Saturday, October 25, 2008

More on Calvinism and Determinism - Disambiguated

Godismyjudge (GIMJ) has provided a new entry in our on-going discussion on Calvinism, Molinism, and "determinism." (link) For those interested in that discussion (perhaps only GIMJ), I've responded below.

GIMJ wrote:
Turretinfan responded to my post on Calvinism and Determinism. (link) The purpose of my post was to point out that Calvinists are determinists and exhort people to check not only their soteriology but also their philosophy against scripture. Turretinfan’s response is odd, because at first he at first tries to put some space between himself and determinism, but then he argues forcefully for determinism and against libertarianism (the opposite of determinism). I didn’t intend the term “determinist” to be a pejorative, and if one is a determinist, I have no idea why they should be ashamed of it. As for Turretinfan’s concern that people don’t understand determinism or the subcategories that fit under the umbrella of determinism, I suggest the solution is not hiding facts, but rather examining them.
I answer:

a) It still looks like the purpose of GIMJ's post was to label Calvinists "determinsts," which is confusing at best.

b) The reason not to like the term "determinist," is because it is linked in the popular conception with mechanical/physical determinism.

c) The idea that Calvinistic "philosophy" should be compared to Scripture is fine, of course. One of the points I've brought up time and time again is that Calvinistic philosophical is directly drawn from Scripture, in contrast to the specially pled philosophy of its main opponents: Molinism/Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism/Pelagianism.

GIMJ wrote:
I wasn’t denying that under Calvinism, God appoints the means. If anything, this idea makes Calvinism even more deterministic, not less so. This is exhaustive determinism. But I didn’t consider the means relevant because Calvinism teaches that God decrees the end logically prior to the means. All I was saying was that under Calvinism, we are not the reason God chooses us.
(a) That we are not the reason God chooses us has nothing to do with determinism.
(b) The idea that "God decrees the end logically prior to the means" is true of any system of thought in which God degrees the end, since means are not means without an end.
(c) Again, whether this makes Calvinism "more deterministic" (as though determinism has degrees, which is an interesting idea in itself) is not really the issue. One has to deny Scripture to deny that God decrees both means to an end and the end itself.

GIMJ wrote:
Yes, but I suspect that your very concept of “actual sufficiency” with respect to a counterfactual future (i.e. the salvation of the non-elect) entails a counterfactual past. When determinists claim we are able to do otherwise, if we had chosen to, or we are able to choose otherwise, if we had wanted to; they are defining “ability” in terms of a counterfactual past. For more please see here.
(a) No. 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.
(b) The question of people's choice is really irrelevant to the issue of Christ's sufficiency. If only Paul had been elected, Christ's death would have been exactly as sufficient as it is in reality.

Can Christ save the reprobate? Under Calvinism, in one sense He can and in another sense He cannot. The sense He cannot is obvious. Given the Father didn’t elect them, Christ would almost have to “freak out” and run contrary to the Father to do so. Obviously that can’t happen. But the sense in which He can relies on a counterfactual past in which they were not reprobate.
(a) This is also true of Molinism. In one sense He can and in another sense He cannot.
(b) The sense in which He can also relies on a counterfactual past in Molinism: a counter-factual past in which he did not forsee what he has foreseen, and in which the real future to be was not selected from among all "possible" futures.

Molinism is a side issue, and has nothing to do with Calvinists being determinists or not.
Logically, that is true. Polemically, it is not. On the one hand, if you are going to apply a confusing label to the other side, you should be prepared for them to point out that the same label, in the same sense, applies to you. On the other hand, since Molinism generally presents itself as an alternative to determinism, it is fair to point out that commonalities between Calvinism and Molinism cannot (if Molinism's claim about itself is true) be evidence of determinism.

That said, I don’t mind a good rabbit trail. A few preliminaries on Molinism…
As I'm preparing some more detailed posts on the subject of Molinism, I'm going to severely curtail my own journeys down those rabbit-trails. Instead, I'll limit myself to a few observations.

The first thing to note about Turretinfan’s points on Molinism is that the current reaction to Molinism has done a 180 from the historic reactions. Today, people claim that the distinctions between Molinism and determinism are so subtle (if they are distinctions at all) that Molinism is a “veiled determinism”. Arminius and Molina were not charged with “veiled determinism”, they were charged with heresy.
(a) If heresy and determinism are 180 from each other (as GIMJ appears to claim), then I guess I'm glad to be charged by GIMJ with determinism (rather than heresy).
(b) GIMJ seems to have overlooked the distinction, mentioned in passing in my post, between determinism properly defined and determinism broadly defined. 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).

Getting back to the rejoinders:
GIMJ wrote:
That would be true, but Molinists deny predeterminism. Rather we teach predestination. In general, predestination is about “the plan” or “the goal” and predeterminism is how that goal is obtained. Perhaps you didn’t mean that Molinists teach predeterminism, but rather you meant that Molinism leads to predeterminism. But in that case you would need to form a reductio ad absurdum argument (link).
(a) 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. That is the one future that will occur, and in order to speak about the "possibility" of other futures after the divine decree it is necessary to divide out the divine decree from consideration.
(b) It's not clear to me whether GIMJ doesn't appreciate this aspect of Molinism, doesn't agree that this is an aspect of Molinism, or just doesn't like the idea of using predetermination to refer to God deciding ahead of time what is going to happen. Only if the middle of those three options is the case is there really any substantive dispute. With respect to the last of the three options there is an interesting semantic dispute.

GIMJ wrote:
Fair warning, this argument has some hair on it…

Counterfactual pasts are not a distinctive of Molinism. Many libertarians that affirm God’s foreknowledge hold to some sort of “counterfactual past”. But there’s a difference between this and the determinist counterfactual past. As noted above, the determinist definition of the ability to do otherwise entails a counterfactual past. In libertarianism it does not. Rather, the hypothetical that man uses their ability entails a hypothetical counterfactual past. Again, in determinism, there is a definitional relationship between the actual ability and a hypothetical past. In libertarianism, the relationship is between the hypothetical future and the hypothetical past. This distinction makes libertarians suspect that the determinist’s ability is not actual, but rather hypothetical.

Further, in determinism the counterfactuals in the counterfactual past are causal forces influencing the person. In libertarianism the counterfactuals are not causal forces influencing the person, but rather things that are logically (but not causally) dependent on the persons’ future choice.
(a) What this is, from my perspective, is a lengthy admission that the cursory remarks in GIMJ's initial, objectionable post glossed over the issues.
(b) Whether the line of "determinism" should be drawn where GIMJ draws it is a semantic debate. It is an interesting one, perhaps, but it is not really germane to the objections I was raising. If the claim regarding Calvinism were that in Calvinism's man's ability is related to a counter-factual past in a different way than in Molinism - that's not particularly a problem - but that wouldn't lead to sweeping statements to the effect that "Calvinism is determinism applied to soteriology," it would lead to more precise statements.
(c) Actual ability unless/until used is hypothecated on something. Consequently, there is no meaningful line between "actual" and "hypothetical" ability as to unused ability.
(d) The use of terms like "causal forces" may be present to make distinctions, but it is not clear that the distinctions themselves make a difference in any way that helps Molinism.

God has contrary choice between good options. Same goes for us when we get to heaven. The unregenerate, without grace, can only choose between bad options. For more, please see here.
(a) As noted in my previous post, if that counts as not smacking of determinism, then perseverance of the saints doesn't smack of determinism and neither does total depravity.
(b) Furthermore, admission that "free will" is consistent with having only choice among (for example) good options, undermines the bulk of the "intuitive" arguments for the existence of libertarian free will. It may also undermine the more scholarly arguments - and it certainly undermines the "virtue morality" arguments.
(c) Moreover, once "free will" no longer requires that a person be able to choose between good and evil, there is no non-arbitrary reason to set ones stakes down at "among good options" or "among bad options."
(d) Ironically, Calvinism ascribes to God a real will that chooses good over evil, something that GIMJ's conception of God denies. Likewise, Calvinism ascribes to fallen (totally depraved) man a real will that chooses evil over good, something that GIMJ's conception of the totally depraved man denies. In fact, to avoid Calvinism, GIMJ has to innovate universal prevenient grace, so that man can have a will that (unlike God's will in GIMJ's conception) can choose between good and evil.

GIMJ wrote:
I am generally unimpressive. You on the other hand, are not a novice on Calvinism. Do you consider yourself a determinist and if so, what type of determinist are you? For a technical explanation of determinism see here and for general info on how a wide variety of info on how people use the term, please see here. =-)
(a) For those who haven't clicked through, the first link GIMJ provides is a link to a discussion of "causal determinism". That page begins, "Causal determinism is, roughly speaking, the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature." Obviously, this is not what Calvinism teaches. GIMJ should know that. If GIMJ is trying to assert that Calvinism = causal determinism as defined by that web page, he's simply dead wrong.
(b) The second link is to a search, using the Google engine, of all the instances on the World Wide Web of the term "determinism." I suppose he simply meant the link to the search (which yields about 2 million hits) to be humorous.

Response to Mike Burgess on Sola Scripture

As you may recall, some time ago I responded to comments by Mr. Bellisario (link to my response). Mr. Greco then responded to those comments of mine, and I provided a response to his comments (link to my response).

Now, Mr. Mike Burgess has responded to my response to Mr. Greco. Mr. Burgess states,
If I might draw some conclusions from your response, it seems that the role you acknowledge for teachers in the "sola scriptura" system includes determining which passages are more clear and which passages are less clear. That is, to say the least, convenient. The result is an admittedly ingenious system of rigorous logic with faulty premises.

As with other posts yo[u]'ve made, TF, you never seem to get around to saying why those who instigated and those who continue to propagate the Reformation (it is still going on, right?) can do what they do, or, in other words, where is their source of authority?
I'm not sure why Mr. Burgess concludes what he concludes, but he's mistaken.

A little background is perhaps in order:

Among the various components that make up the Reformed view of Scripture is the position of the perspecuity of Scripture. This position was enunciated by, for example, Chrysostom, who explained:
For not, like the Gentiles, for vain glory, but for the salvation of their hearers, did they whom God from the beginning deemed worthy of the grace of the Holy Spirit, compose all their works. The philosophers indeed, who are strangers to God, the masters of speech, the orators and writers of books, seeking not the common good, but aiming only at gaining admiration for themselves,even when they said something useful, yet even this an obscurity which they ever affected involved as in a certain cloud of wisdom. But the apostles and prophets took the contrary way, and exposed to all the clear and open declarations which they made as the common teachers of the world, so as that every one, by the mere perusal, might be enabled to understand what was said.
Of course that is not to deny that there are some parts of Scripture that are more difficult to understand than others. Anyone reading can see that God claims to have created the world in six days, but understanding the relation between the existence of evil and God's sovereignty over history is something that is more challenging - something not as plainly stated.

Thus, as Chrysostom says, responding not only to this issue but to similar objection to that of Mr. Burgess:
What do I come in for, you say, if I do not hear some one discoursing? This is the ruin and destruction of all. For what need of a person to discourse? This necessity arises from our sloth. Wherefore any necessity for a homily? All things are clear and open that are in the divine Scriptures; the necessary things are all plain. But because ye are hearers for pleasure's sake, for that reason also you seek these things. For tell me with what pomp of words did Paul speak? and yet he converted the world. Or with what the unlettered Peter? But I know not you say the things that are contained in the Scriptures. Why? For are they spoken in Hebrew? Are they in Latin, or in foreign tongues? Are they not in Greek? But they are expressed obscurely, you say. What is it that is obscure? Tell me. Are there not histories? For (of course) you know the plain parts, in that you enquire about the obscure. There are numberless histories in the Scriptures. Tell me one of these. But you cannot. These things are an excuse and mere words.
With that background in mind, we can more easily address Mr. Burgess' comments:

I. Mr. Burgess stated: "[I]t seems that the role you acknowledge for teachers in the "sola scriptura" system includes determining which passages are more clear and which passages are less clear." This is only partly correct. It is correct in that teachers (and learners) can determine that some passages are more clear than others. It is not correct to say that the teachers have a special role of infallibly stating that passage X is in the "clear" category while passage "Y" is in the "less clear" category, or that teachers have the role of identifying clear vs. less clear passages to the exclusion of others in the church.

II. Mr. Burgess stated: "The result is an admittedly ingenious system of rigorous logic with faulty premises." While I appreciate Mr. Burgess' compliment, I think the faulty premise here is mostly due to his misunderstanding of what I had written. Hopefully this post clears that up. But in case Mr. Burgess feels that this post does not address his concerns, it is worth pointing out to Mr. Burgess that he should identify what he thinks those faulty premises are.

III. Mr. Burgess stated: "[Y]ou never seem to get around to saying why those who instigated and those who continue to propagate the Reformation (it is still going on, right?) can do what they do, or, in other words, where is their source of authority" There are really two parts here.

a) The Reformation is an historical label. This label is usually applied to the period of time from about the time of Luther until the widespread establishment of Reformed churches. Thus, a convenient measure would be from October 31, 1517, until perhaps as late as writing of the London Baptist Confession of 1689. The doctrines of the Reformation, especially the "five solas" continue to be taught, but the period of reformation would seem to have been accomplished already.

b) There is a late Reformation maxim (perhaps no earlier than the end of the 17th century that speaks of the Reformed churches "Semper Reformata" (always reforming). The sense in which is this is true is largely that the Reformed churches continue to acknowledge the critical role of the rule of faith, Sola Scriptura, in the doctrine of the church. Accordingly, Reformed churches continue to submit even their highest creedal and confessional standards to the supreme authority of the Word of God itself.

c) The source of authority for the Reformed churches to do what they do is found in the Scriptures themselves. I'm confident I've said this before, but in case it was not clear, let me make it so. Scriptures command the elders to teach, so they do. Scriptures also command that all Christians study the Scriptures and use the Scriptures to provide a check on teachers. Indeed, Scriptures warn that there will be false teachers, necessitating a higher standard than the teachers themselves by which the believer can judge the teacher's teachings. For the sake of brevity I don't provide the exhaustive Scriptural proof here, but it could be provided if someone doubted that Scripture taught such things.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Calvinism and Determinism: a Response

Godismyjudge (GIMJ) has provided a post with the title "Calvinism and Determinism," in which his thesis is: "It seems Calvinism is simply determinism in the context of soteriology." (source)

I have a number of reactions to this sort of comment:

1) Let's suppose the thesis is correct. Then what? Applying the label "determinism" to Calvinism seems to be more an attempt to malign the doctrines of grace than to identify some weakness or error in them. It's a technique used by William Lane Craig as well - and equally as hollowly here as there. If Scripture teaches the five points of Calvinism they should be believed, whether or nor the label "determinism" applies.

2) What is worse, the label is not something with a well understood meaning. Typical readers are likely to confuse the broad philosophical category of determinism with the special case of mechanical or physical determinism. Godismyjudge doesn't mean mechanical or physical determinism, but he doesn't mention that in his post.

3) Still worse, the characterizations of Calvinism used to support the "determinism" thesis are inaccurate:

a) GIMJ claims that Calvinism teaches, "Our destiny is determined before we were born without having anything to do with us." This is not true, because "without having anything to do with us," is not an accurate representation. God appointed not only the ends but also the means. We are not chosen to glory because of something good in us, but we are chosen to be saved through faith in the Messiah.

b) GIMJ claims that Calvinism teaches, "The "possibility" of salvation [based on the sufficiency of Christ's death] is based on a different past then the actual past ... ." This is not true, either, because the sufficiency of Christ's death is a matter of intrinsic value. Christ's death is in actuality sufficient for all the sins of each and every person.

4) But the final nail in the coffin is that GIMJ's loose criticisms of Calvinism apply to classical Arminianism/Molinism as well:

a) GIMJ complains that "Our destiny is determined before we were born without having anything to do with us" is "clearly deterministic" but "our destiny is determined before we were born WITH having something to do with us," is no less deterministic. Either way, predetermination has been made. One way is divine determination, the other a synergistic determination - but both ways are deterministic in the broad, loose sense of the word employed in GIMJ's post.

b) GIMJ complains that "The "possibility" of salvation is based on a different past then the actual past" is "a hallmark of determinism" but since Arminianism/Molinism affirms God's prior knowledge of all history to come, any "possibility" of salvation for any person who will not be saved must be based on a past in which God knew something different than what he knows - i.e. a different past than the actual past.

c) GIMJ complains that "Denying contrary choice is another sign of determinism" but classical Arminianism/Molinism admits that God himself is unable to choose evil. If that is a sign of determinism, classical Arminianism/Molinism has it at the highest level.

d) GIMJ complains that the concept that "Believers can't fall away" is "Basically the same thing" as in (c) above. I cannot recall a quotation offhand, but I think it is fair to say that not only does popular Arminianism today teach "Once Saved Always Saved" but that classical Arminianism accepts the idea that those in heaven will be there eternally. Apparently, in the mentality behind this criticism of Calvinism, it's just unexplainably bad to suggest that the Shepherd is going to ensure that his sheep persevere in this life.

e) Finally, GIMJ tries to skate past Total Depravity but Total Depravity is analogous to Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints. If man is unable to come to Christ without grace, it should not be any more or less deterministic to say that man is unable to fall away from Christ with grace. Of course, the problem is that it is only in theory that classical Arminians accept Total Depravity: they negate its effects via the unbiblical gap-filler of Universal Prevenient Grace.

In conclusion, I wasn't impressed by the post. Was that due to something in the post (determination) or something in me (self-determination)? I think the former - perhaps GIMJ thinks the latter. Either way there is a reason for my failure to appreciate GIMJ's mislabeling of Calvinism, and that reason demonstrates that the laws of cause and effect apply not only to the physical world but also to the spiritual world. What do you give up if you embrace what GIMJ calls "determinism"? You give up something you (and everyone else) never ever uses - the power to choose otherwise than you actually choose. By embracing God's sovereignty over man, all you give up is a history (past and future) that doesn't exist. Whether you accept Molinism or Calvinism - the future is so certain that it might as well be written in stone (as noted here).


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Explanations of Psalmody's Decline

Jonathan Moersch at Detergere has provided an interesting, if cursory, discussion on the causes of the sad decline among American Evangelicals in the singing of the divinely inspired Psalms. (link)

H.T. to R. Scott Clark for pointing this out to me (link).


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Excellent Answer to Theodetic Issues

In the following video Voddie Baucham provides a remarkable and helpful theodicy:

His answer may not be philosophically rigorous, but it is helpful to refocus people on the important points. I must say that it is not an answer that had occurred to me previously, as a response to the question, "If God is so good, why does evil exist?" ... though perhaps it ought to have.

H.T. to the Truth Matter blog for bringing this to my attention (link).


Praying To Mary

Benedict XVI is reported (link to report) as recently praying to Mary: "We implore you to have pity today on the nations that have gone astray, on all Europe, on the whole world, that they might repent and return to your heart."

This is a prayer that is openly idolatrous. Mankind needs to turn, not to the heart of Mary, but to the Son of Mary, Jesus Christ the Righteous. The true and proper object of worship is God alone.

Matthew 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Benedict XVI is also reported as praying to her, "If you will not help us because we are ungrateful and unworthy children of your protection, we will not know to whom to turn."

This prayer demonstrates the underlying blindness of Catholicism. There is a place to which not only all of Europe in general, but Mr. Ratzinger in particular ought to turn for help, and whose protection should be sought: the throne of the Most High God, by the intercession of the Son of God, Jesus Christ with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

But though Jesus is the Son of Mary, and though Mary is greatly blessed to be the Mother of our Saviour, yet Jesus himself said:

Matthew 12:48-50
48But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

And again:

Mark 3:33-35
33 And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? 34And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

It is almost as though Jesus was concerned lest some might foolishly fall into the trap of worshiping his blood relatives! Indeed, here is Jesus' own condemnation of the error of adoration and veneration of Jesus' mother. They do not hold a special place in the kingdom of God, but are like all those who do the will of God. Yet Catholicism, as can be seen from this event, continues to elevate Mary improperly to the status of, in effect, a goddess to whom prayers are offered.

Benedict XVI did not even omit to provide a sacrifice to this de facto goddess. It is reported that, "In a gesture of filial love, the Pope then offered the Madonna a golden rose." One is reminded immediately of the similar offerings presented by the Philistines to the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament, particularly given Catholicism's claim (or at least the claim of her apologists) that Mary is the "ark of the New Covenant."

Finally, we should note that Benedict XVI is reported not to have left Jesus entirely out: "...The secret of Pompeii is the rosary: "This prayer leads us through Mary to Jesus." But, in fact, the Rosary leads men away from Jesus, as can be seen in the idolatry illustrated in the prayers above. Benedict XVI is reported to have claimed, "The rosary is a spiritual weapon in the struggle against evil, against all violence, for peace in hearts, in families, in society and in the world."

But, in fact, sadly it is an extra-Scriptural innovation: unknown to the apostles and unpracticed for centuries and centuries following Christ's ascension. The Early Church Fathers didn't say the Rosary, and neither should you: it is a tradition of men, not of God.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ventriloquist Theology

Some anonymous commenter has repeatedly tried to post the following comment on various posts on this blog. He seems to be taking the approach of the widow to the unjust judge - forcing me to face his criticism by relentlessly pursuing his cause. Since it wearies me so to keep hitting the "reject," and thereby avoid the crushing force of his criticism, I guess I'll have to face it head on.

He writes, "There is no mediator between a dummy and his ventriloquist."

This appears to be a variation on the objections we already addressed in detail in this earlier post (link). Along similar lines, we respond here:

a) So what? Dummies are not moral agents - they do not need to be reconciled to their ventriloquists. Humans are moral agents, and by sin they are separated from God. That's why they need an agent.

b) Of course, God is even more in control of his creation than a ventriloquist is in control of his dummy. As the Psalms tell us:

Psalm 33:9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

In fact, in ventriloquism a human merely manipulates a mindless dummy - but God is able to manipulate thinking human beings:

Psalm 33:10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

Though God does not normally treat us like a ventriloquist treats his dummy, we should take it as enormous privilege if he were to do so:

Exodus 4:15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.

Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Ezekiel 33:22 Now the hand of the LORD was upon me in the evening, afore he that was escaped came; and had opened my mouth, until he came to me in the morning; and my mouth was opened, and I was no more dumb.

For it is God who made the mouth and can both give and take away the power of speech:

Exodus 4:11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

Luke 1:20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

c) But probably someone will complain that analogizing a human to a mere dummy is degrading to man. Do you think so? Scripture takes things a step further and compares men to mere pottery:

Psalm 2:9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

Isaiah 30:14 And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.

Jeremiah 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Romans 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

d) In fact, God even refers to men as his axe, sword, or other hand instruments - even a cup, sometines:

Jeremiah 51:20 Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms;

Isaiah 10:15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.

Jeremiah 51:7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.

Psalm 17:13-14
13Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword: 14From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.

e) Thus, Job rightly attributed all the calamaties that came upon himself (including being robbed by wicked men) as being wrought by God's hand:

Job 12:9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?

f) And the truly wise will acknowledge that although a ventriloquist can only move the body of his dummy, the LORD can move the very heart of man:

Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

2 Chronicles 18:31 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.

1 Kings 18:37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

Psalm 105:25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.

Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Jeremiah 31:18 I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.

Lamentations 5:21 Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.

g) God can even harden the heart of man:

Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

Exodus 7:3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 7:13 And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

Exodus 9:12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.

Exodus 10:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:

Exodus 10:20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.

Exodus 10:27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.

Exodus 11:10 And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.

Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.

Exodus 14:8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.

Exodus 14:17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

Deuteronomy 2:30 But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.

Joshua 11:20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Isaiah 63:17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.

John 12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

g) Therefore, let us aspire not to be as human-like as dummies, but merely jewelry:

Isaiah 62:3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.