I’ll comment on this:
Steve Responded: In Arminianism, sufficient grace is resistible grace. So the “wonderful promise” is that God will give Christians (including born-again Christians) resistible grace to resist temptation. Like using a leaky bucket to bail water from a leaky boat.
I struggled with what to say about this comment, but there’s not much benefit of the doubt I can give Steve here. Steve seems (at least to me) to be saying if Arminianism were true, he would be ungrateful to God for giving him libertarian free will and resistible grace. This is sort of the mirror image of Rodger Olson’s comments that if Calvinism were true, he doesn’t know if he could worship such a God. I don’t feel that way about Calvinism; if somehow (in this life or the next) I discovered Calvinism is true, I would praise God.
Dan’s reaction is decidedly odd:
i) To begin with, Dan doesn’t show that I mischaracterized the implications of Arminianism. If I accurately describe the logical ramifications of Arminian theology, and Dan is aghast at my description, isn’t he the one who’s responding like Olson? Isn’t he implicitly expressing his dissatisfaction with God?
ii) My position and Olson’s are hardly symmetrical. For one thing, Olson has taken the position that if he thought Scripture actually taught Calvinism, then he’d cease to believe the Bible.
iii) It’s just a fact that if Arminianism is true, then the saints have less to thank God for than if Calvinism is true. For if Arminianism is true, God did less for the saints than if Calvinism is true.
In Arminianism, it’s ultimately up to you whether or not you make it to heaven. That’s not in the first instance a value judgment about whether or not Arminianism is true or false, good or bad, better or worse, but just a statement of fact.
Dan has cast the issue in terms of gratitude. Fine. The saints have less to be grateful for if Arminianism is true. In Calvinism, the saints owe everything to God’s grace. That’s not the case in Arminianism.
iv) Why is Dan grateful to God for giving him the ability (i.e. libertarian freedom) to ruin himself? If I hand a loaded revolver to a suicidal teenager, I’ve given him the freedom of opportunity to either shoot himself in the head or decline to shoot himself in the head. Should the teenager thank me?
Likewise, if a drug dealer offers me the chance to get hooked on heroine and thereby destroy everything I value in life, should I thank him for the opportunity?
v) Dan’s objection is quite ironic. If Arminianism is true, and he gets to heaven, then he can’t truthfully thank God for getting him to heaven. At most he can thank God for getting him started, but not for getting him across the finish line. And even then, he can only thank God in a qualified sense.
If Calvinism is true, and I get to heaven, then I can thank God unreservedly, not just for saving me, but for keeping me. Not just for getting me going, but for preserving me throughout the journey, and conducting me to the heavenly destination. For guiding and guarding me every step of the way–from start to finish.
I agree with Dan that if he discovers in the next life that Calvinism is true, then he should praise God.
vi) According to Arminianism, God gives us resistible grace to resist temptation. So it pushes the same issue back a step: resisting or not resisting grace instead of resisting or not resisting temptation. How is that any different? Isn’t it the same principle in either case? How is resisting or not resisting grace an improvement over resisting or not resisting temptation–without resistible grace?
Hasn’t Arminianism simply relocated the same problem? It’s like putting a cardboard wall between you and a fire. But, of course, the cardboard wall is flammable. The fire will burn through the cardboard wall. So that’s no real protection.
vii) What kind of grace does Dan think God gives Christians to resist temptation? Is this sufficient grace? But sufficient grace is universal grace. That’s something God gives to believers and unbelievers alike (according to Arminian theology).
So God wouldn’t be doing anything special for Christians in that event. On that interpretation, God doesn’t promise anything to Christians that he hasn’t granted to everyone. There’s no extra measure of protection.
viii) Or does Dan think this has reference to something over and above sufficient grace? Perhaps this is the argument:
a) Irresistible grace is better than resistible grace
b) Resistible grace is better than gracelessness
c) Temptation is irresistible apart from resistible grace.
On that argument, resistible grace would still be advantageous, even if it’s less advantageous than irresistible grace. Resistible grace would still make a contribution. Add something.
ix) Yet there’s a problem with that argument. Dan thinks that 1 Cor 10:13 is just a special case of temptation generally. But how does that distinguish the situation of believers from unbelievers? After all, unbelievers don’t invariably give in to temptation. Both believers and unbelievers overcome some temptations some of the time. So sufficient grace has no differential effect on sinning or not.
No it does not, because 1) Paul’s inbound context is broader than just idolatrous apostasy and because 2) Christians sometimes fall into lesser sins and sometimes they don’t. Without God’s enabling grace, we cannot but fall and lesser sins cannot but lead to ultimate apostasy.
That’s not only true of Christians. Unbelievers sometimes fall into lesser sins and sometimes they don’t. For that matter, unbelievers sometimes fall into graver sins and sometimes they don’t.
So there’s nothing in Dan’s interpretation of 1 Cor 10:13 that singles out Christians as having something unbelievers do not. “Enabling” grace seems to be the same for believers and unbelievers alike.
Dan evidently says that succumbing to temptation is inevitable absent enabling grace. But unbelievers don’t succumb to every temptation that comes their way. So by Dan’s logic, 1 Cor 10:13 isn’t unique to Christians.
But with God’s grace, no lessor sin can ever necessitate ultimate apostasy and God can always step in in stop the progression into ultimate apostasy. If Paul has in view God enabling us to overcome temptations for sins lesser than idolatrous apostasy, Steve’s view is undone.
i) An obvious problem with his argument is that Dan subscribes to eternal security. But there’s more to eternal security than saying a Christian won’t necessarily lose his salvation. For even if loss of salvation isn’t necessary, that still leaves the door wide open for loss of salvation to be possible, probable, or actual. What kind of eternal security is that?
What’s the difference between affirming and denying eternal security? After all, Arminians who deny eternal security don’t think Christians will necessarily lose their salvation.
ii) Dan’s dilemma is that Wesleyan Arminians think 1 Cor 10:13 is a prooftext for two things:
a) Libertarian freedom
b) Possibility of apostasy
Dan is trying to split the difference: He uses 1 Cor 10:13 to prove (a) but not (b). Indeed, he’s opposed to using this verse as a prooftext for apostasy.
The inconsistencies in Steve’s position are that the historic examples Paul cites in the inbound context are and are not examples of ultimate apostasy…
I don’t know what he means by saying the members of the wilderness generation are and are not examples of ultimate apostasy. Does he mean some are while others are not? If so, how’s that inconsistent with my position? A Calvinist may consistently take the position that Caleb, Joshua, and Moses were an elect remnant while the rest were reprobate.
Or does he mean the same individuals are and are not examples of ultimate apostasy? If so, that seems incoherent.
In theory, we could say the Israelites were a type of ultimate apostasy without their necessarily being ultimate apostates. But even if we draw that distinction, how is that inconsistent with my position?
… and the God’s promise of enabling is and is not restricted to the elect.
Here he seems to be admitting that on his interpretation, 1 Cor 10:13 has reference to universal sufficient grace. Yet he originally said “…this wonderful promise that God, in His faithfulness, will not allow irresistible temptations.”
So this is not a promise of God’s fidelity to Christians. This is not about God’s faithfulness to his own people. This is not about his special provision for Christians. Rather, this is indifferent.
Yet that rips the passage out of context. And it severely dilutes the promise.
Point 2 is true, but after all due concessions can be made for a mixed audience, the inconsistency above remains because point 2 cannot be pressed to the point of God making untrue promises.
A mixed audience is quite germane to the scope of the promise. The truth of a promise is indexed to the intended promisee. If I take wedding vows, I’m making a promise to my bride, not to every woman in attendance. Indeed, I suspect my bride would be pretty miffed if she thought I was making the same promise to every woman at the ceremony.
Yes, I hold to eternal security, but I think the most relevant difference between our views here, is that I see the examples and temptations as broader than Steve does.
According to eternal security, losing our salvation isn’t a live possibility. That doesn’t apply to temptations generally, but to temptations to commit apostasy or sins leading to apostasy. Does Dan think every time we sin we commit apostasy?
This is misleading. I quoted from Fitzmyer’s conclusion, not his lead in analysis where he weighed different options.
That’s not an honest statement. Fitzmyer’s concluding sentence is:
In this context, Paul seems to be thinking primarily of trials involving idol meat or seduction to idolatry (389).
So Dan didn’t quote Fitzmyer’s conclusion.
Also, note that Fitzmyer says “primary”, but Steve requires “only”. Unlike Fitzmyer, Steve cannot allow a single case of God enabling a believer to avoid any temptation that the believe ends up falling into. Fitzmyer, Steve’s own source, is plainly against Steve.
i) I don’t require “only.” To say I “cannot allow a single case of God enabling a believer to avoid any temptation that the believe ends up falling into,” is utterly ridiculous.
God enabling Christians to avoid temptations short of apostasy is perfectly consistent with my overall position. To say that God prevents true believers from losing their salvation doesn’t entail that God never prevents true believers from succumbing to lesser temptations. Sometimes God allows a true believer to fall into temptation, and sometimes God prevents it.
ii) I no more need Fitzmyer to say “only” instead of “primarily” than Dan needs Fitzmyer to say “generally” instead of “primarily.” If Fitzmyer’s adverb is a problem for me, then it’s a problem for Dan.
iii) As I’ve often said, I use Bible scholars and theologians for spare parts. I don’t have to endorse every word or statement they make. Fitzmyer does a very useful job of documenting Paul’s literary allusions to the OT in 1 Cor 11. That supplies the background for Paul’s statement in v13. That delimits the scope.
iv) And Fitzmyer wasn’t the only commentator I cited. I also quoted Ciampa/Rosner, which Dan conveniently ignores.
v) Notice that Dan speaks of “God enabling a believer to avoid any temptation that the believe[r] ends up falling into.”
Yet just before he said “God’s promise of enabling is and is not restricted to the elect.”
He careens between these two different interpretations. So which is it? Is this promise to and for Christians? Or is this something that God doles out indiscriminately to everyone–like a food drop from an airplane?
But let’s be clear on what that point of agreement is. It’s not the nature of the sin or temptation Paul has in mind. Steve and Garland disagree on that and that’s an important point; enough to overthrow Steve’s overall theological point that the passage does not teach libertarian freedom.
i) Garland is Arminian. It comes as no surprise if Garland ultimately construes the passage consistent with Arminian theology. I myself have pointed out that Garland is Arminian. I wouldn’t expect Garland to defend a thoroughgoing Reformed interpretation.
ii) For that matter, Garland disagrees with Dan’s position on eternal security.
iii) It’s a standard move in debate to quote a concession from the opposing side. That’s the value in quoting Garland.
iv) The Arminian belief in divine foreknowledge is incompatible with man’s libertarian freedom.
The explanations of Fitzmyer, Garland and Ciampa/Rosner (Steve’s own sources), lead to the unavoidable conclusion that 1 Corintians 10:13 teaches libertarian free will.
They do nothing of the kind. Dan hasn’t begun to show that.
Steve’s agreement with Garland is the tangential point that Paul has some specific temptations in mind (even though Garland and Steve disagree on the exact temptations in view).
That’s hardly “tangential” to the scope of the promise.
My primary point in linking to Ben was the number of commentators that agree with me and Steve didn't really contest that.
Why should I? Numbering commentators is worthless. What matters is not collecting opinions, but assessing the quality of the supporting arguments.
But the exchange between Ben and Steve is helpful (I thought Ben did a great job) and I hope people review it. (link)
i) Naturally Dan thinks a fellow Arminian did a great job. That’s why teammates make poor umpires.
ii) Dan doesn’t hope people will review my response to Ben.
iii) Keep in mind that Ben doesn’t merely disagree with me, he also disagrees with Dan. Unlike Dan, Ben rejects eternal security.