Sunday, March 09, 2008

Trash-talkin' Arminians

I would note in passing the irony of Arminians like Thibodeaux and Kangaroodort who profess to be horrified by discourteous discourse while they express their horror in derisive terms, of which this is but the latest specimen:

Well, since the Arminian position lacks either exegetical or logical consistency, it’s not surprising that it also lacks moral consistency.

Moving along:

“Then Hays goes at it; concerning Jeremiah 32:35…Boy, Hays really doesn't understand a fairly simple idiom, does he?…There's no reason to stretch this into some convoluted anthropomorphism…”

Boy, J.C. really doesn’t understand a fairly simple anthropomorphism, does he? To apply a distinctly human idiom (e.g. “It never entered my mind”) to God is a classic case of anthropomorphic discourse.

“So to answer Hays' hollow charges, recognizing basic expressions is not 'running away from the actual wording,' but rather taking the words in their context. Of course speaking contrary to his own logic, Hays should know that I can't 'run' from a meaning, as meanings don't have spatial coordinates. Oh, wait, that was a fairly simple expression, wasn't it?”

This is another example of J.C’s incomprehension, piggybacking on the last example. To apply a distinctly human idiom to a human being would not be a case of anthropomorphic discourse. Talking about God in human terms, and talking about humans in human terms, is not the same issue. Therefore, my usage was perfectly consistent.

“Of course not, I simply contest that Hays version of predestination is unsupported anywhere biblically,”

To say that he is “simply contesting” predestination is not a counterargument.

“And is flatly contradicted here.”

I explained in some detail why it’s not contradicted by Jer 32:35. For J.C. to merely repeat his original contention is not a counterargument.

“Which we just covered above, hence his objections on the basis of us not knowing how divine foreknowledge works are pointless.”

i) J.C’s “coverage” consisted of repetitious denials. A denial is not a disproof.

ii) And even if the first-point of my 3-point rebuttal was unsound, J.C. leaves the other two points intact.

“Hays also says a bit about foreknowledge…Hays is essentially saying, 'only what will occur is an actual possibility', which of course begs the question of determinism.”

J.C. is too dim to follow his own argument. I was answering him on his own grounds. He’s the one who said that God “knows perfectly well what will happen regardless of the possibilities.”

But if God knows the outcome, then the outcome cannot be otherwise.

This is not dependent on “determinism.” It’s about certainty rather than causality. J.C. keeps ignoring this elementary distinction.

“He uses this reasoning to make events out to be contingent on foreknowledge again.”

My argument doesn’t make events contingent on foreknowledge. I haven’t treated foreknowledge as a causal factor which secures the outcome.

Rather, if a future event is known, then it cannot be otherwise. It can’t be either A or B if it’s known to be A. That’s question of logical necessity, not causal determinism.

J.C. would do well to drop the haughty attitude if he’s going to keep committing these intellectual blunders.

[I said] The Bible grounds divine foreknowledge in God’s knowledge of his own plan for the world (e.g. Isa 46:10-11). Cf. J. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 (Eerdmans 1998), 236-37.

“Not exclusively.”

To the contrary, Isaiah’s claim moves from the general to the specific. The dependence of foreknowledge on foreordination in this instance is just a special case of a universal principle. Read Oswalt’s exegesis for the supporting argument.

“He can 'step into' time, so to speak, he isn't bound by it.”

i) That’s an assertion, not an argument. J.C. needs to present a supporting. His earlier appeal to theophanies failed, for reasons I gave. Observe his inability to offer a counterargument.

A theophany is not identical with God qua God. It conceals as well as reveals.

That’s how Scripture explains the way in which God is both visible and invisible. No man can see God and live. But a man can see a theophany and live. Moses saw a theophanic angelophany, which is distinct from seeing God qua God. Cf. Exod 33-34. A theophany subsists in time and space, but God does not.

ii) To say that God is partly temporal and partly atemporal simply combines the difficulties of both positions, for reasons I already gave. Once again, J.C. offers no counterargument.

“Which only works out if one assumes determinism as a necessity.”

J.C. keeps making the same mistakes. He should try to master the elementary distinction between causal determinism and logical necessity.

If the future is known, then it can’t be otherwise. That’s not an argument predicated on determinism. Rather, it’s an argument predicated on logic. Learn the difference.


Same intellectual confusion on his part.

“Translation: ‘What? I'm just taking his quote out of context?’ As I've pointed out before, is that God can enter time and perform actions temporally as well. In other words, He can perform things temporally, He's simply not bound by time, so it still works out even from a divine viewpoint despite Hays burying his head in the ground.”

A timeless God can *effect* things in time. This doesn’t mean that *God* is in time. Likewise, God doesn’t have to be material to effect things in space.

“Again applying temporal constraints to knowledge that transcends time.”

ii) Notice his little shellgame. When I point out the temporal constraints on knowledge, he shifts to divine atemporality. When I point out the atemporal constraints on knowledge, he shifts to divine temporality.

That’s an attempt to evade the problem rather than explain the problem.

“That God's completely omniscient? I'm perfectly entitled to make such a claim.”

Another naked assertion in lieu of an argument.

“Hays falls into his own trap of ‘usage, not etymology, determines the meaning of a word’ in taking his particular view of 'gnosis' and flatly assuming that 'prognosis' consistently carries the same connotation in 'covenant settings.' Even in covenant settings, 'yada' doesn't necessarily imply choosing, can mean cognitive knowledge as well (see Isaiah 29:24, for instance).”

Since Isa 24:29 doesn’t use yada in reference to God relationship with his covenant people, J.C’s citation is irrelevant.

“Which essentially states that it means 'forelove,' which I show evidence against in a separate article (i.e. 'prognosis' doesn't carry with it any connotations of special, relational knowledge).”

i) Murray didn’t say that proegno *means* “forelove.” Rather, he said that’s the divine motive for electing some sinners (i.e. God’s discriminating love).

ii) Anyway, we can reject the “forelove” connotation, if J.C. has a problem with that, and simply take it to mean that God chose them beforehand. That’s the basic import of the verb. And you don’t have to be a Calvinist to say that. Read the analysis of Witherington (Arminian) or Fitzmyer (Jesuit).

iii) J.C. Also disregards the relation between the two verbs, even though that’s in direct answer to his own query. In this verse, predestination is not redundant, for the verb doesn’t stand alone. Rather, Paul adds a purpose-clause to explain what the elect were chosen for: to be conformed to the image of Christ. So the Reformed reading of this verse tracks a logical progression: those whom God chose beforehand he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.

The first verb has a retrospective orientation while the second verb has a prospective orientation.

“Which I wasn't answering in that specific article. Not sure what Steve was getting at there.”

J.C. can’t remember his own argument. He was attempting to deflect the force of Welty’s arguments by referring the reader to some stuff on his website: “I deal with the usual Calvie objections to foreknowledge in the articles on my site.”

Now, however, he admits that his articles are irrelevant to Welty’s specific arguments.

"’I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love’ plainly is, despite Hays lame attempts to downplay it as such.”

J.C. blithely disregards the standard exegetical literature I cited, which establishes the meaning (and imagery) of the Hebrew terms in this verse. J.C. has all the scholarship of a backwoods snake-handler.

“Which doesn't change the fact that it portrays God drawing people by His love, my original point.”

i) Notice the bait-and-switch tactic. “Drawing” and “wooing” are not synonymous concepts. One doesn’t “woo” a person with ropes and cords—unless J.C. has a kinky notion of courtship or dating.

ii) And, as Gene pointed out, this chapter is an extended metaphor for the Exodus. God didn’t deliver his people from Egypt by “wooing” them or “wooing” the Pharaoh. If you think the ten plagues, the fiery snakes, &c. are a form of wooing, then I hate to think how J.C. would define coercion.

“Libertarian free will giving me the power to change absolutely anything I want as opposed to merely contrary choice was an actual argument? Wow, that's even sillier than it being mockery.”

Once again, J.C. is impotent to actually defend his position. Adjectives and exclamations are no substitute for arguments.


  1. School's in session for these guys. You, Bridges, and Manata are making this look as easy shooting womp rats in a T-16. Well done!

  2. "But if God knows the outcome, then the outcome cannot be otherwise."


    So, Open theistic theology. God doesn't know. Or, he could know, but He limits His all-knowing, as He limits His all-powerfulness.

    I love to read your posts. I am way below your intellect, but God helps me to glean from others who are more blessed than I.

    Thanks for all that you do. Keep on. It's for His glory, and Christ is what life is all about.