Thursday, January 26, 2017

Chopped liver

I recently had an exchange with an intemperate freewill theist:

"Calvinism tells sinners there is nothing they can do to change their eternal fate."

That confuses predestination with fatalism. Sure, there's nothing you can do to change a predestined outcome, but that hardly means faith or lack of faith is irrelevant to the outcome–for what sinners do or don't do is, itself, a predestined factor leading to the predestined outcome. The outcome won't happen apart from intervening causes.  

"Calvinists are dangerous heretics because they insist that God has NOT made a SINCERE offer of salvation to the whole world through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His only son."

The offer of salvation is a conditional offer: if you repent of your sins and put your faith in Jesus, you will be saved. That's a sincere offer that's entirely consistent with Calvinism.

"God saves ONLY a relative handful that He Himself has chosen to save, and that these lucky few cannot"

That's a willfully ignorant Arminian trope. Calvinism is neutral on what percentage of humanity will be saved. Some Calvinists think it will be the majority.

"Is this something I can choose to do, or do I have to hope and pray that my 'dead spirit' has been supernaturally "regenerated" first?"

Unless you're Pelagian, even evangelical freewill theists believe prevenient grace is necessary to enable sinners to repent and believe the Gospel. 

What makes an offer a bona fide offer is that if anybody complies with the terms of the offer, he will get what he was offered.

To take a comparison, suppose a butcher offers to sell two pounds of chopped liver for the price of one. If you only buy one pound, you don't get half price. You have to buy two pounds. 

Okay, but suppose I can't stand the taste of liver. In that sense, I can't take him up on the offer. 

Does my distaste for chopped liver make the offer insincere? Not by any reasonable definition of a bona fide offer.

Once again, are you ignorant of evangelical freewill theism? According to evangelical theology generally, original sin renders humans unable to accept the Gospel unless God provides necessary preliminary grace. In Arminian theology, that's prevenient grace. To deny that is Pelagian.

In addition, you keep missing the point. The stated purpose of the chopped liver analogy is to illustrate that an offer isn't rendered insincere due to the inability of a customer to be receptive to the offer. A sale on chopped liver is a bona fide offer even if many customers hate chopped liver. 

"So the offer--at whatever price--is INSINCERE if the person it is being offered to has no ABILITY to receive it."

People who can't stand chopped liver are unable to enjoy the taste of chopped liver. Therefore, they are constitutionally unreceptive to the offer. They find the offer repellant. 

It is insincere for the butcher to offer chopped liver unless every customer is able to enjoy the taste of chopped liver? 

No. It's only insincere in case the butcher has no intention to giving them what was offered if they comply with the terms of the offer. 

Moreover, the butcher isn't even offering chopped liver to customers face-to-face. He simply put an ad in the newspaper.

Actually, the reprobate don't show up. That's the point. It's not as if they show up, only to be served bad food. Rather, they refuse to come because they hate the food. 

Or, to use my analogy, it's not as if they go to the store to buy the chopped liver, present their coupon, only to be charged full price. No, they don't take the butcher up on the offer in the first place since they hate chopped liver.

But there are other customers who just love chopped liver. They go to the store, present the coupon, and get two for the price of one–exactly as advertised. A bona fide offer. 

Dropping the metaphors, the elect accept the Gospel and the reprobate reject the Gospel.


  1. "To take a comparison, suppose a butcher offers to sell two pounds of chopped liver for the price of one. If you only buy one pound, you don't get half price. You have to buy two pounds."

    If he's a kind butcher, if you only ask for one pound he'll notify you of the special and throw in the second pound for free. :)

  2. But seriously, it's remarkable that so many Arminians either haven't taken the time to understand this matter better or they just prefer arguing against a phantom position. I'm inclined to believe the latter since so many don't recast their criticisms once corrected.

  3. RA

    Per recasting - Please allow me to correct the Augustinian/Reformed/Calvinist penchant for using a faux binary theological taxonomical scale which pits Calvinism at one end and Arminianism at the other and eveyone else dubiously forced into this rather self-serving scale and instead, suggest the use of a model with greater dimension such as a global form which respect both self-identity and proprietary formulas. This will help avoid the erroneous default use of the Arminian label toward anyone who disagrees with Calvinism (and for that matter, anyone agreeing with one or more points of Calvinism claimed as one of that party).

    As to your point, it is quite common that people holding to various theological persuasions resist correction. This is generally due to the mistaken investment of one's ego into their thelogical position. It is a self-imposed obstacle far more common than imagined I suspect.

    1. I intentionally chose the Arminian label. I don't find this extreme lack of care among those who've graduated to Molinism or even Open Theism. Those latter sorts are typically better versed in the subject.

  4. P.S. I don't know how that got double posted my apologies

  5. In Calvinism, doesn't the butcher first determine that you won't like liver, and then offer you liver? That doesn't come across as a sincere offer.

  6. Let's leave sincerity out of it for a moment.

    1. If you're a Christian, then you believe p, where p is: Whosoever believes will be saved.

    2. Would God's determination of all things undermine the *truth* of p? I trust you'd say no, it wouldn't.

    3. I trust you would also say that God believes all truth.

    4. Therefore, for your complaint to be valid, you'll need to show q, where q is: God's determination does not undermine the truth of p, but rather the sincerity of his belief in p.

    5. What is it, in other words, for God to insincerely believe p.

    Or maybe you don't know what is being meant by sincerity in this context. Nobody here is making a claim regarding God's desire for all to accept the offer.

  7. As I understand it, Pelagianism teaches that grace is not absolutely necessary to earn salvation. Though, grace can be useful and helpful, it's not essential or necessary.

    Semi-Pelagianism teaches that grace is absolutely necessary, but that one can avail himself of salvific grace that's there for the taking on his own initiative. Sometimes God initiates it, but then sometimes man does. Some versions of Semi-Pelagianism teaches man always and only does initiate the reception of grace.

    Contrary to those heresies, the initiating/enabling grace view of Arminians and Catholics is that grace is absolutely necessary AND that God alone can initiate salvation in a person's life. Prevenient Grace in Arminianism (or Operating Grace in Catholicism) doesn't leave men merely indifferent or neutral. It also draws and woos people to respond to God's grace. According to Arminian Roger Olson " is an operation of the Holy Spirit that frees the sinner’s will from bondage to sin and convicts, calls, illumines and enables the sinner to respond to the gospel call with repentance and faith (conversion)."

    That's why I don't think it's accurate or fair to call Catholicism or Arminianism Semi-Pelagian. Though, Catholicism is more susceptible to that charge because of their system or works and the fact that they still need to merit salvation by their grace empowered works. Whereas Evangelical freewill Arminians (IMO inconsistently teach) salvation is a pure gift of God received by faith alone.

    The sufficient and efficacious grace view of Calvinists is that grace is not only necessary, but sufficient. Grace is so efficacious that those regenerated inexorably accept the gospel and God produces enough sanctification in the life of the believer that they never finally fall away but are assuredly saved in the end.

    While I take the efficacious grace view of Calvinists, I think the initiating/enabling grace view (by itself) is within the pale of orthodoxy. Though, there are other issues in Catholicism that make it worthy of rejection for an Evangelical faith.

    I'm open to being corrected by anyone if I'm wrong in my understanding.

  8. It's amazing to me to watch carnal reasoning contending against what God says. It's rather simple if you let the scriptures teach you and you set your own thinking about it aside, aren't God's ways and thoughts different than ours? To understand God's salvation of a soul, we have to start at the top with sovereign election then work down. The Arminian starts at the bottom with man and works up. God will not have it, a man with this persuasion has another gospel and will be cursed, Gal 1.So let's have a conversation on what is biblical historic Christianity,