INTRODUCTION (Part 1)
Pulling the stuffing out
Ben Kangaroo's first post:
Before I begin, I guess I should point out that Mr. Kangaroo (and some of his Arminian peanut gallery members) commented about my loooooooooong posts. So, I'll make this short than his latest response to me. Three pages shorter, to be exact. Any whining and complaining about comments I didn't interact with are thus rendered moot. You can't have it both ways, that is.
I should also point out that my main beef has to do with Roo's assertion that Calvinists have an inconsistency between the propositions:
(CI1) Monergism is the case.
(CI2) Calvinists think prayer for the lost is not pointless.
I will demonstrate, as I did earlier, that there is no inconsistency.
So, I'll briefly discuss some tangential points, and then I'll end by arguing that Mr. Roo hasn’t met his burden. Remember, he asserted. Not me. He made a strong assertion. One of inconsistency. I'll demonstrate that he has not shown any such inconsistency. If I succeed here, no matter what else has been debated, the score will be: Calvinists - 1, Arminians - 0. It would be nice to discuss all the other things Mr. Roo wants to discuss, but given my current situation, and the level of his arguments (They don't cause any Calvinist I know to lose sleep. They are actually means God uses for creating laughter in his people.), and that fact that all his comments have been (better) expressed elsewhere, as well as responded to elsewhere, I'll pass up the opportunity. Besides, if I were to take it on, I have plenty of pages of material I could write (due to the multi-layered errors), they'd complain about 'how much he writes.' You can't win with these guys!
So, let me take a few pot shots before I show that Ben has not met his burden. That he has not achieved what he set out to do. Remember, showing this constitutes a failure in the very heart of Mr. Roo's post, no matter what else he wants to discuss. I will thus expect at least an admission of error. Possibly he'll change his line of attack, but the specific one I got out of bed to respond to will have rendered impotent. I should say one last thing. Much hay was made by Mr. Roo about me not "letting him know about my first post." As I knew that he has a link feature on his blog, indicating him every time someone links to a blog entry of his, I thought this sufficient. What did he want me to do. Send a carrier pigeon? Maybe he'll say that he doesn't check his comboxes in order to see the links? But then (i) why does he post in them and (ii) how else would I inform him? Not by positing a message in his combox. I don't do carrier pigeons. And I'm not going to email him informing him that I responded to one of his precious posts. So, this gives people a taste of the types being dealt with here. They love to get involved with numerous side debates and charge you with all sorts of moral fallings: "At least you could have the common decency to let me know you dedicated a post to me!" Their childish behavior (childish since I indirectly let him know that I responded) is more reason why I hope this is the last exchange between us. I'm not in the mood to get a manners lesson from Martha Rooert, or be told that I have "hellfire awaiting me at the judgment," or to deal with weak and sloppy arguments. For all the above reasons, this will probably me my last response to them.
The meatiest and most substantial section, and most relevant to the stated purpose of Ben's post will be covered in Part 3 below. If you want to skip to there and read that section, that will be all you need to see that Kangaroo's argument is to no avail. (I include pictures for our Arminian readers.) (I also employ sarcasm for purposes of levity.) (As is my wont, all of his comments will appear in red.)
SOME SNIPING (Part 2)
Roo made a claim that monergism was inconsistent with Calvinists praying to God for someone's salvation. But, he said the terms were ambiguous. I pointed out to him that he lost from the beginning since one cannot draw an actual inconsistency from ambiguous terms. His response:
"Well, if Paul would have followed the two links I provided in the section of the first paragraph he neglected to quote, he would have gotten quite a bit of clarification as to how I understand the difference between synergism and monergism. He would have also discovered that I believe the term “synergism” does not properly convey the Arminian understanding of conditional salvation since synergism literally means “to work together” and Arminians deny salvation by works."
Unfortunately for Ben, I did look at his links. My question wasn't about how you "understood the difference between synergism and monergism." If Ben followed the bouncing ball (like a good little Roo), he'd note that my question had to do with the single term monergism. For my purposes, I give two hoots about how he 'underst[ands] the difference between monergism and synergism.' Much less did my comment have to do with whether or not he thinks the term 'synergism' 'properly convey[s] the Arminian understanding of ________.' In his first link, 'Is Arminianism Synergistic," Ben does nothing to provide the necessary and sufficient conditions that apply to 'monergism.' His second link was to a post he titled 'The Nature of Saving Faith.' In it he uses the adjective 'monergistic' twice (I think), and offers no specific definition of that word. Thus I am at a loss as to how Ben thinks his above response (the one in red) effectively counters my point. His cocky comment was nothing but a sophistic debate trick given with the intention of snowing his readers into thinking that I didn't do the simple footwork that would have negated my comments in response to his comments. This is cheap, and is another reason why, given my situation especially, I don't want to waste my time with these guys. If my above comments (that totally rebut the grounds by which he made his snide remark to me) weren't enough, the simple fact remains that he said the term 'monergism' was ambiguous. Either it is or it isn't. Either he thinks his previous links offered a precise understanding of the term in terms of which he could draw out the inconsistency, or he doesn't. If he doesn’t, why did he point me to the two links? If he does, then why did he say the term was too ambiguous? Either way you slice it, Ben Kangaroo has been poached.
Mr. Roo sez,
"All of salvation is conditioned on faith. We are justified, regenerated, and sanctified by faith. Glorification takes place after death but only for those who die in the faith. So, there is a sense in which even glorification can be said to be by faith, though not in the same way as the other necessary components of salvation pre-glorification."
"I suppose we could think of such things, but for the believer who is not immediately “struck dead” sanctification is certainly a necessary component of the salvation process, and anyone who ceases to remain in this process will fall short of final salvation (Heb. 10:29, 36-39; Rom. 6:16, 21-22; 8:12-14; Gal. 5:17-25; 6:7-9; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Eph. 4:20-24; 5:3-16, etc.). We could just as well say that infants are not necessarily justified by faith but are unconditionally saved by God’s grace, while adults must meet the condition of faith to receive the gift of God’s salvation. Such speculations and hypotheticals are hardly relevant to the discussion at hand and can really serve only as deflections by which the main issues are obscured. (emphasis added)"
Yeah, that's right, when talking about necessities then brining in hypotheticals and thought experiments are crucial. For example, if being two-armed was necessary to being a human, one could talk about possible worlds with three-armed humans and ask how this changes anything of essence rather than accident. I would have thought Ben was familiar with at least elementary points like this. If he is, then he goes for cheap debate tricks, minimizing rather crucial distinctions I made.
"Or perhaps Paul’s sloppy reading skills and inability to comprehend fairly simple theological definitions with which most who are familiar with the debate do not seem to have difficulty."
Notice how nice ole Ben is. Now, given how sanctimonious he's acted, chastising me for calling my last post "Captain Kangaroo," then how does he explain this double standard. Well, you see, Ben and the boys aren’t serious when they chastise me and my Calvinist brothers. That is a debate tactic of theirs. Intended to draw pity for their side. In actuality, they're no better then us sorry sinners on the Reformed side of the fence; protests to the contrary aside. I cite this not because I'm going to cry about how Mr. Roo hurt my feewings, but simply to point out that Mr. Roo can't live up to his own standards. In other words, he's a hypocrite.
I wrote, "And, we are not saved by faith. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone." Mr. Roo responded:
"I agree. However, I don’t think Paul is wise to get hung up on the difference between “through faith” and “by faith”. They mean essentially the same thing and there are plenty of Scriptures that indicate that all of salvation is “by” or “through” faith, and not just justification proper. For instance, we become God’s children (adoption) through faith (Gal. 3:26). Peter tells us that we are receiving “salvation” as the outcome of our faith (1 Peter 1:8, 9). Christ dwells in our hearts “by faith” (Eph. 3:17, cf. 2 Cor. 13:5). We receive the Holy Spirit by faith (Gal. 3:2; 3:14). We are sanctified by faith (Acts 26:18), and it doesn’t take much reading from John’s gospel before we realize that eternal life is received by faith as well (e.g. John 19:31). That seems to pretty much cover all the bases as far as I am concerned."
So you "agree" that "we are not saved by faith" but rather "saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus?" But then you seem to argue that "you don't agree." More conceptual muddles at the hands of "Ben."
And, pretty much only the KJV says "by" in Eph. 3:17. But, that doesn't even matter since Eph. 3:17 is not talking about salvation!
It is a fact that in Pauline thought we are "saved by grace, through faith."
But, my point is, it is Jesus who saves, not your faith. Your faith is but an instrument!
"Even worse for Paul is that the passage he seems to quote above indicates that the whole of salvation, including regeneration, is conditioned on faith:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together [regeneration] with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him [regeneration] and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus (in whom alone are all spiritual blessings which would include regeneration, Eph. 1:3)…for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it [i.e. salvation] is the gift of God; not as the result of works, that no one should boast.” (Eph. 2:4-9 Emphasis mine)"
i) Nothing in this text says "all salvation is condition of faith."
ii) Ben just assumes his libertarianism in his interpretation that he got from Olsen and Geisler.
iii) And all salvation couldn't be condition on faith if Jesus says that no one can come to him unless the Father draws that person. John 6:44 is best formally expressed as: (~p --> ~q) & r. Logically, John 6:44 teaches that the Father's drawing is a necessary condition required before someone is able to come to Jesus by faith. The Arminian should agree. The problem is that if he agrees with the first half of the conjunct ((~p --> ~q)), then he must agree with the second. Let 'r' = 'raise him on the last day.' The Arminian is thus forced to accept universalism, or deny that the father must draw someone S before S comes to Jesus in faith.
I wrote, "Yes, the promises come in the form of a conditional, but Reformed theology teaches that Christ has met any and all conditions man must meet in order to have everlasting life--either by his work, or by securing for us what we need. So, in regards the former, Christ lived a perfect life in our place, he met that condition for us. In regards the latter, he did not have saving faith for us. But, he purchased, or acquired them for us. The Holy Spirit then applies this all to us."
Ben Kangaroo responds,
"This seems like a lot of assertion and is very confusing. I am not familiar with any passages of Scripture which say that Jesus purchased or acquired our personal faith."
Here, let's use a page out of Ben's book (I'm just switching some words around): "I am a little surprised that [Ben] finds things so confusing. I thought he had been defending [Arminianism] and “dismantling” [Calvinism] for quite some time now. So, if Ben's response to me was good, then this was. If this wasn't, his wasn't. Either way I'm sitting pretty.
Anyway, my comments were pretty standard fair for Reformed theologians. One could easily read our commentaries and systematics for an explication of this basic belief.
Suffice it to say, Reformed theologians have always acknowledged that Christ's redemptive work expitiates, propitiates, reconciliates, but also merits the application of redemption to the sinner as well (regeneration, sanctification and glorification). I would have thought that a basic understanding of Reformed theology would lead one to notice that we take faith to be a spiritual blessing. Christ purchased all the spiritual graces for His people. God "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:33). My comments flow directly from the basics of Reformed theology. You may disagree, but simply parading your ignorance of Reformed teachings isn't a theological, exegetical, or even a philosophical objection to what I stated.
I had said, "Our faith is not the ground of our salvation, but is but an instrument for receiving all of Christ."
"I agree completely, and that is why all grounds of boasting are cut off since faith is the receiving of a free gift and total reliance on another. The “grounds” of salvation are the work of Christ and the gracious gift of God resulting from that work. Faith is the condition for receiving that salvation which is grounded solely in Christ’s atoning work. I never claimed otherwise; so maybe we should again ask, with Paul, what all the hubbub is about?"
I guess Ben doesn't see how this admission hurts him. Of course the Reformed believing that faith is an instrumental condition. So what's the hubbub about? He acts as if we disagree, but then he agrees with me.
I had wrote, "But, I can grant that in the Bible we see a hypothetical statement, technically called a 'conditional.'"
Mr. Roo strangely asserts,
"Paul just can’t seem to get through a post defending Calvinism without some sort of appeal to 'hypotheticals.'"
Sorry, first let me take a moment while I rip out all the sections on conditionals in my logic texts, this will take a while.....
Okay, Ben, I did it, now I'm back. Next, per your prodding, let me rip out all the hypotheticals in the Bible. I start with these:
Heb. 6:4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
Rom. 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
And if you hold on, I'll cut out some more verses....
Okay, whew!, I'm back. There, now neither will I seem like I can't get through a defense of Calvinism without reference to hypotheticals, neither will my logic textbooks, and neither will all my Bible's! Good thing you came along, I was tired of not being able to get through my Bible without it mentioning hypotheticals!
I had said, "A dead men doesn't "recognize our inability to save ourselves and cast ourselves on God’s mercy."
Ben Kangaroo responded:
"Arminians agree; hence, the doctrine of prevenient grace. I am sure that Paul finds this doctrine un-Biblical but he should at least acknowledge its existence within Arminian theology, especially seeing that he has made it his purpose to criticize that theology."
i) I already showed that prevenient grace leads to universalism. So, I do acknowledge it but immediately disregard it when speaking to an Arminian who I assume denies universalism wrt salvation.
ii) I wonder what it is that accounts for one man "choosing" God over against another. What, is Ben 'better' than all those filthy sinners who don't exercise 'faith?'
iii) How would he select or demarcate his universal grace passages from universal salvation passages?
I had said, "But, yes, the Reformed would agree that men actually do the believing."
"In the same way that a man hooked to a respirator does the “breathing” I suppose. Notice again how Paul essentially contradicts his previous statement that, “If it may be called a condition, it is not something we must do, it is something that has been done for us.”
Notice he substitutes fallacious arguments from ridicule in lieu of objective arguments.
And, his dishonest claim about ‘faith' being 'done for us' is flat out false since I specified, very clearly, that those things Christ did not do for us, he purchased for us. Remember Ben Roo himself said that my comment was 'confusing' and 'didn't know where Scripture said that Christ purchased faith for us.' So, either he's playing dumb or he is dumb.
Lastly, let me end this section by pointing out yet another double standard Ben employs in these debates.
BEN SAID: "Some Calvinists will go so far as to say that Arminians believe that man has the capability to save themselves."
I RESPONDED: "No, you have the capacity, as you admit, to 'meet' the lifeguard part way there."
BEN RESPONDED: "You are only speaking for yourself here Paul. You may not agree with those Calvinists who have said such things to me, but it doesn’t change the fact that they said them. And again, Arminians do not believe that we have the natural capacity to meet the life guard part way there; at least this Arminian doesn’t and neither did James Arminius himself."
By way of reply:
i) Where did I say 'natural ability?' And, you have the ability because 'prevenient grace.' But that's given to all. So, whence ariseth your faith yet not another man's?
ii) Note what Ben said in response to my quoting Arminian Jerry Falwell:
"So it is my duty to make sure guys like Falwell don’t say dumb things? I would think Paul might need to do plenty of backyard cleaning himself in that case."
So, Ben doesn't want to be held responsible to the 'dumb things' that Arminians say, yet when it comes to debating Calvinists he takes every stupid thing they have said (granting he's being honest here, I have my doubts, though), he uses them ubiquitously and then justifies his hamstringing us to his un-named Calvinists.
iii) I hope to have at least established prima facie evidence that Ben is yet another Arminian jokster. Big on talk, little by way of rational argumentation. I have shown him to be dishonest, hypocritical, ignorant of basic Reformed theology, and even ignorant of some of the things he's written and pointed me to. Thus justified, I'll move on....
The Death of the Initial Argument (Part 3)
Okay, recall the set of Calvinist Inconsistencies above:
(CI1) Monergism is the case.
(CI2) Calvinists think prayer for the lost is not pointless.
I thought I showed how (CI1) and (CI2) were not inconsistent in my initial post. But maybe I was too abstract for Ben to follow. Let's be real clear.
I take it that this definition for inconsistency is agreed on by both of us:
inconsistency = df Someone asserts more than one proposition such that the propositions cannot all be true. In such a case, the propositions may be contradictories or they may be contraries.
Now, there are (roughly) three ways the above could happen: (i) explicit inconsistency, (ii) formal inconsistency, and (iii) implicit inconsistency. (i) is to two propositions that assert p and ~p (e.g., to affirm and deny the same proposition). (ii) is a where a set of propositions is affirmed from which an explicit (sense (i)) inconsistency is logically deduced (typically via first-order logic with identity). And (iii) is a set of propositions to which are added some necessary truths so that a formal contradiction can be brought out.
According to (CI1) and (CI2), which of the above seem to fit, if one does? Definitely not (i) or (ii). So, if we have an inconsistency, it would be along the lines of (iii). Certainly there’s nothing obviously inconsistent between (CI1) and (CI2). Nothing like:
 Sam is the father of Frank.
 Sam is not the father of Frank.
So, Roo has done nothing like draw out an inconsistency that is plain for all to see.
Before I look at the (alleged) inconsistency between monergism and intercessory prayer for the lost, I should comment on some of Ben Kangaroo’s remarks about intercessory prayer being ‘pointless’ on the Calvinist scheme. Last time I used one simply word to skirt around his ‘argument:’ means. But apparently this didn’t carry the force I had hoped since, come to find out, Ben is more ignorant of Reformed theology than a Barry Bond’s fan is of the outward symptoms of steroid use. So we must go slower for our Arminian friends. Let me try to lay this out. Here are the relevant quotes from Ben:
"Calvinism teaches that one is saved or lost on the sole basis of an eternal and irrevocable decree. Nothing can effectively change that decree. It is fixed. It is permanent."
"The Arminian contends that intercessory prayer within a Calvinistic framework is pointless. Our prayers cannot have any effect on the eternal destiny of any individual. That destiny was fixed from eternity. No lack of prayer can prevent God from saving the elect and no amount of prayer can help the reprobate. Worse yet, the believer might waste countless hours praying for a reprobate who has no chance at heaven without realizing it."
It’s hard to make out what is even being argued here. Yes, nothing can change God’s decree. Does he think we think our prayers are ‘changing God’s decree?’ Does he think that we think we can affect a non-elect person into becoming elect? We don’t think any of that. We are not trying to ‘change the decree.’ An ‘inconsistency’ might look something like this, then:
 Nothing can change God’s eternal decree.
 By prayer the Calvinist thinks he can change God’s eternal decree.
But this is an absurd caricature! We deny . So perhaps he is thinking something like this:
 If God has decreed that someone S will be saved, then if you pray for S to be saved it will be pointless.
 If God has not decreed that S will be saved, then if you pray for say to be saved it will be a waste of time.
 Either God has decreed for S to be saved or he has not.
 So, either the Calvinist’s prayer will be pointless or it will be a waste of time.
 But, the Calvinist does not think his prayer is either pointless or a waste of time.
 Thus, there is an inconsistency between his beliefs in a God who decrees S’s salvation (or does not), and his belief that prayer is not pointless or a waste of time. If the Calvinist sufficiently reflected on his epistemic situation, then he would need to drop either his belief in God’s eternal decree regarding the salvation of sinners, or his belief in a meaningful and productive prayer life.
I take it I have faithfully portrayed Ben Kangaroo’s argument, albeit with more rigor and precision than Ben himself. All that is left now is to examine the premises. Obviously there is vague and ambiguous terms employed. What is meant by ‘pointless?’ What is meant by ‘waste of time?’ Maybe it is pointless is some senses, but not others. Recall propositions  and  above. We could easily remove the inconsistency by indicating unarticulated equivocations. So,
[1*] Sam is the father1 of Frank.
[2*] Sam is not the father2 of Frank.
The 1 and 2 are, respectively, biological and adoptive. And so I take it that Ben has the job of getting a wee bit more detailed than he’s used to over at ‘Arminian Perspectives.’ Time to dust off the old synapses. Since I don’t know for sure how these terms are being employed, and so know that we don’t have any unarticulated equivocations, I can only offer some brief comments. But, I take it that they will be enough to show that we have no problems of inconsistency (at least any interesting ones), and it will certainly be enough to render a prima facie verdict in our favor. Having thus qualified, let’s look at some of the premises (again, the qualification is that the terms are vague and ambiguous and I don’t know precisely how Ben Kangaroo is using them):
I grant ,  and .  and  are false. Not only is prayer a (a) means (I discuss this concept in fuller detail below) used for God to grant S salvation, but here are some ‘points:’
(b) God commands prayer for all things and so the Calvinist is obeying a command. This is enough to demolish his claim, but let’s look at more ‘points.’
(c) The Calvinist recognizes that he is powerless in himself to ‘win’ the lost into God’s kingdom. We must rely on God for everything. That we can’t argue, force, or otherwise manipulate someone into the kingdom, even if we are the best debater, the most imposing force, or the slickest salesman, we can’t convince a dead sinner to change his ways, even though we would love to. So prayer forces us to recognize our inability, our weakness, our dependence upon God, and thus is an exercise in humility. It is an expression of an attitude of faith. This works whether the prayer is answered or not.
(d) Prayer is also communication with the living God. It is a means of grace for the believer and allows us to grow in our sanctification. It shows that we trust the Bible and are not ‘anxious’ about the salvation of the lost. It also changes our heat toward our fellow man. Calvinists do not believe that we should just pray for our friends and family (though I have noticed this trend with Arminians for some reason), but we pray for our enemies, for those who wrong us. (I am even in the process of doing this right now, for someone who wronged me, and isn’t a friend or family member.) The ‘point’ here is that our attitude changes in how we think about that person.
(e) Another point is that in praying for someone, especially for years, we are so much more appreciative of our salvation by grace alone. I pray for my brother who is intelligent, and one of the ‘nicest’ people you will ever meet. He even agrees that Jesus is God, that he resurrected, that the Bible is reliable, that he is a sinner, that Jesus is the savior, and many other truths. But he refuses to submit to God. He loves his sin too much. There’s nothing much different between us. Indeed, he is ‘nicer’ and more ‘people friendly’ than I am, yet I believe and trust in God while he does not. Thus I can only attribute that to grace alone. The sovereign choice of God to do radical, life-saving heart surgery on me.
(f) it’s a form of worship for the Christian.
(g) It forces us to know more about God since one would like to know the person he is talking to.
(h) It’s a form of praise. We praise the giver of biological and spiritual life.
(i) It strengthens our relationship with God. Time spend communicating with someone else, especially intimately, strengthens a growing relationship.
(j) It gives us cause to rejoice. I take it that it is true that: If we pray that God do X, and God does X, then he answered our prayer. We thus rejoice in answered prayer.
(k) Here are many more ‘points’ by one of the modern-day giants of the Reformed faith, Ed Clowney :
And so I take it that I have effectively removed his assumption in  (that prayer is ‘pointless’ if God has ordained the salvation of S). Since I have shown that  is false, then Ben Kangaroo’s argument us unsound. I technically don’t have to continue on, but I will.
Next, look at . First, almost everything said in (a) - (k) is applicable here. Therefore, I have now shown  to be false. But, there are some things to say.
(l) It was pre-ordained that Christ should die. Indeed, he was “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” His death was prophesied in the Old Testament, and God cannot be shown a liar. Nevertheless, Jesus prayed for hours before he was taken by Jewish authorities.
(m) Frankly, it is blasphemous to call communion time with God a ‘waste of time.’
(n) How is developing trust, reliance, and exhibiting traits of obedience a ‘waste of time.’ All of these are present even if S was not ordained unto eternal life.
(o) God could use our prayers as a means to condemn S all the more on judgment day. Thus they wouldn’t have been a ‘waste of time.’
Though I could keep going, I’ll simply move on in this demonstration of the poor argumentation and thinking skills frequently employed by Arminians in debates like these.
Recall that I had argued that prayer was a means God uses to bring his elect in in history. This point alone serves to demolish the whole ‘meaninglessness’ argument Ben employs. But, he didn’t like my invocation of the concept of ‘means.’ Below I look at some of his objections to this fact. I will quote Mr. Roo and offer running commentary:
“But prayer really has no affect on God in Calvinism. He is going to save the elect no matter what.”
Not true. This is a straw man. Calvinists believe that God ordains the ends as well as the means. The ‘no matter what’ clause attributes Greek fatalism to biblical Calvinism. This comment can also be shown to be absurd. It was prophesied that Christ would not break any of his bones. Now, since God cannot be proven a liar, this had to come true. But, do we really want to say that: “Hitting Jesus’ legs with a sledgehammer would have no effect on his bones?” What, does Ben believe that Jesus had unbreakable bones? That’s right out of an M. Night Shyamalan movie! How about Jesus “predetermined” death? Would that happen even if no one arrested him, tried him, and crucified him? If God predestined that something happen in answer to prayer, it won't happen without prayer. Now, Benny might not agree with this, he might not like it, but disagreement and unlike aren’t normally cogent objections. It stands, however, that this is what Reformed theology teaches, despite Benny’s strawy straw man.
“He is not moved by our prayers because He has already unconditionally decreed from eternity to save “S” without reference to any prayers, so what “X” does amounts to nothing more than a show of sorts which doesn’t really accomplish anything.”
That God decreed S ‘without reference to prayer’ is your assertion, not ours. Anyone can beat up a straw man. And, how is ‘moved’ being used. Again that’s another vague and ambiguous term. I may determine a punishment for my child. I know I will not relent. But, I am still ‘moved’ by his cries. Or, perhaps Benny means ‘moved’ like one ‘moves’ a book from the shelf to the table. But, God Isn’t a physical object, so of course he can’t be moved like that. All we have here is more of Ben’s display of how to be sloppy and imprecise. Lastly, how could Benjamin possibly know that our prayer wouldn’t accomplish anything? How much would you have to know to know a proposition like that? Again, Ben’s arguments are like a puddle that all the Reformed kids can stomp through with ease. The depth of the puddle is analogous to the depth of his shallow arguments.
“Perhaps Paul is saying that God decreed from eternity that the prayers of “X” would irresistibly move God to save in time. That would seem to indicate that the believer can force God to do things, which strikes me as quite contrary to Paul’s position.”
Ben tries to act like a philosopher with all his ‘perhapses’ and faux anticipation of ‘objections’ I might offer. God may have ordained the prayer of one elect person to serve as the reason he saves another elect person, in history. Also, given (a) - (o) above, the careful reader can think of dozens of other answers. I also don’t think it can be logically shown that (granting his terms) if S ‘irresistibly moves G, then S forced G.” Seems like a non-sequitur to me. ‘Forcing’ S to * usually implies that S was made to * against S’s will. That same point isn’t necessitated by ‘irresistibly move.’ So, he’s offering nothing but a non-sequitur.
“That is not to say that God could not have decreed that “X” pray for “S” but those prayers would not really be “means” at all; just the inevitable result of God’s sovereign decree.”
So let’s apply this to an unambiguous case of decree/means—Jesus death on the cross. It was decreed that Jesus would be hung upon a cross, but does this mean that the cross was not a means of Jesus execution? And, furthermore, since ‘inevitable result’ is not contradictory to ‘means,’ then Benjamin is arguing via a false dichotomy.
“The prayers of “X” can have no real influence on God since God made the infallible decision to save “S” without any consideration for the prayers that “X” would eventually make.”
Again, this is untrue and is contradictory to what almost all Reformed theologians have said concerning the subject. Ben may not like our answers, but he can at least recognize them.
“If He had, which I don’t even think is logically possible,”
Boy, that’s a tall order, care to show the logical impossibility of God decreeing that he would save S given consideration to S*’s prayers.
“then God’s choice of election was actually based on the eventual prayers of “X” which I can’t imagine any Calvinist being comfortable affirming.”
Again, this is simply sloppy and illogical. Recall that Ben speaks above about ‘any considerations for prayer’ but then says this would mean that prayer was ‘the ground’ of his election. But again, those two are not synonymous! Why would God decreeing S’s salvation by some consideration of S*’s prayer imply that S*’s prayer was the ground of S’s election?! He moves from a vague and undefined set of ‘considerations’ to a specific concept of ‘grounding.’ This is sloppy. This is, unfortunately, all to typical of Ben (and J.C. Thibodaux’s) method of arguing. Anyone with a modicum of patience can easily dismantle their specious arguments.
Now, Ben had said,
“Let us then call on the Calvinist to define ‘means.’ "
I said that I thought this was obvious. I then gave an example: “I would think the concept fairly simple to understand. If you want your friend to give you a bite of his tasty burger, you must communicate somehow. The end is the ingesting the burger, the communication of that desire was a means.”
“This example is not analogous since there is no third party as in intercessory prayer."
But that doesn’t matter at all. The point was to define ‘means.’ A means is an agency, instrument, or method used to attain an end.
Now, after Mr. Roo gives the ‘pointless’ and ‘waste of time’ argument, he anticipates the ‘means’ answer and thus responds:
“Do “means” have reference to the process by which God accomplishes something? If it does then the Calvinist must still admit that believers contribute to the salvation of the elect by way of intercessory prayer. Their prayer is part of the means and therefore a contribution. If that is the case, then salvation is not monergistic as Calvinism defines it.”
Now recall that Ben doesn’t do the job of defining what ‘monergism’ is. Remember, the term is ‘ambiguous.’ But he throws caution to the wind and decides to carry on anyway. We can thus draw out what he takes to be the ‘inconsistency’ this way:
 Monergism states that nothing other than God contributes to someone’s salvation.
 Intercessory prayer contributes to someone’s salvation.
(To be more precise I guess we could add:  Intercessory prayer is not God. But, I hope the point is clear in my two above).
Again, I take it to have faithfully represented the thrust of Ben Kangaroo’s argument. Right off the bat, as with the others, the terms are not precise. ‘Contribute’ is pretty vague. For example:
 Tom contributed to the magazine.
 Tom does not contribute to the magazine.
Again, we can show unarticulated equivocations.
[14*] Tom contributed1 to the magazine.
[15*] Tom does not contribute2 to the magazine.
1 means: ‘give monetarily. 2 means: writes articles for. Now, I’m not saying that either sense his how he uses the term, I’m just pointing out that we’d need to get much more precise; which Ben is either unable, or unwilling to do.
Let’s move along. Let us offer a more precise definition, one Reformed theologians would agree with.
 Monergism: The view that the Holy Spirit is the only agent who effects regeneration of Christians. (Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms)
And we can easily see that  is not obviously inconsistent with  (I'm forgetting 's vagueness for the moment). We can also note some distinctions. For example, the efficient cause is not the same as the final cause—the praise of His glory. So, Ben needs an argument to the effect that ‘intercessory prayer effects the salvation of a sinner.' I don’t see how this is possible, minus straw men and mischaracterizations. By way of analogy. Say I was an artist. I could mold beautiful clay pots. Say I had a child and I told him, ‘All you have to do is ask, and I will make you the pot.’ Now, one day the child musters up the courage and asks me to make him a glazed piggy bank. I then go into my pottery shop and make the piggy bank. Ben Kangaroo’s argument would be that my son effected the making of the pot. But this is absurd. His request was a means or a reason for why I chose to effect that particular pot (and, indeed, I had always planned on making it but wouldn’t until he asked me!). Or another analogy: The mail man is 'part of the process' in the whole 'filing your income taxes process' (at least he always was 20 years ago!, I trust the point analogy stands). But, they are not the effecting cause in my (say in my case) getting a return depostied into my bank account. Same with my tax agent. They are 'part of the process.' But, they are not the effective cause of, say, what I owe. The Reformed argument has never been that there is no other thing whatever that is 'involved' or 'part of the process' in our regeneration etc. We don't even deny that there is no other cause whatever involved since we believe that faith is an instrumental cause. Ben has only succeeded to argue against a made-up version of Calvinism. That's all he's done in the past, done with me, and will continue to do.
Yum, that was tasty!
The fact of the matter is, there’s no inconsistency between the propositions Ben wants to say exist an inconsistency. Ben said, “Since monergism means ‘to work alone’ then I fail to see how this is ‘assumption.’” Indeed, I went into the shop and ‘worked alone’ (I’m working with his imprecise definitions) when making the clay pottery for my son. Furthermore, in (c) above I demonstrated that prayer was an expression of faith, and Ben says faith isn't a work! So, on his own terms, he's refuted himself...again. Actually, he’s committing a root word fallacy (Cf. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies). There’s more to the term than the root of its parts.) Unfortunately Ben and his cronies offer a lot of rhetoric and simplistic sophisms in lieu of rational, cogent argumentation. Their hatred of Calvinism causes their many errors. Running on emotion, trying to see through a blinding haze of antipathy towards the God of the Bible, the frequently run into brick wall after brick wall. In conclusion, I issue a public challenge to Ben, since the above obviously, objectively, and decisively shows that your charge of inconsistency has not (and I say cannot) be established, will you admit that what you set out to prove (via the very title of your post) has not been proved, and indeed has been outright refuted? You can at least show that you are objective and are humble enough to admit when you are wrong. Your refusal to admit this should cause all sides—both Arminians and Calvinists—to read your posts with a high degree of suspicion towards any idea that you (a) even understand your Calvinist opponent and (b) that you’re intellectually honest with the facts. And, lastly, I know you will continue to hold to your Arminian theology, but note that it’s not because of any alleged stellar reasons in favor if it. Calvinism is the position that fits best with all the data of Scripture. It even explains Arminianism, viz., man’s hatred of a truly sovereign God and his impossible law.