Archive for February, 2021

Dr Michael Heiser on Names in the Book of Life

February 24, 21

Aune writes this in his commentary about this language at this particular point. He says:

The motif of a Book of Life in which the names of the saved are written and the motif of the erasure of a person’s name from such a Book are extremely widespread in the OT and early Judaism, sometimes used together and sometimes separately. The possibility of having one’s name erased from the Book of Life suggests that fidelity to God rather than any type of predestinarian system is the reason for having one’s name inscribed in the Book of Life in the first place (see Rev 17:8).

I’m going to read that over again. Because we tend to read these things as though, “Well, God wrote all those names in there beforehand, and once they’re written, God can’t unwrite them. He can’t erase them.” In other words, it’s this confusion with the concept of election that divorces election from believing loyalty. And I’ve commented before that I think election in the Old Testament is fundamentally misunderstood. Israel was elect. No kidding. Duh. That’s very obvious. It’s just too bad that a lot, maybe even most, Israelites you’re not going to see in heaven. Why? Because there’s this thing called the exile—a grand apostasy of the elect. And then you have the non-elect (those who aren’t Israelites) being grafted in. Well, how does that happen? If everything’s written in these books beforehand, how can that change? Again, what Aune is saying is it’s wrong-headed to think of this in predestinarian modes because things do change. Okay? [laughs] The non-elect become elect. The elect go off and worship other gods. And they’re out. Okay? Things change. We have fundamentally misunderstood this idea.


February 23, 21

But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. – Mark 13:32

This passage is usually explained as Jesus in His humanity having limited His omniscience (via kenosis).

However, an alternative explanation is that ‘know’ here is the declarative meaning – in the context of the passage, Jesus as the bridegroom will be going back home to His Father’s house to prepare a room for His bride the church, and on the wedding day will return to claim His bride. In Jewish marriage traditions, it is the sole right of the father to decide which date the wedding day will be.

Hence Jesus is not admitting lack of knowledge, but rather that the pregorative to decide the day of His return is with the Father.

Other NT and OT uses of this kind of ‘know’:

For I decided to know [declare] nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:2

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children [literal Hebrew: ‘know/yada (Strong’s 3045) your children’] and your children’s children – Deuteronomy 4:9

Kudos to Anthony Rogers at 1:44:29 of this debate:


February 22, 21

13:14 We do have pictures – we have iconography and sculpture of the day of the period in which Ezekiel wrote. All of the elements in Ezekiel’s description are visible except one…

Taking a look at these pictures of Royal Thrones in the ancient Near Eastern world – again, from Syria, Palestine and of course Babylon – you can see that specifically they account for all of the elements in Ezekiel’s vision.

We have cherubim. We have cherubim with wings. We have deities, divine beings with four faces. We have situations where we get a throne that incorporates hooves and calves legs.

All of these elements drawn from Ezekiel 1 show up in what essentially are the pictures, the photographs of the day – iconography, sculptures, carvings, paintings.

We know what Ezekiel saw because we have this material, and it’s very important that we recognize the importance of reading Ezekiel again – in both a Babylonian and an Israelite context, with material known from the prophet’s own day and of course known by the original audience to which he was writing.


So to an ancient Jew, it would be clear that what Ezekiel describes are ‘throne guardians’, and that he was in the presence of a divine royal sovereign. Cherubim are the Babylonian version (where Ezekiel was), Seraphim are the Egyptian version (where Isaiah was, with strong influence from Egypt).

Perhaps a modern retelling using ‘throne guardians’ from what we know from our own iconography – news media and movies – will help illustrate:

I gazed up and behold, a White Abode was descending from heaven. All around were attendants in black garments, their eyes concealed by obsidian, black vines coiling around their ears.

Day and night they chant “Roger, all clear, over” as they minister before the White Abode. None could approach its occupant, for the fiery red gaze of Watchers on every rooftop swept to and fro, and they pierced through any trespasser with their thunder and stinging darts.

And behold, a finger was thrust into my vision, and a voice like the sound of a thousand thunders rang out to me: “I want YOU, o son of man!


February 18, 21

5-Pointer: “Hi, I fully affirm Total Inability! No one can accept the Gospel unless they are first monergistically regenerated by the Holy Spirit! In this, unbelievers are like literal corpses because they are dead in sin. Look at this cartoon of a silly Arminian trying to evangelize to a pile of bones, haha! Do you think a corpse can respond?”

May be a cartoon of text

Me: “Uh, no. Corpses are dead. Of course they can’t respond. So unbelievers are all like corpses?”

5-Pointer: “Yes! Like Lazarus in the grave, or the dry bones of Ezekiel!”

Me: “Uh, waitaminnit… Those Buddhists over there are doing their chants. I assume they are still ‘dead in sin’ because they aren’t Christian. So corpses can breathe and chant?”

5-Pointer: “Well… Okay, corpses can chant. But they can’t accept Jesus.”

Me: “I see some atheist liberals over there are eating their vegan lunches. So corpses can eat and have other biological functions?”

5-Pointer: “Um, yes…”

Me: “And those Muslims doing street Dawa, and one girl just accepted Islam. So corpses can preach and believe religions?”

5-Pointer: “Yes, but not the Christian faith.”

Me: “So corpses can do basically everything an ordinary living human can, except repent and believe the Gospel? Which God actually does command them to do, in contrast to all those other things.”

5-Pointer: “YES! Exactly!”

Me: “So why compare them to literal corpses? There is like 0.000001% overlap in the things that actual lifeless dead bodies cannot do VS unbelievers cannot do, namely accept the Gospel. Seems like a lousy analogy to me, rather counterproductive to your intended use of it to convince people on Total Inability. Since ‘corpselike’ unbelievers can do a million things with no difference from fully alive people, anyone would assume that believing in Jesus would also be one of those things they can do.”

5-Pointer: “Y-your memes suck!”

Me: “Okay, no argument there ¯_(ツ)_/¯ “


February 18, 21

Have you ever encountered a tale like this? I certainly have.

“When I first encountered Calvinism I was offended by it and rejected it. Then I wrestled with it and wept over it. Finally I was dragged kicking and screaming against my will (John 6:44!) to accept it. This proves that TULIP is true!”

Isn’t this a perfect example of circular reasoning?

1) God uses hard to accept means (such as TULIP).
2) Premise 1 is hard to accept, therefore it must be from God.

Or alternatively:

1) TULIP says God overrides our will in order to make us believe.
2) Premise 1 is a hard teaching for me to accept, so since I believe it, therefore it must be true.

Uh, no! Once again, the faulty conclusion is based entirely upon a starting assumption / presupposition / begging the question. If in actual fact we all make our own decisions, then the reason they accept 1 in the first place is because they themselves decided it is true!


February 17, 21

You’ve probably heard this question before, which operates on the assumption / presupposition / begging the question of God being the one who decides whom He will cause to believe the Gospel.

But if you don’t start with that premise, then the answer is straightforward – we all make our own decisions. We have Libertarian Free Will to decide however we decide in ways compatible with our nature.

Even if our background or education is similar (an example James White uses), it doesn’t entail ALL our experiences, genetics and ongoing influences are exactly the same. And again, he assumes Compatibilism whereby only ONE real choice is ever available (the greatest desire), so even if you and your neighbor had 100% exactly the same influences and desires, if LFW is true then it is entirely ossible that you each make different real choices based on your own sourcehood agency.

And this is clear to any everday person. Why did you pick Coke while your neighbor chose Pepsi? “Well duh, we each made our own decision!”


Why did Al Mohler support Trump, but John Piper refuse to?

Why does Guillaume Bignon affirm determinism but Greg Koukl affirm Libertarian Free Will?

Why did RC Sproul favour classical apologetics, but Cornelius Van Til favour presuppositional apologetics?

Why does John MacArthur espouse premillennialism, but Ligon Duncan espouse amillennialism?

Why has John Piper maintained for 30 years that Psalm 82 and Jesus’ citation of it in John 10 are about heavenly/spiritual beings, but James White strongly rejects that and says it’s about human judges?

Why does Wayne Grudem hold to Eternal Functional Subordination, and Chris Date hold to Annihilationism? Both of which are minority views or even considered heretical.

And what do all of the above have in common? THEY ARE ALL CALVINISTS.


Maybe God decided whom He will cause to believe the correct view, and whom to believe a lie.

May be an image of 3 people and text


February 11, 21

If you’re regular here, you may know me as ‘The guy with the stupid memes’.

I take offense at that label. Please refer to me instead as ‘The guy with 100 stupid memes’ – because I’ve passed that milestone. I now have over 100 original memes, the majority of them on soteriology (because I am just that OCD).

Because visual persuasion is the most effective, and humour is a memorable means of communication.

1) Head over to My Soteriological (and Other) Memes and have a good laugh.
2) Get back to your everyday life, because you actually have one.
3) When you come across a dumb post or comment, you might recall one of the memes. Now you can just mock the dumbness with a succinct meme instead of typing a 20-paragraph response!

As a preview, here are the top 4 most upvoted memes on Soteriology 101 Discussion page on Facebook. Enjoy!

Honourable mention: The most discussed meme:

Manga & Anime Soteriology Memes Collection

February 5, 21

In a similar vein to my Western Superhero & Comics Memes, which is a subset of My Soteriological (and Other) Memes.

A subset of My Soteriological (and Other) Memes.

CALVINISM: It Just Works:

Sye Ten Bruggencate on Giving ‘Logic Guns’ to Unbelievers:

Tim Stratton’s New Book on Molinism Memes:

Sye Ten Bruggencate on Giving ‘Logic Guns’ to Unbelievers

February 4, 21

A badly chosen analogy in a debate full of facepalmingly bad analogies, reasoning and eisegesis / taking out of context of Biblical passages.

24:13 “Romans 11:36 says from Him, through Him and to Him are all things. All things include logic, they include science, they include morality. All things are from God. Now if I approach an unbeliever and I try and argue with evidences, then I’m granting him things that belong to God. I’m granting him logic, I’m granting him morality, I’m granting him knowledge. All these things cannot be justified without God. So I’m saying here these belong to Jesus Christ, but I’m going to give them to you – I won’t do that. I will not use the tools of Jesus Christ to allow the unbeliever to argue against the Lord that I adore.”

28:29 “Now as far as handing it over to the person, I believe logic is a tool, just like a gun is a tool. So if I’m going to have a fight with an unbeliever and I’m the only one that has the guns, and they say ‘Well that’s not very fair, give me that gun so I can fight with you’, I’d be a fool to do it.”

Uh no, in real life the unbelievers all are using logic & reason & evidence! If you don’t use logic & reasons & evidence on them, YOU are the one going unarmed to a gunfight!

Like Eric Hernandez says, God already HAS given us all these tools. It’s a moot point whether or not the unbeliever has a right or maintains the privilege of using ‘what belongs to God’ because they ARE using it. Pretending they are not or cannot is deluding and handicapping yourself.

Presups will always use Romans 1 and say the unbeliever actually knows God exists, you don’t need to prove it to them. Merely make them admit it.

Well, what better way to make them admit they are suppressing the truth than to show them evidence after logic after argument that forces them to look at the elephant in the room over and over? It’s easier to ignore a glaring issue if nobody grills you on it. Kinda like that SpongeBob showing Patrick all the evidence meme.

Also, regarding ‘all’…


February 1, 21

Fundamentally, Compatibilism and Libertarian Free Will (LFW) both run on the premise that “We have wills, but our will is influenced by factors such as environment, genetics, mood, etc.”

Where the two differ is on number of real options we can choose.

Under Compatibilism, our will ALWAYS chooses our greatest desire. Hence there is only ever one real option.

Under LFW, we can choose from a RANGE of options each compatible with our nature. Hence there is (at least sometimes) more than one real option. This is often referred to as the Principle of Alternative Possibilities or PAP.

Hence the two systems are based on fundamentally similar premises, yet with very different results.

Tim Stratton (Calvinist turned Molinist) when chatting with Eli Ayala (Molinist turned Calvinist) parsed it this way: He is a Compatibilistic Libertarian, as opposed to a Compatibilistic Determinist.


Now, how do we test each hypothesis?

If in any particular event there is only one real option, then either Compatibilism or LFW is true. Hence a single event or even many events are not wide enough a sample of cases to test the hypotheses.

If EVERY single event ever has only one real option, then Compatibilism is true and LFW is false.

If there is EVER any event where there is more than one real option, then Compatibilism is false and LFW is true. Hence it’s clear that proving LFW has a much lower bar.

And thus, the above is why LFW proponents like to point to 1 Cor 10:13 as follows:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with THE TEMPTATION he will also provide THE WAY OF ESCAPE, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13.

It says that in every event, we have more than one real option – specifically, at least two (TEMPTATION or WAY OF ESCAPE). This fits with LFW (which remember, already doesn’t even need to be true in every event, just some events).

But if Compatibilism is true then we only have one real choice, in every event ever. This would falsify 1 Cor 10:13. Compatibilism (and other forms of Determinism) are the exact opposite of what 1 Cor 10:13 states.

1 Cor 10:13 – “We ALWAYS have at more than one real option.”
Compatibilism – “We NEVER have more than one real option.”

Thank you for attending my TED Talk.

See also: Passages That Exclude Divine Determinism

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