Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hardhearted Pharaoh

I'm posting some comments I left over at Justin Taylor's blog:

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 10:40 am

“So now you have God’s common grace in conflict with his own plan of hardening. You have God fighting with his own goodness (common grace). You have a house divided against itself.”

That’s silly. Common grace isn’t uniform. Common grace serves a purpose, as does hardening. Different means to different ends, in a part/whole relation.

“All God really needed to do is withhold his common grace to work his plan (passive) in Pharaoh. No need to harden anyone – as you insist on your ‘hardening’ interpretation.”

Indeed, it would be possible to define hardening as God withdrawing any moral restraint on Pharaoh’s sinfulness and impudence, then presenting him with a suitable, external provocation. That would be perfectly consistent with Reformed theology. At the same time, we need to actually exegete the text before us.

steve hays January 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm

“Even further, he argues that this hardening or making Pharaoh stubborn in his resolve actually allowed Pharaoh to exercise his will feely since God’s actions in the plagues would have overwhelmed Pharaoh to the point that he would have let the Israelite’s go against his will. God strengthening his resolve (directly or indirectly) made it possible for Pharaoh to act in accordance with his free will despite overwhelming pressure to set the Israelite’s free.”

If you define freewill as the freedom to do otherwise, then it would be nonsensical for God to give Pharaoh the freedom to thwart God’s intentions. For on that view, God intended to give Pharaoh the freedom to thwart God’s intentions. Thus God intends to frustrate God’s intentions, which is incoherent.

The purpose of the ten plagues was to demonstrate that Yahweh was the true God, in contrast to the impotent idol-gods of Egypt. To say that Pharaoh had the freedom to scuttle God’s plan, thereby interrupting the ten plagues at any stage of the process, cuts against the grain of the narrative.

“Likewise, the hardening of the Jews in Paul’s day was indirect as well, as this hardening was the natural result of God making covenantal status based not on ancestry or works but on faith in Christ.”

How is that either indirect or a natural result of making covenantal status contingent on faith?

“For example, Paul speaks of the same hardened Jews of which Pharaoh serves as a type in Romans 11:7. Here he contrasts the elect with ‘the rest’ who were ‘hardened’. Verse 11 equates this hardening further with stumbling, but makes it clear that this stumbling isn’t necessarily permanent. Verse 15 equates it further with their rejecting Christ (most specifically, elect status through faith in Christ) and verse 17 equates this with being broken off from the elect body (the ancient olive branch built on the patriarch’s and fulfilled in Christ as the final chosen covenant head). But 11:23 says that these same hardened, Christ rejecting, broken off Jews can be grafted in again to the elect body (i.e. they go from ‘the rest’-non-elect to ‘elect’). This completely undermines the Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9 as a whole…”

i) To the contrary, the fact that it’s temporary confirms rather than undermines the Calvinist interpretation. Both belief and disbelief are the result of divine action. They disbelieve when God hardens them, and they believe when God withdrawals his hardening influence.

ii) Unless you’re a preterist, there’s no reason to think the very same group of Jews is in view throughout this historical process. Are you saying Arminians are committed to preterist eschatology? Many Arminians are premil. And they interpret Rom 11 premillennially.

iii) You’re also confounding ordinary usage about the “chosen” with technical terminology about the “election.”

“Yet it fits perfectly with the Arminian corporate election view as well…”

i) To say that God has temporarily hardened Israel, but will someday cease to harden Israel, doesn’t mean the same group is in view. “Israel” is a diachronic entity, spanning many generations.

It’s like saying the river freezes over in winter, but thaws in springtime. It’s the same river, but it’s not the same water.

ii) Calvinism also subscribes to corporate election. But Calvinism doesn’t generate a false dichotomy between individual election and corporate election–unlike Arminianism.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 5:41 am

“I’m curious; how do you see God foreknowing what it will take to get Pharoah to let God’s people go in Exodus 3:19-20″

Pharaoh’s actions are predictable because they are the result of antecedent conditions–which God put in place.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 7:05 am

“Hey Steve can you show me any antecedent conditions that are present in the text, especially in light of Exodus 3:19-20?”

Exodus comes on the heels of Genesis. A chain of historical causation, in which God makes promises, then orchestrates events to fulfill his promises.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 10:30 am

“Where is the antecedent conditions?”

i) 3:19 foreshadows 4:21. So the immediate antecedent condition of Pharaoh’s obduracy is divine hardening.

ii) But some antecedent conditions are more remote than others. God raised him up for this very purpose (Exod 9:16). So that’s contingent on a providential series of antecedent conditions.

iii) BTW, the fact that God knows a priori how Pharaoh will act means the outcome can’t go either way.

iv) Even “accidents” (e.g. manslaughter) have a providential underpinning (e.g. Exod 21:13).

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 5:44 am

“This is fine, but Calvinists often use ‘hardening’ to describe the state of the non-elect. The Wesleyan would say the same above this way… They disbelieve because of their nature, and when God grants his prevenient grace they are able to believe. You have God hardening the already hardened.”

We’re not discussing the function of hardening in general, but how it functions in the Exodus account.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 11:29 am

“Where are you specifically drawing this from those two texts?”

i) Foreshadowing is a common narrative technique in the Pentateuch.

ii) They share a common linking motif.

iii) There’s nothing uniquely Calvinistic about the intertextual connection I drew. Arminian OT scholar Douglas Stuart draws the same intertextual connection in his commentary on Exodus (p126).

“Where do you get this from?”

If the outcome could go either way, then it can’t be foreknown. For if it could go either way, then there is no one particular outcome to be known in advance of whatever possible outcome actually eventuates.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 6:25 pm

“Why can’t God foreknow several different ways something might play out?”

You’re committing a modal fallacy by confounding foreknowledge with counterfactual knowledge. Foreknowledge has reference to what will happen, not what might have happened. Only one outcome will eventuate.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 7:44 am

“Brother, that is true if you assume that foreknowledge=foreordain.”

You’re confused. There’s nothing uniquely Calvinistic about my definition. By definition, foreknowledge takes the actual future as its object. And there can only be one actual future. That’s standard usage.

By definition, counterfactual knowledge takes an alternate future as its object. In principle, there can be more than one alternate future (although that turns on your metaphysical commitments). That’s standard usage. You need to master basic terms and concepts.

My distinction isn’t a uniquely Calvinistic distinction. Freewill theism (e.g. Arminianism, Molinism, Ockhamism, open theism) also draws this distinction.

“Question, Can God foreknow something including several outcomes to that situation, yet not necessarily foreordain it to happen?”

Your question suffers from the conceptual and semantic confusions I noted above.

God knows the future because God predestines the future.

God also knows what might have happened had he predestined a different outcome.

steve hays January 8, 2012 at 9:13 am

i) My argument wasn’t fundamentally temporal. Rather, if the future is indeterminate, then there is no particular object of knowledge until the event eventuates. Prior to that concretization, you have a set of abstract forking paths. It’s a fundamentally abstract/concrete distinction. Between the possible and the actual.

ii) Foreknowledge isn’t counterfactual knowledge. Foreknowledge isn’t God’s knowledge of what happens in possible worlds, but what will happen in the actual world.

iii) Temporal necessity is hardly unrelated to the logical and/or theological fatalism or metaphysical necessity. Standard formulations of the foreknowledge dilemma invoke the accidental necessity of the past.

And if we substitute God’s timeless knowledge of the future, then that, if anything, introduces an even stronger principle. If past beliefs are unalterable, so are timeless beliefs–for a timeless state is, by definition, immutable. The transfer of necessity goes through on either formulation.

steve hays January 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm
I’ve responded to Abasciano here:

steve hays January 7, 2012 at 11:02 am

“That’s the wrong book. I referenced his second book which has 66 pages focused specifically on the hardening of Pharoah’s heart. Maybe you should have read my post more carefully and followed the link.”

i) I didn’t say I was responding to his second book. Maybe you should have read my comment more carefully.

ii) In addition, his first book (his published dissertation) is programmatic for the second. So interacting with his dissertation is still germane to the second book.

iii) Finally, you didn’t confine yourself to his second book. You directed readings to his other writings as well: “…yet it fits perfectly with the Arminian corporate election view as well as the view of hardening so well expressed in Abasciano’s books and other writings (all of Abasciano’s works on corporate election minus his newest book can be found at The Society of Evangelical Arminians’ Web-site).”

Therefore, it’s duplicitous for you to artificially restrict the discussion to his second book when you yourself cast a wider net. Maybe you should have read your own post more carefully.

steve hays January 9, 2012 at 10:06 am
B. P. Burnett

“Now as to your point (i), that’s certainly correct on a PERCEPTUALIST view of foreknowledge, wherein God perceives the future by looking down the corridor of time and literally perceiving what happens. The perceptualist view coupled with the standard A-theory of time (where the future does not yet exist) certainly causes problems with future contingents.”

Libertarians typically affirm the A-theory of time.

“However I would like to say that a consistent believer in libertarianism should not defend the PERCEPTUALIST view of divine cognition but rather the CONCEPTUALIST view. In this view, God is a like a mind with a vast horde of innate propositional truths.”

A conceptualist view of foreknowledge doesn’t select for libertarianism rather than determinism. In the Augustinian tradition, you could say God knows the future because God knows which exemplary ideas (or possible worlds, or complete concepts) he will instantiate. That would be consistent with determinism. God would be the ultimate source of the exemplary ideas or possible worlds. His attributes (e.g. omnipotence) would constitute the gallery of possible worlds.

“Now God, being omniscient, ‘knows only and all truths.’ On this view then, God must also know the truth-value of future-tense propositional truths. So it is easy on the conceptualist view of divine cognition how God may know the truth value of propositions such as: ‘x will freely do A at t’ which is perfectly consistent with contingency or free will.”

i) That fails to explain how God’s omniscience is grounded, per libertarianism.

ii) Knowing what x will do in a possible world isn’t equivalent to knowing what x will do in the actually world. There’s a disguised modal shift in your argument.

“And since knowledge stands in no causal relation to its object, the knowledge of God cannot be said to cause the action, and thus it remains free despite God’s knowing its truth-value.”

The foreknowledge dilemma isn’t based on a causal relation between foreknowledge and the future. So your distinction is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

“As for you point (ii), I am not positing counter-factual knowledge, I am positing the fact that according to the nature of logic and the definition of free will given (‘At any given time t, x can do either A or B but not both, if and only if A or B are logically possible’), there exists a possible circumstance, logically and according to the rules of exclusive disjunction, wherein any action whatsoever could be different than it in fact (temporally certainly) will be. For any action to be logically necessary, there has to be NO possible circumstance where A could be done over B or vice-versa. Now by definition, determinism gives you this necessitation, but according to its own definition, free will does not.”

i) Some libertarians define libertarian freedom in terms of ultimate sourcehood rather than alternate possibilities.

ii) Be that as it may, determinism is consistent with possible worlds or alternate possibilities. After all, a determinate outcome is “conditionally” necessary. If certain sufficient antecedent conditions are met, then that will yield a certain subsequent result. If other conditions were in place, you’d have a different–equally determinate–outcome.

iii) The real issue is who has access to alternate possibilities? God or man? Does a human agent in the actual world have access to possible worlds? Or does he only have access to the actual world?

“Finally, point (iii) I believe is simply false. The distinction between different kinds of necessity is essential for fair and honest inquiry into the nature of movement and being.”

That’s not the issue. The issue is whether temporal factors (e.g. accidental necessity of the past) figure in the foreknowledge dilemma.

steve hays January 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm
Here are two reviews of Abasciano which discuss his flawed methodology:

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 9:02 am
i) Keep in mind that I did a lengthy post interacting with Abasciano. So the ball is now in Wayman’s court.

ii) If Abasciano’s monograph is a challenge to Calvinism, it also poses a challenge to conventional Arminianism. For instance, he’s influenced by the New Perspective on Paul. That runs counter to classical Arminianism. He also espouses a preterist reading of Rom 11. That runs counter to many contemporary Arminians, who are Dispensational or at least premillennial.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 9:18 am

“Keep in mind that Hays review was not included in the 8 that I have spoken of. These reviews came from the US, Canada, England and Germany. Hays was not included because it is not scholarly.”

Another example of Wayman’s well-poisoning tactics. He tries to preemptively discredit what I wrote.

It’s not as if Wayman’s own comments are scholarly. But he has one standard for his fellow Arminians, and another standard for his Reformed opponents.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

“Hoisted on your petard I see.”

An assertion minus an argument.

“Hays review is not even considered because it is not scholarly. It has nothing to do with Hays or his theology.”

I didn’t publish a review, I posed a critique.

“Try as he might, he hasn’t completed a PhD and wouldn’t even have a chance to sit on a dissertation committee (on a credible university) for work of the same nature as Dr. Abasciano.”

i) I haven’t tried to complete a PhD.

ii) Wayman doesn’t have a PhD in philosophy, theology, or Bible studies. Yet that doesn’t prevent him from spouting his theological opinions all over the Internet.

iii) At one stroke Wayman has discredited the work of Arminian bloggers who don’t have PhD’s, viz. Dan Chapa, Ben Henshaw, Josh Thibodaux, Brennon Hartshorne, Billy Birch, Skarlet.

Do you have to have PhD to have your stuff posted at the Society of Arminian Evangelicals? No.

iv) Wayman’s dismissal is blatantly disingenuous. Many Calvinists have PhDs in philosophy, theology, and or Bible studies.

One wonders if Wayman is that unscrupulous in the way he treats his patients.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 11:08 am
Wayman’s tactic is self-defeating. It was fellow Arminian Ben Henshaw who recommended to Abasciano’s monograph to Justin Taylor’s readers. If, however, you’re not qualified to evaluate Abasciano’s argument unless you have a doctorate in Bible studies, then most Arminians as well as most Calvinists should discount Abasciano’s Arminian interpretation. According to Wayman, we’re in no position to assess his arguments one way or the other.

steve hays January 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm
Kevin Jackson

“It’s best to interpret Pharaoh hard heart as result of his own self-initiated actions. God’s actions came about as a punishment and consequence for Pharaoh’s actions, and were not primary.”
No, it’s best to interpret Pharaoh’s hard heart as the fulfillment of God’s declared intentions in 4:21 & 7:3. Those verses are programmatic for understanding what follows. They clue the reader into what lies behind the outcome. Pharaoh’s hard heart is the result of God’s premeditated action, which he reveals to the Moses (and the reader) ahead of time.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 5:53 am

“Why would God need to ‘harden’ a WILL in bondage? Was God afraid Pharaoh might make the right choice? Why is ‘Efficient Cause’ ok for the Calvinist to use as an argument for Adam’s willful sin, yet for Pharaoh, with an already depraved and corrupted nature, that cannot do otherwise, requires God’s intervention?”

i) The question at issue is not, in the first instance, a theological question about Calvinism, but an exegetical question about the meaning of God’s action and Pharaoh’s reaction in Exodus. That may feed into Reformed theology, but that’s not where we start.

ii) Even in reference to Calvinism, your question is confused. Total depravity doesn’t prevent a sinner from choosing between one thing or another. For instance, he can choose between alternate evils. Rather, total depravity results in spiritual inability: the unregenerate are unable to do any spiritual good. That’s the doctrine.

iii) Put another way, it’s not the noetic effects of sin that prevent a sinner from doing otherwise, but predestination.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 11:04 am

“It is clear from both scripture and our own daily experience that we often have free will (i.e. we have and then make a choice from among available and accessible alternative possibilities and this choice is up to us).”

To the contrary, the experience of choosing is entirely consistent with predestination or determinism. Let’s quote a couple of philosophers on the subject:

Before going into arguments for determinism, it is necessary to remove some misconceptions about the determinist position. To begin with, it must be emphasized most strongly that determinists do not deny that people make choices. If they did deny this, their position would be absurd, but the fact is they do not. Furthermore, the experience of choosing–of seeking alternatives, weighing their desirability and finally making up one’s mind–is not any different whether one is a libertarian or a determinist. For while determinists believe that there are sufficient conditions which will govern their choices, they do not know at the time when they are making a decision what those determinates are or how they will decide as a result of them. So, like everyone else, they simply have to make up their own minds! The difference between libertarian and determinist likes in the interpretation of the experience of choice, and not in the experience itself.

William Hasker, Metaphysics: Constructing a World View (Downers Grove; IVP, 1983), 37.

The first reason is that when we are making a choice our faces are always turned toward the future, toward the consequences that one act or the other will bring us, never toward the past with its possible sources of constraint. Hence these sources are not noticed. Hence we remain unaware that we are under constraint at all. Hence we feel free from such constraint. The case is almost as simple as that. When you consider buying a new typewriter your thought is fixed on the pleasure and advantage you would gain from it, or the drain it would make on your budget. You are not delving into the causes that led to your taking pleasure in the prospect of owning a typewriter or to your having a complex about expenditure. You are too much preoccupied with the ends to which the choice would be a means to give any attention to the causes of which your choice may be an effect. But that is no reason for thinking that if you did preoccupy yourself with these causes you would not find them at work. You may remember that Sir Francis Galton was so much impressed with this possibility that for some time he kept account in a notebook of the occasions on which he made important choices with a full measure of this feeling of freedom; then shortly after each choice he turned his eye backward in search of constraints that might have been acting on him stealthily. He found it so easy to bring such constraining factors to light that he surrendered to the determinist view (p21).

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 11:20 am

“Likewise a few exceptions where God interferes with free will does not prove the non-existence of free will. Exceptions do not disprove the rules or mean that certain realities do not exist.”

i) Predestination doesn’t “interfere” with the human will.

ii) Robert hasn’t begun to show that these are “exceptional.” Rather, we have various cases in Scripture where a Bible writer pulls back the curtain to reveal what is always going on behind-the-scenes.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 6:39 pm
drwayman January 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm
Robert – Hays wrote, “Rather, we have various cases in Scripture where a Bible writer pulls back the curtain to reveal what is always going on behind-the-scenes.”
I think that is a rather interesting use of words by a man who always is trying to deny your puppet maker analogy. It seems like we have free will and our choices are up to us, but in reality if you pull back the curtains on this divine puppet show as Hays suggests you would then see how God is pulling all the strings?
Hays makes plain what you and many other people have been claiming about consistent calvinism for a long, long time: namely if true, then we are puppets of a divine puppet master and free will is an illusion. We make the choices the divine puppet master controls us to make, we just never ever have any choices.


Here are some biblical passages in which God is directing events from behind the scenes. According to Wayman, that makes us puppets in the hands of the divine puppet master:

Joshua 11:20

20 For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses.

Judges 9:23

23 And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech.

Judges 14:4

4 His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.

1 Samuel 2:25

25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death.

2 Samuel 17:14

14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the LORD had ordained[a] to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom.

1 Kings 12:15

15 So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

2 Kings 19:5-7

5 When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. 7 Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.’”

2 Chronicles 25:20

20 But Amaziah would not listen, for it was of God, in order that he might give them into the hand of their enemies, because they had sought the gods of Edom.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 8:00 am

You need to learn how to follow an argument. I originally said “We have various cases in Scripture where a Bible writer pulls back the curtain to reveal what is always going on behind-the-scenes.”

Wayman, who’s an Arminian commenter, replied by alleged that my statement amounted to a divine puppet show.

I then replied quoting a number of Bible passages in which God is directing events from behind the scenes. According to Wayman’s logic, that would make God a puppet master.

I was responding to Wayman on his own terms. That’s how he chose to frame the issue. I was using his framework for the sake of argument. Capiche?

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 8:12 am

“You are lifting these verses out of context with a spin. These texts can be understood in a way that does not make God out to be a liar…To say that God tells someone to make a treaty with him, then yanks any ability from them to do so, and even goes so far as to ‘determine them’ to never accept the treaty is a God that is playing with people by lying to them. There would be no need to make an offer – just judge them and be done it.”

You are beginning with your extrascriptural Arminian assumptions regarding what you deem to be a necessary precondition of moral responsibility, then imposing that extraneous assumption on the text. That’s not something you can find in the passages I quoted. Rather, these passages present a cause/effect relation wherein the human action is the effect of prior divine agency. Something we don’t normally observe unless a Bible writer pulls back the curtain and shows us.

In Josh 11:20, they were set up for the fall by divine action. The outcome was a foregone conclusion. Like it or not, that’s right there in the text.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 6:47 pm

“I think that is a rather interesting use of words by a man who always is trying to deny your puppet maker analogy. It seems like we have free will and our choices are up to us, but in reality if you pull back the curtains on this divine puppet show as Hays suggests you would then see how God is pulling all the strings? Hays makes plain what you and many other people have been claiming about consistent calvinism for a long, long time: namely if true, then we are puppets of a divine puppet master and free will is an illusion. We make the choices the divine puppet master controls us to make, we just never ever have any choices.”

In the interests of ecumenical comity, I’ll meet you half way: Arminians like Robert and Wayman are puppets in God’s Punch & Judy show. They imagine that they have libertarian freewill, but that’s because God is pulling their strings to make them bobble up, down, and sideways as if they had the freedom to do otherwise. By contrast, Calvinists are in the audience, watching God manipulate his Arminian marionettes.

Happy now?

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 9:13 am
Wayman is resorting to the rhetorical strategy of well-poisoning. He spends 7 paragraphs attempting to prejudice the reader against what I wrote without even once offering a single counterargument to what I wrote. Wayman is arguing in bad faith. That’s because he doesn’t have a good argument at his disposal.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 6:02 am

i) Like any theological construct (e.g. the Trinity), absolute predestination or meticulous providence is based on cumulative lines of evidence, not a single prooftext. But each prooftext contributes something to the doctrine.

ii) In addition, if freewill theism rejects certain *types* of divine agency *in principle*, then it only takes one counterexample to disprove it. Why are the Arminian commenters laboring to show that Pharaoh had libertarian freewill? Evidently, they think it would be damaging to Arminian theology to concede even one instance of God “violating” man’s freedom of choice. It threatens a core principle of freewill theism.

steve hays January 5, 2012 at 10:32 am
So Robert quotes the canonical Book of Tozer.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 7:36 am

i) There’s a difference between quoting someone’s opinion and quoting someone’s argument. Robert’s quote is an illicit appeal to authority. He simply quotes Tozer making a bare assertion, as if Tozer’s mere opinion is sufficient to settle the issue. Notice that in the quote, Tozer doesn’t argue for his claim.

ii) It also has no bearing on the interpretation of the Exodus passages.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 8:24 am

“Foreknowing does not always show predetermination by God.”

A red herring. Show how your statement is responsive to what I actually said.

“For certain these things will happen, but not out of necessity (determinism), but because God sees (certainty) a free choice. God can work his plan synchronically with human contrary choice to fulfill his purposes.”

You’re assuming what you need to prove. Where’s the argument?

“Antecedents ‘may’ (but not always) show causation but the effect is free.”

That’s another tendentious assertion bereft of any supporting argument.

“Absolutely. God’s omniscience is not faulty. God only knows the reality of the will (contrary choice).”

Since a “contrary choice” is open-ended, God can’t know which way it will turn out ahead of time. For, on libertarian assumptions, there’s more than one outcome in play until the coin stops spinning (as it were).

“Again, antecedents are causes that weigh on the will, but does not determine the will; the will is still free.”

Stipulating the truth of your position doesn’t make it true.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm

“You are limiting your logic – as if God is not omniscient.”

If freewill theism is true, then God is not omniscient.

“God is timeless and functions both in and out of time, and can see that contrary choice, and even foretell it, and it will most certainly happen.”

i) That’s an assertion, not an argument. You keep begging the question.

ii) Even libertarian philosophers appreciate the inadequacies of the Boethian solution.

iii) Invoking divine timelessness won’t solve the problem. The problem is essentially metaphysical, not epistemological. If the outcome is indeterminate, then there is no outcome to be known in advance.

“You are confusing Molinism and Open Theism (that I reject) with what you think I am saying.”

That accusation isn’t self-explanatory.

“Did God know Adam’s free choice or did God have to wait for his will to ‘stop spinning’? Or did God control (determine) Adam to sin?”

God foreknew the Fall because he predestined the Fall.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm

“These are the kinds of statements that go nowhere. This, my friend, is just silly and insulting to all who understand free will and an Omniscient God.”

Many philosophical theologians, including freewill theists, are acutely aware of the difficulties in squaring divine foreknowledge with human libertarian freedom.

“Your statement here has no support yet you require it of others???”

You show no awareness of the voluminous literature on the subject.

“Could God actually see Adam’s fall before it actually happened?”
Or does God only play out his decree by antecedent causes to get his desired effect?”

God instantiates his timeless idea of Adam’s fall.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm

“This did not answer the first part of the question.”

Your first question is ambiguous because you talk about God “actually seeing,” but that’s pretty anthropomorphic. So you need to translate the anthropomorphism into a literal proposition in order to know what you’re asking.

“You show no awareness of the voluminous literature on the subject where philosophical theologians have squared divine exhaustive foreknowledge with freewill.”

Maybe you think that’s cute, but it’s evasive. You made a sweeping statement about “all who understand free will and an Omniscient God.”

That’s demonstrably false. And it’s no counter for you to allude to some philosophical theologians who thought they resolved the conundrum, for that falls well short of your initial claim.

The other problem is that Justin’s blog has a spam filter. In principle, I could give you links that substantiate my statement, but in my experience, multiple links get caught in the spam filter. At best I might try one link per comment and see if that works.

Keep in mind that it wasn’t incumbent on my to defend my statement, for you simply asked me to answer a question. So I was responsive to what you asked, the way you asked it.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm

“This is old stuff for me and the Stanford site is good, and have been there before.”

“Old stuff” because it’s never been resolved. Just because it’s an old problem doesn’t make the problem go away. The fact that you’ve been there before is irrelevant.

“You seem to miss what people say to you.”

The more you talk, the more you show how little you grasp the issues.

“Your statement is not one that sees tension between freewill and omniscience, but one of impossibility.”

“Tension” is a euphemism for contradiction.

“My point is not that there are struggles and questions to answer about all these approaches…”

More euphemisms.

“…but that there are those who have reasoned through this logically and have resolved it with themselves.”

i) What they’ve done is to experiment with a variety of ingenuous strategies to get around the problem. But nothing quite works. Indeed, it’s like bubble wrap. Smooth out one bubble and that creates a new bubble. You’re just moving the bubbles around.

ii) And that’s not just my opinion. The material I linked to reviews the proposed solutions, and discusses the weaknesses of each.

“IOW, an Arminian, much to your surprise, can believe in exhaustive foreknowledge and God’s omniscience.”

A red herring. The question at issue is not Arminian psychology but logical and ontological coherence. Yes, Arminians can believe in mutually contradictory propositions.

“I could say the same about capitalism and the tension it has with foreknowledge – and truth – Again not the point.”

“Capitalism” Did you mean compatibilism?

There’s no tension in the thesis that God knows the future because God predestines the future. That’s quite straightforward.

“I believe that God is timeless and his exhaustive foreknowledge and can see the ‘reality’ (God can see everything from the beginning to the end) including free
choices (truths).”

Declaring your belief is not an argument. That doesn’t give us a compelling reason to share your belief. You sound like a Mormon missionary.

“When Adam sinned, did God know this truth before it was true?”

The way you frame the question is scarcely coherent.

For instance, the proposition that “Adam will sin” can be true before Adam sins. It’s a matter of how to express tensed positions.

“If so, was this truth foreseen or was it just believed? If it was just believed then God can’t foreknow as a ‘reality’ but only in what God believes. Both views have tension.”

You’re confusing an event with a true proposition about an event. An event qua event isn’t true or false. Rather, predications about an event are true or false, viz. A blue sky isn’t true or false. But to think or say “the sky is blue” is true or false.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm

“This, my friend, is just silly and insulting to all who understand free will and an Omniscient God.”

Here’s a counterexample to your assertion:

Here’s another counterexample to your claim:

Here’s another counterexample to your claim:

Here’s another counterexample to your claim:

Likewise, this contains many articles documenting the unresolved difficulties in formulating a satisfactory harmonization between divine foreknowledge and human libertarian freedom:

So, no, you can’t treat your position is a given. And I’m not citing any Calvinists to make my point.

steve hays January 8, 2012 at 8:51 am

“As to my beliefs as being stated and not defended (that are) is a red herring.”

Hardly. You came onto a Calvinist blog to challenge Justin’s interpretation of Scripture. You thereby assume a burden of proof. Merely telling us what Arminians believe is not a credible challenge to Justin’s interpretation. A Scientologist could come onto Justin’s blog and assert the truth of Scientology. But that doesn’t move the ball.

“We do not have time in a blog to give defense for every single belief, and you know it, and you do the same.”

You can’t plausibly challenge Justin’s post by expecting Calvinists to grant your Arminian assumptions. That’s a nonstarter.

“As for timelessness of God, and his omniscience, and you stating an Arminian can’t believe God is omniscient – is the struggle you have. Let me turn around and show your problem with believing in free will and God being a Holy God. Is it fair to say your construct of God makes him morally corrupt, therefore your God is not Holy?”

There’s a basic asymmetry between your argument and mine. I’ve been arguing from Scripture. As long as Scripture is authoritative and my interpretations are sound, that’s all I need to establish my position.

Even if (arguendo) there were apparent “tensions” in Scripture (e.g. between predestination and human culpability), I don’t need to resolve a Scriptural tension. I have a standing obligation to believe whatever God tells me in his word. (I’m not conceding that such a tension exists.)

By contrast, your point of tension is not within Scripture, but between a Scriptural proposition regarding God’s foreknowledge and your extrascriptural assumptions regarding the necessary preconditions for moral responsibility.

That involves a different burden of proof. For your theory of libertarian freedom as a precondition of moral responsibility can’t fall back on Biblical authority. Rather, that’s a philosophical construct based on intuition. Fuzzy, culturally-conditioned intuitions.

“Compatibilism has its own tension dealing with foreknowledge, omniscience and free will (its version).”

Compatibilism isn’t a theory of foreknowledge. Rather, it’s a theory of how moral responsibility (especially blame) is consistent with determinism or predeterminism.

“The only reason God knows the future is not based on his omniscience…”

That’s circular: God’s knowledge is based on God’s knowledge. That has zero explanatory value.

“…but on his decree (determinism). Not too many people would call an Architect omniscient because he drew up the plans for a building and made each worker follow it to a tee.”

i) You’re oscillating between omniscience and foreknowledge, but they’re not interchangeable.

ii) Suppose I foreknow my own actions. I know that I will be in Seattle tomorrow. How do I know that? Not by “seeing” the future. Rather, I know where I will be tomorrow because I plan to be there tomorrow and I plan to drive there tomorrow.

Of course, being human, I could be mistaken, but if we apply this analogy to God we can easily make the necessary adjustments.

God knows the future because God plans the future and God implements his plan. Where’s the “tension” in that model of foreknowledge?

“The idea that compatibilists think that man is ‘free’ to do what his nature will allow him to do, couple with God setting up antecedent causes (causal determination) that steers the will to only do what God decrees, has its own set of difficulties that many philosophical theologians acknowledge, or do you not know what they are – even for a Calvinist?”

i) That’s a very inadequate description of compatibilism, but it any case, even if that’s a difficulty, it’s not a difficulty for divine foreknowledge.

ii) Moreover, I don’t have to defend a particular version of action theory to justifiably be a Calvinist. You’ve shifted the discussion from exegesis to philosophy. You’ve recast the discussion as a debate over the merits of compatibilism, causal determinism, &c.

Now, we could get into that, but I don’t have to go there. This is first and foremost a debate about Biblical categories like predestination, hardening, and God’s providence, rather than philosophical categories. Sometimes philosophical categories can help unpack biblical categories, but philosophical categories aren’t the starting point. We begin with divine revelation. The witness of Scripture. That’s normative.

“First of all this makes God the author of sin and the ‘enforcer’ of evil acts (causal determination) that were planned out by God before time and eternity.”

i) I don’t have to defend the consequences of what the Bible teaches. It’s my epistemic duty to believe whatever God reveals.

We could debate theodicy, and it’s not as if I haven’t done that elsewhere, but that’s a distraction.

ii) There’s no reason I should allow a prejudicial and extrascriptural label like “author of sin” (which you don’t bother to define) to intimidate my theology. That’s not the proper starting point for Christian theology. You sound like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens.

“God decreed for Adam to sin and subsequently every evil act for his good purpose.”


“Not too many Architects would get away with building a flawed structure by pointing the finger at the worker who followed his plans.”

That’s not a design flaw. Just the opposite. Rather, that’s a means-ends relation for generating second-order goods.

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm
I didn’t take a position about antecedent conditions generally, but about divine antecedent conditions like predestination or hardening that are, indeed, “100% predictors of human behavior”

steve hays January 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm

“Your critique is just that, a critique.”

Which means it rises or falls on the merits.

“Anyone with access to the internet can perform a critique.”

Like Arminian bloggers.

“Your critique would definitely carry more weight if it was done in a scholarly manner thru the backing of a credible academic institution and you had a PhD.”

It doesn’t need to “carry weight.” That’s an illicit appeal to authority.

Since you can’t argue for your position, you resort to gimmicks.

“Since you researched Dr. Abasciano’s research, you know that he had a Calvinist on his dissertation committee. So, a Calvinist signed off on his work which means that it has credible interest to not only Arminians and other christians but to Calvinists as well.”

That’s a inane statement. You think the examiner must personally agree with the thesis to give the doctoral candidate a passing grade on the dissertation? That’s demonstrably false.

“That’s just more obfuscation.”

You’re the one who’s resorting to transparent evasive maneuvers in this thread.

You indicated that if divine agency stands behind human actions, then that’s a puppet show. Well, I called your bluff. I quoted a number of Scriptures that attribute human action to God’s prior, invisible action. What they did was the result of what God did, behind the scenes.

That’s not ordinarily observable. Not something we can perceive. Rather, a Bible writershas to “pull back the curtain” to reveal that hidden dynamic which yielded that outcome.

You haven’t begun to disprove my argument. What you’ve done, instead, is to deploy some diversionary tactics to cover your retreat.

That’s fine with me. That’s a backdoor admission that your position is indefensible. Since you can’t defend it, you throw decoys over the back of the sled to deflect attention away from your failure.

For a professional psychologist, you’re ironically blind to your own confirmation bias.

steve hays January 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm

But Hays wants to seize on the only negative aspect of the reviews…But Hays needs to do something to discredit the book…”

Always nice to see Arminian paranoia at full tilt. If I was nefariously laboring to conceal the truth, I wouldn’t hyperlink to the full text reviews. But Ben’s suspicious fantasy is far more entertaining than the dull truth, so I don’t wish to spoil his creative backstory by harping on the dry old facts.

“And of course, just because a methodology is at first questioned some by other scholars doesn’t mean it is flawed or inaccurate.”

Methodological flaws aren’t incidental. In the nature of the case, a methodological error introduces a systematic error into the analysis.

“Most things in scholarship are initially questioned to some degree rather than accepted wholesale, but very often those things come to be widely accepted over time.”

It’s at least as common for academic fads to wax and wane.

“But Hays doesn’t seem to care about being objective or fair.”

It’s funny how Arminians like Ben lack any capacity for self-criticism. Ever notice how those who are blind to their own glaring bias are quick to accuse others of lacking objectivity.

“Instead, he seems to only be concerned with discrediting the work since Abasciano is a first rate NT scholar and his work questions long held Calvinist interpretations of Romans (which largely ignore the way Paul uses the OT in the chapter, for obvious reasons).”

i) Abasciano’s work also questions long-held Arminian interpretations of Romans.

ii) What about first-rate Reformed NT scholars? See how disingenuous Ben is? But, hey, he’s “objective and fair.”

“Further, I would personally question how much Hays has read of the book himself despite writing a ‘review’.”

i) It’s a very insecure existence to be looking over your shoulder all the time. I hope Ben has enough padlocks on his door.

ii) Notice how he puts “review” in quotation marks, as if he was quoting my own designation. But it was Wayman, not me, who used that designation.

“If Hays did indeed read the book, one wonders how he could make inaccurate statements about the work, like saying Abasciano essentially holds to NPP with regards to his view of justification. But that is not the case. It is a conclusion based on cherry picking passages without reading them in context or reading the work as a whole. But Abasciano does not deny the traditional view of justification; rather, he upholds it.”

Abasciano admits that his analysis is influenced by NPP. Abasciano admits that he’s presenting an alternative to the traditional Arminian interpretation.

“But maybe Hays just hopes you won’t read those either.”

Is there something about Arminian piety that fosters this persecution-complex?

“I hope to reply to this sometime next week.”

Well, according to Wayman, Ben should probably wait until he has a doctorate from credible institution of higher education.

steve hays January 10, 2012 at 8:19 am

“Likewise, it is always nice to see Calvinist paranoia at full tilt, like when you wrote, ‘The Society of Evangelical Arminians has been plugging Abasciano’s work on Rom 9, ever-eager to find a new club to whack Calvinism…’”

Explain how that statement is paranoid? You think SEA isn’t plugging his work to whack Calvinism? Unless my statement is factually false, how is it paranoid?

“That would be true if the methodology were flawed, but the reviews do not say that; you do…And what is the nature of his flawed methodology anyway? Please explain so I know we are on the same page here.”

Moyise says, “The longest chapter (45–146) is likely to confirm the suspicions of those who are critical of an intertextual approach…If it “meets every test” yet does not contain a single word in common or structural parallel, something has surely gone awry with the tests.”

Yet the intertextual approach is fundamental to Abasciano’s method.

Likewise, Gillespie says, “It is interesting that the author concedes that ‘such a method could lead to all sorts of ingenious suggestions that are nevertheless far from Paul’s intention and thus hinder the cause of exegesis’ (234). Readers will judge whether this study itself has advanced or hindered understanding of Paul’s use of Scripture in Rom 9:1–9. For this reviewer the answer is both…My impression is that on this point the biblical ‘echo’ was so loud that the voice of Paul was lost.”

I’d say a method that hinders the cause of exegesis is flawed. And I could cite other similar criticisms from the reviews.

“Furthermore, if those reviewers thought his methodology was flawed then they wouldn’t have made so many positive comments on the work…”

A hit-n-miss method can yield some valid insights.

“If so, you had better hope this is one such example. I tend to think otherwise.”

Why should I hope that’s the case? It’s not as if an intertextual approach selects for Arminianism rather than Calvinism.

“And you don’t see me bothered by that do you, though you seem to think I should be and this should be some sort major concern.”

Because you arbitrarily act as though questioning long-held Calvinist interpretations of Romans poses a threat to Calvinism, but questioning long-held Arminian interpretations of Romans doesn’t pose a threat to Arminianism. Just another example of your special pleading.

“Right, what about them? Where are your negative reviews of them and their methodology in interpreting Romans? Where is your negative review of Piper’s work, or Beale’s?”

You’re such a silly person, Ben. It’s perfectly consistent for a Calvinist to think an Arminian uses a flawed methodology without thinking the same thing of Calvinists. If I thought Reformed methodology was fundamentally flawed, I wouldn’t be a Calvinist.

“My assessment is based on the inaccuracies in your review as I documented.”

As seen through your Arminian-tinted shades.

“But you can’t deal with that so you need to sidestep it with rhetoric.”

You mean...the way you resort to conspiratorial rhetoric?

“Why not clear the air rght now and answer a rather direct question: did you read the entirety of Abasciano’s work before writing your review? If not, how much did you read, 10%, 20%, more or less?”

Actually, I read the classified copy in the secret Vatican archives. The one that decrypts the Mayan calendar encoded in the text of Romans. Sorry you lack the security clearance.

“I did that because it isn’t a legitimate review in my eyes based on the inaccuracies I documented.”

As seen through your Arminian-tinted shades.

“Once again, you sidestep the specifics of what I wrote. There are aspects of NNP that have influenced him and nearly all contemporary scholarship, for good reason. But that is not what my comment above was addressing, now was it?”

I’m not concerned with what you wrote, but what Abasciano wrote. Your face-saving explanations aren’t a substitute for what he wrote.

“Is there something about Calvinism that fosters this tendency to write lame and inaccurate reviews and then tout them as answering a scholarly work?”

Is there something about Arminianism that begs the question, is hypersensitive, prone to conspiracy theories?

“To respond to you? I think not.”

Wayman’s strictures were much broader than that.

steve hays January 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm
What I understand is that Wayman is a team player. He will always cover for his teammates. Arminians pay lip-service to universal love and equal treatment, but in practice they love their own kind. They play favorites.

They attack particularism in theology, but they practice particularism in apologetics.

steve hays January 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm

“Likewise, unless my statement is factually false, how is it paranoid?”

So you can’t show that my statement was false after all. Instead, you try to parry the charge. Yet since it was your accusation (“But Hays needs to do something to discredit the book”), the onus lies squarely on you, not me, to prove your allegation.

“Again, neither of these comments equate to a denouncement of the work based on flawed methodology.”

That’s a straw man since I didn’t say the reviewers “denounced” his monograph.

“So you were wrong to dismiss the work based on what you perceived to be flawed methodology, and even more wrong to dismiss the second work which you didn’t even read based on your review of the first work. Thanks for the concession.”

I didn’t “dismiss” either work. Thanks for your mendacity.

“Right. Piper references the OT in his work as well in order to bolster his interpretation of Romans 9, though he ignores the data that doesn’t help his cause (as Abasciano points out in the book you reviewed, pp. 310-317). His work isn’t as in-depth as Abasciano’s, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t use the same basic method.”

Now you’re equivocating. Just about every interpreter of Rom 9 “references” the OT. That’s not a specific methodology. Nice bait-n-switch.

“Arminianism is in no way threatened by an interpretation of Romans that upholds the main tenet of Arminainism against Calvinism, conditional election.”

You’re welcome to jettison traditional Arminian cargo when the Arminian ship takes on too much water to keep afloat. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

“So why not explain to me again how it is that I was being ‘disingenuous’ when I wrote…”

I already did.

“No, as the ‘dry boring facts’ objectively dictate. But feel free to keep dancing, it’s entertaining. The need for such deflections on Hays’ part should be obvious to anyone.”

You’re not giving us the “objective facts”; rather, you’re giving us your personal, self-serving characterization.

“Keep dancing Steve.”

You don’t have an argument, so you resort to a question-begging metaphor.

“I will take this as a concession that you did not read the work.”

Actually, it’s satirizing your paranoia. That’s the best way of responding to a conspiracy theorist like yourself.

“Still dancing.”

You’re still stonewalling.

“Again, you sidestep my initial comments for obvious reasons. Interesting how you ignored my points about calling as well, for obvious reasons.”

You’re not giving us what Abasciano actually said. Rather, you’re substituting your own interpretation of what he said.

“Is there something about Calvinism that makes someone such a good dancer?”

Once again, Ben can’t reason for his position, so he defaults to a childish metaphor.

“I’m not concerned about Wayman’s strictures.”

That makes two of us.

“It may interest anyone reading this that Hays has a history of misreading and by extension misrepresenting the works of others in order to try to defend his Calvinism or attack Arminianism.”

i) Having lost the argument, Ben now tries to camouflage his loss by changing the subject.

ii) And, needless to say, that’s Ben’s partisan Arminian characterization of what went down.

“You can find an example of that in this discussion I had a while back with Hays on the proper interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 and the implications thereof…”

Which I rebutted point-by-point.

“Along with Steve’s reading and application problems we also discover that Hays didn’t even recognize the author of the book that formed the primary basis of his entire argument, Ardel Caneday.”

i) The book has two authors, not one. It was coauthored by Tom Schreiner and Ardel Caneday.

ii) I obviously recognize Caneday’s contribution since I explicitly named him as a coauthor of the book in an earlier discussion, before I ever debated Ben:

“Schreiner, T. & A. Caneday, The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance (IVP 2001).”

“This was an embarrassing blunder.”

i) It’s embarrassing that this is the second time Ben has tried to change the subject because he can’t defend his position on the merits.

ii) It’s also embarrassing that Ben identifies Caneday as “the author” of the book when the book has two authors. What a “blunder.”

iii) Moreover, that book didn’t form the “primary basis of my entire argument.” That was just a sample. When challenged, I cited other scholars as well.

“That tells you a lot about how credible we should take ‘reviews’ or any other argument he presents. To me that shows a flawed methodology in Hays’ writings and interactions with others and for that reason we should dismiss all that he says.”

i) It betrays the extreme insecurity of Ben’s position that he attempts to preemptively discredit everything his opponent says. He’s running scared.

ii) Arguments don’t depend on the “credibility” of the arguer, but on the quality of the arguments themselves.

“(just as he engages in dancing here in the face of undeniable evidence that he did not read Abasciano carefully).”

This isn’t “evidence.” This is Ben’s biased characterization.

“But Hays can always go back and change his review so that those mistakes no longer appear…”

Yet another example of Ben’s rampant paranoia. Even if (ex hypothesi) a writer made a mistake which he subsequently corrected, there’s nothing suspicious about a writer editing something he wrote. Writers routinely do that.

steve hays January 10, 2012 at 10:28 am
B. P. Burnett

“Hence the hardening cannot be an unconditional actions, since sin first exists, upon the basis of which God chooses to withdraw his presence and consequently harden.”

What makes you think Calvinism requires hardening to be unconditional?

steve hays January 10, 2012 at 6:46 pm
i) You’re confusing reprobation with hardening. Not the same thing.

ii) Unconditional election doesn’t entail unconditional reprobation.

steve hays January 11, 2012 at 6:44 am
There is more than one aspect to reprobation. Preterition is unconditional, but precondemnation is not.

The reprobate are punished for their sin. So reprobation takes sin into account at the punitive stage. Judgment presupposes sin.

In that respect there is a sense in which reprobation is both the cause and consequence of their sin. Their judgment is contingent on their sin, but their sin is contingent on God’s plan.

Turretin has a nuanced discussion.

steve hays January 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm

“Hate is a judgment…”

“Hate” is an idiom for God not choosing x.

“…and this occurs before any sin is done, and you say ‘judgment presupposes sin’. So ‘judgment’ is unconditional in reality to actual human behavior (Romans 9:11), and is conditional supposedly (1 Steve 1:1 ;).”

You’re substituting your definitions for mine, so your conclusion is equivocal. An exercise in prestidigitation. You’re seeing your own face at the bottom of the well.

God didn’t punish Esau in the womb. If Esau went to hell when he died, he was punished for his sins.

“The point of the text makes God’s judgment unconditional.”

Not “judgment.” It’s not condemnatory at that point. Rather, it’s precondemnatory.

“The text makes no presupposition of good or evil – in fact the text makes it clear that God’s judgment was not based on **any** presuppositions, for that then would defeat Paul’s argument.”

I appreciate your Calvinistic reading of Rom 9. That’s a promising development. You’re making progress! But your interpretation still needs a bit of fine-tuning.

As Paul also says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23).

Notice the asymmetry. Grace is unmerited but punishment is merited.

“Reprobation is unconditional. You have God presupposing sin to reprobate.”

No. I made qualified statement which your mangled quote truncates. I actually said: “So reprobation takes sin into account at the punitive stage.” You ignored my caveat.

“So God passes over presupposed corrupted people??? How can God ‘pass over’ people who are not reprobate that he determined to be so? (nuanced logic?)”

Preterition is part of what makes them reprobate. An initial condition. Your objection is reductionistic. Reprobation isn’t reducible to a single idea.

“Is there something about God’s determination that he does not know in passing over?”

Learn the concept of teleology. Means and ends.

“Francis Turretin’s calling this a nuanced discussion is skirting reality and reason. It’s nuanced logic.”

Have you even read his discussion?

steve hays January 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm

“Did God pass over a ‘corrupted mass’ to elect?”

Since God doesn’t elect those whom he passes over, your question is scarcely intelligible.

“Why are they corrupt? Did they do anything? If they are corrupted (obviously the phrase gives it away) who made this determination/decision/judgment?”

You’re confusing “judgment” as a cognitive act with “judgment” as a judicial act. Is English your second language?

“…that God ‘hated’ Esau before he did bad that gave him this ‘initial’ condition (born in sin).”

No, that’s not the initial condition. That’s not what preterition means or does. Rather, the initial condition is rejection.

“Exactly. Or I might add; God hates those whom he does not choose. This has God hating people without condition, idiom or not.”

You don’t understand basic terminology. When Scripture uses the love/hate pairing in synonymous parallelism, that’s an idiomatic synonym for choose/reject.

God doesn’t hate those whom he rejects. Rather, “hatred” is a colorful synonym for rejection. One idea–not two.

God not choosing the reprobate is unconditional. God punishing the reprobate is conditional.

“This point is troublesome to have a God who hates for no other reason than his own decree to do so.”

i) You need to replace “hate” with the literal concept.

ii) Unconditionality doesn’t mean God has no reason for what he decrees. He has a reason, but the reason doesn’t lie in the elect or reprobate themselves.

“You want to say that hate is the effect of not choosing.”

Don’t project your own confusion onto me. “Hate” is not the “effect” of not choosing. Rather, “hate” is synonymous with not choosing. Try to absorb that elementary point.

“You can’t use the ‘wages of sin’ Illustration here, because the only ’cause’ for God’s ‘hate’ in the text is God’s own act, by your own admission, ‘by God not choosing x’.”

Ypu keep confusing rejection with punishment.

And you keep treating rejection and hatred as a cause/effect relation, when they are synonyms. Do we need to drill a hole through your skull for that concept to penetrate?

“Logically you have God the source of both cause and effect. Cause=not choosing x. effect=God hating Esau.”

You’re chronically confused. Divine “hatred” is not the result of divine rejection. They are different words for the same concept, different words for the same action.

Your objection is hopelessly muddleheaded.

steve hays January 10, 2012 at 7:25 am
This is a red herring. Of course Pharaoh is a sinner.

But hardening isn’t primarily punitive in the Exodus narrative, although that might be a bonus point. The reason the narrative assigns to hardening is to give Yahweh occasion to manifest his superiority over the Egyptian “gods,” as the true God, via the plagues. Hardening Pharaoh facilitates that objective.

steve hays January 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

“So do you consider everything that doesn’t conform to your theology to be a red herring, Steve? Just saying…you really seem to like that phrase.”

That’s not a substantive objection.

“More to the point, of course the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is punitive. You mustn’t forget how the Exodus narrative begins. Well before there’s any talk of hardening Pharaoh’s heart, we get this: “Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. ‘Look,’ he said to his people, ‘the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them…’” (Exodus 1:8-10)”

That’s not the rationale the narrative gives for divine hardening. This is the stated reason:

Exodus 7:3-5,17

3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”…17 Thus says the LORD, “By this you shall know that I am the LORD.

Exodus 14:4

4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.

Exodus 14:17-18

17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

“Others have already alluded to the fact that the Hebrew chazaq can mean ‘strengthen,’ as in ‘strengthen one’s resolve.’ God is further pushing Pharaoh in a direction that Pharaoh is already going.”

i) Actually, more than one Hebrew verb is used.

ii) Furthermore, “pushing Pharaoh in the direction he was already going” is perfectly consistent with Reformed theology.

steve hays January 11, 2012 at 6:48 am

“The point is how we understand hardening.”

The way to understand hardening is to understand the effect of hardening where Scripture discusses hardening.

steve hays January 10, 2012 at 6:51 pm

“Pharaoh’s mistreatment of the Israelites provides the context for the divine hardening of his heart.”

Repeating yourself is not an argument.

“Surely you don’t dispute this.”
 Why not?

“And surely this doesn’t preclude God doing what he does for a larger purpose: i.e. glorifying his name and advancing his redemptive agenda.”

That’s the specific reason Scripture gives for God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Indeed, the only reason Scripture gives.

You act as if it’s a nice fringe benefit when that’s actually central to the narrative.

steve hays January 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm

“Sorry, I only know of so many ways to state the obvious.”

You only know so many ways to beg the question.

steve hays January 14, 2012 at 7:46 am

“That’s interesting, when when I and many have found the opposite and your description actually to be the case with Calvinism, that it is long on assertion, but short on exegetical coherence.”

Funny coming from a guy who hasn’t offered any substantive exegesis on this thread.

“It has often been said that people don’t get Calvinism from reading the Bible, but from being taught it, whereas the typical Christian reading the Bible typically comes out with Arminian theology.”

Often been said by Arminians about Calvinists. 


  1. Thanks for the long but illuminating exchange, Steve.


    "That’s a inane statement. You think the examiner must personally agree with the thesis to give the doctoral candidate a passing grade on the dissertation? That’s demonstrably false."

    False, but it sure helps- as demonstrated here:

  2. Edifying exchange.

    Ben stated:
    "Well before there’s any talk of hardening Pharaoh’s heart, we get this: “Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. ‘Look,’ he said to his people, ‘the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them…’” (Exodus 1:8-10)”"

    He ignores the fact that the divinely inspired psalmist gave us one of those behind the scenes "puppet master" (to quote an Arminian) passages:

    "He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants." (Psalm 105:25)