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Jan 09, 2012

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Eric

I may be missing the point of your parable in my Non answer?

No one knows who will and will not accept the call of God. As such, I'm not tracking with your point.

Sam "Knew" the man would not accept his offer, but kept offering. We NEVER know if someone is not going to accept the call to Christ so we keep making a sincere offer...even though we know that it is God who changes a man's heart.

I am reformed in doctrine now and I was "saved" thru a non reformed Baptist church in College.

Having been in both "camps" I was sincere in my evangelism as a non reformed guy and am still sincere in my evangelism as a reformed guy.

peter lumpkins

Eric,

Yes you did miss the point. Both Sam & Jack knew the man was not going to accept the offer albeit for different reasons. Jack knew he could not accept the offer because he didn't even know there was an offer due to his blindness and deafness not to mention his paralytic state to accept an offer were he to recognize it. Even so, Jack kept showing a blind man something he knew he could not see and telling a deaf man something he knew could not hear.

Sam, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. The man could see his lack, hear about his need potentially relieved, and take what was offered, but nonetheless willfully refused what was offered.

To make the story any clearer goes beyond my literary powers I'm afraid.

With that, I am...
Peter

boB Cleveland

In your parable, Sam and Jack knew the situation of the beggar's ability to see or accept. Applying the parable to Calvinism and witnessing isn't appropriate, as we cannot know the spiritual visual abilities of those to whom we witness. There cannot, therefore, be any differential in the sincerity of the witness, based on the subject's ability to accept.

peter lumpkins

Bob,

Like Eric, you're simply looking right past the obvious. The point here is not Jack and Sam but God!

To offer something to one we know is absolutely incapable of receiving--such as a newspaper to a blind-man or a CD to a deaf person, or the $5 above--we would actually call cruel, prima facie cruel. Yet that is precisely what strict Calvinists nonetheless imply about the way God "offers" the gospel as "sincere".

For them, He offers newspapers to blind men and expects them to read or else. He offers CDs to deaf people and expects them to listen without any capability to hear. He leaves help for a paralytic who can't reach out and get it but then condemns him because he didn't get the help though he couldn't get the help (obviously, this is about the supposed "genuine offer" of the gospel to the non-elect; the elect, after all, do get a genuine offer and all the apparatus to receive the offer).

So, contrary to your conclusion, yes, the little parable is applicable to Calvinism and non-Calvinism.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

BTW,

I asked a question at the end of the parable which, thus far, both respondents failed to answer: "Is Jack just as sincere in his offering the homeless man the $5 bill as is Sam?" Hence, for future commenters, I'd encourage you to answer that question first.

With that, I am...
Peter

Eric

To offer something to one we know is absolutely incapable of receiving--such as a newspaper to a blind-man or a CD to a deaf person, or the $5 above--we would actually call cruel, prima facie cruel. Yet that is precisely what strict Calvinists nonetheless imply about the way God "offers" the gospel as "sincere".

I agree that from a human perspective that would be cruel. But you have to understand that that is not from the perspective of God.

Following what I wrote on an earlier post. Would you agree with the atheist's argument that God is a very cruel God because he "Murdered" thousands up thousands of women and children throughout history, i.e. the flood...Sodom and Gomorrah etc.

You and I can certainly understand why the atheist thinks that God is cruel given the history of the old testament, but we know God was not cruel in his actions towards mankind throughout history.

As a Baptist you believe that the hidden Amazon tribe who has never been in contact with the world and has never heard the gospel will still be lost in the end. The fact is that it is impossible for them to believe in Christ who they have never heard of. They are lost before they are even born. As a Baptist you believe that? There is no salvation after death.

Here we have God knowing that the tribe will be lost and does nothing about it. That doesn't make him Cruel does it?

I'm not great at making an argument, I hope you can see the point I'm trying to make.

lmalone

Both are sincere but for totally different reasons.

Debbie Kaufman

Peter:

"Like Eric, you're simply looking right past the obvious. The point here is not Jack and Sam but God!

To offer something to one we know is absolutely incapable of receiving--such as a newspaper to a blind-man or a CD to a deaf person, or the $5 above--we would actually call cruel, prima facie cruel. Yet that is precisely what strict Calvinists nonetheless imply about the way God "offers" the gospel as "sincere".

For them, He offers newspapers to blind men and expects them to read or else. He offers CDs to deaf people and expects them to listen without any capability to hear. He leaves help for a paralytic who can't reach out and get it but then condemns him because he didn't get the help though he couldn't get the help (obviously, this is about the supposed "genuine offer" of the gospel to the non-elect; the elect, after all, do get a genuine offer and all the apparatus to receive the offer). "


It is you who have missed the obvious and the boat. As that is simply not true. My objection is to badger a person to salvation is cruel, unnecessary and relying on you to make the change, not Christ. Bullying and badgering is used a lot but it's unnecessary. Give the Gospel as the scripture teaches, give it multiple times, just don't turn it into a argument, or an inquisition.

Ron Phillips, Sr.

Peter,

No, Jack is not sincere in his "offer" of the $5, as the homeless man had no way to receive it. Jack knew the homeless man could not receive it. So how could anyone consider it to be a sincere offer?

Blessings,

Ron P.

lmalone

"No, Jack is not sincere in his "offer" of the $5, as the homeless man had no way to receive it. Jack knew the homeless man could not receive it. So how could anyone consider it to be a sincere offer?"

Ron, I was thinking along the lines that Jack, metaphorically speaking, was sincere because he was "obeying" the "word" which says to give the 5bucks. (representing the Gospel)

Whether the person could receive it had no bearing on Jack's perception.


(I don't understand Debbie's comment--for starters....who is "them"?)

Robert Vaughn

Peter, I take it that in your illustration Jack and Sam represent God rather than gospel preachers. Is that right?

It seems that we could have issues with either, judging with our common ideas of human sincerity. In the case of Sam, he knows that the homeless man will not accept the $5. In the case of Jack, he knows that the homeless man can not accept the $5. Having the knowledge that the end result will be the same in both cases, how can either one really be more or less sincere than the other?

Kevin Jackson

Good analogy. I got it right away (but then I'm not Calvinist). ;)

Debbie Kaufman

Lydia: I simply gave a quote Lydia and responded to it. You will have to ask Peter who the "them" is as it is Peter you don't understand. He is the one who I quoted. He is the one who used the word "them." Ask Peter.

Mary

lmalone, Jack and Sam represent different ideas about God.

And no one can ever understand Debbie so no worries there. She has a habit of not actually reading or attempting to comprehend what's been written. It looks as if she's continuing a rant from another blog that has no relation to what Peter wrote here.

God knowing what the response to the Gospel will be is not the same as God ordaining the response. God sincerely offers and the resposibility for the rejection or acceptance fall on the man. It's not the same as God arbitrarily choosing to allow some to accept the offer and leaving others completely incapable of accepting the offer.

peter lumpkins

Eric,

You write: "I agree that from a human perspective that would be cruel. But you have to understand that that is not from the perspective of God." What is not the perspective of God? To tease a blind man to read a newspaper to or the deaf to listen to a CD? Are you saying God would not consider us cruel if we did so?

Second, you ask, "Would you agree with the atheist's argument that God is a very cruel God because he "Murdered" thousands up thousands of women and children throughout history, i.e. the flood...Sodom and Gomorrah etc.[?]" I would not. Murder is normally considered killing without just cause. Hence, the assumption brought is that God killed without just case which I do not grant.

Third, you assert, "As a Baptist you believe that the hidden Amazon tribe who has never been in contact with the world and has never heard the gospel will still be lost in the end." I am not speaking of someone who's never heard. My parable has both men getting the gift openly, repeatedly offered. Hence, I do not see you point. Sorry.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

Robert,

There is a vast difference in knowing one will not receive a gift and knowing one cannot receive it. In the first, all that is necessary to receive the gift seems supplied. In the second, the apparatus to receive the gift seems intentionally withheld. Or, at minimum, callously overlooked and the gift continued to be dangled before a helpless creature.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

All,

Some of you appear to think this is a baited parable. It is not baited. Rather it is a straightforward little story. And, I dare say few, if any, of us would be pleased if we encountered a man repeatedly offering a known blind, deaf, paralyzed man a $5 bill. Most of us would consider it little more than a bad joke--an insincere tease.

Now if one cannot see a similar situation in Calvinism with the gospel being offered to the non-elect in very similar capacities, I fear you may misunderstand Calvinism.

With that, I am...
Peter

peter lumpkins

BTW, good for Ron, Kevin, et al who immediately saw the connection!

With that, I am...
Peter

Robert Vaughn

Peter,

Yes, there is a difference in knowing one will not receive a gift and knowing one cannot receive it. God creating a man He knows will not accept His offer is not the same as God creating a man He knows cannot accept His offer. But the question before us is not about the men but about the "offerer" and the sincerity of His offer. The question is whether neither, one or both offers are sincere. You write, "Both Sam & Jack knew the man was not going to accept the offer albeit for different reasons." So there is no difference in what Sam & Jack know. The "offerer" knows the same thing in both cases. Why do the men affect the sincerity when the knowledge of the one offering is the same in both cases?

peter lumpkins

Robert,

Robert: "The "offerer" knows the same thing in both cases"

If one is speaking about the *extent* of the knowledge, you are correct. If one is speaking about the *content* of the knowledge, you are correct. However, if one is speaking about the *meaning* of the knowledge as the knowledge affects the homeless man, you are incorrect, Robert. For the offerer to know someone is going to willfully refuse a genuine offer (Sam's case) and to know someone cannot receive an offer (jack's case) seems entirely wrong to be said, as did you, "the same thing in both cases". If I am mistaken, please inform me.

Even so, we're tit/tatting on the wrong point, Robert. You're going to have to explain how Jack's offer is just as sincere as Sam's when Jack knew the man had absolutely no apparatus to receive the offer but Jack continued to "offer" the $5 just the same (this is entirely different in Sam's case where the apparatus to receive the gift is not in dispute).

Of course, strict Calvinists have the added issue (not explicitly stated in my original story but implied in the blindness, deafness, etc) that the gift offered was not intended for the particular blind, deaf, paralyzed man anyway (i.e. Jack's case. In fact, the only way Jack's man could receive the $5 is to NOT NEED the $5! Instead he needed an apparatus to get the $5, an apparatus Jack knew was missing and actually could provide but refused while still "offering" the $5. How this can be considered "sincere" passes right by my left temple). In short, the $5 bill was not designed for him. If I am correct, what we have is little more than we call, in other circumstances, mockery or perhaps pretense.

With that, I am...
Peter

Colvin

Many Calvinists believe that sinners cannot accept the gospel because they will not to accept the gospel. It is not that they do not have the natural ability to do so, they do. Instead, they do not have the will or desire to do so. They do not want to, because they would rather continue in their sin. Therefore, many Calvinists--and all that I know--would be and would understand God as being more like the first example than the last. It is not that sinners do not hear or mentally understand the gospel that we are preaching, it is that they do not want it unless their hearts are changed by God's grace.

peter lumpkins

Colvin,

You write, "Many Calvinists believe that sinners cannot accept the gospel because they will not to accept the gospel". Who, Colvin? I think you have it backwards. The reason they will not is because they cannot unless you have Calvinists who actually exist who believe in independent wills. If they are dead in trespasses and sins (in the strong, Calvinistic total inability, sense), it stands to reason they will not because they cannot. Bur it makes no sense to say they cannot because they will not.

Nor are we speaking here of any imposed "natural" ability. You're reading far too much into the circumstances I'm afraid.

And, I'm sure you'd love to be in the first example since it's prima facie obvious Sam offers a sincere gesture. It's not so obvious, however, Jack does. Even so, it still looks like to me Calvinism fits squarely into Jack's circumstances.

With that, I am...
Peter

Colvin

Peter,

I would argue the overwhelming majority of those belonging to the New Calvinists would argue that sinners cannot respond to the gospel, because they will/desire not. When they speak of blindness and deadness, it refers to the moral depravity of the sinner, not a sinner's inability to hear the gospel or even mentally understand the gospel. They can hear it and understand it, but they cannot receive it, because, apart from Christ, they do not will to receive it. This seems to put them closer to the first example and far from the second. This was Jonathan Edwards's position and the position of the evangelical Particular Baptists like Fuller, Carey, and Hall. This is the position of Piper. Edwards, Fuller, and Piper are all influential for the New Calvinists on this particular doctrine.

I invite any Calvinist who disagrees with the statement "Sinners cannot respond savingly to the gospel, because they will not" to say so. I do not want to argue with you, if you do say so. I am just curious if there are any out there at all.

peter lumpkins

Colvin,

For the record, I'm not the least interested in arguing with you. I hope that's clear.

What remains unclear is the switch often displayed and obviously expressed by your comment, Colvin--the switch between 'cannot' and 'will not'. If a person has total inability to receive the gospel, as in dead in trespasses and sin, precisely as Calvinists routinely define it, then one simply cannot consistently say, a person "cannot" receive a free gift for the simple reason he or she "will not" receive it. This is double talk in my view.

On strict Calvinists' on terms, a person does not receive the gift or even will not receive the gift because the will, like every other spiritual apparatus is unable to respond. It has no capacity to respond. Nor can it spiritually understand the gospel. It cannot respond because it has not the spiritual equipment to respond. It must have divine, irresistible equipment infused.

Like I said to Robert, for strict Calvinists, Jack's man didn't need the $5 bill; it wouldn't have done him any good anyway. Rather he necessarily had to have the proper apparatus to receive the $5, an apparatus he lacked and about which Jack knew he lacked...an apparatus only Jack himself could give. For my part, I do not think that bids well for Strict Calvinism's sincere "offer."

With that, I am...
Peter

Colvin

Peter,

We will just have to agree to disagree. My argument is that the parable does not accurately display what Calvinists believe. You make it clear that neither Sam's homeless man nor Jack's homeless man will receive the five. Sam's homeless man will not receive it, not because he cannot see it, but because he despises it. Jack's homeless man will not receive, because he does not even know it is being offerred to him, because he can't see it. This is not the position of most Calvinists. Calvinists believe that, like Sam's homeless man, a person can hear about the gospel and understand the gospel and yet hate it and reject because he does not want it. Yes, he cannot respond because he does not want to respond. He will not respond with God's efficacious grace. I am not asking your to change your position, just utilize a parable that works.

peter lumpkins

Colvin,

I have no problem in "agreeing to disagree". And, we could have left it at that. Instead, you insist that you're not asking me to change my position, but to just utilize a parable that works after offering a fairly strong defense of your view. So much for just "agreeing to disagree" (wink, wink).

The fact is, I see no reason to believe the parable doesn't work:

1) "You make it clear that neither Sam's homeless man nor Jack's homeless man will receive the five." Agreed

2)"Sam's homeless man will not receive it, not because he cannot see it, but because he despises it". Not quite. Yes, Sam's homeless man "sees" but also he lacks nothing which prevents him from either understanding or receiving either what he sees or hears. But even in the face of all the necessary apparatus to the contrary, he despises it. Said another way, he possesses the necessary apparatus to take the $5 but thumbs it down. In addition, Sam's insistence upon his taking the $5 is prima facie genuine since he knows nothing prevents the man from receiving the gift but incorrigibility.

3)"Jack's homeless man will not receive, because he does not even know it is being offered to him, because he can't see it". Not quite again, I'm afraid. For even if Jack's man could have known about it, he lacked that which makes it possible for him to both understand and receive (effectually) what he knows.

4) "This is not the position of most Calvinists." I think it sums up strict Calvinism fairly well though analogies are never perfect obviously. No matter how much a person hears the gospel, their minds (hearts and wills) are blind, enslaved, even flat dead apart from the divine efficacious, irresistible resurrection to spiritual life strict Calvinists routinely sum up as "regeneration precedes faith". This necessary apparatus (as I've dubbed it here) remains a non-negotiable tenet in most, if not all, of the names you mentioned earlier. In short, Sam's man had been given the adequate equipment and he despised the gift while Jack's man needed the appropriate apparatus in order to accept the $5, something you strangely suggest is not what Calvinists embrace. To be more exact, strict Calvinists it would seem would have to affirm the necessary despising of the gift apart from the ones pre-selected to get the necessary apparatus to accept the gift.

5) "Calvinists believe that, like Sam's homeless man, a person can hear about the gospel and understand the gospel and yet hate it and reject because he does not want it. Yes, he cannot respond because he does not want to respond. He will not respond with God's efficacious grace." Call the missing piece anything you like, Colvin. I called it the necessary "apparatus" while you call it "he does not want" to respond. In your view it seems, Jack's man lacks a "want-er" if you will, but no amount of "seeing" "hearing" "tasting" "touching" or "moving" is going to make a shred of difference apart from Jack efficaciously giving the "want-er."

In addition, who could give Jack's man the necessary "want-er," Colvin? Is the "want-er" not in Jack's possession alone? Even more, Jack's man could not take the "want-er" but the "want-er" was invisibly given. Heck, Jack's man did not know he lacked a "want-er"! But if the "want'er" is exclusively in Jack's possession, and he intentionally withheld the necessary "want-er" from his man, how is it supposed to be viewed as sincere to continue offering him something he knows he cannot receive because he lacks the very apparatus in Jack's exclusive control? That's a strained sense of sincerity were one to ask me.

6) "I am not asking your to change your position, just utilize a parable that works." I'll be glad to write a new one when someone shows how the present one is not similar to the theology of its respective counterparts (i.e. Calvinism and non-Calvinism).

Thanks for stopping by.

With that, I am...
Peter

DW

Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former[b] preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

peter lumpkins

Not sure the point, DW--at least the applicability here. Sorry.

With that, I am...
Peter

Robert Vaughn

Peter,

When I wrote "the same in both cases" it was in reference to "having the knowledge that the end result will be the same," which is altogether true of your scenarios. I have not argued that both cases are exactly the same. I can't help it if some people feel better about one case than the other. The sincerity of the offerer has to be related his knowledge. It's easy to read the humanity of Jack & Sam into the situations. Jack & Sam don't represent us, who don't have absolute knowledge, but God, who does.

Let me back up and pull in from a different direction. I am not arguing that the "Jack" scenario doesn't have problems. I am adding that the "Sam" scenario does as well.

The Jack & Sam scenarios are designed by you to illustrate the problem that Calvinism has explaining "sincere offer". They do illustrate that. Various forms of Calvinism approach explaining it in different ways. If you move toward the "hyper" end of Calvinism, they reject the idea that there is any offer on God's part at all (i.e., Jack never offers $5 to the homeless man). This appears to be more consistent within the system, but then there are the problems with preaching the gospel to every creature. There is the "Andrew Fuller" explanation of the sincere offer -- sufficient for all, efficient for the elect -- which seems to reconcile election with evangelism. There are still problems with "sincere offer" from this position, though it satisfies many Calvinists who are of an evangelistic bent.

The thing is, though, your illustration inadvertently illustrates that Calvinism is not the only theology that has to deal with reconciling "sincere offer". Any who hold that God knows all the end from the beginning face a similar problem. If God knew eternally that "the homeless man" would not accept the $5, then He created the man with absolute knowledge that he will not accept something and yet offers it to him anyway in spite of that knowledge. How sincere is that? How can a man do something God knows he will not? Some deal with this by moving away from the absolute omniscience of God to "Open Theism" or "Simple Foreknowledge". To me those are worse options than dealing with (or living with) the seeming contradiction of sincere offer.

Perhaps others can feel better about the offer of Sam to the homeless man. I think some degree of that is in the "humanness" injected into the stories, and with which we read them. I cannot find that one offer is more or less sincere than the other when hurled into the realm of omniscience. In my world (which may indeed be a lonely one!) it matters not that I overcome the conundrum of "sincere offer", but rather as a servant obey the master whether I understand it or not. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season. Preach the gospel to every creature.

peter lumpkins

Robert,

I appreciate your thorough answer. I would only add when you suggest,

"Any who hold that God knows all the end from the beginning face a similar problem. If God knew eternally that "the homeless man" would not accept the $5, then He created the man with absolute knowledge that he will not accept something and yet offers it to him anyway in spite of that knowledge. How sincere is that?"

is not necessarily well-grounded, unless you can show omniscient prescience is causal and therefore determinative in nature. So far as I know, no one has shown that to be so, and many reasons exist why it apparently is not so. Hence, the criticism "How sincere is that?" hardly follows.

With that, I am...
Peter

lmalone

Well, I was off by a million miles! I am thinking "people" when you were referring to God. Duh.

Robert Vaughn

Peter,

I accept the possibility that my answer is "not necessarily well-grounded." But I don't think it necessary to "show omniscient prescience is causal and therefore determinative in nature." Whether God caused him to will to not accept the gift or he will not accept it because of his own depraved will, God knows he will not accept the gift and offers it anyway. The man will not, and ultimately cannot because God knows he will not, else God's knowledge is short of omniscient prescience.

I would also clarify one thing. I ask the question, "How sincere is that?" It is neither a backward commentary on what I think of God's sincerity, nor a rhetorical question intended to invoke a "not very." But rather it was intended to provoke thought for those who may not have wrestled with this problem. We can't just dismiss the issue with the idea that the theoretical possibility of receiving a gift (having a will) automatically translates into sincerity on the part of the offerer.

peter lumpkins

Robert,

You deny it necessary to "show omniscient prescience is causal and therefore determinative in nature" but then assert, “The man will not, and ultimately cannot because God knows he will not, else God's knowledge is short of omniscient prescience.” I’m afraid I don’t get it Robert. You say it’s not “necessary” to demonstrate or validate your assertion but assert it anyway. Unfortunately it does not work like that here, brother. No pulling propositions out of thin air and expect them to go unchallenged--especially highly-charged philosophical propositions like you've asserted. 

I’ll say once again: unless you can show a causal connection between what God knows is going to be and what God causally determines what must be, your point vanishes, Robert. Knowing what will be does not reduce to determining what must be. Certainty and necessity are not synonymous.

As for the clarity you offer on the question you asked, I think the way you stated it in the beginning, if I may be candid, was much clearer than the clarity proposed.

With that, I am…

Peter

Robert Vaughn

Peter,

I shall try to be brief so as to not weary your readers by continuing to go over the same ground (though brevity is not my forte). I assume it may be the use of the ability word "cannot" that led you to conclude that I have asserted omniscient prescience is causal while denying that I am saying it? Rather, I am simply making a logical conclusion based on omniscient prescience with no reference to what causes the man to will or not will. If God knows something will not come to pass, then it "will not" come to pass. Never, ever, under any circumstances. In other words, it ain't gonna happen, else God really does not know what He knows.

Either way we turn it, God knows that the "homeless man" will not accept the $5 and still offers it to him anyway.

Bob Hadley

Peter,


Obviously I understand your “parable” here. I really think BOTH can equally be applied to the Calvinist perspective, even though I know you are trying to make a point here to illustrate the implications of the Calvinist position taken to its logical conclusions in the latter. Since an unregenerate person can only sin, he lacks the “apparatus” (using terminology in the comments) to respond in repentance and saving faith to be converted apart from the regenerating work of God. Thus, both are equally depraved and neither WILL respond unless and until God does what He does to correct the problem. This is the Calvinist position.

In all fairness, (and this has taken me some time to get a handle on) it is, I believe an unfair charge to make Jack the quintessential Calvinist and Sam the poster boy for the non-Calvinist. As ministers, BOTH understand the Great Commission and I believe are diligently honest in their desire to see the lost saved and God glorified. IMHO, your illustration does NOT really do the argument justice and here is why: Sam really best represents us all and NOT Jack. Jack KNOWS the beggar is blind, deaf and paralyzed. While it is true that Calvinists see the unregenerate in this manner, the Calvinist preacher also KNOWS that God is the Great Physician and He can make the blind, deaf, paralyzed man whole at any moment and so he continues to preach the gospel to “come to Christ” just as you and I do. You and I know it is not what we say or do but what God does that makes an eternal difference in the heart of every individual and in that way, I have come to know that the Calvinist preacher is in his mind doing much the same thing that you and I do. Since it is God and God alone who gives the increase, He does what only He can do in the conversion process.

You and I are looking at the process that Calvinism presents and are saying in essence, “be consistent in preaching what you say you believe.” This is what your illustration aptly points out. It is true to say that the Calvinist believes the following statement: “a person is saved because God chose him to be saved and a person who is not saved is eternally lost because God chose not to save him.” In a sense, your parable accurately illustrates this point. However, the charge against the “well-meant offer” of Sam and Jack is not an accurate because the Calvinist or non-Calvinist for that matter, has no idea who will or will not respond to the invitation to come.

I have come to understand the Calvinist can consistently issue the same call to repentance that you and I do and do so without apology because none of us knows who will and will not respond. They simply argue the reason they do not respond differently than you and I do. I do not like their conclusions at all but I am now convinced that their reasoning for the lost plight of men really has very little to do with their desire to see God’s work of regeneration (whether it is pre or post repentance and saving faith) completed and their efforts are as genuine as mine and yours and I for one am glad that it is that way.


Grateful to be in His Grip!

><>"

peter lumpkins

Bob,

Thanks for your critique. I refer you back to the exchanges I had with both Colvin and Robert. I think you make the same mistake as did they by attempting to make the parable first and foremost about evangelists themselves (perhaps the title of the post implied that but I think I made it clear in the opening line the parable is about Calvinism's understanding of God--"the parable may offer some insight into why many non-Calvinists frequently express that, in their view, strict Calvinism insincerely offers the gospel).

The parable is not first about Calvinists and non-Calvinists' evangelistic encounters but Calvinism and non-Calvinism's view of God and the gospel. In strict Calvinism's understanding, I think Jack's "offer" to the homeless man accurately depicts a firm distinction from Sam's and consequently displays a prima facie insincere gesture.

The direct applicability to Calvinists and non-Calvinists is secondarily depicted as sincere or insincere from the respective understanding of the way salvation comes about--i.e. their views of God--election, predestination, effectual calling, irresistible grace, regeneration preceding faith, etc.

Hence, the question is not about whether we "know" or not who the elect is, a common response given to non-Calvinists when they raise objections to the sincerity of gospel offering. Rather, the strict Calvinist is faced with the tension of "sincerely" offering a gospel to a person when the view of God presented by the strict Calvinist has all the earmarks of insincerely offering a gift of which God has no intentions now nor ever of giving.

According to the way I understand strict Calvinism (note to my Calvinist bros--no, I'm not saying Calvinists themselves would concede they embrace this but only how I understand their theological propositions to work out), the Calvinist evangelist has, in effect, more concern and compassion toward the lost than does the strict Calvinist's God! In short, the strict Calvinist may be sincere in offering the gospel to all, but the God they portray by their theology holds no such sincerity.

Hope that helps some more. Grace, brother.

With that, I am...
Peter

Robert Vaughn

Peter: I refer you back to the exchanges I had with both Colvin and Robert. I think you make the same mistake as did they by attempting to make the parable first and foremost about evangelists themselves...

Since I am the only "Robert" posting in this thread (not counting "Bobs"), I wish to clarify this. None of my posts are from the standpoint of Jack and Sam representing evangelists. In the beginning I stated I took it Jack and Sam represent God rather than gospel preachers, followed by a question allowing clarification if that wasn't right. So if you or any read my posts as if the men represent evangelists you got the wrong impression of what I was writing.

Thanks.

peter lumpkins

Robert,

Thanks. My apologies. I was apparently thinking of “Eric” when I wrote that.

So, no, I did not misunderstand what you have injected into this exchange—determinism. It seems from your perspective, the only viable explanation of both scenarios Jack and Sam present is determinism:

“I am simply making a logical conclusion based on omniscient prescience with no reference to what causes the man to will or not will. If God knows something will not come to pass, then it "will not" come to pass. Never, ever, under any circumstances. In other words, it ain't gonna happen, else God really does not know what He knows…Either way we turn it, God knows that the "homeless man" will not accept the $5 and still offers it to him anyway” (embolden added)

Apparently, according to your “simply making a logical conclusion,” you’ve reduced reality to being all things necessary and no things contingent. Some might call this pure fatalism, Robert. Most Calvinists with whom I have conversed deny they hold to this view and, at least to their satisfaction, argue for some type of contingencies. But the way you’ve proceeded throughout this exchange seems indicative of necessatarianism.  It remains understandable I suppose if that makes some feel better about upholding a contorted view of divine omniscience.

In the end, while you conclude rightly that both Sam and Jack know that the "homeless man" will not accept the $5 and still offer it to him anyway, you appear overly confident that because they presciently knew, nothing else matters toward their respective sincerity or not. Both could be insincere or at worst equally insincere in offering the gift based upon sheer prescience. Never mind that when challenged about how prescience alone could cause what must be—or, if you will, in your words above, “Never, ever, under any circumstances”—you find yourself under no compulsion to explain. Nonetheless, most I think can see a radical distinction between knowing something will be as it works through possible contingencies (Sam) and knowing something necessarily must be because it had been causally determined to be (Jack). Now, I get it you may not see the difference, Robert. I get it, brother. But I see a magnificent distinction between Sam and Jack.

Consider: Sam knew for certain what the homeless man would do. Nonetheless, Sam did not cause the homeless man to reject his kindness anymore than Jesus caused those who crucified Him to reject Him (or anyone for that matter), albeit giving Himself as a real offering and sacrifice nonetheless.

Jack, on the other hand, also knows the homeless man will refuse albeit for much different reasons. Unlike Sam who had infallible knowledge of the homeless man’s response, Jack has much, much more. In other words, Jack knows the homeless man will reject the $5 because he decreed the homeless man to reject the $5. This is strict Calvinism, Robert, and I think you know this. Calvinism teaches that God knows the future because He causally predetermines the future. Jack’s homeless man was blind, deaf, and paralyzed because Jack decreed him to be blind, deaf, and paralyzed. He wasn’t elected to take the gift. In a real sense, for Jack’s homeless man, the $5 game was rigged from the get go. Hence, Jack knowing the homeless man could not accept the $5 because he had previously set in place a chain of cause and effect events which would make it impossible for the homeless man to accept the $5, but keeps poking the $5 in his face anyway becomes a much more potent scenario than Sam's case of knowing the homeless man's response but not predetermining, pre-decreeing, foreordaining the homeless man's response.

And, I think a perfectly good descriptor which captures the offer of a divinely-initiated proactive predetermined outcome in rejecting a gift--whose decreed design was rejection--is insincerity. I think most would readily conclude insincerity in similarly rigging the rejection of a gift offered by humans, and there seems no valid reason to assume we should view it differently when it seems divinity offers something insincerely.

It is for this reason, Robert, that I think you’ve been sorta “cheating” if I may say it like that, by substituting a concept more similar to foreordination than foreknowledge in the exchanges above, which, of course is perfectly consistent with what most Calvinists with whom I’ve conversed do—namely, for them, God foreknows the future because He foreordains the future. Foreknowledge and foreordination become virtually synonymous.

No difference?  I think most people can see a huge difference, Robert. But if some can “feel better” about the way they understand God’s causal determination of all reality as must necessarily be—including every evil of every stripe—then I can surely understand their feelings.

With that, I am…

Peter       

peter lumpkins

Bob,

Sorry, brother. Robert is correct. It was not the exchange with him (though that would not be a waste of time) but with Eric to which I was referring.

Grace, brother

With that, I am...
Peter

Robert Vaughn

Thanks, Peter.

Re determinism, causation, et al. as mentioned in your last post. Are you saying that unless God causes something to not happen, it actually could happen even though He already knows it won't?

peter lumpkins

What I am doing is flat denying what you've stated in various ways above, Robert: The man will not, and ultimately cannot because God knows he will not.... Your premise seems clearly to be that foreknowledge, by itself, appears to have some sort of decretal power of its own. This is what I challenged you to demonstrate, the challenge, if I recall correctly, you kinda blew off.

More importantly, you are fully aware that omniscient prescience in Calvinism does not significantly say anything about the future. Why? Because the specific reason why God knows the future is because He determines the future--all of it--in an exclusively cause-effect-cause-effect reality. Hence, oftentimes it's eventually revealed in conversation that what Calvinists and non-Calvinists have in mind about prescience are two distinct nuances. For non-Calvinists foreknowledge primarily has to do with knowing before--knowledge, or data if I may say so without being too simplistic.

For Calvinists, however, foreknowledge hardly stands in the same relationship to God because foreknowledge is primarily derived from predetermined, decreed actions which must necessarily take place in no other way than what has been unilaterally decreed by God Himself (a.k.a. "Jack"). Hence, God knows X must take place in the future because God determined X must take place in the future. In fact, the only thing that possibly could take place is X. That's why, for so many Calvinists, at least for those who honor consistency, foreknowledge morphs to foreordination in discussions like these--albeit sometimes very subtly, but the morphing usually becomes visible with enough chatting about it...

With that, I am...
Peter

Robert Vaughn

You seem predetermined to answer Calvinism rather than what I have said about foreknowledge apart from determinism.

You say for Calvinists "God knows X must take place in the future because God determined X must take place in the future." Isn't it true for non-Calvinists (who aren't open theists or some such) that "God knows X will take place in the future because God knows everything?"

"For non-Calvinists foreknowledge primarily has to do with knowing before--knowledge, or data if I may say so without being too simplistic."

No, that's not too simplistic for me. Then, is it possible for God to foreknow data incorrectly? Could He know the data that the homeless man is not going to accept the $5, and, then, oops, He is wrong, the homeless man did accept it after all?

peter lumpkins

Robert,

"You seem predetermined to answer Calvinism rather than what I have said about foreknowledge apart from determinism". I'm afraid I have answered what you said about foreknowledge, Robert. I based my last response on a direct quote about what you actually stated above about foreknowledge: "The man will not, and ultimately cannot because God knows he will not..." Your stated premise affixes foreknowledge as the basis for the man's inability.

"Isn't it true for non-Calvinists (who aren't open theists or some such) that "God knows X will take place in the future because God knows everything?" No X doesn't take place just because God knows everything. Goodness, gracious, Robert, that's precisely what I've been denying to you! You've repeatedly suggested a form of this--i.e., "God knows X will take place in the future because God knows everything"--as an option to my repeated protest.

No, God cannot know data incorrectly. Neither does exhaustive foreknowledge necessarily indicate a robust determinism, a determinism which, in your words, "Never, ever, under any circumstances" could be otherwise. Determinism without the possibility of contingencies cannot easily avoid the charge of pure fatalism--at least the way I see it. Anyways, there are more options than determinism to account for the way God's omniscience operates in relation to future contingencies. Molinism for example, would represent one viable option to raw determinism in accounting for the possibility of future free contingencies.

Even so, from the beginning, you've appeared, at least to me anyway, to reduce all acceptable options to determinism, even non-Calvinist options (like I posed between Jack & Sam). Consequently, I suppose that's why it's important for you to continue asserting the foreknowledge option--"The man will not, and ultimately cannot because God knows he will not..."--as a form of determinism--when you undoubtedly do not embrace that yourself. Instead like most every Calvinist with whom I have conversed, you most probably hold God knows the future because God determines the future. Infallible foreknowledge is derived directly from God's unalterable decrees about what necessarily must be.

As for me, I'd say this exchange has probably run its course. Thanks, Robert.

With that, I am...
Peter

Robert Vaughn

Peter, thanks for your kind indulgence of one who often doesn't know when to leave well enough alone. Taking your cue, I'll conclude and hope you will bear with one last post.

Despite similarities in various areas, I am not a Calvinist. I don't subscribe to a particular logical soteriological system, but rather have my own eclectic hodge-podge of ideas. Systems are what folks use to "tidy up" what they think God left messy. Molinism's middle knowledge of endless possible worlds makes interesting musing, but in the end it is philosophical mumbo-jumbo. God created this world! Molinism moves determinism to a different level. In choosing which "world" He will create, God chooses which choices we will make.

I enjoyed the discussion with you and have, I believe, profited from it. In fact, I have modified my thinking from my original thought about your scenarios, though I have not come to your conclusion. Rather than saying I cannot determine either one to be more or less sincere, I would now say that in the case of Sam that I cannot determine whether or not the offer is sincere based on the information available.

peter lumpkins

Robert,

Thanks brother. Parables we personally pen obviously carry with them the theological lens of the author, and consequently rarely favoring a view he or she does not embrace. Even so, we try! I think nonetheless they are good exercises in helping us think through some of the 'thorny' problems any theology faces. We may be saved but we ain't perfect!

I appreciate your lively interaction, brother. So much on blogs stoops to tit-tatting over non-issues like "I don't like your tone" or "you are a fundamentalist jerk" etc. You get the picture. By contrast, you kept it both clean and asked relevant questions not to mention stuck to what was significant about the issues surrounding the theme. And, that, Robert, was refreshing!

Grace, my brother.

With that, I am...
Peter

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