Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Miscellaneous Responses to Orthodox

A while back (this post has been three months, thirteen days in the making), Orthodox offered a set of comments that I never fully responded to. I take this opportunity to do so.

Legend: MP (Me, i.e. TurretinFan, Previously); O (Orthodox); G (Gene Bridges) and TF (TurretinFan)
MP: A command is not an offer. The imperative command to repent and believe is consequently neither false, nor an offer.
O: Repent, believe and you will be saved is an offer by any reasonable definition thereof.
TF: It can be viewed as an offer, it can be viewed as a warning, and it can even be viewed as a threat. It can even be viewed as an opportunity. Just about any command can be viewed those various ways, especially commands with promise (compare, for example, the fifth commandment: Honor thy father ... that thy days may be long ...).

MP: Furthermore, no one is able to be sinless, and yet the law does command that. The law is not a "false offer" because it commands what man cannot do.
O: Where is the evidence that man cannot be sinless? Man chooses not to be sinless, I don't see the evidence that man cannot be sinless. Christ commands "be perfect". It remains the aim. That nobody has done it doesn't prove that man cannot do it. Men would find it very difficult to do it, but not impossible.
TF: The fact that nobody has done it is strong evidence that man cannot do it. But the proof is in Scripture. Scripture explains that the natural man is at emnity with God.

MP: An affirmation of man's ability to obey the commands is an affirmation of Pelagianism.
O: No, Pelagianism says that man can do it without the assistance of grace. Since God promises grace to those who ask, clearly this has nothing to do with Pelagianism.
TF: It is has "nothing to do with" Pelagianism in the same way that semi-Pelagianism has nothing to do with Pelagianism. But, of course, that's not a defense of man's ability. If you are saying that grace is required, you are affirming man's natural inability.

MP:. If one recognizes that grace is necessary for man to obey, then one must realize that man's ability to obey commands has nothing to do with whether the commands are fair, reasonable, or the like.
O: Not so, because God freely gives grace to those who ask. God is not asking for anything for which he doesn't provide the means.
TF: That's a bit different position. Nevertheless, if the question is whether God provides the means, then the question is whether God must provide such means, given the command. If so, then he does not provide the means freely, and consequently it is not properly called grace, since man would have a right to demand such means.

MP: a) Men are condemned for their sins. It would be no excuse if salvation were not offered, just as it is no excuse that not all have the gospel preached to them
O: Paul says that God's qualities are made manifest so that men are without excuse. According to you it is unnecessary because men are without excuse anyway. Well, go argue with the apostle.
TF: God's qualities are not the gospel. Thus, this is a fallacy of equivocation. It is also fallacy of denying the antecedent: as a logical matter, simply because they are without excuse because God has manifested Himself to them, does not imply (as a matter of logic) that they would have been with excuse if God had not revealed Himself to them.

MP: b) Men are condemned for their sins. Lack of atonement is simply the fact of the matter for those who are not "at one" with God.
O; Again, go argue with the apostle. Apparently he thinks that knowing the basics about God is a prerequisite to not having an excuse.
TF: Same fallacies here as in the previous paragraph: and perhaps even more aggravated. The apostle doesn't address the issue of the atonement, and does not deny that men are condemned for their sins.

MP: I answer: That's not an accurate picture of Reformed theology. If anyone truly repents and believes, they will be saved. End of story.
O: You have to [add] that "truly" [] in order to exclude a whole lot of people who sincerely believe that they repented and believe but later fall away. You are forced to make "truly" to have a special meaning []. Except that the bible never lists such a group.
TF: The apostle James in his catholic epistle discusses that group: the group with a "dead" faith.

MP: I answer: That's a misrepresentation of the Reformed position as well as of Scripture.
a) The categories of hypocrites, self-deceived, and wolves-in-sheep's-clothing are Biblical categories; and
O: Hypocrites are not the categories under discussion. Don't distract from the topic by bringing in something else. What was under discussion was people who were sincere but then fell away.
TF: It seems O wants to discuss only the self-deceived.

O: As for "self-deceived", since repentance and belief are something that the self does within oneself, it's not a sensical object of self-deception. By putting that in there you open the floodgates to everything and everyone potentially being self-deceived.
TF: First of all, to deny self-deception generally would be foolish.

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Since sin is something that one does within oneself, any categorical barrier as proposed would necessarily conflict with the apostle's teaching.

To argue that this is a slippery slope, one must establish not only that there is a slope, but that it is steep and slippery. This argument can be defeated if there are fences in places to prevent the slope from being considered steep and slippery. In this case there are several fences: one is the various testimonies adduced in John's first catholic epistle, another related one is the discussion in James' catholic epistle.

O: And again, you introduce this wholly unbiblical category of people who think they believe but don't. A scary category to have in a theological system indeed.
TF: James addresses people in that category in his epistle. Those with "dead" faith. Also, we see that category in the parable of the sower.

MP: b) The parable of the sower provides a great lesson in the distinction between false and true faith.
O: In the parable of the sower, seeds grow up and then are choked and die. There's no suggestion they weren't valid seeds to begin with.
TF: You don't seem very familiar with the parable. In the parable, the seed is the Word of God. The various hearts are the various grounds. The good ground is one, but there are several types of bad ground.

MP: I answer: It's really not dependent on any Reformed order of salvation
O: Yes it is, because your claim is that since the ice-cream man controls who steps into his shop he can put out the sign offering to all. But if that ordering is challenged, your argument ceases.
TF: I honestly don't understand this objection - perhaps it is because the context is missing.

MP: but even if it were, that would be fair game, given the nature of the counter-objection.
O: When you are trying to prove a doctrine not explicitely taught in scripture, it doesn't look good when you use as justification another doctrine not explicitely taught in scripture. That's why I say you've got so many precepts built upon precepts you can't see the bottom any more.
TF: That remark is not accurate or handy. The hidden assumption that every doctrine has to be found explicitly in Scripture is not a tenant of either yours or mine. And - as well - it seems you are mistaking rebuttal for proof.

G: This is a classic case of Orthodox utterly ignoring what he has been told in the past
O: No, it's a case of you having an incomprehensibly complicated system that isn't taught in the bible.
TF: Sometimes incomprehensibility is in the mind of the beholder. I think this is such a case, because I know plenty of people who comprehend the system. As for it not being taught in Scripture, we both know that arguments have presented showing that it is taught in Scripture. Simply stating to the contrary is a dispute, but not argument.

-Turretinfan

6 comments:

GeneMBridges said...

O: Where is the evidence that man cannot be sinless? Man chooses not to be sinless, I don't
see the evidence that man cannot be sinless. Christ commands "be perfect". It remains the aim.

That nobody has done it doesn't prove that man cannot do it. Men would find it very difficult to do it, but not impossible.
TF: The fact that nobody has done it is strong evidence that man cannot do it. But the proof is in
Scripture. Scripture explains that the natural man is at emnity with God.


Indeed, Orthodox likes to try to blunt one Scripture with another, but it is extremely difficult to blunt statements as explicit about the inability of the natural man, like Romans 8:8:..."those who are in the flesh cannot (eg. are not able) to please God." Question for Orthodox, if men can of their own
ability be perfect, how do you explain those explicit terms?

You have to [add] that "truly" [] in order to exclude a whole lot of people who sincerely believe
that they repented and believe but later fall away. You are forced to make "truly" to have a special
meaning []. Except that the bible never lists such a group.


Here, Orthodox makes the same innane comments he made at Tblog. His argument failed then as
well. The Bible draws a distinction between true and false believers, true and false faith. We went over this is detail.

Also, one's feelings of sincerity are not a warrant for discerning whether or not a person's faith is true faith. Where in the Bible do we find a statement along the lines of "Test whether or not you are in
the faith by your feelings of 'sincerity.'"

TF: That's a bit different position. Nevertheless, if the question is whether God provides the means, then the question is whether God must provide such means, given the command. If so,
then he does not provide the means freely, and consequently it is not properly called grace, since
man would have a right to demand such means.


Well said. This is something many an Arminian would do well to consider as well. Why? In
Arminianism, UPG is necessary in order for men to have the contracausal (libertarian) freedom to accept or reject the Gospel.

Reader, note carefully the following things that are true as a result:

1. UPG makes the Arminian category of total inability, which they claim to hold in common with
Calvinists, cease to be a functional category. It's UNIVERSAL prevenient grace,and it is generally construed to be given to all men without exception and in equal measure.

2. As a result men are, they say, freed from the bondage of sin upon their wills. But this freedom
only goes so far, for it means that their wills are now free in a libertarian sense.

3. LFW is invoked as another way of saying "ability limits responsibility."

4. It's therefore true that if men don't have LFW, then they cannot be held accountable to God for
rejecting the Gospel.

5. Let's follow the argument then: If LFW is necessary for men to be held accountable on the basis
that "ability limits responsibility," and UPG is necessary for men to have LFW, then if men do not have LFW, they can demand it or hold God accountable for injustice. So, if that's so, God MUST provide the means (LFW by way of UPG) for man to have the ability to believe or not believe, given the command to repent and believe.

6. Therefore, man has right to demand such means, which thereby negates the Arminian
statement that they cannot boast due to UPG. The means (UPG) to the means to believe or disbelieve (LFW) in the agents (men) is no longer properly called grace.

As a corollary, their faith is no
longer a simple instrumental condition, it's implicitly a meritorious condition, conditioned in turn on UPG, which is not grace at all, for it is something all men can demand in order to be held
accountable for their belief or disbelief. This is why we say that they make "faith" into a "work."

Lucian said...

those who are in the flesh cannot (eg. are not able) to please God

Yeah, but those that are in the spirit, curiously enogh, are. (And I know what "cannot" means).

Turretinfan said...

Exactly, Lucian: that is the point.

:)

-TurretinFan

GeneMBridges said...

Yeah, but those that are in the spirit, curiously enogh, are. (And I know what "cannot" means).

And how does this constitute an argument against Reformed theology? Invoking this works against Libertarian freedom.

Let's see if you can follow the argument.

Orthodox made claims about mankind in general, and, committed to Libertarian Freedom, he says that men do have the ability to be sinless.

If that's true, then he could only do so from a regenerate state, given Romans 8's explicit statements.

And even then, there's a hitch in the matter, for Scripture does not teach perfectionism, and Romans 8 only speaks of persons in the spirit being able to please God. Paul's argument here is that it is only those who are "in the spirit" who "put to death the deeds of the body." This comes at the end of a greater argument for the progressive sanctification of the believer, which in turn has at its foundation justification by faith.

So, if you are going to invoke this text, are you going to argue for sinless perfection for the regenerate person as well? Where is the supporting argument? Orthodox argues that persons who apostatize. Why does one person achieve perfection and not the other, given the constraints of Libetarian freedom?

If you're going to invoke this text, will you also argue for justification by faith? Orthodox has elsewhere denied this doctrine.

For that matter, how can unregenerate persons believe? Unregenerate persons are "in the flesh," by definition. Does placing one's faith in Christ please God? I would hope you and Orthodox would think it does. So, if placing one's faith in Christ pleases God, and those who are "in the flesh" and are unregenerate cannot please God, then how can they believe?

Moreover, within the constraints of Libertarian freedom, why does anybody believe?

Lucian said...

Hi, Gene. (It's me).

Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27. Matthew 25:14-30. Luke 1:34-35. John 15:1-6. John 16:32-33; 1 John 5:2-5. 2 Corinthians 3:6; Philippians 4:13.

(This is how we view things).

Turretinfan said...

Lucian, here's how we see the same things:

Matthew 19:26
Mat 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Mark 10:27
Mar 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Luke 18:27
Luk 18:27 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

Matthew 25:14-30
Mat 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Mat 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
Mat 25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
Mat 25:17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
Mat 25:18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
Mat 25:19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
Mat 25:20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
Mat 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Mat 25:22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
Mat 25:23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Mat 25:24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
Mat 25:25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
Mat 25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
Mat 25:27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
Mat 25:28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
Mat 25:29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
Mat 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Luke 1:34-35
Luk 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Luk 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

John 15:1-6
Joh 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Joh 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Joh 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
Joh 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

John 16:32-33
Joh 16:32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
Joh 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

1 John 5:2-5
1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
1Jn 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
1Jn 5:5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

2 Corinthians 3:6
2Co 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Philippians 4:13
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

-Turretinfan