Archive for May, 2020

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?

178. Passages That Exclude Divine Determinism

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

208. PROVERBS 14:6 – GOD MAKES DAMNED PEOPLE?

211. SHORT EXPLANATION OF CALVINISM’S TULIP USING LOGICAL NECESSITY & ORDER

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

(more…)

Predestination + Free Will According to Molina, William Lane Craig

May 29, 20

How God sovereignly determines the world we live in, yet we have free will to make decisions that meaningfully affect our lives (according to Molinism):

My Sayings

May 29, 20

Pessimists are the only people who are happy to be disappointed.

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‘Hitler’s London Fallacy’ (a variant of Genetic Fallacy)

“Do you think London is the capital of the UK?”

“Yes.”

“Thats what Hitler thought too. So you agree with the Nazis?!!”

This demonstrates how ridiculous it is to toss out every point made by a less than savoury, trustworthy source. Even a broken clock can be right twice a day.

Every claim has to be judged independently.

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“False teaching is whatever I do not believe.”

This is my motto.

At first glance it sounds very arrogant and closed minded. But think it over and you will realize that it is perfectly reasonable, commendable, and EVERYONE holds this view.

Free Will & Never Sinning in Heaven

May 29, 20

How can believers retain free will in heaven (or the new earth), and yet not choose to sin? Perhaps my real life experience will help to illustrate.

I once ate frozen cendol pulut from a certain shop. That same day, I was wracked with horrible food poisoning – the worst I’ve ever had. I was in great suffering for hours even after being admitted into triage.

Will I ever eat ANYTHING from that shop again? NO!!!

But do I still have free will? Of course. It’s just that I’ve learned a painful, horrible, unforgettable lesson about the sensibility of eating food from that restaurant.

The same applies to believers in heaven. We will have experienced our lessons about sin while in this mortal life – painfully, regretfully – and learned to freely avoid sin forevermore after.

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Some more input from others:

Rather, we are given a new nature in Heaven, such that you would freely choose to only do good.
(Libertarian) Free Will is defined as the ability to choose between a range of options, each of which is consistent and compatible with your nature.

Remember how LFW is defined.
Supposed, with a new nature, you could only choose to do good, but within that range of good options, you have a wide variety, and you are able to choose any of those. That is sufficient to fulfill LFW.
Remember, the definition of LFW does not necessitate ability to choose both good and evil. It is the ability to choose range of options, each consistent with one’s nature. If you have a new good nature, you would only choose to do good.
If you accept that God has LFW but cannot choose evil, then there is no reason why LFW necessitates ability to choose evil.

Having tasted the vileness of sin and having experienced being in sin, the new person who is regenerated and made perfect no longer will want to sin as there is no drive to compel us towards sinfulness as both the spirit and the body has been purified.
Imagine someone who was lactose intolerant that thought they only had the option to order milkshake in a restaurant and thus every day they will eat and get stomach ache. After years of being forced to endure it, they realise that there is another page in the menu and there are more drinks there that are not milk based. The person therefore never orders milkshakes even through they have the freedom to. So freedom from milkshake does not mean no free will but rather it is the exercise of the free will to avoid something that was distasteful.
Of course milkshake doesn’t even begin to compare to the vileness of sin (but at this point we still haven’t fully grasped how vile it is since out bodies still longs to sin) and so this rejection of sin will be so absolute that there is no worry that we will choose sin again.

A freewill affirming Molinist take on it:

The second part — human evil — will also be eradicated, and this is the area where the “will we just be good robots now?” question comes in. The answer is no. In the original Edenic situation, humanity had freedom, and options of good and evil. The final eschaton (is that redundant?) does not entail an eradication of our imaging of God — our freedom capacity — it entails the eradication of evil. The result is that we will still be free, but evil won’t be on the table. Before Adam sinned he wasn’t a robot. It wasn’t evil and the ability to choose evil that made him free. He was free because he was made like God. We will retain that imaging status and be even more like God in the new heaven and earth. We will be as much like God as is possible, and so still free to choose the good things available to us in the new Eden.

3. What passed to all of humanity as a result of Adam’s sin was mortality / death. That is what the text says. This means that humanity lost immortality. It also means, going back to the Genesis story, that humans were driven from the presence of God in an ideal “heaven meets earth” environment. They were on their own. Left to their own, as non-divine mortals, the result is that all humans, born from that point on, were born into those conditions. If they are allowed to live a normal life span, this means that all humans will sin and incur guilt before God. No human “cannot not sin.” Sin would be universal and inevitable for all humans who get to live some measure of a lifespan where they can choose to rebel against God (i.e., sin).

MacGregor points out in Luis De Molina:
“The skeptic of God’s existence could retort that although gratuitous natural evil is logically necessary to the universe considered in and of itself, an all-good God would always supernaturally prevent that gratuitous natural evil from actually occurring. In other words, an omnibenevolent God would always overwhelm the resident imperfections in the created order in general and the human constitution in particular so that all things operated perfectly. Such constant overwhelming of resident imperfections would entail that God be definitively present in the universe (that is, exhibiting the qualitatively highest mode of his presence where he fully displays his glory) rather than repletively present in the universe (that is, exhibiting a qualitatively lower mode of presence where he is causally active and knows what is happening at, but does not fully display his glory at, each time-space location). If God were now definitively present in the universe, this immediate presence would make up for the universe’s existent defects and cause the universe to reflect his perfection, just as the sun makes up for the nonluminous nature of the various objects on which it shines and causes them to reflect its light. We observe that the skeptic’s retort is based on the presupposition that God’s overriding desire (that is, what an all-good God would want most) is to prevent gratuitous natural evil in the world. But if God had some other overriding desire, then the skeptic’s retort would be evacuated of any substance. Indeed, it seems that God has such an overriding desire, namely, people’s coming freely to commit their lives to him. At this juncture I argue, in concert with Molina, that libertarian human freedom is only possible if God creates the universe at a metaphysical and epistemic distance, or at arm’s length, such that God is not definitively present but repletively present in it.43 For if, currently, God were definitively present in the universe, overwhelming all its resident imperfections, the loveliness and majesty of God’s immediate presence would also infallibly prevent people from sinning and infallibly draw them to live out the desires of the Holy Spirit. This state of affairs believers will experience in the new heaven and new earth.44 But in order to guarantee that the communion of saints will be comprised of those who, without compulsion, embrace him, God is not present in the universe to such a degree that libertarian freedom is obviated. Rather, only after people make uncoerced premortem decisions to accept or reject his love does God permanently seal persons in those decisions at the general resurrection. Hence God is now repletively present in the universe, which presence allows the existence of libertarian freedom but does not preclude gratuitous natural evil. Consequently, gratuitous natural evil can only be eliminated at the expense of libertarian human freedom.45” (MacGregor, 262-263).

Am I A Jew?

May 29, 20

amiajew

Radical Hyperskeptical Criticism of the Bible Would Demolish All Literature It’s Applied To

May 29, 20

Excerpt from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiUiMXolNjpAhXOH7cAHZGXAiQQFjAAegQIAxAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fissuesetc.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F04%2F22Responding-to-Bart-Ehrman%25E2%2580%2599s-New-Testament-Forgery-Theory22-Dr.-John-Warwick-Montgomery.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1z99bIksxKeo6ZZ8vhnM4v

WILKEN: Before we get to some of what Dr. Ehrman had to say recently on the program, we recently had your colleague, Craig Parton, on the program. And he said that this method, the historical-critical method, to which Dr. Ehrman and so many other of the skeptical scholars subscribe, has been tried in many different fields of literature and rejected in all except Biblical scholarship, where somehow it still hangs on. Is that true?

MONTGOMERY: Oh, yes, this certainly is true. In Ugaritic scholarship, for example, the use of divine names, the difference between the use of one divine name and the use of another, in order to establish authorship was rejected after attempts were made to determine the true authors of Ugaritic materials. Cyrus Gordon, the greatest authority in that field, said before he died that if they didn’t stop doing this, it would destroy all Ugaritic literature.

And when I was at Cornell as an undergraduate, I had a Classics professor by the name of Harry Kaplan, who was quite a wag, and Kaplan said for seventy-five years we tried to find by literary criticism and stylistic differences and interpolations and this kind of thing the true authors of The Iliad and The Odyssey. And after seventy-five years of this we came to the conclusion that either The Iliad and The Odyssey were written by Homer or they were written by someone of the same name who live about the same time.

In other words, an attempt to use this sort of technique got absolutely nowhere. And in the history of the English ballad, for example, attempts were made along this line, and even though in some cases the oral tradition is six and seven centuries in length, it’s been concluded that these methods will not work.

C. S. Lewis said that critics of his work had tried to discover through similar analysis the real origins of the Narnian material. He said even though they are writing in my own time and in my own language, they’ve never been right once. Now how is it possible, then, to pull this kind of thing off when one’s dealing with Biblical materials that are well over 2,000 years old and written in languages that are not the language of the critic?

And I have, finally, an illustration that you’re going to love. A few years ago in England two liberal scholars along Ehrman’s line, a gentleman by the name of McGregor and another by the name of Morton, produced a book in which they took Romans and Corinthians and Galatians as the basis, stylistic basis, and they fed the style into a computer, and then they compared the other letters that are attributed to Paul in the New Testament. They compared the styles of those letters against the basic style that they had put in. And they concluded that not a single one of those other letters was written by Paul. Okay?

Then, a few years later, at Harvard, their book – McGregor and Morton’s book – was analyzed. The style of the introduction and preface of the book were fed in as a basis. And then the style of the succeeding chapters were fed in, and the conclusion was that McGregor and Morton had not written the rest of the book. The rest of the book must have been written by other people.

Now, of course, this was done as a wag, but it shows that you can’t use vocabulary and style as any kind of solid basis for determining authorship. What you need are external evidences that will provide you with guidance. And that’s exactly what the early Church relied upon, and that’s why we have the New Testament as we have it today.

The Bible vs Harry Potter

May 29, 20

What is the fundamental difference between the literature of The Bible and that of Harry Potter?

After all, as the skeptic’s argument goes: Harry Potter contains truthful claims such as London being in England (geography), or Churchill leading Britain in WW2 (history). But does that mean that it’s true about wizards doing battle using magic?

So, the skeptic continues: Just because the Bible contains truthful claims about Jericho (archaeology/geography), or the Cyrus decree (history)… Does not mean that it’s true about God creating humanity, or Jesus dying and resurrecting.

So instead of trying to postulate a fundamental difference, The Bible and any other piece of literature should be tested on equal scales. It is my confidence that not only does The Bible outstrip any other book in terms of verifiable facts, it will eventually be proven true on EVERY verifiable fact.

We already see an amazing track record of skeptics having claimed that, e.g. the Sojourn, Opression, Exodus, Conquest, Israelite nation, Davidic dynasty, Hittites, Sargon II, etc did not exist – only for new discoveries to vindicate the Bible. (SKEPTICS ARE ARROGANT, BUT THE BIBLE ALWAYS WINS! – me)

And if we can trust The Bible on ‘earthly things’ (verifiable facts), then we should also have confidence in what it says about ‘heavenly things’ (unverifiable claims) – to paraphrase John 3:12.

NB: In fact a better comparison than Harry Potter would be The Quran – as it is a competing claimant to being a divinely inspired book containing both unverifiable claims about spiritual truths and testable claims about history, geography, archaeology, science etc.

How to Prounounce YHWH Based on Jewish Names

May 29, 20

His reasoning sounds convincing, especially how they pronounce human names with Yeho at the front part (eg Yehonatan, I can think of Yehoshafat, Yehoyachin too).

Luke’s Word Usage Linking Divine Council Worldview Passages

May 29, 20

Luke deliberately linking Pentecost, Babel and Deuteronomy 32:8 (and thereby confirming that the third item is a reference to the second).

Also another case of the Septuagint and DSS agreeing against the MT.

Screenshot taken from Michael Heiser’s The Unseen Realm.LukeDCWwords

The Star of Bethlehem as an Actual Astronomical Event

May 29, 20

I summarize http://www.askelm.com/star/star004.htm?fbclid=IwAR0vEjGt4ty8zKByJOsa5AiLzvgHOugRxR6a3K6juqCGmBhhco4L8SyJqcA

17 June 2BC, Jupiter would have risen (Matt 2:2) and conjoined Venus over the horizon westward (towards Judea, Matt 2:1) if viewed from Mesopotamia.

Six months later on 25 Dec 2BC, Jupiter would have begun its annual retrograde motion and appeared to stop over Bethlehem (Matt 2:9) – in the middle of Virgo too! Looks like giving gifts on 25 Dec is Biblical after all 😇

If Jesus was born on 11 Sep 3BC, this means He was about 1.25 years old when the Magi visited – add some time for Herod to realise the Magi didn’t come back to him, and he ordered all boys age 2 and less to be killed (Matt 2:16).

As edited from the next video:

Rev12Astronomy

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I heard of the book from Michael Heiser:

Summarized: Romans 10 asks that famous line about calling/believing/hearing, but then Paul answers himself in v18 with a quotation of Psalm 19:4 – a Psalm about the heavens testifying to God’s glory. Implying that everyone HAS already heard the ‘voice’ of the celestial signs.

Rev 12:1-6 describes John seeing a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a dragon before her. On 11-Sep-3BC for about 90 minutes, the sun was within the constellation Virgo (the woman) and the moon underneath. Scorpio+Libra and Hydra were nearby (the dragon).

Bonus cosmic arrangement, Regulus (king star) and Jupiter (king planet) were aligned. Regulus is also a star in the constellation Leo (Jesus the lion of Judah). The date also happens to be Tishri 1 in the Jewish calendar, traditionally the birthdate of kings and Noah (who is a type of Jesus).

Bonus in Q&A: This makes the year when Jesus begins His ministry and reads from Isaiah about the Year of Jubilee, fall in an actual Year of Jubilee!

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PLUS: An different line of evidence pointing to 25 Dec:
https://www.fisheaters.com/customschristmasnotes.html?fbclid=IwAR3UGZgOTfg624NZB44FHq3noGu8VrALdoACijw-61PwQqw185-mncFXfyM

As long ago as 1958, the Israeli scholar Shemaryahu Talmon published an in-depth study on the calendar of the Qumran sect [Ed. based , in part, on Parchment 4 Q 321: Parchment Number 321 from Cave 4Number 321 — 4 Q 321 — of the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls, see picture at left], and he reconstructed without the shadow of doubt the order of the sacerdotal rota system for the temple of Jerusalem (1 Paralipomenon/Chronicles 24, 7-18) in New Testament times.

Here the family of Abijah, of which Zechariah (Zachary) was a descendant, father of John the herald and forerunner (Luke 1, 5), was required to officiate twice a year, on the days 8-14 of the third month, and on the days 24-30 of the eighth month.

This latter period fell at about the end of September. It is not without reason that the Byzantine calendar celebrated ‘John’s conception’ on September 23 and his birth nine months later, on June 24. The ‘six months’ after the Annunciation established as a liturgical feast on March 25, comes three months before the forerunner’s birth, prelude to the nine months in December: December 25 is a date of history.


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