Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cheatin' Arminians

Steven Nemes has been debating some Arminians over at Classical Arminianism. To some extent it’s a repeat performance of what happened at Arminian Perspectives. When the Arminians lose the argument, they either retreat into perfunctory prooftexting, or resort to special pleading, viz. God’s knowledge of future contingents is a “brute fact.”

So, for instance, one ploy is to quote Bible verses which indicate God’s foreknowledge or counterfactual knowledge. Then claim that Nemes’ objections are unscriptural. But this is a smoke screen.

1.To begin with, Billy Birch didn’t limit himself to prooftexting in his original post. He quoted Boethius. But Boethius was a philosophical theologian.

It’s duplicitous to quote the arguments of a philosophical theologian, then when those arguments can’t survive rational scrutiny, retreat into Scripture and accuse your opponent of being too rationalistic.

Nemes was simply answering Birch on his own terms. Birch chose to frame the issue in partly philosophical terms.

2.Likewise, quoting what the Bible teaches about God’s foreknowledge or counterfactual knowledge is a red herring. Why? Because the question at issue is not whether God can be said to have foreknowledge/counterfactual knowledge on Biblical grounds, but whether God can be said to have foreknowledge/counterfactual knowledge on Arminian grounds.

Put another way, the question is not whether God can know the future (or hypotheticals), but whether God can know the future (or hypotheticals) given the Arminian’s philosophical precommitment to libertarian action theory.

Conversely, if Arminians say we should eschew philosophical objections to Arminian theology, then they forfeit the right to raise philosophical objections to Reformed theology, viz. moral responsibility is incompatible with determinism.

3.Another problem is that Arminians like Thibo, Winters, and Birch simply pay lipservice to Scripture. They rarely make a bona fide effort to exegete their prooftexts.

i) Take Winter’s repeated appeal to Jer 7:31. Needless to say, that’s a standard prooftext for open theism, not Arminian theism!

Or take Billy’s mishandling of Scripture:

ii) The Reformed interpretation of Rom 8:29 is not redundant. It begins with a programmatic statement in which the following redemptive blessings apply to all and only those whom God has chosen beforehand (where proginosko translates the Hebraic idiom for choosing, plus the temporal prefix).

Paul then states the goal of predestination. They are chosen to what end?

That's not redundant. Rather, it states both the origin of their blessings (divine choice) and the effect of divine choice (their subsequent blessings). God chose them, and, what is more, he chose them to enjoy the following benefits.

iii. 1 Sam 23:12 is beside the point:

a) Counterfactual knowledge is knowledge of what would occur, not what will occur. Counterfactual knowledge is not equivalent to foreknowledge (e.g. knowledge of the future).

b) Calvinism doesn't deny God's counterfactual knowledge. The question is what grounds his counterfactual knowledge.

iv. I'd like to see Billy cite a major commentary on Exod 3:14 which supports his philosophical gloss.

So Arminians cheat on philosophical theology, and they also cheat on exegetical theology.


  1. "So Arminians cheat on philosophical theology, and they also cheat on exegetical theology."

    And then fail the test anyways. Oops.

  2. Fed up with the bunch of them, including the entire nation of them.

    Fed up, I tell ya, fed up!

    I think my thoughts are clear on this subject.

  3. Reform...

    maybe you should go on a long fast and then come back and eat?