According to Ben:
“Arminians also see foreknowledge as prescience because that is exactly what the word means, prior knowledge.”
I see. And a female insect is exactly what “ladybug” means. (No male ladybugs!) And a pregnant organism that gives birth to pearls is exactly what “mother-of-pearl” means. And a woman who is married to a house is exactly what “housewife” means.
“Calvinists object and see God’s foreknowledge with regards to salvation as fore-loving.”
Actually, I don’t define proginosko as “forelove.” I don’t deny that God loved the elect before the foundation of the world, but that’s not how I define the Greek compound. Rather, I regard the Greek word as a Septuagintal idiom for “choosing beforehand.” And that’s the definition given in BDAG (866b-867a) for proginosko/prognosis in Acts 2:23, Rom 8:29, 11:6, 1 Pet 1:2, and 1 Pet 1:20.
“But there is more that the Calvinist objects to. The Calvinist also believes that God cannot foreknow free will decisions. That is, God can only foreknow what He has decreed to do. God foreknows what He himself will make happen. He knows His infallible plan and intentions and therefore has perfect knowledge of all that will come to pass. Therefore, God’s foreknowledge is based on His eternal decree. If this is the case then predestination comes before foreknowledge, which would seem to reverse the order given in the Bible. Foreknowledge would then be ‘according to’ predestined election instead of election being ‘according to foreknowledge’ as the Bible declares (1 Peter 1:2).”
Of course, that builds on the aforesaid semantic fallacy. But Ben is nothing if not predicable. When he’s wrong, he’s consistently wrong.
And let us remember that Peter and Paul didn’t write “foreknow.” They wrote “proginosko/prognosis.” How the Greek word ought to be rendered is the very point in dispute.
“It should also be noted that many Arminians, including Arminius himself, would not object to foreknowledge in certain passages as having reference to fore-loving. In Rom. 8:29 for instance, they would say that God ‘foreknew/loved’ believers. In other words, God does not simply foreknow the act of faith, but rather foreknows and fore-loves ‘believers’, those who have come to be in union with Christ through faith in Him.”
i) But Rom 8:29 doesn’t say that God foreknows “believers.”
ii) Moreover, Ben is equivocating over the timeframe. When did they become “actual” believers in relation to when God “foreknew” them?
“Given the way that Calvinists understand foreknowledge I am led to wonder just how God ‘fore-loves’ the elect as they claim. It makes sense in Arminianism to say that God fore-loves believers in union with Christ, but does it makes sense to say such things in light of Calvinistic pre-suppositions regarding foreknowledge? I wonder what exactly it is that God fore-loves if Calvinism is the Biblical theology? I see this as a problem for two reasons. First, if God only foreknows things because He first decrees them, then He does not fore-love actual people.”
But if, a la Arminianism, God “foreloves” believers, then God’s attitude is “prior” to their actual existence. The believers whom God foreloves weren’t real people at the “time” he “foreloved” them. And that’s the case whether you disambiguate divine eternality in timeless or everlasting terms. Rather, the Arminian God could only “forelove” future believers–who were not yet in existence.
“He only has a plan or intention of creating people to show love to. These people do not exist except in the mind of God. They are nothing more than a concept. Therefore God does not fore-love the elect prior to creation, but only plans to love some of those that He plans to create.”
It’s a loving act to conceive of people whom you will give conscious, physical existence, and bless in this life as well as the next.
“This is not the case in Arminianism because God is not bound by time and can have perfect knowledge and love of believers in union with Christ as actual people who presently exist to Him, even if they have not yet actually been created.”
i) Calvinism doesn’t have a fundamentally different view of God’s relation to time than classical Arminianism. Both traditions can view God as timelessly eternal.
ii) For the rest, Ben is merely and sheerly asserting his position to be true. Yet he hasn’t shown that his position is even coherent, much less plausible, much less correct.
“Does not his [Schreiner's] view have God electing mere ‘concepts’ in the mind of God? Sure, they may not be ‘abstract’ concepts, but they are still just concepts. They are just a plan in the mind of God and have no existence outside of God’s intentions to bring them into existence at some point in history.”
That’s a blatant misrepresentation of Schreiner’s position. Schreiner wasn’t simply contrasting divine concepts with extramental realities. Rather, he was critiquing the notion corporate election in abstraction to individual election. That God elects a corporate entity without electing the particular individuals who comprise the set.
“Second, we might ask just what exactly God loved about the ‘elect?’ In Arminianism God fore-loves believers with electing love because they are in His ‘beloved one.’ They are loved and elected in Christ as ‘believers’ in Him and for His sake. God has a special love for those who trust in and rely on Him, those who are in special relationship with Him through the reconciliation of Christ’s blood and the obedience produced by faith.”
So, according to Arminianism, God loved us because we first loved him. God loves us because we’re lovable. He loves us if we trust him. A quid pro quo.
In Calvinism, by contrast, God shows his love to elect sinners by cultivating their trust. Our trust is not a condition of his love. Rather, his love conditions our trust.
“This is not the case in Calvinism. Rather, God elects potential personal ‘concepts’ to be put into Christ without any regard to anything in them or about them at all. So just what is it that God loves about them prior to their union with Christ? It cannot be that they bear His image or because they are a special and cherished creation, because God will create far more image bearers for the sole purpose of eternal destruction.”
i) Of course, that’s a trick question. God can love the elect without loving something “about” them.
ii) God doesn’t create the reprobate for the sole purpose of eternal destruction. That’s a typical calumny which Arminians often resort to.
“His love seems arbitrary and meaningless. Why does God love one and not the other?”
The Bible doesn’t say. But if you’re going to pose a speculative question, then here’s a speculative answer: different possible persons will play different roles in a historical narrative. Consider Abraham, Pharaoh, Pilate, &c. Distinctive individuals make a distinctive contribution to the story.
“What makes them differ? Nothing, according to Calvinism, so what does God love?”
Oh, they can differ. All of them are unique individuals. But they are indistinguishable in one key respect: no sinner deserves the saving grace of God.
“It seems to me that if what Calvinism asserts is true then God’s love is very hollow. Our claim to be loved by God amounts to little more than the lucky draw of a divine lottery. It is impersonal and carries very little meaning.”
Another Arminian calumny. A lottery is randomized. Blind.
By contrast, election is intentionally specific. It deliberately singles out particular individuals.
“It is not tied into relationship with His Son.”
Of course election is tied into a relationship with Christ. Christ died for the elect. The Holy Spirit renews the elect to put their faith in Christ.
“It is hard to understand how it is even a choice since there is nothing really to choose if the supposed choice was made only in the mind and plan of God prior to creation. God did not ‘elect’ anyone. He merely planned to create some for hell and some for heaven, and this without respect to anything in them or about them. In fact there was no ‘them’ at all; just a plan or concept. Is that truly the electing love that is described in the Bible?”
i) How is that hard to understand? God can conceive of many different individuals. He can also conceive of the same individuals with different destinies. He chooses which conceivable individuals in which conceivable narratives to realize in time and space.
ii) There’s an asymmetry between election and reprobation. Election is unconditional. By contrast, sin is a necessary, but insufficient, condition of reprobation.
“So what does God love if Calvinistic predestination and election be true? At the very least I think we can conclude that the Arminian view does not de-personalize election but rather emphasizes the personal aspects of foreknowledge and election. We may further conclude that the Calvinistic conception of foreknowledge may actually serve to undermine any personal aspect of election and render God’s ‘love’ for His ‘elect’ as rather cold and empty.”
Well, that nicely summarizes the cumulative fallacies and falsehoods on which it builds.