Reformed Theology Discussion

General discussions about Christianity including salvation, heaven and hell, Christian history and so on.
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#76

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:51 am

Bill McEnaney wrote:Please forgive me for a silly question, everyone. What does "reformed" mean in the phrase "reformed theology?" "Dutch Reformed?" Computer science and philosophy are my fields. I know some Catholic dogmatic theology, too, but most evangelical jargon is new to me.
Jlay has caught most of it, and the source he has put up from Tim Challies represents a pretty strong voice who is tied closely to Calvinism and some might even say Neo-Calvinism.

I think this is as good a definition and explanation at this link as any that I've seen.

http://reformedtheology.org/SiteFiles/WhatIsRT.html

I'm using the term more narrowly in this thread and I clarify what I'm addressing in my first few posts so hopefully that helps to make clear what we're talking about.
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#77

Post by Bill McEnaney » Sat Dec 31, 2011 1:19 pm

Canuckster1127 wrote:I'm using the term more narrowly in this thread and I clarify what I'm addressing in my first few posts so hopefully that helps to make clear what we're talking about.
Thanks. I think I need to join conversations about topics I'm more familiar with.

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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#78

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:02 pm

Bill McEnaney wrote:
Canuckster1127 wrote:I'm using the term more narrowly in this thread and I clarify what I'm addressing in my first few posts so hopefully that helps to make clear what we're talking about.
Thanks. I think I need to join conversations about topics I'm more familiar with.
You're welcome of course, but as you're Catholic (correct me if I'm wrong but I think you mentioned that in an earlier post) it's probably a conversation that wouldn't carry much practical importance in terms of your own thinking and tradition.
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#79

Post by Bill McEnaney » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:40 pm

Canuckster1127 wrote:
Bill McEnaney wrote:
Canuckster1127 wrote:I'm using the term more narrowly in this thread and I clarify what I'm addressing in my first few posts so hopefully that helps to make clear what we're talking about.
Thanks. I think I need to join conversations about topics I'm more familiar with.
You're welcome of course, but as you're Catholic (correct me if I'm wrong but I think you mentioned that in an earlier post) it's probably a conversation that wouldn't carry much practical importance in terms of your own thinking and tradition.
I'm a Catholic who prefers theory to practice. If anyone talks about Thomism, Platonism, Catholic dogma, analytic philosophy, or mathematical logic, I may have some thoughts worth sharing. But this thread's topic too new to me for me to know what to say about it when other posters already know it well.

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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#80

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:10 pm

Fair enough. The purpose of this thread is more informational than deep debating, but it certainly can go that way quickly. ;)
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#81

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:57 pm

OK, finished with putting up the TULIP in the earlier post and here's where I begin to deal with where I have difficulty with the Calvinist position and where I believe those within Calvinism who attempt to answer some of these objections are not being consistent.

First, some of these questions, and I think this is true of both Calvinism and Arminianism are shortcomings of the epistemology or logical framework and inherent assumptions that are made in the asking of these questions in the first place. I've mentioned that I believe Scholasticism is a strong element in my opinion of where Calvinism is today. One of my good friends (and I mean that sincerely) who is a Calvinist took issue with me on that and I understand the objections placed at least with regard to Calvin himself. The fact is however, that even if you can somehow separate Calvin himself completely from that element, which I'd argue is a stretch, you can't exclude that those factors were strongly present in Calvins followers who built on the foundation he laid. I'd encourage you to go back and look at August's post that addressed this and note his sources and if you want to see the opposing view it's pretty clearly laid out and referenced. I acknowledge the opposing view but I'm not fully convinced by it, in Calvin's case but even if I were more convinced than I am, it would still follow that Calvinism in its most of it's modern forms is not solely sourced from Calvin and there is much that has been done by his successors and scholasticism is not a spurious charge there by any means.

What is Scholasticism? Scholasticism is generally defined by most to be a movement that come up within Catholicism in the Middle Ages (before there was a Protestant Church) which introduces more elements of philosophy and inferrential logic to examine the scriptures to derive answers to questions that otherwise are not directly addressed within Scripture. The classic example of an extreme of how this method can get down to minute types of questions is "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin."

I think the definition of this is pretty important so in addition to my summary above I'm going to put up a few other definitions from some different sources online.
1. (Historical Terms) (sometimes capital) the system of philosophy, theology, and teaching that dominated medieval western Europe and was based on the writings of the Church Fathers and (from the 12th century) Aristotle, the Greek philosopher (384-322 bc) (Colliers Dictionary)
Scholasticism is a term used to designate both a method and a system. It is applied to theology as well as to philosophy. Scholastic theology is distinguished from Patristic theology on the one hand, and from positive theology on the other. The schoolmen themselves distinguished between theologia speculativa sive scholastica and theologia positiva. Applied to philosophy, the word "Scholastic" is often used also, to designate a chronological division intervening between the end of the Patristic era in the fifth century and the beginning of the modern era, about 1450. (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Scholasticism is typically associated with philosophical and speculative theology. Note, for example, how one theologian describes it: “By scholastic I mean that kind of theology that emphasizes the accessibility of the infinite to the finite and the possibility and indeed the desirability of systematizing the body of revealed knowledge given in Scripture.” Yet, if we take a close examination of those theologians who are considered scholastic we find a rather broad cross-section of theological views. Historically speaking, Roman Catholic theologians such as Peter Lombard (c. 1095-1169), William of Ockham (1280-1348), and Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), Lutheran theologians such as Martin Chemnitz (1522-86), Arminians such as Jacob Arminius (1560-1609) himself, and Reformed theologians such as Francis Turretin (1623-87), John Owen (1616-83), and Herman Witsius (1636-1708), are all considered scholastic theologians. However, with all of the names just mentioned we find a great variety of theological and philosophical views. Additionally, the terms speculative or philosophical cannot be applied to all of them. Therefore, how should scholasticism be defined?

Strictly speaking, scholasticism is not a set of beliefs or doctrines but rather a theological method. Scholasticism is a method of doing theology that sets out to achieve theological precision through the exegesis of Scripture, an examination of how doctrine has been historically defined throughout church history, and how doctrine is expounded in contemporary debate. (Westminster Seminary of California Website http://wscal.edu/blog/entry/3433)
I've purposely included a reformed source in this to note that the term Scholasticism is sometimes redefined or defined differently to then demonstrate how a particular author or tradition cannot be included. I'm not really looking to get into it in this context so I'm using the term in it's broader historic sense and not attempting to pigeonhole any one source of Calvinism (and that includes Calvin) into a hard and fast position to then lump them together or reject them summarily just on that basis. Scholasticism doesn't necessarily mean that the conclusions arrived at are wrong because of the method employed. The point that most people, and I in this instance are making is that a significant element of the logic and progression within a particular doctrine is derived, not directly from Scripture but it part or whole from the method or progression that is made. The question is begged, if this is the type of method that is best suited to understanding Scripture why was Scripture itself not written in this style? Further if this method is answering questions that were not asked by the original audience of a portion of Scripture or wasn't intended by the original writer, then how reliable can such answers be as they are derived outside of that intent? Whether these are criticisms that undermine the whole approach or just signal caution is needed, is open to debate and different opinions are held.

I'll touch on this more in future posts but as it's come up already (because I mentioned it first of course) it's worth a pause here to address.
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#82

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:33 pm

OK some quotes from Calvinists and a further discussion of what to me, is the most difficult thing to reconcile within Calvinism; The Sovereignty of God reconciled with God's Love.

Now, to repeat some things just to be clear, I'm speaking here about Calvinism as a system, and not saying that all Calvinists would agree with the characterizations that will follow. I am saying however, that it's a logical fallacy when one asserts the absolute Sovereignty of God in every matter to the point of Determinism in one breath and in the next breath then state that God is somehow not responsible for Moral Evil and Catastrophe. There are many creative means that attempt to say just that. I'm not denying that there are arguments that are made. I'm simply saying that unless that argument then acknowledges that God has by His Sovereign will allowed some things such as the Fall to take place without God's full intent and power behind it then you should no more be impressed by those arguments than you would be impressed by a person who stands in front of you with a Black Top Hat and proclaims to you that it is black and then in the next breath holds the same hat in front of you and says that now it is white.

Now what some will do at this point is affirm both assertions but then retreat back by declaring that this is a mystery that cannot be resolved but nevertheless the Scripture teaches both and this cognitive dissonance must therefore be accepted.

I am fully aware and willing to agree that there are Mysteries that we cannot reconcile humanly that we must accept as represented in Scripture. I accept that the Trinity for example is clearly shown within Scripture with Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one God, and I accept that the Hypostatic Union of Christ as fully Man and Fully Human is a mystery that can be asserted but can't logically be proven to a skeptics satisfaction and there are many more that could be mentioned. These give us truths that appear to be impossible in one sense but at the same time, they are not stating polar opposites such as what appears to be suggested (and by some outright stated) that God is Love and Good and at the same time, God is the primary and sole cause of Evil, Pain and Suffering in the world. Some in the Calvinist camps attempt to reconcile this by redefining the word "Love" to where God's love is then defined in a manner that basically aligns with God is the one who is all powerful and therefore who are we to question him? In effect what they're saying is "Divine Might Makes Right".

It's one thing to assert mystery as seemingly impossible corollary things, it's another thing to assert mystery as two contradictory statements both of which cannot exist together. There's nothing moral associated with the mystery of the Trinity. There's nothing morally contradicting present within the mystery of the Hypostatic Union. Stating that God is Good and Love in one breath and the cause and author of Evil in the next is irreconcilable in my assessment and opinion. The question that is begged is, what need is there for Satan in this proposed Scenario and further why would Jesus have described a Spiritual Battle between Good and Evil, God and Satan if in fact, Satan is just one more Soldier in God's army who is unable to do anything other than what God directs him to as well?

So rather than me just asserting that some mainline Calvinists believe this let me give some illustrations from some, while at the same time affirming that there's a difference between Calvinists and HyperCalvinists and there are some Calvinists who work very hard to back away from this difficult necessity recognizing that there's a strong question to be answered here.

Absolute Divine Determinism which is the logical equivalent of Divine Sovereignty or meticulous providence is asserted by R.C. Sproul for example.
If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God's sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.... Maybe that one molecule will be the thing that prevents Christ from returning. (Sproul, Chosen by God, 27)
So, we're talking about here God's direct control of everything in the universe down to the molecular level in Sproul's thinking. Ask Sproul however, if He believes if God is the author of evil and of sin, and he will deny it.
One thing is absolutely unthinkable, that God could be the author or doer of sin. (Sproul, Chosen by God, 31)
I agree with him. It is unthinkable, and yet many of his fellow Calvinists in mainstream position and Seminaries would disagree with him and instead go ahead and assert that God indeed to be Sovereign to the degree Calvinism asserts has to be directly responsible for everything that is and how it is including the fall and evil and be done with it.

So how does Sproul reconcile these contrary statements? He states that God allowed sin and evil into his good creation but He himself did not coerce it. (ibid, 31)

Stop a minute and think about this. Sproul just affirmed that there's not a molecule in this universe that does anything without God's direct will at work in making it so to the point that one molecule in the universe free of God's will could result in the foiling of the return of Christ, and now he says God "allowed sin and evil into his good creation be he himself didn't coerce it."

Reconcile those statements. I don't believe they can be reconciled. It's tap-dancing around the truth of the position and wanting to assert two contradictory things that cannot exist together in order to avoid the unavoidable conclusion of the other.

This isn't isolated to Sproul either. I could put up similar contradictory statements in the same books with the same types of progression of thought from sources such as Boettner, Piper, and John Frame the Chair in Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, a mainline Seminary that feeds many Reformed Churches.

Piper for example shows his hand in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in his published Sermon here which was released 5 days after the event.

http://www.ondoctrine.com/pipernew.htm

Focus on the end of the Sermon and what he has to say about God's Sovereignty and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Piper has regularly made comments to the effect that even if a dirty bomb levels Minneapolis (near where his church is located) that it would have to be seen as from God. (I can find a source if anyone doesn't believe me on that.) Many Calvinists wince when they hear these things but some nod and still others shake their heads and wonder why their brethren can't just make the small jump to embracing the full implications of the position.

Frankly, I agree that those Calvinists who see no point in denying the implications and so they proclaim openly without shame that God is the author and originator of evil, are the most to be respected for their at least having the honesty to embrace their position fully. I say that while at the same time, stating that my sympathies lie with those who deny the implications but my question to them is if you need to get off the train before it reaches the end of the line, maybe you ought to examine the tracks you're on and consider changing trains. A system that comes to such an irreconcilable contradiction is not "mystery", it is self-contradicting.

This is enough on this for now. It will continue to tie into other statements but it's a serious question and it's not enough to toss something up in rebuttal that states self-contradictory things and then say that the problem is solved while both self-contradictory assertions remain out on the table. Nor is it enough to get angry at someone who dares to point this out calmly and factually and take offense that they would point it out. This is aimed at the system and the beliefs present. It's not necessarily a moral assessment of those who try to manage these contradictions. Most who do are uncomfortable, I believe, in the midst of trying to reconcile these things. Those who embrace it wholeheartedly and with joy would I would say, fall into that fuzzy "Hyper-Calvinist" category that seems to be redefined in different contexts depending upon whom you're speaking with and what the issue is.

I disagree that to assert God as the author of evil is by definition, hypercalvinism, which by the way is what Sproul does as well from the same book I've quoted him above. I think the seeds of that position are in the system itself and you cannot fully embrace the 5 points of TULIP and deny at the same time that God isn't directly responsible for evil even as you can't deny that God individually purposes people to go to hell based upon nothing than his own "good" will.

This is no small issue and it's enough frankly in my mind to justify looking for answers elsewhere.
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#83

Post by Canuckster1127 » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:16 am

So if I reject Calvisnism, I must reject that God is Sovereign?

Not at all.

Calvinism doesn't have a corner on the market of God's Sovereignty although sometimes it seems like it's argued by some that if you don't accept Calvinism you must reject God's Sovereignty as if Calvinism is the one and only approach that believes in God's Sovereignty.

I do believe that there is nothing that happens in this world without the permissive will of God. I believe the Bible teaches it and I believe that all who name Christ as Savior should believe that. What I hold is what is often called a "weak view" of God's Sovereignty (and as tempted as some may be to play games with that word that is not saying that God is weak or that the position itself is weak.) Calvinism, as we've described to this point holds a "strong view" of God's Sovereignty.

So what is the difference?

Looking a little closer at Calvinism's position of Soverienty, Calvin himself was influenced by Ulrich Zwingli. Zwingli wrote an essay based on a Sermon he Delivered called "On Providence." If you're interested you can read it in Google Books here: http://bit.ly/urx4eb it's on page 128. Note the introduction of this 1922 book ties Zwingli to Aristotle and the Stoics; that 's just an aside and a little bit of evidence that I and others aren't exagerating when we say that there are ties in these areas to Greek Philosophy. That doesn't necessarily equate to Scholasticism, but it shows how it can tend or lean in that direction.

When Zwingli described Divine Providence he said it was God's "rule over and direction of all things in the universe. For if anything were guided by its own power or insight, just so far would the wisdom and power of our Deity be deficient" (Zwingli, On Providence) In this passage and others, Zwingli made it clear that he believed that God is the sole cause of everything and anything that can be seen as secondary is just a tool in God's divine working. Zwingli's views and thus indirectly their influence on Calvin were based both in Scripture and in Philosophy. The philosophy is not hard to see. The idea is presupposed that God is necessary as the as the all-determining reality and then from that it follows that everything must be a manifestation of the power of God, or else God is not God.

Scripturally Calvinists draw from multiple Biblical Narratives and "key verses" to support this idea. The story of Joseph is commonly cited where Joseph says to his brothers that their selling him into slavery, was something the brothers meant for evil but Joseph says God was behind it and God meant it for good. Cited as well is Jesus' crucifixion as God's plan which involved the evil of man to bring about for God's intended purpose. Calvinists presume that in these and other instances that because they are a part of the end result that it must mean that God caused and directed these events themselves and that includes the evil involved. Of course, that's not the only view possible. It's possible that God meant these things "for good" in the sense that He could have stopped the events but He chose not to, instead letting them play out. Most Calvinists would say that there is no real difference between either, but I disagree. I think there's a huge difference.

So in addition to these types of examples are the "proof-texts" that are pulled out regularly to support this idea of God meticulously directing these things in every detail. Some of these are:

Amos 3:6
Proverbs 16:33
Isaiah 14:27
Isaiah 43:13
Isaiah 45:7
Daniel 4:35

You should be able to run your mouse over those verses and our board's scripture reader will pop up the verses in a window.

Read by themselves and especially going to them with the idea already in mind presented or assumed that God's Sovereignty is "strong" does make these verses seem very powerful and hard to understand differently.

I believe however that Calvinism's Strong view of God's Sovereignty (which is in effect a form of determinism) even though many Calvinists, if not most of them will then appeal to God's permissive will cannot reconcile this with what they're saying on one side of the argument and then taking back on the other side. When you begin to look at the entire scripture and those portions of Scripture that indicate that there is a permissive side to God's will and Sovereignty that allows an understanding of Evil that God permits, but doesn't cause but in order for this to work you cannot correspondingly hold to the determinative view of God's Sovereignty.

So what I'm saying is that Calvinism is indeed getting a part of it right when those within it recognize that there has to be a permissive side to God's will that finds a source of Evil outside of God Himself, while recognizing that God's will is not thwarted by Evil and He takes it into account and ultimately counters it to in the end bring about His intended purpose.

The answer is to drop the strong sovereignty of determinism of Calvinism which can't work with that (even though many Calvinists try to make it happen even when it doesn't add up) and adopt a weak view of God's Sovereignty and leave the determinism at the door.

I'll go into that more in future posts that will speak of other passages that show that there's more than what Calvinism is citing from Scripture about God's Sovereignty that also goes against the Philosophical basis that I and others believe is more behind these views.

Just to end though with evidence again from Calvin Himself if there's any doubt about what we're saying here about Calvin's views and the system that bears his name:
To sum up, since God's will is said to be the cause of all things, I have made his providence the determinative principle for all human plans and works, not only in order to display its force in the elect, who are ruled by the Holy Spirit, but also to compel the reprobate to obedience.(Calvin, Institutes 1.18.2)
Just to make it clear, what Calvin is saying is that when the "reprobate" (those outside of the elect who are going to hell) do what they do, or what they omit that is consistent with their lost condition, they're not doing it by God's "permission" they are doing it in obedience to God's decree and meticulous plan meaning that the evil done by wicked people is foreordained and rendered certain by God.

Now, to make clear, and to repeat what I've said before, I'm looking at a very narrow definition of Calvinism here, in terms of Hyper-Calvinists or High Calvinists.

Do I believe that most Calvinists believe that God is the author of evil? No I don't. I can find, as can they, countless quotes from Calvinists who go to great lengths that God is not the author of Evil, and when they say this, I agree with them and I think that they are correct for the most part when they make that appeal. What I am saying though is that despite the very best intentions of those same Calvinists, if they hold to the strong determinism of Calvin (as evidenced in his quotes) and like for example, R.C. Sproul who says every molecule in the universe is completely under the intended will of God or else Christ's return itself can be thwarted, that those positions are irreconcilable.

To make them work you have to either, discard this permissive will of God that many do in fact appeal to recognizing that they cannot concluse that God is the author of evil, or you have to make the very hard decision to stop speaking contradictorally and embrace not just the premises of this Divine Determinism but also the conclusions and consequences.

So I'm not attacking most Calvinists with what I'm saying here. I'm sympathetic with the situation that they find themselves. I understand the anger and frustration that comes with pushing the point. Nobody who loves God likes being told that the heart of their theology makes God the author of evil. I suspect even those who declare it openly are not happy about it. There would be something seriously wrong, I think, in the heart of someone would jump up and down in joy over God creating evil, and sending people to hell for His "own good pleasure" (even though there are some rare birds like that out there, I'm sad to say.)

So, this is a little bit of expanding to strengthen and clarify. I'll continue with this discussion on the Strong vs. the Weak view of Sovereignty and why the permissive will of God fits better in the latter.
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#84

Post by DannyM » Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:57 am

Canuckster1127 wrote:
To sum up, since God's will is said to be the cause of all things, I have made his providence the determinative principle for all human plans and works, not only in order to display its force in the elect, who are ruled by the Holy Spirit, but also to compel the reprobate to obedience.(Calvin, Institutes 1.18.2)
Just to make it clear, what Calvin is saying is that when the "reprobate" (those outside of the elect who are going to hell) do what they do, or what they omit that is consistent with their lost condition, they're not doing it by God's "permission" they are doing it in obedience to God's decree and meticulous plan meaning that the evil done by wicked people is foreordained and rendered certain by God.

So I'm not attacking most Calvinists with what I'm saying here. I'm sympathetic with the situation that they find themselves. I understand the anger and frustration that comes with pushing the point. Nobody who loves God likes being told that the heart of their theology makes God the author of evil.
1. That’s correct. And it does not render God an author of sin and evil. But let’s look again to Calvin:
But though afterwards his power to afflict the saint seems to be only a bare permission, yet as the sentiment is true, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so it has been done,” we infer that God was the author of that trial of which Satan and wicked robbers were merely the instruments.

If the blinding and infatuation of Ahab is a Judgment from God, the fiction of bare permission is at an end; for it would be ridiculous for a judge only to permit, and not also to decree, what he wishes to be done at the very time that he commits the execution of it to his ministers. The Jews purposed to destroy Christ. Pilate and the soldiers indulged them in their fury; yet the disciples confess in solemn prayer that all the wicked did nothing but what the hand and counsel of God had decreed (Acts 4:28), just as Peter had previously said in his discourse, that Christ was delivered to death by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23); in other words, that God, to whom all things are known from the beginning, had determined what the Jews had executed. He repeats the same thing elsewhere, “Those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled,” (Acts 4:18).
Institutes 1.18.1
According to the former view, it is said, “If the prophet be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet,” (Ezek. 14:9). According to the latter view, he is said to have given men over to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:28), because he is the special author of his own just vengeance; whereas Satan is only his minister (see Calv. in Ps. 141:4). But as in the Second Book (Chap. 4 sec. 3, 4), in discussing the question of man’s freedom, this subject will again be considered, the little that has now been said seems to be all that the occasion requires. The sum of the whole is this,—since the will of God is said to be the cause of all things, all the counsels and actions of men must be held to be governed by his providence; so that he not only exerts his power in the elect, who are guided by the Holy Spirit, but also forces the reprobate to do him service. Institutes 1.18.2
Yes, Calvin is pretty clear, and he is in complete harmony with the Scriptures, of which I will go into detail in a post I’m working on. God was indeed the “author” of Job’s trials, and is the “special author” of His own vengeance. Calvin doesn’t think for one minute that God is the author of sin and evil any more than I do. When Calvin is looked at and quoted in context, a different picture emerges.
For that which deserves praise must be just. Man therefore falls, divine providence so ordaining, but he falls by his own fault. The Lord had a little before declared that all the things which he had made were very good (Gen. 1:31).

Whence then the depravity of man, which made him revolt from God? Lest it should be supposed that it was from his creation, God had expressly approved what proceeded from himself Therefore man’s own wickedness corrupted the pure nature which he had received from God, and his ruin brought with it the destruction of all his posterity. Institutes 3.23.8
The reprobate would excuse their sins by alleging that they are unable to escape the necessity of sinning, especially because a necessity of this nature is laid upon them by the ordination of God. We deny that they can thus be validly excused, since the ordination of God, by which they complain that they are doomed to destruction, is consistent with equity,—an equity, indeed, unknown to us, but most certain. Hence we conclude, that every evil which they bear is inflicted by the most just judgment of God. Next we have shown that they act preposterously when, in seeking the origin of their condemnation, they turn their view to the hidden recesses of the divine counsel, and wink at the corruption of nature, which is the true source.

They cannot impute this corruption to God, because he bears testimony to the goodness of his creation. For though, by the eternal providence of God, man was formed for the calamity under which he lies, he took the matter of it from himself, not from God, since the only cause of his destruction was his degenerating from the purity of his creation into a state of vice and impurity. Institutes 3.23.9
You don’t have a problem with Calvin, and you don’t have a problem with mystery - you have a problem with the Scriptures. I’ll show you why in a day or two. I might actually put it in a new thread, where I can go into things in a more thorough manner.

2. Thanks for the sympathy, Bart, but save it for those who need it. No anger here, nor frustration, just a little amusement. And if you’re not referring to any Calvinists on this board, then I fail to see who you are applying this to and how it is relevant, for it can only be anecdotal, and so spurious at best. And of course, you are yet to prove your “author of evil” charge. You haven't proven it from Calvin, and assertions don't count. Have another go, by all means. But I’m working on a biggie, and I will aim to show not only that God is not the author of evil (under any theology), but also that, on your very own terms, you cannot escape that which you are trying to pin on Calvinism.

On another note, brother, did you find out where the “dreadful decree” quote comes from and what it concerns?
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#85

Post by Canuckster1127 » Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:45 am

Danny,

I appreciate that that is what you believe but again, neither you, nor Calvin has the luxury of claiming meticulous predestination and then excluding sin and evil from that equation. I know that there's a desire to assert two mutually exclusive propositions but it's logically inconsistent and scripturally unfaithful, in my opinion and observation.

You personally DannyM may not wish my sympathy and that's fine. If you're not bothered by these elements, then many others than you within your tradition are and go to no end of semantics to try and assert Strong Sovereignty with regard to the elect and weak Sovereignty with regard to the reprobate. Logic doesn't afford that luxury and if that issue doesn't concern you then I will indeed save my sympathy for those who need it and you may consider yourself excluded from that if you wish, but I'll continue to express it for those who see the disconnect and are concerned with trying to make those two things work.

I've given you the reference in the Institutes with regard to the "Horrible Decree" and confirmed it. You or anyone else can google it within quotes and you'll have numerous hits and discussions that acknowledge the use of the term by Calvin.

Danny, I don't expect that I'm going to change your mind and I certainly respect your right to respond and show where you believe what I'm saying here doesn't align with what you believe. So I'm clear again, I encourage you to respond and I encourage you to show how you believe these logical and scriptural disconnects are not problematic. What I'd appreciate is if you'd show me the same courtesy I'm attempting to show you, whether you appreciate it from me or not and and not impugn either my motives or my intelligence and deal with the issues. One way you can do that is by laying out your case and then leaving it to those who read this as to whether you've refuted it or not. It appears to me at times that you believe that because you've attempted to address an issue that you have an expectation that everyone will agree with you and if they don't then it's somehow a result of them not having read what you have to say or not being able to understand what you've said. Please show me by addressing my specific points that I've gone to some length to support by directly illustrating then from Calvin or a leading Calvinist Author, or if you wish to simply repeat what I've said is the Calvinist Position then that's fine too. I have no problem with agreeing to disagree and that's why, in this thread when it's clear that we've identified the issue and made clear our disagreement, I won't be then engaging in continuing to go back and forth and will instead move onto my next points or issues. You've asked me repeatedly to substantiate why I believe what I do with regard to Calvinism. That's not quickly answered and people smarter than both of us have disagreed and gone back and forth on this for 500 years.

As I mentioned at the outset, and I may later do something similar to this for Arminianism, I think that these paradoxes exist in either direction although they manifest differently and I think it likely that many of them find their paradoxes in the limitations of the methodologies employed and not in God, obviously. Where I take issue with the methodologies and those employing them is when they are pushed to their absolute limits to where the actual character of God is impugned or brought into question. I believe that Calvinism does this when it attempts to mix both views of Sovereignty and then denies the implications. There is at least one regular Calvinist poster that I've observed on this board who recognizes this and affirms that God is indeed the author of Evil, based on my observations thought anyone is welcome to correct me on that, so it's clear that there are people coming from your position who understand the implications I'm asserting and embrace them.

So I appreciate your response and will be happy to see what more you have to say. I don't deny at all that Calvin and others in the tradition have said the things you counter with. In fact, I've provided some quotes from sympathetic sources to your position showing just that. What I've asserted is that it's inconsistent to make both assertions and I've shown why. In light of that, you may offer as many quotes as you wish showing that many (not all) Calvinists wish to deny that God is the Author of evil; (I acknowledge that most Calvinists wish to deny that) but unless you address the actual dissonance and demonstrate how God can operate in an absolute deterministic fashion in one sense but then exercise permissive will at the same time in another and make those exclusive to each other, I'll simply acknowledge your effort and remain unconvinced.

Blessings,

bart
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#86

Post by DannyM » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:05 am

Bart,

I'm afraid the above is yet more rhetoric. Please, can you just address what I have raised?

You haven't demonstrated (or even begun to demonstrate) how [on Calvinism] God is the "author of evil"...

You said you'd look into your "dreadful decree" quote: where it came from and what it is addressing.

Please drop the evasiveness, stop insulting us both and just make good on your word.

Danny
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#87

Post by B. W. » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:21 am

DannyM wrote:[
The reprobate would excuse their sins by alleging that they are unable to escape the necessity of sinning, especially because a necessity of this nature is laid upon them by the ordination of God. We deny that they can thus be validly excused, since the ordination of God, by which they complain that they are doomed to destruction, is consistent with equity,—an equity, indeed, unknown to us, but most certain. Hence we conclude, that every evil which they bear is inflicted by the most just judgment of God. Next we have shown that they act preposterously when, in seeking the origin of their condemnation, they turn their view to the hidden recesses of the divine counsel, and wink at the corruption of nature, which is the true source.

They cannot impute this corruption to God, because he bears testimony to the goodness of his creation. For though, by the eternal providence of God, man was formed for the calamity under which he lies, he took the matter of it from himself, not from God, since the only cause of his destruction was his degenerating from the purity of his creation into a state of vice and impurity. Institutes 3.23.9
You don’t have a problem with Calvin, and you don’t have a problem with mystery - you have a problem with the Scriptures. I’ll show you why in a day or two. I might actually put it in a new thread, where I can go into things in a more thorough manner.

2. …And of course, you are yet to prove your “author of evil” charge. You haven't proven it from Calvin, and assertions don't count. Have another go, by all means. But I’m working on a biggie, and I will aim to show not only that God is not the author of evil (under any theology), but also that, on your very own terms, you cannot escape that which you are trying to pin on Calvinism.

On another note, brother, did you find out where the “dreadful decree” quote comes from and what it concerns?
How can the reprobate escape what was laid upon them by the ordination of God for the calamity which Good ordained and this not be God making them degenerate into sin Danny – God ordained sin to be inside them? Those are self contradictory statements…see below how they are…
The reprobate would excuse their sins by alleging that they are unable to escape the necessity of sinning, especially because a necessity of this nature is laid upon them by the ordination of God..... that every evil which they bear is inflicted by the most just judgment of God.

They cannot impute this corruption to God, because he bears testimony to the goodness of his creation. For though, by the eternal providence of God, man was formed for the calamity under which he lies, he took the matter of it from himself, not from God, since the only cause of his destruction was his degenerating from the purity of his creation into a state of vice and impurity. Institutes 3.23.9
Next, what do you do with these writings from Calvin, Danny? How could man have free will and not have, at the same time when they are forced to do service to evil? (That violates God’s own absolute sense of Justice – making him a do iniquity (Job 34:12, Job 37:23, Deut 32:4 - 2 Chronicles 19:7)

That idea cannot wash with John Calvin…And the dreadful quote is also included in the last Calvin quote…
"The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how muchsoever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as he permits, nay unless in so far as he commands, that they are not only bound by his fetters but are even forced to do him service" (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 11)

"…individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction." (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)

"...salvation is freely offered to some while others are barred from access to it."(John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21, Paragraph 5)

"The very inequality of his grace proves that it is free." (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21, Paragraph 6)

"Again I ask: whence does it happen that Adam's fall irremediably involved so many peoples, together with their infant offspring, in eternal death unless because it so pleased God? The decree is dreadful indeed, I confess. Yet no one can deny that God foreknew what end man was to have before he created him, and consequently foreknew because he so ordained by his decree. And it ought not to seem absurd for me to say that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his descendants, but also meted it out in accordance with his own decision.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 7)
I am reminded what James 1:13 states: Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone."NKJV

Yet Mr. Calvin teaches the opposite does he not?
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#88

Post by Canuckster1127 » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:35 am

DannyM wrote:Bart,

I'm afraid the above is yet more rhetoric. Please, can you just address what I have raised?

You haven't demonstrated (or even begun to demonstrate) how [on Calvinism] God is the "author of evil"...

You said you'd look into your "dreadful decree" quote: where it came from and what it is addressing.

Please drop the evasiveness, stop insulting us both and just make good on your word.

Danny
Danny I've answered your questions. You're welcome to research your own issue with Horrible Decree and if you believe that the term isn't used as I've described feel free to put up how you feel it is misrepresented. You can do your own research on that if you have an issue with it.

As to your declaration that I haven't demonstrated my point, this is consistent with your past habit of summarily dismissing multiple points and arguments without addressing what has been said in detail and then attempting to have the person continue to attempt to provesomething you don't agree with or don't want to acknowledge is an issue to your satisfaction and dance to what you are not inclined to believe or agree with at all, and as I've stated, I know better than to fall into that particular mode and I will not be dancing to that tune. You're welcome to assert your disagreement. The standard of my success in this, is not your declaration of whether you agree with it or not. I'll leave that assessment to those who read this collectively as to whether I've made a point and whether yours or others response adequately addresses them or just declares that it's wrong without addressing it adequately.

You shouldn't dance to that tune either from your direction. I'm not the ultimate measure of your success in addressing these issues. It's likely I won't agree with your assertions, or at least not with your conclusions and it would be unreasonable for me to expect that you'll continue to repeat your position in multiple ways with me declaring repeatedly that you've failed in your effort. You should feel free to not allow me to become the measure of your success in this and if and when you believe you've actually addressed directly my points to your satisfaction, let them rest and move on and we can agree to disagree. All I ask is that you address my points and not simply repeat what I've already acknowledged that i believe Calvin and many Calvinsts wish to have it both ways and not reconcile those mutually exclusive claims.

bart
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#89

Post by DannyM » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:36 am

Bart,

Why are you being so obstinate? All I’m doing is trying to establish your source and what it claims.
Canuckster1127 wrote:Calvin certainly knew what he was saying in this areas and he was clear.
God once established by His eternal and unchangeable plan those whom He long before determined once for all to receive into salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, he would devote to destruction." (Calvin's Institutes 3.21.7)
If that's not clear enough Calvin goes on shortly thereafter, and says,
Therefore those whom God passes over, he condemns; and this he does for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for His own children." (Calvin's Institutes 3.27.1)
Calvin referred to this once as "God's Horrible Decree."
DannyM wrote:Are you sure you do not mean 3.23.7?
7. Objection, that God did not decree that Adam should perish by his fall, refuted by a variety of reasons. A noble passage of Augustine.

7. They deny that it is ever said in distinct terms, God decreed that Adam should perish by his revolt. As if the same God, who is declared in Scripture to do whatsoever he pleases, could have made the noblest of his creatures without any special purpose. They say that, in accordance with free-will, he was to be the architect of his own fortune, that God had decreed nothing but to treat him according to his desert. If this frigid fiction is received, where will be the omnipotence of God, by which, according to his secret counsel on which every thing depends, he rules over all? But whether they will allow it or not, predestination is manifest in Adam’s posterity. It was not owing to nature that they all lost salvation by the fault of one parent. Why should they refuse to admit with regard to one man that which against their will they admit with regard to the whole human race? Why should they in caviling lose their labour? Scripture proclaims that all were, in the person of one, made liable to eternal death. As this cannot be ascribed to nature, it is plain that it is owing to the wonderful counsel of God. It is very absurd in these worthy defenders of the justice of God to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. I again ask how it is that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy unless that it so seemed meet to God? Here the most loquacious tongues must be dumb. The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree. Should any one here inveigh against the prescience of God, he does it rashly and unadvisedly. For why, pray, should it be made a charge against the heavenly Judge, that he was not ignorant of what was to happen? Thus, if there is any just or plausible complaint, it must be directed against predestination. Nor ought it to seem absurd when I say, that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure arranged it. For as it belongs to his wisdom to foreknow all future events, so it belongs to his power to rule and govern them by his hand. This question, like others, is skillfully explained by Augustine: “Let us confess with the greatest benefit, what we believe with the greatest truth, that the God and Lord of all things who made all things very good, both foreknow that evil was to arise out of good, and knew that it belonged to his most omnipotent goodness to bring good out of evil, rather than not permit evil to be, and so ordained the life of angels and men as to show in it, first, what free-will could do; and, secondly, what the benefit of his grace and his righteous judgment could do,” (August. Enchir. ad Laurent).
Canuckster1127 wrote:I double checked my reference and it is 3.28.7 not what you suggest, but thanks for seeking to clarify.
DannyM wrote:My source has it differently, bro. Is my quote the quote you are referring to?
Canuckster1127 wrote:I'll have to dig on it a little more Danny. To be honest the reference as I pulled it was from a secondary source and my copy of Institutes is on my Kindle and it's not always easy to cross reference and work with it because the one on my kindle is a different translator than the one referenced in my other source.
And that’s the end of it. So I’m not asking for anything out of the blue, I’m not doing anything other than asking you to dig for that comment. I have been under the impression that the quote you are referring to (which I clearly have provided with context) is from Calvin, and it addresses the fall of Adam; and the “Horrible” or “Dreadful” decree refers to God’s decree of the fall, and not reprobation itself. The one reason I haven’t jumped all over you with it is because I wanted to make sure that you knew what you were quoting. I’m still trying to avoid this confusion. So again, can you check and triple check your source please.

The rest of yours (and B.W’s) words will be taken up in full force on my monster thread.

Danny
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Re: Reformed Theology Discussion

#90

Post by Canuckster1127 » Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:21 pm

Danny,

It was easily found as I suggested.

"(1) Calvin's definition. Reprobation was, for Calvin, involved in election, and Divine foreknowledge and foreordination were taken to be identical. Calvin's mode of defining predestination was as the eternal degree of God, by which He has decided with Himself what is to become of each and every individual. For all, he maintains, are not created in like condition; but eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal condemnation for others. Calvin confesses that this is a 'horrible decree…'" (The International Standard Bible Enclyclopaedia, vol. 4, pg. 2436).

http://www.bibletruths.net/archives/btaro24.htm

There's more if you wish to pursue it further but I'll leave you to do your own research with regard to that as this answers your question and provides you with a source you can easily pursue on your own if you wish to argue that Calvin was speaking of something else..

Note this is not speaking of the fall. This is speaking of the reprobate.

best,

bart
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