Monday, April 23, 2007

Holding in a huff

“Hays has gone childish and is now playing the ‘that guys uses a pseudonym’ card.”

“Well, given Hays' childish resort to the ‘use of a pseudonym’ card…”

“The childish resort to the ‘pseudonym’ card.”

My, isn’t he touchy. I simply pointed out that my opponent goes by two different names. Turkel/Holding has, himself, put this information in the public domain:

[DOC] Robert Turkel
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So why the outrage?

“No, a critique of the corporate understanding does NOT even touch the matter unless it comes at it from the correct angle, the social science one.”

So the only correct angle is a social science one. Yet he quotes folks like Cranfield and Morris in support of his own position. Do they come to the text from the same “angle” as Esler? Turkel is being duplicitous.

“The Calvinist goes too far in thinking that Paul is saying everything and all that can be said about the salvation of individuals.”

A strawman argument since no Calvinist says that. Can he quote Piper or Murray or Schreiner or Baugh—on Rom 9—making that claim?

He’s simply using this strawman argument as a diversionary tactic to evade the predestinarian force of Rom 9.

“My point was that Tinky Winky is just throwing this elephant around for the sake of bamboozling an average reader who won't have the time or the interest to look themselves.”

Note how Turkel talks down to the “average” Christian reader.

“Beale's arguments are old news to me, and have no bearing on or refutation to my own arguments, we'll wait for Tinkly Winky to do the hard work of extraction of arguments to show us why not.”

Beale’s article is a sustained critique of synergism in favor of monergism. It’s directly germane to Turkel’s claims.

“The absolute stupidity of comparing the question of the continued existence of the Temple with reference to the continued validity of the Jewish covenant, with a celebrity gossip story, speaks for itself in terms of Tinky Winky's childishness and lack of congnizance [sic.] of the significance of the larger picture that Paul had to deal with.”

Turkel never shows that Paul was dealing with that “larger picture.” He simply asserts it. Proof by stipulation.

He also uses buzzwords like “social science” as a substitute for actual exegesis.

“The enormous bulk of power was in Jewish hands, from the great Sanhedrin to local rulers.”

A purely delegated authority which Rome could rescind at the drop of a hat.

“What these amount to is that they had to be uninterrupted because if they hadn't been, they'd have been interrupted.”

Which is not what I said. Or Stuart said. Or Sarna said. Turkel is substituting a tautology of his own making for the rationale they actually gave.

“The mental block Tinky Winky has is the usual Calvinist one in which he declares that God's "purpose" was Calvinistic, and that Pharaoh never could have repented, and so that's why there could have been no interruption of the plagues.”

Must Turkel be such a dim bulb? I specifically quoted from two leading commentators on Exodus who are not in the Calvinist camp. Stuart is Arminian, and Sarna is Jewish.

The fact that Turkel feels the need to constantly distort or evade the actual argument illustrates the intellectual bankruptcy of his own position.

“Of course it never occurs to Tinky Winky that if Pharaoh had repented and let Israel go, all that would mean is that God would have accomplished His purpose for Israel in another way.”

i) So, according to Turkel, God is the follower, and man is the leader. God is simply reacting to whatever man does. Man is dictating the agenda.

ii) For Turkel, God is not in control of the outcome. God is unable to carry out his purpose by executing a particular course of action of his own choosing.

Instead, God only has a set of contingency plans. If one falls through, God has a backup plan. God takes his cue from man.

“Tinky Winky simply assumes that if God does the hardening, then God will just continue on with it under all possible circumstances.”

More of Turkel’s reading incomprehension. This is contrary to what I actually said. What I said is that it wouldn’t matter if hardening were temporary or permanent, for, in any event, God is the agent.

“Sorry, but as my exegesis shows, Rom. 9:6-8 has not one bit to do with this, but is about claims of etnnic identity as a marker, and claims that simply because someone was a Judaen, they had an automatic "in" with God.”

Does “Jew” mean Judean” in Romans? Observe the criticism of this redefinition by one of the SBL reviewers I quoted.

“And according to Tinky Winky, they are tied to the contextual misfirings of commentators in the 16th and 17 century.”

I haven’t cited any 16-17C commentators. Instead, I’ve cited Beale, Baugh, and Schreiner. Turkel never fails to miss the target.

“The above is not an "argument" by me but an observation by Morris. I make no use of his observation in any argument. I merely report his as a point of view on the subject.”

Now he’s on the ropes. Why would he cite Morris except in support of his own position? Is he citing Morris just for the sake of citing Morris? To fill out the word count? Would he cite Morris if Morris were irrelevant to his position? No, he’s citing Morris to undermine the predestinarian force of this verse.

“He then posted a review of Esler, which unfortunately does not answer a single point upon which I made use of Esler.”

Actually, I excerpted two reviews. And they address various points upon which he made use of Esler. They address Esler’s flawed methodology as well as flaws in his individual arguments, such as the redefinition of “Jew” as Judean. Turkel is dependent on both.

“I did -- RTS Library in Orlando.”

Did he read Schreiner’s essay in the Still Sovereign anthology?

“Since I don't deny the God did some part (not ALL) of the hardening, it doesn't really matter.”

Use of the divine passive construction implies that God is the agent of hardening, not that he did “some part, but not all.”

“He's using the tactics of the atheists, and ought to be ashamed of himself for it.”

I guess shame cultures aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. So much for the social science angle.

“My time is too valuable to waste on a hack like Hays as he now presents himself and his "arguments".”

Turkel is in competition with Vincent Cheung as the most self-important apologist in the blogosphere. The contest will take the form of which contender can gaze at himself in the mirror for longer.

“Since he thinks he accomplished something by posting a negative review of Esler.”

No, two negative reviews, to be exact. Both from the Society for Biblical Literature—that infamous hotbed of hardcore Calvinism.

And now for MMGG:


The statement

"Let's also not forget that Molinism (and Holding claims to be a Molinist) begs the question of libertarian freedom. He needs to show us Scripture that proves libertarian freedom."

made by Genembridges on Triablogue is perplexing to me. Here are a couple of reasons why:

First of all, just to turn the question around,

1. It seems that the Calvinist needs to prove compatiblism [sic.] from Scripture too. Compatiblism [sic.] is not a default position on this subject; it doesn't win the debate automatically if there is no evidence presented for libertarianism.


No, a Calvinist doesn't need to prove compatibilism from Scripture. A Calvinist only needs to prove Calvinism from Scripture.

Compatibilism is a philosophical position, not a theological position. It dovetails nicely with Calvinism, and it's a philosophical counterargument to a philosophical objection (libertarianism).

Calvinism is not dependent on compatibilism in the way Arminianism is dependent on libertarianism.



Now, some little arguments for libertarian freedom:

2. Two questions I have for Calvinists:

a. does God have libertarian freewill?

b. If so, where does it say this in the Bible?

Denying God libertarian freewill has disastrous consequences (I will explain if anyone wants me to). But affirming it is not based on explicit biblical teaching. Pointing to texts that say God sovereignly chooses will not prove libertarian freedom. Instead it seems that LFW is an assumption that we must make with respect to God because of other things Scripture says about Him. The same can be argued with respect to humans: it seems like we could ascribe LFW to human beings based not on explicit statements in Scripture but rather various indirect data.


That’s the wrong way to frame the issue.

On the one hand, God is, in many respects, freer than man. He's omnipotent.

On the other hand, this doesn't mean that God enjoys the freedom of contrary choice, i.e., the freedom to choose between good and evil.

So, in that respect, God is less free than Adam or Lucifer.

On the one hand, God's actions are not necessitated.

On the other hand, there are certain things that God cannot do (consistent with his moral character).



If God can have LFW and we can admit this without prooftexts, then why can't humans have it and we admit this without prooftexts?


Gee, what a toughie. Let's see—maybe because God can actually do one or two things that his creatures cannot. Assuming, then, that God is omnipotent while we are not, it hardly follows that anything God can do, we can do.



3. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul states that

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

The implication of this verse seems to be the following: all the external influences and internal mental states of a human person that a compatiblist [sic.] would say causally necessitate a certain action are counterbalanced by divine grace in such a way so that neither God's grace nor the temptation that a person experiences will cause them to act one way or the other.


i) Totally inept, for assuming that compatibilism is true, compatibilism isn't one thing, and grace another—as if grace is a factor in tension with compatibilist factors. Grace would work via external influences (e.g., the means of grace) and/or mental states (e.g., immediate regeneration).

ii) Does he deny that we act in accordance with our mental states? If our mental states don't determine our decisions, than something other than our mental states determines our decisions. In that event, the agent isn't making his own decisions. Libertarianism is such an improvement over fatalism, you see.



Normally, perhaps, (I'll grant for the sake of argument) temptation would causally necessitate sin; but it doesn't. Grace counteracts the force of temptation and makes it possible for a human being to obey God in every circumstance where they are tempted.


Other issues aside, is Paul talking about human beings in general, or Christians in particular?

BTW, if MMGG (any relation to Henry?) believes that a human being can always obey God, then he is both a Pelagian and a perfectionist.



Now if this is true, libertarianism seems to follow. For in the case of a person who is tempted and sins, it seems that we must say they did not sin because prior causes necessitated it...


Off-topic. Have you noticed how quickly the feminist/transgender convention of singular nouns with plural pronouns ("a person...they did") mainstream discourse, even among some professing Christians?

The reason for violating the grammatical rules of numerical agreement is, of course, to avoid the politically incorrect generic masculine pronoun.

Why does MMGG buy into this socially subversive convention? Is he a bra burning radical feminist? Is he a crossdresser? Henry by day, Henrietta by night?



If you want to say that a tempted person was caused to sin by their own mental states or something,


Once again, if our mental states don't make the decisions, what does?



then I would ask: did God really provide a way out of temptation for them? It seems not, because they were incapable of obeying God; that's the exact reason why they sinned--they were caused to. The libertarian can easily point to this verse and say: look, it seems like agents, when tempted, are capable of avoiding sin because God's grace is sufficient to prevent them from sinning. Thus agents are

a. able to do otherwise in situations where they are tempted (because even when they sin, they could have resisted temptation and obeyed)


Actually, compatibilism doesn't deny the freedom to do otherwise. The agent is free to do otherwise if he wants to do otherwise. The question is whether he's free not to want to want what he wants.



b. the source of their own intentional action (because neither grace nor the temptation explains their ultimate decision one way or the other)


How does MMGG distinguish between the agent and his intentions? In what sense is the agent the source of his intentions? Is the agent something over and above his own mind? Is a rational agent an agent apart from his mental states?

One could, of course, say that prior intentions or previous mental states are the source of subsequent intentions/mental states. But that would be way too deterministic for MMGG.

So he must deny personal continuity. Your past self is discontinuous with your present or future self.



4. There are many places where human agents resist divine saving grace in Scripture (I could provide the verses if asked). But if compatiblism [sic.] is true, then divine saving grace is fully sufficient to cause a person to accept salvation; if grace is offered then the person should accept.


MMGG doesn't even know how to state the opposing position. In Calvinism, saving grace isn't something that God "offers" a person, but something that God does to a person to change him and his standing.



Regarding Molinism,

If we assume libertarian freewill is true, then I think Molinism is not hard to deduce from Scripture. Take 1 Corinthians 2:8 for instance:

"None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."

Notice the word "would". This sentence is a counterfactual statement (a statement of what would happen in another circumstance). If we already hold to libertarian freewill, it is very natural to read this statement as a counterfactual of creaturely freedom about how the rulers WOULD have acted. And if God can know one counterfactual of creaturely freedom, why not others?


Totally inept. Calvinism doesn't deny the truth-value of counterfactuals or the modality of possible worlds. The question, rather, is what grounds these possibilities or counterfactuals. The will of man or the will of God?

Once again, MMGG is too incompetent to even accurately state the opposing position.


  1. Steve said:
    Turkel is in competition with Vincent Cheung as the most self-important apologist in the blogosphere. The contest will take the form of which contender can gaze at himself in the mirror for longer.

    Isn't that the definition of an actual infinite?

  2. All you have succeeded in demonstrating here, Steve, is how childish you are.

    By chosing to ignore the Holding nom de plume - something utterly irrelevant to the subject in hand - you've placed yourself into the mob of Holding's opponents who get some perverse frisson from the revelation.

    Pity. I was starting to enjoy Triablogue.


  3. Speaking of childish, um, isn't Holding/Turkel the one calling Steve "Corporal Tinky Winky"?

  4. Not to mention Holding/Turkel originally called Steve "Captain Calvinism" as well. Which Steve (humbly) responded to by calling himself (i.e. not Holding/Turkel) "G.I. Joe Calvinist."

    It seems there is a lot of childishness, but all of it coming from one particular source.

  5. "Let's also not forget that Molinism (and Holding claims to be a Molinist) begs the question of libertarian freedom. He needs to show us Scripture that proves libertarian freedom."'

    1. It seems that the Calvinist needs to prove compatiblism [sic.] from Scripture too. Compatiblism [sic.] is not a default position on this subject; it doesn't win the debate automatically if there is no evidence presented for libertarianism.

    >>>If you'll notice he didn't bother to quote the rest of what I wrote about libertarianism. For example:Brother Turkel does not provide us with any supporting arguments for libertarian freedom derived from Scripture. If libertarianism is underivable from Scripture, his whole view must necessarily collapse. I'd like to see him demonstrate this from Scripture. Alternatively, all a Calvinist needs is one text telling us that motives are causal to a choice. Scripture is littered with these.

    So, MMGG, all we need is a single Scripture, and there are PLENTY of them that tell us that motives lie behind our choices. Libertarian freedom, by definition, means your choices are uncaused by externals or internals. Men are free from God's plan AND the rest of their personalities.

    All the Calvinist needs to prove is there is an antecedent cause to our choices, and every Scripture that says that men speak from the abundance of their hearts or are enticed away by their own evil desires, or that good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bad fruit, or God turning the hearts of men whereever He wishes and hosts of others rather clearly tell us that our choices have an antecedent cause.

    Let's take a look at the standard argument for libertarianism from your side of the aisle:

    Walls and Dongell, Why I'm Not a Calvinist:

    (1) “The essence of this view is that a free action is one that does not have a sufficient condition or cause prior to its occurrence…the common experience of deliberation assumes that our choices are undetermined.”

    (2) “…It seems intuitively and immediately evident that many of our actions are up to us in the sense that when faced with a decision, both (or more) options are within our power to choose…Libertarians argue that our immediate sense of power to choose between alternative courses of action is more certain and trustworthy than any theory that denies we have power.

    (3) “Libertarians take very seriously the widespread judgment that we are morally responsible for our actions and that moral responsibility requires freedom” That is, a person cannot be held morally responsible for an act unless he or she was free to perform that act and free to refrain from it. This is basic moral intuition.”

    Arminians rely on contested philosophical judgments at this point.

    So, I'd like to ask, is this correct or not? Arminians wrote it. You can show yourself superior to them if you'd do what they failed to do: show us Scripture that proves libertarianism.

    Put another way, what is the biblical definition of freedom? Freedom from sin, or the freedom to do otherwise in every situation?

    I'd add that Steve is correct, the onus here isn't on us; it's on the Arminian. Arminianism admittedly makes libertarianism the centerpiece of its theology. It's an example of rank rationalism, where one controlling principle lies at the center of the system. Compatibilism does not function in that manner for us; we merely use it because it generally fits what we find in Scripture with those Scriptures I cited above...and even then its a caveated position, baptized if you will, and appealed to in an ancillary manner.

    Let's also not forget that Molinism doesn't teach that God has back up plans in case Plan A fails as Brother Turkel's example about Pharaoh seems to indicate. Rather, God ensures a particular result by the use of external means to ensure a particular result. The problems here are twofold for you: How can God know the libertarian decisions of the agent if they are not knowable until instantiated? and (b) how is the will free in a libertarian sense if the manipulation of externals ensures God's desired result? That's not a libertarian argument.

    So now you've got a problem, for Brother Turkel says:

    Grace counteracts the force of temptation and makes it possible for a human being to obey God in every circumstance where they are tempted.

    Okay, so then why does that person obey God and not disobey God? Does grace somehow cause them to act? Does it ensure a particular result? If you deny causality of choices, that's irrational and unbiblical; if you say "Yes" to the second and third, that's not a libertarian argument.


    2. Two questions I have for Calvinists:

    a. does God have libertarian freewill?

    b. If so, where does it say this in the Bible?

    Denying God libertarian freewill has disastrous consequences (I will explain if anyone wants me to).

    Answer: Not if by that you mean that God makes choices that can contradict His moral nature. God cannot sin, ergo, he does not have contra-causal freedom.

    If all our choices, or God's, are free from our own desire and free from the plan of God then they are based on chance; that's fatalism.

    LFW is just a fancy way of saying "ability limits responsibility," so, the only disaster waiting to happen is the conclusion that God is not responsible for His choices unless He can do evil.


    If we assume libertarian freewill is true, then I think Molinism is not hard to deduce from Scripture. Take 1 Corinthians 2:8 for instance:

    If we ASSUME? Notice what MMGG has NOT done here. He's put up a smokescreen to my original request. I asked Brother Turkel to prove libertarian free will from Scripture. He's not done that, and neither has Brother Turkel. Instead he's admitted he has to assume LFW in order to arrive at his conclusion.

    I also have asked Brother Turkel to show us Arminian commentators who have used sociorhetorical theory/ social science to arrive at their exegetical conclusions about Romans 9. In short, which Arminians arrive @ their conclusions the same way Brother Turkel does? At present, all we have here is a recycled hash of his previous arguments from a year or two ago. Can MMGG provide the requested information? Will Turkel? Do we have to wait for next week's episode?

    Regarding the passive construction, if man and God are interacting in the hardening of the heart in Romans 9, then why is this a passive construction, not middle voice? If Brother Turkel is correct, you'd expect a middle voice. That's the argument that's often put forth, so where's the supporting argument from the grammar and why is it convincing?