Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Arminians can run, but they can't hide

Robert said...

“I have to say that I have greatly enjoyed discussing things and seeing Steve Hays’ responses here. I believe Hays to be extremely knowledgeable concerning Calvinism…”

A flattering overstatement. But men like Richard Muller and Roger Nicole (to name a few) know far more about it than I do.

“So the arguments he presents for this false system of theology will be second to none and represent the best that they can muster.”

Another flattering overstatement. But lots of other Calvinists could do a better job than I do. I’m just a pitch-hitter.

“The issue is not about the act of damning someone **at the final judgment**, which is what Hays refers to here. Both calvinists and non-calvinists believe that at the final judgment when God sends a person to hell that it is an action of justice rather than mercy.”

Of course it’s germane. Damnation expresses divine intent regarding the fate of the damned. Is that intent loving or not?

“The issue is **before** the final judgment: did God love those who end up in hell?”

Since, according to Arminianism, God foreknew the outcome, his intent is prior to the outcome. Therefore, the before/after distinction is irrelevant to divine intent. Whatever happens afterwards is the expression of God’s premeditation.

“Did God demonstrate this love clearly by giving his Son for these people on the cross?”

There’s nothing inherently loving about a mere demonstration. Indeed, a mere demonstration could be cruel.

“In fact Hays’ system must negate clear bible passages such as John 3:16.”

I can quote non-Reformed scholars who construe the key terms and concepts consistent with Reformed theology.

“Justice relates to dealing with something that **has been done**.”

If, according to Arminianism, God foreknows the outcome, then he doesn’t have to wait until something has been done.

“Non-Calvinists see the unbeliever who is sent to hell as a person who has lived a lifetime of rejection of God despite opportunities to be saved, despite God having mercy on them through the cross, so the person is sent to hell only **after** their lifetime of rebellious actions.”

i) In Arminianism, God didn’t have to create the hellbound in the first place. So how is it loving to create them with their hellish fate in full view when the consequence was wholly avoidable?

ii) Moreover, in Arminianism, the hellbound have heavenbound counterparts in another possible world. Wouldn’t it be more loving for God to create that alternative instead?

“In contrast in Hays’ view God decides **before** the person has done anything (good or bad) that that person will be sent to hell.”

So, by converse logic, Robert must believe that God doesn’t make up his mind what to do with a sinner until the moment he dies. Is Robert a closet open theist?

“THAT is not **justice**, that is Calvinistic reprobation: condemnation before you exist, before you have done anything. To condemn a person before they have done anything is anything but justice.”

That’s only plausible from a human viewpoint since we don’t know the future. But Arminianism subscribes to divine foreknowledge. Therefore, Robert’s complaint makes no sense even on Arminian grounds.

“This again brings out the differences: for the non-Calvinist God loves even those who reject him and demonstrates this love to that person before the final judgment.”

i) False dichotomy. In Arminianism, no one is forcing God to create people who reject him in the first place.

ii) Moreover, if human beings have the freedom to do otherwise, then there’s a possible world in which they reject him, and another possible world in which they accept him. Therefore, God had the option of creating their heavenbound counterpart rather than their hellbound counterpart. Which is more loving?

“For Hays God damned the ‘reprobates’ before they existed before they had done anything. He never ever loved them with a salvific love…”

In Arminianism, God’s love for the damned is just for show. He knows all along that they will reject the gospel. So it’s an empty gesture.

“He never ever desired for them to be saved.”

If, according to Arminianism, human agents have the freedom to do otherwise, then God can save each and every one he desires to save while respecting their libertarian freedom of choice. If they reject him in one possible world, then all he has to do is instantiate another possible world in which they did otherwise.

Arminians keep harping on the freedom to do otherwise. Well, what do they think this means? If there are two (or more) alternate courses of action, two possible outcomes, then there are at least two possible worlds in which each alternate future plays out.

It’s meaningless to keep harping on different possible scenarios (having “real choices”) unless you believe in a plurality of possible worlds that match your hypothetical opportunities. But in that case, what hinders God from instantiating the heavenbound possibility rather than the hellbound possibility?

It’s not delimited by the choice of the free agent, for if agents have the freedom to do otherwise, then there’s no one choice the agent makes. Rather, he makes different choices in different possible worlds.

Once choice is just as “real” or unreal as another at this stage of the game. In the realm of possible worlds, they are metaphysically on a par.

If an Arminian tries to salvage his position by introducing transworld depravity, then he pays for that move by imposing ad hoc restrictions on libertarian freedom.

“I will say it again because Hays refuses to accurately and fairly represent the non-Calvinist view: the best thing that can happen to a person is to be in a saving relationship with God.”

And by creating a multitude of individuals whom God foreknew would not be in a saving relationship with him, God is not acting in their best interests. That conclusion follows from Arminian premises.

Conversely, the Arminian God could always create individuals who subsist in a saving relationship with him. For there’s a possible world in which that’s the case.

“In the Arminian view God desires THAT…”

Which stands in conflict with other Arminian commitments.

“And intends THAT for every human person.”

If God intends an outcome which will never enventuate, then God was mistaken. Is Robert a closet open theist?

“Now some may freely choose to reject his love and the provided atonement in Christ, but that says nothing about God’s love for them.”

If God knew that by creating them he would send them to hell, then that says something about God’s attitude.

“A father out of love and celebration may invite many people to a celebratory feast.”

What about a father who fathers a child foreseeing that his child will go to hell when he dies. That the father will sentence him to hell. That the father had the option of fathering a counterpart who goes to heaven when he dies.

“Cf. Matt. 22:1-14; Lk. 14:16-24).”

i) Citing Scripture is irrelevant to whether Arminianism can make consistent use of its prooftexts.

ii) Moreover, Arminians don’t hold the copyright on these verses.

“How is it ‘largely ineffectual’ if it goes EXACTLY according to God’s plan?”

So, according to Robert, the outcome goes exactly according to God’s plan. Thus, if someone is damned, God planned it that way. God planned to damn him.

“God’s plan is that He provides an atonement for all but that appropriation of this atonement is conditioned upon the person freely choosing to trust Him.”

And if, a la Arminianism, human agents have the freedom to do otherwise (i.e. to accept or reject the Gospel), then there’s a possible world in which that condition is met. So why doesn’t a loving God (as Arminians define it) instantiate the possible world in which that condition is met, rather than the possible world in which the condition went unmet?

“The atonement is perfectly ‘effectual’ to all who believe just like God promised it would be (‘that whoever believers may in Him have eternal life’) and planned for it to be. It is only ‘ineffectual’ for those who reject it and refuse to trust the Lord.”

Which corroborates my point. An Arminian atonement is ineffectual in many or most cases. (That’s how Billy Birch does the math.)

“Again, Hays injects his manure into my water…Stop trying to put your manure (your false Calvinistic premises) into my water (my view).”

Keep in mind that Robert is one of those Arminians who says we should always speak respectfully to believers and unbelievers alike. Robert ought to spend less time in the Arminian barnyard. It’s rubbing off. Time to take a shower. Use some deoderant.

“The fact Hays has to keep substituting his premises for mine and claiming his false premises are my premises shows desperation on his part and again that his arguments are extremely weak.”

Robert is responding to this statement of mine:

“If God foreknows that by creating Judas (to take one example), God will have to damn Judas, yet God creates him anyway, then God didn’t sincerely desire the best for Judas. I’m simply arguing from Arminian premises.”

But Robert offers no counterargument. Instead, he tries to shift the issue to what Calvinism stands for. Yet even if his sloppy description were accurate, finding fault with Calvinism does nothing to rebut my description of what Arminianism logically entails. It’s just a stalling tactic by someone who lost the argument.

“Again Hays misses the point that human descendants involves human procreation, God does not populate the world with people, we do. God set up the process in the beginning and told **them to propagate** to fill the earth (this is something that we do not God). God does not populate the world with ‘hellbound unbelievers’ (people in a fixed state of unbelief, that is **again your manure**, your false premise that we do not operate by).”

i) He made a world containing hellbound unbelievers. It wouldn’t exist, and they wouldn’t exist, apart from his creative fiat.

ii) And setting up a process of human procreation hardly entails the propagation of sinners, unless Robert takes the position that sin is unavoidable. But if sin is unavoidable, then human agents lack the freedom to do otherwise–pace Arminian action theory. What happened to their sufficient grace? Or the principle of alternate possibilities?

“And again when Hays speak of it being in ‘his power to spare them that fate’ he is **again** reading in his Calvinistic premise that salvation is a ***monergistic power game*** where God simply exercises his omnipotence in order to save a person (but this leaves out any cooperation of the human person with divine grace, this leaves out the non-Calvinistic view which Hays is well aware is SYNERGISTIC).”

Once again, Robert seems to be too dim-witted to follow the argument. When I say it was within God’s power to spare them that fate, this is predicated on Arminian assumptions, not Reformed assumptions.

i) God could spare all of them that fate by not creating them at all. Remember, Arminians ascribe libertarian freedom to God as well as man. So it’s not as though God’s hand was forced.

ii) Moreover, unless Robert thinks that sin is unavoidable, in which case he denies the libertarian freedom of human agents, then in choosing which possible world to create, God was hardly limited to a world containing sinners. If sin is avoidable, then there’s a possible world in which sin is avoided.

“His argument here is that if God foreknows an event will occur and allows it though he could have prevented it, then the outcome is one which he INTENDED (‘he foreintended that exact result’). We don’t’ buy that ‘logic’ (again it is Hays’ own premises not ours).”

i) I wouldn’t expect Robert to buy the logic of his own position. The sticker price is prohibitive. But, unfortunately for Robert, he’s stuck with the tab whether he likes it or not. Logic has that inexorable quality to it.

ii) It Robert denies that God intended the outcome, then the only logical alternative is to say the outcome reflects the law of unintended consequences.

But that would only make sense if Robert either denies that God foresaw the outcome, or that while God foresaw it, he was unable to prevent it.

If, however, this outcome was both foreseeable and avoidable, then God intended it to happen that way.

Indeed, God actively and positively contributed to the outcome by creating the world in which that foreseeable outcome takes place.

“Apply Hays’ logic to an evil such as abortion or child molestation or whatever (if God foreknew the abortion would occur and could have prevented it but did not do so, then God intended for that abortion to occur; if God foreknew the child abuse would occur and could have prevented it but did not do so, then God intended for that child abuse to occur; if God foreknew X would occur and could have prevented X but did not do so, then God intended for X to occur). Hays’ logic makes God into an immoral monster who intends every evil and sinful event.”

i) That does nothing to invalidate the conclusion which I derived from Arminian assumptions. All Robert has done is to express his outrage that the consequence. So what? How does his indignation disprove the consequence? It doesn’t. In the absence of a counterargument, Robert is reduced to venting.

ii) Indeed, Robert has given us a backhanded admission that Arminianism, when carried to its logical extreme, makes God an immoral monster. (I’m not sure if that’s better or worse that a moral monster. Seems a bit redundant.)

This also highlights the fact that a consistent Arminian is a closet atheist.

iii) On Arminian assumptions, God didn’t have to make a world with that foreseeable consequence (of abortion or child molestation). Indeed, it lay within God’s power to create a world without that foreseeable outcome. And God could do that without infringing on the libertarian freedom of his creatures.

If human agents have the freedom to do otherwise, then a molester or abortionist has the freedom to do otherwise. So why doesn’t God instantiate their alternate choice?

Commitment to the principle of alternate possibilities generates a serious dilemma for the

“Our view is that God foreknows all events and some events God allows though he neither intends nor desires for them to happen.”

This is pure assertion. Robert has made no effort to rationally defend his disjunction. Sure, he can verbally deny that God intends the outcome, but where’s the argument?

“The best example of this is sin. God foreknows it and allows it but does not intend it or desire it.”

i) If God permits the outcome, then he intends to permit the outcome, in which case he intends the consequence of his permission. He intended the “allowable” outcome, did he not?

Or did it happen despite the fact that he never intended that to happen? But under that scenario, God has lost control of the world. Things just happen in spite of God’s desire to the contrary.

ii) Moreover, in Arminian theology, God does a lot more than merely “allowing” the outcome. God’s creative fiat is a necessary precondition for a world with that foreseeable history to exist. God is not a passive spectator. It’s not as if the outcome would occur all by itself unless God intervened to prevent it. There’s nothing automatic about the existence of a world with that specific outcome. At the very least, God must initialize the preconditions. And once he does so, the outcome is inevitable.

“On Hays’ ‘logic’ if God foreknows a sinful event and allows it, then God INTENDED THAT SINFUL EVENT, GOD DESIRED FOR THAT SINFUL EVENT TO OCCUR.”

i) That doesn’t follow from *my* logic. That follows from any logic.

ii) BTW, I haven’t cast the issue in terms of “desire.” We could go into that as well. But, for now, “intent” is quite sufficient for the argument to go through.

“This is why our view does not lead to God being the author of sin while Hays’ view most surely does so.”

Once again, his denial is pure assertion. But shouting and stamping his feet doesn’t rebut the argument.

“God does not **make** people hellbound persons in eternity when they do not even exist, rather they make themselves into hell bound persons by their own freely made choices.”

i) To take a comparison, consider the traditional Arminian doctrine of conditional election. God elects those who will come to faith based on God’s foresight of their faith. Yet conditional election isn’t based on their actual existence. That’s why it involves “foreseen faith.” Their faith lies in the future. Indeed, their very existence, as believers, lies in the future. Yet God is making a decision about their fate prior to their actual existence.

Even if he does so on the basis of “their own freely made choices” (construed in libertarian terms), their choices are future to God’s conditional election. Their very existence is future to God’s conditional election.

ii) And I didn’t even say that Arminianism makes them hellbound persons in eternity. Rather, I said that by creating individuals with this foreseeable fate, God makes hellbound individuals. That’s trivially true.

They are hellbound individuals. God made them. Ergo, God made hellbound individuals. Introducing libertarian action theory into the transaction doesn’t change the equation.

“Here it is again: Hays rejects our view which is that God foreknows some events/outcomes which he neither intends to occur nor desires to occur (the two best examples being sin and persons ending up in hell).”

I reject that view because it’s illogical, and Robert gives me no reason to accept it. He hasn’t begun to show that this conclusion fails to follow from certain Arminian assumptions. A naked denial is not a disproof.

A serial killer may vehemently deny that he murdered anyone. His mere denial is irrelevant.

“And again Hays misses our view that people not God make themselves into hellbound persons…”

False dichotomy. On Arminian assumptions, no one is coercing God to make agents who make themselves hellbound sinners. It’s not as if God is acting at gunpoint.

They didn’t bring themselves into being. God brought them into being. Apart from God’s creative fiat, they wouldn’t even exist.

Even on Arminian assumptions, they don’t make themselves hellbound sinners all by themselves. For they didn’t make themselves in the first place.

“(A simple and clear example of this that Hays is familiar with is the non-Calvinist interpretation of the ‘vessels of wrath’ in Rom. 9:23 in which some argue that a middle is involved so it does not say that God makes them into vessels of wrath, rather, they make themselves into vessels of wrath, that is what non-Calvinists believe which Hays repeatedly and intentionally misrepresents).”

Is Robert as dense as he sounds? My argument doesn’t turn on a Reformed reading of Rom 9:23. I haven’t introduced any Reformed assumptions into my argument. Arminian kindling supplies all the firewood I need to burn it down.

“C. S. Lewis wrote about this and supposedly Hays has read Lewis, so why does Hays keep misrepresenting the non-Calvinist view?”

I’m not discussing “non-Calvinist views” in general, now am I? I’m discussing the specific implications of Arminianism, given certain Arminian assumptions. And a vague reference to Lewis is a lot of nothing.

“Again he twists my view. I believe that God created this world knowing that his plan of salvation would be one in which though salvation is offered to all, He would only save those who trust Him. He would give all the opportunity to be saved (contra Calvinism) while at the same time they would **only** be saved if they freely chose to trust Him (contra universalism).”

But on Arminian assumptions, God could do more than give everyone an opportunity to be saved. For there’s a possible world in which libertarian agents freely avail themselves of that opportunity. If you deny that, then you deny their freedom to do otherwise. You deny that they were able to either accept or reject the Gospel.

“God desires the salvation of all ACCORDING TO HIS TERMS which is to trust in the atonement of Christ which he provides for them all.”

Well, that’s rather vacuous. I could offer you a million dollar reward on condition that you run a one-minute mile. But if the condition is an insurmountable obstacle to receiving the reward, then what does my desire amount to?

Robert first posits a universal provision, but he then sets up moats and hurdles to impede its realization.

“If they choose to reject they have only themselves to blame…”

That’s irrelevant to whether God acted in their best interests.

“But this kind of unbelieving thought rejects what God has explicitly declared, namely that He loves the world and because of his love for the world (Jn. 3:16) provides His Son Jesus as an atonement for sin, for that **whole world** (cf. 1. Jn. 2:2). God gives the greatest possible gift of Jesus on the cross and people like Steve Hays come along and QUESTION AND MOCK this evident and real universal love on the part of God.”

No, I simply mock the Arminian harlequinade.

“Now if you held to ‘limited atonement’ then you would legitimately question whether God has a universal love for people (because in that false view Jesus was given only for the preselected elect, God had ***no salvific love for the world***, He limits his love only to some, the lucky ones). But Arminians and other non-Calvinists do not hold to ‘limited atonement’ they hold instead to unlimited atonement.”

Arminianism is deeply committed to the luck of the draw. You’re one of the lucky ones if God chose to instantiate the possible world in which you accept the Gospel. You’re one of the unlucky ones if God chose to instantiate the possible world in which you reject the Gospel–bypassing another possible world in which your counterpart accepted the gospel.

“The non-Calvinist believes that God truly desires that all be saved and so intends for Christ to be an atonement for all of them.”

And he believes in other things which logically conflict with that belief.

“The non-Calvinist also believes that sometimes God desires something, and His will is frustrated, his intention is not fulfilled.”

Why would that be? The actual world is not the only world available to God. If he finds one possible world “frustrating,” if one possible world thwarts his intentions, then he has others to choose from.

Remember, Robert subscribes to the principle of alternate possibilities. So God has a plurality of possible worlds from which to choose.

That’s what it means to say the outcome could go either way. If the outcome is truly open-ended, then there’s a possible world (or world-segment) for each alternative.

1 comment:

  1. Being full up, I can't take much more so I will take what I can then:::>

    "....“The issue is not about the act of damning someone **at the final judgment**, which is what Hays refers to here. Both calvinists and non-calvinists believe that at the final judgment when God sends a person to hell that it is an action of justice rather than mercy.”

    Of course it’s germane. Damnation expresses divine intent regarding the fate of the damned. Is that intent loving or not?....".

    If this is the same Robert I have had a run in with, he's been in law enforcement.

    Having said that I would put a forensic spin on that.

    Joh 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:

    I have been "appointed" to sit as a judge, a jurist, sitting and taking only the "evidence" the Judge allowed and ruled was legal evidence.

    I have been appointed to several juries.

    Every time, without a doubt, the one being defended was directed to declare not innocence, but "not guilty" before us and the case went to the end to find innocence or culpability, not, not guilty.

    We are all guilty before God.

    It is the position of the people through their District Attorney, to charge and then convince the jury of guilt or to "find" the innocent one, presumed, guilty basis the "evidence" allowed by the Judge, only.

    In our case as True Believers, though, the debate rages on. There are only two options; standing before God declaring "INNOCENT" therefore meritorious to enter into Eternal Life, not, not guilty, as is the case in our jurisprudence in the USA legal system or "guilty".

    Those who will believe there is some bit, however small that bit is, that we have to contribute to our "Right" Standing before God in this life and the next, will be convicted "guilty" by the Holy Spirit and sadly have to go to hell where Satan and his angels go, eternal damnation.

    Those who stand in "declared Righteousness" "believe" Righteousness is solely and completely a free gift come down from Heaven, without any merit on our part at all, not one jot or tittle of merit, and we will go to that Righteousness as foretold:

    Joh 16:10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;

    There is one way only, one way, to Heaven, as guilty, forgiven, full of His Righteousness, not as innocent and self-righteous.