Monday, October 12, 2009

Should we hire Arminians as first-responders?

One of the expected duties of first-responders is to prevent, when possible, men and women from committing suicide. This can range from gentle persuasion to actively overpowering the suicidal person. Tackling him before he jumps from the ledge or the bridge. Wrestling him to the ground to pry the gun from his fingers. That sort of thing.

This raises the question of whether, in good conscience, an Arminian could discharge his duties as a first-responder. If a man has chosen to commit suicide, and you intervene against his will, then, by definition, isn’t that a flagrant violation of his libertarian freedom?

What possible grounds could you have to contravene his freedom choice? Are you going to say that he’s not in his right mind? That he’s in a state of diminished responsibility?

But I thought God endowed all men with sufficient grace. Through sufficient grace, God has restored their freedom to do otherwise. And that, in turn, grounds their moral responsibility. As libertarian agents, they are, at the one and the same time, responsible agents. Responsible for their choices and attendant actions.

If it would even be improper for their Maker to “force” his human agents to act against their wills, then it would be even more improper for a first-responder to do so.

So should our standard application form be revised to include a little box for the applicant to check in case he happens to be an Arminian, open theist, &c.? Shouldn’t their views of moral responsibility disqualify Arminians from working as first responders?


  1. i) Which Arminians said it would be "improper" to violate a persons Free Will?

    ii) Steve, what would you have us do? Unconditionally tackle some and leave others?

  2. This cuts both ways. Should we disallow Calvinists from being first responders? After all if God has ordained this person to commit suicide, then it's going to happen. And if God hasn't then it's not going to happen.


    "This cuts both ways. Should we disallow Calvinists from being first responders? After all if God has ordained this person to commit suicide, then it's going to happen. And if God hasn't then it's not going to happen."

    i) That's such a shallow, inept objection. Yes, if God has decreed a suicidal outcome, then a first-responder will be unable to prevent the outcome. But God also decreed the actions of the first-responder. And the first-responder doesn't know, in advance, which outcome God has decreed. If God has decreed that the first-responder fails to prevent the suicide, then he will fail. But if he's decreed that the first-responder succeeds, then he will succeed.

    Predestination uses human means, among other mundane means, to achieve the appointed end. The outcome doesn't happen, or not, apart from intermediate events.

    ii) I also notice that you dodge the problem in relation to Arminianism, and simply try to shift the issue onto Calvinism–which, however, leaves your own flank undefended and under attack. So I appreciate your tacit concession that my post hit the target vis-a-vis Arminianism.

  4. Firstly, why do you feel a need to use derogatory terms as "shallow" and "inept". I've not attacked you in any way. I'm certainly open to disagreement and you telling me where you think I am wrong, but I don't really see the need for you to talk in such terms, especially when I have not attacked you in any way in this post or previous post here. I really don't understand your attitude.

    Is this really the way to treat someone who has as far as I know has done nothing to warrant such a response? I deal with many people in my life, some of whom I probably think use "shallow and inept arguments" but I generally don't use those terms in responding to them. Why do you do this to an absolute stranger with whom you have no history? Or do you actually do this in real life with people on an every day basis? And if you don't, then what's the difference here?

    Secondly, I'm not dodging anything as I am not defending Arminianism. I can comment about your post without arguing for Arminianism or believing in Arminianism. My personal beliefs re: Calvinism vs. Arminianism are "on the fence" so to speak, which is one of the reasons I come here and read. Your assumption about me is wrong.

  5. Consideration is a two-way street. When you repeat a classic Arminian caricature of Calvinism, equating Calvinism with fatalism, as if Calvinists haven't corrected this caricature over and over again, not to mention the number of times I myself have already done so, then you might consider the fairly predictable reaction.

  6. I really don't understand that response. Whether you had addressed that before, or whether is is a caricature or not, I don't think matters. If it offends you that much that you feel your should attack someone, well, I'm not quite sure what to make of that.

    I didn't attack you personally, not put you down in anyway. Flaws in an argument or the fact that you've addressed this before shouldn't be the basis for attacking someone. If that were true, then there really can't be much room for any sort of discourse. Correct me if you want to or point me to where you have addressed this before. But I don't really think these are grounds for a personal attack or polemics.

  7. But your argument really was shallow and inept. :-)

  8. Griman-
    Steve didn't call you "shallow and inept," he called your arguments "shallow and inept." That's not technically a personal attack, and it doesn't really put you down either. The only way that is a personal attack is if you think you and your arguments are the same thing. Also, Steve didn't just "insult" your arguments and leave it at that, he went on to fully answer your objection. I notice that you seem to have stopped reading his i) point right after the "shallow and inept" part.