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PostPosted: 03-23-2016 7:05 pm
Post Number: 24491
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hoghead1 wrote:
I understand your problem.  If you want to shipwreck someone's theology, the question of evil is the place to go. Calvin argued that God predestined absolutely everything, right down to the smallest detail.  This also included evil.  Calvin's explanation was that  the evil that befalls us  is a punishment from God. He says in his "Institutes" (Old French) that murders, larcenists, and other evil doers are the instruments by which the Lord exercises his judgments upon us.  

 To be honest, I completely disagree.  I believe we all have freedom and therefore God cannot force or coerce anything.  God continually presents us with opportunities to maximize beauty, but it's up to us to decide to carry them out. When we don't, evil occurs.
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PostPosted: 03-24-2016 12:10 am
Post Number: 24492
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hoghead1 wrote:
I understand your problem.  If you want to shipwreck someone's theology, the question of evil is the place to go. Calvin argued that God predestined absolutely everything, right down to the smallest detail.  This also included evil.  Calvin's explanation was that  the evil that befalls us  is a punishment from God. He says in his "Institutes" (Old French) that murders, larcenists, and other evil doers are the instruments by which the Lord exercises his judgments upon us.

Some pointers to what you are saying in The Institutes would help here so we can see the full context. Do you think Calvin would disagree with the WCF at 3.1 here:

    God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: (Eph. 1:11,Rom. 11:33, Heb. 6:17, Rom. 9:15,18) yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, (James 1:13,17, 1 John 1:5) nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (Acts 2:23, Matt. 17:12, Acts 4:27-28, John 19:11, Prov. 16:33)


hoghead1 wrote:
 To be honest, I completely disagree.  I believe we all have freedom and therefore God cannot force or coerce anything.  God continually presents us with opportunities to maximize beauty, but it's up to us to decide to carry them out. When we don't, evil occurs.
I assume you are speaking here about the believer's walk of faith, correct?

You went from Calvin discussing predestination to freedom. What is your understanding of the two as they relate to one another?
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PostPosted: 03-24-2016 1:51 am
Post Number: 24493
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hoghead1 wrote:
I understand your problem.  If you want to shipwreck someone's theology, the question of evil is the place to go.


Not really, the question of evil only presents a problem to those who deny the absolute sovereignty of God.

Quote:
Calvin argued that God predestined absolutely everything, right down to the smallest detail.  This also included evil.  Calvin's explanation was that  the evil that befalls us  is a punishment from God. He says in his "Institutes" (Old French) that murders, larcenists, and other evil doers are the instruments by which the Lord exercises his judgments upon us.


Did he say that? Can you provide the proper citations please?  

Quote:
 To be honest, I completely disagree.  I believe we all have freedom and therefore God cannot force or coerce anything.  God continually presents us with opportunities to maximize beauty, but it's up to us to decide to carry them out. When we don't, evil occurs.


To think that God 'forces' or 'coerces' is to demonstrate that you have not understood what the reformed teach. We teach that we act out God's sovereign decree through our choices, we are not forced into anything and if you deny that teaching then you have to explain how you deal with texts like Acts 2:23:

"Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;" (Act 2:23 NKJ)

Consider what peter is saying, and remember that this is the worst sin ever committed, the murder of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peters says:

1) It all happened according to God's 'determined purpose' and 'foreknowledge', God didn't just know it was going to happen, it was his purpose for it to happen. He planned it that way.

2) The people who killed Jesus are held accountable for their actions - the sin was their sin.

Now, having asked you how you understand this text let me return to the false dilemma of the problem of evil.

The 'logical' conclusion that is often drawn from the false dilemma is that the reformed position makes God the first cause of sin, in the sense that he made us do it.

However the first reason this is a false dilemma is that every 'christain' hamartiology comes back to same point, even if we present God as just looking into the future and picking the best world (molinism) he is still the first cause of sin, for he created a world knowing that sin would result. Arminianism, semi-pelagianism all result in the same end. God is always the first cause of all that occurs.

The second reason it is a false dilemma for the reformed is that in our theology God is an unrivaled being, however if evil is something that is outside of his sphere of influence then the reality is that he has a rival that he has no control over whatsoever - of course the philosophical may wax lyrical about evil not being a thing or a force but that is contrary the Scripture.

The reality is may friend, the problem of evil is only a dilemma for those who refuse to accept the Bible's clear teaching on the sovereignty of God - those are the ones who have to explain evil and those are the ones who have to struggle through life not believing that all things work together for the good of God's elect but that somethings are just random and purposeless acts of evil.
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PostPosted: 03-24-2016 6:54 am
Post Number: 24495
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This is a quote from a pastor of the Protestant Reformation, from an article discussing the Sovereignty of God.


"When God wills that a man sins, and when He so rules that a man commits that sin in his life, God does this without becoming the author of the sin in any sense.  God hates all sin;  God detests those sins which He sovereignly wills that man commits.  In fact, one reason for his willing them is that He might reveal His utter detestation of them!

Further, where a man commits a sin (be that Shimei, Pharaoh, Judas Iscariot, the unbelieving Jews, you, or I) he does not do that against his own will.  He doesn't do something that he does not want to do, or that he is forced into doing.  Pharaoh wanted to keep the Israelites as slaves. Judas wanted that silver.  With our sins, we also want something that we think is desirable.

The key point in all this is that when God exercises His sovereignty in respect to man and his deeds, He does not interfere between the will of man and the act of man.  If God would interject Himself between the will and the act of man, man would indeed be a stock and a block.  But God works with the will of man.  God works behind the scenes, as it were, so that man always wills and wants what God has determined for him.

Thus we must conclude that man's will is not free because of the fall of Adam and the resulting depravity of the entire human race; the will of man is bound in the service of sin.  But more than that, the will of man even before the fall was not absolutely free either.  Only God is perfectly free.  The sovereignty of God always surrounds man, touches him at every point, and determined what he is and does.  So far is divine sovereignty from being a truth that denies the responsibility of man, it is the truth which is the basis of, and establishes, human responsibility!"

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PostPosted: 03-24-2016 11:59 am
Post Number: 24497
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It is true that Calvin wrote some things that would seem to indicate he would have been in sympathy with a symmetric form of supralapsarianism, although the debate about supralapsarianism per se, did not occur in his lifetime (see Calvin's Calvinism, trans. by Henry Cole, 89ff; also William Cunningham, The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, 364ff).

Calvin wrote:

    "The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknow 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" (Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.xxiii.7)


It is important to understand what Calvin is not saying in this often quoted passage, erroneously argued by some that Calvin supported equal ultimacy supralapsarianism, in his Institutes. In order to prove that Calvin held to supralapsarianism it is not enough to show that he believed that the fall was decreed (Calvin did, and it (the fall) was), for this is admitted by all sublapsarians (infralapsarians). Rather it must be shown that the fall was decreed as a means towards carrying out a previous decree to save some and leave the others to perish—a view Calvin turned from as an otiose curiositas (idle curiosity) in Book 3, Chapter 21 in the Institutes. Nothing in what Calvin wrote supported this key distinction.

I have no quarrels with a supralapsarian view, when properly distinguished from the terrible equal ultimacy view. The entire supra vs. infra discussion is a Reformed in house debate that those standing outside the Reformed tradition rarely take the time to fully understand. For that matter, not a few self-described Calvinists actually understand all the various nuances surrounding the discussion. And if you are someone reading this and do not understand the terms being used herein, yet you consider yourself infra or supra, then you need to dig a wee bit deeper into the entire topic.

But what I will quibble with is the assertion that Calvin believed in equal utlimacy regarding the decree of predestination of the elect and the foreordaining of the reprobate. All should observe that the WCF uses two different words: “predestined” and “foreordained”. What’s happening in both cases is similar but not precisely interchangeable.

Those that adopt the equal ultimacy view are hard-core hyper-Calvinists, and these very vocal folks are the root of much misunderstanding of Calvinism by the uninformed. As a result of these vocal (and wrong) folks, I am sure that many of us will agree that we spend a great deal of time and energy disabusing the claims of the anti-Calvinist concerning what they think we believe, versus what we actually believe, about the whole matter of what is broadly labeled as predestination.

The supralapsarian view was formulated by Theodore Beza, (one of Jacob Arminius’ teachers), who propounded the doctrine at the Colloquy of Mümpelgart, Mar. 14–27, 1586, some twenty-two years after Calvin’s death. Beza’s Greek editions (Beza and Calvin were taught Greek by Melchior Wolmar) and Latin translations of the New Testament were basic sources for the Geneva Bible and the 1611 King James Version. Those familiar with Calvin’s full corpus of writings would agree that Beza would have not succeeded in his efforts had Calvin been alive. Unfortunately, Beza’s supralapsarianism is what most non-Calvinists think Calvinism represents. May it never be!

Fortunately, we have an entire RTI forum related to the topic that folks interested in this topic are encouraged to review. In particular, this is a good starting point: http://rti.myfineforum.org/sutra230.php#230
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PostPosted: 04-05-2016 7:22 am
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[God will bring to pass, to happen wehat he has purposed, but he can choose to either directly cause that to happen, or determine to use decisions made by theird parties also in order to have it accomplished?

Such as when Jesus was put to death on the Cross, he had ordained that must happen, but wicked people also did what they wanted too while putting him up there?

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PostPosted: 04-05-2016 8:52 am
Post Number: 24556
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DrWhofan1 wrote:
[God will bring to pass, to happen wehat he has purposed, but he can choose to either directly cause that to happen, or determine to use decisions made by theird parties also in order to have it accomplished?

Such as when Jesus was put to death on the Cross, he had ordained that must happen, but wicked people also did what they wanted too while putting him up there?


God appoints the results and the the means of bring those results about in every situation, not just some of situations.
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PostPosted: 04-05-2016 11:26 am
Post Number: 24569
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After reading Sproul's comments as posted above, I searched a bit to gain a better understanding of the term equal ulitmacy and came across this blog post.  In the spirit of discussion only and not to undermine Sproul specifically, I offer this for others to consider.

https://joeltay81.wordpress.com/2...ctive-reprobation-equal-ultimacy/

Jerome Zanchius, in The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination,  clearly teaches double predestination and active reprobation, but not equal ultimacy.

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PostPosted: 04-05-2016 11:16 pm
Post Number: 24574
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Cedarbay wrote:
After reading Sproul's comments as posted above, I searched a bit to gain a better understanding of the term equal ulitmacy and came across this blog post.  In the spirit of discussion only and not to undermine Sproul specifically, I offer this for others to consider.

https://joeltay81.wordpress.com/2...ctive-reprobation-equal-ultimacy/

Jerome Zanchius, in The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination,  clearly teaches double predestination and active reprobation, but not equal ultimacy.


The blog article begins with:
"Question: R C Sproul claims that double predestination commits the fallacy of equal ultimacy. How do we refute this Biblically?"

In Sproul's discussion of the topic I challenge anyone to find where Sproul has claimed double predestination commits the fallacy of equal ultimacy. The author at that blog site has simply erected a straw man against Sproul.

Anyone carefully reading Sproul's discussion will see that he takes great pains to describe the variousdistortions of double predestination, including that of equal ultimacy. Sproul also carefully defines what he means by equal ultimacy. It is these various distortions that Sproul argues leads to fallacious reasoning. Sproul explicitly affirms double predestination, as should we all, but does not affirm the distortions some make of double predestination.

Rather than taking Sproul's own descriptions related to equal ultimacy, the author of that blog article presses onward claiming how Sproul has got it all wrong because the author does not like the way Sproul has defined his terms. The blog author's contention is that election and reprobation are both included in the decree of God, hence, the ultimate destination of the elect and the non-elect has been decreed by God. This is what the blog author likens to equal ultimacy. But just because he has a different view of what the term means, there is no warrant to then go off and argue Sproul is all wrong. In fact, Sproul is quite clear that it is wrong to claim that in passing over the non-elect that God was not in control of all things or that the decree of God did not encompass the non-elect. We read in the WCF 3.7:

"The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or witholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice. (Matt. 11:25-26, Rom. 9:17-18, 21-22, 2 Tim. 2:19-20, Jude 4, 1 Pet. 2:8)"

Some wrongly assume that "to pass by" implies some passivity on God's part, as if by assuming any active willing by God would mean God is then the doer of the sins of the reprobate. Again Sproul rightly condemns such an attempt to weasel word what the confession actually summarizes from Scripture. Neither does Sproul nor should we deny that God's willing is not some bare permission, as if things will be as they will be, kay sera sera. God is sovereign and such a view is man's attempt to somehow acquit God of something for which He needs no acquittal. So the blog author's arguments about equal ultimacy meaning that God is active in His decree for both the elect and the non-elect is fine, but the author does Sproul a disservice, not to mention a ninth commandment violation, for charging Sproul of something he simply does not hold. Rather, the author has crafted his own lexicon of what "equal ultimacy" means versus Sproul's proper usage as it is commonly understood to mean.

When we speak of equal ultimacy as relates to the decree of God on matters of election and reprobation it means God is working in the non-elect as He is in the elect. This is the symmetry Sproul rightly denounces. For that matter, the blog author does the same, but fails to honor Sproul's treatment of the topic while going off tangentially defining "equal ultimacy" to mean God's non-passivity related to the decree of reprobation. It is a straw man because both Sproul and the blog author are in violent agreement on this point.

Take-aways:
1. God's will is an active willing as to elect and not mere permission, but also active willing for the non-elect.

2. For the elect, God's decree includes the means for preservation of the saints, for apart from the sheer grace of God every human being is actively sending themselves to Hell.

3. For the non-elect, God's decree is to "pass by" the non-elect, that is God's will to leave and therefore confirm their hardened hearts as they march headlong into perdition.

4. Predestination is double in the sense of encompassing both the elect and the non-elect. It's double or nothing, for by not predestining someone to salvation God was in fact predestining them to damnation.

That said, when reading the WCF note that predestination is always used in the context of election, while ordination is used in the context of the non-elect. The use of predestinated/predestination in the WCF captures the teachings of Scripture of God's merciful "love before time" in His decision to elect some and not others. It is best to maintain these distinctions and not fall into the popular, and often anti-Calvinist, "double predestination" verbiage which is used to imply equal ultimacy by the less informed. The Reformed deny such a strict parallelism. Using "double predestination" is misleading because seems to imply mankind is created morally neutral, and then God arbitrarily picks some to be reprobate and some to be elect.

5. Equal ultimacy is commonly understood to mean that God is going out of His way to act positively in the lives of the elect and positively in the lives of the non-elect. This is error.
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PostPosted: 04-06-2016 12:16 pm
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Thanks for reading the blog post, Patrick.

I'm still forming an understanding of equal ultimacy and will simply return to Zanchius because he is sound.  

I don't have the same angst you do with the blogger, however, your explanation of concern was informative.



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PostPosted: 04-06-2016 6:23 pm
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Cedarbay wrote:
I'm still forming an understanding of equal ultimacy and will simply return to Zanchius because he is sound.  


Yes, Zanchius is very worthwhile.
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PostPosted: 04-07-2016 1:40 am
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Is there a difference between equal ultimacy as related to God's sovereignty, in contrast to the centrality of redemption in the gospel (with redemption being superior to damnation in God's ultimate plan)?  In other words, both salvation and reprobation are equally ultimate in God's sovereignty but not in which destiniy is primary in the eternal purposes of God.  Salvation is much superior to reprobation in that context, as the Bible focuses primarily on ultimate redemption in Christ of the elect as the 'bulls eye' of God's purposes.  Damnation in God's just wrath by contrast is a subservient purpose (though equally sovereign) and only serves to glorify God's salvation?

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PostPosted: 04-07-2016 9:20 am
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orchardman wrote:
Is there a difference between equal ultimacy as related to God's sovereignty, in contrast to the centrality of redemption in the gospel (with redemption being superior to damnation in God's ultimate plan)?  In other words, both salvation and reprobation are equally ultimate in God's sovereignty but not in which destiniy is primary in the eternal purposes of God.  Salvation is much superior to reprobation in that context, as the Bible focuses primarily on ultimate redemption in Christ of the elect as the 'bulls eye' of God's purposes.  Damnation in God's just wrath by contrast is a subservient purpose (though equally sovereign) and only serves to glorify God's salvation?

orchardman
This sounds reasonable.  I think Zanchius would agree, and I mention him because out of over thirty pages of expanding the doctrine of predestination, he spends most of it
joyfully proclaiming God's graciousness in Christ for the elect.

"Mention is frequently made in Scripture of the purpose of God, which is no other than His gracious intention from eternity of making His elect everlastingly happy in Christ."  (Zanchius, The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination)

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