Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Paul Manata: Free Will for Reformed Dummies

“I don't know how many times I have asked candidates for licensure and ordination whether we are free from God's decree, and they have replied ‘No, because we are fallen.’ That is to confuse libertarianism (freedom from God's decree, ability to act without cause) with freedom from sin. In the former case, the fall is entirely irrelevant. Neither before nor after the fall did Adam have freedom in the libertarian sense. But freedom from sin is something different. Adam had that before the fall, but lost it as a result of the fall.” John Frame

Plain and simple, Reformed folk, especially pastors and professors, need to wrap their minds around a Reformed understanding of the workings of the human will and how it relates to God’s decree and moral responsibility. Confusion abounds, or as Paul Manata puts it, there is no “unified message” among Reformed thinkers and many prominent ones are “apparently at odds with each other.” I agree, which is why I am exceedingly well pleased to see that Paul has put his mind and skill to this important matter and provide the Reformed community with a timely primer on free will and moral responsibility.

If one is looking for a polemical defense of Reformed Theology (RT) as it relates to determinism, freedom and moral culpability, Paul’s paper is probably not for you. Paul aims at a different target and hits it in the bullseye. He aims to lay the groundwork for fruitful reflection and discussion while showing that RT is inherently a kind of determinism, and that RT entails harmonious compatibility between determinism, man’s freedom and moral accountability. Paul defends his general thesis by concise appeals to the Westminster Confession of Faith, with reference to its teachings on God’s eternal decree, divine providence and exhaustive omniscience, which includes foreknowledge. Again, Paul is not setting out to defend RT per se as it relates to these matters, but rather define RT as it relates to them, as well as establish some suitable boundaries or fence posts from within intramural discussions can take place. That is not to say that his paper is void of any defense of RT in this regard, but that is not his primary focus. In fact, Paul spends considerable time walking his readers through the thought process of non-Reformed positions.

Paul, playing off John Feinberg’s classifications of necessity, draws a distinction between what he calls “nature determinism” and “act determinism." That man acts according to his nature is not an argument against libertarian freedom, nor is it an adequate defense of a Reformed stripe of determinism. Although Reformed thinkers confuse the two and often strictly argue in accordance with nature determinism, in doing so they beg most crucial questions and in the process look foolish in front of skilled Molinists.This distinction also plays into the erroneous idea that by establishing irresistible grace, libertarian freedom is refuted.
 
After setting the stage by showing that Reformed theology is clearly a type of determinism, Paul takes up the task of showing that if RT is consistent, then determinism must be compatible with man’s moral accountability and freedom, because RT, following Scripture, affirms both. Paul then waltzes his readers through classical compatiblism and the main objection against it (the "consequence argument", which is that there is no possibility of freedom given determinism). It is alleged that if we are not in control of all determining factors, then we cannot be free – a premise that has been affirmed (and denied) from within opposing camps. The lack of agreement is mostly due to ambiguity within the complaint.

Paul then moves to a discussion on semi-compatiblism, which strongly denies the freedom to do otherwise; it doesn’t posit hypothetical freedom, as do classical compatiblists. The position focuses on necessary conditions for moral accountability, which do not include an ability to choose between alternative possibilities, but do require “control,” which Paul later refines in light of man’s ability to be responsive to reason and innate understanding of moral responsibility.
 
Paul then takes on libertarian free will and its associated axiom that “ought” implies “can.” Within a deterministic framework we cannot do otherwise, but if “ought” implies “can," then determinism must undermine moral responsibility. He then addresses those libertarians who posit that what is required for moral responsibility is not libertarian freedom but rather that man himself is the ultimate source of his actions. A supporting argument would be that if an agent could be physically prevented from acting in any other way but one (such as with a Frankfurt counter example, or FCE) so as to ensure that no other choice is made, then no other choice could be made. If one can be kept from a contrary choice, then he could not act except but one way - yet he’d be responsible for acting when left to his own deliberation, which suggests that one need not have alternate possibilities in order to be morally responsible. FCEs help show that moral responsibility is not conditioned upon alternate possibilities. This illustrative theory is often used to support the premise that when man is the ultimate source of his action he has met the sufficient condition for moral accountability. Accordingly, it is maintained by "narrow source" incompatibilists that one can be responsible apart from alternate possibilities, if he is the ultimate source of his actions. (FCEs are useful for the determinist too.)Then Paul segues into agent-causality, a position which reduces to man being sovereign not just over his actions but his will too. 

(Digression: I can see how a Calvinist can make fair use of Frankfurt counterexamples but not libertarians. For within Molinism, for instance, "will choose x" does not imply "must choose x", a non-issue for determinists (for will implies must for a determinist). Naturally, a Calvinist would not be establishing ultimate sourcehood by the employment of FCEs, but he could defeat an objection against the ability to choose otherwise as being necessary for moral accountability, but such a defeater presupposes a deterministic metaphysic, which of course would not be persuasive to a Molinist; yet the argument would be valid (even sound) just the same. In other words, given a Molinist's metaphysic, a physical constraint to choose otherwise does not imply a metaphysical constraint to choose otherwise. So, for the Molinist, although the agent would be prevented from choosing other than x, he would still be metaphysically free to choose other than x. FCE's are a powerful tool in the right hands but not in the hands of libertarians, and I've digressed enough.)  

Eventually Paul's paper gets into synchronic tendencies in the Reformed tradition, where Paul is constrained to underscore that although there is liberty within the Reformed tradition to work out models of determinism (as long as they don’t get outside certain Reformed fence posts) there is no place to eradicate determinism from RT, as some seem to want to do. Paul interacts with quotes by contemporary Reformed professors, which demonstrate that confusion does abound over the matter of pure contingency and necessity. Paul interacts with Duns Scotus' view that is apparently being appropriated by some Reformed thinkers. Paul then gets a bit more polemical and employs a foreknowledge argument that incorporates an accidental necessity argument, which simply states that in the past are future tense truth propositions regarding creaturely choices. If it was true yesterday that Alice would choose x, then Alice's future choice of x is as necessary as the past.

Finally, Paul distinguishes between overcoming libertarian objections in the realm of conversion and overcoming them in the realm of most choices, "mundane" ones. That is a distinction that must be maintained, for there has been an argument floated out there at a renowned Reformed seminary that libertarian freedom is refuted by the doctrine of irresistible grace.

I suppose I could go on and on (in fact I know I could), but time simply does not permit. Paul’s desire in producing this work is to provoke thoughtful reflection and discussion within the Reformed community. I don't know of a better topic for him to have selected for the main objection to RT is its inherently deterministic doctrine. The confusion that abounds must first be cleared up within the camp if we’re to attract outsiders to RT. If more professors dumb down determinism, or exchange it for something else, then those attracted to the name RT will not be attracted to actual RT.

May God be pleased to grant increase to Paul Manata's most excellent work. 

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44 comments:

Paul said...

I saw your desire to see even one comment on this post expressed in your post on Reed. So, here's the comment: thanks for the link!

Reformed Apologist said...

LOL - that was too funny. It's so disheartening that the things I love most is of little interest to my few readers yet let me bang on Reed and they come out of the woodwork! :)

I got your email and it was touching. I wanted to write an appropriate response though.

Just was reading to the family from "Promise and Deliverance." I only have volume one but was getting on line just now to purchase the other two in the three-part series.

I'll get w/ you later.

Reformed Apologist said...

Make that four volumes - and now I have three posts on this thread. :)

Paul said...

Thanks Ron. Two things: (i) Greg Welty went through my paper with a fine tooth comb and I'll posting the up-dated and nearly error-free version shortly. (ii) You'll be interested to know that the new edition of the Oxford Handbook to Free Will is out and David Berofsky has an article in there titled "Compatibilism Without Frankfurt: Dispositional Analysis of Free Will." This one isn't in the first edition. Anyway, given some of our talks I thought you'd be interested in that article.

David said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Reformed Apologist said...

Paul,

Thanks a bunch. I Found it on line and will order it tonight.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195399692/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0195178548&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1SKT0YXEG3SCDB9YJJQE

Please let me know by email when you're done the final-final draft.

Reformed Apologist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi Ron, God bless you brother. Can I get your personal email?

Keep pressing on!

Reformed Apologist said...

Sound like Doug from GB.

Shoot me yours on the blog. I'll turn off the moderation function and then delete your post.

Reformed Apologist said...

Doug, I changed back my settings even though you didn't respond. So, if you respond now w/ your email it will be displayed for anyone to see.

The reason I'm assuming it was you (Doug) is the "God bless you brother" and the "keep pressing on."

This is the message I tried to pass on to you through Reed and Lane after the thread was closed:

Doug,

You wrote to R2K: "Arguments from silence are always fallacious"

You've said that at least twice so I think I should comment. Not all arguments from silence are fallacious. What determines whether one is fallacious has to do with burden of proof.

For example:

1. NT doesn't teach infant baptism. NT is silent.

2. NT doesn't teach against infant baptism: NT is silent.

The Baptist argues according to the silence of 1: Nowhere is infant baptism taught in the NT. The Paedobaptist argues according to the silence in 2: Nowhere does the NT forbid infant baptism. Both argue from silence, but the Paedo argument is valid and the Baptist argument is fallacious. The determining factor is burden of proof, which is established by precedence.

The burden of proof is on the Baptist because the OT teaches that infants of professing believers were to receive the sign of the covenant. Therefore, given the silence of 2 (NT doesn't forbid the practice) there is no reason to overturn the OT precedence of inclusion. In other words, it is the Baptist who must bring forth positive evidence (i.e., non-silent evidence) to overturn the OT precedence. The Paedobaptist merely has to assert that nothing forbids the OT practice of inclusion. He can argue from NT silence. The burden of proof is on those who would like to overturn OT precedence; they require explicit abrogation or good and necessary inference for a change in procedure. Obviously there's more we can argue for our position, like for instance corroborating evidences: (a) many recorded household baptisms in NT; and (b) nowhere in the NT do we see one coming to faith from within a believing household and then baptized.

David Weiner said...

Ron,

I thought I had a reasonable grasp of sovereignty - free will. Alas, I am unable to explain the following to myself. Help?

In your 11/22/2009 blog entitled "Free Will - Confusion Abounds" I find this statement: "Now is any good Calvinist going to say that we choose our intentions or our nature? No, but we are certainly responsible for them, for they are ours!"

Now I know you think I am anything but a 'good Calvinist' yet would you grace me with an answer to this question? God gives us our nature; we are unable to reject it. How can we be responsible for it being ours? How can we be responsible for the intentions that naturally follow?

Reformed Apologist said...

David,

Responsibility does not imply guilt, for God is responsible for the sin in his universe apart from guilt. So, it's no issue that we're responsible for our nature. The issue is that unconverted man is guilty for his nature, even though he doesn't choose it. Now then, Do you desire the nature you have, or would you like it to be holy? If you desire the latter, then you're saved and consequently forgiven for your nature and no longer guilty for it, so responsibilty becomes moot. If you desire the nature you inherited by birth, then it's yours by choice as well for it could be different upon a new desire, so why shouldn't one be also guilty for possessing a sin nature?

David Weiner said...

Ron,
Thanks for the response. You said "Now then, Do you desire the nature you have, or would you like it to be holy?"

I was lost for forty years before God saved me. I assure you that I was perfectly satisfied with my nature, the one that God sovereignly gave me. My nature had no interest in not sinning. I had no desire to be holy. So, whether we talk about responsibility or guilt can you help me grasp for what exactly God is holding the lost person accountable? Surely, it isn't for living according to the nature that God gave him?

Reformed Apologist said...

David,

We need to distinguish between nature and acts. Also, let's leave God out of the equation just for a moment and we can introduce Him into the discussion later.

As a fallen man you preferred your existing nature over any other, so it's easy to see that you were responsible for it. Your choices that proceeded from your nature you were also responsible for since they were according to your own intentions, which were consistent with your nature.

That God determined your nature, intentions and choices does not get you off the hook for as you've acknowledged below, you preferred all of those things. It's a very basic belief, is it not, that you are responsible for who you are and what you do? Now then, God too is responsible for everything He determines, yet responsibility doesn't imply guilt. In God's case, he has a morally sufficient reason for the evil he determines.

Not to complicate matters but Romans five suggests that you are responsible for Adam's sin.

Gotta run...

David Weiner said...

Ron,

You said: "so it's easy to see that you were responsible for it (my nature)."

Actually, it isn't easy for me to see this; but, I have no trouble seeing that God sees it this way. Or, I think more in line with how you say it, God is just for holding me guilty of doing what comes out of my nature. I just wish I could grasp what it is exactly that He sees as issuing in my guilt when He is the one who gave me my nature. There must be something that He sees that I can do with my nature that 'saves me.'

You said: "as you've acknowledged below, you preferred all of those things (sins)."

Given my nature how could I intend otherwise? Isn't this like blaming a person who you caused to go blind for bumping into you? Or are you blaming them for not having recognized their blindness and taken appropriate steps to mitigate any negative consequences and thus avoid bumping into you?

Your inputs have really helped me focus my thoughts (at least I think so!) I really would appreciate your thoughts, if you have the time, on what I have concluded so far.

As a lost person:
1) I have exactly what God has given me.
2) God has decreed all that will happen.
3) My sin must happen since it is decreed.
4) My nature leads to my intentions which lead to a willingness on my part to sin. (A willingness regarding which I am only too happy to follow through upon with sinful deeds. But, as you pointed out, it is the intention and not the act which is the 'real' sin.)
5) So far, I can not see how I can be held guilty for sinning.
6) It is all God and I am a 'puppet.'

BUT, God is just in holding me guilty since He has offered me a way out, believe Him.
7) God reveals the gospel (1 Cor 15:1-4) to me through secondary causes.
8) God considers me capable of making the decision to believe Him.
8a) Thus He is just in holding me guilty for the sin I commit and my adherence to unbelief.
9) However, I won't choose to believe unless and until He regenerates me.
10) When I then believe the gospel, I receive salvation and all that entails.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Anyone who thinks that we must defend "human freedom" from Molinist and Arminian attacks is not really Reformed but is rather a semi-Arminian himself.

It might do you well to do a bit of reading in the controversy over common grace and the free offer. I should point out also that the term "Reformed" is about as imprecise as the term "Evangelical". To reify what is ambiguous is a bit disingenuous.

I should also point out that John Frame is hardly the poster boy for Reformed Theology. He is in fact a lightning rod for controversy since he advocates the triperspectivalist view of doing theology.

Peace,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Martin Luther once said that if God foreknows something will happen then it will happen and there are no contingencies with God. Free will does not exist.

Charlie J. Ray said...

THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, "Free-will" is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert "Free-will," must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them. Martin Luther

The Bondage of the Will: The Sovereignty of God

You'll probably come up with some clever way of escaping the obvious here. But the bottom line for me is God's sovereignty does not need an apology. He does whatsoever He pleases. (Psalm 115:3)

Charlie J. Ray said...

As to responsibility for our nature, blame it on Adam. He brought the curse upon us all. It's called federal headship. If you don't like it, take it up with God:) Nevermind Romans 9.

Reformed Apologist said...

Charlie,

What I'm taking away from your posts is that you say that we aren't to defend a Reformed perspective only to offer a defense of that perspective. I'm not sure I'm tracking.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I don't think the burden of proof lies with the Calvinist but with the Arminian and other heretics who attack the sovereignty of God. Anyone who reads the Bible cannot come away from it with any other view except that God is absolutely sovereign. I would recommend Gordon H. Clark's book on Predestination.

Reformed Apologist said...

Charlie,

Once the Arminian takes up the "burden of proof" and puts forth his argument, then a response that glorifies God is in order. Moreover, Clark's defense presupposes that a defense can and ought to be given in certain situations.

Best wishes.

Charlie J. Ray said...

OK, let's try again. When I was a student at Asbury Theological Seminary in the mid 1990's I took a course in Christian philosophy by Dr. Jerry Walls. Walls defended the libertarian free will position and attacked the compatibilist view. Although I was an Arminian at the time, I came away disappointed with the Arminian defense since it seemed to me that it didn't give much room for God or for God's control over the world, etc.

I also questioned the doctrine of prevenient grace since it seemed to negate the idea of an inherently sinful nature inherited from Adam, etc.

While you might be impressed with Paul Manata, I am not. You might ask why since I have not read Manata. Just browsing your blog I noticed that your general understanding of Calvinism is neo-Calvinist. You're probably one of those folks who think Arminianism is just a defective presentation of the Christian gospel but they are just wonderful Christians on their way to heaven. Sorry, but I don't agree. Arminianism is nothing short of heresy. It is basically a false religion like Roman Catholicism.

If Paul Manata has not dealt with the question of God's absolute sovereignty then I would question any so-called "defense" of the "Reformed" position he might give. In fact, even Carl Trueman has acknowledged that there is no such thing as a "Reformed" center. The term "Reformed" cannot be reified.

I for one do not accept the three points of common grace or the "free offer" of the gospel to those who decreed to reprobation. God in no way "desires" to save the reprobate nor does He "offer" them anything whatsoever.

The implied notion behind your article is that somehow Arminians just have a wrong notion and they could be persuaded by a well put philosophical defense of the Calvinist position. Although the Reformed position is intellectually defensible the false premise is that reason can lead to conversion. There is no way to reason a reprobate person into changing their mind.

The idea that the Calvinist should use philosophical arguments is misplaced. Rather what the Calvinist should be doing is using biblical polemics and theology to totally demolish any idea that Arminianism or semi-pelagianism is biblically defensible. In my opinion Gordon H. Clark's book on Predestination is by far the best defense of God's sovereignty to date.

Charlie

Reformed Apologist said...

You're obviously not familiar with my writings and probably Paul's too. Nothing I say anywhere on my blog implies that Arminians only need better arguments to persuade them, and Paul's argument was aimed at Calvinists, not Arminians!

That you think Calvinists ought not to use philosophical arguments undermines much of what you've already said. Finally, to reduce Arminians to reprobates in your second to last paragraph is simply misguided.

Paul said...

Charlie, of course, my paper begins with the Reformed *confessions* and takes them as *data*, drawing conclusions *from them*. So much for your "neo-Calvinist" jab.

Second,

The idea that the Calvinist should use philosophical arguments is misplaced. Rather what the Calvinist should be doing is using biblical polemics and theology

Do you have a verse that says "Calvinists should not use philosophical arguments but only quote the Bible?' Me thinks someone is involved in some self-referential incoherency.

Reformed Apologist said...

Charlie,

Let's also not forget that "biblical polemics" involves philosophy lest we have no justification for logical polemics. Theology is not comprised of brute particulars.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Paul, it truly is amusing that you're totally unaware of the controversy over common grace. Essentially "common grace" is not a Calvinist doctrine. Rather it is a semi-Arminian heresy introduced by Abraham Kuyper and his student Herman Bavinck.

The idea that God has a divine favor for the reprobate is completely unbiblical.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Reformed Apologist, obviously I don't reject philosophy per se since I follow the apologetics of Gordon H. Clark's Scripturalism. Clark was accused of rationalism in case you are not familiar with the Clark/Van Til controversy. I'm not against apologetics. Scripture itself is propositional truth in written form. I do object to any idea of paradox or compatibilism since Scripture is non-contradictory. The idea that free will needs reconciling with hard determinism is a bit much.

I notice that you didn't object to my point that you do not think Arminians are lost. That's a dead give away that you are sympathetic to Arminianism.

Reformed Apologist said...

I notice that you didn't object to my point that you do not think Arminians are lost. That's a dead give away that you are sympathetic to Arminianism.

Charlie,

That I don't think Arminians are necessarily lost doesn't imply that I'm sympathetic to Arminianism.

Charlie J. Ray said...

RefApo, If Arminians are saved it would imply that their gospel is a true gospel. Since you're so big on philosophy I would like to hear how two different gospels can be in fact the same gospel? (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Unless of course you're saying that contradictory logical propositions are not in fact contradictory?

Reformed Apologist said...

The Arminian gospel is "Jesus died for you." Although that is not true with respect to those who are not elect, it is true for the elect. Accordingly, it is true for the Arminian if he is elect.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Elect Arminians are unconverted and are therefore lost. Albeit some Arminians are elect they are yet unregenerate and therefore cannot be saved until God sees fit to bring them to repentance.

Again, the Arminian gospel is a false gospel as defined by the Canons of Dort. Faith is a work done by the "free will" according to Arminian theology. The Calvinist view IS the Gospel. The Arminian view, like Rome, is semi-pelagian and depends ultimately on works for salvation, particularly the "work" of faith.

Also, your idea that the atonement is particular while allowing for the false contention that Christ died for those already in hell and already decreed to reprobation before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 2:8) is inherently contradictory. Either Christ died particularly for the elect OR Christ died for every individual without exception. The two positions are incompatible as you acknowledged without acknowledging it. To tell an unconverted person that "Christ died for your sins" is Arminianism and a false proposition. In fact, it is plainly unbiblical.

Reformed Apologist said...

Elect Arminians are unconverted and are therefore lost.

Not all elect Arminians are unconverted. If you think so, please prove it with a valid argument.

Albeit some Arminians are elect they are yet unregenerate and therefore cannot be saved until God sees fit to bring them to repentance.

Prove that an Arminian cannot be converted until he is a Calvinist.

Again, the Arminian gospel is a false gospel as defined by the Canons of Dort. Faith is a work done by the "free will" according to Arminian theology.

The gospel that saves is that Jesus died for his people. That good news is appropriated by faith. If an elect Arminian believes that Jesus died for him, he will be saved. Again, that the Arminian preaches without qualification "Jesus died for you" is nonetheless a truism when preached to an elect person. It's only not true when it is preached to a non-elect person. An elect Arminian can believe such a message as it applies to him personallyand be saved.

Also, your idea that the atonement is particular while allowing for the false contention that Christ died for those already in hell and already decreed to reprobation before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 2:8) is inherently contradictory.

I never affirmed such a thing.

To tell an unconverted person that "Christ died for your sins" is Arminianism and a false proposition. In fact, it is plainly unbiblical.

That's simply false. And that's where you have not yet internalized what I'm saying. It is not always a false proposition that "Christ died for you." It's only false when it's said to someone who is not elect. When it is said to an elect person, it is true - Christ died for him. NOTE: If elect, then Christ died for him. Consequently, all elect Arminians (and Calvinists) can be saved by such a message as "Christ died for you" - for it is indeed true that Christ died for them if they are elect.

Paul said...

Charlie, what's funny is that you have no clue who I am, what I am familiar with, or what the content of my paper is (per your admission). Anyway, you apparently have no desire to either be honest or seriously and substantively interact with my paper—yet you critique it nonetheless—and so for me to continue on with you would be a waste of my time. Now, run along and try to derive your gender from the Bible, Clarkian.

Nobody said...

Clark would never claim Charlie. Clark enjoyed pulling down strongholds and Clark would have never objected to Arminians being saved. "Nobody wants to be a charlie in the box."

Anonymous said...

As a total outsider to this issue, I find Charlie utterly incoherent. If we can "know" someone by their fruit, then I'm going with Paul and "Reformed Apologist."

Why is it that those that deny common grace always come across as the most ungracious jerks on the planet?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Your use of the abusive ad hominem is a bit hypocritical isn't it? My statements were objectively stated by way of theological propositions. Nowhere did I attack anyone personally. If I say that Mormons are lost, am I using the abusive ad hominem fallacy or simply stating a theological fact or observation? While you might disagree with my assessment of Arminianism, it is merely propaganda on your part to attack me as a person rather than stating in objective terms why you think my position is wrong.

Charlie J. Ray said...

While it is true that Clark did not excommunicate Arminians from Evangelicalism, I think Clark was inconsistent with his own insistence on logic. Logically speaking Calvinism is Christianity. Clark said that, too, by the way. Furthermore, since one cannot affirm conistently that free will does not exist and then at the same time affirm that the semi-pelagian views of Arminians are consistent with biblical Christianity. The Bible nowhere teaches that men are able to believe or save themselves by working up their own free will by their own strength. Scripture teaches that regeneration precedes faith, repentance, etc. It is an outright contradiction of the Gospel to say that men have the power of "free choice" to save themselves by their own faith. Faith, too, is a gift of God.

Clark also said, by the way, that if Arminians were more logical they wouldn't be Arminians. I was an unconverted Arminian Pentecostal for at least 10 years. Now I spend my time trying to convert the lost. If that bothers you, I do offer no apologies.

Sincerely,

Charlie

Reformed Apologist said...

As a total outsider to this issue, I find Charlie utterly incoherent. If we can "know" someone by their fruit, then I'm going with Paul and "Reformed Apologist."

Why is it that those that deny common grace always come across as the most ungracious jerks on the planet?


Anonymous,

I have found Charlie consistently reckless. That Arminians cannot be saved denies the implication of Romans 9 where Paul is writing to the church to straighten out their Arminianism. Charlie has unwittingly denied the gospel.

In any case, I too deny the "free offer" properly understood. So, if you look at me favorably relative to Charlie, then please take that data point into account regarding Cavlinists on the planet.

Charlie J. Ray said...

First of all, I did not say that Arminians cannot be saved. If so, that would imply that I am not saved myself--I was at one time an Arminian. What I clearly said is that Arminians are not at this time saved. They are no more saved than Mormons or Muslims or Roman Catholics are saved. In order to be saved a person must believe the total teachings of the Scriptures as they are systematically and logically revealed. Since Arminians deny that unconditional election rather than free will is the basis of salvation, then it logically follows that they agree with the Pelagians rather than with Scripture. Romans 9 does not say that Arminians cannot be saved. But Romans 9 does clearly reject Arminianism as an ungodly theology that attempts to appoint man as God's judge. Paul rejects that view outright.

As for remarks about my person, I have again duly noted your fallacious argument of the abusive ad hominem.

Charlie J. Ray said...

"THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, "Free-will" is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert "Free-will," must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them." Martin Luther, The Sovereignty of God: The Bondage of the Will


The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, "Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand: (Isaiah 14:24 NKJ)
(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger." 13 As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." (Romans 9:11-13 NKJ)

I am continually amazed that logic is not the basis of objections to my comments. Rather, the resort is made to personal attacks. Why not deal with the substance of my remarks?

Reformed Apologist said...

Charlie,

I don’t think you want to provide more evidence that you are reckless.

You write: “First of all, I did not say that Arminians cannot be saved. If so, that would imply that I am not saved myself--I was at one time an Arminian. What I clearly said is that Arminians are not at this time saved.

You meant to say that “I did not say that Arminians cannot be saved one day.” But, I get your theology even though you don’t express it consistently. You mean what you wrote in your second attempt to clarify in that quote pasted above.

In order to be saved a person must believe the total teachings of the Scriptures as they are systematically and logically revealed.

By this standard you are unsaved, Charlie. By this standard, no Reformed church that is equipped with even average elders would accept you into membership. You have denied the gospel more lucidly than those most of those who affirm it.

You have my sympathy, Charlie.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I should note that I believe you are the one who has rejected the Gospel. The Bible clearly affirms that God saves whom HE will save, not God will save whoever lets God save them:


So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. 19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? (Romans 9:16-21 NKJ)

Reformed Apologist said...

Charlie,

You say you want to use logic and then you argue illogically. Your conclusion exceeds the scope of your premises. That election is biblical does not imply that those who do not understand are lost.

I have 5 posts waiting moderation in my inbox all typed out within the last five minutes. You really have issues, Charlie. The last one says that I'm afraid to publish your comments because they're too logical. Charlie, I'm not on your time table. In any case, I am choosing not to publish them. It would be wrong of me to encourage you in this path and to be a part of the sealing of your own unbelief in the gospel to save (as opposed to salvation coming from having one's systematic theology in pristine order).

May God show you mercy, Charlie, and in the process grant you a keener understanding of things.