Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Response To "Alpha"

"Alpha" had this to say in response to my earlier post titled, "God's Relationship to Evil":

Thank you for allowing me to respond to your post. I am not a Calvinist or Reformed Doctrine follower but perhaps we both can learn from one another.

And thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts on what I have written. But before we go any further, I would like to clarify that I do not "follow" anything or anyone other than Christ. I mention this so as to hopefully avoid any accusations that I follow Calvin instead of Christ. As long as this canard is avoided, I believe that we may indeed be able to learn something here. Moving on:

I list below a very clear section of scripture from the Lord in Jeremiah 19. Verse 5 clearly refutes the reformed position and the following claim within your earlier post-“However, the Calvinist at some point must admit that Reformed theology affirms God as the ultimate cause of all things and thatnothing occurs but by His will”.

Jeremiah 19:5 reads:

and have built the hight places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind; NASB

In Jeremiah 19, the LORD is rebuking Israel for turning to heathen gods (in this case Baal) and for offering their sons as burnt offerings. Verse 5 states that God did not command or speak these things to the Israelites. The LORD further states that these things the Israelites were doing did not "enter His mind". Alpha's contention seems to be focused on this last phrase. Apparantly, these things not "entering" the mind of God refutes the notion that God decrees all things that take place. But why should we accept this? Alpha doesn't present an argument for why Jeremiah 19:5 contradicts Calvinism. Alpha simply says it does. As it is, the verse is recording God's assurance that He did not in any way command or approve the actions of the Israelites. Alpha needs to demonstrate a contradiction between what is written in v. 5 with the Calvinistic notions of God's preceptive will and decretal will.

Mat 23:37, Acts 7:49-52, and Proverbs 1:22-31 are additional scriptures to support that not all things are authored by the Lord.

I do not see anything in Acts 7 or Proverbs 1 that speaks directly to the issues at hand. As for Matthew 23:37, much can be (and has been) said here. Calvinists have written extensively on this verse and have effectively removed it from the arsenal of the non-Calvinist. For a thorough exegetical discussion of Matthew 23, click here.

I maintain that GOD permits all things for HIS ultimate GLORY.

And I would say that God "works all things after the counsel of His will". I see no reason to maintain that God merely permits things to happen in light of the fact that none of the verses I covered stated anything about God merely "permitting" evil. Further, this would be a double-standard. That is, folks who hold the view that God permits evil that He knew about before hand but did nothing to stop it, is guilty of inconsistency in that these same folks would hold any person accountable for the same thing. For example, a lifeguard that "permitted" a child to drown because he simply didn't feel like getting wet on that particuliar day, would be held accountable for the child's death (and probably buried under the jail to boot). So the obvious question is, since God isn't being held accountable, why is man?

Moving on:

The Bible says he changes not:

And I agree. It was never my argument that He does.

Now to address the verses in question.

Yes, lets. But, for the sake of brevity and simplicity, I am going to address one commentary at a time. In other words, if Alpha wishes to interact with this post, we can discuss the verses in question and Alpha's comments on those verses one post at a time in either the comments section of this post or the home page.

The first verse I would like to address in regards to Alpha's comments is Acts 4:28. Alpha said:

My reply to this is statement is to turn your Bible to Acts 2:23 and see emphatically where through GODS foreknowledge the cast of characters you listed earlier would crucify our beloved Jesus.

In order to answer what Acts 4:28 states, Alpha takes us to Acts 2:23 where the term "foreknowledge" is mentioned (incidentally, this is what I originally said would be done by a non-Calvinist). The problem here is that Alpha assumes that the term "foreknowledge" means what he thinks it means but provides no supporting argument. In other words, Alpha fails to demonstrate that God determines because He foreknows instead of God foreknowing because He determines. The text of Acts 2 does not lay out the "simple foreknowledge" view that Alpha apparantly endorses. So in order for Alpha to succeed in refuting my comments on Acts 4, he would need to demonstrate the simple foreknowledge view (mere prescience) from the text of scripture.

I also wish to thank you for allowing me to post on your blog. I realize that it may stretch very long but it was necessary to clarify and perhaps enlighten others in the future. It is my hope that what I have offered is of help.

And, again, thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. Now, as to your comments on clarifying and enlightening myself or any other Calvinists who may read what you have posted, I must say that you will need to present arguments for all that you contend since much of what you posted was assertive in nature. That is, many of the scriptures you posted or cited to counter what I originally discussed in my article was not accompanied by argumentation (such as Mat. 23:37). As I said above, if you wish to continue to dialogue on the verses in dispute, we can begin at Acts 4.

God Bless You... alpha

And may God bless you as well.

6 comments:

alpha said...

"Alpha" Response
"Alpha" had this to say in response to my earlier post titled, "God's Relationship to Evil":

Thank you for allowing me to respond to your post. I am not a Calvinist or Reformed Doctrine follower but perhaps we both can learn from one another.

And thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts on what I have written. But before we go any further, I would like to clarify that I do not "follow" anything or anyone other than Christ. I mention this so as to hopefully avoid any accusations that I follow Calvin instead of Christ.*** With which I reply- I mentioned my doctrine stance to establish the fact that I am not a Calvinist or reformed doctrine individual because I am new to your blog. I had already established from reading from your blog that you were a calvinist. No further inference was made by me. As long as this canard is avoided, I believe that we may indeed be able to learn something here. Moving on:

I list below a very clear section of scripture from the Lord in Jeremiah 19. Verse 5 clearly refutes the reformed position and the following claim within your earlier post-“However, the Calvinist at some point must admit that Reformed theology affirms God as the ultimate cause of all things and thatnothing occurs but by His will”.

Jeremiah 19:5 reads:

and have built the hight places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind; NASB

In Jeremiah 19, the LORD is rebuking Israel for turning to heathen gods (in this case Baal) and for offering their sons as burnt offerings. Verse 5 states that God did not command or speak these things to the Israelites. The LORD further states that these things the Israelites were doing did not "enter His mind". Alpha's contention seems to be focused on this last phrase. Apparantly, these things not "entering" the mind of God refutes the notion that God decrees all things that take place. But why should we accept this? ***With which I reply- Logic would dictate that by these actions not entering the LORDS mind it follows that the instructions that HE had given to them previously would be followed. I conclude that by failing to follow HIS instructions they had in fact done something other than what HE asked them. I also conclude that HIS commanding them NOT to do just as they had would be a failure of them to abide in HIS stated command. I can only conclude that it is your contention that HIS instructions that HE had given were actually not HIS will for them. I find this a rather difficult scenario to believe and in fact, I find it highly unplausible. None the less, I provide scriptures below stating HIS will for them regarding the practices they eventually undertook. If these instructions were not indeed HIS will for them, HE has violated HIS own character by not being truthful with them:

Deu 12:30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
Deu 12:31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every
abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods;
for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their
gods.
Deu 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not
add thereto, nor diminish from it.

Lev 18:21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to
Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

Lev 20:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Lev 20:2 Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of
the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth
any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the
land shall stone him with stones.


Alpha doesn't present an argument for why Jeremiah 19:5 contradicts Calvinism. Alpha simply says it does.***With which I reply-I believe that this section of scripture plainly reveals, to reasonable persons, that in disobediance, GODS instructions were not heeded. As it is, the verse is recording God's assurance that He did not in any way command or approve the actions of the Israelites. Alpha needs to demonstrate a contradiction between what is written in v. 5 with the Calvinistic notions of God's preceptive will and decretal will. *** To which I reply- I cite from your earlier post on what definition you ascribe to as the sole definition of GODS will- *** You said---“However, the Calvinist at some point must admit that Reformed theology affirms God as the ultimate cause of all things and that nothing occurs but by His will”. *** To which I reply--I deduce from your own definition that if all things occur but by HIS will, then there is no difference in HIS wills. Once again, if this is the case, you are forced into accepting that GODS instructions for obedience, were not truly HIS instructions. Thus, one is forced also to accept that the burning of the innocents, an evil action, was HIS will and HE authored evil. Again, this in turn creates a situation of GOD violating HIS known character.

Mat 23:37, Acts 7:49-52, and Proverbs 1:22-31 are additional scriptures to support that not all things are authored by the Lord.

I do not see anything in Acts 7 or Proverbs 1 that speaks directly to the issues at hand. As for Matthew 23:37, much can be (and has been) said here. Calvinists have written extensively on this verse and have effectively removed it from the arsenal of the non-Calvinist--- *** To which I reply--Perhaps within Calvinist circles Matthew 23 has been deemed in that fashion but I myself have yet to see a exegesis that was cogent that did not contradict other scriptures. None the less, if Jesus really did not wish to gather Jerusalem, then either GOD did not reveal this to HIM or Jesus did not mean what he said about truly wishing to gather them. Once again, I find the Calvinist interpretation unplausible and contradictory. I maintain the same posture regarding Acts 7 in so far as it must have been GODS will for the HOLY GHOST to be resisted but yet the stiff necked are accountable. By the same token, it must have been GODS will that the scorners of Proverbs 1 resisted HIS counsel and reproof but in like fashion GOD holds them accountable. I say no more here as I find this beyond unreasonable.

Act 7:49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
Act 7:50 Hath not my hand made all these things?
Act 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Act 7:52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:


Pro 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
Pro 1:23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
Pro 1:24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
Pro 1:25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
Pro 1:26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
Pro 1:27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Pro 1:28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
Pro 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
Pro 1:30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
Pro 1:31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

Mat 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!


I maintain that GOD permits all things for HIS ultimate GLORY.

And I would say that God "works all things after the counsel of His will". I see no reason to maintain that God merely permits things to happen in light of the fact that none of the verses I covered stated anything about God merely "permitting" evil.- ***With which I reply—

Yes, I realize that our postures differ fundamentally regarding how all things come to pass. I also went to the liberty of providing scriptures previously that categorically denied GOD as the author of evil. Evil does exist in this world. We are in this world. We are the individuals that perpetuate this evil by OUR actions. Do you still insist in maintaining your Calvinist posture that GOD is the cause of ALL things, including evil, in lieu of scripture? I ask because there was no reply to my prior post on this issue with regard to Isa 45:7, Lamentations 3:38, Amos 3:6, Job 2:10, Exodus 4:11, Num 23:19, Deu 4:31, Deu 10:17, Deu 32: 4, 2Ch 19:7, Job 34:10, Job 36:5, Psa 92:15, and Jeremiah 2:5.

Further, this would be a double-standard. That is, folks who hold the view that God permits evil that He knew about before hand but did nothing to stop it, is guilty of inconsistency in that these same folks would hold any person accountable. For example, a lifeguard that "permitted" a child to drown because he simply didn't feel like getting wet on that particuliar day, would be held accountable for the child's death (and probably buried under the jail to boot). So the obvious question is, since God isn't being held accountable, why is man? –***To which I reply- Although I feel this is a possible red herring, I will give my honest assessment and answer to your question. It is generally understood, even among non Christians and people of every persuasion that most normal and sane human beings, have a moral code of GODS basic laws written within them instinctly. Evidence of this is found in Romans 1 and 2. For that reason, negligence such as what you described with your lifeguard analogy, would be considered immoral and for such one would be accountable not only to GOD but also to the laws established by men in most places in this world. GODS culpability in not stepping in everytime affliction, calamity, or evil actions occur should be qualified with this question: DOES GOD OWE US ANYTHING? He already gave us perfection once. We reside in a world that has sin in it as a result of the trespass of Adam and Eve. We suffer the consequences being appointed a day in which we all shall die.

Moving on:

The Bible says he changes not:

And I agree. It was never my argument that He does.

Now to address the verses in question.

Now, for the sake of brevity and simplicity, I am going to address one commentary at a time. In other words, if Alpha wishes to interact with this post, we can discuss the verses in question and Alpha's comments on those verses one post at a time in either the comments section of this post or the home page.

The first verse I would like to address in regards to Alpha's comments is Acts 4:28. Alpha said:

My reply to this is statement is to turn your Bible to Acts 2:23 and see emphatically where through GODS foreknowledge the cast of characters you listed earlier would crucify our beloved Jesus.

In order to answer what Acts 4:28 states, Alpha takes us to Acts 2:23 where the term "foreknowledge" is mentioned (incidentally, this is what I originally said would be done by a non-Calvinist). The problem here is that Alpha assumes that the term "foreknowledge" means what he thinks it means but provides no supporting argument.- ***To which I reply--Likewise, you assume that your Calvinist position is supported by scripture so I ask you to enlighten me and show me why my assertion is incorrect. You have found it necessary to state to all of your viewers that I don’t know what I am talking about but fail to answer as to why I am incorrect. I told you I hoped to learn. To naturally assume that your Calvinist position is correct without providing scripture to substantiate the claim begs my question for your answer. Please show me why mine are wrong instead of asking me to provide further clarification to meet your standard of coherency. In other words, Alpha fails to demonstrate that God determines because He foreknows instead of God foreknowing because He determines. The text of Acts 2 does not lay out the "simple foreknowledge" view that Alpha apparantly endorses. So in order for Alpha to succeed in refuting my comments on Acts 4, he would need to demonstrate the simple foreknowledge view (mere prescience) from the text of scripture. Once again this stance you maintain presupposes that you are correct and I am wrong. I am asking again for you to show me your acumen on this issue. As far as my simplicity goes, I cite the following scripture with which I adhere with pride:

2 Corinthians 11:3-4

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

I also wish to thank you for allowing me to post on your blog. I realize that it may stretch very long but it was necessary to clarify and perhaps enlighten others in the future. It is my hope that what I have offered is of help.

And, again, thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. Now, as to your comments on clarifying and enlightening myself or any other Calvinists who may read what you have posted, I must say that you will need to present arguments for all that you contend since much of what you posted was assertive in nature. *** To which I reply—Quid pro quo. I have presented my positions using scripture alone. I anxiously await the same courtesy instead of simply telling me that I am wrong. I think that is a reasonable request given the assertions having been made with regard to my positions. That is, many of the scriptures you posted or cited to counter what I originally discussed in my article was not accompanied by argumentation (such as Mat. 23:37). As I said above, if you wish to continue to dialogue on the verses in dispute, we can begin at Acts 4.

God Bless You... alpha

And may God bless you as well.

*** To which I reply- Thank you sir and GOD BLESS us both

J. Matthew Cleary said...

alpha,

"I mentioned my doctrine stance to establish the fact that I am not a Calvinist or reformed doctrine individual because I am new to your blog. I had already established from reading from your blog that you were a calvinist. No further inference was made by me"

Very good. Just so long we're clear about who I follow, we can hopefully have a cordial dialogue.

"I conclude that by failing to follow HIS instructions they had in fact done something other than what HE asked them."

This is not in dispute nor does it refute the distinction betweeen God's decretal will and his preceptive will.

"I also conclude that HIS commanding them NOT to do just as they had would be a failure of them to abide in HIS stated command."

This is an affirmation of God's preceptive will. Again, no conflict here with the aforementioned distinctions.

"I can only conclude that it is your contention that HIS instructions that HE had given were actually not HIS will for them."

Yes and no. According to God's preceptive will, yes. According to God's decretal will, then no.

"I find this a rather difficult scenario to believe and in fact, I find it highly unplausible."

The issue is not whether you find these distinctions to be difficult to believe but rather, whether or not these distinctions can be gleaned from scripture. Our discussion on Acts 4 should help shed light on what Calvinists believe about these distinctions.

"None the less, I provide scriptures below stating HIS will for them regarding the practices they eventually undertook."

And all those verses you provide are examples of God's will of command (preceptive will). Again, there is no demonstrated contradiction in the Calvinist distinction here.

"I believe that this section of scripture plainly reveals, to reasonable persons, that in disobediance, GODS instructions were not heeded."

So basically, you're saying that if I disagree with your view point then I'm being unreasonable? If so, then I would ask that you please refrain from these sort of statements because they will cause this discussion to spiral. I have not said anything of the sort to you and I expect the same courtesy. If you wish to continue to suggest that I'm unreasonable just because I disagree with your theological stances, you can go elsewhere.

"I cite from your earlier post on what definition you ascribe to as the sole definition of GODS will-"

No, the statement I made about God being the ultimate cause of all things is not definitional of His will nor did I mean for it to be.

"I deduce from your own definition that if all things occur but by HIS will, then there is no difference in HIS wills."

You are incorrect. The difference is that one is how things *ought* to be, and the other is how things *will* be. For example, in Acts 4, the text states that what those involed in the crucifixion did was predestined by the hand and purpose of God (decretal will). Yet, those actions were sinful because God had said that men ought not, for instance, bear false witness as per God's commandments (preceptive will).

"Once again, if this is the case, you are forced into accepting that GODS instructions for obedience, were not truly HIS instructions."

This would be true only if I made no distinction in God's will. Since I do, then His instructions (preceptive will) are indeed His.

"Thus, one is forced also to accept that the burning of the innocents, an evil action, was HIS will and HE authored evil."

Just like in Acts 4 where God predestined those involved in the crucifixion to do what they did. I would only add that I do not define "author" the way you are using it. Calvinists define the term "author" in the same way as the Westminster Confession does.

"Perhaps within Calvinist circles Matthew 23 has been deemed in that fashion but I myself have yet to see a exegesis that was cogent that did not contradict other scriptures."

Nor have I seen a non-Calvinist handling of this particuliar text do justice to how the verse is actually worded. Indeed, it is hard to find a non-Calvinist actually quoting the verse correctly. Out of curiosity, did you bother to follow the link I provided?

"I maintain the same posture regarding Acts 7 in so far as it must have been GODS will for the HOLY GHOST to be resisted but yet the stiff necked are accountable. By the same token, it must have been GODS will that the scorners of Proverbs 1 resisted HIS counsel and reproof but in like fashion GOD holds them accountable."

Alot like how God sent the Assyrians to plunder and destroy Israel only to have God punish them afterward for believing that they had done the horrible things they did without divine influence?

"I say no more here as I find this beyond unreasonable."

Again, if you wish to continue this discussion, I ask that you refrain from making these kinds of statements. They do nothing to further this discussion. How would you like it if I said you were unreasonble just because I didn't like your viewpoints? Would you not object? Would you want to have a dialogue with such a person?

"I also went to the liberty of providing scriptures previously that categorically denied GOD as the author of evil."

Scripture that were not accompanied by exegetical treatment. Quoting sections of scripture without demonstration of how they refute the opposing side does little to advance a discussion.

"We are the individuals that perpetuate this evil by OUR actions."

And I never said we didn't. Nor does this fact contradict reformed theology.

"I ask because there was no reply to my prior post on this issue with regard to..."

And I have already stated that I will address the verses from my original post that you commented on one at a time. We have not settled on Acts 4 as of yet. The other verses you mention are likely not going to be addressed because there is alot already on our plate. Further, you have not provided exegetical commentary for all the listed scriptures so there is nothing for me to reply to. Again, prooftexting does not advance discussion.

"Although I feel this is a possible red herring, I will give my honest assessment and answer to your question."

And I don't think your answer does justice to the question. It is your contention that God merely permits evil and this gets Him off the hook (so to speak) in your system. But if that lifeguard is morally bound to prevent the evil that he both could, and should have prvented, why is God not held accountable for preventing evil that He could prevent? What you are doing is leaning on the free-will defense to the problem of evil but you are not facing squarly the problems with that view.

"Likewise, you assume that your Calvinist position is supported by scripture so I ask you to enlighten me and show me why my assertion is incorrect."

No, the way it works is, I post on my blog what my views are and why. You have come along to challenge those views. In order to be successful with your challenge, you must demonstrate that I am wrong and you are right. Otherwise, your challenge fails. This would be true if it were I who was challenging your posts on your blog. Now, you have challenged my comments on Acts 4 by invoking the simple foreknowledge view. This was done by referring to Acts 2. The problem is that Acts 2 merely mentions foreknowledge along side God's determinate counsel and nothing else. There is no reason to accept your view of foreknowledge based on Acts 2. You and I both affirm God's exaustive knowledge of future things but the issue is how and why God knows these things. Your view has God "looking down the corridors of time" and thereby knowing what will happen in the future. God then plans accordingly. Obviously, merely pointing to a verse that contains the word "foreknowlege" is not going to confirm your view thus refuting mine.

"You have found it necessary to state to all of your viewers that I don’t know what I am talking about but fail to answer as to why I am incorrect."

No, I found it necessary to point out that you haven't refuted my position on Acts 4 as of yet. I said nothing about you not knowing what you are talking about. Further, since you are here on my blog challenging my comments on Acts 4, then you are obliged to demonstrate that my views are in error. Pointing to verses that mention God's foreknowledge does not get it done seeing as how I affirm God's foreknowledge.

"Once again this stance you maintain presupposes that you are correct and I am wrong."

Yes, I presuppose that I am right and you are wrong. But are you not presupposing the same? Are you saying that you don't think that you are right and I am wrong?

"I have presented my positions using scripture alone. I anxiously await the same courtesy instead of simply telling me that I am wrong."

No, I pointed out that you have listed several different scriptures without exegetical demonstration of just how those verses contradict my position. For example, you cited 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 without showing how these verses relate to the discussion at hand and how they bear against my views. This is mere prooftexting. So again, I ask, lets focus on one verse at a time for the sake of brevity and simplicity.

Anonymous said...

I have gone to great lengths during this exchange to provide you the opportunity with which to answer my refutation of your doctrinal stance. I will cite your original post: “ In almost any conversation about Calvinism, there is the accusation that Reformed theology makes God responsible for sin and/or evil. The Calvinist will usually answer this charge by denying that God is responsible in the sense of being held accountable by His creation and that He is not the author of sin by making a distinction between primary and secondary causation. However, the Calvinist at some point must admit that Reformed theology affirms God as the ultimate cause of all things and that nothing occurs but by His will.”

Within my first post to you I provided refutation of the verses ( namely these three Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, Lamentations 3:38 ) you had chosen to support your Calvinist and Reformed Theology stance. I also provided the following verses that further refuted your position:

Num 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Deu 4:31 (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

Deu 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:

Deu 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

2Ch 19:7 Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.

Job 34:10 Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.

Job 36:5 Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom.

Psa 5:4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.

Psa 92:15 To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Jer 2:5 Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

In spite of my numerous requests for you to provide an answer for this clear contradiction between what you claim as being a Biblical truth and what the Bible actually proclaims and substantiates, I remain without answer from you. It has become abundantly clear as I cite your own words—

“ The other verses you mention are likely not going to be addressed because there is alot already on our plate. Further, you have not provided exegetical commentary for all the listed scriptures so there is nothing for me to reply to. Again, prooftexting does not advance discussion”

that you are not going to address my refutation. I also know why you have chosen to do so. It has been my attempt to shed light on this issue by continually asking for your reply. You have evaded these requests with repeated attempts to begin a discourse on Acts 4 as I cite your words-

“The issue is not whether you find these distinctions to be difficult to believe but rather, whether or not these distinctions can be gleaned from scripture. Our discussion on Acts 4 should help shed light on what Calvinists believe about these distinctions”

At this time, I am going to put an end to my attempts to corner your doctrinal stance by definatively refuting beyond any doubt why your posture is un Biblical and in error. It is morally IMPOSSIBLE for GOD to violate HIS own character and for that sole reason we can know for certainty that any moral evil that has ever been or ever will be perpetuated can not have been either authored or caused by GOD in any way. By GODS stated word revealed in scripture there is no iniquity or evil within HIS thoughts or HIS directives.

In Jeremiah 19, as I have shown, Jerusalem engaged in actions of evil that were contrary to GODS stated will. HIS preceptive commandment was not heeded. The thought for them to do these things never even entered HIS mind. In disobedience we know that these practices had to originate from within the free will actions of the participants. GODS will was not followed because as shown in scripture, GOD, even in HIS sovereign position, CAN NOT SIN. Any actions of SIN in any causal sense must originate from outside of GOD. The Calvinist doctrine proclaiming that GOD is the ultimate cause of all things is unBiblical because it violates GODS own decree about HIMSELF.

Calvinists deny that man can act outside of GODS will and in making this claim they are forced to accept that each and every action was in fact HIS decretive will. All the disobedience through the course of history including all of Satans actions are deemed to have been caused and authored by GOD. There is no other way around it. If GOD, according to Calvinism, is the ultimate cause of all things, it follows that nothing is done that HE hasn’t caused. You are forced into a Biblical contradiction that has no escape Mr. Clary. You either have to accept that GODS will in evil actions was caused by HIM or man has thwarted GODS precepts in disobedience. It is morally inconceivable for GOD to either perform or authorize moral evil in any form.

You have raised the question to me on a couple of occasions with the lifeguard analogy regarding why GOD is not held accountable for not intervening and saving the drowning victim. GOD in HIS sovereignty chose to limit himself in HIS dealings and interaction with man while we live on this earth. He has given man autonomy from the creation of the world:

Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over
the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over
every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God
created he him; male and female created he them.

With instructions to either heed or suffer the consequences for disobedience:

Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of
the garden thou mayest freely eat:
Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not
eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

But HE also has and continues to extend this same provision for life that was
offered to Adam and Eve after their transgression:

Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is
become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest
he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and
eat, and live for ever:

Autonomy that allows a real and genuine love toward HIM to be manifested
In our choosing to obey, serve, and love the LORD. A genuine love that has
The ability to choose. I don’t ask for you to accept my explanation as to why
GOD permits evil to occur. I do know that HE has left us HIS promise in
Romans 8:28-30 that it will be for our good. You have asked me a question
that you should know as a professed Christ follower that is unknowable Mr.
Clary. You also chose to follow up my honest answer with this reply- “And I
don't think your answer does justice to the question. It is your contention
that God merely permits evil and this gets Him off the hook (so to speak) in
your system. But if that lifeguard is morally bound to prevent the evil that he
both could, and should have prvented, why is God not held accountable for
preventing evil that He could prevent? What you are doing is leaning on the
free-will defense to the problem of evil but you are not facing squarly the
problems with that view.” It is my feeling that any answer that I was to
provide outside of the doctrinal stance you ascribe to was likely not to be
accepted. That is perfectly acceptable to me as I have done my very best to
honestly answer any and all questions you have posed to me. No, I have not
presently listened to the link you gave me concerning Matthew 23.

I also wish to address this reply that was made to my statement
concerning the logic that the Calvinist doctrine embraces
concerning GOD as the ultimate cause and author of all things. I
cite now- alpha--"I say no more here as I find this beyond
unreasonable."

Mr. Clary—“Again, if you wish to continue this discussion, I ask that
you refrain from making these kinds of statements. They do nothing
to further this discussion. How would you like it if I said you were
unreasonble just because I didn't like your viewpoints? Would you
not object? Would you want to have a dialogue with such a person?”

My reply Mr. Clary was worded in such a way as to not be interpreted as an
attack on you personally. I have and will refrain from doing so as it is
unprofitable and un Christ-like to demean another person. We both know that
there is FAR too much of that presently happening from both sides of the
fence. It is an ugliness that creates discord. My reply to the
logic exhibited in GOD giving a perceptive commandment to obey and the
disobedience of the participants to be the decretive WILL OF GOD leaves me
no alternative. It is beyond rational to try and maintain such and then fault
Another for failing to embrace faulty logic that furthermore is not Biblically
grounded.

Here again I cite your reply to me with regard to this same subject-

Alpha- "I find this a rather difficult scenario to believe and in fact, I find it
highly implausible."

Mr. Clary-“The issue is not whether you find these distinctions to be difficult
to believe but rather, whether or not these distinctions can be gleaned from
scripture. Our discussion on Acts 4 should help shed light on what Calvinists
believe about these distinctions.”

I have shown using scripture that it is morally unfeasible for GOD to violate
HIS character to cause or author evil behavior. The avoidance of this issue
on your behalf has been telling and somewhat predictable.

Let me conclude this post by addressing this final statement that was made to me—

Alpha- "Likewise, you assume that your Calvinist position is supported by
scripture so I ask you to enlighten me and show me why my assertion is
incorrect."

Mr Clary-“ No, the way it works is, I post on my blog what my views are and why. You have come along to challenge those views. In order to be successful with your challenge, you must demonstrate that I am wrong and you are right. Otherwise, your challenge fails. This would be true if it were I who was challenging your posts on your blog. Now, you have challenged my comments on Acts 4 by invoking the simple foreknowledge view. This was done by referring to Acts 2. The problem is that Acts 2 merely mentions foreknowledge along side God's determinate counsel and nothing else. There is no reason to accept your view of foreknowledge based on Acts 2. You and I both affirm God's exaustive knowledge of future things but the issue is how and why God knows these things. Your view has God "looking down the corridors of time" and thereby knowing what will happen in the future. God then plans accordingly. Obviously, merely pointing to a verse that contains the word "foreknowlege" is not going to confirm your view thus refuting mine”.

Without question I have shown that asserting GOD as the cause or author of all things is un-Biblical on the grounds that I have expounded on for the last 4 days. Failing to accept my refutation rests not with me. An honest assessment for future readers, without the filtering through Calvinist doctrine, will suffice for my intentions in posting to your blog. My Biblical view Mr. Clary does not force me to accept GOD as the author or cause of evil moral actions, decrees, or commandments. Through determinate counsel GOD provided Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for the world. Through Foreknowledge that does not necessitate causing the event, which is Biblically supported because it does not violate GODS own decrees of HIS known character, GOD was able to see the actions that led to the crucifixion of Jesus.

Foreknowledge does not require GOD to cause the event to take place Mr. Clary. If you or I had prescience, not being bound by time or space as GOD is, even for a day, we could know all the events that would occur on that future given day without causing or authoring them to take place. The Bible reveals that GOD knows all things and there are NO things that HE does not know. You can choose to maintain that GOD caused and authored Jesus crucifixion if you are so inclined. In lieu of scripture I have copiously provided, you will be in error in maintaining this stance. It is my sincere hope that you re-evaluate your position. Two choices are left to you given what has been gleaned from scriptures: Either GOD decrees that evil be perpetrated being that he has caused or authored all events or GOD has permitted evil through the actions of humans, leaving HIM as no participant in any way, shape, or form through his permissive will to allow man to act with autonomy. Choice one is un-Biblical. Choice two as I have demonstrated is Biblically supported.


Before I close I also wish to speak on a personal level to you Mr. Clary. Last
evening as I finished writing this there was something that was laid on my
heart to say to you as your Christian brother. I don’t say that lightly when I
say I consider you my brother. In the most deep recesses of my soul I believe
that you love and serve GOD as deeply and with the same conviction that I
do. I have admiration for those who do CARE about what Jesus means to us
and the tremendous gift that we have been given and the assurance we have
of a future hope in being united in heaven. My indictments against the system
of Calvinism and reformed theology are not placed on you. I would extend my
hand to you in brotherhood given the opportunity. My hope for you is that you
will meditate on what the TULIP is dependent on and embrace the truth in
the warning of this scripture:

2 Corinthians 11:3-4
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his
subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in
Christ.
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

Thank you again for your courtesy to me throughout this entire exchange.
You have behaved as I had hoped that you would by not attacking me
personally. It has also been my sincere attempt to provide you this due
courtesy. God speed to you Mr. Clary.

Alpha

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Alpha,

"I have gone to great lengths during this exchange to provide you the opportunity with which to answer my refutation of your doctrinal stance."

And I have likewise made clear my intentions to keep this discussion focused on one verse at a time. So far, you have failed to advance your assertions in regards to Acts 4. I am confident that your so-called refutations would be overturned on all verses currently in question in my original post if this stipulation were to be followed.

"Within my first post to you I provided refutation of the verses ( namely these three Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, Lamentations 3:38 ) you had chosen to support your Calvinist and Reformed Theology stance."

Actually, I commented on six verses in my original post and you offered rebuttals on all of them. I told you that we would look at each one along with your so-called refutations individually. We have not even gotten off the first one yet (Acts 4) and you continue to claim victory when the game is not even played yet.

"I also provided the following verses that further refuted your position:"

No, you are merely prooftexting. Simply offering a verse without exegetical demonstration, and to then claim a refutational victory is simply fallacious. It would be like me merely quoting John 6, Romans 9, and Ephesians 1, and then chanting repeatedly, "you are refuted!". You would vigorously object to this nonsense (and rightly so), would you not?

"In spite of my numerous requests for you to provide an answer for this clear contradiction between what you claim as being a Biblical truth and what the Bible actually proclaims and substantiates, I remain without answer from you."

Sir, I have told several times now that the verses from my original post will be addressed one at a time. Each verse will be shown to be consistent with my theological stance and why your rebuttals fail. I have chosen Acts 4 as the starting point and you have not objected to this. You can only make the kinds of statements that you are making if you are not reading my posts carefully, or you are choosing to ignore what I say in favor of trying to get ahead in this exchange. If the former, you need to be more careful in examining what I write. If the latter, this sort of behavior is simply unbecoming of a professing Christian.

"It has become abundantly clear... that you are not going to address my refutation."

Yet again, you are making leaps in judgement that can only result in either one of two things; you aren't reading what I write or you are ignoring it. I'll repeat for the sake of civility, that the verses from my original post on evil will be addressed one at a time along with your rebuttals. This will be done because the discussions will likely be lengthy and drawn out if we were both to argue our points. I have chosen Acts 4 to begin this proposed discussion. Thus far, you have not demonstrated the simple foreknowledge view from the scriptures. That is where we stand. The secondary list of verses that you have brought forward are not accompanied by exegesis of any kind. There simply is nothing to respond to. Prooftexting does not advance a discussion nor will it win the day for you.

"It has been my attempt to shed light on this issue by continually asking for your reply."

And I have given you my reply several times now. You either don't know it is there or you are ignoring it. Light cannot be shed on any subject if you are going to insist on machine-gunning verses that are not accompanied by exegesis.

"You have evaded these requests with repeated attempts to begin a discourse on Acts 4 as I cite your words-"

There has been no evasion on my part as it is *you* who is evading a discussion that *you* began. That is, you commented on my handling of Acts 4 just as you did the other verses that are in dispute. I told you how this discussion would go and why. I responded to your comments on Acts 4 and you have yet to show what is required for your claims of victory to hold up. If you do not like the proposed course for this discussion, then say so. Don't go about making false claims as this is again unbecoming of a professing Christian.

"In Jeremiah 19, as I have shown, Jerusalem engaged in actions of evil that were contrary to GODS stated will."

Yes, they violated His preceptive will, not His decretal will.

"HIS preceptive commandment was not heeded."

That's right.

"The thought for them to do these things never even entered HIS mind."

And this is one of the problems with your use of this verse. You seem to be interpreting this verse literally. This would put you in agreement with open theists. I find this to be ironic since you have thus far not demonstrated the simple foreknowledge view from the text of scripture.

"In disobedience we know that these practices had to originate from within the free will actions of the participants."

By "free-will", you undoubtedly mean the theory of libertarianism. You have yet to show libertarianism from scripture or have even addressed the competing theories of man's will. Your unsupported assertions are piling up, Alpha.

"GODS will was not followed because as shown in scripture, GOD, even in HIS sovereign position, CAN NOT SIN."

And no one is claiming that God sins. It would be impossible for God to sin against Himself.

"Any actions of SIN in any causal sense must originate from outside of GOD."

And here you are failing to address the distinctions between primary and secondary causation. If you wish to successfully critique reformed theology, you must address what we actually believe.

"The Calvinist doctrine proclaiming that GOD is the ultimate cause of all things is unBiblical because it violates GODS own decree about HIMSELF."

And just what decree would that be? Are you now affirming the truth of God's decretal will? Also, you have went on and on about something in God's nature that refutes reformed theology but you haven't bothered to demonstrate these assertions exegetically nor have you directly addressed the distinctions we make in God's will. However, if you were to back up your assertions in regards to Acts 4, you would go along way in that regard.

"All the disobedience through the course of history including all of Satans actions are deemed to have been caused and authored by GOD."

Again, please address what we actually believe and teach. We make distinctions on causation just as we do on God's will. And I have already informed you that we do not define the term "author" the same as you do in a theological context.

"If GOD, according to Calvinism, is the ultimate cause of all things, it follows that nothing is done that HE hasn’t caused."

See above.

"You are forced into a Biblical contradiction that has no escape Mr. Clary."

You have not demonstrated a contradiction based on what Calvinists *actually* believe and teach. Also, you have mispelled my name.

"It is morally inconceivable for GOD to either perform or authorize moral evil in any form."

Calvinism doesn't teach that God "performs" evil. Further, you are contradicting your own system by denying that God "authorizes" moral evil. If you say that God *permits* moral evil on the one hand, only to turn around and deny that God *authorizes* moral evil on the other, then you are the one engaging in contradiction because the two terms are synonymous.

"You have raised the question to me on a couple of occasions with the lifeguard analogy regarding why GOD is not held accountable for not intervening and saving the drowning victim."

Yes. It is my contention that you are engaging in a double-standard on this issue. Double-standards smack of inconsistency, and inconsistency is the mark of a failed argument.

"GOD in HIS sovereignty chose to limit himself in HIS dealings and interaction with man while we live on this earth."

This is a very common argument that is never accompanied by scriptural support. I ask that you show me where in holy writ where God is said to limit Himself for the sake of human autonomy.

"You have asked me a question
that you should know as a professed Christ follower that is unknowable Mr.
Clary."

As a Christian, I can accept that God uses evil for a greater good. As a Calvinist, I can question your assumption of bare permissibility.

"It is my feeling that any answer that I was to provide outside of the doctrinal stance you ascribe to was likely not to be accepted."

You are probably correct as I have studied the free-will defense and am convinced that it is inadequate.

"No, I have not presently listened to the link you gave me concerning Matthew 23."

And why not? Have you not claimed that you hoped to learn something from this exchange? Have you not asserted that this text refutes my position? And how can you continue to claim this if you do not even consider the rebuttal contained in the provided link?

"It is beyond rational to try and maintain such and then fault
Another for failing to embrace faulty logic that furthermore is not Biblically grounded.

First, you say that you did not mean to say that I'm unreasonable, only to turn around and say that you have no choice to conclude such. Then you say that it is irrational to accept a logic that you have yet to show that is indeed faulty. I can only shake my head...

"I have shown using scripture that it is morally unfeasible for GOD to violate HIS character to cause or author evil behavior. The avoidance of this issue on your behalf has been telling and somewhat predictable.

What has been telling is your failure to show your assertions in regards to Acts 4. You are the one avoiding your obligation to demonstrate the simple foreknoledge view from the text of scripture. And the predictable aspect of this is that you will probably keep going on and on about "all these verses over here" and stay as far away from Acts 4 as possible.

"Without question I have shown that asserting GOD as the cause or author of all things is un-Biblical on the grounds that I have expounded on for the last 4 days."

Without question, I have shown that you are asserting without demonstration that God is not the ultimate cause of all things as is so plainly taught in scripture, and I have done so for the past several days.

"Failing to accept my refutation rests not with me."

Failing to refute the Calvinistic understanding of Acts 4 rests not with me.

An honest assessment for future readers, without the filtering through Calvinist doctrine, will suffice for my intentions in posting to your blog.

An honest assessment for future readers, without filtering through Arminian doctrine, will suffice for my intentions in posting on my blog.

Now, the above statements that echo yours are meant to show you the fallacious nature of assertive argumentation. It is pointless. Further, your brief exposition of the simple foreknowledge view is well and good, but it does nothing to advance your argument. The issue is whether or not the simple foreknowledge view can be exegeted from the text of Acts 2. You are assuming your position simply because Acts 2 contains the term "foreknowledge". I have already explained that you and I both affirm God's exaustive knowledge of man's future. So I say again: you must demonstrate your viewpoint from scripture in order to claim that Acts 2 overturns the Calvinistic understanding of Acts 4. Anything less is an exercise in futility.

In closing this response, I would like to state that I can appreciate your closing remarks of Christian concern and charity. But, I must point out that you cannot hope to change my views (or any other Calvinist for that matter) with the kind of argumentation that you have been employing. And since I believe your viewpoints to be as unbiblical as you believe mine to be, then I can just as well point you to the words spoken by Paul in 2Corinthians 11.

Bob said...

Good night you guys are really hashing this out! It's an interesting discussion, of course I side with the calvinistic arguments as opposed to the synergist's. I'll be reading more...
In Christ,
Bob

J. Matthew Cleary said...

Bob,

Thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog and I'm glad you found this particuliar exchange interesting. I think though, that Alpha is done responding. I plan on addressing Jeremiah 19 a bit more in the near future.

Also, I visited your blog as well and would like to know how you got the "links" section up with the same style text as the "archives" section. Could you be so kind as to email me about that?