Thursday, November 05, 2009

Arminians on the run

It's instructive to watch Arminians who flee from the implications of their own position:

steve said...
Robert said...

“Reprobates in the calvinist system are the majority of the human race…”

Let’s see Robert actually document that allegation.

“By Hays’ own definition of love then, God cannot and does not love the reprobates.”

I don’t have to be a Calvinist to deny that God loves those he damns. Take Arminianism.

i) According to Arminianism, God foreknew the outcome if he made certain people. Yet he went ahead and made them even though he knew full well that they would spend eternity in hell. God didn’t have to make them at all. He could have spared them that hellish fate.

In that case, God never intended to save them. Indeed, God intended to damn them. That was God’s intention all along. He created them with that outcome in mind.

ii) Moreover, Robert ascribes libertarian freedom to human agents. He defines this as the freedom to do otherwise, which he cashes out in terms of alternate possibilities.

On that model, every hellbound individual has a heavenbound counterpart in another possible world. Yet Robert’s God didn’t instantiate the possible world in which the same individual freely believes in Jesus and goes to heaven when he dies. Instead, Robert’s God instantiates a world in which the individual will spend eternity in hell even though there’s a possible world (alternate possibilities, remember) in which his counterpart would have Gone to heaven had God instantiated that alternative outcome instead.

Therefore, even if we play along with Arminian assumptions, God didn’t act in the best interests of the damned. He could easily have saved them, but he didn’t. Therefore, by Robert’s logic, God hates the damned. There was never a time when Robert’s God didn’t hate the damned. When he didn’t mean them harm. Irreparable harm.

So Arminians like Robert can **talk about** the “intrinsic” value of people” and “love”, but keep in mind God’s treatment of the damned when you hear him talking about the problem of evil.

“Most people understand that coercing others to do things is infringing on them as persons.”

Aside from the fact that there’s nothing coercive about predestination, I take it that if Robert had a suicidal son pointing a gun to his head, Robert wouldn’t even try to take the gun away from him–since physical restraint is coercive. Mustn’t infringe on the personhood of his son. Instead, Robert would stand there and let his son “freely” pull the trigger out of respect to his (late) son’s autonomy. Arminian “love” is a beautiful thing, is it not?

“Now I find this interesting because in providing his definition of the meaning of love, Steve Hays unwittingly shows that the God of Calvin-ism hates most of the human race (i.e. the ‘reprobates’).”

That’s inept on two grounds:

i) It’s simple-minded to act as though love and hate are the only available attitudes.

ii) Robert hasn’t shown that, on my view, or the view of Calvinism generally, the reprobate outnumber the elect.

“First Hays admits that in Calvinism God does not love those he damns.”

True. Damnation is not a loving act. It expresses justice rather than mercy.

“I thought that everybody knew that the Arminian believes that God so loved the WORLD (which refers to a group of human persons including both those who eventually come to saving faith as well as persons who never end up as believers) that He gave His Son, Jesus for **that** World/that group of human persons?”

Except that Arminianism is incoherent, for reasons I gave. It can’t make that claim consistent with some of its other precommitments.

“According to Arminian thinking, the greatest good, the best possible thing that can happen to a human person is to have their sins forgiven, to be reconciled with God and to be in a saving and personal relationship with God in which the person freely loves, trusts and worships the one true God. According to Arminian thinking if that is the best thing that can happen to a person, then if God truly desires **that** for every person and takes actual concrete steps towards that, then God would have every human persons best interests in mind!”

But for reasons I gave, the God of Arminian theism doesn’t act in everyone’s best interests. So Arminianism can’t make good on its philanthropic claims.

“But God does something **much greater** than that, he provides Christ as an atonement for all. God cannot give you a better or greater gift than that.”

To the contrary, even the God of Arminianism can do better than to provide a largely ineffectual atonement.

“This means that the Arminian believes that God sincerely desires the salvation of all and so provides Christ as an atonement for all.”

If God foreknows that by creating Judas (to take one example), God will have to damn Judas, yet God creates him anyway, then God didn’t sincerely desire the best for Judas. I’m simply arguing from Arminian premises.

“The apostle Paul understood this point…”

Rattling off Arminian prooftexts is irrelevant unless Arminianism can integrate its prooftexts into an internally consistent belief-system.

“Where it is not true and is outright misleading and again a misrepresentation is that Hays speaks of God making people a certain way.”

That was no part of my argument. Is Robert obtuse?

“The Arminian believes that God does not make people into believers or unbelievers.”

Which dovetails with my argument.

“Instead he develops and carries out a plan of salvation that involves providing Jesus as an atonement for the World and then saving those who freely choose to trust Him for their salvation. Put another way, in the Arminian view it is not God alone making someone into a believer or unbeliever, but is God desiring for all to be saved and yet making salvation conditional upon a freely chosen trust by the individual (those who freely choose to trust will be saved; those who freely choose not to trust will not be saved).”

And God foreknows which individual will or won’t meet the conditions. Yet he populates the world with many hellbound unbelievers–although it lay within his power to spare them that fate.

“Furthermore for the non-Calvinist it is not an issue of God **overpowering the will of people** and forcing them to be saved.”

Once again, that’s irrelevant to my argument. Is Robert too slow on the uptake to follow the argument?

“Hays implies here that **whatever God foreknows he intends**”

Once again, that’s not my argument. Is Robert really that dense?

To repeat what I actually said: If God foreknows the outcome in case he does A, and if God does A, then God intended that outcome.

If God foreknew the outcome, and he was in a position to prevent the outcome, but went ahead and make a world with that foreseen outcome, then the outcome is not an unintended consequence of his action. To the contrary, he foreintended that exact result.

All this follows from Arminian premises.

“In calvinism God is only able to foreknow something because he ordained it.”

My argument wasn’t predicated on Reformed assumptions. Why is Robert unable to follow a straightforward argument from Arminian assumptions?

“Apparently Hays has forgotten some things here in this statement. First of all, again, under Arminian premises God does not make people into reprobates or hell bound persons (though that is true in calvinism).”

If he makes them with that foreknown fate in mind, then, yes, he makes hellbound persons.

“If God only allows believers to exist (in God’s design two human parents produce a human child, so if you are going to eliminate all unbelievers from ever existing then no one would have any unbelieving parents or anyone in their line who was an unbeliever, so those born of non-believing parents or biological descendants would never live; I wouldn’t be here and neither would Hays.”

So Robert is saying that God sacrifices unbelievers for the sake of believers. In that event, God is not acting in the best interests of the unbelievers. Rather, they exist for the benefit of the believers. So much for universal love!

“I agree with Plantinga that a world where there is an incarnation and an atonement is a better world than a lot of other worlds).”

That sidesteps the question of whether such a world is the most loving arrangement for all concerned.

“A world where no unbelievers are present may be the desire of atheists (they talk about ‘why didn’t’ God create a world where there is no evil . . .’) and calvinists such as Hays who want to argue against Arminians or even Universalists who ignore all the biblical evidence of the reality and consequences of unbelief”

Once more, intoning Arminian prooftexts is irrelevant to whether Arminianism has a coherent position.

“The Arminian view in contrast says that God’s plan of salvation is aimed at all, God intends for all to be saved though some will freely choose to reject God’s plan of salvation.”

If God foreknew that by creating Judas, he would also send Judas to hell, then God has no intention of saving Judas.

“’He created them with that outcome in mind.’? Again, this is strict calvinism and specifically Hays’ perverse brand.”

So, according to Robert, although God foreknew the outcome, God did not have that outcome in mind. God foreknew the outcome, yet his mind was a blank slate. Is that it? Robert’s very objections corroborate the incoherence of Arminian theology.

“Hays wants us to believe that the God of the bible does that, completely going against explicit statements in the bible that God loves all, desires the salvation of all, provides Christ for all as an atonement for all, etc.”

Quoting chapter and verse is wholly irrelevant to whether Arminianism has a consistent position. Why does Robert suffer from this persistent mental block?

“In Hays’ thinking God may **intend for people to go to hell** before they are born before they do anything or are given any opportunity to be saved, BUT THIS IS NOT ARMINIAN.”

If God foreknew that by making Judas, Judas would spend eternity in hell, then, yes, God intended that outcome, Indeed, foreintended that outcome. Does Robert imagine that God didn’t intend the consequences of his own actions?

“Wait a minute, for each world there is another counterpart world that actually exists?”

I didn’t say that, did I? To repeat what I actually said, if you define libertarian freedom as the freedom to do otherwise, and if you unpack that concept in terms of alternate possibilities, then there’s a possible world (or world-segment) that corresponds to each alternative choice. There’s a possible world in which Judas betrays Christ, and another possible world in which Judas is faithful to Christ.

That is what it means to “have done otherwise.” There’s a possible world which your counterpart exercised the other option.

“Hays is again trying to impute to me views and beliefs that I do not hold. I do not agree with Lewis that there are all these actually existing possible worlds besides the actual world that we are in.”

Irrelevant. My argument doesn’t turn on “actual” possible worlds–in the sense of concrete, spatiotemporal worlds. My argument works just as well if possible worlds are abstract objects.

But if Robert believes in the freedom to do otherwise (i.e. the principle of alternate possibilities), then there are alternate timelines in which an agent took the other fork in the road.

So, even on libertarian assumptions, God was free to create the heavenbound counterpart of Judas, rather than the hellbound Judas. And that would not infringe on the libertarian freedom of the human agent.

“I instead posit one actual world…”

But the freedom to do otherwise goes beyond actuality. It requires two or more live, hypothetical possibilities.

“In calvinism God ‘could easily have saved them’ because it is merely an exercise of his omnipotent power that saves people.”

Irrelevant. Since I’m not the one who’s positing God’s universal love, that’s not a problem for my position. It is a problem for Arminianism unless it can make good on its philanthropic claims.

“And in fact this becomes a nasty question for calvinists like Hays: if salvation is monergistic as you believe and involves God overpowering the will of the sinner and saving him, thus involving a mere exercise of God’s omnipotence, then God could easily save all people, so why doesn’t he?”

I already answered that question when Reppert asked me. Pay attention.


  1. "Damnation is not a loving act. It expresses justice rather than mercy."

    So God "hates" the reprobate? I think you're being overly simplistic.

    An analogy: I had a friend live with me for some time. I eventually had to kick him out due to some issues he had with drugs. I didn't "hate" him. On the contrary, I saw to it that he got some form of help and tried to get him into rehab. Was it cruel and hateful for me to kick him out? I simply didn't want illegal drugs in my home. There was no "hate" there, though. Certainly nothing that would make me desire to see him harmed, for goodness' sake. In fact, I desired his good (that he kicked his drug habit). Whether he did or not was up to him.

    From your vantage point, though, perhaps the more "godly" thing would to have been to kick him out but also hogtie him and run him over with my Mercedes a few times before dumping his body in a ditch somewhere?


    "So God "hates" the reprobate? I think you're being overly simplistic."

    Thanks for once again demonstrating your lamentable reading skills. Go back and read what I actually said. Notice the position that Robert imputed to ("God hates reprobates'). Notice my specific response to that accusation.

    As usual, you have no capacity to listen, because you're just spoiling for a pretext to repeat your talking points.