study himself or God, he ends up knowing nothing and blaspheming God a ‘prey to all’. Though this piece was offered as a counter to the “pessimistic” world view, the whole tenor of this and the irony of positivism in general is its hyper-pessimisstic view that nothing can really be known at all (the gnosis of agnosis, that they think is positive). We could call Pope a modern/postmodern before his time. This philosophy would be followed later by idealists like Left-Hegelians whose positivism would prevail in the Third Reich as its agnosticism eventuated in the Nietzheian shift.

    The biblical view over against either pessimism or optimism is realism. The Scriptures give us the truth such that even a child can understand it. The problem Barry is that is it not given to everyone: Matthew 13:11; Luke 8:10; so that man cannot exercise his free will and be saved, Matthew 13:10-16; Isaiah 6. It is interesting that Pope also said that the positive man was the most credulous and the least trustworthy.

    Sorry for the length Barry, but when you quote a RC/Freemasonic humanist and a father of the modernist paradigm commonly found among the world of leftists, I just couldn’t resist.

  34. Barry Says:

    Thomas,

    You keep bashing humanist center or left of center folk all the time as if they were poor at representing man. Guess what? Your “Conservative credentialed” folk are among the worst examples of what is good, proper and forward moving for our world as it gets (secular or religious).

    But, you don’t seem to want to believe that. The past seven years should be enough to convince anyone of the core of corruption that lies within conservatives–in this country.

    I also find it ironic that you would say the things you do while at the same time one of your “stalwarts” of the Calvinistic movement is none other that the RC humanist and priest St. Augustine.

    It looks like you actually lean on the left while at the same time decry it.

    I’m glad your learning to keep your thoughts reeled in to just a few at a time it makes it a lot easier to respond to old buddy.


  35. Augustine an RC, a humanist? How does that square with his diminution of man and the exaltation of the sovereignty of God? Wasn’t it his denial of free-will/free choice, that was the stalwart of Luther’s “hinge pin” of the protestation? How does Augustine, the anti-Pelagian square with the RC semi-Pelagian positition? Gregg is an Arminian which boasts the same heresy of the inherent goodness of man. How is it that Augustine was a humanist when he denied any goodness in man?

    And I was speaking of the philosophical left, not the political left. You seem not to be able to separate the two. Though I would agree that they tend to fall together, they don’t always. For this discussion the opinions of the unbelieving secular world are not, as is the case with Pope, not even pertinent except in that facet where those in the church exalt human centered beliefs over the knowledge of God found in Scripture.

    What was at issue Barry, was the refusal to accept the clear teaching of Scripture or side against it with those who deny it and go about establishing their own way. I agree that men whether right or left are no good representative examples. If what we mean by good is righteousness. The only thing that we can learn of man from man is that he is an evil selfish chooser and that is not love. Our definition of what man was created to be and what he is now, comes only from Scripture. Our only dependable examination of man is found in Scripture which you repeatedly deny as Truth; you deny that man was created in the image of God only able to choose to do good and that now man in his fallen state, chooses only what is evil. You deny both the bondage of the will to evil and the freedom afforded though bondage to the mind of Christ which is a gift given in regeneration, righteous and only able to choose what is good. You believe that love is what we do as opposed to what we have (if we are born again) been made to be. To the RC love comes out of man as inherent in his natural state. Where the Scripture declares that that is not true. But, love is a gift given in the new birth. You believe that it is love to be able to choose evil. But Scripture says that to be able to choose evil is the essence of evil. It declares double-mindedness something to be hated as evil and not of God who does not change nor is he able to do so. He does not choose between two opinions. According to you, however, he can do anything he wants, including choosing evil. And I have asked you, is that the image of the god you know? Is that what you mean by love, to either love good, or love evil?

    It is simply that your testimony is opposed to Jesus Christ in whose image we have been recreated and are being conformed to. You would like to declare for the world that you know what love is when at the same time you deny the Father who is good and thereby the Son by making them to be no different than fallen mankind, able to choose to do evil. Because for you virtue is not the source but the result of choice. But, love rejoices with the truth, it does not rejoice in the freedom to do evil (those things which are untruth), that is antinomian, against the law.

    Your quoting Pope was an attempt to bolster and justify your claim that because you do not know God, no man can know God. That is prideful ignorance and tautological, a rejection of the Word of God. But, Christianity is not a vain hope, but just as sure and certain as God is love. And love rejoices in the Truth not in the false freedom of being able to be true and untrue to itself. And Scripture commands our obedience to the Truth and Jesus says

    “You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.”

    So men, like Pope, are without the excuse of ignorance.

    I can only concluded that your denial of any apprehension of Truth is your confession that you do not have the Son and are therefore not a child of the Father. Which begs the question implied all along, which you have yet to answer: Why is it so important to you to hold on to your ability to choose evil?

  36. Barry Says:

    Thomas,

    To suggest that you are offering a “clear teaching of scripture” while your precepts are coming predominately from a RC priest is a stretch.

    I think it’s fair for anyone reading your overly long responses to ask: “What’s wrong with this picture?”

    I completely understand that you are wallowed in man’s Total Depravity and that he is evil since his fall from Grace and can’t do anything “Good” except to choose Christ.

    But Scripture doesn’t back you up, St. Augustine of Hippo backs you up.

    There are alot of people in this world who don’t buy what Augustine and Calvin were trying to sell–but you do.

    That I think that is part of the essence of what sets Calvinists apart from the rest. They say they are leaning on Scripture but they are leaning on two men.

    Do I believe that man is capable of “choosing” to do good or bad?

    Sure.

    Your love affair with the word “evil” is too old school Thomas.

    And, your continued drifting into lengthy responses doesn’t help the issue.


  37. How can I say this so that you understand. My teaching does not come from an RC priest, period. I gave you Scripture, which you dismiss out of hand. And as I said your dismissal of the CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL teaching of Scripture puts you outside of the Christian camp.

    To then presume to teach anyone that you know love is a contradiction.

    It is when man is confronted with his evil that he realizes his need for repentance. Then who but the blind and deaf rejects even the term as used by Jesus Christ himself as old school? It is not me that you reject, Barry, it is Him:

    The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil…And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil…

    You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies…But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me…If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God…Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery…The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

    In the end Barry all of your deflections are not from what I have said, it is so that you do not have to answer to Jesus as Lord.

  38. Barry Says:

    Thomas,

    You won’t mind if I say, thank God you’re not the camp councilor?

    The proclivity you have for distilling the entire work of Scripture down into a few examples of verse, often using it is as a mis-representation of the context it was set in, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME ignoring opposing Scripture (and I mean a whole lot of it) identifies you not only as narrow in your scope but the precepts you cling to are not backed up by the entire body of Scripture.

    You’ve stated that you don’t lean on Augustine of Hippo for your beliefs. That is a flat-out lie.

    Your TULIP didn’t come from Scripture, it came from Augustine. And, he didn’t write Scripture. Get it?

    You can’t wrap your hands around a few things in the NT and at the same time disavow the rest of Scripture. If you do, it also means that you are certainly NOT a believer in Literal Inerrancy. But, I guess that follows doesn’t it Thomas? Augustine of Hippo wasn’t a believer in Literal Inerrancy either.

    You can throw me out of your camp If you wish, but I don’t think it’s one where the truth is spoken anyway.

  39. Andrew Says:

    Barry,

    I admit I have not read every word from any party above (a good deal of the time, I just scan comments to make sure that no-one is going too far off topic or addressing me directly). So some of this may have been covered before.

    You wrote to Thomas:
    “You’ve stated that you don’t lean on Augustine of Hippo for your beliefs. That is a flat-out lie.”
    -I would doubt that Thomas gets his beliefs from Augustine and can assure you that none of the SBF bloggers are dependent upon him. There is plenty of Augustine’s teaching with which we would disagree. Every teacher must be checked by Scripture.

    You wrote:
    “Your TULIP didn’t come from Scripture, it came from Augustine.”
    -It is disputed that Augustine held to “L.” And though Augustine did believe in the final perseverance of the elect, he also taught that someone could be regenerated and yet fall away from the Faith and be damned- thus teaching contrary to what we would now know as the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. So TULIP did not originate with Augustine.

    I want to make clear that there is nothing explicitly stated in your first two comments of this post with which I necessarily disagree. It is simply the presuppositions that that accompany them that are untenable from a biblical perspective; namely, the ideas that accountability before God implies a will that is not enslaved to sin and that our choices are not based upon a prior choice made by our omnipotent, sovereign, all-glorious LORD.

  40. Barry Says:

    Andrew,

    Many thanks for your perspective.

    I would like to add that I don’t deny much of what I am accused of denying. I am ready to accept Scripture that lends itself to all of TULIP’s precepts (because it does exist if you want to use it) but on the other end of the spectrum there also exists a large body of Scripture which offers a viewpoint which, to many people’s way of thinking, adequately challenges the strict adherence to it.

    I would do the same critical analysis of my own movement, which I have done and continue to do (in public writings), as I would feel free to do with any movement. I think I’m also able to see the “good” that there is with movements and people, despite what was put into Scripture and what is extracted from it.

  41. Pat McGee Says:

    Barry, I would recommend a book for you to read. It’s called The Five Points of Calvinism. It might be of benefit in explaining from a scriptural viewpoint the TULIP and other things. One of the authors is named Steele (not Remington Steele).

  42. Barry Says:

    Thanks Pat.

    I’ll do just the thing. I should be able to wrangel up a copy somewhere. Our youngest passes right by Calvin College everytime she comes home.

    Would you happen to know the author’s full name?

  43. Pat McGee Says:

    David N. Steele. There are several authors. It was ( at least to me) a very good read.

  44. Rodney Culpepper Says:

    Wow. I didn’t read all that was posted here. Don’t really have time. I have been preaching a relatively short series of messages on different religions…Christian and non-Christian. I am planning to conclude the series by touching on several major doctrinal issues including Calvinism. All I really know to say is that regardless of whether or not Calvinism is correct, we need to live like it is not. If my comment doesn’t seem very deep or theological, that’s because it’s not intended to be.

    If God makes the decision regarding my salvation and there is nothing I can do about it, and if God has not chosen me for salvation, then I suppose I could pray a “sinner’s prayer” every day without any result. However…if I read all these finely worded arguments and come to the conclusion that Calvinism is correct…if I come to the conclusion that Calvinism is correct and decide that God has already decided…if I decide that God has already decided and I don’t have to worry about it…if I don’t worry about it, and I’m wrong…wow. If I don’t worry about it, and you’re wrong…wow. Thanks.

    Can you imagine how many people have not been told about Jesus while all this typing has been going on…wow.


  45. Culpepper:

    Is that what you teach your people in regards to, for example, Romans 8:28-9:33? Don’t worry about it? We need to live like it’s not there? How many other passages of the Bible do you teach them to regard in this manner?

  46. Darrin Says:

    Rodney,
    You do misrepresent Calvinism in your second paragraph. Calvin wrote that man should “aspire to the goodness of which he is devoid, and the liberty of which he has been deprived: thus giving him a stronger stimulus to exertion than he could have if he imagined himself possessed of the highest virtue.”
    It’s true that we don’t see God’s secret counsels as to whom He has elected (at least until fruit is evident), and so we are not to be sluggish about our salvation or that of others. We broadcast the gospel seed, not knowing where God will give life.
    Your last statement is trite. Evangelism is an important part of the Christian life, but it is not all we are to be about. Studying and discussing truth brings glory to God as well, and without sound doctrine, we have little to offer others anyway.


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