Molinism discussion

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Molinism discussion

#1

Post by B. W. » Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:17 pm

Molinism discussion

I am posting here the subject of Molinism due to the debates we encounter here at the forum as the subject keeps popping up, and, to be balanced, I am posting both sides - for and against it.

Frist, I am posting both Pro Molinism and anti-Molinism links to articles so the readers can become familiar with the subject. I chose Craig's and White's positions that they themselves wrote concerning the debate between the two. What I find fascinating are the actual tones from the writers of the articles themselves. One comes off as rational and the other more militant. Why? I really don’t know but it is there nevertheless.

Therefore….

…If possible, if you chose to respond to these articles, please leave militancy at the door and this goes for both sides

Pro Molinism

Pro Molinsim

William Craig on Molinism

Anti-Molinism

Counter Molinism Article

Dr White on Molinism

For those that do not know what Molinism is here is the Wiki link that tells of it

Link to Wikipedia: Molinism
Molinism, named after 16th Century Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, is a religious doctrine which attempts to reconcile the providence of God with human free will. William Lane Craig is probably its best known advocate today, though other important Molinists include Alfred Freddoso, Alvin Plantinga and Thomas Flint. In basic terms, Molinists hold that in addition to knowing everything that does or will happen, God also knows what His creature would freely choose if placed in any circumstance.

Quoted from the Wiki Link provided
PS – Note I am trying to locate the transcripts from Dr James White to post and it is hard to find but I found this interesting link – hard to read though do to the color scheme of website. Please, try to avoid Utube Links from James White – the transcript is better for review as one can refer to it better.

Interesting Link J. White
Aside note for first time readers please note: I posted part of this segment on Page Nine of this discussion on 12/31/2011 and am copying it now on page one so those reading can brush up on the subject of Molinism free from Rabbit trials. I began this segment on 12/24/2011 concerning Molinism but soon discovered that the discussion was being sidetracked into never ending rabbit trails. To avoid that, I began posting articles on the subject of Molinism that shown that Molinism is not purely Armenianism, nor is it purely Calvinism either. It is not Pelagianism, nor is its concept of free will mean that God is a slave to human choice. Such accusations, I hope, have been dealt with through the articles provided so far that we can actually begin to move forward and make some progress in understanding more about Molinism, and its use in helping the human mind comprehend a little bit more about God.

So how best to describe Molinism in plain ordinary English that everyday people can understand it? I can only give you my own definition which is a composite statement brief from all the posted articles so far. What is Molinism in a nutshell?

Molinism is a study on the absolute omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence of Almighty God regarding Predestination and Free will and other matters as well.

It begins to look into these matters by first looking into the epistemology handed down by Aquinas’s called Natural and Free Knowledge, and then demonstrates that there is something missing between these two types of Knowledge as pertaining to God called God’s Middle Knowledge.

So what is God's Natural Knowledge , and God’s Free knowledge i.e. Future Knowledge in a nutshell?

God’s Natural Knowledge can be summed as God's own omnipotent ways.

God’s Free knowledge i.e. Future Knowledge can be summed up as God's own omnipresence ways in the day to day dealings in the reality of human beings.

The epistemology handed down by Aquinas’s and later by Calvin deals primarily with God's Natural and Free Knowledge by using a systematic equational form. What is lacking from this ordered equation is God’s omniscience. This is where Molinism comes in. It defines what is missing from the systematic equation and indentifies it as God’s Middle Knowledge so people will be attracted to explore God’s omniscience further. Despite objections stating otherwise - God's Middle knowledge is bible based and there are plenty of verses that verify it.

The systematic approach talks much on the omnipotence of God and God omnipresent work in human reality as primary and comes in a specfic order but appears to neglect, or pay lip service, in cases even downplays God’s omniscience in its absoluteness, and its coequal influence upon the omnipotence and omnipresence workings of God achieving his will, purposes, etc…

Therefore, God’s Middle knowledge simply stated, is the investigation into the absolute omniscience of God Almighty. God knows all things; God knows and understand all our thoughts from afar off and is intimately acquainted with all our ways as Psalms 139:2-3 states and God’s Middle Knowledge looks intently upon how God does that. It investigates God’s Omniscience in its total absoluteness working alongside together and at the same time with God’s omnipotence and omnipresence that answers the hard questions about predestination that a systematic approach cannot adequately achieve.

That is the simplest definition I can give for Molinism Middle Knowledge (the investigation into the absolute omniscience of God Almighty). Next, Lord willing, I will try to give more clarity into the workings of God’s Middle Knowledge as it related to predestination. Please use the articles posted as points of reference.

So if you are beginnig this study on this subject, please read the articles mentioned on pages One thru Nine with the insight just provided and God Bless you all!

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Re: Molinism discussion

#2

Post by narnia4 » Sat Dec 24, 2011 1:34 pm

I was wondering and asked a couple of times why there hasn't been much discussion on Molinism here.

I may try to talk more about it after Christmas, but its very attractive to me philosophically, but I have some issues as well. For one, whenever I read Craig talking about it I don't see a lot of Scriptural defense of it. This is unlike the more traditional debates where lots of Scripture is used. Craig a master at evidential apologetics and debate but he is hardly the first I'd look to when it comes to theological issues or issues of Biblical interpretation. Not that he's a heretic or anything extreme, simply that it isn't his expertise.

When he addresses Biblical issues I feel a little uneasy at times because compared to others who are experts in the subject, he doesn't always bring up a lot of Scripture imo. Like the article you linked, I can hardly imagine an entire article on Calvinism, Molinism, free will, and predestination with NO Scripture references. But Craig didn't leave any. Like I said, that raises a red flag in my book.
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Re: Molinism discussion

#3

Post by B. W. » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:00 pm

narnia4 wrote:I was wondering and asked a couple of times why there hasn't been much discussion on Molinism here.

I may try to talk more about it after Christmas, but its very attractive to me philosophically, but I have some issues as well. For one, whenever I read Craig talking about it I don't see a lot of Scriptural defense of it. This is unlike the more traditional debates where lots of Scripture is used. Craig a master at evidential apologetics and debate but he is hardly the first I'd look to when it comes to theological issues or issues of Biblical interpretation. Not that he's a heretic or anything extreme, simply that it isn't his expertise.

When he addresses Biblical issues I feel a little uneasy at times because compared to others who are experts in the subject, he doesn't always bring up a lot of Scripture imo. Like the article you linked, I can hardly imagine an entire article on Calvinism, Molinism, free will, and predestination with NO Scripture references. But Craig didn't leave any. Like I said, that raises a red flag in my book.
I think it best to wait till after Christmas too so people can have time to look into these things better.

Below is a quote from Wikipedia that gives a few verses:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molinism#B ... r_Molinism

Molinists have often argued that their position is the Biblical one by indicating passages they understand to teach God's middle knowledge. Molina advanced the following three texts: 1 Samuel 23:6-10, Proverbs 4:11, and Matthew 11:23. Other passages which Molinists use are Ezekiel 3:6-7 NIV, Jeremiah 38:17-18, 1 Corinthians 2:8, Deuteronomy 28:51-57, , Matthew 23:27-32, Matthew 12:7, Matthew 24:43, Luke 16:30-31, and Luke 22:67-68. William Lane Craig has argued at length that many of Christ's statements seem to indicate middle knowledge. Craig cites the following passages: Matthew 17:27, John 21:6, John 15:22-24, John 18:36, Luke 4:24-44 and Matthew 26:24.[12] But, it should be noted that the most these texts indicate is that God has counterfactual knowledge. In order for this knowledge to be middle knowledge, it must be logically prior to God's free knowledge, something the Biblical texts mentioned do not seem to affirm or deny. However, William Lane Craig argues that if God’s decree were logically prior to His middle knowledge, that would “make God the author of sin and to obliterate human freedom, since in that case it is God who decrees which counterfactuals about creaturely free acts are true, including counterfactuals concerning sinful human decisions. Thus, we have good reason for thinking that if such counterfactuals are now true or false, they must have been so logically prior to God's decree.” [13]

Thomas Flint claims the twin foundations of Molinism are God’s providence and man’s freedom.[14] Molinism harmonizes texts teaching God’s providence (such as Acts 4:28 or Ephesians 1:11) with texts emphasizing man’s choice (such as Deuteronomy 30:19 or Luke 13:34).
We also need to define what "Decree" means as it may not mean the same thing between White's supporters and Craig supporters...

So if someone would like to define in an easy way so that common people can understand please define what Decree means in the Westminster Confession …

The Westminster Shorter Catechism mentions that "The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby for his own glory He hath forordained whatsoever comes to pass." (Hodge, Charles; Gross, Edward N. Ed.; "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988, p 535)
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Re: Molinism discussion

#4

Post by DannyM » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:11 pm

Glad you put this up, B.W.

I'd suggest that supporters of Molinism first define what they mean by free will.

Post Christmas should be exciting. :)
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Re: Molinism discussion

#5

Post by zoegirl » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:20 pm

At the very least, this will be very instructional. Many Christians don't know much about doctrine....or even church history, I know I will benefit greatly from the refresher and learning many new things. All Christians should know the ideas that are out there.
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Re: Molinism discussion

#6

Post by B. W. » Sat Dec 24, 2011 4:09 pm

DannyM wrote:Glad you put this up, B.W.

I'd suggest that supporters of Molinism first define what they mean by free will.

Post Christmas should be exciting. :)
For the molinist out there: I chose this non-threatening website - Linked and Quoted Below from the IEP - to define Free Will and help explain it:
Free Will: free volition or choice.

Various philosophers have offered just such an account of freedom. Thomas Hobbes suggested that freedom consists in there being no external impediments to an agent doing what he wants to do: “A free agent is he that can do as he will, and forbear as he will, and that liberty is the absence of external impediments.” In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume thought that free will (or “liberty,” to use his term) is simply the “power of acting or of not acting, according to the determination of the will: that is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may.… This hypothetical liberty is universally allowed to belong to everyone who is not a prisoner and in chains.” This suggests that freedom is simply the ability to select a course of action, and an agent is free if he is not being prevented by some external obstacle from completing that course of action. Thus, Hobbes and Hume would hold that Allison is free to walk her dog so long as nothing prevents her from carrying out her decision to walk her dog, and she is free not to walk her dog so long as nothing would compel her to walk her dog if she would decide not to.

However, one might still believe this approach fails to make an important distinction between these two related, but conceptually distinct, kinds of freedom: freedom of will versus freedom of action. This distinction is motivated by the apparent fact that agents can possess free will without also having freedom of action. Suppose that before Allison made the choice to walk the dog, she was taking a nap. And while Allison slept, there was a blizzard that moved through the area. The wind has drifted the snow up against the front of her house so that it is impossible for Allison to get out her front door and walk her dog even if she wanted to. So here we have a case involving free will, because Allison has chosen to take the dog for a walk, but not involving free action, because Allison is not able to take her dog for a walk.

Whether or not one can have freedom of action without free will depends on one’s view of what free will is. Also, the truth of causal determinism would not entail that agents lack the freedom to do what they want to do. An agent could do what she wants to do, even if she is causally determined to do that action. Thus, both Hobbes and Hume are rightly characterized as compatibilists.

Even if there is a distinction between freedom of will and freedom of action, it appears that free will is necessary for the performance of free actions. If Allison is brainwashed during her nap to want to walk her dog, then even if no external impediment prevents her from carrying through with this decision, we would say that her taking the dog for a walk is not a free action. Presumably, the reason why it would not be a free action is because, in the case of brainwashing, Allison’s decision does not arise from her free will. Thus, it looks like free will might be a necessary condition for free action, even if the two are distinct. In what follows, the phrase “acting with free will” means engaging in an action as the result of the utilization of free will. Use of the phrase does not deny the distinction between free will and free action.

The second reason to care about free will is that it seems to be required for moral responsibility. While there are various accounts of what exactly moral responsibility is, it is widely agreed that moral responsibility is distinct from causal responsibility. Consider a falling branch that lands on a car, breaking its window. While the branch is causally responsible for the broken window, it is not morally responsible for it because branches are not moral agents. Depending on one’s account of causation, it also might be possible to be morally responsible for an event or state of affairs even if one is not causally responsible for that same event or state of affairs. For present purposes, let us simply say that an agent is morally responsible for an event or state of affairs only if she is the appropriate recipient of moral praise or moral blame for that event or state of affairs (an agent can thus be morally responsible even if no one, including herself, actually does blame or praise her for her actions). According to the dominant view of the relationship between free will and moral responsibility, if an agent does not have free will, then that agent is not morally responsible for her actions. For example, if Allison is coerced into doing a morally bad act, such as stealing a car, we shouldn’t hold her morally responsible for this action since it is not an action that she did of her own free will.

Some philosophers do not believe that free will is required for moral responsibility. According to John Martin Fischer, human agents do not have free will, but they are still morally responsible for their choices and actions. In a nutshell, Fischer thinks that the kind of control needed for moral responsibility is weaker than the kind of control needed for free will. Furthermore, he thinks that the truth of causal determinism would preclude the kind of control needed for free will, but that it wouldn’t preclude the kind of control needed for moral responsibility. See Fischer (1994). As this example shows, virtually every issue pertaining to free will is contested by various philosophers.

However, many think that the significance of free will is not limited to its necessity for free action and moral responsibility. Various philosophers suggest that free will is also a requirement for agency, rationality, the autonomy and dignity of persons, creativity, cooperation, and the value of friendship and love [see Anglin (1990), Kane (1998) and Ekstrom (1999)]. We thus see that free will is central to many philosophical issues.

From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
So what does "Decree" mean as it may not mean the same thing between White's supporters and Craig supporters...

Can someone define in an easy way so that the common everyday person can understand so please define what Decree means in the Westminster Confession …

The Westminster Shorter Catechism mentions that "The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby for his own glory He hath forordained whatsoever comes to pass." (Hodge, Charles; Gross, Edward N. Ed.; "SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988, p 535)

How does God decree? and what is it?
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Re: Molinism discussion

#7

Post by DannyM » Sat Dec 24, 2011 4:55 pm

B. W. wrote:

Various philosophers have offered just such an account of freedom. Thomas Hobbes suggested that freedom consists in there being no external impediments to an agent doing what he wants to do: “A free agent is he that can do as he will, and forbear as he will, and that liberty is the absence of external impediments.” In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume thought that free will (or “liberty,” to use his term) is simply the “power of acting or of not acting, according to the determination of the will: that is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may.… This hypothetical liberty is universally allowed to belong to everyone who is not a prisoner and in chains.” This suggests that freedom is simply the ability to select a course of action, and an agent is free if he is not being prevented by some external obstacle from completing that course of action. Thus, Hobbes and Hume would hold that Allison is free to walk her dog so long as nothing prevents her from carrying out her decision to walk her dog, and she is free not to walk her dog so long as nothing would compel her to walk her dog if she would decide not to.

However, one might still believe this approach fails to make an important distinction between these two related, but conceptually distinct, kinds of freedom: freedom of will versus freedom of action. This distinction is motivated by the apparent fact that agents can possess free will without also having freedom of action. Suppose that before Allison made the choice to walk the dog, she was taking a nap. And while Allison slept, there was a blizzard that moved through the area. The wind has drifted the snow up against the front of her house so that it is impossible for Allison to get out her front door and walk her dog even if she wanted to. So here we have a case involving free will, because Allison has chosen to take the dog for a walk, but not involving free action, because Allison is not able to take her dog for a walk.

Whether or not one can have freedom of action without free will depends on one’s view of what free will is. Also, the truth of causal determinism would not entail that agents lack the freedom to do what they want to do. An agent could do what she wants to do, even if she is causally determined to do that action. Thus, both Hobbes and Hume are rightly characterized as compatibilists.

Even if there is a distinction between freedom of will and freedom of action, it appears that free will is necessary for the performance of free actions. If Allison is brainwashed during her nap to want to walk her dog, then even if no external impediment prevents her from carrying through with this decision, we would say that her taking the dog for a walk is not a free action. Presumably, the reason why it would not be a free action is because, in the case of brainwashing, Allison’s decision does not arise from her free will. Thus, it looks like free will might be a necessary condition for free action, even if the two are distinct. In what follows, the phrase “acting with free will” means engaging in an action as the result of the utilization of free will. Use of the phrase does not deny the distinction between free will and free action.

The second reason to care about free will is that it seems to be required for moral responsibility. While there are various accounts of what exactly moral responsibility is, it is widely agreed that moral responsibility is distinct from causal responsibility. Consider a falling branch that lands on a car, breaking its window. While the branch is causally responsible for the broken window, it is not morally responsible for it because branches are not moral agents. Depending on one’s account of causation, it also might be possible to be morally responsible for an event or state of affairs even if one is not causally responsible for that same event or state of affairs. For present purposes, let us simply say that an agent is morally responsible for an event or state of affairs only if she is the appropriate recipient of moral praise or moral blame for that event or state of affairs (an agent can thus be morally responsible even if no one, including herself, actually does blame or praise her for her actions). According to the dominant view of the relationship between free will and moral responsibility, if an agent does not have free will, then that agent is not morally responsible for her actions. For example, if Allison is coerced into doing a morally bad act, such as stealing a car, we shouldn’t hold her morally responsible for this action since it is not an action that she did of her own free will.

Some philosophers do not believe that free will is required for moral responsibility. According to John Martin Fischer, human agents do not have free will, but they are still morally responsible for their choices and actions. In a nutshell, Fischer thinks that the kind of control needed for moral responsibility is weaker than the kind of control needed for free will. Furthermore, he thinks that the truth of causal determinism would preclude the kind of control needed for free will, but that it wouldn’t preclude the kind of control needed for moral responsibility. See Fischer (1994). As this example shows, virtually every issue pertaining to free will is contested by various philosophers.

However, many think that the significance of free will is not limited to its necessity for free action and moral responsibility. Various philosophers suggest that free will is also a requirement for agency, rationality, the autonomy and dignity of persons, creativity, cooperation, and the value of friendship and love [see Anglin (1990), Kane (1998) and Ekstrom (1999)]. We thus see that free will is central to many philosophical issues.

From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Thanks Bryan. Persoanlly I think the above is inadequate. Not because it is wrong or mistaken on anything, just that it is more of a survey, and is speculative at best. I'm a compaitibilist myself. I think that man is free to make choices without coercion, etc. But man is not free from his own nature and desires. And certainly not free from God's eternal decree. Brother, the reason I urge caution is because, biblically, it is very difficult for one to make a solid claim for a will free of any influence, prior prejudice, inclination or disposition. So a proponent of unfettered free will needs to be careful and take good care in this area.
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31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

35 The slave does not remain in the house for ever; the son remains for ever.

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
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Re: Molinism discussion

#8

Post by August » Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:28 pm

So do most here agree that WLC is the foremost expert on Molinism today? It seems like it to me, at least. While Platinga has some such undertones, I don't think he relies on it as heavily as WLC does.
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Re: Molinism discussion

#9

Post by RickD » Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:42 pm

August wrote:So do most here agree that WLC is the foremost expert on Molinism today? It seems like it to me, at least. While Platinga has some such undertones, I don't think he relies on it as heavily as WLC does.
TBH, I'd not heard of Molinism, until recently. So, while I'm interested in reading about it, I'm really wondering what Danny has to say, because he's been such a huge supporter of WLC. So, before I see what this Molinism is about, I'm guessing that Danny is a supporter, if Craig is a supporter.
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Re: Molinism discussion

#10

Post by B. W. » Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:22 pm

August wrote:So do most here agree that WLC is the foremost expert on Molinism today? It seems like it to me, at least. While Platinga has some such undertones, I don't think he relies on it as heavily as WLC does.
Criag, he appears to me to be the most outspoken about it and also known on this Forum so after my own privet careful counsel I joyfully chose his articles as I did the two Mr Whites. As for James White - still looking for a transcript to link too so people can read from the vocal's of both sides... for balance and harmony...
DannyM wrote: ...Thanks Bryan. Personally I think the above (Free Will Definition) is inadequate. Not because it is wrong or mistaken on anything, just that it is more of a survey, and is speculative at best. I'm a compaitibilist myself. I think that man is free to make choices without coercion, etc. But man is not free from his own nature and desires. And certainly not free from God's eternal decree. Brother, the reason I urge caution is because, biblically, it is very difficult for one to make a solid claim for a will free of any influence, prior prejudice, inclination or disposition. So a proponent of unfettered free will needs to be careful and take good care in this area...
Hi Danny. I chose that definition because it is unbiased and avoids the presumptions of how / what Reformed blogs, writers, think Free Will means to Molinist.

Free will is not an easy term to define in clear black and white thinking, and that is why I stated many times, I do not like to use it, but since people do use the term – it needs a definition.

It is still something to work off of to help clarify what Free Will means.
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Re: Molinism discussion

#11

Post by wrain62 » Sun Dec 25, 2011 2:16 am

I have never thought about the existence of freewill and an all knowing, onmipotent, and involved being to be in contradiction. To connect the dots, they simply both have to be true.

When you know that God is actually beyond time, you can also think of the infinite routes God can take to get the same outcomes(in the end and certain prophesies in the middle) no matter what our choices are; and our choices do matter depending on what side of the God's plan we want to be on. y:-?

Especially after reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho I can see how destiny and good/evil can coexist.
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Re: Molinism discussion

#12

Post by domokunrox » Sun Dec 25, 2011 3:33 am

I actually have some resources on this. Well videos, actually.

I'll pull those out.

However, I want to add in that I heard on his podcast from a recent lecture he did at Calvin college. Craig stated that he was surprised to find that many Calvinists he had discussions with there at Calvin college were also Molinists. Which is sort of a head scratcher to say the least.

Let me find those videos. Be right back.


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Re: Molinism discussion

#14

Post by DannyM » Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:07 am

domokunrox wrote:However, I want to add in that I heard on his podcast from a recent lecture he did at Calvin college. Craig stated that he was surprised to find that many Calvinists he had discussions with there at Calvin college were also Molinists. Which is sort of a head scratcher to say the least.
You probably mean some Calvinists hold to a theory of middle knowledge.

Would you like to define free will?
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Re: Molinism discussion

#15

Post by wrain62 » Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:33 am

Definition of freewill... The choice in several parts of ones life to choose love or hate; selfishness or submission; honor or cheapness; God or Earth; repentance or hardness; maybe a bunch of other nuetral decisions; and decisions which may a side of having both positive and negative(on a goodness/evil spectrum) at the same time in which the bible asks people to pray whan such dilemmas come. How do you guys define it?
Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

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