Musings on Calvinism

May 29, 20

A a record of my journey exploring and ruminating on this issue. I strive to present the issues in as simplified a manner, in order to aid understanding. Great thanks especially to Leighton Flowers, Kevin Thompson, William Lane Craig, Tim Stratto, Braxton Hunter, Eric Hernandez, Michael Heiser, and the many posters and commentors on various FB groups whose insights and explanations (from many different viewpoints) have proven invaluable.

I have cleaned up and organized all my posts related to this topic. Click on this to sort for only those posts:

https://scottthong.wordpress.com/category/soteriology/

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The following are the most important ones that have to do with common proof-texts or arguments for Calvinism, as that is the crucial issue in my opinion:

*** 111. ROMANS 9 – SUPERPOST

6. ROMANS 9 – A NON CALVINISTIC INTERPRETATION

15. YOU ACCEPTED THE GOSPEL? SO YOU THINK YOU’RE SAVED BY YOUR WORK?

20. VESSELS OF MERCY/WRATH

22. LIKE OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN VS LIMITED ATONEMENT

28. ROMANS 9 AND OLD TESTAMENT CONTEXT

31. JOHN 6 & DRAW

32. ROMANS 9 & JEREMIAH

36. ROLE-MANS 9

39. HOW WOULD THE ORIGINAL RECIPIENTS OF ROMANS 9 HAVE UNDERSTOOD IT?

43. DOES ACTS 13:48 TEACH UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION?

47. HEBREWS 12:2 AND FAITH NOUN/VERB

64. REGENERATION SO YOU CAN BELIEVE, OR BELIEF SO THAT YOU ARE REGENERATED?

67. WHAT CONTEXT ARE THE OLD TESTAMENT PASSAGES CITED IN ROMANS 9?

69. THE PROVISIONIST VIEW OF ROMANS 3:10

71. WHO IS THE INTERLOCUTOR OBJECTING TO GOD’S WAYS IN ROMANS 9?

74. ‘SOTERIOLOGICAL’ PSALMS IN CONTEXT

79. PASSAGES THAT UNDERMINE LIMITED ATONEMENT, GOING FURTHER THAN JUST ‘ALL’

83. BRAD SAAB ON CALVINIST & NON-CALVINIST INTERPRETATION OF EPHESIANS 1

84. EPHESIANS 1 AND PREDESTINATION – TO WHAT?

85. WHO IS PREDESTINED, AND FOR WHAT?

86. WILLIAM LANE CRAIG ON ROMANS 9 & 10, EPHESIAN 2 ‘FAITH IS A GIFT OF GOD’

87. FALLACY OF EQUIVOCATION: IS ACCEPTING SALVATION A ‘WORK’?

88. ROMANS 8 – THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF ADOPTION FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ACCEPTED CHRIST (NOT THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF SALVATION FOR THE TOTALLY DEPRAVED WHO ARE UNCONDITIONALLY ELECTED)

90. 1 CORINTHIANS 2:14 – ABOUT UNREGENERATE UNBELIEVERS, OR IMMATURE BELIEVERS?

91. ROMANS 8:29-30 – PAST TENSE OLD TESTAMENT?

94. LIMITED ATONEMENT – LIMITED IN ACCEPTANCE BY CALVINISTS

108. N.T. WRIGHT ON ROMANS 9 & ELECTION TO PURPOSE

116. DOES JEREMIAH 19:9 TEACH DETERMINISM?

119. ARE DICE ROLLS ANALOGOUS TO HUMAN WILL?

130. REFORMED SCHOLAR CHARLES CRANFIELD – ROMANS 9 IS ELECTION TO HISTORICAL FUNCTION, NOT SALVATION

133. LAMENTATIONS 3 – THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOD WANTING EVIL & GOD ALLOWING EVIL

139. JOHN 3:16 – GENERAL OR SPECIAL LOVE?

145. JOEL WEBBON STUMPED ON COLOSSIANS 2:12 BY LEIGHTON FLOWERS

148. POTTER PROOFTEXTS – TALKING BACK TO GOD & THE EUTHYPHRO DILEMMA

151. A TEXT WITHOUT CONTEXT IS PRETEXT FOR A (CALVINIST) PROOFTEXT

152. Man’s Steps From the LORD = Determinism?

181. COMPATIBILISM, LFW, REAL OPTIONS & 1 COR 10:13

178. Passages That Exclude Divine Determinism

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Or, browse by all post titles in chronological order below, with the above most important passage-related posts bolded:

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WHY I REJECT TULI- IN MEMES

July 27, 21

Total Depravity – Refer to this Wojak meme:


Unconditional Election – Refer to this vessels meme, which shows how the OT and Paul understand ‘potter and vessels’:

https://scottthong.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/vesselsalive.png?w=662


Limited Atonement – Refer to this manga meme:


Irresistible Grace – Refer to this doge meme:


Perseverance of the Saints – I didn’t mention this in the title because although I hold to a form of Conditional Security, I just don’t feel like rebutting it as much.

All my memes are at: My Soteriological (and Other) Memes

PAUL’S USAGE OF ISAIAH 29:16 IN ITS ORIGINAL CONTEXT

July 23, 21

In a pair of recent monographs on Paul’s intertextual theological exegesis in Romans 9:1-18, Brian J. Abasciano argues Paul uses the Old Testament in accord with the original context. If this is the case, how does the context of Isaiah 29:16 contribute to our understanding of Romans 9? How much of the context of Isaiah 29 does Paul have in mind when he alludes to one line from the chapter?



I will examine context of Isaiah 29:16 in order to argue Paul alluded the potter saying to evoke a particular period of Israel’s history when Judah rejected God’s clear revelation and were therefore facing God’s judgment at the hand of the Assyrian Empire. As in Isaiah 6:9-10, the nation is blind and deaf and cannot respond properly to the words of the prophet. But as Isaiah 29 stands in the canonical text, Israel’s failure is not final. Although their eyes have been blinded (29:9-10) they will once again see “in that day” (29:18).

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And I would note, what does Paul state later on in Romans?

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! … They were broken off because of their unbelief … And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. – Romans 11:11,20,23

TOTAL DEPRAVITY & ARGUMENT FROM OBJECTIVE MORALITY?

July 23, 21

Correct of clarify me if I’m wrong, but don’t these two things mutually contradict or nullify?

If the first is true, then the second is worthless.

The unsaved are so depraved that they cannot even recognize what is good or moral (of which the objective standard is God).

Quote by CS Lewis as example:

“On the one hand, if God is wiser than we His judgement must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil. On the other hand, if God’s moral judgement differs from ours so that our ‘black’ may be His ‘white’, we can mean nothing by calling Him good; for to say ‘God is good’, while asserting that His goodness is wholly other than ours, is really only to say ‘God is we know not what’. And an utterly unknown quality in God cannot give us moral grounds for loving or obeying Him. If He is not (in our sense) ‘good’ we shall obey, if at all, only through fear—and should be equally ready to obey an omnipotent Fiend. The doctrine of Total Depravity—when the consequence is drawn that, since we are totally depraved, our idea of good is worth simply nothing—may thus turn Christianity into a form of devil-worship.”

ON MIDDLE KNOWLEDGE + ‘OMNI-CARING WHAT WE THINK’

July 23, 21

(Snazzy moniker suggestions for this idea welcome!)

If God knows all possibilities including & especially those involving the free decisions of agents…

Is it possible that God could know how a particular agent would respond IF consulted and asked their opinions, preferences and choices about their entire existence as a whole?

As well as extrapolate to how EVERY agent would respond if the opinions, preferences and choices of every other agent is taken into account as well… Criss-crossing and overlapping and interacting in a nigh-infinite web of feedback loops?

And thereby, factoring in the free will responses, opinions, preferences and choices of every agent God will ever create… To make the ultimate decision of the creative decree… Just because God CAN and WANTS to?

If so, this would resolve the dilemma raised for our freedom if God knows (and chooses, under Molinism) the future. God could factor in the choices and greater good of everyone when actualizing the world.

The paths are all laid out and God knows what steps each of us will take in advance… But God ‘asked’ all of us for our input in the matter.And I even have Bible passages as a basis for this concept: In Genesis 1 & 2, God shows His preferences and wants. He gives dominion over His creation that He rightly rules (earth and animals) to humanity, and allows Adam to name the animals God rightly owns (naming = ownership in Ancient thought).

God is fully self sufficient and the ultimate sovereign over everything. But He genuinely wants to care about OUR wants and cares.

BRIE LARSON’S ACTING ABILITY & AUDIENCE DRAW SHOULD NOT BE JUDGED SOLELY ON HER CAPTAIN MARVEL + END GAME PERFORMANCES

July 23, 21

Here’s why:

1) In her first outing she has to play an amnesiac, tough-gal soldier who is repeatedly told NOT to show emotion. In End Game she is just hi and bye. You can’t really display a wide or deep acting range with those kind of restrictions. Imagine if Jim Carrey were cast as Ronan, but not allowed to break character – no jokes, no quips, no funny faces. What a miscast and waste of talent, right?

2) Her character is at the top of the power level charts. This results in a ‘Superman Is Boring’ problem with storylines, there is no challenge or suspense. How many times can you throw Kryptonians or Darkseid at Supes in order to make it interesting? Imagine two hours of blowing up enemy ships and punching mooks way below your weight class, kinda boring unless your taste is towards Michael Bay films. This is where Brie gets it wrong in interviews, fans don’t want to watch the STRONGEST hero, they want to watch an engaging story.

3) Box office performance wise, none of the films she appears in are useful to measure her personal audience draw. She is surrounded by pedigreed fan favourites like Samuel L Jackson and the longer running MCU characters, and she is part of a megafranchise where many fans will watch literally anything with the Marvel label on it (as Honest Trailers ribbed about Guardians of the Galaxy – what are you gonna do, watch DC?

4) ScreenCrush has a good video where in the latter half they explain how the same plot can be kept for Captain Marvel, but rearranging the sequence would make her much more relatable to the audience: https://youtu.be/-zFKeAdzL-4

And all that said, none of the above covers for Brie’s own attitude in interviews where her fellow, much more experienced MCU actors either eye roll or clapback at her remarks. She doesn’t help improve her character’s standing among the fan base with that kind of arrogance.

FREE WILL & DIRECTED PATHS

July 23, 21

***SPOILERS FOR LOKI EPISODE 6***

If God knows exactly how we will ‘freely’ react to any set of circumstances (via Middle Knowledge) and sets up circumstances to get the ‘free’ choices He wants out of us (at the moment of the creative decree)… How ‘free’ are our wills really?

That seems to be the conundrum posed for Loki and Sylvie.

A TVA agent can point a zappy-stick to their heads and tell them to take a ticket, but they can still choose to say “No” and get zapped rather than take a ticket. So sure, they ‘freely’ made each individual choice in each moment. They most wanted to do the things they did (like not get zapped), otherwise they would have chosen to do something else (like rip up their ticket in defiance).

And if they DID rather choose to be zapped than to comply… Well, that was all already factored in to the grand plan too.

How does Molinism avoid being a form… whoops, shall I say, VARIANT of Compatibilism? God has determined and gets what He wants using secondary causes, which is compatible with our ‘free’ wills.

GENESIS 6 AS ‘IMAGER PEDOPHILIA’

July 23, 21

A thought popped into my head as I was listening to Dr Heiser explain to Frank Turek about God creating us as a human family to join the heavenly family.

If we were meant to be together and work together, maybe the Genesis 6 incident was wrong because humanity was not ‘ready’ to intermingle with members of the heavenly host yet.

We were still ‘immature’ when the rogue Bene Elohim/Watchers/Apkallu came down and ‘corrupted our innocence’ before we had been transformed to be like God (2 Corinthians 3:18), or like the angels in heaven (Matthew 22:30). Like a teen groomed by a predator with smoking, alcohol, drugs, partying and finally sex.

MOLTMANN ON POLYTHEISM & MULTIPLICITY OF NATIONS

July 23, 21

Reading this passage, I was reminded of the Babel incident and dividing of nations among the Bene Elohim – which corresponds to Plato’s Critias.

Matthew 28:18-20 is the ongoing fulfilment of Psalm 82:8.

But in trying to reunite the world under kingdom, one ruler, one Elohim… Perhaps the Christianized Roman Empire (like the Jews awaiting their political Messiah) focused too much on the temporal and physical kingdom, too little on the eternal and spiritual kingdom.

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The idea of theocracy was very much alive among the martyrs, during the Christian persecutions, and among the theological apologists of Christianity in the first three centuries. Consequently, from a very early period there was a Christian preference for the Roman empire. Remembrance of the Emperor Augustus’s peaceful empire outshone even the remembrance of the Christ crucified by Pontius Pilate. The justification of this political choice in favour of the Roman empire ran as follows: The polytheism of the heathen is idolatry. The multiplicity of the nations (which is bound up with polytheism, because polytheism is its justification) is the reason for the continuing unrest in the world. Christian monotheism is in a position to overcome heathen polytheism. Belief in the one God brings peace, so to speak, in the diverse and competitive world of the gods. Consequently Christendom is the one universal religion of peace. In place of the many cults it puts belief in the one God. What political order corresponds to this faith in the one God and the organization of his worship by the one church? It is the Emperor Augustus’s kingdom of peace, seen as Rome’s enduring obligation and commitment, and as the common hope of the nations. – Jurgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'JÜRGEN MOLTMANN TRINITY KINGDOM'

GOD’S KNOWLEDGE IS GREATER UNDER LFW THAN COMPATIBILISM

April 22, 21

Definitions I am using:

Compatibilism = An agent will always and only choose according to their greatest desire.

Libertarian Free Will (LFW) = An agent can (at least sometimes) choose from among a range of options, each compatible with their nature.

If Compatibilism is true, then there is literally (and definitionally) only ONE possible outcome at every decision juncture – the greatest desire. Hence, someone with good enough information and models could accurately or even perfectly predict the person’s choice – it is, in a manner of speaking, a known formula that can be calculated. Like a supercomputer conquering the stock market or weather forecasts – under Chaos Theory these things are only seemingly random, but if we knew every variable we could perfectly calculate the outcome.

So God (or a supercomputer) would just need to know the starting parameters of the universe, and then would perfectly predict the ONE outcome possible for every agent in existence ever, simply by calculating the greatest desire in each circumstance. There is literally (and definitionally) NO variance or chaos. There is also much less complexity as one goes further down the chain of intersecting choices, since they all have only one possible respective outcome at each juncture.

But if LFW is true, then no matter how ‘predictable’ all the influencing factors might seem to be, the agent can choose from among a range of options – there is (at least sometimes) the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, more than one possible real choice for the agent to decide upon. So a supercomputer could have perfect data and models from the start of the universe, but FAIL to predict the exact outcomes – because there is REAL variance and chaos. Desires are influences on, but not the cause of a choice. We don’t always choose according to the greatest desire.

Whereas God perfectly knows the outcomes despite the LFW choices of agents (all interacting and intertwining, mind you, increasing quadratically in complexity!) – because God has better than mere calculative algorithms, God has PERFECT MIDDLE KNOWLEDGE.

See also COMPATIBILISM, LFW, REAL OPTIONS & 1 COR 10:13.

Two Summaries That Reflect My View of Molinism, Soteriology

April 1, 21

Maybe my explanation is not fully formed, but the way I see it… If you don’t want to choose damnation in the actualized world, then DON’T CHOOSE DAMNATION!

God cannot/will not actualize a world that is not feasible with your choices. If you don’t choose damnation, God won’t actualize a world where you are damned. God is not to be blamed for your free choice.

I think this is what WLC means by ‘God plays the cards He is dealt’, He can’t actualize a world where you are damned if you never freely choose damnation in any world

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12:24 “All four of those possible futures are filled with free will. By selecting one of those possible futures and saying ‘I want this one to happen’, when God predestined that future, Jackie’s free will is still there. Jackie’s making choices and God’s making choices.”

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How natural it is, for example, for Believers, when knowing that their child was on board a particular ship, and learning that the ship has met a terrible calamity and sunk – with some passengers being lost and some others being rescued – to pray to God that their child is among the survivors. Is there any way to rationalize such behavior and render it non-blasphemous?

Modern modal logic again comes to the rescue. Remember, on traditional accounts, God is (along with being all-good) omniscient and omnipotent. God, being omniscient, will have known, since the beginning of time, that the parents would pray (at such and such a time) for the survival of their child. In particular, God would have known at the time of the ship’s sinking that the parents would pray sometime later, and God could have chosen to answer those prayers in advance of their being uttered. On this view, God is not changing the past at all; God is making the past one particular way among the infinite number of different ways it could have been. One must attend to the modalities. Under this view, God does not change the past from the way it was (which activity would be a violation of the principle of non-contradiction), but rather God makes one possibility (the child’s surviving) actual, and makes another possibility (the child’s perishing) nonactual. There is no violation of the principle of non-contradiction, and the parents’ prayers are not blasphemous.

And it bears emphasizing that it is not God’s knowing beforehand that the parents would pray in a certain manner that ‘brings it about’ (‘necessitates’, ‘forces’) their praying that way. It is, quite the contrary: it is the parents praying of their own free will that God have saved their child from death that moves God to do (have done) as he did.


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