Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Response to Godismyjudge

Godismyjudge (GIMJ) has responded again (link). My reply, for the few still interested, follows.


I previously wrote: That we are not the reason God chooses us has nothing to do with determinism.

GIMJ responded: "I think most folks would disagree with this statement, but I will let them decide that and won’t argue this point further."

I answer: Since GIMJ has not provided a link, they wouldn't seem to have any reason to disagree with the statement, unless (as I suppose) they have a vague sense of what determinism is (the very objection I have to GIMJ slinging that term about).


I had written: As I already said, "actual sufficiency" has to do with intrinsic value. To build on the Scriptural analogy of redemption with a price, the price of Christ's death was enough to save an infinite number of people.

GIMJ responded:
This explanation wouldn’t be an issue if Calvinists only said the value of Christ’s death was sufficient for all. But they say Christ’s death was sufficient for all [meaning the value of Christ’s death was sufficient for all], while in the background, other aspects of Christ’s death move against Christ’s death being sufficient for all. Granted, these other aspects don’t “block” the value of Christ’s death from saving, but perhaps they make use of the value of Christ’s death in such a way that the reprobate remain unsavable. If the reprobate are unsavable, clearly Christ’s death was insufficient for them. Something more than the value of Christ’s death is required. This article suggest that the “something more” is intention, and that intention is implied in the phrase sufficient for all. (link) But whatever the “something else” is, if something more is required from X for Y, X is insufficient for Y. This is why I suspect you are speaking in a divided sense.

To my overall point of checking philosophy against scripture, are there any cases in scripture where Christ’s death is spoken of, meaning that the intrinsic value of the redemption price was enough to save everyone? I ask, because I don’t see Calvinists explaining passages like 1 John2:2 as “the value of Christ’s death was sufficient for all. Rather, I see them explain all texts about Christ’s death as pertaining to the elect alone.
a) GIMJ's argument glosses over the difference between sufficiency and savability. The price is sufficient to save, but is not used to that end. To go back to the ransom analogy, if the cost to ransom any and all captives is $1 Million, then a payment of $1 Million is sufficient for all, even if it is not intended or used to free all the captives.
b) GIMJ's criticism belies one of the problems we have with Arminian soteriology. GIMJ writes, "If the reprobate are unsavable, clearly Christ’s death was insufficient for them. Something more than the value of Christ’s death is required." Arminianism seems to be focused on making man merely "savable." But even this is only from man's perspective. In Arminianism, the death of Christ makes man "savable" from man's perspective, but not from God's perspective. From God's perspective, to borrow GIMJ's phrase, "Something more than the value of Christ's death is required." In point of fact, however, Christ's death makes men savable from Christ's perspective. If he offers his sacrifice to God on their behalf, they will be saved. Thus, his death (without more) makes men savable.
c) Intention is not something "added" to Christ's death to make it sufficient - it is not even, itself, the thing that makes the death of Christ efficient. It is the "joy that was set before him," as Scripture teaches. The act of offering is what makes the sacrifice efficient, and the Holy Spirit actually executes the effect in the life of the elect.


I had written: One of the objections in my post is that the term "determinism" was used in GIMJ's post in such a broad umbrella way that basically only the open theists are outside it (n.b. this is true only when considered as to effects, as proposed in GIMJ's post) and yet the term is popularly misunderstood to refer quite narrowly to mechanical/physical determinism and/or fatalism (neither of which corresponds to Calvinism). In other words, the word "determinism" can both be too encompassing (if we measure determinism by the places where Calvinism and Molinism overlap) and too limiting (since Calvinism explicitly rejects physicalism and fatalism).

GIMJ responded:
By saying only open theists fall outside of determinism, you are dismissing the entire Foreknowledge/LFW issue without engaging it. Are you looking for me to argue why foreknowledge doesn’t entail determinism? Isn’t that asking me to prove a negative? I stand ready to defend the citadel. I will not be drawn out into the field for a fight. If you want what’s in the keep, come and get it. I will be happy to kick down your ladders and pour boiling oil on you. But don’t stand in the valley and declare victory.
a) GIMJ's post was the ladder attempting to storm the citadel of Calvinism. If GIMJ had presented a meaningful definition of "determinism" in his original post, to avoid confusion, this particular dishwater wouldn't have been dumped on him from above. But the problem with trying to smear Calvinism using broad characterizations is that you leave yourself open for a nice shower of this sort.
b) I'm not particularly looking for GIMJ to argue why knowledge of the future doesn't involve "determinism." I'm indicating that his characterizations of what constitutes "determinism" are so broad as to rope in even views that purport to include LFW but also embrace divine omniscience with respect to the future.
c) GIMJ could try to duck this dishwater by characterizing "determinism" differently than he did in his opening post. He seemed to be trying to do that in the last post, but when he does that, most of the objections go away.
d) And that is the point, after all. If a fair portrayal of Calvinism had been provided in the original post, the present series of objections wouldn't be here. There would be no need for a shower of dishwater, if clods of dirt hadn't been lobbed at the castle wall.


I had written: Molinism is normally represented as God deciding to instantiate a particular future from among possible futures. This is one form of predetermination of the future.

GIMJ wrote: "Again, by saying the Molinist explanation of the decrees is a form of predeterminism, you are dismissing Molinism without engaging it."

It's easy simply to answer that this argument itself (like the previous one and the first one) simply dismiss the objections without responding to them. GIMJ hasn't bothered either to retract the original, objectionable post or to set forth distinctions related to Molinism that prevent it from being tarred by the same label GIMJ applies to Calvinism. On the contrary, using the same sweeping strokes, I've pointed out how GIMJ's own position, using GIMJ's lodestone, is determinism.


I had written: Actual ability unless/until used is hypothecated on something. Consequently, there is no meaningful line between "actual" and "hypothetical" ability as to unused ability.

GIMJ responded: "I disagree. Ability (whether it will be used or not) does not require a hypothesis. Projecting the results might. If he chooses A, B will follow. But the actual ability does not."

Despite GIMJ's disagreement, he's mistaken. One can see that he's mistaken from the fact that he conflates "unless/until used" with "whether it will be used or not." The two concepts are not convertable, though they are related. Ability unless/until used exists in hypothecation. Instantiation or prohibition removes that hypothecation.


GIMJ continued: "I had asked Turretinfan a question (well 2 questions) that he didn’t answer, so I will ask again: do you consider yourself a determinist and if so, what type of determinist are you?"

I answer: I think GIMJ needs to read my response more carefully. I indicated that under GIMJ's proffered definition of "determinism" (from the Stanford philosophy web site) Calvinism was obviously not determinism. Since GIMJ knows I am a Calvinist, one might expect him to make the mental connection that was there implicitly.

Furthermore, I have repeatedly noted that I find the label "determinism" misleading, because of the fact that people construe it approximately in the way that the Stanford philosophy web site roughly defines it. It's not a helpful or useful title, except for smearing.


GIMJ continued: "I’ll add a third. BB Warfield explains that the difference between fate and Calvinism is primarily that fate is mechanical and Calvinism is personal (link). Are you are with Warfield?"

I answer that from the same short and popular piece, Warfield stated in conclusion, "all the language of men cannot tell the immensity of the difference [between Fate and Predestination]." I would certainly agree that all the language of Warfield in that article did not tell the immensity of the difference, and that those who like to smear Calvinism tend to like to act as though the difference were minor rather than immense. I'm not with Warfield on everything, everywhere, but his piece to which GIMJ linked does help to clear up some of the misconceptions, even if providing hooks for folks to try to create new misconceptions.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


this in my estimation is the crux of all cruxes, the cross of all crosses in this debate and it is just a powerful force in our human nature to be "right" when God clearly says of those "most" right among us, even your most "rightness" is not sufficient to save you. God Our Heavenly Father without any equivocation say this: "My solution, and Mine only, Him Who I Sent", is the one solution to the polution, not this dilution which does not effect absolution of one's most rightness nor cause or affect the only "right" relationship God has stated clearly by Written Words, Our Bible and the men of God who Speak the Truth of God by His Love.

The crux as you wrote above:

"In Arminianism, the death of Christ makes man "savable" from man's perspective, but not from God's perspective."

Oh how powerful a force it is that yells loudest in my flesh that "my perspective" is right! I say in the Name of the Lord, "YUCK"! TO ME AND MY PERSPECTIVE. Yuck, yuck, yuck!!!