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Monday, July 06, 2009

A Common Error Among Calvinists - Rationalism At Its Worst


It is indeed true that Jesus died only for the elect and that all for which he died will be saved. Notwithstanding, it is not a matter of logical necessity that the Holy Spirit unites the elect to Christ.

As a five point Calvinist, I would argue that we can know from revelation that Universalism is false and that all who were chosen in Christ were purchased by Christ; and that the Holy Spirit will unite them and them only to Christ. And although it is true that the Triune God works in harmony, it is not a matter of logic that those for whom Christ died will be saved; yet it is true they will be saved.

First off, there is no universal principle that vicarious suffering and payment necessitates payment received. For instance, if I were to suffer and pay for something on behalf of someone I love yet require that the person willfully pick up the purchased possession, a refusal of one to do so would not obstruct justice. It is incumbent upon one to show why it is necessary that God apply redemption given that the reception of a purchase is not universally necessary for injustice not to obtain. (Again, it’s not a question of whether God determined to apply redemption to all the elect but rather whether not doing so would violate logic or justice.) 

It is indeed true that:
“If Jesus' death atoned for everyone's sins, then everyone would go to heaven.” P*
Notwithstanding, the Calvinistic meaning of atonement is the issue of debate and penal substitution does not imply the consequent. In other words, P* is not deducible by solely considering the judicial, vicarious sufferings of Christ as penal substitute. It’s a bit more complex than that, obviously.

Narrowly considered, the nature of the cross does not in and of itself necessitate that redemption must be applied. (Rather, redemption must be applied due to God’s determination, which was not constrained by logic or justice but rather purpose.) As well, although P* is true (according to Scripture), it is not placed within a very interesting polemic because the common argument does not involve an internal critique of the Arminian position and it begs too many crucial salvific questions regarding: divine intent within the Godhead as it pertains to redemption accomplished and applied; the extent of the fall as it pertains to man's will; and the metaphysics of the will with respect to pure contingency and necessity.

The polemic attributed to Owen (I do not say it is Owen's) does not attack Arminianism because it begs crucial questions. For instance, if irresistible grace was not necessary for faith to be implanted, then P* could be false. If God did not desire to work in harmony with respect to election, redemption and application, then that premise could be false. If God does not by grace cause people to persevere in their sanctification (which too was purchased at the cross), then that premise could be false.

In the final analyses: (1) God’s revelation pertaining to the fullness of grace and the unity of the Godhead as it pertains to the divine redemptive intention is what informs us of the truth or falsity of P*. It's not enough simply to assert P*. (2) Given the truth of P* (in light of all revelation), the often alleged logical necessity of the consequent in P* needs to be demonstrated as a part-and-parcel with the concept of penal substitution.

Now let me really put the cookies on the table. If penal substitution alone requires that another be set free, then why the need for existential union with the substitute in order for sinners to be forgiven? Why aren't the elect free from condemnation apart from being baptized into Christ - i.e. while outside Christ, if substitution alone requires justification? Accordingly, Owenites must at least argue that substitution logically requires that God regenerate sinners, a tall order to prove indeed from the doctrine of substitution.
I can't die for a serial killer and justice be served. In the like manner, substitution alone is not enough for redemption otherwise I would have been set free while unconverted, a clear violation of Ephesians 2. Regarding the serial killer example I would somehow have to be united to the killer (or rather he to me) in perfect union if we are to glean anything from Scripture in this regard. No doubt, the Trinity's harmonious intention as revealed in Scripture results in the gracious particular application of redemption. Moreover, for the intention of the substitution not to become effectual is of course impossible because limited atonement is biblical but that's the issue of debate and, therefore, may not be assumed in the definition of substitutionary atonement! We must deal with Arminians with intellectual honestly. What must be grasped is that the substitutionary death of Christ and particular redemption are not the same thing! The latter has to do with intention or design of the substitionary death and how it relates to redemption-applied i.e. with a view toward efficacy and application, which being the issue of debate may not be infused into the definition of substitution.

Lastly, that the Holy Spirit converts all that Jesus died for speaks to the harmonious plan of redemption as revealed in Scripture but says nothing about some supposed double jeopardy that would have occurred had Christ died for men who remained unconverted men. Double jeopardy occurs when the same man pays twice for the same sin and it would occur if one in existential union with Christ went to hell. One cannot pay for his sins once the sacrifice for his sins is his made his own or appropriated, which occurs upon union and not at the time of propitiation! Accordingly, baptism into Christ's work is what makes Christ's sacrifice the sinner's sacrifice. Consequently, it's only upon existential union with Christ that there is no condemnation. And it is only upon union that double jeopardy could come into view.

Ron

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53 comments:

Joshua Butcher said...

Ron,

You needn't publish the following if you don't want to, but I'd appreciate your interaction through some other means if possible.

In what work of Owen's does he attempt to deduce particular redemption from substitutionary atonement in isolation?

I'm not sure I understand the following phrase of yours:

"Rather, redemption must be applied due to God’s determination, which was not constrained by logic or justice but rather love."

How is God's determination distinct from logic and justice? Further, how is love distinct from logic and justice? I'm not able to follow your train of thought on this point.

Also, are you intending to argue that logical necessity is contradictory to irresistible grace, or only that it is wrongly applied in the particular attempt to deduce redemption on the basis of substitutionary atonement as an isolated doctrine?

I will joyfully and patiently wait for your reply.

~Joshua

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Joshua,

The works of Owen, volume 10, includes "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ." That is the piece that most Owenites have not read but take to equate penal substitution with particular redemption. Moreover, the view that if Jesus died for everyone, then everyone would go to heaven otherwise there would be double jeopardy is often indexed to Owen. The whole discussion is a mess, and the work of Owen's is for the most part brilliant in my estimation - especially his turning Arminian verses on their head...

Now to your concerns:

"How is God's determination distinct from logic and justice?"

God determines many things that do not proceed from logical or judicial constraint. Your name is Joshua. :)

"Further, how is love distinct from logic and justice? I'm not able to follow your train of thought on this point."

Did logical constraint of justice cause God to redeem?

"Also, are you intending to argue that logical necessity is contradictory to irresistible grace,"

In the context of my post, they aren't even related. The bestowal of grace (i.e. the decision) is not required by logic.

"...or only that it is wrongly applied in the particular attempt to deduce redemption on the basis of substitutionary atonement as an isolated doctrine?"

Bingo!

Blessings,

Joshua

Annoyed Pinoy said...

Ron,

This is off topic, so I understand if you don't address it here or anytime soon. But sometime in the future, maybe you can address how infant baptism can be derived from Scripture by "good and necessary consequence". Theologically I'm a Calvinistic Baptist and Continuationist (as opposed to Cessationist), so I don't know that much about Presbyterianism.

My understanding is that "G&NC" has to do with deductive reasoning, not inductive (or abductive which is a form of induction) nor reductive inference.

I ask because I don't see how one can come to the conclusion that infant baptism is deductively taught in Scripture.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I don't know anyone who thinks that it's deducible, but I do!

Try this:

1. An Old Covenant precept was that whenever possible the sign of entrance into the covenant was to be placed upon all who were to be regarded as God’s people

2. Children of professing believers were to be regarded as God’s people under the Old Covenant

3. Children of professing believers whenever possible were to receive the sign of entrance into the Old Covenant by way of precept (1, 2)

4. God’s precepts may not be abrogated without explicit instruction or good and necessary inference

5. God never abrogated the Old Testament precept regarding who was to receive the sign of entrance into the Old covenant

6. The sign of entrance into the New Covenant is water baptism (circumcision was abrogated)

7. God’s precept is that children of professing believers receive the sign of entrance into the New Covenant (3, 4 and 5)

8. God’s precept is that children of professing believers receive water baptism (6, 7)

Annoyed Pinoy said...

Ron,

I was expecting a Scripturalist-like argument where the premises are taken from the explicit statements of Scripture. My understanding is that you aren't a Scripturalist (whether Clarkian or Cheungian type), but that you do believe that induction cannot lead to knowledge. That you synthesize both Clark and Van Til (correct if I'm wrong).

You're first premise seems to be inductively arrived at.

Since you're not a Scripturalist, would agree that infant baptism is something that can appropriately be inferred inductively? I personally believe very few doctrines can be deductively derived from Scripture. That most doctrines are arrived at inductively and/or abductively.

Having said all that, do you think a deductive argument can be made for infant baptism that would satisfy Scripturalist constraints?

Also, You've responded to Paul Manata's criticisms of Vincent Cheung. I'd be interested in knowing what you think of Aquascum's reponses to Vincent Cheung? In your opinion, has he thoroughly refuted Cheung (as I believe he has)?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

It doesn't seem like you're looking for a polemic against credo-only baptism and for paedobaptism but rather a discourse on epistemology. :)

You might want to consider that infant baptism was just defended with a valid formulation. If you want to disagree with one of the premises, then which one and on what basis? As for now, it would seem that credo-only was just refuted because the premises are indeed true and the form is clearly valid.

As for induction not "leading" to knowledge, I'm sure I don't know what that means. We certainly don't "know" any inductive conclusion as true due to the form of induction, but that does not mean that God does not implant knowledge through the occassion of induction.

As for your original post, given the argument above, it would seem that you are baptist because of personal preference and not due to any sound argument from Scripture. :)

Cheers,

Ron

Joshua Butcher said...

Ron,

Thanks for clearing up the confusions I was having. I've not read any Owen, although I began reading The Death of Death in the Death of Christ a couple of years ago only to stop short. I will have to pick it up again now that you have restimulated my interest.

~Joshua

Annoyed Pinoy said...

Ron,

I appreciate you comments. I don't want to take up too much of your time since I'm not fully convinced of the Credo position. Though, I do strongly lean toward it.

My arguments for Credobaptism would include some of the ones argued by:

-Tom Schreiner
1.
http://www.oakhill.ac.uk/downloads/audio/schreiner/baptism.html

2. Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ
Thomas R. Schreiner and Shawn D. Wright (Editors)
http://www.wtsbooks.com/product-exec/product_id/4908/nm/Believer_s_Baptism_Sign_of_the_New_Covenant_in_Christ_Hardcover_
If you did mean the Mosaic Covenant

-Stephen Wellum
Christian Baptism -- A Biblical-Theological Examination http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=7606191227

-Fred Malone in his books/audio

1. A String of Pearls Unstrung
http://www.founders.org/library/malone1/malone_text.html

2. The Baptism of Disciples Alone: A Covenantal Argument for Credobaptism Versus Paedobaptism

3. his Series on God's Covenants
which are freely available at http://www.gracesermons.com/hisbygrace/Page7.html

4. A Baptist Distinctive http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=12903142822

5. The Hermeneutics of Baptist Covenant Theology http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=11160516169

-Samuel E. Waldron's

1. Biblical Baptism: A Reformed Defense of Believers' Baptism

2. A Reformed Baptist Manifesto

-The various arguments that James White (www.aomin.org) and Steve Hays (www.triablogue.blogspot.com)would use.

I confess that the case for disciples only baptism isn't airtight.

I'm slowly reading through C. Matthew McMahon's reasons for why he switched from credobaptism to infant baptism.

He interacts with the best defenses of credobaptism at his website:

http://www.apuritansmind.com/MainPage.htm

direct link to Covenantal/Baptismal issues
http://www.apuritansmind.com/Baptism/Baptism&InfantBaptism.htm

his retraction
My Retraction: A 15-year Baptist turns Paedobaptist and Becomes Reformed. http://www.apuritansmind.com/Baptism/MyRetraction.htm

he reviews Malone's most recent book here
http://www.apuritansmind.com/BookReviews/MaloneFredBaptismDisciplesAlone.htm

Notable Debates

Thomas Schreiner "vs" David VanDrunen
James White vs. Bill Shishko
James White vs. Gregg Strawbridge
Fred Malone vs. Robert Strimple
Gene Cook vs. Paul Manata
Pastor Gene Cook, Jr. vs. Pastor Roger Wagner

Anonymous said...

Wow...why do you put man's theology on such a pedestal? VanTillian...Clarkian...etc.. amazing...the gospel message is simple...not so easy to live out...

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Do you suppose that a Calvinist and Arminian "live out" the gospel the same way under the same circumstances, or does theology matter? Are our infants to be considered vipers in diapers or disciples? Is the building of cathedrals ever legitimate or is the rapture coming prior to the conquest of the gospel? All that to say, living out the gospel to God's glory has its best chance with at least some understanding. I'll leave you determine before God how much you should understand. :)

Anonymous said...

God has revealed very simple truths in His word...We were created in His image and enjoyed perfect fellowship...We fell...God through His Son Jesus...provided a way of salvation...throught the conviction of the Holy Spirit...to repent... to rely on the atoning sacraficial blood of Christ to bear our sins...so we can be reconciled to our Father...eternally for His Glory...still not perfect...but being sanctified daily...by continually repenting...becoming more Christ like...offering truth and grace to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ...that is what we all need to understand...Now I have even been accused of being an intellectual...lol...and I must say I am impressed with your knowledge and arguments and agree in the majority...but sometimes I think intellectuals and theologians can complicate the glorious simple truths of scripture.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I’m somewhat saddened by your response and having gone down this road before too many times, I will be brief. You will be kind enough to appreciate that I might exercise the liberty not to respond to further remarks like your last one.

God has revealed very simple truths in His word...

Yes, he has. His servant Paul has also written difficult truths as Peter notes, that are often twisted even unto one’s destruction: “As also in [Paul’s] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable twist, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

The doctrines of grace, I would suggest, are very possibly what Peter has in view.

We were created in His image and enjoyed perfect fellowship...We fell...

How did we fall in Adam? Is our legal standing in Adam imputed to us as sin? Is concupiscence sin in-and-of itself, or only the actions that proceed from the fallen nature? Are infants condemned in Adam, or is there an age of accountability? Or can God regenerate a baby who does not comprehend the gospel (or does regeneration precede faith)? What, in other words, is the extent of the fall and what is God’s part in the remedy?

God through His Son Jesus...provided a way of salvation...

Was this way merely “provided” or was it secured for the elect and them alone? Will God apply redemption to the elect alone according to his sovereign good pleasure and if so, what makes one elect? Is the cause of election foreseen faith?

through the conviction of the Holy Spirit...to repent... to rely on the atoning sacrificial blood of Christ to bear our sins..

Does the Holy Spirit bring us to a place of neutrality where we choose according to our own libertarian freedom, or does he perform a holy rape of the soul making those he desires to rely upon Christ alone wholly willing to do so?

.so we can be reconciled to our Father...eternally for His Glory...still not perfect...but being sanctified daily...by continually repenting...becoming more Christ like...offering truth and grace to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ...

Is that “truth” we are to offer to others theologically informed, or are their subjective truths that we can agree upon by a common feeling?

that is what we all need to understand...Now I have even been accused of being an intellectual...lol..

You’ve been accused of nothing and you are certainly not guilty of behaving like an “intellectual.” I can’t imagine where you would get such a notion. I might glean a bit of anti-intellectual piety though coming from you.

and I must say I am impressed with your knowledge and arguments and agree in the majority...but sometimes I think intellectuals and theologians can complicate the glorious simple truths of scripture

Indeed, intellectuals and theologians can complicate simple, glorious truths but let’s not pretend that fellowship (or biblical counsel) is ever void of the truth of complex doctrines, for even the most simplest of truth reciprocally impinges upon the loftiest of truth.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Ouch!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I hope it's only truth that's hurting and not some unnecessary remark of mine.

Warmly,

Ron

razzendahcuben said...

Ron, it is true that God never abrogated the precept to give the sign of the covenant to children in the Old covenant, but you cannot deduce from this anything about administering the sign in the New. It seems that 7 begs the question, therefore.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Keith,

The argument is valid and the premises are true. Accordingly, the conclusion is true, making your remark a non-sequitur as it pertains to the argument before you. In other words, your rejoinder does not refute the truth of the premises or the form of the argument. Doesn't that bother you? All you've done is raise a baptistic, arbitrary stricture while ignoring the argument. Let me now interact w/ your assertion that had nothing to do with the premises of the argument you were to have dealt with.

The principle of children receiving the mark of inclusion has never been abrogated, which would require that it still abides. You require, however, that God re-state this principle of continuity, which is an arbitrary stricture and one you cannot live by. To deny this principle of continuity is to suggest that truth at t1 can only be true at t2 if it is re-established. Obviously you don't live under such a universal, but you require that abritrary baptistic-dispi "law of reason" when it comes to children born of professing believers - hence your arbitrariness.

If you wish to respond, please tell me which premise is false and why.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Razzend....

You missed the point. The argument is that God has not changed the principle of marking out covenant children. Added to that there is another principle that is that we may not assume that God has changed ANY of his principles apart from Scripture's instruction. That means the principle of marking out children still stands. THerefore, it's not necesaary to "deduce... anything about administering the sign in the New." That does not need to be deduced from the NT because it is a principle of God's that was NEVER cancelled out from the OT.

Annoyed Pinoy said...

Ron, when you use the term "Old Covenant" in premise one you either mean "the Mosaic Covenant" ("MC" from now on) or the "history of God's Covenantal dealings during Old Testament times which includes multiple/various covenants" (VCs for Various Covenants). If you meant the former, the sign was circumcision. Which means only the males. Your premise states "upon ALL" which implies it includes females. So, there's something imprecise about premise 1. If you meant the latter (VC), then that's problematic too. Not all OT covenants had signs that were placed ON/UPON those to be regarded in that covenant. As far as I can tell/remember, the Adamic Covenant (ADC) had no sign. Neither did the Noaic Covenant (NC), or Davidic Covenant (DC). Though, the Abrahamic (ABC) and Mosaic Covenants did.

With regards to premise 2:
Assuming you're referring to the MC, so long as someone was in the Covenant, they were to circumcise their males. Regardless of whether the parents believed in God or not. It seems to me however, that if the New Covenant (NC) of Christ was merely the progressive next step of the ABC, MC and DC (all of which were different administrations of the one Covenant of Grace (CoG)), then why did John the Baptist and Jesus require apparent faith in God and repentance from those Jews already in the MC before baptizing them to move them into the NC? Especially since ritual mikvehs (or ceremonial washings) was not a new practice that John the Baptist/Baptizer and Jesus intruduced. As far as I know, they were always of adults, not infants. Baptisms were not done by John and Jesus in a historical vacuum. If the NC was to be the next progressive step of the CoG, then Jesus and John should have baptized all Jews indiscriminately regardless of their faith and repentance.

You could argue that the baptisms of John and Jesus prior to the Lord's Supper weren't baptisms under the NC, and that it was only after the official inauguration of the NC did the practice of the baptizing of the children of professing believers begin. But it's interesting that when Paul discusses the topic of the state of the children produced by marriages between believers and unbelievers there's no mention of how there is no advantage for those children who were fortunate enough to have been baptized because both parents are believers. Paul speaks as it no children were baptized.

It's also interesting that if there's such a tight and close connection between OT circumcision and NT baptism (in the sense paedobaptists believe) that Paul didn't answer the Judiazing Galatians by pointing out that since they were already baptized, they didn't need to be circumcised. Btw, I do believe there is a connection, but not as close as paedobaptists believe.

Also, it seems likely to me that infants weren't baptized during John and Jesus' earthly ministry. Since, if Jesus (through His disciples) baptized both those who believed in Him (or at least were baptized in preperation of the coming Kingdom of God that both John and Jesus predicted would soon arrive, not necessarily knowing Jesus was the Messiah) AND THEIR CHILDREN, it would seem strange that the disciples would not allow their children to also be brought to Jesus to be prayed for.

I understand that the last few points can be seen as arguments from silence.

to be continued....

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Ron, when you use the term "Old Covenant" in premise one you either mean "the Mosaic Covenant" ("MC" from now on) or the "history of God's Covenantal dealings during Old Testament times which includes multiple/various covenants" (VCs for Various Covenants). If you meant the former, the sign was circumcision. Which means only the males. Your premise states "upon ALL" which implies it includes females. So, there's something imprecise about premise 1.

Nope, my first premise states rather clearly that “whenever possible” the sign was to be place upon those who were to be regarded as God’s children. Both infant girls and boys born of professing believers were to be regarded as God’s people. It was only possible to place the sign upon the boys.

Assuming you're referring to the MC, so long as someone was in the Covenant, they were to circumcise their males. Regardless of whether the parents believed in God or not.

The sign for adults was for believers only. Hypocrites who did not believe would also receive the rite and they were to be treated according to their profession – notwithstanding the sign was for adults who believed.

why did John the Baptist and Jesus require apparent faith in God and repentance from those Jews already in the MC before baptizing them to move them into the NC?

You’re false premise that leads you astray is that faith was not a necessary condition for circumcision of adults. It indeed was. In fact, Paul clearly reminds us in Romans 4 that circumcision is the seal of the righteousness Abraham had by the faith he had while in uncircumcision. Because baptism, like circumcision, is a sign that God saves by faith apart from works (among being a sign of other things), then it follows that the same condition of faith for adults would be required under the newer economy. Don’t you remember the rebukes of our Lord because some thought that national privilege or lineage was enough for salvation, apart from faith no less? Salvation has always been by faith (so that it would not be by works), so consequently the sign of entrance into the people of God has always required faith for adults.

I understand that the last few points can be seen as arguments from silence.

Can be seen? They certainly are arguments from silence, but the real problem is that they are of the fallacious sort. Arguments from silence are not all fallacious. It would depend upon the burden of proof. Consider:

1. Paedobaptists argue from silence that the Bible does not forbid the practice of infant baptism.
2. Baptists argue from silence that the Bible does not require infant baptism.

The burden of proof is squarely upon the Baptist since the biblical precedence is that whenever possible infants born of professing believers are to receive the sign of entrance into the people of God. Baptists simply ignore this principle of continuity and require an arbitrary stricture of discontinuity; yet as I’ve noted already to Keith, they cannot live by that stricture lest all truth would require re-iteration for it to abide.

to be continued....

I say this with all sincerity that you don’t waste your time by continuing.

I’m simply not inclined to respond to non-arguments that are merely assertions that actually begin with “it seems to me…” or “it’s also interesting that.” I’m a logician who wants to deal with justifiable premises and not mere speculations. I also wish to deal with biblical precedent, which does not afford us the luxury of assuming discontinuity in order to suit the man-made traditions we want to cling to without biblical warrant.

The Baptist position has been refuted yet Baptists too often in the face of that refutation check logic and biblically informed premises at the door and therefore, truthfulness. They prefer to cling to their traditions rather than submitting to the word of truth. This grieves any churchman, for Baptists have split Christendom on the doctrine of the church....

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

For some reason, Blogger has reduced the length of respones. I had to delete this portion on my last post:

Pinoy states: “Also, it seems likely to me that infants weren't baptized during John and Jesus' earthly ministry. Since, if Jesus (through His disciples) baptized both those who believed in Him (or at least were baptized in preperation of the coming Kingdom of God that both John and Jesus predicted would soon arrive, not necessarily knowing Jesus was the Messiah) AND THEIR CHILDREN, it would seem strange that the disciples would not allow their children to also be brought to Jesus to be prayed for.

My response:

You want to use the disciples' response to children as an indicator as to how God would have us regard children born of professing believers. Your argument is that disciples kept children away from Jesus - therefore, children were not to be recipients of baptism. Doesn’t that argument get trumped by Jesus’ correction of the disciples?! :) In other words, Jesus’ correction of the disciples would, if anything, cause us to infer the very opposite of your conclusion, which is based upon the disciples incorrect practice that was contrary to Jesus’ intent. When I read arguments like these, it makes me appreciate all the more how one's commitments can blind one's reasoning.

Ron

razzendahcuben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

"I am just downright stupid (or have some spiritual blindness)."

Razzendahcuben,

Someone has to be wrong on this subject. I really do not see any other alternative other than stupidity and spiritual blindness. I gues that someone's blindness could cause their stupidity. If it's not one or the other (or a combination of both) what else could it be? Did God make this subject hard to understand?

be reasonable said...

Razzledazzle,

I have lurked this board for a couple of years now as I love apologetics and IMHO Ron has been downright patient with you even when you were “instructing him” on philosophy. It sounds as if you actually know him and if you ask me you behaving like a bit of a baby. You made a correction without any backing and when Ron condescended to address your view that you did not voice clearly to begin with you whine about the way you are treated. Geeez!!!Did Ron's response it ooze with grace? Should it? This is a philosophical board and things ought be to communicated more like text books than devotionals IMHO. Anyway… how can it be thought of as being unkind in any way? Go back and read the thread and try to put a better construction on things. You seem a bit bitter (even desperate?) and your request for patience seems to me to mean like “let me correct you all I want without defending a single point.”

razzendahcuben said...

Mark,

I'm a little alarmed that regard a subject of such magnitude and controversy as "easy to understand". Perhaps you willingly accepted your position with fullness of understanding upon first contact, but most of us are not of such theological prowess. Even Ron, I believe, experienced several changes in theology over the course of his Christian walk. In the past two years I have made some important theological changes, praise be to God. Perhaps more are to come in a short while.

Peter stated that Paul's words were hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:16). When Christ said to the disciples that they would eat His flesh and drink His blood, they responded with, "These are hard sayings, who can understand it?" Some abandoned Christ for spiritual reasons, but others stayed, simply trusting that Christ had the "words of life," and resting on the truths they did understand: "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Now, the subject of continuity between the covenants is a deep issue. I am excited to re-read Ron's posts on the Abrahamic covenant. That is my next stop. Please pray that God would grant me insight.

God bless,

Keith

razzendahcuben said...

be reasonable,

Did you know that I learn through debate? Did you know that I also at this moment in interactions with dispensationalists, challenging their positions? Did you know that I have changed my mind on important theological matters in the past two years? Did you know that I ask Ron questions constantly, hoping to learn from him? Are you aware of our hundreds and hundreds of email conversations? Phone calls? A Visit to his home to enjoy his hospitality and church? Easy on the judgments, friend.

Colossians 4:6 is not qualified with "except for philosophical discussions."

Seeing as I linked my criticism to the important topic of continuity, I fail to see how I "failed to defend even a single point." My *only* point is that Ron's argument assumes a particular type of continuity, namely that the chief difference for him between the old and new covenant is that one occurred later than the other. But a baptist would look at Jer. 31 and say that they have serious differences in content, therefore premise 2 in Ron's argument would not carry over. No need for a discourse on the fact that I'm wrong, just explain to me why I'm wrong.

Sincerely,
Keith

Anonymous said...

"Did you know that I learn through debate?"

Debate requires argumentation. Did you try Razzle to PROVE one of the premises in the argument false or did you just announce that it begs some sort of question?

As for the statement about Ron's theological prowess and Paul teaching hard things --- Paul never taught this doctrine! It is simply a simple and basic OT principle that never needed to be taught!!! Do you think you would have broken away from the early church and actually become a baptist on your own because Scripture teaches it or did the religion of "Baptist" have to be invented first? As for the John 6 reference -- those who found the teaching difficult about body and blood were unregenerate -- they walked with Jesus no more!!! Ha, is that your defense for not submitting to easy doctrine. Are you wrestling with transubstantiation like RCs who don't understand John 6?

I'm waisting my time........

Anonymous said...

RAZZLE WRITES "But a baptist would look at Jer. 31 and say that they have serious differences in content, therefore premise 2 in Ron's argument would not carry over."

Razzle,

That is not a refutation of the premise.

You also said: "No need for a discourse on the fact that I'm wrong, just explain to me why I'm wrong."

NO Keith, there's an argument on the table. PROVE the premise you have concern about wrong!!! If you can't then why not accept it as true!!! Don't tell me what a Baptist would assert - OR what you THINK a baptist would asssert - tell me what a baptist would argue -- or better yet what is YOUR argument?!!!!!!!!!!

Now I'm really done.

Anonymous said...

The truth of the matter is this...There are legitimate arguments for both infant baptism and believers baptism in scripture.It is NOT a salvation issue.The baptist position has not split the church.Razz is right:There are very difficult passages in scripture to wrestle with...let's not confuse how well you can argue a position with allowing a brother or sister to work out their own salvation.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Keith said that my point point 7 begs the question. I went back to look at point point 7. It is "God’s precept is that children of professing believers receive the sign of entrance into the New Covenant. Being a conclusion derived from other premises it does not beg the question because any question begging would have to come from the premises that necessitate that conclusion. So let me consider those premises.

Certainly nobody would deny that whenever possible all who were to be regarded as God's children under the OT were to receive the mark of inclusion. Added to that, certainly nobody would argue that under the newer economy water baptism is the mark of inclusion. Accordingly, any allegation of question begging would have to be aimed at one of these two premises (4 and 5):

4. God’s precepts may not be abrogated without explicit instruction or good and necessary inference

(I've already dealt with why that hermeneutic must be true, which leave only premise 5):

5. God never abrogated the Old Testament precept regarding who was to receive the sign of entrance into the Old covenant

Who is prepared to refute refute premise 5?

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

The truth of the matter is this...There are legitimate arguments for both infant baptism and believers baptism in scripture.

How can mutually exclusive doctrines be true?

It is NOT a salvation issue.

God stated to Abraham that if a proper subject does not receive the mark of the covenant due to the parent's negelect, that one (i.e. the child!) has broken covenant. Like it or not, Baptists excommunicate their children by withholding water. Let’s not presume that the sacraments cannot become effectual unto everlasting life. Do you expect that God ordains to eternal life those who will not hear the Word? Then why expect salvation to come apart from another ordained means of God, water accompanied by Word?

The baptist position has not split the church.

How can the excommunication of infants born into professing households not split the church? Baptists make baptism a testimony to their work of faith as opposed to a testimony that God saves by grace. Moreover, Baptists have redefined the doctrine of the church. These matters have split the catholic church.

Razz is right:There are very difficult passages in scripture to wrestle with...

Indeed and this is not one of them. Infants of professing believers were always considered part of God’s heritage until after the Reformation, and the argument for this catholic position can be put forth in the simplest of terms, as I’ve done. It’s a love for an unbiblical tradition and the cost of losing one’s Baptist identity that keeps Baptists from repentance.

let's not confuse how well you can argue a position with allowing a brother or sister to work out their own salvation.

I thought you said this wasn’t an issue of salvation?

Ron

Anonymous said...

By that I mean the sanctification of a believer...not the moment of justification.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

That's a rather vague statement but no matter what you mean, baptism can be a matter of sanctification and justification. God elects unto salvation and predestines unto glorification according to means. Baptism is a means of grace.

Your minimalist view of the material means of grace is rather typical in the western church and American evangelicalism. I hate to disappoint but theology matters much more than you think and there can be dire consequences to being theologically lazy.

Anonymous said...

Of course theology matters.Are you inferring that I am theologically lazy because I don't agree with your particular view of theology?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Does it really matter what I think? The question you should be asking is how hard do you wrestle with God's word? Do you ever put pen to paper? Do you ever even think hard about these things? Do you think about your career, finances and sports more than you think about the study of God and his ways? My guess is that you are somewhat lazy, but I would be more concerned on what God thinks.

So long.

Ron

Anonymous said...

No, it really doesn't matter what you think. Yes, I do wrestle with God's word daily. Yes, I do put pen to paper. Yes, I think very hard on these things. As far as career, finances and sports, I do enjoy them all. All good things come from God and yes, I do study God's word and his ways. As far as being lazy... my mother did accuse me of that once when I was a child when I did not complete my chore of weeding the garden. And yes, I am concerned about what God thinks. Peace be to you.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

We're all lazy... and God is so patient with us all, especially with me!

Ron

Steven said...

Hey Ron I wrote briefly on presuppositionalism on my blog, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts...

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Sure thing, Steve. I very much look forward to taking a look.

Thanks,

Ron

Anonymous said...

Steve: There are not an infinite amount of worldviews. There are only two. That means your possible worlds argument fails due to the same mistake...

Steven said...

Hey Ron!

I wouldn't know where to begin to show you that you are not acquainted with what you think you have argued against.

Do you deny the presuppositionalist claim is to the necessity of the Christian worldview? That only the Christian worldview can prove the necessary conditions for intelligibility? Morality, science, logic? Because that's what I argued against, if I am not mistaken.

Anon, you said, Steve: There are not an infinite amount of worldviews. There are only two. That means your possible worlds argument fails due to the same mistake...

What do you mean there are only two worldviews? Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, secular humanism, African paganism--that's like 6 already.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Transcendental arguments in general and TAG in particular do not attempt to refute an infinite number of worldviews but rather the one that is being offered. Yet, the Christian is aware (or should be aware) that there is only one non-Christian worldview. That worldview’s axiom is that intelligible experience can be accounted for autonomously, without any reference to God’s revelation. Accordingly, there are only two choices – a revelational epistemology (the Christian worldview) and a non-revelational epistemology (the denial of the Christian worldview). Those that posit the former (a revelational epistemology) while denying other distinctly Christian doctrines are simply affirming the Christian worldview, yet inconsistently – and sometimes radically inconsistently. Notwithstanding, those who maintain a revelational epistemology would be affirming the Christian worldview, philosophically speaking that is. There is no philosophically relevant difference with respect to such worldviews in that the necessary precondition for intelligible experience and its justification is God’s revelation. Such a worldview maintains the creator-creature distinction in other words. Islam, like Hinduism, humanism, paganism and the like deny a revelational epistemology in their cardinal tenets and are consequently one and the same with respect to autonomous reasoning and affirmation of a non-revelational epistemology. As for Judaism, that would depend upon which stripe of Judaism. If it affirmed a Calvinistic view of revelation and sovereignty, then it would be affirming the Christian worldview (philosophically speaking) while denying major doctrinal tenets (theologically speaking). In sum, if one affirms a revelational epistemology, then he is aping the Christian worldview. The only other alternative is its denial.

Regards,

Ron

Steven said...

Hey Ron,

I appreciate your reply and your taking the time to discuss this with me.

There's a lot in your post that sounds like familiar presuppositionalist-talk; I dare say that it would be beyond difficult to prove any of it at all.

You said TAG proves Christianity against other worldviews. One of the objections I wrote about was that proving Christianity to somehow account for laws of logic, morality, and science, and so on, does not prove it true. It doesn't really prove anything because enough modifications to another worldview can also make it such that the other worldview also accounts for them. But if you mean to say that only if Christianity is true are there laws of logic, that's the same thing as saying Christianity is necessary. If laws of logic are necessarily true, and they can only be true if Christianity is true, then Christianity is necessarily true. But this is plainly false, and easy to see, as I wrote about.

Also it sounds like you're taking "Christianity" in an unconventional sense. When I say Christianity, I mean that to be that sum of truth claims without which you can't call a religion Christianity: like, that God exists, that he is triune, that one of the persons of God came to earth and died and rose again, and so on. You seem to be taking Christianity to mean a philosophical system where an all-knowing being has revealed something to man in written form. But then who cares if that take on Christianity is true? That doesn't mean Christianity in the sense I mean is true.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Steve,

I'm not going to be able to give you too much more time because I'm now having to repeat myself.

"..enough modifications to another worldview can also make it such that the other worldview also accounts for them."

That's simply to ape Christianity, which is not to come up with a worldview that has any philosophical and relevant difference. You simply ignored that portion of my post to you.

"But if you mean to say that only if Christianity is true are there laws of logic, that's the same thing as saying Christianity is necessary."

The laws of logic, being an attribute of God, obviously precede Christianity. The rest of what you wrote on that matter is based upon something I neither wrote nor implied.

"Also it sounds like you're taking "Christianity" in an unconventional sense."

I'm talking about the worldview of those you think you have criticized, like CVT and Bahnsen. Read the Butler article on my site, within which he defines the woldview up front, as I have to you. It's necessary that revelation come to the creature from the creator in order to have and justify intelligible experience. I'm not concerned with those who are thinking counter factually about certain tenets (like that James should not be in the canon), or positing worldviews that are not subject to critique since they are not put forward in any detailed manner. Put forth your form of Fristianity in detail and I'll tell you whether it's simply aping Christianity by adding non-essentials to the Christian worldview, or whether it fails outright as an organizing principle.


"When I say Christianity, I mean that to be that sum of truth claims without which you can't call a religion Christianity:..."

Butler deals with that in his article so I won't bother.

Best of providence,

Ron

Steven said...

Hey Ron!

Sorry for the late response.

I think I avoided the more important issue which is relevant to presuppositionalism and forgot to bring up the main question: why is it that relevational epistemology (as you call it) is necessary? Why can't we have a non-revelational epistemology?

Why is it that we can't have knowledge if things aren't revealed? If you want, define to me what knowledge is and explain how it is that knowledge can't be obtained if God doesn't exist.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Knowledge requires warrant, or justification for what is believed. (I'll avoid getting into degrees of warrant etc., in order to keep things more simple.) Knowledge also presupposes absolute truth. How can there be abolute truth apart from God, and how can fininte men who are not omniscient obtain warrant? Regarding the latter, without revelation one would have to know everything in order to know anything, which is why all non-Christian worldviews reduce to skepticism. Regarding the former, matter in motion cannot produce an abstract (non-material) entity such as truth. Maybe you might begin by thinking of how you could know something apart from God's revelation. In fact, you might begin by accounting for your existence, which your knowledge presupposes.

Ron

Steven said...

Hey Ron,

You said, Knowledge requires warrant, or justification for what is believed. (I'll avoid getting into degrees of warrant etc., in order to keep things more simple.)

Good, I agree.

Knowledge also presupposes absolute truth. How can there be abolute truth apart from God, and how can fininte men who are not omniscient obtain warrant?

I am not sure that knowledge requires absolute truth. If knowledge requires that a person believe p, p be true, and that person have justification for p, then even if the truth changes, a person could still be said to know at a time one of his beliefs. It may later become non-knowledge (assuming truth is not absolute and unchanging), but it is still knowledge then and there.

Regarding the latter, without revelation one would have to know everything in order to know anything, which is why all non-Christian worldviews reduce to skepticism.

I'm not sure this is true. I think what you are getting at is that a requisite for knowing some proposition is knowing that the proposition is true. But that's not true; all it requires is that the belief be true. Otherwise knowledge is impossible because you'd be stuck having to know an infinite number of propositions just to know one proposition.

Regarding the former, matter in motion cannot produce an abstract (non-material) entity such as truth.

This issue in philosophy of mind is beyond my level of knowledge. I am inclined to agree that materialism with regards to mental states and consciousness is false, of course, but some naturalists like John Searle hold that mental states are not physical states and yet are caused by physical states; they are causally reducible to physical happenings, but not ontologically reducible to physical happenings. I don't know if there is an inconsistency hidden there somewhere; if there is, I'm not prepared to argue it anyway.

Maybe you might begin by thinking of how you could know something apart from God's revelation. In fact, you might begin by accounting for your existence, which your knowledge presupposes.

In order to know, I need to know that I exist? You've already put two extra requirements and conditions on knowledge that you didn't initially open the paragraph with; I'm not sure anyone would have to agree with either, anyway.

It seems the case against non-revelational epistemology (that a person cannot know anything if God does not exist) is not proven.

Thanks for your time, Ron! I look forward to your reply.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I am not sure that knowledge requires absolute truth.

Then someone could no something false, a non-sequitur indeed.

In order to know, I need to know that I exist?

Nope, I didn’t say that. I said that your knowledge presupposes your existence, which is not the same thing as your knowledge presupposing your knowledge of your existence.

Steve, I think I'm going to bow out of this discussion. I am pretty sure you have enough before you and on the Puritan Board.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Did you see Brian “the brain’s” last response to you on the PB? You clearly demonstrated that apart from revelation there could be no knowledge. You even did so by assuming on Brian’s terms that man can exist in the presence of no revelation even though man is part of that same revelation. He had no response to your argument and in my opinion he demonstrated over and over again that he had no grasp of what in the world you were talking about. Then at the end of the thread after you gave him ample opportunity to argue on *his* own terms he threw up his hands and essentially said “if you are going to argue that way that man cannot exist apart from revelation then what can I say?” I don’t believe Brian is that stupid! I mean you were willing to argue on this terms that entire time by allowing man to exist and you gave him plenty of arguments why even if man existed he could not know a thing without revelation. I don’t think he is dumb at all but I do believe he can be prideful. It looked like he used your view that man could not exist apart from revelation as an excuse not to deal with any of the arguments you put forth on that thread all of which had nothing to do with man not existing and everything to do with man existing. He even mangled Clark and Van Til and Reymond, Calvin and Grudem.

Todd

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hi Todd,

Brian seems to be a nice guy and a somewhat bright guy in my estimation. I don't know him to be one for philosophy, which isn't a bad thing per se, except for his willingness, even desire it seems, to try to engage on that level. And yes, when he quotes theologians it has been my experience that he usually misrepresents them. That is unfortunate.

Ron

Steven said...

Hey Ron,

Then someone could no something false, a non-sequitur indeed.

I didn't say that. I said that a person can have knowledge at one time and not at another; your response is the unrelated one.

What is more, I replied to you on PB. I am waiting for you to respond to me, because I don't see how revelation is necessary for knowledge.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Steve, what I have put out on the board is more than enough. I'd be willing to take your call but for now, I really can't work with you over such a forum as the internet. Your views are simply too tangled.

Best wishes,

Ron

Mark said...

This issue in philosophy of mind is beyond my level of knowledge.

Nevertheless you plod on. Why does one continue on when they know they don't know?

It seems the case against non-revelational epistemology (that a person cannot know anything if God does not exist) is not proven.

Oh it was proven. Your cognitive ability Steve, (and this may come as a shock to you) is not the standard by which an argument is measured.

I said that a person can have knowledge at one time and not at another;

Oh? Well perhaps. At the moment however, we're waiting for you to get past the "not at another" point.

Ron Said:
Steve, what I have put out on the board is more than enough.

A gigantic understatement. It was hard enough just reading it.

Mark

Steven said...

A lot of rhetoric but no substance.

Nevertheless you plod on. Why does one continue on when they know they don't know?

I never brought up any issues relevant to philosophy of mind; my post was specifically epistemological. If anyone is, I am not the only plodding on where I do not know.

Oh it was proven. Your cognitive ability Steve, (and this may come as a shock to you) is not the standard by which an argument is measured.

Actually, Ron asserting some things and then not responding to my replies is not proving anything.

Oh? Well perhaps. At the moment however, we're waiting for you to get past the "not at another" point.

I don't even understand what you mean here.

You say it was hard enough for you to read Ron's post; yet you find yourself capable and fitting to provide commentary on the progress and direction of the discussion? Does that make any sense?