Archive for the ‘Soteriology’ Category


October 5, 21

After thinking about the subject, I feel that we should separate ‘-isms’ into two categories.


CATEGORY 1: God’s foreknowledge and human free will

If God perfectly and infallibly knows what we will do in the future, are we still free to make real choices?

If no, then either God still knows all but we are not free (determinism, many Calvinists); or God doesn’t know the future and hence we are free (Open Theism).

If yes – both God’s future knowledge and our free choices are true at the same time – one of the options is Molinism.

But if you notice, Open Theism and Molinism don’t say anything about how we are actually saved from sin. As it’s been said, Molinism is more of Theology Proper (what is God like?) than Soteriology (how are we saved from sin?).


CATEGORY 2: How sin and salvation ‘work’

Calvinism says Total Depravity (Inability) has caused everyone from the moment of conception to not want God, hence we will never freely accept the Gospel. To overcome this, God sends Irresistible Grace to only some, which 100% guarantees they will accept the Gospel.

Arminianism agrees on Total Depravity, but says instead that God gives Prevenient Grace to everyone, which allows them to freely accept or reject the Gospel.

Provisionism rejects Total Depravity, instead saying that we already can freely accept or reject the Gospel (without needing any additional action by God, or because the Gospel itself is inseperably an action of God).


So it’s actually possible (and perhaps more accurate) to state that we hold to one ‘-ism’ from each category.

“I am a Molinist” means that (at minimum) I believe God knows all possible outcomes stemming from human free will, and actualized one feasible world where Martin Luther is saved – but it does not actually describe Martin Luther’s condition before and after being saved.

Hence why Tim Stratton is fond of saying that one can be a Calvinist or Arminian while affirming Mere Molinism. (NB: Even when he adds ‘God is maximally great’ to make it ‘Soteriological Molinism’, it still doesn’t purport the mechanism of sin/salvation.)

“To clarify: to directly compare Calvinism with Molinism is to compare apples with oranges. This is the case because Calvinism is a soteriological system (issues regarding salvation) and Molinism is not.” –


September 7, 21

You might have seen this quote of John Wesley before, full text at:;view=fulltext

Here’s the syllogism I think he’s making:

1) The Bible as God’s word cannot teach anything false, illogical, unholy, etc.
2) Systematic X interprets the Bible as teaching something false, illogical, unholy, etc.
3) Therefore, Systematic X is a wrong interpretation.

The above premises in Wesley’s words rearranged:

1) Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That GOD is worse than the Devil? It cannot be.
2) You represent GOD as worse than the Devil: More False, more Cruel, more Unjust. “But, you say, you will prove it by Scripture.”
3) Whatever that Scripture proves, it never can prove this. Whatever its true Meaning be, this cannot be its true Meaning.


September 7, 21

Total Depravity – Everyone is so sinful they’ll never accept the Gospel.

Irresistible Grace – So the only way to make them accept is to unstoppably change their hearts.

Unconditional Election – Since everyone is so sinful and would never accept the Gospel on their own, they are equally worthless. Hence who God chooses to grace must not be based on any conditions.

Limited Atonement – But if the above are true, why isn’t everyone unstoppably changed into Christians? It must be because God doesn’t want them, and Jesus died only for a limited selection of people, otherwise Jesus failed which is impossible.

Perseverance of the Saints – And anyone God chooses will make it all the way to the end without quitting, otherwise God failed which is impossible.

Note that human free will to accept or reject the Gospel is nowhere in there. The consistent application of these is that the Sunday School Gospel or street evangelism are lies – God doesn’t really love everyone or want everyone to be saved, people can’t choose to accept Jesus, Jesus likely didn’t die for the people you’re trying to preach to. It’s all God all the way, whether you’re destined for salvation or damnation.

Arminianism: Avoids this by adding Prevenient Grace to replace Irresistible Grace, God makes everyone able to freely accept or reject the Gospel.

Provisionism: Says Total Depravity is false, people CAN freely accept or reject the Gospel by default, it’s the closest to bare basic Christianity – no extra philosophical ideas required.


September 7, 21

Prophecy is one immediate objection to Open Theism. If God doesn’t / cannot / chooses not to know the future (depending on the variant), how can God give accurate prophecy?

Alan Rhoda’s responses are:

1) Some prophecies are special cases where God will do it regardless of what humans think or feel about it, ironically cites Isaiah 46 & 48 where God says He declares the future – they will happen because God Himself directly accomplishes it. [NB: I have also read at least one Open Theist who says God DOES use mind control in a few specific cases, to ensure certain events happen such as the crucifixion.]

2) Some are because God knows people so well, He knows what they will do and how they will respond (e.g. Jesus with Peter’s denial). Not as strong as Middle Knowledge, more like my analogy of Batman predicting Joker’s next move than Dr Strange’s checking 14,000,065 futures.

3) Some are because God intervenes to affect people’s decisions, not mind control but like how we can ‘make’ people angry or happy or afraid through mundane actions (e.g. showing up to threaten Balaam, sending a spirit of fear onto the Canaanites). Again, this is Batman territory.

4) Categorical predictions that are actually conditional, God announces things that He will change if the people repent (e.g. Nineveh in Jonah, Hezekiah’s).

I’m not an Open Theist (yet – I always try to keep myself OPEN to all data!), but it’s important to steelman arguments.

But also:

This kind of extremely bad outcome, even if possible, is nevertheless extreme unlikely

Forgive me but this doesn’t exactly give me confident assurance that God will fulfill solemnly sworn promises.


September 7, 21

I’ve been thinking about all the minutiae laws in the Mosaic Code like not using two types of thread or not boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk, and maybe it’s meant as a test of Chesed (Believing Loyalty) in preparation for even more ‘ridiculous’ tests of faith.

If the Jews won’t obey and believe YHWH on something ‘dumb’ like those laws, would they really obey and believe when YHWH asks them to take something like Two Powers in Heaven, or the Trinity, or YHWH dying but also still in heaven and by believing this you get saved?

Maybe some things cannot be made sense of by YHWH’s intentional design. Logic and philosophy fail because YHWH requires us to take a Chesed step of faith across the gap of credulity.

I’m currently thinking that it’s fine to leave it at MYSTERY for how God’s future omniscience and sovereignty is true while also real human freewill agency is true.

Just like how it is a MYSTERY how things like the Trinity, Jesus is both man and God, God is eternally uncreated (this one really hurts my brain trying to envision), God made everything out of nothing…

(If anyone disagrees that these things are MYSTERY, they should cite a model of how the Trinity works that everyone accepts)


September 7, 21

Proverbs 14:6 is always used by Calvinists to argue that God made the wicked for the purpose of being destroyed, ie unconditional reprobation.

But looking at the word ‘made’ (paal), it is NOT the word for ‘created’ (bara) in Gen 1:1. Instead, by looking at other occurrences it can mean do, work or ordain:

So Proverbs 14:6 more correctly is saying that God has ordained the ultimate end, the final destination – the pre-destination – for everything, which includes the wicked being headed to destruction (hell) – but this doesn’t mean God created some people just for the sake of destroying them, nor does it ever say that God determined some people to be wicked (the rest of the proverb warns us not to choose evil!)

Above: Dr Michael Heiser


August 6, 21

Some background to the creation of the attached meme.

It is commonly acknowledged that 2 Peter 2 and Jude reference 1 Enoch in their mention of ‘angels sinning’. For those not familiar with it, 1 Enoch takes the ‘heavenly beings’ view of the Sons of God in Gen 6:1-4 and greatly elaborates on their activities. In particular, they sin by procreating with human women and corrupting humanity with forbidden destructive knowledge & technologies (kind of like what people say about aliens now, but I digress!). For this they are punished with imprisonment. Even Jesus and Revelation possibly reference 1 Enoch which has the lake of fire for rebel angels.

This has led to the debate over whether 1 Enoch should be considered part of the inspired canon. Or maybe only parts of it are true, the parts that the New Testament cites – after all, 1 Enoch also has things that surely cannot be accepted like Enoch being the Messiah!

One notion is that Peter and Jude are using 1 Enoch’s material as a ‘sermon illustration’ – much like Jesus’ parables, referencing commonly known stories or experiences to make a theological point, but without assuming any of it actually happened. In modern times, preachers often do this with pop culture – for example, referencing the latest movies or series. This doesn’t mean that they consider the events of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones to be actual history!

Which leads me to Dr Strange, because his looking into the outcomes of 14,000,605 possible futures has often been used by Molinists as a way to explain God’s Middle Knowledge.

And looping all the way back to 1 Enoch now… If 1 Enoch should be considered canonical just because several New Testament books reference it, then the sheer amount of Molinist referencing of Dr Strange should eventually get the MCU canonized!


August 3, 21

Context: Tim is talking about his book, which derives from his thesis done in a strongly Reformed college and submitted to a staunchly Calvinist board – so if anything was amiss in his research and claims about Reformed writings, they’d have shot it down!

42:00 Quote, not a few of the proponents and critics of the Reformed doctrine of free choice and divine willing have confused the specifically soteriological determination of the Reformed doctrine of predestination with a divine determinism of all human actions, end quote.

43:26 You know I surveyed everybody from Augustine to Aquinas and the pre-Reformation and then I started with, I went from Luther and Melanchthon, Calvin, all the way through to Dort. And then I did post-Reformation and studied Jonathan Edwards. Seems to me that the only one of them who consistently and clearly affirmed Exhaustive Divine Determinism was Jonathan Edwards. So I think many of these EDD folks who we see today, I want to call them Calvinists, I call them Edwardians because they really seem to oppose much of what Calvin, not to mention Luther and Melanchthon and others said.

45:24 The name that always comes out in trying their best to form a coherent doctrine of determinism is Edwards. Which funny enough was very philosophical in his approach to it. I mean, so you know you’re not fighting a bunch of Biblical theological arguments for determinism off of Edwards, you’re gonna get some good philosophy.


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’:

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


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).


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

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