Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Determinism and the existence of sin

Arminians frequently argue that (exhaustive) determinism implies that God is the author of sin. The argument being that if God causes every event including the actions of sinful men the God is behind such actions and is culpable. Although the reasoning that the instigator of an action is responsible for such action is sound, note David murdering Uriah the Hittite; that God is the author of sin is less immediately apparent.

Moral restrictions that apply to man do not automatically apply to God. God is allowed to remove the life of men at his discretion, for man to do so is considered murder. Therefore one could argue that causing other men to sin would be sinful for man, but not for God. In fact one could argue that it is impossible for God to sin because by definition God actions are not sinful.

I agree with the proposition that everything God does is good. Not that it is good because God does it, but because it is in the nature of God to be righteous and everything he does is consistent with this nature. But I wish to approach this problem from a different perspective.

Let us accepting that God cannot sin (for whatever reason). The issue with determinism is that it makes God the cause and source of every action including those actions we term sin. But determinism also makes the intermediate agents non-culpable. Man can hardly be responsible, let alone guilty for that which he does at the exhaustive, non-resistible control of another. A gun is hardly to blame for the actions of the soldier. I don't see how this is changes if the gun is given consciousness.

This leaves us with God being the author of all activity, man the author of none.

But the Bible states that there is such a thing as sin. It frequently warns us to reject sinful actions. That sin is real is not in doubt for those who agree with Scripture. But if God cannot sin, and determinism means that man is not culpable then we cannot resolve the dilemma.
  1. The Bible says that sin exists.
  2. God cannot sin
  3. Therefore men must sin
  4. The Bible teaches determinism
  5. But determinism implies that man is not culpable for sin
These cannot all be true. The question is which statement should we reject? Arminians would argue #4, as they do not think this is the case. Calvinists would argue #5 but this is logically and biblically untenable.

If we grant that God can and is permitted to do some things that man cannot and is not, this does not resolve the problem. Even accepting the Calvinist claim that God can cause evil and not sin still leaves the determinism problem unresolved.

89 comments:

  1. The first error of Calvinism is that it defines divine sovereignty as a thing God does rather than something God possesses. God's sovereignty is a pre-existing fact. It is not possible for God's perfect will to be thwarted because there are none like him. We don't say that when a human king expresses a passing wish that a subject not do X that his sovereignty is violated when that subject does it anyway. Yet Calvinists argue precisely that would be the case if humans had the freedom to disobey God's will and act autonomously.

    My gut instinct is that God has no "ideology" or "theology" about how He chooses to exercise His sovereignty. It is simply however He wants to exercise it. Sometimes He has absolutely no respect for human free will, others He lets us dig our own graves or pursue Him.

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  2. "But determinism implies that man is not culpable for sin"

    Where are your arguments against compatibilist accounts of freedom, e.g., John Martin Fischer's semicompatibilism?

    (This is my first visit to your blog so if you've already written on this, feel free to direct me to another post of yours.)

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  3. Hello Bethyada,

    I did not know that you had a blog till now, nice to see that you have one.

    You wrote:

    “But determinism also makes the intermediate agents non-culpable. Man can hardly be responsible, let alone guilty for that which he does at the exhaustive, non-resistible control of another. A gun is hardly to blame for the actions of the soldier. I don't see how this is changes if the gun is given consciousness.”

    I believe this goes to the heart of the disagreement between theological determinists and non-determinists: the nature of the control that God exercises over human persons.

    If God exercises puppet master like control over us (i.e. he is the puppet master and we are the puppets with our every action being directly, continuously and completely dictated and controlled by Him), then not only do we not have free will as ordinarily understood. We also should not be held responsible for actions that we cannot help doing, as our actions are completely necessitated by God.

    I like your illustration with the gun (even a conscious one at that) as the gun either is triggered or not, solely based upon the choice of the soldier. Only the soldier has free will in that instance, the gun does not. Likewise if God exercises puppet master like control over us, then he has free will, we the conscious puppets do not. And if God then holds us responsible for actions he completely controls and dictates that is not right. It is like me or you holding our car responsible for a car crash when we deliberately crashed the car into a pole. A major problem with calvinism is that they want puppet like control of human persons by God (they define “sovereignty” this way, the bible defines sovereignty as He does as He pleases, which does not require nor it is equavalent to puppet master like control) but at the same time want to claim it really is not like that, that we really are not experiencing puppet like control. But you cannot have it both ways, if we are controlled in the way a puppet master controls his puppets (conscious or not), then you cannot logically claim that we are acting freely and we are not under puppet like control. And it is not right to hold something responsible if it (or they, in our case) is directly, continuously and completely under the control of another person the way a puppet is controlled by the puppet master.

    Robert

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  4. I like Mike’s comments about sovereignty:

    “The first error of Calvinism is that it defines divine sovereignty as a thing God does rather than something God possesses. God's sovereignty is a pre-existing fact.”

    Right, sovereignty is not a thing, that can change with time (like today God has 10 lbs of sovereignty, tomorrow he will have 20 lbs and yesterday he had 5 lbs.). Rather, He either is, or is not sovereign. And the bible defines it simply as He does as He pleases. This right as sovereign of the universe to do as He pleases is true in all situations and at all times.

    “It is not possible for God's perfect will to be thwarted because there are none like him.”

    And one reason there is “none like him” is because He does as He pleases and no one can stop Him or thwart what He wants to do. This is true when he is acting unilaterally. The exception is when he in his sovereignty creates a being capable of obeying or disobeying and gives that being free will so that being can choose to obey or disobey. If this being chooses to disobey, it does not take away from God’s sovereignty as God is the one who gave the command and God has a choice as to how he will respond to the act of disobedience. For example God’s plan of salvation includes that human persons would freely choose to trust Him alone for their salvation. God sovereignly set up the plan of salvation, and it includes us freely choosing to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. If we choose not to do so, it is not that God’s plan has failed or God is not sovereign, as it was God who designed this plan of salvation in the first place!

    “We don't say that when a human king expresses a passing wish that a subject not do X that his sovereignty is violated when that subject does it anyway. Yet Calvinists argue precisely that would be the case if humans had the freedom to disobey God's will and act autonomously.”

    That is a great illustration. The key is that in our case God has in fact created human persons to have some autonomy (we are in fact created with the capacity to have our own thoughts, make our own choices, do our own actions, we are opposite a puppet who is completely controlled by the puppet master, we do have limited autonomy, we are independent beings).

    “My gut instinct is that God has no "ideology" or "theology" about how He chooses to exercise His sovereignty. It is simply however He wants to exercise it. Sometimes He has absolutely no respect for human free will, others He lets us dig our own graves or pursue Him.”

    I like these comments as well as Mike well states an example of God’s sovereignty and right to do as He pleases: sometimes he can intervene and human free will goes out the window (my favorite example being King Nebuchadnezzar who one moment is king and freely choosing and is over a powerful empire, and the next he is eating grass like an animal as a result of God intervening and judging his pride) and “others He lets us dig our own graves or pursue Him.” So sometimes God intervenes in our minds and wills and things are drastically changed, other times he allows us to freely choose, even allowing us to freely choose to reject Him and his offer of salvaton.

    Robert

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  5. Mike T, I'm going to use that.

    Robert, yes, since 2007. Though I don't have a single theme, just stuff I am interested in (as you can see from the labels). I concur with your comments.

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  6. Steven, I have not written a post on your objection in detail from memory. You could check the label "determinism".

    I only briefly referred to it in my post. I do not think it logically possible to be culpable for something I do at the exhaustive control of another. Nor do I think there is biblical evidence that people sin in this manner.

    In my post I mentioned he gun analogy as a brief example, and further I identified where I thought a Calvinist would differ; ie. point 5 rather than point 4.

    I use the term "determinism" meaning "exhaustive determinism" as that is what I understand the term to mean, and as agreed to by both Arminians and Calvinists, but I can be more explicit if needed as I think clarity is important in this debate.

    I wonder whether in fact some people who self-identify as Calvinists actually believe in partial determinism, meaning they view God as controlling most things, yet men when they sin are doing this of themselves and not at God's bidding. This view is somewhat similar to Arminianism. I could be wrong about them, it is just the way many write or talk.

    Cheers, bethyada

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  7. Bethyada:
    I wonder whether in fact some people who self-identify as Calvinists actually believe in partial determinism, meaning they view God as controlling most things, yet men when they sin are doing this of themselves and not at God's bidding. This view is somewhat similar to Arminianism.

    I've known many who do. Regardless, even partial determinism is demonstrably unbiblical:

    Act 16:6-7 They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them;

    Paul was not sinning. He wanted to preach in Asia and Mysia, whereby partial determinism would argue God (the Father?) had so directed Paul, and yet the biblical record clearly implies such 'partial determinism' was countermanded twice by the opposing 'partial determinism' of the Holy Spirit and Jesus.

    As Jesus taught:

    Luk 11:17 But He knew their thoughts and said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls.

    God's house/kingdom is not divided against itself, and partial determinism (as well as exhaustive) is unbiblical.

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  8. Bethyada:
    These cannot all be true. The question is which statement should we reject? Arminians would argue #4, as they do not think this is the case. Calvinists would argue #5 but this is logically and biblically untenable.

    I would argue both are false and should be rejected, and replaced with "God gave man free will to choose and God delegates responsibiliy to man for man's choices."

    That God can delegate responsibility without God losing sovereignty is often overlooked.

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  9. Starwind, do you really think that #5 is false? I claim that if we accept determinism were true then man is not morally culpable for sin.

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  10. Bethyada:
    do you really think that #5 is false? I claim that if we accept determinism were true then man is not morally culpable for sin.

    Hmmmm... I did rather make a hash of your point.

    As you constrained your argument, yes, if I reject determinism then it could follow that man is consequently morally culpable for sin.

    I agree man is morally culpable for sin, not as a consequence of determinism being false, but rather as a consequence of God having delegated responsibility to man for man's free-will choices. Implicit therein is my belief that "determinism" is *not* the logical opposite of "free will"; they are orthogonal concepts. God exercises determinism over man but man also exercises free will as God granted.

    For example, God does exercise a degree of "determinism" in that God 'establishes our steps' (Psa 37:23) and 'causes all things to work together for our good' (Rom 8:28) and 'prevents our being tempted beyond our limit' (1 Co 10:13), and does so somehow coincidently with our free will. Further, God's forechoosing of His "elect" could be argued as a kind of determinism and yet free will is the basis for man's moral culpability for his choices and actions. The quandary as I perceive it (and have oft mentioned) is this biblical contradiction that God sovereignly chooses first (as the Calvinist argues) and yet man exercises his genuinely free will to make the complementary choice (as the Arminian argues). We are chosen yet free to choose otherwise. God created us, He foreknew and created our souls, but how is it so many of our souls are defiant and rebellious while so few are teachable and compliant (neither prevenient grace nor predestination are satisfying answers to me)?

    But more broadly, the Calvinist or Arminian intends "determinism" to mean that God directly or indirectly makes a person's decisions, which meaning I view as unbiblical (because it contravenes free-will and implies God created a kind of self-contradicting puppet Kabuki theater), and in that broader context I (a-priori) deem determinism as a false or non-existent premise from which no consequence should logically follow. Having rejected #4, I somewhat reflexively also rejected #5 as neither meaningful nor informative, without having attempted to address the question as you posed it.

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  11. Hello Starwind,

    You made some interesting points but in order to better understand your views could you perhaps define how you are using some of your terms? If we are operating by different meanings for the same words some unnecessary confusion will result.

    You wrote:

    “I agree man is morally culpable for sin, not as a consequence of determinism being false, but rather as a consequence of God having delegated responsibility to man for man's free-will choices.”

    How do **you** define “determinism”?

    “Implicit therein is my belief that "determinism" is *not* the logical opposite of "free will"; they are orthogonal concepts. God exercises determinism over man but man also exercises free will as God granted.”

    Now what is a bit confusing to me here is your statement that “God exercises determinism over man”.

    What does that mean?

    Are you equating “determinism” with “control”, so that you meant “God exercises control over man”?

    The usual understanding of determinism has to do with causation: specifically in this context whether or not human persons sometimes act independently of God (i.e. libertarian free will, our actions are not predetermined, not decided by God beforehand) or are our actions directly, continuously, and completely controlled by God similar to the way a puppet master controls the puppet by manipulating the strings that he controls (i.e. determinism).

    And what do you mean that free will and determinism are “orthogonal concepts”?

    I want to understand what you mean by your own terms: that will make for more clear discussion and avoid unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding.

    “God created us, He foreknew and created our souls, but how is it so many of our souls are defiant and rebellious while so few are teachable and compliant (neither prevenient grace nor predestination are satisfying answers to me)?”

    The answer it seems to me is the biblical concept of sin. We have the capacity to choose, we were designed with this capacity. But like a double edged sword, it can cut two different ways. We can use our freedom to choose to do the right thing or we can use our freedom to choose to do the wrong thing (cf. for example, “For you were called to freedom, brethren, only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” Galatians 5:13: here Paul says of the believer that we are free and free to choose to use our freedom for the flesh or to choose to use our freedom for loving service of other believers, it is our choice).

    “But more broadly, the Calvinist or Arminian intends "determinism" to mean that God directly or indirectly makes a person's decisions, which meaning I view as unbiblical”

    Determinism again has to do with causation, how events are brought about. If everything is exhaustively determined then God does make our decisions for us before we ever existed (i.e. he formed this total plan, predecided what every event [including our decisions] would be, he then brings this plan to pass as what we call history). But the Arminian rejects this exhaustive determinism, so the Arminian does not see God has making our decisions for us (but instead we make our own decisions, both good and bad).

    Robert

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  12. Robert:
    How do **you** define “determinism”?

    Simply and broadly as "God determines" meaning God decides, causes, brings about, establishes, etc., some outcome.

    [What does that mean] that “God exercises determinism over man”?

    That God decides or causes an outcome inspite of man's wanting some other outcome, or that God brings about His plan by exploiting man's contrary actions (e.g. Joseph's brothers intending evil but God using their actions for good - Gen 50:20). Keep in mind I believe God does this *without* contraveneing man's free will.

    Are you equating “determinism” with “control”, so that you meant “God exercises control over man”?

    Not quite. Elaborating on my earlier statement: But more broadly, the Calvinist or Arminian intends "determinism" to mean that God makes a person's decisions directly (decides for me, i.e. somehow implants His decision in my mind) or indirectly (causes, i.e. so constrains my options and thought that I unwittingly narrow my choice to align with God's). But note carefully, while that is *my* meaning of the word "determinism", I don't agree that God actually "determines" outcomes in such a fashion, i.e. God does not "control" us - we in fact have "libertarian free will" to borrow your phrase. I would quibble with the word "control" in that God does not control us (neither directly nor indirectly) like puppets, but God is "in control" of the larger perspective and somehow brings about events which He "determines" in spite of not controlling our choices and actions, (e.g. Gen 50:20).

    God can "control" us if and when He chooses to, but that is the exception rather than the rule and seemingly still in accordance with human desires, for example: God completed the hardening Pharoah's heart after Pharoah initially hardened his own heart (Ex 7:13, Ex 8:32); and God will send a strong delusion upon those who reject the love of the truth (2Th 2:10-11).

    And what do you mean that free will and determinism are “orthogonal concepts”?

    "Orthogonal" as in "mutually perpendicular axes and intersecting at right angles" but in this context to mean two otherwise divergent concepts that intersect and reinforce at one point. Man has free will, but God exercises determinism, and are thus divergent concepts yet they intersect when God determines outcomes that incorporate man's free will actions (again, e.g. Gen 50:20). Both are true, but different and never substituted for each other.

    But the Arminian rejects this exhaustive determinism, so the Arminian does not see God has making our decisions for us (but instead we make our own decisions, both good and bad).

    Agreed. I never intended otherwise. I merely stated what I understood was the Calvinist/Arminian definition, and without comment, accepted Bethyada's rejection of it, but then I went on to make the case for rejecting "partial determinism" as well.

    I subscribe to neither the Calvinist nor Arminian theological systems as I believe both contain a degree of truth and a degree of error. I believe the truth lies somewhere in between, and as your reasonable questions reveal, our terminologies and philosophies often obscure the biblical details. I prefer the approach of the Bereans.

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  13. Robert:
    We can use our freedom to choose to do the right thing or we can use our freedom to choose to do the wrong thing

    Agreed, but why does one person "choose to do the right thing" while another "choose to do the wrong thing"? What underlies (causes, determines, initiates) these two opposite choices?

    Setting aside issues of both nature and nuture, imagine (hypothetically) two genetically identical twins growing up in the same household under the same parentage, schooling, etc. Why does one twin embark on a path that ultimately leads to salvation and biblical truth while the other embarks on a path towards indifference, disbelief and ultimate damnation? What is different in their souls (souls created by God) that chooses and remains on such divergent paths? Why does one twin seek truth and the other tolerate/accommodate delusion? Why don't all souls created by God seek His truth?

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  14. Hello Starwind, (part 1)

    Starwind thanks for your response, I think I understand your views better. Your view seems to have some similarities to my own.

    “I subscribe to neither the Calvinist nor Arminian theological systems as I believe both contain a degree of truth and a degree of error.’”

    Curious what errors do you believe Arminians hold?

    “Agreed, but why does one person "choose to do the right thing" while another "choose to do the wrong thing"? What underlies (causes, determines, initiates) these two opposite choices?”
    Different values. We do everything in consideration of what we consider to be important. For example, if you don’t’ consider being in shape to be important, you are unlikely to spend much time exercising and watching closely over your diet. If I on the other hand consider being in shape to be extremely important, than I won’t find it difficult to do lots of exercise and carefully watch over my diet. Analyze any action that people take, when they are acting for reasons and you will always find what is important to them underlying it all. If I know what you really consider important than I will have no problem understanding why you do what you do.

    “Setting aside issues of both nature and nurture, imagine (hypothetically) two genetically identical twins growing up in the same household under the same parentage, schooling, etc.”

    Hard to imagine this as no two humans, twins or otherwise are going to be identical genetically. :-)

    But let’s stick with the “same parentage, schooling, etc.”

    “Why does one twin embark on a path that ultimately leads to salvation and biblical truth while the other embarks on a path towards indifference, disbelief and ultimate damnation?”

    A combination of their nature, nurture, environments (plural because people change environments and experience different environments during a lifetime), personal experiences and choices and decisions.

    “What is different in their souls (souls created by God) that chooses and remains on such divergent paths?”

    I believe there is only one kind of human soul (i.e. God has one design plan for all human persons) and yet all of the different factors I just mentioned combine so that though there is only “one card game”, different people are dealt different cards. What then matters is how they respond to the cards they have been dealt. And how they respond to the cards they are dealt has everything to do with what they consider to be important.

    “Why does one twin seek truth and the other tolerate/accommodate delusion?”

    No simple answer.

    People sometimes ask for a single simple answer when life and a person’s life circumstances are much more complicated.

    Robert

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  15. Hello Starwind, (part 2)

    “Why don't all souls created by God seek His truth?”

    Everybody seeks truth (even the most immoral and rebellious person wants to know the exact amount of his phone bill! :-), the cost it will take to fix his car, how much money he will need to travel to some destination, whether or not he can trust the words of “Joe”, what the doctors diagnosis of his illness is, etc. etc. etc.).

    The problem is that in our ordinary state (as nonbelievers) we are separated from God by our sin with a tendency to want to be in control and do our own thing (which again will manifest itself in many different ways).

    Put simply we want the truth as long as it is what we want to hear and believe (so we can retain control). That is part of our “control” problem (as one person so succinctly and yet correctly put it perfectly describing the unbelieving condition: “no one tells me what to do, say or think!” He said this in response to my challenge to follow Jesus as Master). So most people seek the truth but only according to their terms (i.e. if it is what I want to hear it is acceptable, it if is not what I want to hear then it is minimized, discarded, ignored, reinterpreted, manipulated and even ridiculed).

    It is because we all have this tendency that it is both smart and wise to not surround yourself with “yes men”, but to have peers and friends who will challenge you. Truth stands up to challenge and questioning, error does not. So if you really want the truth, think hard about things, ask lots of questions, get the best available information concerning something and test all things, have smart people who will challenge a truth claim. The bible calls a person who does this a wise person who desires truth and knowledge and yet is open to correction and is teachable.

    Robert

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  16. Robert:
    Curious what errors do you believe Arminians hold?

    Arminians, for example, affirm that God elected or predestined for salvation those whom God foreknew would ultimately believe. While in the temporal sequence this has God choosing first, yes, but in the *logical* sequence this has God choosing second, conditionally and consequent to man having believed or disbelieved first (logically), and this would seem to contradict God's choice being according to God's purpose and will (Joh 15:16; Eph 1:5, 11). Since foreknowledge is not causative (I agree with the Arminian view on foreknowledge and disagree with the Calvinists) God's foreknowing whom would believe is not causative of their belief, however then God's choosing becomes a consequent effect of man's belief which seems unbiblical to me.

    I think the Calvinist view of God choosing first (both temporally and logically) is more correct, but the question then becomes why only some and not all? On what basis does God predestine one and not another? A logical consequence of this is Calvinist 'double predestination' (wherein God is predestining who will be eternally damned) which is troubling and seemingly not within God's character either. Nor do I find Arminian 'prevenient grace' a sufficient answer, as the question becomes why do some respond and not others when initially God ostensibly formed every soul capable of responding and establishes any good works, yet somewhere along the way the inclination of souls to respond diverges such that prevenient grace is not efficatious on everyone. Why? What is the difference in souls that puts them on divergent paths? This conundrum (for me) is what lies at the heart of my question to you: “Why don't all souls created by God seek His truth?” to which you seemingly overlooked why isn't God's 'previenient grace' equally efficacious on all of God's souls? Yes, they are free to sin, but why do some choose more sin and others choose less?

    I also have some quarrel with the Arminian (and Calvinist) view of total depravity, but I'm not prepared to elaborate.

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  17. Starwind, (part 1)

    Thanks for providing your own difficulties with Arminian and Calvinist beliefs. I will not deal with your comments on calvinism here.

    “Arminians, for example, affirm that God elected or predestined for salvation those whom God foreknew would ultimately believe. While in the temporal sequence this has God choosing first, yes, but in the *logical* sequence this has God choosing second, conditionally and consequent to man having believed or disbelieved first (logically), and this would seem to contradict God's choice being according to God's purpose and will (Joh 15:16; Eph 1:5, 11).”

    In my thinking God’s eternal purposes (i.e. His decisions concerning creation and His plan of salvation by which human persons will be saved) comes first **both** temporally and logically. So say that God decides that He will choose those who trust Him to be His people and He will save them through the death of Jesus on the cross. Say that God decides in eternity that human persons will have free will and that the choice to trust Him for salvation will be one which is done freely by humans. These would be God’s “purposes” before there even was a creation. Included in these “purposes” would be a design plan for man that includes that we would have free will: a design plan concerning the nature of salvation (including the reality that those who will be saved are those who chose to trust God alone for their salvation). These “purposes” would be set or decided before the world even existed: so they would be temporally prior to any actions by man and also logically prior (as these decisions were made in eternity, before there was ordinary time, before any created things including us ever existed). God’s choices, his purposes would then be both logically and temporally prior to any choices that we might make in relation to salvation. Temporally because these decisions were made before we ever existed: logically because God’s plan of salvation was decided upon before we existed (so God’s decision to save those who trust him, logically and temporally preceded say you or I choosing to trust Him).

    “Since foreknowledge is not causative (I agree with the Arminian view on foreknowledge and disagree with the Calvinists) God's foreknowing whom would believe is not causative of their belief,”

    True, foreknowledge is not causative (if it were then since God also foreknows all sin, he would be the cause of all sin as well).

    “however then God's choosing becomes a consequent effect of man's belief which seems unbiblical to me.”

    You are forgetting here that “man’s belief” occurred AFTER GOD FORMED HIS PLAN OF SALVATION. So our being saved by faith is a consequence of His already planning that salvation will be through faith, and His forming that plan in eternity.

    How is God choosing to elect those who choose to trust Him “unbiblical” if God himself is the one who came up with THIS plan of salvation?

    Robert

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  18. Hello Starwind, (part 2)

    The bible reveals God’s plan of salvation (says that He desires the salvation of all, says that He provides Jesus as an atonement for the world/all, says that justification/salvation is through faith, says that those who reject Him will themselves be rejected at the final judgment). The bible presents lots of instances of free will and also presents exhaustive foreknowledge. So the bible tells us God is sovereign, man has free will, the nature of God’s plan of salvation (both that those who trust Him will be saved as well as those who repeatedly reject him will not be saved).

    If God purposes (or decides) in eternity that people will have free will and that salvation will involve a freely made choice by an individual, then God in time when the world has been created and exists, is not going to contradict himself and then force people to believe. People will only be saved according to God’s purposes/plans (i.e. His purposes including man having free will and salvation being through faith a freely chosen faith).

    God has foreknowledge of all events and knows that people will sin. He also desires to save them from sin and so formulates His plan of salvation **before** He creates Adam and Eve (i.e. before he creates the world and humans in that world, in eternity God formulates His plan, decides His purposes). God forms a plan of salvation based on His desire that all be saved (which is explicitly stated in the bible, though just as explicitly denied by determinists/calvinists) through the atonement of Christ (which is a provision of salvation for all people). Part of God’s plan of salvation is also that He chooses to save those who freely choose to trust Him alone for salvation.

    Now if those things are true, God knows the plan of salvation, knows who will choose to trust Him and be saved and also knows who will choose not to trust Him and not be saved. In this scenario, God is sovereign as it is his decisions that determine the nature of the plan of salvation, man has free will (and man must freely choose to trust God in order to be saved), God’s election is conditioned upon faith according TO HIS OWN PLAN. Now note especially this last point. The bible is absolutely clear (especially in Romans and Galatians) that salvation/justification is through faith) that faith is a condition for salvation, though faith is distinguished from works and does not earn salvation for an individual.

    Where is the problem of election of those who choose to trust Him, if He himself set up the plan of salvation to be THAT WAY?

    In this way we can see how foreknowledge, free will, and God’s sovereignty all work quite well together.

    Robert

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  19. Hello Starwind, (part 3)

    “Nor do I find Arminian 'prevenient grace' a sufficient answer, as the question becomes why do some respond and not others” . . . .such that prevenient grace is not efficatious on everyone. Why?”

    Prevenient grace in my thinking is not given as an explanation as to why one chooses to believe and another chooses to reject (rather, it explains how people are enabled to choose to have a faith response to the gospel).

    Regarding why do some individuals believe and some do not, again that is a question with no simple answer as various factors are involved with each person. Those who do reject, must do so for their entire lifetimes, and do so in response to God revealing Himself to them and them choosing to reject God repeatedly.

    “What is the difference in souls that puts them on divergent paths? This conundrum (for me) is what lies at the heart of my question to you: “Why don't all souls created by God seek His truth?” to which you seemingly overlooked why isn't God's 'previenient grace' equally efficacious on all of God's souls?”

    Prevenient grace enables faith, but does not force a person to choose to trust (does not necessitate faith: that would be determinism, and that again goes against ***God’s own plan*** in which the person must freely choose to trust God, recall that God designed us to have free will and he is not going to contradict his own design). He enables the choice, but WE have to make the choice to trust. If we reject Him it is our choice. And again it is His plan that a person must freely choose to trust him. If they repeatedly choose to reject, then who is responsible for them being lost?

    “Yes, they are free to sin, but why do some choose more sin and others choose less?”

    Again there is no one pat and simple answer. You are asking for one answer when there is no one answer, no one size that fits all. If I ask what is 1 + 1? There is one answer. If I ask why do different people have different values? There is no one answer but you have to examine each person on a case by case basis.

    “I also have some quarrel with the Arminian (and Calvinist) view of total depravity, but I'm not prepared to elaborate.”

    Why not?

    A person’s conception of depravity will explain much of what they believe concerning how a person comes to faith in Christ.

    Robert

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  20. Robert:
    ... God’s choices, his purposes would then be both logically and temporally prior to any choices that we might make in relation to salvation. Temporally because these decisions were made before we ever existed: logically because God’s plan of salvation was decided upon before we existed (so God’s decision to save those who trust him, logically and temporally preceded say you or I choosing to trust Him).

    You've correctly understood the temporal sequence but misunderstood the logical sequence. You write logically because God’s plan of salvation was decided upon before we existed, which is just a restatement of the temporal sequence. You've inadvertently overlooked the logical sequence.

    In the logical sequence, the Arminian viewpoint is that God chooses whom is saved on the basis of God's foreknowledge of whomever believes in Christ. Reliance upon foreknowledge removes the sequence from temporal constraint, but because it is man's choice that is foreknown, introduces the sequence to logical constraint. God's choice is a logical condition of man's choice, which is the consequence of a) man decides, b) God foreknows that decision and on the basis of man believing c) God 'plans' (to borrow your term) to predestine or elect that individual for salvation. That is the logical sequence, and clearly in the logical sequence, man's belief was first and God's choosing was second and conditional thereupon. Conversely, had man not believed, God would foreknow that disbelief and excluded that man from election. If man believes, then God elects; if man disbelieves, God does not elect. God's election has become conditional and consequent to man's decision, logically, albeit God's foreknowledge has removed the temporal constraint.

    By contrast, consider that to remove the logical condition constraint, the Arminian view would need to remove man's choice from the logical sequence. Hypothetically, for example, by arguing God forenkows but nonetheless ignores man's decision when determining election. If God ignores man's choice then God's election is not conditional on man's choice. But in the Arminian view, God does not ignore man's choice but rather elect's on the basis of it. That is a logical condition.

    There is no one answer [why do some choose more sin and others choose less] but you have to examine each person on a case by case basis.

    Indeed. But what, in the Arminian view, is different in each person, on a case by case basis? What is different from case to case that 'preveient grace' is efficacious in some but not most? I didn't actually expect an answer. I was asking, socratically, to expose an unexamined premise.

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  21. Correction/Revision:

    My phrase:
    That is the logical sequence, and clearly in the logical sequence, man's belief was first and God's choosing was second and conditional thereupon.

    would be more precise as:

    man's belief was causative and God's choosing was effect and conditional thereupon.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hello Starwind,(part 1)

    “You've correctly understood the temporal sequence but misunderstood the logical sequence. You write logically because God’s plan of salvation was decided upon before we existed, which is just a restatement of the temporal sequence. You've inadvertently overlooked the logical sequence.”

    I don’t think so because God’s plan of salvation is both temporally and logically prior to an individual’s choice to trust God for salvation.

    “In the logical sequence, the Arminian viewpoint is that God chooses whom is saved on the basis of God's foreknowledge of whomever believes in Christ.”

    You are leaving out God’s plan of salvation here.

    It is like God’s plan is the set and God’s foreknowledge is a subset of the set. You are focusing exclusively on foreknowledge and forgetting that that foreknowledge occurs in a context (the context being God’s plan of salvation which he made in eternity). Both God’s plan and his foreknowledge of a particular person’s faith response to the gospel, existed, occurred in eternity, prior to the creation of the world, prior to the individual person making his/her choice to trust.

    “God's choice is a logical condition of man's choice, which is the consequence of a) man decides, b) God foreknows that decision and on the basis of man believing c) God 'plans' (to borrow your term) to predestine or elect that individual for salvation.”

    Again, you seem to be leaving out the plan of salvation.

    To make the point with an illustration, imagine that God did not come up with a plan of salvation, that there was none in place. And then Joe decides to trust God for his salvation. Well that faith on Joe’s part means nothing as there is no plan of salvation in place in which faith leads to justification and salvation. Joe’s faith response only makes sense, only is important if in fact the plan of salvation is already in place. In Genesis right after the fall mention is made that a seed of Eve’s would crush the head of another seed (so already God had the plan of salvation in mind, already He knew that Jesus would come in the flesh and die on the cross for the sins of the world).

    “That is the logical sequence, and clearly in the logical sequence, man's belief was first and God's choosing was second and conditional thereupon.”

    No, clearly both in the logical and temporal sequence, the plan of salvation was first, before man’s belief. And again as with Joe, the only reason Joe’s faith response has meaning is because God’s plan of salvation is already in place.

    Take the example of Mary voting in an election. We would say that the method and procedure of “voting” was in place already first (both logically and temporally) before Mary “votes”. We would not say that her vote logically precedes her taking part in the voting process. No, the voting procedure and method was already decided and in place, in order for Mary’s vote to be meaningful as a vote (the voting procedure and method was both logically and temporally prior to Mary’s vote).

    Robert

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  23. (part 2)

    “Conversely, had man not believed, God would foreknow that disbelief and excluded that man from election.”

    And even that exclusion is also based upon the plan of salvation (i.e. in God’s plan of salvation it is those who reject God that are excluded; just as if Mary chooses not to vote then she will not be part of the voting process).

    “If man believes, then God elects; if man disbelieves, God does not elect. God's election has become conditional and consequent to man's decision, logically, albeit God's foreknowledge has removed the temporal constraint.”

    No, with the plan of salvation ALREADY IN PLACE, if man believes, then according to God’s plan, in line with his plan, God saves this person; if man disbelieves, then according to God’s plan, in line with his plan, God does not save this person. God’s election which is based upon his plan of salvation, involves a faith response.

    “By contrast, consider that to remove the logical condition constraint, the Arminian view would need to remove man's choice from the logical sequence.”

    No, because the logical (and temporal) sequence is that the plan of salvation is already in place before a person chooses to believe or chooses to reject.

    “Hypothetically, for example, by arguing God foreknows but nonetheless ignores man's decision when determining election. If God ignores man's choice then God's election is not conditional on man's choice. But in the Arminian view, God does not ignore man's choice but rather elect's on the basis of it. That is a logical condition.”

    Key words here “but rather elect’s on the basis of it”. God elects on the basis of His own plan of salvation that within His plan if a person chooses to believe they will be elected. It is true that God foreknows a belief response, but that response occurs in the context of a plan of salvation that was formed in eternity and is already in place when the person makes his faith response.

    Robert

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  24. (part 3)

    [[There is no one answer [why do some choose more sin and others choose less] but you have to examine each person on a case by case basis.]]
    “Indeed. But what, in the Arminian view, is different in each person, on a case by case basis? What is different from case to case that 'preveient grace' is efficacious in some but not most? I didn't actually expect an answer. I was asking, socratically, to expose an unexamined premise.”

    Apparently you do not understand the function or nature of Prevenient grace (PG for short, so I don’t have to repeat the words each time! :-) ) in the Arminian view.
    PG does not necessitate a faith response, PG only enables a faith response.
    PG then is “efficacious” whenever it fulfills its function, which is whenever it enables a sinner to make the choice to trust. The sinner must still make the choice to trust and may in fact choose not to trust. PG has not “failed” if the person chooses not to trust, because PG does not necessitate faith, a person is enabled to have faith by PG but may still choose to say no. The sinner apart from PG is unable to have a faith response on his own. PG enables the sinner to have a faith response.
    Your statement here “What is different from case to case that ‘preveient grace’ is efficacious in some but not most?” shows a misunderstanding of the Arminian view of PG.

    It is the calvinist who believes in “efficacious grace” which when given to a person necessitates a faith response (and in the determinist system is only given to some, and all to whom it is given will be necessitated into belief). Arminians reject the calvinist notion of “efficacious grace” that cannot be resisted and always results in faith. Starwind you seem to be confusing the determinist concept of irresistible grace and the Arminian concept of prevenient grace.

    “Correction/Revision:
    My phrase:
    That is the logical sequence, and clearly in the logical sequence, man's belief was first and God's choosing was second and conditional thereupon.
    would be more precise as:

    man's belief was causative and God's choosing was effect and conditional thereupon.”

    How can man’s belief be causative of God’s foreknowledge, if God foreknows in eternity before any man even exists?
    And how does man’s belief that occurs (say thousands of years later) **cause** God’s foreknowledge?

    God’s foreknowledge does not cause the action that is foreseen, and neither does the action that is foreseen cause God’s foreknowledge. I know that 1 + 1 = 2, but my knowledge does not cause 1 + 1 to equal 2, nor does the truth of 1 + 1 = 2, cause my knowledge that 1 + 1 = 2.

    A logical relation is involved, not a causal relation.

    Likewise, God’s foreknowledge has a logical relation to a future foreknown event, not a causal relation (and likewise the foreknown event has a logical relation to God’s foreknowledge, not a causal relation).

    Robert

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  25. Robert:
    I don’t think so because God’s plan of salvation is both temporally and logically prior to an individual’s choice to trust God for salvation.

    You keep reversing the logical sequence to conform to your temporal premise, which may be *your* view, but that is not the Arminian view, which is what you asked me about. You asked me what errors did I think the Arminian's held. The Arminian view is that God's election is conditional, based on God's foreknowlegde of an individual's response to the gospel. That may not be your personal view, but that is the Arminian view.

    A logical sequence is an if-then-else cause-effect sequence, e.g. if 'faith response to the gospel', then 'elected', else 'not elected'. The individual's response to the gospel is the condition (cause) on which God effects election or not.

    God elects on the basis of His own plan of salvation that within His plan if a person chooses to believe they will be elected.

    Look at your own statement above of the if-then logic. That is Arminian conditional election (which you have now unwittingly asserted in contrast to your earlier arguments). In your own terms, the individual responds and God elects or not based on that response, which conditional election is not altered by God's foreknowledge but in fact relies upon foreknowledge whereupon salvation becomes God's plan for that person. "Election" means predestined for salvation (chosen), before the indvidual lived, yes, but election conditioned regardless (in the Arminain view) on their response when they finally do live and ultimately hear the gospel.

    I've nothing more to add at this juncture.

    The sinner must still make the choice to trust and may in fact choose not to trust. PG has not “failed” if the person chooses not to trust, because PG does not necessitate faith, a person is enabled to have faith by PG but may still choose to say no.

    Re-word it however you like, but you've still not grasped the essence of my (socratic) question, but to ask a final time in your words: why, after having received prevenient grace, do some sinners freely choose to trust while most freely choose to not trust? What is different in the sinners' God-created souls that they freely respond *differently* to prevenient grace? The Arminian view is that prevenient grace *enables* a free-will faith response in everyone, but yet not all freely respond in faith. Why not? Everyone is enabled to respond, everyone is free to respond, but only a few do. What is different between them? (assuming it isn't genetic or parents or schools, etc.)

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  26. I am enjoying this conversation.

    Robert, I perceive you are saying that God elects corporately (those who have faith) and that one becomes elect by being part of the group. Thus the elect group is logically prior to (individual) choice and the individual is logically subsequent to (his) choice?

    Starwind, I believe that corporate election fits within the broader Arminian camp?

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  27. Starwind you wrote:

    “Re-word it however you like, but you've still not grasped the essence of my (socratic) question, but to ask a final time in your words: why, after having received prevenient grace, do some sinners freely choose to trust while most freely choose to not trust? What is different in the sinners' God-created souls that they freely respond *differently* to prevenient grace? The Arminian view is that prevenient grace *enables* a free-will faith response in everyone, but yet not all freely respond in faith. Why not? Everyone is enabled to respond, everyone is free to respond, but only a few do. What is different between them? (assuming it isn't genetic or parents or schools, etc.)”

    Starwind I was thinking some more about this and you keep seemingly asking for a one size, fits all answer, a single answer, when there is no single answer.

    A simple proof that different people have different responses for their unbelief is given by Jesus’ parable of the Sower. The Word goes out to all sorts of different people. Now look at what Jesus actually says about the DIFFERING responses: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart (reason 1 – satanic deception). This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. And the one whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy: yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately falls away (reason 2 – difficult life circumstances). And the one whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful (reason 3 – worldly concerns get in the way). Matt. 13:19-22)

    Now note Jesus in interpreting the parable Himself gives ***three different reasons*** here for people’s unbelief. And that does not mean there are not other reasons as well, that is just three different reasons given by Jesus/God himself. Now if Jesus says there are different reasons why people do not believe, then how do you expect me to come up with one answer for you, one catch all answer, one size that fits all! :-)

    You are asking me to do something that even Jesus didn’t do: give one single answer as to why people do not believe!

    So Starwind I have the bible behind me on this one, there are in fact different reasons for why various people do not believe.

    “I am enjoying this conversation.

    Robert, I perceive you are saying that God elects corporately (those who have faith) and that one becomes elect by being part of the group. Thus the elect group is logically prior to (individual) choice and the individual is logically subsequent to (his) choice?”

    Corporate election could be correct. I have not found major problems with it and heard some very good arguments for it from friends. I also wonder if it is not an either/or (either corporate or individual election) reality but possibly a both/and reality (where aspects of both corporate and individual election are true).


    “Starwind, I believe that corporate election fits within the broader Arminian camp?”

    I know it does. I have good friends that are trying to convince me to hold to corporate election. They make some very strong arguments, most notably that in Ephesians 1 the references to believers there are not individual but corporate. There is also the case of Israel which also involves corporate election.

    Robert

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  28. Bethyada:
    Starwind, I believe that corporate election fits within the broader Arminian camp?

    Not sure whether you were asking or suggesting... it certainly isn't in the Calvinist camp, but neither am I sure how Arminius would view it. Corporate election is a recent theory, no? But I do have problems with corporate election, moreso than with classic Arminian conditional election or Calvinist unconditional election.

    It seems generally that corporate election's apologists have substituted the simple non-specific plurality of individuals inherent in terms like the "elect" and "church" for a more specific singular group connotation, which substitution relies upon ambiguity inherent in the grammar. While I'm no stranger to arguments from grammatical ambiguity (e.g. 'yom' meaning day or age in Gen 1), this one seems a rather contrived case, IMO.

    Corporate election also conflicts with scripture wherein God chooses kinds of individuals for salvation (1Co 1:27-31), prepares good works for individuals (Rom 8:28; Eph 2:10), chooses individuals (Joh 17:9; Rom 8:29-30), and chooses all the elect (Mar 13:20). Except for Mar 13:20, the plain meaning of those passages is that God foreknew specific individuals and prepared individual works for them each, which plainly conflicts with a 'corporate' treatment.

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  29. Robert:
    Starwind I was thinking some more about this and you keep seemingly asking for a one size, fits all answer, a single answer, when there is no single answer.

    I asked you "one" 'why' question (repeatedly, in different ways), but nowhere nor at any time did I constrain you to a single answer.

    there are in fact different reasons for why various people do not believe.

    But then, I didn't ask what are the different reasons people disbelieve. I'm well aware of disbelievers' litanies.

    However, my question to you was: what was different in our unregenerate, prevenient grace enabled, God created souls that ultimately leads some to belief and most to disbelief. That is broader, deeper, comparative question than what you have understood.

    Regardless, we seem to exhausted this topic as well.

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  30. Robert:
    A simple proof that different people have different responses for their unbelief is given by Jesus’ parable of the Sower.

    Ok, perhaps this can yet be an illuminating moment:

    As a thought experiment, consider instead the believers implicit in the parable: Why do believers hear the word and understand it? Why do believers have firm root [in soil] instead of rocky places? Why do believers not worry about the world? Consider that both believers and disbelievers alike are hearing the word in their identical unregenerate, prevenient grace enabled, God created souls. In what way(s) are the souls of believers in the parable of the sower different from the souls of disbelievers, so as to result in such widely divergent outcomes?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Starwind,

    I had said:

    “there are in fact different reasons for why various people do not believe.”
    You responded with:

    “But then, I didn't ask what are the different reasons people disbelieve. I'm well aware of disbelievers' litanies.”

    Then I must have misunderstood your question. I thought you were asking why does one believe (or for what reasons) and why does another not believe(or for what reasons): and my answer is there is no single answer, no one size fits all kind of answer to this question.


    Now you are re-asking the question as:

    “However, my question to you was: what was different in our unregenerate, prevenient grace enabled, God created souls that ultimately leads some to belief and most to disbelief. That is broader, deeper, comparative question than what you have understood.”

    I believe there is only one kind of human soul. There are not different types of human souls. Here you seem to be asking what difference is there in human souls that “ultimately leads some to belief and most to disbelief”? But I think you are making a category mistake here.

    God created us and designed us to be personal agents who do things for reasons.

    If you want to know why someone did a particular behavior, you examine their reasons for doing so (because all of our voluntary freely done actions are done for reasons, that is the way that God designed us to be).

    And the fact is, different people do different things for different reasons.

    If someone does something and I want I know **why**. I ask them “Why did you do it?” Meaning, what reasons were you acting upon when you did THAT action. I do not go to any lower level of explanation (say, was his soul different than another person’s soul) because personal explanations of agent actions based upon reasons is sufficient. When Jesus spoke of the different people believing and not believing he spoke in terms of different reasons explanations (this one did it for this reason, this one did it for that reason). We don’t need to go to the level of molecules to explain a person’s intentional actions: we just ask for a personal explanation.

    The philosopher John Searle who is a materialistic philosopher, not a believer, and yet believes in libertarian free will, has done a lot of work in the area of intentionality and free will. And in his work he talks a lot about reasons based explanations (e.g. why did you order that for dinner? I wanted to try their steak tonight, explanations based upon reasons, though those reasons do not necessitate the choices made) being perfectly sufficient and acceptable as explanations (versus sufficiently causal explanations that explain by appealing to necessitating causes, sufficient causes: e.g. why did that earthquake happen? The tectonic plates shifted in that way resulting in the earthquake). I believe Searle is correct here.

    And Starwind you are asking for some sort of ontological explanation (is their soul different and that is why they chose differently: “In what way(s) are the souls of believers in the parable of the sower different from the souls of disbelievers, so as to result in such widely divergent outcomes?”) when what is sufficient and true is a personal explanation of reasons (They did it for this reason . . . or this reasons or . . .).


    Robert

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  32. Robert:

    Calvinism attributes ultimate responsibility for either salvation or reprobation of the individual to God's sovereign predestination, with God's foreknowledge and determinism establishing a path by which each individual "freely" arrives at God's chosen outcome for that individual.

    Arminianism however takes a more serious view of an individual's free will and attributes ultimate responsibility for either salvation or reprobation of the individual to their own choices, choices which God foreknows but does not predetermine, and the path by which each individual arrives at either salvation or reprobation is freely their own.

    Both Calvinism and Arminianism seek to compensate for total depravity of the individual by common or prevenient grace, respectively.

    Comparing then Calvinism vs Arminianism on the issue of election, God chooses and causes in Calvinism whereas the individual chooses and causes in Arminianism. We can then ask, on what basis does the 'Calvinist' God choose one individual for salvation and another for reprobation? and commensurately on what basis do 'Arminian' indiduals choose either salvation or reprobation?

    My question to you was an effort to explore the premises which underlie the 'Arminian' individual choices. Given our triune nature and assuming the body is not at cause but that the decisions of the mind rest within the soul or spirit, and given that prevenient grace is sufficient to enable the soul or spirit to make a faith response, acknowledging that most don't respond, the question for the Arminian becomes, what are the differences in the soul or spirit that avail themselves (or not) of that previent grace and ultimately respond (or not).

    By way of example, I have wondered if 'reprobates' unwittingly gradually sear their conscience, thus preventing a faith response. But the question (for me) then becomes, even after prevenient grace why do most sear their conscience instead of listen to their conscience? Assuming an equal footing of intelligence, parentage, schooling, etc, and that prevenient grace otherwise compensates for the vagaries of life, what is the difference by which one soul gradually sears their conscience and another does not, ultimately leading to reprobation or salvation. That is the question I ask myself and was trying (unsuccessfully) to entice (without leading) out of you.

    Consider the question above, in the parable of the sower, which you blithely blew past: Why do believers hear the word and understand it while disbelievers do not understand? Keep in mind we all start as disbelievers, and some only become believers as a result of hearing and understanding the word. Why do some disbelievers understand the word they hear, while other disbelievers do not understand? The gospel message is simple, yet most sear their conscience (in spite of prevenient grace) while a few quicken theirs.

    The Calvinist answer lies in God's thoughts but the Arminian answer lies within us. I have often sought other insights. That is what I was pursuing.

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  33. Starwind, (part 1)

    Reading your latest post, it seems to me that much of your thinking on this particular subject is based upon false presuppositions. It comes across clearly in your initial paragraphs.

    “Calvinism attributes ultimate responsibility for either salvation or reprobation of the individual to God's sovereign predestination”

    So God ULTIMATELY decides who is saved and who is not by choosing whom to save and damn as part of His total plan for the universe (Calvinism).

    “Arminianism however takes a more serious view of an individual's free will and attributes ultimate responsibility for either salvation or reprobation of the individual to their own choices”

    So people ULTIMATELY decide whether or not they will be saved or not (Arminianism).

    There is a common denominator to all of this: that some person is saved for eternity, by a single decision (made either by God/calvinism, or peole/Arminianism). Your error is one which I call “decisionism”. Decisionism occurs when people believe that we are “saved” by a single decision that we make. If we make that decision then we are saved, if we do not make that decision then we are not saved. But it ***all*** comes down to that SINGLE DECISION.

    I know a guy who will tell you with tears in his eyes how years ago he made the decision to become a Christian at a Christian camp. So in his mind he **is** a Christian since he made THAT SINGLE DECISION at a Christian camp years ago, though his life does not manifest fruitfulness for God, Christian maturity, etc. But he made that decision so he is convinced he is saved. Is it possible that he may not be saved?


    Is there a difference between trusting in your decision to trust the Lord and trusting the Lord to save you?

    Or are we just going to ignore all that the bible says about sanctification (e.g. without holiness no one will see the Lord . . .)? Can you be saved and live like the devil, cause you made that decision years ago at that camp (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11, and people unrepentant about their sins entering the Kingdom of God)?

    I don’t know about your bible, :-) but in my bible God is not aiming for mere one time decisions.

    No, he wants us to go into the world and make disciples (a disciple being a follower of Jesus, someone who desires to please the Lord, to grow, to mature, to produce fruit, to be obedient to God, to win others to the Lord, etc. etc.). Because I know the bible, I know that salvation is more than just a onetime decision to trust the Lord. I know that the Spirit had to have revealed things to you before you were even capable of making that initial decision. I know that justification is through faith not works: but that a genuine faith will do works (cf. especially James, “faith working through love”). I know that our salvation consists of justification, being given the Holy Spirit, being forgiven our sins, being made a part of the family of God, being set apart from sin/sanctified after our initial decision to trust, and finally at the end being raised from the dead or having our bodies changed into spiritual bodies fit for the eternal state (cf. 1 Cor. 15). So I view salvation as a process, a “package deal” if you will. And when we examine this “package deal” carefully we find that our initial decision to trust is just part of the process, just part of the whole picture, there is so much more.

    Robert

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  34. Starwind, (part 2)

    People into “decisionism” speak of whether or not God or man is ULTIMATE in deciding who is saved or not saved. But the bible doesn’t talk about it that way. It is true that there is an initial decision to trust God alone for salvation (which we could focus on and camp out on, theologically called justification). But there is also so much more. Put another way, focusing on the initial decision to trust, as if that is ULTIMATE when it comes to salvation is missing the boat! We have a lot of stunted believers(?) or are they just professing believers, who were pressured into making “that decision”, then everybody was happy and thought the most important part was done. And it seems to me Starwind that your thought is infected with “decisionism” as well. Because for you it is all about figuring out who is responsible for that one DECISION that saves us: you will spend hours discussing it. You have framed the whole discussion incorrectly; as have others who want to assume decisionism (one decision alone saves you for eternity, whether that decision is made by God or made by you then becomes the question).

    And because you mis-frame things you end up with questions like:

    “We can then ask, on what basis does the 'Calvinist' God choose one individual for salvation and another for reprobation? and commensurately on what basis do 'Arminian' individuals choose either salvation or reprobation?”

    Can you even see that again this question assumes the truth of decisionism?


    I have told you repeatedly now that different people choose to believe and not believe for different reasons. But that is not good enough for you. Since you have swallowed decisionism “hook, line, and sinker” your grid is decisionism. Your framework is decisionism. So you are obsessed with figuring out who makes the ULTIMATE DECISION (is it God or is it us; what is the difference between those who make this ULTIMATE DECISION and others who do not make this ULTIMATE DECISION?).


    “My question to you was an effort to explore the premises which underlie the 'Arminian' individual choices.”

    No that was never your real question: we do things for reasons, that is the way that God made us to function. I already explained THAT. But that is not what you are after. Based on your implicit decisionism, you want to know who is responsible for making that ULTIMATE DECISION which saves or damns a person.

    “what are the differences in the soul or spirit that avail themselves (or not) of that previent grace and ultimately respond (or not).”

    There it is again, the quest for who is ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE for that one DECISION.

    You suggest that some sear their conscience and conclude: “But the question (for me) then becomes, even after prevenient grace why do most sear their conscience instead of listen to their conscience?”

    Now you are thinking that perhaps a person searing their conscience is what ULTIMATELY determines whether they make that one DECISION.

    “Assuming an equal footing of intelligence, parentage, schooling, etc, and that prevenient grace otherwise compensates for the vagaries of life, what is the difference by which one soul gradually sears their conscience and another does not, ultimately leading to reprobation or salvation.”

    Ultimately leading to . . . Again assuming decisionism.
    Why don’t you isolate the virus of decisionism, isolate it and quarantine it out of your thinking. THEN look at what the bible says about salvation. Perhaps then you will cease your futile quest of determining who is ultimate in the initial decision to trust God for salvation. You will cease asking that question realizing that question was based on a serious but obvious error: decisionism.

    Robert

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  35. Robert:
    People into “decisionism” speak of whether or not God or man is ULTIMATE in deciding who is saved or not saved.

    Here is *your* “decisionism”, Robert, *your* statements implying that God decides or man decides:

    If God exercises puppet master like control over us (i.e. he is the puppet master and we are the puppets with our every action being directly, continuously and completely dictated and controlled by Him), then not only do we not have free will as ordinarily understood. We also should not be held responsible for actions that we cannot help doing, as our actions are completely necessitated by God.

    The key is that in our case God has in fact created human persons to have some autonomy (we are in fact created with the capacity to have our own thoughts, make our own choices, do our own actions, we are opposite a puppet who is completely controlled by the puppet master, we do have limited autonomy, we are independent beings).

    You are hardly in a position to dismiss differences in Calvinist election vs Arminian election as trite "decisionism".

    What the bible actually teaches (well, that would be my bible, perhaps your is different) is a tension between God sovereignly electing and man freely believeing or disbelieving. My question was to peel back the layers of Arminianism and explore why some disbelievers hear the word and understand while other disbelievers hear the same word (with sufficient previent grace) and yet do not understand, a question put to you which you have ignored twice now.

    There it is again, [“what are the differences in the soul or spirit that avail themselves (or not) of that previent grace and ultimately respond (or not).”] the quest for who is ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE for that one DECISION.

    How can you with any intellectual honesty conflate a question about what are the differences in souls with an assignment of responsibility!!! I asked "what" are the differences and you changed it into "who" is responsible. And you can't very well argue there are no differences without at least honestly addressing the question(s) put to you, e.g. why some disbelievers understand the word they hear while others do not.

    While you don't have to agree with me, you've made no effort to acknowledge my question(s) as asked. Instead you have distorted my statements and repeatedly argued against your own strawmen with a studied obtuseness. I'll not waste further bandwidth.

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  36. Starwind,(part 1)

    I am against DECISIONISM (the false claim that a single decision is what saves an individual), I am not against the reality that is ubiquitous, that we often make our own decisions. My problem is not with the reality that we sometimes have choices which we freely decide. That is the reality of free will. I do however have a problem with DECISIONISM, a belief that you apparently are quite comfortable with as you presume it in everything that you say. You tried to bring up some sort of contradiction in my belief in free will and my rejection of DECISIONISM. They are apples and oranges, different categories completely, that you apparently cannot see as different categories.

    You wrote:

    [[[[“Here is *your* “decisionism”, Robert, *your* statements implying that God decides or man decides:
    If God exercises puppet master like control over us (i.e. he is the puppet master and we are the puppets with our every action being directly, continuously and completely dictated and controlled by Him), then not only do we not have free will as ordinarily understood. We also should not be held responsible for actions that we cannot help doing, as our actions are completely necessitated by God.
    The key is that in our case God has in fact created human persons to have some autonomy (we are in fact created with the capacity to have our own thoughts, make our own choices, do our own actions, we are opposite a puppet who is completely controlled by the puppet master, we do have limited autonomy, we are independent beings).
    You are hardly in a position to dismiss differences in Calvinist election vs Arminian election as trite "decisionism".]]]

    So DECISIONISM IS TRITE HUH?

    It is apparent you just don’t get it (or better you don’t want to get it).

    If DECISIONISM sometimes results in people trusting in their “decision” that they made to become a Christian RATHER THAN TRUSTING IN GOD ALONE FOR THEIR SALVATION. Then we will have people who believe they are saved cause they made the “decision”, who live like the devil and could care less about being holy, thinking they are saved when they are not (cf. the Lord, Lord people in Matthew 7, of which Jesus said there would be MANY of them in for a very rude surprise on the final judgment day). My calling by the Lord as per Matt. 28 is not merely to manipulate “decisions” out of people but to produce disciples, true followers of Jesus who are alive spiritually and produce fruit.

    DECISIONISM is not “trite” there is nothing “trite” about it, it is a deadly poison injected in the church bloodstream by zealous but ill informed evangelists (e.g. Charles Finney) and others.

    “What the bible actually teaches (well, that would be my bible, perhaps yours is different) is a tension between God sovereignly electing and man freely believeing or disbelieving.”

    Actually the bible presents no tension at all regarding God’s electing people (He says that all who trust Him will be saved, justification is through faith, He says he chooses those who trust Him to be His people, he always has and always will) and man freely believing or disbelieving (the bible presents both belief and unbelief and never presents any tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will). The “tension” only arises with man-made theological systems (e.g. calvinism which defines sovereignty as exhaustive determinism) and suppositions (e.g. like DECISIONISM which makes a single decision by God or man ULTIMATE and leaves out all the other aspects that make up biblical salvation).

    Robert

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  37. (part 2)

    “My question was to peel back the layers of Arminianism and explore why some disbelievers hear the word and understand while other disbelievers hear the same word (with sufficient previent grace) and yet do not understand, a question put to you which you have ignored twice now.”

    I have said it before and say it again: DIFFERENT PEOPLE MAKE DIFFERENT DECISIONS FOR DIFFERENT REASONS.

    The fact you keep asking for a single reason, a one size fits all answer, shows you are not into what is true (i.e. again the truth = DIFFERENT PEOPLE MAKE DIFFERENT DECISIONS FOR DIFFERENT REASONS). Nor are you paying attention to my answer. I have not ignored you, I have told you the truth: DIFFERENT PEOPLE MAKE DIFFERENT DECISIONS FOR DIFFERENT REASONS. I have given my answer but you don’t like it, it does not fit your assumptions and does not fit your implicit DECISIONISM. I don’t operate with DECISIONISM in my thinking, you do. And I am not going to change my thinking in this area to fit your false assumptions.

    “How can you with any intellectual honesty conflate a question about what are the differences in souls with an assignment of responsibility!!!”

    Implying now that I am not intellectually honest?

    “I asked "what" are the differences and you changed it into "who" is responsible. And you can't very well argue there are no differences without at least honestly addressing the question(s) put to you, e.g. why some disbelievers understand the word they hear while others do not.”

    When the Spirit works in nonbelievers, they do understand spiritual things. If they didn’t then how could they make an intelligent and informed decision to trust Christ? I did not say non-believers do not understand, you did. I said (and I even cited Jn.6:44 on this), that the nonbeliever does not properly understand unless the Spirit works in them (due to depravity, that concept ***you refused to discuss*** I am guessing because you deny depravity).

    “While you don't have to agree with me, you've made no effort to acknowledge my question(s) as asked. Instead you have distorted my statements and repeatedly argued against your own strawmen with a studied obtuseness.”

    When someone asks me a question that is not framed correctly (e.g. the classic example being “have you stopped beating your wife?” which presupposes that you did so in the past, which may be false; or “who ultimately decides whether or not a person is saved or not?” which presupposes DECISIONISM, my response is to show the question is not properly conceived and to not answer questions that come from false assumptions, like questions that presuppose DECISIONISM). You may not like that, but I don’t let others unfairly set the agenda or discussion with their improperly framed questions. And I don’t’ accept DECISIONISM or questions that presuppose DECISIONISM.

    Robert

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  38. Robert:

    Actually the bible presents no tension at all regarding God’s electing people ...

    Act 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

    Which was cause and which was effect? God's appointment or man's belief?

    Or will you argue that God appoints whoever will believe, in which case:

    Eph 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,

    2Ti 1:9 [God] who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,

    How is God's own purpose and will directed by man's free will belief? (Be careful you don't commit "decisionism")

    OTOH, if you argue man's belief (foreknown by God) somehow conforms to God's sovereign (His own purpose and will) appointment, then that is the "tension".

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  39. Robert:

    I did not say non-believers do not understand, you did.

    Your exact words were:

    When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart (reason 1 – satanic deception).

    "anyone" includes non-believers, and the parable of the sower is directed at both non-believers and those who become believers.

    I then reframed my question to you using your cite of the parable of the sower, I asked: "As a thought experiment, consider instead the believers implicit in the parable: Why do believers hear the word and understand it? Why do believers have firm root [in soil] instead of rocky places? Why do believers not worry about the world? " Note I asked why do believers understand, have firm root, not worry, in contrast to disbelievers.

    As you ignored it, I reiterated my question more directly: "Why do believers hear the word and understand it while disbelievers do not understand? Keep in mind we all start as disbelievers, and some only become believers as a result of hearing and understanding the word. Why do some disbelievers understand the word they hear, while other disbelievers do not understand? " Which you again ignored.

    You, Robert, first said When anyone [which includes non-believers] hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, and I subsequently borrowed your phrasing.

    So DECISIONISM IS TRITE HUH?

    No, your characterisation of decisionism was trite.

    Decisionism is the belief that merely deciding equates to salvation, as if God had nothing to say about the matter or as if the Holy Spirit did not need to regenerate the "decider". Calvinists usually accuse Arminians of decisionism. I am neither, and all I said about Arminian conditional election was that it based salvation on the individual's choice (decision), which you echoed when you wrote: God elects on the basis of His own plan of salvation that within His plan if a person chooses to believe they will be elected., i.e. you asserted that if a person chooses to believe (i.e. "decides") then God will elect them. That leads to decisionism, if one ignores that God also predestines, i.e. God chooses according to God's purpose and will Act 13:48; 2Ti 1:9 and Joh 15:16; Eph 1:5, 11 which I pointed out earlier.

    You had no basis to accuse me of decisionsim, and your characterisation of decisionsim was trite.

    The fact you keep asking for a single reason, a one size fits all answer,

    I never limited you to a one size fits all answer. Asked and answered a second time now.

    When someone asks me a question that is not framed correctly … which may be false; or “who ultimately decides whether or not a person is saved or not?” which presupposes DECISIONISM

    Nowhere did I phrase my question as “who ultimately decides whether or not a person is saved or not?”. That is your dishonest hash of it. I already corrected you once that I asked a "what are the differences", not the "who is responsible" or "who decides" strawmen on which you prefer to grind your axe, and as I already pointed out, you don't understand the meaning of decisionism or the context (absent here) in which it might otherwise be germane.

    Implying now that I am not intellectually honest?

    No, not implying, I'm directly accusing you of intellectual dishonesty as you've demonstrated an unwillingness to honestly repeat what I or you said even though our exact words are posted, even though I'm forced to reiterate them to you and the question you keep evading.

    If you think you can't answer my question as I phrased it, then just say so and leave off. But don't put your words in my mouth, you're not up to it.

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  40. Robert:

    correction: I did not say non-believers do not understand, you did.

    ... should have been italicized (as now shown), since it was a direct quote from your post.

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  41. I don't think either of you are being dishonest here. Though I suspect that you are talking past each other.

    Robert, I agree with much of what you have written concerning belief and what you call decisionism. I see salvation as a centred set, not a bounded set. Making a decision (while acceptable) is not what matters, but repentance, turning and following. The following being the focus. Though the salvation comes from God, not from ourselves.

    I don't think Starwind's question presupposes decisionism (though I am willing to let him correct me), I saw it as a deeper question relating to what is it in terms of us, our minds, our souls? that makes someone "choose" and another not choose. As an Arminian I would interpret "choose" here to mean respond positively to prevenient grace versus resist it say. (I am happy to place my view of choice here because Starwind is asking a question within the context of another's point of view).

    While the parable of the wheat is a response, I don't think it gets to what Starwind is actually asking. Yes there are a lot of different reasons, but what is it that leads to these reasons? To extend the parable, what gives us different soil.

    Starwind, personally I don't think there is an answer beyond our capacity to make choices. We choose because we have a nature that can choose. Yes other things sway us, but we make a decision (not one, lots) based on the fact we are agents that can do such things.

    I have 2 options, one that brings a degree of pleasure, and I desire it, but it does not please God. The other option would please God but I don't desire it. Do I subvert my desire to my will, or do I suppress my conscience for the sake of pleasure? Yes lots of specifics (degree of perceived pleasure, tiredness, knowledge of consequences, past experiences) influence what I do, but ultimately one person chooses one way and one person the other because they do. Do they decide to love righteousness more than wickedness?

    This is one place I think Calvinists go wrong, they want to make free-will subservient to something more deterministic.

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  42. Bethyada:
    I suspect that you are talking past each other.

    More like going off-road around a construction zone. It wasn't accidental, it was deliberate to avoid the question.

    I don't think Starwind's question presupposes decisionism (though I am willing to let him correct me)

    You're correct, it didn't.

    I saw it as a deeper question relating to what is it in terms of us, our minds, our souls? that makes someone "choose" and another not choose. As an Arminian I would interpret "choose" here to mean respond positively to prevenient grace versus resist it say.

    Yes, and minimally you pondered the question at face value instead of morphing it into something else, neither did you attribute the morphed question to me.

    I have 2 options, one that brings a degree of pleasure, and I desire it, but it does not please God. The other option would please God but I don't desire it. Do I subvert my desire to my will, or do I suppress my conscience for the sake of pleasure? Yes lots of specifics (degree of perceived pleasure, tiredness, knowledge of consequences, past experiences) influence what I do, but ultimately one person chooses one way and one person the other because they do. Do they decide to love righteousness more than wickedness?

    Consider Joh 2:18, Mat 9:6, Rom 1:20.

    While the contexts in these verses are unrelated, what they show is a human expectation of "signs" as proof of authority, and God's willingness to give such signs.

    Now consider further the number of disbelievers who witnessed Jesus' signs and concluded He did have authority vs the disbelievers who walked away grumbling and attributing Jesus' signs to Beelzebub. (keep in mind again we all start as disbelievers). Paul states that in God's viewpoint, there is no excuse to not recognise evidence of God.

    This is an example more stark than merely desiring to please God or please self. How does an eyewitness to Jesus' miracles deny they were His? How does someone growup willing or predisposed to accept that Beelzebub can do miracles, but the Messiah can not? Such denial seems to go deeper than a choice to please God or self, but suggets (to me anyway) an inability or unwillingness to acknowledge facts honestly. Perhaps it is pride operating, but in application to my question, how (after receiving prevenient grace) can someone still have enough pride so as to be in denial about a witnessed miracle and put themselves on a path towards searing their conscience? Consider further it happens routinely today in the Darwinist denial of intelligent design in the face of impossible complexity and the failure of random mutation to account for it (apply Rom 1:20).

    We choose because we have a nature that can choose. Yes other things sway us, but we make a decision (not one, lots) based on the fact we are agents that can do such things.

    Yes we make lots of decisions and some would seem a supression of the conscience, yes, but motivated by more than pleasure. Instead or also motivated perhaps by pride, or in other cases by lust, or by greed in yet others, etc. ....

    My point being, there are several if not inumerable motivations to supress the conscience, but the degree of denial involved is hard to reconcile with pleasing God or self. The denial would seem to suggest an inability to accept demonstrable truth, and my question goes to the inception of this condition and how one soul can ponder any particular truth and its implications while another, in spite of prevenient grace, rejects it outright and steps onto the slippery slope of searing their conscience.

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  43. testing...
    Consider John 2:18, Joh 2:18, Mat 9:6, Rom 1:20.

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  44. Hello Bethyada, (part 1)

    I was just ready to quit the discussion here when the voice of reason stepped in! :-)

    “I don't think either of you are being dishonest here. Though I suspect that you are talking past each other.”

    That is quite possible.

    “Robert, I agree with much of what you have written concerning belief and what you call decisionism. I see salvation as a centred set, not a bounded set. Making a decision (while acceptable) is not what matters, but repentance, turning and following. The following being the focus. Though the salvation comes from God, not from ourselves.”

    I agree with everything that you say here. I especially appreciate that you recognize that the initial decision to trust is just part of it, it is a “package deal” with multiple elements working together.

    “I don't think Starwind's question presupposes decisionism (though I am willing to let him correct me),”

    It seemed that way to me, especially with the repeated statements about what is ULTIMATE when the initial decision to trust is made.

    “I saw it as a deeper question relating to what is it in terms of us, our minds, our souls? that makes someone "choose" and another not choose.”

    We choose for reasons, that is how God designed us to function and how even secular philosophers like John Searle observe things. I brought up Searle earlier as he has done a lot of work in the areas of intentionality and free will.

    “As an Arminian I would interpret "choose" here to mean respond positively to prevenient grace versus resist it say. (I am happy to place my view of choice here because Starwind is asking a question within the context of another's point of view).”

    Bethyada you consider yourself Arminian now? Are you familiar with SEA (the Society of Evangelical Arminians)?

    “While the parable of the wheat is a response, I don't think it gets to what Starwind is actually asking. Yes there are a lot of different reasons, but what is it that leads to these reasons? To extend the parable, what gives us different soil.”

    Philosophers sometimes speak of something being properly basic, meaning you really cannot go further in your explanation.
    When it comes to humans and our choices, we do so for reasons based upon what we consider important. You really cannot go any “deeper” or “further” than that. If I know your reasons for acting and what you consider important, I have a valid and good explanation for your action (again Searle is exceptional in explaining this).

    “what gives us different soil”?

    It seems in the parable, as in life, different people have experienced different things (life experiences), been brought up different ways (nurture), have different abilities (nature, giftedness if you will) and all these things combine resulting in unique persons with none being the same (or having the exact same life circumstances, exact same nurture, exact same abilities [cf. the parable of the talents where different people are given different talents].

    Robert

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  45. Hello Bethyada (part 2)

    Recall in the parable of the sower that it spoke of some who had the seed (which is the Word of God) sown in them, but then it was taken away by the devil.

    Here is a true life example of how this sometimes works. I know a guy who was a tough guy, hardened, not open to Christianity at all. But then he heard the gospel message and the Spirit revealed things to him so that you would think that he was going to become a Christian. But then some of his “associates”/friends, who were part of a tough crowd and Muslims persuaded him that in order to fit in with his group/gang, he ought to be Muslim rather than Christian. So here was this guy who clearly had experienced the work of the Spirit (i.e. what Arminians usually refer to as prevenient grace) and clearly understood he was a sinner, that Jesus had died for him, etc.. He had been enabled to have a faith response to the gospel. But as a gang member he also had extremely strong ties with his “homies”. Plus in his particular gang you don’t just decide to leave one day unless you are prepared to die for attempting to leave. Jesus said in the gospels to would-be followers: count the cost of following him, it may cost you your life, family or friends . . .

    Well consider what was going on in “Jerrell’s“ mind. He must have been considering various reasons for becoming a Christian and various reasons for choosing the gang instead. If we asked what was on his mind and he was honest he would share different “importances” (my term for what is important for a person). One importance would be staying alive. Another importance would be fitting in with his gang. Another importance would be the consequences of following Jesus (i.e. getting beat up and possibly killed for leaving the group). Another importance would be asking God to save him. In other words he had all these importances in his head, and he made his choices for reasons, and these reasons fit with what was important to him. Can we go any more deep than his reasons and his importances? I don’t think so. He chose to stay with the gang, converted to Islam, and he sure seems like a good example of someone who received the seed but then it was taken away by satanic deception (in this case in the form of the false religion of Islam, and the persuasion by his buddies).

    If you know a person’s importances than you know why they do what they do.

    Consider a suicide bomber. He blows himself up in a crowd and some wonder: what a waste, to kill yourself like that, it seems so senseless. But look at the suicide bomber’s importances. In his mind, he is opposing enemies of God. He is fighting for truth and protecting truth. He is willing to give up his life for what he believes in. He is a servant of Allah, etc. etc. If those things are what is important to **him** then his suicide bombing makes perfect sense. Now you and I may have a different set of importances, but we have importances and we, like the bomber, do things for reasons in line with our own importances.

    “Starwind, personally I don't think there is an answer beyond our capacity to make choices.”

    So there is no one answer, no one size fits all explanation. Preach it brother! :-)

    “We choose because we have a nature that can choose.”

    Or God designed us to have a nature that includes our ability to have and make our own choices.

    “Yes other things sway us, but we make a decision (not one, lots) based on the fact we are agents that can do such things.”

    I would only add that we make decisions for reasons based upon or in light of what we consider important. And reasons and importances are not the same for every person.

    Robert

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  46. Starwind The denial would seem to suggest an inability to accept demonstrable truth, and my question goes to the inception of this condition and how one soul can ponder any particular truth and its implications while another, in spite of prevenient grace, rejects it outright and steps onto the slippery slope of searing their conscience.

    Or unwillingness?

    I don't know why Joh doesn't work for John. It is reftagger from logos.

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  47. Robert Bethyada you consider yourself Arminian now?

    And you thought I was...?

    I do not mind the term Arminian, and it probably describes my perspective. I am not Calvinist. I am not an Open Theist. I am probably not Semi-Pelagian, though I don't consider it incompatible with Christianity (nor Calvinism, nor OT).

    Are you familiar with SEA (the Society of Evangelical Arminians)?

    Yes. kangaroodort told me and suggested I join but time constraints are an issue. I don't visit the site much but from time to time read an article.

    It seems in the parable, as in life, different people have experienced different things (life experiences), been brought up different ways (nurture), have different abilities (nature, giftedness if you will) and all these things combine resulting in unique persons with none being the same (or having the exact same life circumstances, exact same nurture, exact same abilities

    I note your examples in the next comment also. I agree with all these things (as per my earlier comment). The question is, is there something else. The things you mention influence us, but do we just respond to all the influences? Would 2 identical people with identical situations and influences always make the same decision? Or do we still have part of us that we need to choose to love righteousness and hate wickedness. I think it was possible for Adam not to fall.

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  48. Bethyada, Robert:

    FWIW, as Robert has twice now recommended John Searle's philosophy on intentionality, I thought to review what Searle believes. Here are some links:
    http://www.intuition.org/txt/searle.htm
    http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/harnad/Papers/Py104/searle.prob.html
    http://www.scaruffi.com/mind/searle.html
    http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/searle.htm
    http://files.meetup.com/227880/The%20Mystery%20of%20Consciousness.doc

    While that only sratches the surface of Searle's work, it reveals the essence of his theory.

    As Robert noted, Searle is a secularist. Moreover, he rejects both dualism and a material soul and instead believes "Conscious states are caused by lower level neurobiological processes in the brain and are themselves higher level features of the brain", consciousness exists, but is an irreducible "mental phenomena caused by neurophysiological processes in the brain", and is a casually "emergent" property of systems. Searle says "I don't think there is a thing called the mind" and that there is no "mind-body" problem as they are one in the same.

    The relevance of Searle's theory to our discussion, is that Searle does not believe in the "mind" (hence, or soul and spirit) as an independent component of a human. Searle consequently would not agree we have a triune nature. In Searle's view there are only the neurophysiological processes in a bioelectrochemical brain.

    Which suggests two questions for you, Robert:

    1) Assuming you actually believe in both prevenient grace and Searle's theory of conciousness lacking an independent mind, then, on what in the human being does God's prevenient grace operate, or asked differently, what in the human being 'senses' and responds to God's prevenient grace? Without a metaphysical or supernatural mind and/or spirit, how does God's prevenient grace connect with Searle's neurophysiological "consciousness-sans-mind"?

    2) Mat 10:28 NASB "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." If our consciousness (mind-soul) is merely an emergent property of a bioelectrochemical brain, why is only God able to destroy it?

    If, OTOH, you think Searle's views are somehow irrelevant to questions about our mind/soul, why did you bring Searle's theories of intentionality into this discussion of determinism, free will, and prevenient grace?

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  49. Bethyada:
    The denial would seem to suggest an inability [or unwillingness] to accept demonstrable truth

    Yes, "unwillingness" is plausible, but I just can't relate to stubborness of that magnitude. To witness miracles and willfully reject them for what they were. I see stubborness in human nature daily, but I honesly just can't wrap my mind around that kind of attitude. I can more readily grasp confusion, perplexion, lack of mental acuity, missing key pieces of information, etc., as a cause.

    Which goes to the core of my question: Why is it I value understanding and basing my decisions on truth versus those who seemingly prefer delusion, in spite of how impractical that is. All my life, my successes have been based on correctly understanding and carefully solving problems, for which denial and stubborness *never* works. Conversely, I know people who ignore or dissemble about pretty much everything, and their lives get more convoluted and burdened by the day. I just don't get the basis for such a wide divergence in souls that ostensibly in infancy/childhood had the same starting point and "grace".

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  50. Bethyada,

    “Robert Bethyada you consider yourself Arminian now?

    And you thought I was...?”

    I had never heard you explicitly declare yourself to be Arminian before.

    “I do not mind the term Arminian, and it probably describes my perspective. I am not Calvinist. I am not an Open Theist. I am probably not Semi-Pelagian, though I don't consider it incompatible with Christianity (nor Calvinism, nor OT).”

    Again another clear affirmation that you are Arminian in your thinking.

    “Are you familiar with SEA (the Society of Evangelical Arminians)?

    Yes. kangaroodort told me and suggested I join but time constraints are an issue. I don't visit the site much but from time to time read an article.”

    Time? Joining does not require that you spend a lot of time posting, your amount of involvement and interaction is up to you. SEA has some really sharp people involved in it including one person who is currently working on Romans 9 and when finished his work will be the most extensive scholarly work on that chapter ever published to this date.

    “I note your examples in the next comment also. I agree with all these things (as per my earlier comment). The question is, is there something else. The things you mention influence us, but do we just respond to all the influences? Would 2 identical people with identical situations and influences always make the same decision? Or do we still have part of us that we need to choose to love righteousness and hate wickedness. I think it was possible for Adam not to fall.”

    I don’t think there is something else. God designed us with the capacity to use our minds to make choices from among various alternatives. Different things do influence us yet we retain the ability to freely choose as our choices are free from being necessitated by any factors or influences. When we freely choose, the buck stops with us so to speak.

    There are not two identical people with identical life situations, identical experiences, identical genes, identical abilities and capacities, everybody is unique, just the way that God planned for things to be.

    It was possible for Adam not to fall, but in reality he did fall. And your point is?

    Robert

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  51. (part 1)

    “FWIW, as Robert has twice now recommended John Searle's philosophy on intentionality, I thought to review what Searle believes. Here are some links: {list of links]

    While that only scratches the surface of Searle's work, it reveals the essence of his theory.”

    Not on free will and personal explanations it doesn’t.

    It is obvious that Starwind is unfamiliar with Searle’s book on intentionality nor on Searle’s views on free will and rational reasons based explanations for choices.

    Starwind have you read Searle’s book RATIONALITY IN ACTION??? Have you read his book on INTENTIONALITY???

    Or are you just talking off the top of your head?

    “As Robert noted, Searle is a secularist. Moreover, he rejects both dualism and a material soul and instead believes "Conscious states are caused by lower level neurobiological processes in the brain and are themselves higher level features of the brain", consciousness exists, but is an irreducible "mental phenomena caused by neurophysiological processes in the brain", and is a casually "emergent" property of systems. Searle says "I don't think there is a thing called the mind" and that there is no "mind-body" problem as they are one in the same.”

    I didn’t bring up Searle for his view of the mind or how consciousness occurs (he **is** a secularist REMEMBER??)

    “The relevance of Searle's theory to our discussion, is that Searle does not believe in the "mind" (hence, or soul and spirit) as an independent component of a human. Searle consequently would not agree we have a triune nature. In Searle's view there are only the neurophysiological processes in a bioelectrochemical brain.”

    I didn’t bring up Searle to cite or commend his secular views on the mind and consciousness. Let’s look back at what I actually said about Searle not what Starwind is trying to unsuccessfully saddle me with.

    Robert

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  52. (part 2)

    First I said this:

    “If someone does something and I want I know **why**. I ask them “Why did you do it?” Meaning, what reasons were you acting upon when you did THAT action. I do not go to any lower level of explanation (say, was his soul different than another person’s soul) because personal explanations of agent actions based upon reasons is sufficient. When Jesus spoke of the different people believing and not believing he spoke in terms of different reasons explanations (this one did it for this reason, this one did it for that reason). We don’t need to go to the level of molecules to explain a person’s intentional actions: we just ask for a personal explanation.”

    Here I was bringing up reasons based explanation of choices (i.e. “personal explanations of agent actions based on reasons”).

    I then brought up Searle as an example of even a secularist recognizing that our intentional choices are reasons-based freely made choices:

    “The philosopher John Searle who is a materialistic philosopher, not a believer, and yet believes in libertarian free will, has done a lot of work in the area of intentionality and free will. And in his work he talks a lot about reasons based explanations (e.g. why did you order that for dinner? I wanted to try their steak tonight, explanations based upon reasons, though those reasons do not necessitate the choices made) being perfectly sufficient and acceptable as explanations (versus sufficiently causal explanations that explain by appealing to necessitating causes, sufficient causes: e.g. why did that earthquake happen? The tectonic plates shifted in that way resulting in the earthquake). I believe Searle is correct here.”

    Note that I said that Searle “believes in libertarian free will, has done a lot of work in the area of intentionality and free will”. Note especially that I brought up Searle as a philosopher who holds to libertarian free will and endorses reasons based explanations for choices: “And in his work he talks a lot about reasons based explanations . . .”

    Did I make reference to Searle’s view of the mind, of consciousness?

    Or was I explicitly referring to his view on free will and reasons based explanations for CHOICES???????

    Later I brought up Searle again as an example of a philosopher who holds to reasons based explanations of choices: “We choose for reasons, that is how God designed us to function and how even secular philosophers like John Searle observe things. I brought up Searle earlier as he has done a lot of work in the areas of intentionality and free will.”

    In other words, I was saying here is this secularist, not a believer, and yet he realizes that when we choose freely we do so for reasons. We choose for reasons is such an obvious reality that even a secularist philosopher recognizes this to be true. And note each time I brought up Searle it was explicitly in reference to his view on FREE WILL.

    My final mention of Searle was to say “Philosophers sometimes speak of something being properly basic, meaning you really cannot go further in your explanation.
    When it comes to humans and our choices, we do so for reasons based upon what we consider important. You really cannot go any “deeper” or “further” than that. If I know your reasons for acting and what you consider important, I have a valid and good explanation for your action (again Searle is exceptional in explaining this).”

    And yet again, what was I speaking about? Reasons based explanations for freely made choices. I said that you cannot go any deeper than this and I again appealed to Searle as an example of someone who clearly recognizes reasons based explanations of freely made choices.

    Robert

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  53. (part 3)

    If you want to see Searle’s views on free will, check out this public talk he gave where he makes his views on reasons based explanations of freely made choices very clear (here it is, check out this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCyKNtocdZE

    Now in spite of the fact that I was clearly talking about Searle holding to free will and being an example of reasons based explanations of free will, Starwind then asks me these ridiculous questions:

    “Which suggests two questions for you, Robert:

    1) Assuming you actually believe in both prevenient grace and Searle's theory of conciousness lacking an independent mind, then, on what in the human being does God's prevenient grace operate, or asked differently, what in the human being 'senses' and responds to God's prevenient grace? Without a metaphysical or supernatural mind and/or spirit, how does God's prevenient grace connect with Searle's neurophysiological "consciousness-sans-mind"?”

    ASSUMING YOU ACTUALLY BELIEVE IN . . . . . AND SEARLE’S THEORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS LACKING AN INDEPENDENT MIND . . .!!!!!!

    This first question is ridiculous because I don’t hold to Searle’s theory of consciousness, nor to his claim there is no immaterial mind.

    I am a substance dualist believing that human nature includes aspects that are both material (body and brain) and immaterial (soul and spirit and mind). I am not a secularist so why am I going to agree with Searle about the mind? Why am I going to agree with his views on the mind/body problem?

    And then there was this question even more ridiculous than the first

    2) Mat 10:28 NASB "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." If our consciousness (mind-soul) is merely an emergent property of a bioelectrochemical brain, why is only God able to destroy it?

    This question also assumes that I agree with Searle on his denial of substance dualism.

    “If, OTOH, you think Searle's views are somehow irrelevant to questions about our mind/soul, why did you bring Searle's theories of intentionality into this discussion of determinism, free will, and prevenient grace?”

    I made myself very clear in my actual statements concerning Searle (i.e. I brought him up for his view on free will, which is libertarian and on his view of reasons based explanations for freely made choices, I said so explicitly and yet Starwind completely twists things beyond recognition, in my opinion trying to discredit what I am saying). If Starwind had to twist things in this way to try to make me look bad, that is really sad and completely unnecessary. I would wager that Starwind and I probably have very similar views on free will.

    Robert

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  54. Robert, your perspective about choices being based on reasons is fine. My problem with this is that if things happen for the reasons you say only, then one can trace every thought and action back to a reason. While I acknowledge the situation is incredibly complex, this would appear to me to imply something akin to determinism. Though I guess in the sense that God set up everything, not that God directly causes sin. I guess this is similar to Molinism? (not that I know much about it).

    Though I think there is something more than the influences.

    My comment about Adam was to imply that it was possible that things could have turned out different. But if Adam only had the influences he had since creation, how could it have turned out different?

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  55. Starwind Yes, "unwillingness" is plausible, but I just can't relate to stubborness of that magnitude.

    Except that people really can be that bad. Think of the people who viewed the resurrection of Lazarus and instead of responding to Jesus, were on their bikes to tell the Pharisees as quick as possible (John 11).

    Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

    Or the man healed at the pool (John 5). His response to Jesus is poor, and he has no qualms about dobbing Jesus in to the Jewish leaders.

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  56. Robert:
    It is obvious that Starwind is unfamiliar with Searle’s book on intentionality nor on Searle’s views on free will and rational reasons based explanations for choices. Starwind have you read Searle’s book RATIONALITY IN ACTION??? Have you read his book on INTENTIONALITY??? Or are you just talking off the top of your head?

    Well, not quite off the top of my head. It had only been 1 day since your 2nd allusion to Searle, not near enough time to buy and read his books (even were I so inclined), but I did list some of the more germane sources I had consulted in that time, including 3 of his papers. I note for the record that you did not dispute my characterization of Searle's view on emergent human consciousness without a mind.

    My disagreement is not Searle's theory of intentionality, but rather the incongruity of you defending your biblical views on human intentionality from a theorist who denies the biblical basis of human intentionality.

    Here I was bringing up reasons based explanation of choices (i.e. “personal explanations of agent actions based on reasons”). I then brought up Searle as an example of even a secularist recognizing that our intentional choices are reasons-based freely made choices:

    Yes, but our ongoing dispute has been your refusal to even consider differences within the soul or mind as underlying the selection of those reasons, and having now examined Searle's denial of the existence of the soul and mind, I can see why you have likewise denied any differences.

    Did I make reference to Searle’s view of the mind, of consciousness? Or was I explicitly referring to his view on free will and reasons based explanations for CHOICES??????? ... We choose for reasons is such an obvious reality that even a secularist philosopher recognizes this to be true. And note each time I brought up Searle it was explicitly in reference to his view on FREE WILL.

    You cited as support for your view on free will and reason based choices, a theorist who denies the biblical "seat" of that free will and choosing - the human soul and spirit. You argue your views are based on the bible but support your argument with someone who denies the very triune nature of man!!! I can begin to understand now why you have been dismissing my question, a question that Bethyada understood and pondered, but not you. Can you not see the incongruity of your position?

    ... I don’t hold to Searle’s theory of consciousness, nor to his claim there is no immaterial mind. I am a substance dualist believing that human nature includes aspects that are both material (body and brain) and immaterial (soul and spirit and mind). I am not a secularist so why am I going to agree with Searle about the mind? Why am I going to agree with his views on the mind/body problem?

    When you twice alluded to Searle for support of your own views, you negelected to inform us of that caveat, a rather glaring and important omission. Consider by analogy, were I to defend Genesis 'species multiplying after their kind' using Richard Dawkins' explanations of the selfish gene, but not mentioning I didn't agree with his atheism and darwinism, as if they were separable and irrelevant to my biblical defense.

    But even accepting at face value your agreement with dualism, my purpose was to illuminate the incongruity of defending biblical free will and reasoning with a theorist who denies the very existance of the conscious mind wherein free will and reasoning reside.

    But given your response, I can see I have yet again failed miserably.

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  57. Bethyada:
    Except that people really can be that bad.

    I don't deny the behavior or the biblical examples. I just don't understand it being so willfully deliberate. I don't understand how such polar opposites can develop from an ostensibly common source, i.e. from a God created, prevenient grace enabled, soul. I can accept how a seared conscience or a hardened heart can be so defiantly rebellious, I just don't understand how such searing or hardening (or whatever) begins. I can see the slippery slope is steep and deep, but I don't see how the first step over the edge is made by most but by not by a few. It's a 'blind spot' I have.

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  58. Hello Bethyada,

    “Robert, your perspective about choices being based on reasons is fine. My problem with this is that if things happen for the reasons you say only, then one can trace every thought and action back to a reason.”

    And what is wrong with THAT?

    Whenever we do a purposeful action, a voluntary action, we do so for reasons. That is the way we were designed to function by God. Even if we argue against the reality of logical laws, we use logical laws in making our argument. Likewise, even if you argue that we do not do things for reasons, you will be providing reasons for why we don’t do things for reasons! :-)

    “While I acknowledge the situation is incredibly complex, this would appear to me to imply something akin to determinism.”

    How is it determinism????? Or even “akin to determinism”?

    The paradigm example of what free will looks like, how making choices for reasons occurs: is to look at God Himself. He had a choice of whether or not to create the world (he considered two options, create or not create, there were reasons for both options, the choice was up to him either way, either way that he ended up choosing in neither case was the choice itself necessitated, there was no external to God factor that determined his action, etc. And God always makes choices for reasons in light of what is important to Him. How are God’s choices in any way determined?

    And in our own case as in God’s case, reasons may incline but they do not necessitate a particular choice.

    “Though I guess in the sense that God set up everything, not that God directly causes sin. I guess this is similar to Molinism? (not that I know much about it).”

    God set up everything with certain design features in mind. When it comes to us and our voluntary actions, that design plan from God includes having a mind capable of considering and then selecting from reasons in our minds.

    “Though I think there is something more than the influences.”

    What does THAT mean?

    It seems from my own experience as well as observing other persons, that we may have desires, reasons, importances on our mind when considering what choice we will make: but none of these things necessitates a particular choice, forces us to make one choice rather than another. Again, it seems to be the way we were designed (i.e. made in the image of God includes having a mind, having consciousness, having and making our own choices for reasons, etc.).

    “My comment about Adam was to imply that it was possible that things could have turned out different. But if Adam only had the influences he had since creation, how could it have turned out different?”

    If he had genuine choice (and he did) then he could have resisted temptation. He chose not to, but contrary to calvinistic theological determinists, his sinful choice was not predetermined by God, not necessitated, he could have done otherwise. It could have turned out different if they would have chosen not to take the fruit (e.g. “God said not to, you [serpent] say that we should, it is more important to us to listen to God and ignore you!”).

    Robert

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  59. Robert, I note your comment. I may have to address this in a post sometime. What I am saying is there are reasons and influences. But even taking all these into account does not show us what someone will do (if it did I would perceive that to be akin to determinism).

    That we still can choose, to me means it is this capacity to choose that we also have. That is what I mean by "more than influences." Our capacity to make free choices.

    I don't think we disagree here.

    The question I saw from Starwind was: what is underneath this choice capacity. How is it we can choose; or rather why does one choose one way and another a different way (not in terms of influences and reasons, in terms of their will).

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  60. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  61. Hello Bethyada,

    “Robert, I note your comment. I may have to address this in a post sometime. What I am saying is there are reasons and influences. But even taking all these into account does not show us what someone will do (if it did I would perceive that to be akin to determinism).”

    Right, if the choice is up to the individual, then up until the point when they make the choice, they could have chosen otherwise. In determinism, if I know the antecedent causes that necessitate a particular choice, then I know with certainty **before** the choice is made what the outcome/choice will be, HAS TO BE.

    “The question I saw from Starwind was: what is underneath this choice capacity.”

    There is nothing “underneath”. That is why I said earlier that philosophers talk about something being “basic”, they mean you cannot go to a lower level of explanation. The same is true of our choices. God created us with this capacity to choose (ThomasReid called it “active power”: I really like Reid a lot as a philosopher, so much common sense, Reid argued there are basic principles that are just true because that is the way God made things and you can’t go beyond or “underneath” these basic principles, one of these is the “active power” to make our own choices when we are acting freely), we don’t need to get into physics explanations beyond a person who chooses for reasons in light of what they consider important in order to explain why a particular choice was made.

    “How is it we can choose; or rather why does one choose one way and another a different way (not in terms of influences and reasons, in terms of their will).”

    That is ignoring the capacity to make our own choices that we have (which is the basic reality, the bottom line in terms of explanations of voluntary choices) and DEMANDING a more basic explanation **when there is none**.

    It is like the fallacy of complex question: have you stopped beating your wife (contains a false assumption, namely that at one time you **did* beat your wife)? You don’t attempt to answer this question because the question is based upon a false assumption. Instead you bring out how the question is composed of multiple questions and a false assumption. Likewise, to DEMAND an answer to what is more basic than the capacity to choose being exercised by a person (when there is nothing more basic), is to assume there is a more basic explanation when there is none (I don’t accept the assumption that there is something more basic, so I don’t accept the question, just like I wouldn’t accept the question “have you stopped beating your wife? If it were addressed to me).

    A person can demand further explanations all they want, you can keep asking me whether I still am beating my wife, till they are blue in the face, but if no further explanations are possible, then that is just the way things are. We know we make choices, we know we make choices for reasons, we know we choose in line with what is important to us, but there is nothing beyond that. Is there a more basic level of explanation for our choices? No.

    Robert

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  62. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  63. Robert, your posts went into my spam trap for some reason, as did my anonymous posts trying to duplicate your post.

    I have removed your duplicates.

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  64. Robert, I agree that our ability to choose is just that. Part of the imago Dei means we can make non-determined choices.

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  65. Robert:
    There is nothing “underneath” [this choice capacity.].

    Then why don't God-created, prevenient-grace-enabled minds make the same choice for Jesus? Why are their reasons for rejecting Jesus not the same as believers?

    If there is nothing underneath these opposite reasons, why did some witnesses to Jesus miracles reject them while other witnesses to the same miracles accept them?

    If there is nothing underneath these opposite conclusions regarding the same witnessed facts, why don't all witnesses agree on whether Jesus did them under God's power and authority or under Beelzebub's?

    We know we make choices, we know we make choices for reasons, we know we choose in line with what is important to us, but there is nothing beyond that.

    Why was it important to disbelievers to ascribe Jesus miracles to Beelzebub while it was important to believers to ascribe them to Jesus being God? Assuming they were all previenient-grace-enabled to believe, why didn't they all then believe, and why didn't they all ascribe the same importance to what they witnessed?

    If comparable minds made different choices in line with differing degress of importance, why do those comparable minds have differing degrees of importance attached to the same observed facts?

    If there is nothing underneath, then why the different importances regarding the same facts on the surface?

    You are free to give no answer, a single answer, or many answers, but please don't change the question to suit yourself.

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  66. Starwind,

    It is difficult for me to believe that you don’t understand or agree with the simple principle that people make choices for different reasons in light of different importances. People are different, have different life experiences, different abilities, and develop different sets of importances. What this means is that people will make different choices for different reasons and different importances. That is just simple common sense to me, confirmed by lots of life experiences in this area of evangelism.

    You seem to want to go deeper than this, but there is nothing deeper than this.

    From your comments you seem to not have much experience doing evangelism.

    Is that true?

    Do you evangelize much?

    Have you spoken to many people before and after their conversions to Christ? Have you discussed people’s reasons for choosing or rejecting Christ, with real people in the real world?

    Or is your analysis based upon reflection and speculation from your armchair?

    Robert

    PS -

    “You are free to give no answer, a single answer, or many answers, but please don't change the question to suit yourself.”

    I am also free to reject questions that have assumptions in them with which I disagree and reject. For example if someone came and asked me: have you stopped beating your wife? I reject that question as it has within in the assumption that at some point in the past that I did so. In logic this is called the fallacy of complex question (lawyers engage in this kind of thing all the time, it is called “leading questions”). When I come across such a question I isolate the false assumptions in it and discuss that. I do not answer the question as posed as it commits the fallacy of complex question. Similarly you do so with your question about what is underneath (which has the false assumption in my view, that there is something deeper or underneath).

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  67. Robert (pt 1):

    We know we make choices, we know we make choices for reasons, we know we choose in line with what is important to us, but there is nothing beyond that. ... What this means is that people will make different choices for different reasons and different importances. .... there is nothing deeper than this.

    You acknowledge differences in importance but refuse to address from whence those differences might arise. You airily insist they just are.

    When you insist that there is no underlying reason for peoples' choices, no underlying reason for how they prioritize importance, you are in actuality insisting that human decision making at its lowest level is determined by something other than human decisions. You are arguing that at the lowest level (whatever that may be), human choices are made for reasons that have no deeper or underlying cause, that essentially 'reasons have no cause'. That is to say different decisions are not determined by anything causative but simply exist as uncaused effect.

    That is, as bethyada noted, akin to determinsim because it makes human decisions an effect of something uncaused. It is one step removed from classical determinism only in that you assert the "cause" is neither God nor a material environment but rather is otherwise uncaused, there being only the result, the effect, of the choice or reason.

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  68. Robert (pt 2):

    Your disconnect between uncaused effect of human choice and any underlying material (or spiritual) difference seems to have its basis yet again in Searle's theories. You wrote earlier:

    [Searle] talks a lot about reasons based explanations (e.g. why did you order that for dinner? I wanted to try their steak tonight, explanations based upon reasons, though those reasons do not necessitate the choices made) being perfectly sufficient and acceptable as explanations (versus sufficiently causal explanations that explain by appealing to necessitating causes, sufficient causes: I believe Searle is correct here.

    [snip]

    When it comes to humans and our choices, we do so for reasons based upon what we consider important. You really cannot go any “deeper” or “further” than that. If I know your reasons for acting and what you consider important, I have a valid and good explanation for your action (again Searle is exceptional in explaining this).


    In his books and papers, Searle argues human consciousness is pyschoanalytically free and separated by a "gap" from its deterministic neurological, bioelectrochemical brain from which it "emerged". But, like you, Searle has no basis for such a gap. Searle argues two hypothesese, neither of which he accepts: 1) "Psychological Libertarianism with Neurobiological Determinism" and 2) "System Causation with Consciousness and Indeterminacy". Searle notes of his own hypotheses: "Frankly, I do not find either hypothesis intellectually attractive ... [hypothesis 1 has] an enormously elaborate and expensive conscious system, the system of rational decision making, which plays no causal role whatever in the behavior of the organism, because the behavior is entirely fixed at the bottom level. ... The problem [with hypotheis 2] is to see how the consciousness of the system could give it a causal efficacy that is not deterministic."

    Searle, in fact, deleves into what underlies human consciousness and intentionality and concludes a hypothetical "gap" underlies our choices and the deterministic brain which executes decision making. Like Searle, you rely on a "gap" between a human choice and an otherwise deterministic brain that makes that choice essentially uncaused.

    You might be right, but here on this thread you have evaded and deflected away from my question, rejecting it out of hand.

    Similarly you [commit the fallacy of complex question] with your question about what is underneath (which has the false assumption in my view, that there is something deeper or underneath).

    You fail to see any 'fallacies of complex questions' explored by Searle and you even agree with his "intentionality" theory that reasons exist but do not cause choices. You ignore Searle's delving into a "gap" and neurobiological determinism which underly emerged human consciousness, but when I ask you what differences might lie beneath human choices, you accuse me of committing a fallacy of complex questions.

    How is it that Searle (with your advocacy) can explore at book-length what lies beneath human consciousness without committing a fallacy of complex questions, but I can't ask one question?

    If you want to give the same explanation (albeit in your own words) as does Searle that would be one thing, but to reject my question as a fallacy while advocating Searle's exploration of it is blatantly hypocritical and inconsistent.

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  69. Starwind, (part 1)

    Inadvertently it appears that we may actually be making progress. I say this because you have apparently been reading Searle on his view of free will. You are almost there, with the one major omission being that you have left out Searle’s discussion of the “self.” As a Christian I believe that we are created by God and that human nature includes both the material (i.e. the body and brain) aspects as well as immaterial aspects (i.e. the spirit, mind, self, soul). What is fascinating about Searle is that he is a thoroughgoing physicalist and evolutionist (so he thinks every aspect of our nature reduces down to some physical aspect; and he believes that rather than having been specially created by God in the image of God and having both material and immaterial aspects that we are here as a result of unguided natural selection operating over lots of time). And yet he posits a SELF that is remarkably similar to what a Christian believes about the spirit or soul of man.

    Here is Searle the physicalist and Darwinian talking about how actions occur as the activity of an irreducible self:

    “As a matter of their logical structure, explanations of voluntary human actions in terms of reasons are different from ordinary causal explanations. The logical form of ordinary causal explanations is simply that event A caused event B. Relative to specific contexts, we typically take such explanations as adequate because we assume that context, event A was causally sufficient for event B. Given the rest of the context, if A occurred then B had to occur. But the form of explanation of human behavior, where we say that a certain person performed act A by acting on reason R, has a different logical structure. It is not of the form “A caused B.” I think you only understand that structure if you realize that it requires the postulation of a self or an ego [here I would say “spirit”]. The logical form of the statement, “Agent S performed Act A because of reason R” is not of the form “A caused B,” it is of the form “a self S performed action A, and in the performance of A, S acted on reason R.” The logical form, in short, of rational explanation is quite different from that of standard causal explanations. The form of the explanation is not to give causally sufficient conditions, but to cite the reason that the agent acted on.
    But if that is right [and it is], then we have a peculiar result. It seems that rational action explanations require us to postulate the existence of an irreducible self, [[Searle is SO CLOSE HERE, if he were a Christian he would say immaterial “spirit” here] a rational agent, in addition to the sequence of events. Indeed, if we make explicit two further assumptions and add them to those we have already been making, I think we can derive the existence of the self [John it is “spirit”, immaterial spirit that God created that evolution could never bring about John!]”
    (p. 52-53)

    Starwind do you realize what Searle is saying here? Voluntary rational freely chosen actions must involve this “self”. Searle inadvertently has stumbled upon the reality of the immaterial spirit that is each human person. But because he is a physicalist and Darwinian he does not even realize where his excellent logic is leading him! Another physicalist also famous in the area of philosophy and free will, Ted Honderich, wrote a scathing critique of Searle called “MIND THE GUFF -- JOHN SEARLE'S THINKING ON CONSCIOUSNESS AND FREE WILL EXAMINED” because Honderich sees where this is going!

    Robert

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  70. Starwind (part 2)

    Starwind you have apparently been reading Searle, have you seen what he says about the “self” and causally free actions?

    “You acknowledge differences in importance but refuse to address from whence those differences might arise. You airily insist they just are.”

    People’s differing importances arise from their life circumstances are also chosen by the “self”/spirit of the person.

    “When you insist that there is no underlying reason for peoples' choices, no underlying reason for how they prioritize importance, you are in actuality insisting that human decision making at its lowest level is determined by something other than human decisions.”

    Human decisions are made by US, by our spirits, the immaterial aspect of us. God created the human spirit to be capable of making our own choices. We consider different reasons and options, but then WE actualize the option that we want to actualize.

    “You are arguing that at the lowest level (whatever that may be), human choices are made for reasons that have no deeper or underlying cause, that essentially 'reasons have no cause'.”

    No reasons come into our minds in different ways (we read about them, think about them, others tell us about them, etc.). But the reasons in our minds do not make the choice of action, WE DO (or to speak precisely our spirit, has the capacity to make choices, to select one option instead of another).

    “That is to say different decisions are not determined by anything causative but simply exist as uncaused effect.”

    No, decisions are a result of the spirit (or Searle’s term the “self”) acting in the gaps. Searle talks about three “gaps” that are present wherever we are acting freely and Searle speaks of the self operating in these gaps. Again, Searle is so close to what is actually the case, it is the immaterial spirit of man operating in the gaps, determining which option will be selected and which option will not be selected. Instead of saying “our spirit did it” I simply say “we did it” (with “we” referring to our spirit, which is immaterial and is not necessitated when acting freely).

    “That is, as bethyada noted, akin to determinsim because it makes human decisions an effect of something uncaused.”

    Yes and No. The human spirit is in my opinion individually created by God, so the Spirit is caused to exist. But God also created the spirit to be conscious and capable of reflection and thinking and deliberating (all the things we do before making a decision, choosing an option). When we choose the choice proceeds from our spirit, so the choice is caused, but this choice did not result from a causal chain. No, the choice proceeded from us, from our spirit. So causality is involved but no chain of causation is involved. Or if you prefer the causal chain originates from the spirit. One of the reasons the whole issue of free will is so interesting is that we are talking about the actions of an immaterial reality (the human spirit is immaterial and yet operates in and through the body/brain of a person).

    “It is one step removed from classical determinism only in that you assert the "cause" is neither God nor a material environment but rather is otherwise uncaused, there being only the result, the effect, of the choice or reason.”

    Actually it is not even close to determinism, because there is no antecedent sufficient cause that necessitates the particular action. Instead, the spirit is acting for reasons, choosing its options, but not necessitated by the reasons the spirit considers. Put another way, when we are making a choice our spirit thinks about which way we can go, and the spirit then decides on an option in light of some importance. But the reasons and importances do not determine the choice, the spirit does.

    Robert

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  71. Starwind (part 3)

    “Your disconnect between uncaused effect of human choice and any underlying material (or spiritual) difference seems to have its basis yet again in Searle's theories. You wrote earlier”

    I do not believe that choices are “uncaused effects”. Choices are caused by the human spirit. But the actual choice made by the spirit if the person is acting freely is not caused by some other necessitating or sufficient cause. Regarding my view being based in Searle, it is the opposite: where Searle is correct, his views correspond to my own (that we act for reasons, that an irreducible spirit[he calls it self] acts in the gaps, that our choices when done freely result from the spirit/self making selections, selections that are not necessitated by other causes).


    “In his books and papers, Searle argues human consciousness is pyschoanalytically free and separated by a "gap" from its deterministic neurological, bioelectrochemical brain from which it "emerged".”

    Here you missed Searle’s discussion of the self acting in the gaps. Searle as a materialist wants to reduce everything ultimately to a physical explanation. That is why free will is so paradoxical for him. He realizes through sheer good logic that when we act freely our actions result from a cause (the self) and yet the causation involved is different from ordinary causal explanations that involve sufficient conditions. I don’t agree with Searle that we are merely physical beings. I do agree with Searle that when we act freely the self/spirit is operating in the “gaps” and doing so for reasons though these reasons themselves are not sufficient conditions for the choices that result.

    “But, like you, Searle has no basis for such a gap.”

    Here you are just dead wrong, you do not understand what he means by “gaps”. Why don’t you describe the three gaps that Searle talks about and describe how they relate to the issue of free will.

    Robert

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  72. Starwind (part 4)

    “Searle argues two hypothesese, neither of which he accepts: 1) "Psychological Libertarianism with Neurobiological Determinism" and 2) "System Causation with Consciousness and Indeterminacy".”

    Searle does so as a materialist trying to reduce everything to the physical, in these he is doomed to be wrong because the spirit is an immaterial reality.

    “Searle notes of his own hypotheses: "Frankly, I do not find either hypothesis intellectually attractive ... [hypothesis 1 has] an enormously elaborate and expensive conscious system, the system of rational decision making, which plays no causal role whatever in the behavior of the organism, because the behavior is entirely fixed at the bottom level. ... The problem [with hypotheis 2] is to see how the consciousness of the system could give it a causal efficacy that is not deterministic."”

    Searle is honest, he is admitting that a purely physical explanation cannot properly explain free will. NO kidding! :-)

    “Searle, in fact, deleves into what underlies human consciousness and intentionality and concludes a hypothetical "gap" underlies our choices and the deterministic brain which executes decision making. Like Searle, you rely on a "gap" between a human choice and an otherwise deterministic brain that makes that choice essentially uncaused.”

    You have to believe in some gaps if you hold to libertarian free will, if all follows from what precedes it (i.e. determinism) then there can be no such thing as free will. Free will can only exist if an immaterial agent is acting in the gaps, if everything is not determined.


    “How is it that Searle (with your advocacy) can explore at book-length what lies beneath human consciousness without committing a fallacy of complex questions, but I can't ask one question?”

    Actually Searle is explicit, the self is an irreducible reality (there is nothing beyond the self, Searle makes the same error that you make in going beyond the spirit asking for something deeper to explain why the spirit makes one choice and not another, for him he wants it to be the brain, but there is nothing deeper, we were created to be spirits capable of making our own choices for reasons, that is called rationality).

    “If you want to give the same explanation (albeit in your own words) as does Searle that would be one thing, but to reject my question as a fallacy while advocating Searle's exploration of it is blatantly hypocritical and inconsistent.”

    I reject Searle’s attempt to go beyond what he calls the self and what I call the spirit. I accept Searle’s reasoning that our freely made choices involve a causation different from A leads to B sufficient conditions explanations (instead it is self choosing which reason that it wants to act upon, with the choice being non-necessitated, proceeding from the spirit). I accept Searle’s reasoning that we have free will, in the libertarian sense. I accept Searle’s reasoning about the self/spirit acting in the three gaps.

    Robert

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  73. Bethyada:

    Robert has posted parts 1, 3 & 4 to me. Is there a "Starwind (part 2)" of Robert's posts above that is hung up somewhere?

    ReplyDelete
  74. Done Starwind.

    Robert, I don't know why your posts get caught in my spam trap? Blogger has recently installed it. There is no one else in there.

    If you write these in notepad or some other word-processor, then publish in blogger, blogger my be identifying that you are posting them in quick succession, which would look like a bot. That's my only thought for now.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Robert (1 of 4):

    So causality is involved but no chain of causation is involved. Or if you prefer the causal chain originates from the spirit.

    Then why doesn't a prevenient-grace enabled spirit "cause" belief in the truth about Jesus' miracles?

    This is the crux of the issue you keep overlooking. You insist the spirit is at cause; you insist prevenient grace is sufficient to enable a faith response; yet in most people that faith response is never chosen, never "caused". Why not? If a spirit's faith response is not dependent on any underlying pre-requisite cause and is sufficiently enabled by prevenient grace, why isn't a faith response "caused" by everyone's spirit? Why is the original cause in most spirits insead a rejection of truth? Especially when the external inputs (truthful observation of a factual miracle) are identical to what a few others did respond in faith. They didn't deny the miraculous, rather they denied its authorship. How was Beelzebub's authorship more important than Jesus' authorship when the respective observers' spirits originally caused disbelief or belief?

    Actually it is not even close to determinism, because there is no antecedent sufficient cause that necessitates the particular action.

    My precise point and bethyada's was that it was "akin" to determinism, a "step removed" from determinism, not identical or equated to determinism.

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  76. Robert (2 of 4):

    Instead, the spirit is acting for reasons, choosing its options, but not necessitated by the reasons the spirit considers. Put another way, when we are making a choice our spirit thinks about which way we can go, and the spirit then decides on an option in light of some importance. But the reasons and importances do not determine the choice, the spirit does.

    So the spirit determines choices, based on importance.

    Earlier you wrote: If I know what you really consider important than I will have no problem understanding why you do what you do. ... And how they respond to the cards they are dealt has everything to do with what they consider to be important. ... When it comes to humans and our choices, we do so for reasons based upon what we consider important. You really cannot go any “deeper” or “further” than that. If I know your reasons for acting and what you consider important, I have a valid and good explanation for your action (again Searle is exceptional in explaining this). ... Can we go any more deep than his reasons and his importances? I don’t think so. ... If you know a person’s importances than you know why they do what they do. ... I would only add that we make decisions for reasons based upon or in light of what we consider important. And reasons and importances are not the same for every person. ... We know we make choices, we know we make choices for reasons, we know we choose in line with what is important to us, but there is nothing beyond that. Is there a more basic level of explanation for our choices? No.

    You assert, choices are made [by the spirit] based on importance. There is nothing beyond/deeper than importance. Importance is the explanation of choice.

    People’s differing importances arise from their life circumstances are also chosen by the “self”/spirit of the person.

    Importances result from (i.e. are an "effect" of) life experience and chosen by the spirit. Life experience causes importance which explains choices by the spirit. The effect of importance is in turn what "effects" the spirit's choices.

    What you have described is essentially an 'importance-driven decision engine', a spirit whose choices are effected and "explained" by the relative importance of life experiences for which "there is nothing deeper." While the spirit may be free to choose what is unimportant, you assert that it otherwise chooses what is important. Free to choose what is unimportant, but not actually so choosing. That is "akin" to determinism.

    You argue the spirit is original cause and yet every elaboration you gave is the spirit acting on (effected by, explained by) what is important caused by still earlier experiences. That is "akin" to determinism. You describe a free will that chooses from amongst prior importances. What you don't consider is how those importances change or are ignored.

    What is in fact deeper than importance is how or why importance changes. If a spirit deems truth to be important, how can it deny truth and prefer falsehood? If a spirit deems something more important than truth, say pride, how did pride become more important than truth? Why doesn't a prevenient-grace enabled spirit always place more importance on truth than on pride when making choices?

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  77. Robert (3 of 4):

    I reject Searle’s attempt to go beyond what he calls the self and what I call the spirit. I accept Searle’s reasoning that our freely made choices involve a causation different from A leads to B sufficient conditions explanations (instead it is self choosing which reason that it wants to act upon, with the choice being non-necessitated, proceeding from the spirit)

    Frankly, we all would have been better served had you not brought Searle (and all your caveats) into this discussion. There seems little of Searle that you in fact will defend, and much that you admit to disputing and qualifying. Had I thought to rephrase my question as "What are the differences in the self or spirit (instead of "souls") that lead to differing choices" you would have volunteered this caveat up front?

    Actually Searle is explicit, the self is an irreducible reality (there is nothing beyond the self, Searle makes the same error that you make in going beyond the spirit asking for something deeper to explain why the spirit makes one choice and not another, for him he wants it to be the brain, but there is nothing deeper, we were created to be spirits capable of making our own choices for reasons, that is called rationality).

    There is much that is deeper. The bible tells us so. Your criticism that there is nothing deeper is unbiblical.

    When you, a professing biblical Christian, assert that there are no underlying reasons for our choices, you ignore at a minimum the New Testament admonishments to keep a clean conscience and avoid a seared conscience. At a minimum, scripture teaches that our conscience bears witness and our thoughts alternately accuse or defend (Rom 2:15), that lies are the result of a seared conscience (1Ti 4:2), unbelievers have a defiled conscience (Tit 1:15), and that a good conscience desires honorable conduct (Heb 13:18), and that the flesh and Spirit are in opposition (Gal 5:17).

    You may argue how a conscience becomes seared or defiled, but you can not argue (as a biblical Christian) that a clean, seared or defiled conscience does not underly what is deemed important or uninmportant, disbelief, lies and dishonorable conduct. You can argue that God created one type of soul, but you can not argue (as a biblical Christian) that differences in the conscience either don't arise or are irrelevant to souls' choices. You can not argue (except as does a materialist atheist) that nothing underlies our importances.

    At a minimum, the degree to which one's conscience has become seared underlies importances, choices and reasons. There is also biblical evidence for demonic possession, as well as God Himself sending "deluding influence" to believe what is false, which also clearly affect choices. These are irrefutable biblical truths.

    My question merely took these biblical truths one step further and asked, "how does a prevenient-grace enabled conscience take the first or next step towards becoming seared, possessed, or deluded"? Or in Old Testament terms, "Why does one person harden their heart, while another quickens it?" You indirectly acknowledged this distinction when alluding to different soils in the parable of the sower and when acknowledging that people have different importances. But you have yet to acknowledge how 'different soils' or searing underly the importances upon which choices depend.

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  78. Robert (4 of 4):

    I reject Searle’s attempt to go beyond what he calls the self. ... Searle does so as a materialist trying to reduce everything to the physical, in these he is doomed to be wrong because the spirit is an immaterial reality. ... Searle is honest, he is admitting that a purely physical explanation cannot properly explain free will. ... You have to believe in some gaps if you hold to libertarian free will, if all follows from what precedes it (i.e. determinism) then there can be no such thing as free will. Free will can only exist if an immaterial agent is acting in the gaps, if everything is not determined.

    Step back and scrutinize your inconsistency here. You don't commend Searle for his view of the [emergent] mind or how consciousness occurs. You admit Searle is doomed, that he can't properly explain free will. But that his "gaps" are necessary for his doomed materialist explanations of a discredited emergent immaterial agent self to have the God-given free will you assert we all have. Please.

    Free will can exist if an agent acts on its own. Being truely immaterial and truely free (degrees of debilitating searing excepted) our souls and spirits are the determiner over our material brain. Paul characterizes our physical bodies (our flesh) as mere tents or clothing for them, something through which they interact with the physical world (as well as interacting with the spiritual world through our spirit). There are no "gaps" through which they emerged or must descend. They are separable yet in direct contact and control. They freely "determine" our physical behavior and are affected by our physical circumstances - there is feedback and hysteresis. Instead of the brain executing a fixed software-like mind that somehow acts through gaps, the mind or soul is more like a variable, heuristic neural net that controls and alters the brain. The spirit is like an adapter (that can become disabled) through which the soul receives immaterial input from God.

    Searle's "gaps" are merely a desparate artifice to allow him (a materialist) to posit a mechanism for a deterministic bioelectrochemical brain to give rise to an emergent "pyschoanalytically free" consciousness. The only credit due Searle is his acceptance of the obvious common sense notion of "free will" over the objections of his materialist colleagues. But even Searle has difficulty accepting the theoretical implications of his philosophical inconsistencies. And let's not overlook they are merely philosophical thought experiments with no empirical underpinnings other than the obvious free will (which all but hyperCalvinists and Darwinists take for granted) or any other scriptural insights. Clearly a case of theorizing how many emergent angels can freely dance on a deterministic pinhead.

    A final point. We are a triune creation. In addition to a physical body/brain, we also have a soul (mind) distinct from a spirit. It is our soul that has our personality (our preferences, attitudes, demeanor, motivations, etc.) but it is our spirit that has value judgements (to steal or not, disobey or not, lie or not) and our "conscience" which guides the soul in its decisions. Searle has no mechanism for value judgements apart from likes and dislikes, and no mechanism for how "the flesh" reaches across the gaps to "oppose the spirit", let alone how demonic spirits can oppress a human mind or even physically possess a material body. In your argumentation, you tend to conflate the soul and spirit, which is especially problematic considering your equivocation and ambivalence when drawing upon Searle's concepts.

    That said, I've wasted entirely too much bandwidth on Searleism. It's making me searley. If you care to discuss what scripture actually says about how and why we choose, or what affects prevenient grace, fine. Otherwise, I'm done.

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  79. Bethyada:

    Help! My Robert 1 of 4, appears, but my Robert 2 of 4, and 3 of 4 which previously appeared now appears to be 'hung' somewhere (i.e. their status reverted from 'posted'), and my Robert 4 of 4 which never appeared now also appears to be 'hung'.

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  80. Starwind wrote:

    “Then why doesn't a prevenient-grace enabled spirit "cause" belief in the truth about Jesus' miracles?”

    According to most conceptions of “prevenient grace” of which I am aware, PG does not “cause” belief in Jesus it merely enables a person to freely choose to trust in Christ for salvation.

    “This is the crux of the issue you keep overlooking. You insist the spirit is at cause;”

    Yes our Spirit (us, we, the individual person) makes choices when we are choosing freely.

    “you insist prevenient grace is sufficient to enable a faith response;”

    Yes, we could not come to Christ in faith unless God had first worked powerfully in us enabling that choice to trust Him (cf. Jn. 6:44)

    “yet in most people that faith response is never chosen, never "caused". Why not?”

    Again for the zillionth time: different people make different choices for different reasons in light of different importances. There is no one answer as to why “Joe” chooses to believe and “john” chooses not to believe.

    “If a spirit's faith response is not dependent on any underlying pre-requisite cause and is sufficiently enabled by prevenient grace, why isn't a faith response "caused" by everyone's spirit?”

    The nature of free will is that the individual spirit/person has a capacity to make choices. Ordinarily we choose for reasons in light of our importances.

    Our desires do not necessitate our freely made choices. Our human nature does not necessitate our freely made choices. Prevenient grace does not necessitate our freely made choices. When we are choosing freely our choices are not necessitated by any factor whatsoever (as one friend of mine once simply defined libertarian free will: “Concise definition of LFW: Freedom from necessity. Done.”)

    I had made some statements and asked Starwind some questions that he made no attempt to answer, so I re-ask them here:

    It is difficult for me to believe that you don’t understand or agree with the simple principle that people make choices for different reasons in light of different importances. People are different, have different life experiences, different abilities, and develop different sets of importances. What this means is that people will make different choices for different reasons and different importances. That is just simple common sense to me, confirmed by lots of life experiences in this area of evangelism.

    You seem to want to go deeper than this, but there is nothing deeper than this.

    From your comments you seem to not have much experience doing evangelism.

    Is that true?

    Do you evangelize much?

    Have you spoken to many people before and after their conversions to Christ? Have you discussed people’s reasons for choosing or rejecting Christ, with real people in the real world?

    Or is your analysis based upon reflection and speculation from your armchair?

    I ask these things again, because I believe that Starwind is “winging it” it is all pure speculation from his armchair. In contrast my conclusions are based upon actual data, actually speaking with lots and lots of people about why they both believed and did not believe.

    Robert

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  81. Robert:

    In contrast my conclusions are based upon actual data, actually speaking with lots and lots of people about why they both believed and did not believe.

    Perhaps you were just speaking past lots and lots of people.

    You have misconstrued decisionism, misunderstood Arminian conditional election, blindly supported corporate election, relied upon the "doomed" explanations of a discredited emergent immaterial agent self from a materialist atheist to explain free will choices, and conflated the soul and spirit of our triune nature. This thread is littered with the debris of your "conclusions based on actual data".

    From your comments you seem to not have much experience doing evangelism.

    Yet another of your "data based conclusions"?

    [“Then why doesn't a prevenient-grace enabled spirit "cause" belief in the truth about Jesus' miracles?”] According to most conceptions of “prevenient grace” of which I am aware, PG does not “cause” belief in Jesus it merely enables a person to freely choose to trust in Christ for salvation.

    That was you, speaking past my question. I used your own terminology spirit "cause" belief You insist the spirit is at cause and I accepted that terminology and asked why a spirt that is enabled by previent grace doesn't cause belief. And you spoke right past it, answering instead that PG doesn't cause belief. But I never said PG causes belief, did I. I said "PG enabled", didn't I. I used your terminology and you didn't even recognize it.

    It is difficult for me to believe that you don’t understand or agree with the simple principle that people make choices for different reasons in light of different importances.

    Where did I ever disagree that people make choices for different reasons or importances? Rather, I have repeatedly asked "Why" are they different even after enabling prevenient grace?

    OTOH, where did you ever understand the inconsistencies of your arguement?
    - That there is nothing deeper than people developing different sets of importances, while ignoring the effects of a seared conscience on what is deemed important;
    - that previenient grace enables everyone to make a faith response while arguing that regardless nothing is deeper than personal importances that otherwise conflict with an enabled faith response, as if prevenient grace can not go deeper;
    - that the spirit is original cause of its choices based on differing importances, importances to which the spirit responds inspite of prevenient grace enabling other faith responses.

    No one questions that different choices are made. We get it. That is your strawman you keep knocking down.

    Why are sinful choices made at all when prevenient grace enables other choices? Given how few find the narrow gate versus how many are on the broad way to destruction, why are pride, lust, greed, etc. of greater "importance" in most spirit's decisions while prevenient-grace enabled faith, obedience, humility, etc. remain of lesser "importance" (assuming your model of nothing deeper than importances sufficiently explains a spirit's choices)? Your inconsistencies, and the biblical evidence for spiritual causes deeper than "importances" are what you still ignore.

    Where did you ever explain why most prevenient-grace enabled spirits regardless deem sinful reasons more important from which to choose?

    If the faith response is enabled within the spirit, why isn't it chosen? If something else regardless remains more important (which importance you assert fully explains choice), then how can a faith response be described as "enabled" when alternatives remain more important? If the alternatives are not more important, then why isn't a faith choice made more often (assuming equivalent importances)?

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  82. Bethyada:

    I have another post hung up. It was accepted, saved, and appeared fully when I refreshed the thread, but then somehow reverted into hung status.

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  83. Starwind you insist prevenient grace is sufficient to enable a faith response;

    Robert Yes, we could not come to Christ in faith unless God had first worked powerfully in us enabling that choice to trust Him

    I think this is part of the confusion here. I guess Starwind is using sufficient in a logical manner; and Robert perhaps in a more general manner, meaning that some other things are not always required.

    Prevenient grace is necessary. Salvation will not occur without it.

    Prevenient grace is not sufficient. Having it does not guarantee salvation will occur. We can resist God.

    I would hazard a guess that Robert would agree with these 2 statements.

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  84. Hello Bethyada,

    Bethyada, the “voice of reason” deigns to speak again, :-) and writes:

    “I think this is part of the confusion here. I guess Starwind is using sufficient in a logical manner; and Robert perhaps in a more general manner, meaning that some other things are not always required.”

    Correct.

    You also wrote:

    “Prevenient grace is necessary. Salvation will not occur without it.

    Prevenient grace is not sufficient. Having it does not guarantee salvation will occur. We can resist God.

    I would hazard a guess that Robert would agree with these 2 statements.”

    Yes I do agree with both of these statements and putting them into “a logical manner” (i.e. using logical terminology, using the language of necessary and sufficient conditions) we can summarize these two statements quite easily: prevenient grace is a necessary but not sufficient condition for salvation. So it is true that “Salvation will not occur without it”. And yet given Prevenient grace in an individual’s life “it does not guarantee salvation will occur” (because as anyone familiar with standard Arminian theology knows, Arminians believe that PG can be and often is resisted; it is determinists who argue that when the sinner is enlightened by the Spirit this can only occur if the sinner is one of the preselected elect, and if they are one of these lucky people, then they cannot/will not resist PG, but the bible says in multiple places that both the work of the Spirit and the grace of God can and are resisted, look no further than the believer’s own experience when we resist and grieve the Spirit, a resistance and grieving that could not occur if God’s grace were irresistible).

    So PG is a necessary but not sufficient condition of salvation.

    Robert

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  85. Robert (and anyone else with some insight):

    Arminians believe that PG can be and often is resisted. ... So PG is a necessary but not sufficient condition of salvation.

    Fine.

    So, here it is again, one final time, my question, phrased and elaborated using your terminology:

    If prevenient grace has enabled salvific "importances" (e.g. trust, obedience, humility, etc.) in the spirit as necessary to enable a faith response, but not sufficiently to prevent resistance and regardless the spirit resists and chooses disbelief based on non-salvific "importances", then what are those non-salvific "importances" upon which resistance was decided and why don't believers likewise sucumb to their insufficiencies and resist faith?

    Don't morph the question, don't speak past the question, don't limit yourself to one answer, don't be unbiblical, and don't answer a different question. I'm asking the question to which I would appreciate an answer. If you wish to persuade me that my question is wrong, you must first demonstrate that you understand my question as-is, and not presume to speak past my question with your question. Meet me where I'm at, not where you'd like me to be.

    Bonus question: If necessary prevenient grace is regardless not sufficient, from whence comes the sufficiency that chooses faith?

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  86. Starwind,

    Before I attempt to answer your latest questions (which are garbled and hard to interpret), you still have not answered my rather simple questions, which I post for you to answer again. Answer my questions and then I may answer your questions. If you do not, I don’t think I want to waste much more time on you. I don’t appreciate people who misrepresent and tweak my comments in order to be argumentative, and I am losing my patience with you.

    [[From your comments you seem to not have much experience doing evangelism.

    Is that true?

    Do you evangelize much?

    Have you spoken to many people before and after their conversions to Christ? Have you discussed people’s reasons for choosing or rejecting Christ, with real people in the real world?

    Or is your analysis based upon reflection and speculation from your armchair?]]

    Robert

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  87. Starwind,

    Before I attempt to answer your latest questions (which are garbled and hard to interpret), you still have not answered my rather simple questions, which I post for you to answer yet again. Answer my questions and then I may answer your questions. If you do not, I don’t think I want to waste much more time on you. I don’t appreciate people who misrepresent and tweak my comments in order to be argumentative, and I am quickly losing my patience with you.

    [[From your comments you seem to not have much experience doing evangelism.

    Is that true?

    Do you evangelize much?

    Have you spoken to many people before and after their conversions to Christ? Have you discussed people’s reasons for choosing or rejecting Christ, with real people in the real world?

    Or is your analysis based upon reflection and speculation from your armchair?]]

    Robert

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  88. Robert:
    Before I attempt to answer your latest questions (which are garbled and hard to interpret), you still have not answered my rather simple questions, which I post for you to answer yet again.

    Neither did you ungarble or easily interpret my question when first asked:
    [Nor do I find Arminian 'prevenient grace' a sufficient answer, as the question becomes why do some respond and not others” . . . .such that prevenient grace is not efficatious on everyone. Why?] Prevenient grace in my thinking is not given as an explanation as to why one chooses to believe and another chooses to reject (rather, it explains how people are enabled to choose to have a faith response to the gospel).

    And then you sought refuge in the canard of being constrained to one answer:
    [Re-word it however you like, but you've still not grasped the essence of my (socratic) question, but to ask a final time in your words: why, after having received prevenient grace, do some sinners freely choose to trust while most freely choose to not trust? What is different in the sinners' God-created souls that they freely respond *differently* to prevenient grace? The Arminian view is that prevenient grace *enables* a free-will faith response in everyone, but yet not all freely respond in faith. Why not? Everyone is enabled to respond, everyone is free to respond, but only a few do. What is different between them? (assuming it isn't genetic or parents or schools, etc.)] Starwind I was thinking some more about this and you keep seemingly asking for a one size, fits all answer, a single answer, when there is no single answer.

    Annecdotes about my evangelism won't "ungarble" my question above or permit you to give more than one answer, will it. I specifically asked that my question be taken as-is and not morphed or superceded by your question, so your evangelistic "interpretation" merely serves as yet another distraction.

    And if you find the question garbled, you might reflect on your selections of terminology and meanings and how illfitted they are to a biblical context. Maybe Searle wasn't such a good mentor for professing Christians.

    I don’t appreciate people who misrepresent and tweak my comments in order to be argumentative,

    You have been equally free to correct any misrepresentations on my part, as I have corrected misrepresentations on your part. If by "tweaking your comments" you allude to my substituting your terminology into my question so as to not 'speak past you', and juxtaposing the inconsistent aspects of your comments, then I'm guilty as charged.

    Answer my questions and then I may answer your questions.

    Then let the record reflect your unwillingness to answer my question as-is, which I posed ad-nauseum first and long before you sought refuge in comparing your evangelism.

    ReplyDelete
  89. Bethyada,

    My most recent post is again hung. As before it was accepted and saved by blogger, and then appeared fully and correctly when I refreshed the thread http://bethyada.blogspot.com/2010/07/determinism-and-existence-of-sin.html

    It was present for several minutes, but the RSS feed 'new comment posted' notice never came thru, and when I refreshed the thread again the post now seems to have reverted into hung status... FWIW.

    ReplyDelete

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