Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The metaphysics of freewill

Traditionally, libertarians cash out the freedom to do otherwise in terms of alternate possibilities. Although there’s an enormous literature attempting to either prove libertarian freewill or reconcile libertarianism with some other belief, such as God’s knowledge of the future (which, however, some libertarians deny), there’s no comparable literature on the metaphysics of freewill. (In this post I’m going to use freewill as a synonym for libertarian freedom.)

Instead, it’s taken for granted that a free agent can instantiate these alternate possibilities. Let’s pursue that assumption from a number of different angles.

1.This goes to the question of how the future eventuates, or how time (or segments thereof) comes into being. Do we will the future into being by our choices? How do we will the future into being by our choices? How do we access these abstract possibilities and realize one possibility over against another?

2.From a libertarian perspective, I suppose there must be a general metaphysical divide between one class of events which is willed into being by the choices of free agents, and another class of events that is going to eventuates apart from our volition.

For example, if it rains tomorrow, that future outcome is not the result of human volition. So, if libertarianism is true, then some patches of reality are realized by human volition while other patches of reality are realized apart from human volition. But somehow, these blend into a seamless, unified reality. The reality that it will rain tomorrow, and the reality that I will take an umbrella to work tomorrow, align in time even though these two events are causally independent. One occurs because I willed it while the other occurs without my willing it, or even in spite of my wishing that it would be fair and sunny tomorrow.

It would be interesting to hear a libertarian explain the metaphysical machinery by which this occurs.

3.At the same time, not everything that human beings do is voluntary, in the sense of a conscious choice. I can deliberately blind my eyes. I can deliberately blink one eye rather than another. I can deliberately blink my eye a certain number of times. But, most of the time, this is involuntary. I give no thought to blinking my eyes. Same thing with breathing and other semiautonomic functions.

So, it libertarianism is true, then some blinkings eventuate as a result of human volitions while other blinkings eventuate apart from human volition. Some human actions are realized voluntarily while other human actions realized involuntarily, even when the same type of action is in view. Voluntary blinkings and involuntary blinkings. Human agents will some of their semiautonomic futures into being, but not others. The futurition of some future blinkings is willed by us, while the futurition of other future blinkings is not.

Does this mean, from a libertarian standpoint, that there’s a default possibility which instantiates itself unless that is overridden by the deliberate choice of an alternate possibility? That the future will automatically turn out a certain way unless human volition intervenes? What is the mechanism?

4. On a related note, take habitual actions. Let’s say I learn to operate a stick shift because I like to drive sports cars. At first I have to think about shifting gears. But after a while, it becomes second nature. Yet there are times when I might consciously shift into overdrive if, say, I’m on a wide-open stretch of road, and I want to drive the car flat out.

I think it’s fair to say that, in operating a stick shift, there are degrees of conscious control. Sometimes I consciously shift gears. At other times my mind is elsewhere, and I do it through force of habit. And, at other times, I’m vaguely aware of shifting gears while l listen to music or take in the scenery.

From a libertarian standpoint, how are these alternate possibilities realized? Since they range along a continuum, from subconscious to conscious, what’s the threshold between an outcome that is voluntary and an outcome that is involuntary? What is causing these outcomes to eventuate?

5.How do we cause a possibility to become a reality? Is it simply by willing it into existence, like a Genie? Yet there are many things we cannot will into being.

Two young brothers fight over a toy. Both brothers will to have the toy, but the older brother wins the fight because he can overpower his younger brother.

So how is the outcome realized? By willing an alternate possibility? Or by brute force? What’s the relationship between superior strength and actualizing an alternate possibility? Do muscle men have more control over the future than 90-poundl weaklings?

If it comes down to brute force, then an act of the will is not what instantiates this alternate possibility.

5.Or does it work like this: God causes our choices to eventuate. We choose, but it is God’s creative power that enacts that alternate possibility.

But if that’s the case, why does God defer to some choices, but not to others? Why did he defer to the big brother’s choice rather than the kid brother’s choice? Seems unfair to let the older brother win.

6.And what about animals? Animals also seem to range along a continuum. Higher animals are apparently more intelligent than lower animals. When my dog chases a cat, and I summon my dog, does my dog deliberate over choosing to obey me or choosing to pursue the cat? Are dogs and other animals endowed with libertarian freedom?

A dog is smarter than a crow. A crow is smarter than a clam. Indeed, the idea of an intelligent clam seems pretty absurd—although I’ve never been a clam, and—for all I know—clams have a very low opinion of human intelligence.

From a libertarian standpoint, are higher animals accessing alternate possibilities? And where’s the threshold below which some animals do not contribute to which possible outcome will, indeed, eventuate?

Libertarianism presents a patchwork reality in which some pieces of the quilt are willed into being while other pieces come into being without our willing them. Isn’t this a very ad hoc ontological scheme?

By contrast, the ontology of Calvinism is far more economical. God has decreed just one unified reality. His decree is realized by means of creation, providence, and miracle.

44 comments:

  1. I stopped reading at #4. I will go back to read the rest. I just wanted to comment about #3.

    Ok....I am a free willer. However, I believe in "the limited freedom" of the will.


    And I think most Arminians(and other free willers) would agree.


    I know that I have no control over the bottom part of my tongue. .....the part that is in my neck.

    However, I do have control over the upper part of my tongue. I can move it around.

    I know I have no control over my pupils from getting bigger or smaller when I leave or come in a room full of light.


    However, I do have control over my eye lids. I can open and close them.

    There are parts of the human body I have no control over and there are parts of the body in which we do have control over.


    The idea that "free will" must be some type of unlimited thing is not our belief.

    The onlyone with unlimited freedom is God Himself.



    I just wanted to clear this up.


    Yes.....alot of free willers do believe in "the limited freedom of the will".




    JNORM888

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  2. Ironically Calvinist write more on free will than Arminians. Arminianism is not based first on free will so this is a faulty understanding of many Calvinist.

    I being an Arminian actually don't have a problem with much of what you have written here. While open theist would want to argue over how free is the human will, most Arminians (along with Arminius) agree that apart from the Holy Spirit's work on the human heart, man can not will themselves to be saved.

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  3. TRUE, their argument is with the open Theist.


    Arminianism is really based on two things.

    Well...depending on the author and who you read....but anyway.


    Arminianism is based on:

    1.) Free GRACE

    and

    2.) The Love of God



    JNORM888

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  4. The Seeking Disciple said:

    "Arminianism is not based first on free will so this is a faulty understanding of many Calvinist."

    "Freedom is fundamental to Arminianism...Thus the fundamental truth of freedom requires the system in the definite cast of its doctrines," J. Miley, Systematic Theology, 2:275.

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  5. . Arminianism is not based first on free will so this is a faulty understanding of many Calvinist.

    Arminianism is based on:

    1.) Free GRACE

    and

    2.) The Love of God


    Steve has already pointed out a representative quote from Miley. That is, in itself, quite the statement, and all that is really necessary to prove our point here.

    That said, I am often struck with the inability of "free willers" who say this about Arminianism. It's as if they can't recognize the regressive fallacy when they see it, because, JNorm, if you say Arminianism is based upon "Free grace" or "the love of God" you're only backing the question up one step, because LFW will be invoked to prop these up. LFW is a central plank to Arminianism in a way that compatibilism is not in Calvinism. It's the epitome of a rationalistic system. When we make this observation, we are simply taking representative theologians like Miley at their own word.

    1. "Free Grace" is really codespeak of "Universal Prevenient Grace." In addition this "free grace" is really grace that is necessary but insufficient. It is also, without argument, assumed to be quantitative not qualitative. A little synergism will do ya. We've all heard the "It's 99 percent God and 1 percent man" analogy.

    2. "The Love of God" is simply another permutation of the same things.

    In the end, we're left with LFW.

    Indeed the Calvinist can call grace "free grace," because it is unmerited and dispensed at God's mercy alone. In Arminianism, it's unmerited, but it moves regeneration from a matter of pure mercy to the category of remunerative justice. We can say the same thing about the love of God.

    I'd too that appealing to "the love of God" in Arminianism is generally cast as an ethical objection to Calvinism. We've all heard the "Arminianism is 'more loving' argument. Indeed, that's a common one that appears on this blog in the comboxes.

    Further, you really should take a look @ Arminius' own writings. His discourse on supralapsarianism is rather telling. It winds up objecting not only on ethical grounds but the philsophical ground of "freedom," which gets us back to LFW.

    LFW cannot be shown to be true from Scripture. This is a major problem, for a plank so central to the Arminian system is subbiblical, indeed unbiblical, then the rest falls like a house of cards.

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  6. Concerning grace and free will, this is what I teach according to the Scriptures and orthodox
    consent: Free will is unable to begin or to perfect any true and spiritual good, without grace. That
    I may not be said, like Pelagius, to practice delusion with regard to the word "grace," I mean by it
    that which is the grace of Christ and which belongs to regeneration. I affirm, therefore, that this
    grace is simply and absolutely necessary for the illumination of the mind, the due ordering of the
    affections, and the inclination of the will to that which is good. (Works of Arminius Vol. 2, Letter to Reader on Grace and Free Will)

    This is my opinion concerning the free-will of man: In his primitive condition as he came out
    of the hands of his creator, man was endowed with such a portion of knowledge, holiness and
    power, as enabled him to understand, esteem, consider, will, and to perform the true good, according
    to the commandment delivered to him. Yet none of these acts could he do, except through the
    assistance of Divine Grace. But in his lapsed and sinful state, man is not capable, of and by himself,
    either to think, to will, or to do that which is really good; but it is necessary for him to be regenerated
    and renewed in his intellect, affections or will, and in all his powers, by God in Christ through the
    Holy Spirit, that he may be qualified rightly to understand, esteem, consider, will, and perform
    whatever is truly good. When he is made a partaker of this regeneration or renovation, I consider
    that, since he is delivered from sin, he is capable of thinking, willing and doing that which is good,
    but yet not without the continued aids of Divine Grace. (Works of Arminius Vol. 1, My Own Sentiments on Predestination III. The Free-Will of Man)

    It seems from the above quotes that Arminius himself believes in regeneration preceding faith. Unless one needs a super duper decoder ring that will show that Arminius didn’t really mean what he wrote.

    This is something that most Arminians today would reject,but it seems that Arminius was right on this point at least. Not being an expert on all things taught by Arminius, it seems to me though that he liked to use the earlier writings of Augustine rather than the later writings... hmmmm

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  7. "Do we will the future into being by our choices?"

    Yes. The future is contingent on our choices.

    "How do we will the future into being by our choices?"

    I don't know, I just do it.

    "How do we access these abstract possibilities and realize one possibility over against another?"

    We have the idea in our head of one or more choices, and then we consciously choose one over the other(s).

    "It would be interesting to hear a libertarian explain the metaphysical machinery by which this occurs."

    The rain falls due to natural processes. But some actions that we perform are under our control. What's wrong with that?

    "That the future will automatically turn out a certain way unless human volition intervenes? "

    This misunderstands human volition. The choice to not do anything is itself a choice.

    "Since they range along a continuum, from subconscious to conscious, what’s the threshold between an outcome that is voluntary and an outcome that is involuntary?"

    These are the sort of questions that are answered in a court of law when assessing moral culpability. I don't see what's so irrational about making distinctions between voluntary and involuntary actions.

    "Do muscle men have more control over the future than 90-poundl weaklings?"

    All else being equal, yes.

    "By contrast, the ontology of Calvinism is far more economical. God has decreed just one unified reality. His decree is realized by means of creation, providence, and miracle."

    So what? How does having a more 'economical' ontology mean that it's more likely to be true. If God's all powerful he can do whatever he likes.

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  8. "If God's all powerful he can do whatever he likes."

    Except, apparently, violate your free will....

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  9. MARK PENDRAY SAID:

    SH: "Do we will the future into being by our choices?"

    MP: Yes. The future is contingent on our choices.

    SH: That’s not an answer to my question. You need to pay closer attention to my wording. Do we *will* the future into being by our choices?

    SH: "How do we will the future into being by our choices?"

    MP: I don't know, I just do it.

    SH: Sorry, Mark, but this response is symptomatic of a systematic weakness in your replies. When libertarianism is cashed out in terms of alternate possibilities, this is a metaphysical claim. It ushers us into the heady realm of modal metaphysics. Possible worlds.

    When you make ambitious metaphysical claims, it is not out of bounds for me to ask you what evidence you have to substantiate these claims.

    How would a human being be in a position to access and/or instantiate a possible world or segment thereof? That’s a legitimate philosophical question to pose. And we are, after all, dealing with a philosophical thesis.

    Peter van Inwagen, for one, understands this perfectly well when he says things like: “the only region I am inside and have exact access to is the actual world…If one could ensure the actuality of some nonactual world, one would have exact access to that world, of course, but obviously no one can do that—or no one but God,” The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, 166.

    You don’t know that you have access to alternate possibilities. You have zero experience testing each alternative. So you don’t know that you ever had access to unexemplified possibilities.

    SH: "How do we access these abstract possibilities and realize one possibility over against another?"

    MP: We have the idea in our head of one or more choices, and then we consciously choose one over the other(s).

    SH: You’re missing the point, Mark. How do you know that your ideas correspond to possible worlds (or world segments), and that you have the power to access these possible worlds (or world segments)?

    Yes, Mark, you make *a* choice.

    Suppose I find myself in a hallway. All the doors but one are locked. I happen to choose the only door that’s unlocked. My choice coincides with the only live possibility.

    SH: "It would be interesting to hear a libertarian explain the metaphysical machinery by which this occurs."

    MP: The rain falls due to natural processes.

    SH: That begs the question of how future processes eventuate. But we’ll pass on that for now.

    MP: But some actions that we perform are under our control. What's wrong with that?

    SH: For reasons I already gave. You’re not paying attention to what I wrote. Try again:

    “So, if libertarianism is true, then some patches of reality are realized by human volition while other patches of reality are realized apart from human volition. But somehow, these blend into a seamless, unified reality. The reality that it will rain tomorrow, and the reality that I will take an umbrella to work tomorrow, align in time even though these two events are causally independent. One occurs because I willed it while the other occurs without my willing it, or even in spite of my wishing that it would be fair and sunny tomorrow. It would be interesting to hear a libertarian explain the metaphysical machinery by which this occurs.”

    Moving along:

    SH: "That the future will automatically turn out a certain way unless human volition intervenes? "

    MP: This misunderstands human volition. The choice to not do anything is itself a choice.

    SH: Once more, you’re not paying attention to what went before:

    “The futurition of some future blinkings is willed by us, while the futurition of other future blinkings is not. Does this mean, from a libertarian standpoint, that there’s a default possibility which instantiates itself unless that is overridden by the deliberate choice of an alternate possibility?”

    Are you claiming that semiautonomic functions like blinking our eyes always involve a choice to blink or not to blink?

    SH: "Since they range along a continuum, from subconscious to conscious, what’s the threshold between an outcome that is voluntary and an outcome that is involuntary?"

    MP: These are the sort of questions that are answered in a court of law when assessing moral culpability.

    SH: Once again, Mark, you’re not paying attention. I’m not discussing how moral responsibility is grounded. Rather, I’m asking how the libertarian freedom to access alternative possibilities is grounded.

    I’d add that the average courtroom is hardly distinguished by its philosophical rigor.

    MP: I don't see what's so irrational about making distinctions between voluntary and involuntary actions.

    SH: A strawman, Mark. Did I say the distinction was irrational? No. In fact, I’m the one who drew that distinction in the first place, in this very post.

    SH: "Do muscle men have more control over the future than 90-pound weaklings?"

    MP: All else being equal, yes.

    SH: Once again, Mark, you’re not paying attention. How does physical strength access abstract objects like possible worlds at all, much less at a higher rate than a weaker agent?

    SH: "By contrast, the ontology of Calvinism is far more economical. God has decreed just one unified reality. His decree is realized by means of creation, providence, and miracle."

    MP: ”So what? How does having a more 'economical' ontology mean that it's more likely to be true.”

    Because it doesn’t have to deal with the added problem of integrating causally independent segments of the future into one continuous future.

    P: If God's all powerful he can do whatever he likes.

    SH: That begs the question of whether God can be all-powerful if you withdraw the necessary truth-conditions which make omnipotence feasible.

    You know, Mark, for someone who’s contemplating a career in philosophy, you need to get beyond your seat-of-the-pants methodology and begin to take the metaphysical complexities of libertarianism far more seriously.

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  10. We are not saying that free will is not a part of Arminian Theology. What we are saying is Free Will is not the foundation of Arminian theology.

    In dealing with Arminianism you don't start with "Free Will".

    You start with the Love of God and from there "Free Grace".

    Free will always come from Free Grace.

    It is in this context that one should look at the quote given by Wiley.


    ""Freedom is fundamental to Arminianism...Thus the fundamental truth of freedom requires the system in the definite cast of its doctrines," J. Miley, Systematic Theology, 2:275."


    I have two audio's of Dr. Vic Reasoner online at my site.

    http://www.stickam.com/viewAudioGallery.do?uId=174559398

    click on the two that say "scapegoat of Calvinism".

    In one of the Audio's you will hear Dr. Reasoner explain that Arminianism doesn't start with free will.


    In the book "Grace ,Faith, Free Will: Contrasting views of salvation by Dr. Robert E. Picirilli

    He makes the remarks

    "Arminius' main point was to insist that all of God's saving works deal with men as sinners, and that God must not be made the author of sin. He understood unconditional predestination to do that. He also felt constrained to insist that election is "Christocentric"; salvation is by the redemptive work of Christ and not by an arbitry decree."
    page 9


    Also in the book Arminian Theology by Roger E. Olson

    He says:

    "The true heart of Arminian theology is God's loving and just character; the formal principle of Arminianism is the universal will of God for salvation."
    page 97


    Is free will important in Arminianism? Yes it is, but it is only important because God is not the Author of sin.

    It is only important because of God's Grace.

    It is only important because of God's Love.



    Genembridges,


    I don't think Classical Arminians would agree with your 99% God and 1% man modal.

    I am not a classical Arminian because I'm Eastern Orthodox. We reject many of the speculations of the late/older Augustine.

    However......even I reject your modal of 99% God + 1% man.

    Who said we had to look at this from the mathematical modal of Addition?
    Why can't we use the modal of multiplication?

    I would say:

    It's 100% God x 1% man

    which would equal 100% God



    Also I do read the works of Arminius. I know what Arminianism is and isn't. You can check my blog about the difference between Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism.

    I also talk a little about Augustinianism in that same blog.







    JNORM888

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  11. I’ve deleted T-stone’s link, since that’s a way for him to evade the ban.

    Skimming through his critique, there’s not much for me to respond to because he makes a systematic error from start to finish.

    Yes, physical determinism is a possible model to account for how the future eventuates. And that’s completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.

    For the version of libertarianism that I’m dealing with has a very different model of how the future eventuates. It eventuates, in part, through human agents who have the ability to access and instantiate abstract objects in the form of possible world segments.

    The agent chooses from a panloply of possible futures. Indeed, billions of human agents are choosing from a panoply of possible futures. These are not physical entities. They are abstract objects. They have yet to be instantiated, and most of them will remain unexemplified possibilities.

    So, according to the libertarian, the future is partly realized by incorporating snippets from various possible worlds into the actual world. And, somehow, all these individual choices, by individual agents, fall into place to create a unitary future. What is coordinating the lockstep alignment between my alternate future of choice, your alternate future of choice, and the billions of other alternate possibilities accessed and instantiated by billions other agents?

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  12. What we are saying is Free Will is not the foundation of Arminian theology.

    And what we are saying is that, no matter how you cast it, you are still going to get back to LFW being a rationalistic plank around which the system is structured. Running to the love of God is just an ethical objection that gets to the same place, so it only backs the question up one step. Libertarianism is, as I pointed out, fundamental to Arminianism in a way that compatibilism is not in Calvinism. We don't structure our theology around compatibilism.


    Also in the book Arminian Theology by Roger E. Olson

    He says:

    "The true heart of Arminian theology is God's loving and just character; the formal principle of Arminianism is the universal will of God for salvation."
    page 97


    Olson also tries to draw a distinction using this principle between "Arminians of the head" and "Arminians of the heart" in that same book. As reviewers of that book have pointed out,that's a useful way of him getting to rule out many Arminians with whom he might disagree, like Episcopius, Van Limborch, etc. For these men, it always got back to LFW. See, for example, Episcopius, Opera Theologica 1.9. These men denied things like the innate knowledge of God in man. Episcopius spoke of such a thing as first notions which compel the mind to assent, "if anyone is willing to be in any way led by reason."

    I don't think Classical Arminians would agree with your 99% God and 1% man modal.

    Well of course not, we wouldn't expect them too, but on the contrary, that's a very common thing for them to say from their pulpits. I've interacted with many, and heard many a sermon. I'll also repeat myself yet again, I was taught systematic theology by a classic Arminian using the work of Thomas Oden as a base text, so it isn't as if I am unaware of what they teach. I've also interacted
    with my fair share in many forums. They bring up their synergism and when we point out that they are making grace quantitative and not qualitative, they point to UPG as doing the lion's share of the work, which, of course, proves our point for us. We can substitute any set of numbers, as long as grace gets more than 50 percent, but the end result is the same.


    I am not a classical Arminian because I'm Eastern Orthodox. We reject many of the speculations of the late/older Augustine.


    We are aware of this, and we are also aware that Augustine is not our rule of faith. Care to try to mount an exegetical refutation of Reformed theology's action theory? Let's try, for example, to determine where in Scripture we find libertarian action theory. This is necessary for the Arminian to show. As a species of libertarian yourself, please, do for us what no other has been able to do.

    We are also aware that you replace Augustine's "speculations" with the speculations of others. We've been over this many times with the Orthodox on this blog.


    Who said we had to look at this from the mathematical modal of Addition?


    Libertarians who use that analogy from their pulpits. Another famous one is "God has cast one vote for you, and Satan one vote against, now you get to make yours." We can trot out as many as you'd like to try, but they all end up saying the same thing.

    Why can't we use the modal of multiplication?

    I would say:

    It's 100% God x 1% man

    which would equal 100% God


    Good for you. Where's the supporting argument that explains its meaning? Why does one man believe and not another given the constraints of LFW?

    I know what Arminianism is and isn't. You can check my blog about the difference between Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism.

    Of course, I am not one who equates Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. Rather, I characterize it as semi-Augustinian, so this is irrelevant to my position. That said, when Calvinists characterize Arminianism as semi-Pelagianism they are doing so at the functional level, for they cash out at functionally the same place.

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  13. Paul Fontain12/20/2007 4:20 AM

    In Mormonism we all get our own planet. Why do you Christians want anything else?

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  14. "It's 100% God x 1% man

    which would equal 100% God"

    Not to be too much of a smart --- here, but...um...no.

    100% x 1% = 1 * .01 = .01 = 1%

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  15. "[T-stone] Steve's just confused. My plans to have lunch with a colleague today do not represent some 'abstract world', but an idea, a concept in my mind. As such, it's as physical and concrete as any other thought in my brain -- a different electrical/chemical pattern than my other brain-states, but a brain-state all the same."

    T-stone is just confused, as usual. I wrote a critique of libertarianism. The version of libertarianism I'm reviewing is committed to possible world semantics.

    T-stone is substituting his own theory of the will. That's irrelevant to my critique of libertarianism.

    He's also too obtuse even to accurately summarize libertarianism. No one said that my idea or concept *is* an abstract object (e.g. a possible world). The issue, rather, is how my idea corresponds to an accessible alternate possibility.

    Once again, this is not simply a case of how *I* (as an opponent of libertarianism) frame the issue. This is how many *libertarians* frame the issue. Just spend a little time with The Oxford Handbook of Free Will.

    T-stone is also assuming the truth of physicalism, despite many cogent objections to physicalism.

    Finally, if T-stone thinks that all future events are the effect of physical determinism, then that commits him to hard determinism. It's the polar opposite of libertarianism. 

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  16. In his response to Mark, Steve Hays brought up a “blast from the past”, an argument he has presented before. In the past I and others ignored this argument, but since he keeps bringing it up it would be interesting to talk about it. Let’s take a look at what apparently is one of Hays’ pet arguments against the reality of choice as ordinarily understood.

    Here it is:

    “You don’t know that you have access to alternate possibilities. You have zero experience testing each alternative. So you don’t know that you ever had access to unexemplified possibilities.”

    Let me make sure that I understand this little gem. Because of the nature of choice, whenever we choose one option we necessarily exclude other options (if I pick the cherry pie then I did not pick the apple, peach, etc., these non-chosen options are what Hays calls “unexemplified possibilities”). Hays then argues from this feature of making a choice, that since when we make a choice we always are able to choose the option that we wanted, we never ever have any experience of, or access to, the “unexemplified possibilities” which by definition we never chose. Hays then claims that since we never ever experience or have access to any of these “unexemplified possibilities” we cannot know that we really did have access to these other possible options which we in fact we did not choose.

    Last week in the midst of my move our refrigerator was cleaned out and turned off, so my wife asked me to go get some donuts and milk for breakfast. My **orders** were that we did not need a dozen donuts, we only needed 6 donuts (2 for my wife, 2 for my daughter, and 2 for me). So I ordered the kinds of donuts that she wanted for herself and for my daughter, no problem (all of the options were accessible and available and no problem in selecting them). On the other hand, my favorite kinds of donuts are French vanilla (which they had as an available option) cinnamon (which they had as an available option) and chocolate glazed (which they had as an available option). So while I really wanted one of each of my three favorites, since I was only supposed to get 6 donuts I had to choose two options by means of deliberation and leave one option as an “unexemplified possibility”.

    I am quite confident that most people standing in that line would believe that whatever donut (which they had as an available option and were considering) would be accessible to them as a possible option that they could choose after they had deliberated about which one(s) they wanted. This is common sense and requires no rocket science or sophisticated philosophy to understand. And yet the determinist Hays believes that while I believed that I could choose any of these donuts, and I could even deliberate about what donuts to choose, in reality I could only choose the donut(s) predetermined for me to choose. Say it was the 4 donuts my wife wanted for her and our daughter and 1 French donut and 1 cinnamon donut for me (in that case if my actions were predetermined then those donuts were exactly what I would have chosen, and it would have been impossible for me to choose any other donuts or have access to any other donuts, it would be impossible for me to have access to or obtain a chocolate frosted donut).

    So what happened? Are you on the edge of your seats yet with excitement and anticipation? I ordered the four donuts as commanded (by she who must be obeyed!), I picked 1 French and 1 cinnamon donut for myself, then the guy says we have a special deal if you buy 6 donuts you get 1 free and as he is saying this he picks out (without me saying anything about it, without reading my mind) a chocolate glazed donut. So I made a choice which according to Steve Hays’ argument should have made the chocolate glazed donut an “unexemplified possibility” since I did not choose it (I chose the French and the cinnamon and thereby excluded the chocolate glazed donut by my acts of choosing, which should have according to Hays’ argument made the chocolate glazed inaccessible). I should not have had access to this “unexemplified possibility” and yet in reality I did have access to this possibility without having chosen it (though I had deliberated about choosing this kind of donut).

    Now common sense and lots of past experience convinces us, if we have common sense, that when facing ordinary choices involving multiple possibilities that are available to us, we can actualize whichever possibility that we choose to actualize. In many of our past experience of choice, there were “unexemplified possibilities” (roads not chosen, possible selections not made). And yet often we knew intuitively that if we had desired to actualize one of those “unexemplified possibilities” we could have (e.g. I could have chosen the French and chocolate rather than the French and cinnamon, or I could have chosen the cinnamon and chocolate rather than the French).

    Sometimes through fortuitous circumstances we get access to an alternative possibility that at first glance we may not have believed was accessible (buy 6 donuts and get 1 free). Or we may have access to an alternative possibility by a mistake. For example you go to a restaurant and in talking to a waiter are debating between two possibilities (say steak or prime rib). You ask the waiter for his opinion and he says they are both really good at this restaurant. So you deliberate and ask for more time and make your choice and order, say steak. Then the waiter comes later with prime rib (he mistakenly thought that you had settled on prime rib as your decision rather than steak or the cook mistakenly cooked prime rib instead of steak for you). So you made a choice of steak which should have made the prime rib the “unexemplified possibility” and the prime rib inaccessible to you as a possibility according to Hays. And yet in reality you experienced the prime rib and the steak became the “unexemplified possibility” instead. Another way to experience different options/possibilities is for me to say, order the steak and my wife orders the prime rib, because we both wanted to try both options!

    Last week as my cable was being hooked up, I was looking at my new clicker/remote control learning what the different options were. Then when it was hooked up, and it was my opportunity to take it for a spin, I went from channel to channel to channel actualizing one possibility while excluding many other “unexemplified possibilities” with each choice I made. I also learned it has a “last” feature which takes you to the previous channel you had selected (a great feature if you are watching two sports events at the same time!). I also made some mistakes while playing with this new clicker (I wanted one channel but accidentally selected another channel instead). As I played with my new toy I also thought about determinists like Hays who want to believe that my every act of play with my new toy was predetermined, that I was only able to actualize the selections which had been predetermined for me. Most of us again looking at this situation and using common sense would believe that my options included whatever selections were on that clicker (assuming that the channels were part of the package that we have). But in Hays’ fantasy world, all of these available choices whether of donuts or channels is all illusory. We really cannot actualize these possibilities if we choose to do so, no, we can only choose what was predetermined for us to choose (God chooses our choices right Steve). I don’t buy Hays’ determinism, my experience does not teach it, nor does scripture, and watching the determinists when they are choosing donuts or channels I notice they act just like the rest of us do: as if the reality of choices as ordinarily understood is true. We live in a world that God has made, a world where sometimes we really do have a choice as ordinarily understood. A world where despite the fact that when we choose (because of the nature of choice) we usually only experience or have access to the possibility which we chose to actualize and so other possibilities are usually not actualized, nevertheless we know we could have actualized those other possibilities as well, if we had chosen to do so. And sometimes even when we choose one possibility rather than another, we still experience possibilities which we had not even chosen (though we had considered them) showing that we did have access to those alternative possibilities. Hays argument that we never ever have access to these other possibilities is refuted by everyday life experience and common sense.

    A clear example of this in scripture is James 4:17 “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Let’s explain this using Hays’ high falutin language of “unexemplified possibilities”. James says a situation may occur where a Christian knows what the right thing to do is in that situation, knows what action he/she should choose to do (A). And yet the person chooses not to do it and instead does something else (B). James says that this was a sinful action. Clearly implied in James’ words is the notion that while you did (B) you should have (and could have) done (A). You made the wrong choice and though your choice was wrong you could have (should have) done otherwise and done the right thing which you knew should be done.

    Hays and his “unexemplified possibilities” argument appears and presto chango, though you did (B) in doing so (A) [the right thing which James suggests you could have and should have actualized/done] becomes an “unexemplified possibility” (something you never had access to, that you could not have done) that:

    “You don’t know that you have access to alternate possibilities [such as A, since you did B]. . . . So you don’t know that you ever had access to unexemplified possibilities [such as in the James verse, A, the right thing which you should have done].”

    Hays argues we could not have done A, did not have access to A, if we had chosen to do B. Because when we chose to do B we made A into an “unexemplified possibility” (an inaccessible possibility) and we don’t know that we really could have done A (the right thing that James says we knew and should have done), because according to Hays we never experience these “unexemplified possibilities”. The apostle James on the other hand says that while we did in fact choose B, we should have and could have chosen A which we knew to be the right thing. And it is because we chose B when we could have (should have) chosen A, that we sinned. I will take James and his common sense view of the reality of choices over Hays and his sophisticated philosophical language which attempts to eliminate common sense and the reality of choices as ordinarily understood, anytime.

    Robert

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  17. Thanks for misunderstanding everything at all times, Robert.

    You do admit rather much when you say: "In the past I and others ignored this argument."

    Yes. We know. You're incapable of dealing with arguments.

    By the way, I don't believe you had access to an unexemplified alternative choice. You can prove me wrong by going back in time right now and choosing that which you did not choose the first time around. If you cannot do so, shut up until you figure out what the argument you're trying to respond to actually is.

    ReplyDelete
  18. ROBERT SAID:

    “In his response to Mark, Steve Hays brought up a ‘blast from the past’, an argument he has presented before. In the past I and others ignored this argument, but since he keeps bringing it up it would be interesting to talk about it. Let’s take a look at what apparently is one of Hays’ pet arguments against the reality of choice as ordinarily understood.”

    I keep bringing it up because slowcoaches like Robert keep bringing up the experience of choice as if this were any sort of evidence for the freedom to do otherwise, involving access to alternate possibilities.

    “I am quite confident that most people standing in that line would believe that whatever donut (which they had as an available option and were considering) would be accessible to them as a possible option that they could choose after they had deliberated about which one(s) they wanted.”

    Robert constantly resorts to this Joe Six-pack appeal because he can’t defend his libertarianism on either Scriptural grounds or philosophical grounds. So this is a backdoor admission that he lost the argument a long time ago.

    “This is common sense and requires no rocket science or sophisticated philosophy to understand.”

    True, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be duped by plausible fallacies and popular misconceptions. Common sense tells me that a lighter object will fall more slowly than a heavier object. But that would be wrong. Common sense tells me that one infinite cannot be greater than another infinite, but that would be wrong.

    “So I made a choice which according to Steve Hays’ argument should have made the chocolate glazed donut an “unexemplified possibility” since I did not choose it (I chose the French and the cinnamon and thereby excluded the chocolate glazed donut by my acts of choosing, which should have according to Hays’ argument made the chocolate glazed inaccessible). I should not have had access to this ‘unexemplified possibility’ and yet in reality I did have access to this possibility without having chosen it (though I had deliberated about choosing this kind of donut).”

    Here he’s simply equivocating over access to alternate possibilities. Choice can involve choosing a *set* of things. The fact that only one possibility is a live possibility doesn’t mean that one possibility is equivalent to a discrete particular, as over against another discrete particular. A possible world is a set of things, and a possible world segment is a subset of things. The “unexemplified possibility” has reference to the thing or *set* of things which was never instantiated. Robert only experienced one set of things, and not the alternate set of things.

    And, yes, other people can also make choices which may negate our choices. Sets of people make choices. But sets of people have no experience accessing the alternate possibilities they passed over.

    “Now common sense and lots of past experience convinces us, if we have common sense, that when facing ordinary choices involving multiple possibilities that are available to us, we can actualize whichever possibility that we choose to actualize. In many of our past experience of choice, there were “unexemplified possibilities” (roads not chosen, possible selections not made).”

    Robert is too dim to appreciate the fact that the mere phenomenology of choice doesn’t select for any particular action theory. Different action theories are consistent with the phenomenology of choice. Compatibilism, semicompatibilism, hard determinism, hard incompatibilism, revisionism, and libertarianism of the AP or UR varieties can all be made consistent with the psychological dynamics of deliberation and choice.

    This is admitted by a militant libertarian like Hasker. As he points out:

    “The *experience* of choosing—of seeing alternatives, weighing their desirability and finally making up one’s mind—is not any different whether one is a libertarian or a determinist. For while determinists believe that there *are* sufficient conditions which will govern their choices, they do not know at the time when they are making a decision *what* those determinants are or *how* they will decide as a result of them. So, like everyone else, they simply have to make up their own minds! The difference between libertarian and determinist lies in the *interpretation* of the experience of choice, not in the experience itself,” Metaphysics: Constructing a Worldview (IVP 1983), 37).

    Hence, libertarianism is underdetermined by the experience. There is no positive or distinctive evidence for libertarianism from the phenomenology of choice. Conversely, there are philosophical and theological reasons for denying libertarianism.

    Robert’s corny examples do nothing establish or even evidence his thesis. Robert is a gerbil who keeps going round and round on his exercise wheel without moving forward. He has done nothing since he first began to engage the Tbloggers to advance his original argument. Racing in a circle doesn’t get you any closer to the finish line.

    “And yet often we knew intuitively that if we had desired to actualize one of those “unexemplified possibilities” we could have.”

    But he doesn’t intuitively know that. He tries to smuggle through the backdoor of assertion what he can’t squeeze through the front door of argument.

    “Clearly implied in James’ words is the notion that while you did (B) you should have (and could have) done (A). You made the wrong choice and though your choice was wrong you could have (should have) done otherwise and done the right thing which you knew should be done.”

    Observe how he equivocates between “could” and “should,” as if the latter implies the former. Notice that James doesn’t make that equation himself. Robert simply begs the question—as always.

    A man should support his kids. But if he’s fathered 15 kids by 5 different wives or girlfriends, he may be financially unable to discharge his responsibilities.

    A son should support his elderly and enfeebled parents. But if he cripples himself drag racing, he will be unable to discharge his filial duties. One can multiple examples in which obligation cannot entail ability.

    “The apostle James on the other hand says that while we did in fact choose B, we should have and could have chosen A which we knew to be the right thing.”

    See how he presumes to put words in the mouth of a Bible writer.

    “I will take James and his common sense view of the reality of choices.”

    Robert continues his impiety by turning a Bible writer into a ventriloquist dummy to say what Robert wants him to say, under the cover of Scripture, even though the verse doesn’t say any such thing—or imply what he tendentiously imputes to it. To Robert, the Bible is just a mouthpiece for Robert.

    ReplyDelete
  19. And what we are saying is that, no matter how you cast it, you are still going to get back to LFW being a rationalistic plank around which the system is structured. Running to the love of God is just an ethical objection that gets to the same place, so it only backs the question up one step. Libertarianism is, as I pointed out, fundamental to Arminianism in a way that compatibilism is not in Calvinism. We don't structure our theology around compatibilism.


    I could say the samething about Calvinism and Determinism.
    Determinism is a rationalistic plank around which the system of Calvinism is structured. Running to God's sovereignty is just an objection that gets to the same place, so it only backs the question up one step.

    Determinism is, as I pointed out, fundamental to Calvinism in a way that Free will is to Arminianism.

    We all know that compatibilism is soft Determinism and Calvinism has a hard deterministic side.

    So yes I would agree that Calvinism is not limited to soft determinism. But Determinism in and of itself is fundamental to Calvinism.

    You can't have Calvinism without it.



    Olson also tries to draw a distinction using this principle between "Arminians of the head" and "Arminians of the heart" in that same book. As reviewers of that book have pointed out,that's a useful way of him getting to rule out many Arminians with whom he might disagree, like Episcopius, Van Limborch, etc. For these men, it always got back to LFW. See, for example, Episcopius, Opera Theologica 1.9. These men denied things like the innate knowledge of God in man. Episcopius spoke of such a thing as first notions which compel the mind to assent, "if anyone is willing to be in any way led by reason.


    No one said Arminianism was a monolith. Yet, in saying this about Arminianism you are making it seem as if Calvinism is monolithic and that is far from the truth.

    You have hard determinists and soft determinists. You even have Hard determinists that believe God is the author of sin in which the WCF(westminister confession of Faith) says is something God is not.

    So calvinists disagree among themselves. And yes.....I have debated both Hard Determinists as well as Soft Determinists.....so I know that you guys do the samething that Olsen does in his book.

    Why is it ok for Calvinism to have more than one system of thought on this issue, but it's not ok for Arminians and other free willers to have different schools of thought on this same issue?

    You want to put us in a little box and give us rules of what we can and can't believe.

    But the truth is....if you refuse to take us at our own word about the issue then you will always build a strawman argument.



    Well of course not, we wouldn't expect them too, but on the contrary, that's a very common thing for them to say from their pulpits. I've interacted with many, and heard many a sermon. I'll also repeat myself yet again, I was taught systematic theology by a classic Arminian using the work of Thomas Oden as a base text, so it isn't as if I am unaware of what they teach. I've also interacted
    with my fair share in many forums. They bring up their synergism and when we point out that they are making grace quantitative and not qualitative, they point to UPG as doing the lion's share of the work, which, of course, proves our point for us. We can substitute any set of numbers, as long as grace gets more than 50 percent, but the end result is the same




    Every group has some form of "folk theology". and I might be wrong, but I think Thomas Oden is a modernist/liberal. I like his Ancient christian commentary series. but all the people I quoted were "conservative Arminians".

    A classical Arminian is someone that believes in original sin and total inability. They are more likely not to say some of the things you said above.

    Also Synergism has always been a part of christianity. Even when Augustine changed into a Determinist in his older years/ later writings.

    Synergism still wasn't destroyed. The western local council of Orange still tought a certain form of synergism.

    So in my mind the Calvinists depart even from western creedal orthodoxy. You guys embrace the hard monergism of Augustin that was constantly rejected by the western Church.

    The Eastern Church never embraced those things. So what you are fighting for is a make believe system that had it's roots in Augustine. The Christian Faith never came from Augustine.


    Also grace is both "quantitative as well as qualitative"

    It is both. It is not an either or thing.

    It is a both and thing.


    We are aware of this, and we are also aware that Augustine is not our rule of faith.

    Some Calvinists I talk to online believe that Augustinianism is nothing more than Calvinism before John Calvin. I think the Jansenists are a better representative of Augustine's later works/teachings.

    The people who wrote the book "why I am not an Arminian" believe that the council of Orange supported a moderate form of Augustinianism whereas Calvinism stayed true to Augustine's harder teachings.


    So to say you don't follow Augustine is not really true. You may not follow him on "every issue", but you do follow him on alot of issues.

    Calvinism would not exist if it wasn't for Augustine changing his mind in his older years. You owe him alot, but then again you are a Reformed Baptist.

    I don't see how a Baptist can be "Reformed"......A baptist can hold to the 5 points of Calvinism, but holding to the 5 points in and of itself doesn't make one "REFORMED".

    You might think "scripture" is your rule of Faith. But you are only fooling yourself if you truely think that. The BIBLE didn't fall from the sky. You look at scripture with the lenses of a JOHN CALVIN and through him Augustine.

    I hope I didn't hurt your feelings when I said that I didn't know how a Baptist can be Reformed. I was raised Baptist. My congregation were a mixed bunch of "Calvinistic"(because I don't want to say the word "reformed" when talking about Calvinistic Baptist) and "Arminian".


    Care to try to mount an exegetical refutation of Reformed theology's action theory? Let's try, for example, to determine where in Scripture we find libertarian action theory. This is necessary for the Arminian to show. As a species of libertarian yourself, please, do for us what no other has been able to do.

    It is implied in scripure. That is if we are talking about "REAL CHOICES."

    But we can talk about this latter.


    We are also aware that you replace Augustine's "speculations" with the speculations of others. We've been over this many times with the Orthodox on this blog."

    I disagree. The Faith was handed to the Saints. Augustine's "peculiar" doctrines were noval.

    The doctrine of Free will was always tought in the CHURCH. The fact that "christian determinism" has it's roots in Augustine is evidence that "we" are not the ones with the "speculations".

    At least on this issue.

    In the Protestant World those who fight against "Dispensationalism" always use the tactic that it began in the Protestant Churches in the 18 hundreds.

    You guys do this to show that it's scripture interpretation was a noval one and most likely not true.

    I'm using the same tactic you guys use on them.

    Yet it's ok if it's used against "Dispensationalism" but when this same method is used against you guys it's "foul play".


    Good for you. Where's the supporting argument that explains its meaning? Why does one man believe and not another given the constraints of LFW?

    What are your beliefs in regards to Adam and Eve having free will? How were they able to choose? How were they able to fall?

    Are you a Determinist when it comes to pre-fall ADAM and EVE? Or are you a LFW in regards to pre-fall Adam and Eve?

    My answer depends on your answer.


    Of course, I am not one who equates Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism. Rather, I characterize it as semi-Augustinian, so this is irrelevant to my position. That said, when Calvinists characterize Arminianism as semi-Pelagianism they are doing so at the functional level, for they cash out at functionally the same place.


    I could say the samething about calvinists and Fatalists. On the functional level they cash out at the same place.



    JNORM888

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  20. To Saint and Sinner,


    ok, you got me.



    JNORM888

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  21. I must of missed this:


    Genembridges said:

    We don't structure our theology around compatibilism



    You see, this is the heart of the problem. Arminians don't "structure" their theology around the Liberterian freedom of the will.

    The Theology is structured around God not being the Author of sin.

    It is structured around "God's Love."

    It is structured around "Free Grace"

    Which all goes back to God not being the author of sin.


    If anything "free will" is used as a buffer to free God of blame in regards to sin.



    But I don't expect you to take our word for it. No.....instead I expect you to continue to put words in our mouths.


    Just take us at our word. That is all you have to do.




    JNORM888

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  22. JNORM888,

    When you say "author of sin" what exactly do you mean?

    Also, would you agree with the quotes from Arminius that were provided earlier in this thread that regeneration precedes faith?

    ReplyDelete
  23. "You might think "scripture" is your rule of Faith. But you are only fooling yourself if you truely think that. The BIBLE didn't fall from the sky. You look at scripture with the lenses of a JOHN CALVIN and through him Augustine."

    And where did Augustine get it? He said that he derived it from Scripture despite the previous tradition. I think that we could admit that Augustine was a great theologian and that we were influenced by him simply because he made great points.

    Of course, we would say that early Christianity was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy as Alister McGrath has pointed out.

    So, I would suggest that we each argue our points from Scripture to decide between the two positions.


    "It is implied in scripure. That is if we are talking about "REAL CHOICES.""

    That begs the question in favor of libertarian definitions since compatibilists would say that compatibilist choices are 'real choices' as well.


    "I disagree. The Faith was handed to the Saints. Augustine's "peculiar" doctrines were noval.
    The doctrine of Free will was always tought in the CHURCH. The fact that "christian determinism" has it's roots in Augustine is evidence that "we" are not the ones with the "speculations"."

    See my comment above on McGrath.


    "In the Protestant World those who fight against "Dispensationalism" always use the tactic that it began in the Protestant Churches in the 18 hundreds."

    Not all Covenant theologians use that argument.

    "What are your beliefs in regards to Adam and Eve having free will? How were they able to choose? How were they able to fall?
    Are you a Determinist when it comes to pre-fall ADAM and EVE? Or are you a LFW in regards to pre-fall Adam and Eve?"

    This answer was given in a comment in another post:
    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/12/first-adam.html


    The big thing that we would like to see from you libertarians is an exegetical argument.

    We've made arguments from numerous OT texts, John 6, John 10, Romans 8, Romans 9, James 1, etc., etc.

    Where's your argument?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ben,


    I understand those two papers by Arminius from what he said in his "disputations".

    http://www.godrules.net/library/arminius/arminius29.htm

    Disputation 11

    ON THE FREE WILL OF MAN AND ITS POWERS


    Should put everything you quoted by him in context.


    Chapter 14 shows Arminius belief in Prevenient grace.


    Subsequent or following grace does indeed assist the good purpose of man; but this good purpose would have no existence unless through preceding or preventing grace. And though the desire of man, which is called good, be assisted by grace when it begins to be; yet it does not begin without grace, but is inspired by Him, concerning whom the Apostle writes thus, thanks be to God, who put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. If God incites any one to have 'an earnest care' for others, He will 'put it into the heart' of some other person to have 'an earnest care' for him." Augustinus, Contra. 2 Epist. Pelag. l. 2. c. 9.

    What then, you ask, does free will do? I reply with brevity, it saves. Take away FREE WILL, and nothing will be left to be saved. Take away GRACE, and nothing will be left as the source of salvation. This work [of salvation] cannot be effected without two parties -- one, from whom it may come: the other, to whom or in whom it may be wrought. God is the author of salvation. Free will is only capable of being saved. No one, except God, is able to bestow salvation; and nothing, except free will, is capable of receiving it." Bernardus, De Libero Arbit. et Gratia.


    In Arminianism....as well as other schools of Free willism.

    Prevenient Grace is "saving"! It is part of Divine Grace. It is not disconnected from it.

    What you call "Regeneration" is nothing more than "Pre-Regeneration" in the Arminian scheme.

    So it is "pre-Regeneration" that pre-ceeds Faith.

    Now I depart from the Dutch Arminian and later Weslyian Arminian understanding in this regard.

    They believe in "Faith Regeneration".

    I believe in "Baptismal Regeneration".

    But everything before Faith would be the same. "Pre-Regenerating grace" pre-ceeds Faith.


    This is what we would say.



    JNORM888

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  25. JNORM888

    They way it seems to read to me is that Arminius is teaching that regeneration preceds faith in that without it man could not or would not come to God. The main difference then between Arminius and the standard Reformed view on this would be that Arminius believed that once regenerated the person could then reject Christ.

    i see nothing there that would suggest a pre-regenerate state, unless one does need a special decoder ring to decipher the plain reading of his work.

    ReplyDelete
  26. to saint and sinner

    And where did Augustine get it?

    He got it through multiple false revelations of scripture.

    Just like in 1914 the oneness pentecostals began with a false revelation of scripture.

    The BIBle tells us to test the spirits and Augustine never did that.

    Instead of holding on to the Faith that was handed to the Saints! He invented his own teaching.

    It wouldn't be called Augustinianism if it didn't come from him.


    He said that he derived it from Scripture despite the previous tradition. I think that we could admit that Augustine was a great theologian and that we were influenced by him simply because he made great points.


    He had a couple revelations that changed what he believed. And those new ideas were against what the Christian Faith always believed and past down.

    Augustine may be seen as a great theologian in the western Church, but he is seen as a man with alot of theological errors in the Eastern Church.


    You were influenced by him because Both Luther and Calvin tried to go back to some of his harder teachings that were rightly discarded by the Western Church.


    Of course, we would say that early Christianity was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy as Alister McGrath has pointed out.

    Early christianity was not heavily influenced by Greek Philosophy....no more than Saint John was by Philo.

    If you read Philo and the Gospel of John you will see how John relied on Philo.

    Was it a heavy influence? No! But his ussage of "Logos" is similar to Philo's.

    Saint Paul was also influenced by Greek Philosophy. Now was he heavily influenced by it? NO! But he did use it for the good of the Church.

    Some Early Christians used Greek Philosophy the same way Saint John and Paul did.

    You have Saint Justin Martrye, Clement of Alexandria (who is not called a Saint by the Orthodox)

    And Origen (who was declared heretical in the 6th century)

    Most of the Early Christians were Against Greek Philosophy.

    "Great is the error that the philosophers among them have brought upon their followers."
    Aristides (125 A.D.)

    "One of the Philosophers asserts that God is body, but I assert that He is without body. One of the philosophers asserts that the World is indestructible, but I say that it is to be destroyed."
    Tatian (160A.D.)

    "But now it seems proper for me to demonstrate that our philosophy is older than the systems of the Greeks."
    Tatian (160A.D.)


    Tatian didn't seem to be "heavily influenced" by greek philosophy.


    "Heresies are themselves instigated by philosophy."
    Tertullian 197 A.D.)

    "[The philosophers] knocked at the door of truth. But they did not enter." Tertullian 210 A.D.

    "The Philosophers are the Patriarchs of all heresy."
    Tertullian (200 A.D.)

    Tertullian seemed against Greek Philosophy.


    "It has been handed down to us in the sacred writings that the thoughts of the Philosophers are foolish....Therefore, there is no reason why we should give so much honor to philosophers."
    Lactantius (304A.D. to 313A.D.)

    Lactantius was the school teacher of Constantines son and he didn't seem to be heavily influenced by Greek Philosophy.

    Also Orgigen....who was influenced by Greek Jewish Greek Philosophy had this to say about the issue.


    "We testify of certain Greek philosophers that they knew God, seeing "He manifested Himself to them," although "they did not glorify Him as God, neither were they thankful, but became vain in their imaginations; and professing themselves to be wise, they became foolish." Origen (248 A.D.)


    Also Clemant of Alexandria who also was influenced by Greek Philosophy had this to say about it.

    "Well, be it so that "the thieves and robbers" are the philosophies among the greeks, who before the coming of the Lord received fragments of the truth from the Hebrews prophets. They claimed these as their own teachings, without complete understanding of them."
    Clement of Alexandria (195 A.D.)


    Most of the ones who were influenced by Greek Philosophy tried to use it to help convert the Greeks to Christianity.

    But most of the early christians rejected Greek Philosophy.



    Whatever you got from Alister McGrath in regards to this issue was wrong. I been reading the ECF's for 9 to 10 years now.

    So I know what they had to say about the issue. And I've been reading them mostly in my protestant years.

    If anything it was Augustine who was heavily influenced by Plato and John Calvin who was influenced by Aristotlian logic.

    So the Greek Philosophy finger pointing can go both ways! If you didn't know.....the greek Philosophers were all over the place in regards to the issue of "Free will". Many were Determinists!!!!


    So, I would suggest that we each argue our points from Scripture to decide between the two positions.

    Nope! I will argue with every tool. When the Arians couldn't get anywhere from Church history, They wanted to only argue their point from scripture as well.

    We will look at both scripture and history for I can't have you using the BIBLE as a smoke screen for your theology.


    Where's your argument?

    It will come in time.





    JNORM888

    ReplyDelete
  27. Ben,


    Did you see this in the quote?


    "Subsequent or following grace does indeed assist the good purpose of man; but this good purpose would have no existence unless through , preceding or preventing grace."



    I wouldn't call that ""a special decoder ring to decipher the plain reading of his work.""

    I quoted what he said in his "disputations".

    That is the only time ...or one of the few times in which he mentions "prevenient grace".



    JNORM888

    ReplyDelete
  28. JNORM888,

    I may not be said, like Pelagius, to practice delusion with regard to the word "grace," I mean by it
    that which is the grace of Christ and which belongs to regeneration. I affirm, therefore, that this
    grace is simply and absolutely necessary for the illumination of the mind, the due ordering of the
    affections, and the inclination of the will to that which is good.
    Now what did he say was absolutely necessary before coming to Christ? REGENERATION

    But in his lapsed and sinful state, man is not capable, of and by himself,
    either to think, to will, or to do that which is really good; but it is necessary for him to be regenerated and renewed in his intellect, affections or will, and in all his powers, by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, that he may be qualified rightly to understand, esteem, consider, will, and perform
    whatever is truly good.

    I agree that no decoder ring is necessary, how can you not see that this is what Arminius clearly taught and said? This comes straight from his work.

    ReplyDelete
  29. BTW, I also quoted straight from his work and provided the references for you to read it yourself. Now how can you read those in context quotes and still say that he taught some stuff about being pre regenerate? Seems like you are not taking the plain reading of his text and his words, instead you are trying to read in your own philosophy.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Ben,


    You don't understand Arminian theology.

    If Preventing grace is that grace which pre-ceeds the will and if that which belongs to regeneration also pre-ceeds the will then how in the world can you talk against his ussage of preceeding/preventing grace?

    As if it has nothing to do with his teachings? As if it's something different from what he said in the works you quoted?


    You don't understand that "Prevenient grace" is connected with "Regeneration".

    It belongs to it.

    IT is "SALVIFIC"! Anything that is salvific is gonna be a part of transformation.

    I read your quotes before on the same site I gave with the other quote. I know what letters your quotes came from.

    You denied any talk of a "preventing grace" from Arminius.

    I wanted to show you that such a thing wasn't so.

    IF you knew what Prevenient grace does.....and what it was in Arminian theology then you would of known that it:


    "is absolutely necessary for the illumination of the mind, the due ordering of the
    affections, and the inclination of the will to that which is good."



    This is Prevenient Grace. This is what Arminians mean when they say the words "Prevenient grace/Pre-regenerating grace".



    I am not denying what Arminius said. You are the one denying what he said.

    You refuse to call the grace that preceeds the will "preventing".

    This is what he called it in his "disputations".



    You don't have a clue of what "Pre-regeneration grace" means.




    JNORM888

    ReplyDelete
  31. The full disputation.

    He mentioned "Pre-ceeding/Preventing grace" in the last chapter. Everything in this Disputations talks about the samethings you quoted from his other works.

    You quoted "THE FREE-WILL OF MAN" A DECLARATION OF THE SENTIMENTS OF ARMINIUS

    as well as

    "GRACE AND FREE WILL" from "A LETTER ADDRESSED TO HIPPOLYTUS A COLLIBUS"

    I read those many of times.

    You seemed to be hung over his ussage of the single word "regeneration".

    Arminians believe that Previent grace is an Arm of Regeneration.

    And in this disputation he goes into detail of "TOTAL INABILITY" and at the very end he talks about pre-ceeding grace.


    http://www.godrules.net/library/arminius/arminius29.htm



    DISPUTATION 11

    ON THE FREE WILL OF MAN AND ITS POWERS

    RESPONDENT: PAUL LEONARDS

    I. The word, arbitrium, "choice," or "free will," properly signifies both the faculty of the mind or understanding, by which the mind is enabled to judge about any thing proposed to it, and the judgment itself which the mind forms according to that faculty. But it is transferred from the Mind to the Will on account of the very close connection which subsists between them. Liberty, when attributed to the will, is properly an affection of the will, though it has its root in the understanding and reason. Generally considered, it is various. (1.) It is a Freedom from the control or jurisdiction of one who commands, and from an obligation to render obedience. (2.) From the inspection, care, and government of a superior. (3.) It is also a freedom from necessity, whether this proceeds from an external cause compelling, or from a nature inwardly determining absolutely to one thing. (4.) It is a freedom from sin and its dominion. (5.) And a freedom from misery.

    II. Of these five modes of liberty, the first two appertain to God alone; to whom also on this account, autexousia perfect independence, or complete freedom of action, is attributed. But the remaining three modes may belong to man, nay in a certain respect they do pertain to him. And, indeed, the former, namely, freedom from necessity always pertains to him because it exists naturally in the will, as its proper attribute, so that there cannot be any will if it be not free. The freedom from misery, which pertains to man when recently created and not then fallen into sin, will again pertain to him when he shall be translated in body and soul into celestial blessedness. But about these two modes also, of freedom from necessity and from misery, we have here no dispute. It remains, therefore, for us, to discuss that which is a freedom from sin and its dominion, and which is the principal controversy of these times.

    III. It is therefore asked, is there within man a freedom of will from sin and its dominion, and how far does it extend? Or rather, what are the powers of the whole man to understand, to will, and to do that which is good? To return an appropriate answer to this question, the distinction of a good object, and the diversity of men's conditions, must both enter into our consideration. The Good Things presented to man are three, natural, which he has in common with many other creatures; animal, which belong to him as a man; and spiritual, which are also deservedly called Celestial or Divine, and which are consentaneous to him as being a partaker of the Divine Nature. The States, or Conditions are likewise three, that of primitive innocence, in which God placed him by creation; that of subsequent corruption, into which he fell through sin when destitute of primitive innocence; and, lastly, that of renewed righteousness, to which state he is restored by the grace of Christ.

    IV. But because it is of little importance to our present purpose to investigate what may be the powers of free will to understand, to will, and to do natural and animal good things; we will omit them, and enter on the consideration of spiritual good, that concerns the spiritual life of man, which he is bound to live according to godliness, inquiring from the Scriptures what powers man possesses, while he is in the way of this animal life, to understand, to will, and to do spiritual good things, which alone are truly good and pleasing to God. In this inquiry the office of a Director will be performed by a consideration of the three states, of which we have already treated, [§ 3,] varied as such consideration must be in the relation of these powers to the change of each state.

    V. In the state of Primitive Innocence, man had a mind endued with a clear understanding of heavenly light and truth concerning God, and his works and will, as far as was sufficient for the salvation of man and the glory of God; he had a heart imbued with "righteousness and true holiness," and with a true and saving love of good; and powers abundantly qualified or furnished perfectly to fulfill the law which God had imposed on him. This admits easily of proof, from the description of the image of God, after which man is said to have been created, (Gen. i, 26, 27,) from the law divinely imposed on him, which had a promise and a threat appended to it, (ii, 17,) and lastly from the analogous restoration of the same image in Christ Jesus. (Ephes. iv, 24, Col. iii, 10.)

    VI. But man was not so confirmed in this state of innocence, as to be incapable of being moved, by the representation presented to him of some good, (whether it was of an inferior kind and relating to this animal life, or of a superior-kind and relating to spiritual life,) inordinately and unlawfully to look upon it and to desire it, and of his own spontaneous as well as free motion, and through a preposterous desire for that good, to decline from the obedience which had been prescribed to him. Nay, having turned away from the light of his own mind and his chief good, which is God, or, at least, having turned towards that chief good not in the manner in which he ought to have done, and besides having turned in mind and heart towards an inferior good, he transgressed the command given to him for life. By this foul deed, he precipitated himself from that noble and elevated condition into a state of the deepest infelicity, which is Under The Dominion of Sin. For "to whom any one yields himself a servant to obey," (Rom. vi, 16,) and "of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage," and is his regularly assigned slave. (2 Pet. ii, 19.)

    VII. In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, "Without me ye can do nothing." St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: "Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty. But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing." That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man.

    VIII. The mind of man, in this state, is dark, destitute of the saving knowledge of God, and, according to the Apostle, incapable of those things which belong to the Spirit of God. For "the animal man has no perception of the things of the Spirit of God;" (1 Cor. ii, 14;)

    in which passage man is called "animal," not from the animal body, but from anima, the soul itself, which is the most noble part of man, but which is so encompassed about with the clouds of ignorance, as to be distinguished by the epithets of "vain" and "foolish;" and men themselves, thus darkened in their minds, are denominated "mad" or foolish, "fools," and even "darkness" itself. (Rom. i, 21, 22; Ephes. iv, 17, 18; Tit. iii, 3; Ephes. v, 8.) This is true, not only when, from the truth of the law which has in some measure been inscribed on the mind, it is preparing to form conclusions by the understanding; but likewise when, by simple apprehension, it would receive the truth of the gospel externally offered to it. For the human mind judges that to be "foolishness" which is the most excellent "wisdom" of God. (1 Cor. i, 18, 24.) On this account, what is here said must be understood not only of practical understanding and the judgment of particular approbation, but also of theoretical understanding and the judgment of general estimation.

    IX. To the darkness of the mind succeeds the perverseness of the affections and of the heart, according to which it hates and has an aversion to that which is truly good and pleasing to God; but it loves and pursues what is evil. The Apostle was unable to afford a more luminous description of this perverseness, than he has given in the following words: "The carnal mind is enmity against God. For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom. viii, 7.) For this reason, the human heart itself is very often called deceitful and perverse, uncircumcised, hard and stony." (Jer. xiii, 10; xvii, 9; Ezek. xxxvi, 26.) Its imagination is said to be "only evil from his very youth;" (Gen. vi, 5; viii, 21;) and "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries," &c. (Matt. xv, 19.)

    X. Exactly correspondent to this darkness of the mind, and perverseness of the heart, is the utter weakness of all the powers to perform that which is truly good, and to omit the perpetration of that which is evil, in a due mode and from a due end and cause. The subjoined sayings of Christ serve to describe this impotence. "A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit." (Matt. vii, 18.) "How can ye, being evil, speak good things?" (xii, 34.) The following relates to the good which is properly prescribed in the gospel: "No man can come to me, except the Father draw him." (John vi, 44.) As do likewise the following words of the Apostle: "The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be;" (Rom. viii, 7;)

    therefore, that man over whom it has dominion, cannot perform what the law commands. The same Apostle says, "When we were in the flesh, the motions of sins wrought in us," or flourished energetically. (vii, 5.) To the same purpose are all those passages in which the man existing in this state is said to be under the power of sin and Satan, reduced to the condition of a slave, and "taken captive by the Devil." (Rom. vi, 20; 2 Tim. ii, 26.)

    XI. To these let the consideration of the whole of the life of man who is placed under sin, be added, of which the Scriptures exhibit to us the most luminous descriptions; and it will be evident, that nothing can be spoken more truly concerning man in this state, than that he is altogether dead in sin. (Rom. iii, 10-19.) To these let the testimonies of Scripture be joined, in which are described the benefits of Christ, which are conferred by his Spirit on the human mind and will, and thus on the whole man. (1 Cor. vi, 9-11; Gal. v, 19-25; Ephes. ii, 2-7; iv, 17-20; Tit. iii, 3-7.) For, the blessings of which man has been deprived by sin, cannot be rendered more obviously apparent, than by the immense mass of benefits which accrue to believers through the Holy Spirit; when, in truth, nature is understood to be devoid of all that which, as the Scriptures testify, is performed in man and communicated by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;" (2 Cor. iii, 17;) and if those alone be free indeed whom the Son hath made free;" (John viii, 36;) it follows, that our will is not free from the first fall; that is, it is not free to good, unless it be made free by the Son through his Spirit.

    XII. But far different from this is the consideration of the free will of man, as constituted in the third state of Renewed Righteousness. For when a new light and knowledge of God and Christ, and of the Divine will, have been kindled in his mind; and when new affections, inclinations and motions agreeing with the law of God, have been excited in his heart, and new powers have been produced in him; it comes to pass, that, being liberated from the kingdom of darkness, and being now made "light in the Lord," (Ephes. v, 8,) he understands the true and saving good; that, after the hardness of his stony heart has been changed into the softness of flesh, and the law of God according to the covenant of grace has been inscribed on it, (Jer. 31, 32-35,) he loves and embraces that which is good, just, and holy; and that, being made capable in Christ, co-operating now with God, he prosecutes the good which he knows and loves, and he begins himself to perform it in deed. But this, whatever it may be of knowledge, holiness and power, is all begotten within him by the Holy Spirit; who is, on this account, called "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and the fear of Jehovah," (Isa. xi, 2,) "the Spirit of grace," (Zech. xii, 10,) "of faith," (2 Cor. iv, 13,) "the Spirit of adoption" into sons, (Rom. viii, 16,) and "the Spirit of holiness;" and to whom the acts of illumination, regeneration, renovation, and confirmation, are attributed in the Scriptures.

    XIII. But two things must be here observed. The First that this work of regeneration and illumination is not completed in one moment; but that it is advanced and promoted, from time to time, by daily increase. For "our old man is crucified, that the body of sin might be destroyed," (Rom. vi, 6,) and "that the inward man may be renewed day by day." (2 Cor. iv, 16.) For this reason, in regenerate persons, as long as they inhabit these mortal bodies, "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit." (Gal. v, 17.) Hence it arises, that they can neither perform any good thing without great resistance and violent struggles, nor abstain from the commission of evil. Nay, it also happens, that, either through ignorance or infirmity, and sometimes through perverseness, they sin, as we may see in the cases of Moses, Aaron, Barnabas, Peter and David. Neither is such an occurrence only accidental; but, even in those who are the most perfect, the following Scriptures have their fulfillment: "In many things we all offend;" (James iii, 9;) and "There is no man that sinneth not." (1 Kings viii, 46.)

    XIV. The Second thing to be observed is, that as the very first commencement of every good thing, so likewise the progress, continuance and confirmation, nay, even the perseverance in good, are not from ourselves, but from God through the Holy Spirit. For "he who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;" (Phil. i, 6;) and "we are kept by the power of God through faith." (1 Pet. i, 5.) "The God of all grace makes us perfect, stablishes, strengthens and settles us." (i, 10.) But if it happens that persons fall into sin who have been born again, they neither repent nor rise again unless they be raised up again by God through the power of his Spirit, and be renewed to repentance. This is proved in the most satisfactory manner, by the example of David and of Peter. "Every good and perfect gift, therefore, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights," (James i, 17,) by whose power the dead are animated that they may live, the fallen are raised up that they may recover themselves, the blind are illuminated that they may see, the unwilling are incited that they may become willing, the weak are confirmed that they may stand, the willing are assisted that they may work and may co-operate with God. "To whom be praise and glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen!"

    "Subsequent or following grace does indeed assist the good purpose of man; but this good purpose would have no existence unless through preceding or preventing grace. And though the desire of man, which is called good, be assisted by grace when it begins to be; yet it does not begin without grace, but is inspired by Him, concerning whom the Apostle writes thus, thanks be to God, who put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. If God incites any one to have 'an earnest care' for others, He will 'put it into the heart' of some other person to have 'an earnest care' for him." Augustinus, Contra. 2 Epist. Pelag. l. 2. c. 9.

    "What then, you ask, does free will do? I reply with brevity, it saves. Take away FREE WILL, and nothing will be left to be saved. Take away GRACE, and nothing will be left as the source of salvation. This work [of salvation] cannot be effected without two parties -- one, from whom it may come: the other, to whom or in whom it may be wrought. God is the author of salvation. Free will is only capable of being saved. No one, except God, is able to bestow salvation; and nothing, except free will, is capable of receiving it." Bernardus, De Libero Arbit. et Gratia.




    Jnorm888

    ReplyDelete
  32. JNORM888,

    So when he writes "but it is necessary for him to be regenerated" he is talking about pre-regenerating grace? If that is what you want to call it by all means call it that, but are you saying that this prevenient grace does not regenerate?

    I have no problem in saying prevenient grace or that that is what most Arminians believe, but it seems clear by just a simple reading of Arminius himself he says that in order to make a choice, let alone the right choice, that the a person must be regenerated. Again, show me how in those two quotes I have misunderstood or misapplied what he said? Show me where it is that I am to read that before a person experiences regeneration that his will is inclined towards God?

    As for this "is absolutely necessary for the illumination of the mind, the due ordering of the
    affections, and the inclination of the will to that which is good."
    you seem to be saying he means this prevenient pre-regenerating grace here, but look at the quote and what he defines this "grace" to be "to the word "grace," I mean by it that which is the grace of Christ and which belongs to regeneration" Seems that his own words your interpretation wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  33. JNORM888,

    Again show me how regeneration is not needed first, this is what you provided

    XII. But far different from this is the consideration of the free will of man, as constituted in the third state of Renewed Righteousness. For when a new light and knowledge of God and Christ, and of the Divine will, have been kindled in his mind; and when new affections, inclinations and motions agreeing with the law of God, have been excited in his heart, and new powers have been produced in him; it comes to pass, that, being liberated from the kingdom of darkness, and being now made "light in the Lord," (Ephes. v, 8,) he understands the true and saving good; that, after the hardness of his stony heart has been changed into the softness of flesh, and the law of God according to the covenant of grace has been inscribed on it, (Jer. 31, 32-35,) he loves and embraces that which is good, just, and holy; and that, being made capable in Christ, co-operating now with God, he prosecutes the good which he knows and loves, and he begins himself to perform it in deed. But this, whatever it may be of knowledge, holiness and power, is all begotten within him by the Holy Spirit; who is, on this account, called "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and the fear of Jehovah," (Isa. xi, 2,) "the Spirit of grace," (Zech. xii, 10,) "of faith," (2 Cor. iv, 13,) "the Spirit of adoption" into sons, (Rom. viii, 16,) and "the Spirit of holiness;" and to whom the acts of illumination, regeneration, renovation, and confirmation, are attributed in the Scriptures.

    Seems clear by this that he writes that after being regenerated that then man is able to understand the things of God, but not before.

    Show me where he says that man in his non-regenerate state can even will good/righteous thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
  34. “He got it through multiple false revelations of scripture.”

    What? I was never aware that Augustine claimed to receive divine revelation. Can you point me where he said that?

    “It wouldn't be called Augustinianism if it didn't come from him.”

    It was the name of the systematic theology that he systematized. That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. I could refer to your form of theosis as ‘pseudo-Dionysianism’ or something like that. That doesn’t mean that it’s wrong just because it has a name attached to it.

    “Augustine may be seen as a great theologian in the western Church, but he is seen as a man with alot of theological errors in the Eastern Church.”

    We don’t believe in his theology because of him. We believe in his theology because we believe as a result of exegesis that he’s right.

    Of course, we could say the same thing of Gregory of Palamas.

    “If you read Philo and the Gospel of John you will see how John relied on Philo.”

    Absolutely not. As many writers have pointed out, John was using Alexandrian terminology but giving it an opposite meaning. Thus, his objective was refutation, not using philosophy as a vehicle for theological exploration.

    The same goes for Paul’s use of words like ‘fullness’ in Colossians. By using this word and connecting it to Jesus, he was making an attack on Gnosticism.

    The same goes for Hebrews. His purpose was to refute Alexandrian philosophy.

    However, the Eastern Church, in men like Justin Martyr, used philosophy to create theology instead of refuting it like the Biblical writers. His treatise on free-will pretty much copied Philo but only had one Bible verse cited.

    “Most of the Early Christians were Against Greek Philosophy.”

    They were against the conclusions but still used the same epistemology. The result was the same.

    “Whatever you got from Alister McGrath in regards to this issue was wrong. I been reading the ECF's for 9 to 10 years now.”

    So has McGrath, a professor of Historical Theology at Oxford.

    “Many were Determinists!!!!”

    The determinism of the Stoics came from their belief in material determinism, not Divine Providence. So, apples and oranges.

    “We will look at both scripture and history for I can't have you using the BIBLE as a smoke screen for your theology.”

    Well, I can’t let you use a Hellenized historical theology as a smoke-screen for your theology.

    At least the church fathers made arguments from Scripture. Where are yours?

    ReplyDelete
  35. Dear Ben,

    Arminius taught that regeneration is a process, not a one time event. Prevenient grace is the beginning of regeneration, but regeneration is not completed with respect to its essential parts (mortification and vivification) till after one comes to faith.

    Here's an article I wrote on the subject:

    Arminius on Regeneration

    It has the quotes you asked for, in which Arminius teaches that the primary aspects of regeneration complete after faith.

    God bless,
    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  36. Godismyjudge,

    Thanks for the link. If I understood it correctly then Arminius believed that this prevenient grace/in process regeneration is man being placed again in a state of innocence?

    It looks like to me that the main difference lies in the definition of the term regeneration. It seems weird to view regeneration as a ongoing process rather than a one time event. It would be like saying that circumcision was a ongoing work, rather than a one time event.

    Thanks for clarifying it for me though, I feel that I am better able to see the Arminian side of it.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Ben,

    Pre-regenerating grace is the beginnings of regeneration.

    It illumines the mind, softens the heart of stone into a heart of flesh, it prompts the will.....ect


    You shouldn't look at "pre-regeneration" like it's something totally seperate from regeneration. It leads to it.

    I might be wrong, but I think he tought that "Regeneration" was an ongoing process. Meaning.....it wasn't static....but it could grow or regress.



    Another quote of Arminius from Robert E. Picirilli. From the book "Grace Faith, Free Will: Contrasting views of salvation:
    page 156


    His quote of Arminius will be in double quotes as well as bolded.


    "3. It(pre-regenerating grace) is so closely related to regeneration that it inevitably leads on to regeneration unless finally resisted. In this way the older divines spoke of "the motions of regeneration" and in so doing referred to the movements that initiate (but are not quite) regeneration. Thus Arminius referred to persons who ""feel those motions of the Holy Spirit which belong either to preparation or to the very essence of regeneration, but who are not yet regenerate.""


    So it seems from this quote of Arminius by Picirilli that the lines between "preparation" and actual "regeneration" were blurred.



    "Again, show me how in those two quotes I have misunderstood or misapplied what he said?"


    You refuse to call his ussage of "Divine Grace", "regeneration", "illumination of the mind", and the inclination of the will PREVENIENT GRACE.

    You refuse to call it "Prevenient grace"

    That is all you had to do. And that was the reason why I quoted what he said in his disputations.


    "If that is what you want to call it by all means call it that, but are you saying that this prevenient grace does not regenerate?"

    The term "pre-regeneration" is the same as the term Prevenient grace.

    Pre-regeneration is nothing more than the beginning steps of regeneration. It is regenerative/saving/transforming.....ect.

    And it will grow into "full regeneration" if it is not resisted.


    Seems that his own words your interpretation wrong.

    If all we had were those two works you quoted then I would have interpreted him wrong.
    But we have more than just those two works. So I didn't interprete him wrong.

    You refuse to call what he said in those two works "Preventing grace".

    HE used that term in the other work in talking about the same issue. I quoted the whole DISPUTATION so that you could see that his ussage of "preventing grace" = what he said in his other two works.


    You don't understand the fact that Prevenient grace is part of regeneration. You are reading your calvinistic lenses into the word "regeneration"

    It is not static in Arminianism.





    Jnorm888

    ReplyDelete
  38. JNORM888,

    Thanks for your patience and GODISMYJUDGE for your providing the link. I have a much better grasp of the Arminian view of regeneration now. I can not accept it at this time, but i do appreciate you taking the time to teach me on the subject.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Dear Ben,

    NP on the link.

    If I understood it correctly then Arminius believed that this prevenient grace/in process regeneration is man being placed again in a state of innocence?

    Yep. At least both (ie man in innocence and regenerated man) are enabled by grace.

    Consider this verse:

    Eph 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit

    You were right that the issue relates to the definition of the term regeneration. And at lest the part of the term (there are many parts) that means the indwelling of the Holy Spirit must come after faith, no?

    Merry Christmas,
    Dan

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  40. GODISMYJUDGE,

    One last point for clarification on my part; when Arminius talked of the process of regeneration would it be fair to say that part of that process was that the heart was softened/turned from stone to flesh and that his will was enabled to grasp spiritual things?

    If that view is correct, then could one say that changing the heart of stone to flesh precedes saving faith? I would think yes, but I do not want to mischaracterize Arminius on this.

    Also, if the above statement is true and accurate to Arminius teaching then does it differ from the Reformed view here only in the fact that Arminius believed that once this change has occurred the sinner can then reject the Spirit? It seems that up to that point Arminius and the Reformed view are identical. It seems that the Reformed view of regeneration is the changing of the heart of stone to flesh and the ability for the sinner to respond in a saving way to the Spirit. Of course the Reformed view then would argue for that being effectual and that is why not everyone experiences this change of the heart of stone to flesh.

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  41. ROBERT SAID:

    “So what happened? Are you on the edge of your seats yet with excitement and anticipation? I ordered the four donuts as commanded (by she who must be obeyed!), I picked 1 French and 1 cinnamon donut for myself, then the guy says we have a special deal if you buy 6 donuts you get 1 free and as he is saying this he picks out (without me saying anything about it, without reading my mind) a chocolate glazed donut. So I made a choice which according to Steve Hays’ argument should have made the chocolate glazed donut an ‘unexemplified possibility’ since I did not choose it (I chose the French and the cinnamon and thereby excluded the chocolate glazed donut by my acts of choosing, which should have according to Hays’ argument made the chocolate glazed inaccessible). I should not have had access to this ‘unexemplified possibility’ and yet in reality I did have access to this possibility without having chosen it (though I had deliberated about choosing this kind of donut).”

    It’s clear that Robert doesn’t have the slightest idea of what he’s talking about. Robert is citing an example of an exemplified possibility, not an unexemplified possibility. The fact that *he* didn’t choose it is irrelevant. Someone else chose it.

    So he still has no experience whatsoever accessing alternate possibilities. He is talking about *actualities* rather than *possibilities*. An unexemplified possibility is a possibility which, by definition, is never realized.

    “Or we may have access to an alternative possibility by a mistake. For example you go to a restaurant and in talking to a waiter are debating between two possibilities (say steak or prime rib). You ask the waiter for his opinion and he says they are both really good at this restaurant. So you deliberate and ask for more time and make your choice and order, say steak. Then the waiter comes later with prime rib (he mistakenly thought that you had settled on prime rib as your decision rather than steak or the cook mistakenly cooked prime rib instead of steak for you). So you made a choice of steak which should have made the prime rib the ‘unexemplified possibility’ and the prime rib inaccessible to you as a possibility according to Hays. And yet in reality you experienced the prime rib and the steak became the 'unexemplified possibility’ instead. Another way to experience different options/possibilities is for me to say, order the steak and my wife orders the prime rib, because we both wanted to try both options!”

    Here he exhibits the same pathetic confusion. Why does Robert even presume to write in defense of libertarianism when he has no grasp of the fundamental concepts?

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  42. Hi Ben,

    One last point for clarification on my part; when Arminius talked of the process of regeneration would it be fair to say that part of that process was that the heart was softened/turned from stone to flesh and that his will was enabled to grasp spiritual things?

    If that view is correct, then could one say that changing the heart of stone to flesh precedes saving faith? I would think yes, but I do not want to mischaracterize Arminius on this.


    I think it would be more precise to say that prior to faith, man is in the process of getting a new heart. After faith the process completes.

    God bless,
    Dan

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  43. Maybe it's more precise to say you've got a great imagination.

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  44. Hays writes:

    ”It’s clear that Robert doesn’t have the slightest idea of what he’s talking about. Robert is citing an example of an exemplified possibility, not an unexemplified possibility. The fact that *he* didn’t choose it is irrelevant. Someone else chose it.”

    I gave cases where someone had **access** to alternative possibilities even though they did not choose these alternative possibilities. Hays claimed that by the nature of choice (we choose to actuate one possibility while at the same time excluding other possibilities/alternative possibilities from being realized) since we only experience the one possibility AT THAT TIME, we have no evidence that we had access to the other possibilities AT THAT TIME. But if evidence shows us having access to these other possibilities very close to the time at which we made a particular choice, then his argument seems weak (whether someone else made a choice or not, we seem to have **access** to other possibilities at the time we make a choice).

    ”So he still has no experience whatsoever accessing alternate possibilities. He is talking about *actualities* rather than *possibilities*. An unexemplified possibility is a possibility which, by definition, is never realized.”

    The fact that we cannot actualize contraries simultaneously is neither here nor there in regard to the reality of choice. Hays defines “alternative possibilities” as those possibilities which we did not actualize AT THE TIME that we make a particular choice. But it does not follow that since we did not actualize these possibilities when we made a particular choice that we did not have access to these possibilities before we made the choice.

    There is yet another major problem with Hays’ argument. I make a distinction between “doings” (e.g., positive actions of doing something, like choosing to lift up my arm to signal agreement with a motion at a meeting), and “refrainings” (e.g., when a person has the ability and opportunity to do some action, say lift up his arm to vote for a motion, but chooses to refrain from doing so, he chooses intentionally not to lift up his arm). Both “doings’ and “refrainings” may be intentional actions by a person. Hays claims that when we make a choice, since by definition we chose one alternative and not the other alternatives, that this means that we do not have any experience of or access to these alternative possibilities.

    If I choose the apple pie, then I did not choose the cherry pie and the cherry pie becomes what Hays calls “unexemplified possibilities”. It is true that once I choose the apple pie rather than the cherry pie, AT THAT TIME, then the cherry pie AT THAT TIME, becomes a never realized possibility AT THAT TIME. The first response to this is: so what, we all agree that due to the nature of choice that once a choice is made that particular option is actualized while other options are not AT THAT TIME. We also all agree that we are unable to actualize contraries simultaneously (both lift up and refrain from lifting up my arm at the same time; both choose the apple pie and cherry pie at the same time when you are only allowed to pick one flavor of pie), but it does not follow from this that we do not or never have access to alternative possibilities **prior to the time the choice is made**.

    I have already given examples where we have access to alternative possibilities that we had not even chosen, very close in time to when we made our choice. This evidence suggests these alternatives were open to us, were available to us as choices, were possibilities that could have been actualized, before we made our choice.

    But there is other evidence of access to alternative possibilities that needs to be considered. People sometimes make the choice to have one thing (say apple pie) and then when it is brought to them, they say things like: “I’m sorry, I meant to order not the apple pie but the cherry pie” (and the server then takes the apple pie away and returns with the cherry pie). This kind of situation clearly shows that the person had access to alternative possibilities (both the apple and cherry pies were open and live alternatives to him just before he made his choice; children do this kind of thing a lot, they make one choice and then someone ahead of them makes another choice, say ice cream cone flavor at the ice cream parlor and they immediately change their mind when seeing some other child actualize a different possibility). Now it is true that if he had chosen apple pie, this would have made the cherry pie an alternative possibility that had not been actuated or experience at that time.

    But saying that making one choice excludes other possibilities, once the choice is made, does not say much. The real issue is whether or not **before** the choice is made (and so becomes an outcome, a past event) the person had access to various alternative possibilities THEN). Evidence such as the cases I have presented shows that while the person could not simultaneously choose contraries, they did have access to various possibilities (the differing circumstances showing the various alternatives were all readily available or the person had access to multiple possibilities before they made their choice).

    And yet there is an even stronger and more obvious way of showing that prior to making a choice we have access to multiple alternatives, one of which we end up selecting. Hays wants to argue from the fact that the nature of choice involves actuating one possibility while excluding others, that therefore we have no experience of, or access to, alternative possibilities/unexemplified possibilities (the choices not made in relation to a particular choice). So when I make the choice of apple pie, once the choice is made, the alternative possibility, the unexemplified alternative, cherry pie, is excluded from my experience, AT THAT TIME. So far I have given evidence that while you may have made a particular choice, the alternative possibilities which you did not choose at that time, were available to you, you did have access to them.

    When we refrain from doing something, in most cases, we had both the ability and the opportunity to have done otherwise. E.g. if I have the ability and opportunity to refrain from raising my arm to acknowledge rejection of a motion at a meeting, then it seems reasonable to also believe that I had the ability and opportunity to raise my arm to acknowledge acceptance of a motion at a meeting. “Refrainings” presuppose the ability and opportunity to engage in “doings”. If I can and do refrain from doing some action, then I also could have done the action as well had I chosen to do so.

    Now consider what is happening when we refrain from doing something. Our refraining is an intentional action. Our refraining is also not experiencing an action that we could have chosen to do (i.e., when refraining from lifting up my arm I am not experiencing the intentional lifting up of my arm). Our refraining then is also experiencing an “unexemplified alternative” (choosing to lift up my arm is an exemplified alternative, doing something, if I do not lift up my arm it is an unexemplified alternative/a choice not made in that case, and according to Hays unexemplified possibilities are never realized). Recall Hays definition of an “unexemplified alternative”: “An unexemplified possibility is a possibility which, by definition, is never realized.”

    If the time for the vote on the motion comes up, and we are supposed to signify agreement or endorsement of a motion on the floor, by lifting up our arm. And yet we intentionally choose to reject the motion and so signify this by not lifting up our arm at the time of the calling of the vote. The act of lifting up our arm is the “unexemplified possibility” (this shows that an unexemplified possibility is simply a fancy word for the choice that you did not make; which if you choose to raise your arm is the choice not to raise your arm and if you choose to not raise your arm is the choice to raise your arm). Now it is true that if we chose not to lift up our arm, then it is impossible that we could have both lifted up our arm and refrained from lifting up our arm at the same time in the same situation (cf. the impossibility of actuating contraries simultaneously), but that is not the issue.

    The issue is whether or not in making our choices, do we ***have access to alternative possibilities*** (can we actuate either the one possibility [here lifting up our arm to vote Yes] or the other possibility [here refraining from lifting up our arm to vote No] in the same situation, before the outcome is settled (i.e., once a choice is made, one possibility is actuated and other possibilities are excluded)? If choices are real and exist, the realm of choices is always in the present in time and occurs before a choice is made (cf., a choice made is an outcome). When Hays argues that a choice excludes alternative possibilities, that in making a choice some possibilities become “unexemplified possibilities”, it must be carefully seen that once a choice is made it becomes an outcome, a past event. Possibilities which may have existed before the choice is made are excluded when the choice is made, they become “unexemplified possibilities” when the choice is made. The issue is whether or not the person had access to different possibilities before he/she made a particular choice.

    Refrainings provide very good examples of a person having access to different possibilities before a choice is made. Before I make the choice of either lifting up my arm to vote Yes, or make the choice of refraining from lifting up my arm and thus voting No, both of these possibilities are accessible to me. If I have the ability and the opportunity to to lift up my arm and vote Yes for the motion, it stands to reason that I also have the ability and the opportunity to refrain from lifting up my arm and voting No on the motion as well. We have all experienced this capacity to refrain from doing a contemplated action. We have all had experiences where we know we could have done something and yet for whatever reasons, we held back, we refrained from doing the contemplated action. If Hays’ exhaustive determinism were true, then all of this is an illusion, though we thought we could have done (X) when we chose to refrain from doing (X) in reality we could never have done (X). You thought after the guy cut you off on the freeway while driving that you could have at least honked your horn as a sign of displeasure at his cutting you off (though you made the choice to refrain from honking the horn and decided to just let it go; but if exhaustive determinism is true then every time you refrain from doing some action but believe that you could have done the action you are always wrong in this belief). If choices are real then you could have chosen to honk the horn as well, though you ended up refraining from honking the horn.

    On the other hand, if Hays’ determinism is true, in every instance in which you refrained from doing something, you never could have done otherwise and done the action which you chose to refrain from doing. Now Hays may be comfortable in such a fantasy world where our beliefs are constantly wrong, where we think we could have done otherwise, where we think we could have done the action which we refrained from doing, but in reality never could have done otherwise, that is his choice. The rest of us, operating from years of experience with both “doings” and “refrainings”, know that in fact sometimes at least, we really can do otherwise (we can pick whatever possibility from among several that we want to actualize, we can both choose to do a particular action or choose to refrain from doing that action, both possibilities are accessible to us before we make our choice of which one to actualize). If Hays were right about “unexemplified possibilities” then every time we refrain from doing some action, while we believed that we could both refrain from doing something and also could have done that something, in every instance we were wrong.

    I believe as Plantinga puts it that our cognitive capacities are designed by God to arrive at truth; if we are always wrong about our beliefs regarding our daily actions (believing that we could have done otherwise when we really could not have done otherwise) then God’s design is pretty shoddy and ineffective. I believe that God designed us to be able to use our minds to consider and think about and contemplate alternative possibilities so that we could perform our own intentional actions. And these intentional actions involve choices where our belief that we can both actualize a possibility and refrain from actualizing that possibility, is a true belief. We may **sometimes** be mistaken in believing that we could do a certain action (like the guy in Locke’s locked room example who believes he can leave the room though he cannot since the door to the room is locked from the outside) due to the circumstances involved in a situation. But not all the time, which is what determinism would lead to.

    ”Here he exhibits the same pathetic confusion. Why does Robert even presume to write in defense of libertarianism when he has no grasp of the fundamental concepts?”

    While I am not a professional philosopher, I believe the key concepts are easy to understand and to a great extent involve common sense and using the reliable cognitive faculties that God has designed us with. The libertarian conception of free will is held because that is the way God made us (i.e., to in a way similar to God’s own intentional actions, to be capable of choosing and doing our own actions as individual persons). The libertarian conception fits our daily experience, fits common sense, fits the bible verses that present clear instances of choices as ordinarily understood. It is the professional philosophers who seek to make a name for themselves by arguing against common sense, arguing against our created nature, arguing for a determinism that leads to all sorts of problems, and arguing against scripture to support their philosophical/theological position.

    Robert

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