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Jan 22, 2013

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Christiane

Let's hear it for the wisdom of the eastern Fathers, without which Christianity would lose a very biblical perspective on Christ as 'the Physician'. But even so, we can credit some of the wisdom of the Western Fathers for a balancing insight.

In that spirit, thank you for mentioning this:

"The Greek fathers saw sin more of an infection than a legal liability.6 The legal liability (guilt) was an innovation of Augustine. Even his spiritual father, Ambrose of Milan, held that though corruption is transmitted to his offspring, the guilt belongs solely to Adam.7"


And from Ambrose, we have this treasured insight:

"“For he who endeavours to amend the faults of human weakness ought to bear this very weakness on his own shoulders, let it weigh upon himself, not cast it off. For we read that the Shepherd in the Gospel Luke 15:5 carried the weary sheep, and did not cast it off. And Solomon says: “Be not overmuch righteous;” Ecclesiastes 7:17 for restraint should temper righteousness. For how shall he offer himself to you for healing whom you despise, who thinks that he will be an object of contempt, not of compassion, to his physician?
Therefore had the Lord Jesus compassion upon us in order to call us to Himself, not frighten us away. He came in meekness, He came in humility, and so He said: “Come unto Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” Matthew 11:28 So, then, the Lord Jesus refreshes, and does not shut out nor cast off, and fitly chose such disciples as should be interpreters of the Lord’s will, as should gather together and not drive away the people of God. Whence it is clear that they are not to be counted among the disciples of Christ, who think that harsh and proud opinions should be followed rather than such as are gentle and meek; persons who, while they themselves seek God’s mercy, deny it to others, such as are the teachers of the Novatians, who call themselves pure.”

St. Ambrose

Both Augustine and Ambrose are Western (Latin tradition) 'Fathers of the Church'. Both are Doctors of the Church.
Both offer observations into the concept of 'original sin' that helped to formulate the orthodox doctrine.

I would caution people who study Augustine to read ALL of his writings and, in doing so, they may find that 'paradox' is explored more deeply than if they isolate any one section exclusively and offer that as 'his position'. It seems some who embrace determinism today do not have a full grasp of Augustine. I'm not surprised by this, but as a Catholic, I would ask for them to explore him further in the totality of his written work.


Ben Simpson

Thanks for the enlightening post! Great explanation of original sin & guilt. I guess I'll wait for 3b to see how Augustine fumbled Scripture. So far, I'm saying "yes" and "amen" and am so thankful for Augustine's theology!

Ken Hamrick

Jim,

You stated, "It is well-known in Augustinian teaching that he believed Adam and Eve had the free will not to sin; but once they sinned, they no longer possessed the freedom not to sin (non posse non peccare)."

Is there not a difference between volitional freedom and moral freedom? Not even Augustine would claim that the sinner has an excuse for his sin, as if the thief had no choice but to steal (which would be a lack of volitional freedom). Rather, in every temptation, the sinner is faced with a choice for which he has a volitional freedom to sin or not; but he has no moral freedom, since his wicked heart cannot want anything other than that which is selfish (he who is wicked cannot become oriented toward the good by mere volition). Such a lack of moral freedom provides no excuse.

You stated: "As Peter Thuesen writes, 'Indeed, in Augustine's mind, predestination ultimately came down to this: all humans are born terminally ill with sin and thus deserve damnation.'4 Therefore, every human is born utterly sinful and under the sway of desire (concupiscentia)5, as well as justly condemned to eternal damnation due to the inherited guilt of Adam's sin."

Thuesen's sounds slightly off: all humans deserve damnation not because they are born terminally ill but because they participated in Adam's sin. As for inherited guilt, it is more accurately a participatory guilt (culpa participationes).

More later...

Jim G.

Hi Christiane,

Thanks for your comments. I think any fair reading of Augustine (in the whole of his writings) will come to two conclusions:

1. Augustine made a real change in the way he viewed nature and grace in about 395. He made a 180-degree turnaround on the subject and even admits so in his later writings, including his "Retractations."

2. Augustine did employ "paradox" in his writings. From my vantage point 1500+ years later, I would say he was internally inconsistent in his theology. He wanted to maintain his views on nature and grace but was uncomfortable with where they led. He tried his best to have his cake and eat it too. In my opinion, he did not succeed, but my opinion is far from universal.

Jim G.

Jim G.

Hi Ken,

I don't think Augustine would be in agreement with you in the way you divide moral and volitional freedom, at least not all of the time. Augustine in numerous places concedes (and thus his own theological inconsistency) that we are capable of choosing that which is morally good. I don't think such a rigid view of the absence of moral freedom holds up under our own experience, either. As humans, even unsaved and wicked humans, selfishness is not the only motive for action. To say so is to grossly oversimplify the inner workings of the human soul. As has been written before, the guards at the Nazi death camps genuinely loved and were kind to their wives and children. I'm not convinced that we possess the ability to so discern our own thoughts and intents in such an exhaustive way.

As I read Thuesen, I believed that he equated the "terminal illness" with participation. I believe in context that was his intent, anyway. I don't think he was trying to say something Augustine did not say, at least that is how I read him. Thanks for your comments.

Jim G.

Jim G.

Hi Ben,

Thanks for the encouraging words. I'm trying to remain as faithful to Augustine as I can. If I stray, I'm sure someone will correct me. He's not always the easiest person to read.

My point throughout much of this series of posts is not whether Augustine is scriptural; it is that he employed a novel reading of Scripture - one that was not employed by any of the Christians who came before him. No Christian prior to Augustine saw in Scripture what Augustine saw on the subject of nature and grace. It is precisely the novelty that is the problem, especially given that the patristic era was dominated by the received tradition and apostolic succession. Our 21st century question should be "Why did no one else before him see it?" (I do not find Calvin's or Warfield's answer to this question satisfying, either.) I've attempted to give an answer in this series of posts, arguing that the source of such a reading depends much more on Augustine's pagan past than the Christian tradition he received.

The enduring theological battles are not over Scripture, per se, but over how we read Scripture. The 4th-century Arian controversy is a prime example. The Arians (who argued that the Logos is not consubstantial with the Father) used Scripture and lots of it to back up their views. The sheer brilliance of Athanasius in "Four Discourses against the Arians" is that he argued the WAY the Arians read Scripture was both novel and wrong. They did not employ the proper hermeneutical method (partitive exegesis) to differentiate between the eternal Logos and the incarnate Christ. (Which, by the way, is why it is a colossal waste of time to debate a neo-Arian -- a Jehovah's Witness -- on Scripture. We read it differently, so debate is fruitless.) In the same way, I am attempting to show that Augustine's reading of Scripture on nature and grace is shaped not by the received tradition (which was very careful to attempt to stay faithful to the teachings of the apostles on doctrinal matters, though it is not infallible) but largely by what he imported from his pagan past. So, if one reads Scripture as Augustine did, it will appear to be very "biblical." That is not my point. My point is this: is such a reading correct, consistent (both internally and with authorial intent), and reflective of the received tradition of 300+ years of the Christianity that preceded him? I think the answer to that question is no.

Jim G.

peter lumpkins

Ken,

Following up on Jim's response in denying that a rigid view of the absence of moral freedom "holds up under our own experience" care to tease out your rhetorical assertion that there exists a difference between volitional freedom and moral freedom? Is this a philosophical distinction you're claiming or a distinction you find necessary given certain biblical texts?

Lydia

"The enduring theological battles are not over Scripture, per se, but over how we read Scripture"

Yes! That is why we must take this teaching to it's logical resulting conclusions and 'walk back the cat' as it were.

I am finding it pretty amazing some of it boils down to a faulty translation of Romans 5:12 and that is the verse that so many bring out to prove imputed guilt.

Ken Hamrick

Peter,

As a Baptist centrist, I agree with Andrew Fuller's view of the inability of sinners. In the ordinary use of the term, ability, as viewed with disregard to will, it's meaning is simple and clear--one is either able or unable. But in the theological use of the term, as mingled with the idea of will, the utmost care must be used in understanding the meaning. Both Calvinists and Arminians, when speaking of total depravity, confuse the ordinary use with the theological use, and lead to the absurdity of men not being able to come to Christ no matter how much they might want to come to Him. But when Scripture speaks of such inability, it speaks of it in only a moral sense. Fuller explains it this way:

//blockquote//…It is just as impossible, no doubt, for any person to do that which he has no mind to do, as to perform that which surpasses his natural powers; and hence it is that the same terms are used in the one case as in the other. Those who were under the dominion of envy and malignity “could not speak peaceably;” and those who have “eyes full of adultery cannot cease from sin.” Hence, also, the following language, “How can ye, being evil, speak good things?”//endquote//

In Gen. 37:4, it is said that Joseph's brothers "could not speak peaceably unto him." Here a moral inability is spoken of. Why is it that they could not speak peaceably unto him? Or, is it even true that they could not? Since Scripture says it this way, then it must be true... but in what way? You see, when the ideas of will and ability are wrapped up together, then the meaning gains a complexity and nuance that the natural, ordinary use does not have. It is true that they were unable to speak peaceably, but only because their hateful hearts refused to speak peaceably to him. It is not true in the simple, ordinary sense of the word, that they could not speak peaceably no matter how much they might want to. That is the difference between a volitional freedom and a moral freedom. Volitionally, there was nothing to stop Joseph's brothers from speaking peaceably except their own willful refusal; but in the moral sense, their sinful hatred made their continuing refusal certain.

Ken Hamrick

Lydia,

It would be a mistake to think that the Augustinian anthropology stands or falls with the Latin mistranslation of Rom. 5:12. The whole passage has enough uncertainty that it must be translated by theological concerns as much as by grammar--and that is agreed upon by all sides. Furthermore, the aorist tense of "all sinned," together with the continual and repetitive return to the one transgression of the one man in the context, make a case for the Augustinian/realistic reading that is as strong as any other exegesis. The only objections of any strength to the realistic interpretation are theological objections and not textual objections.

Ken Hamrick

Jim,

According to Shedd, A History of Christian Doctrine, Augusting was careful to maintain that all sin is voluntary. He "held to the voluntariness of sin in both its forms, original and actual..." Men sin because they choose to sin, but they choose to sin because all men sinned in Adam and inherit the corruption resulting from that sin. Yes, Augustine lacks the nuance of later writers in emphasizing the inability of sinners to will the good, but this is balanced with an emphasis on the willingness of sinners to sin (See my comment to Peter, immediately above). I guess what I'm objecting to here is that merely because Augustine painted with too broad a brush at times does not justify dismissing his view with an equally broad brush. I contend that there is much truth to be found in Augustine, and the moral inability of the sinner is one of those truths (veiled though it may be in terms of complete inability).

As far as the nature of sinners, they are self-centered without exception. Even in seemingly altruistic or self-sacrificial acts, there is always (as R.C. Sproul says) "a pound of flesh in the mix." A man is either God-centered or self-centered. While a sinner is not as sinful as he could be, and neither does he choose to cooperate with every temptation, his reasons for resisting or avoiding sin are never God-centered reasons, and resisting sin is never the main current or direction of his life. Regardless of any sin resisted or any good done in other cases, when it comes to a full, genuine, repentant surrender to God through faith in Christ, the self-centered sinner is morally unable to turn away from self, sin and the world without God's gracious intervention.

Ken Hamrick

Jim,

You stated:
///blockquote//...The legal liability (guilt) was an innovation of Augustine. Even his spiritual father, Ambrose of Milan, held that though corruption is transmitted to his offspring, the guilt belongs solely to Adam.7 Augustine was insistent that guilt as well as corruption was transmitted to Adam's progeny. He relied again on his Latin translation of Romans 5:12 that in English reads "in whom [Adam] all sinned," while the Greek text renders "because all sinned."8 In the former (Latin) translation, humankind's real participation in Adam's sin and therefore a doctrine of original guilt immediately follows, while in the latter (Greek) translation, it does not....//endquote//

This brings to mind several things. First: as I said to Lydia, It would be a mistake to think that the Augustinian anthropology stands or falls with the Latin mistranslation of Rom. 5:12. The whole passage has enough uncertainty that it must be translated by theological concerns as much as by grammar--and that is agreed upon by all sides. Furthermore, the aorist tense of "all sinned," together with the continual and repetitive return to the one transgression of the one man in the context, make a case for the Augustinian/realistic reading that is as strong as any other exegesis. The only objections of any strength to the realistic interpretation are theological objections and not textual objections.

Second: while you claim that original guilt is an innovation of Augustine, you acknowledge that "a doctrine of original guilt immediately follows [a real participation in Adam's sin]." Any development that brings to light what "immediately follows" from an established view is no "innovation." The view of a "real participation in Adam's sin" is not attributable merely to a mistranslated text, but to the fathers, Tertullian, Cyprian, Hilary and Ambrose (according to Shedd's History). On pp. 43-44 (vol. 2), Shedd explains Tertullian's view:
//blockquote//Tertullian's traducianism, which gradually became the received psychology of the Latin Church, paved the way for the doctrine of innate sin, in distinction from innate evil, and also for the theory of monergism in regeneration. This Father, starting from the fact that from birth man is constantly inclined to sin, deduced from it his famous maxim: Tradux animae, tradux peccati,--the propagation of the soul implies the propagation of sin...//endquote//

On pp. 47-48, Shedd turns to Cyprian:
//blockquote//The writings of Cyprian (258) exhibit an increasing tendency in the Western Church towards the doctrine of an original sinfulness, and a monergistic renovation of the human soul. The pressure from Gnosticism was now less heavy, and the attention of theologians was being turned more to the effects of sin upon the will itself. As a consequence, less emphasis was placed upon the doctrine of human power, and more upon that of Divine grace. "All our ability," says Cyprian, "is of God. In him we live, in him we have strength. Our heart merely lies open and thirsts. In proportion as we bring a recipient faith, do we drink in the inflowing grace." Respecting the guilt of original sin, Cyprian is fluctuating, and not entirely consistent with himself. He seems to hold that original sin is not so culpable as actual sin, and yet teaches that it needs remission. "The infant," he remarks, "has committed no sin. He has only contracted the contagion of death from his progenitor, and hence remission of sin is more easy in his case, because it is not his own but another's sin that is remitted to him."//endquote//

Shedd continues with Ambrose and Hilary (pp. 48-49):
//blockquote//In the writings of Ambrose (397) and Hilary (368), the two most distinguished Latin theologians of the 4th century, we find the doctrine of a sinful, as distinguished from a corrupt, nature still more distinctly enunciated than in Tertullian and Cyprian, and more use made of the ideas and phraseology of the fifth chapter of Romans. The following passages from Ambrose will indicate his general view of original sin, and of the Adamic connection. Quoting Romans v. 12, which in the version of his day was rendered "in whom all have sinned," he remarks: "Adam existed (fuit), and we all existed in him; Adam perished, and all perished in him." "We all sinned in the first man, and by the succession of nature, the succession of guilt (culpae) was transfused from one to all." "Before we are born, we are stained with contagion, and before we see the light we receive the injury of the original transgression." "'In whom all sinned,'--thus it is evident that all sinned in Adam, as if in a mass; for having corrupted by sin those whom he begat, all are born under sin. Wherefore we all are sinners from him (ex eo), because we all are [men] from him." Statements similar to these are made by Hilary.//endquote//

Read those last sentences again--they are not quotes from Augustine, but from Ambrose. And yet, how similar the two sound. Although I disagree with Adam's sin being a personally condemning imputation to us, I must agree with Shedd's assessment as he continues:
//blockquote//We find, then, the germinal substance of the Augustinian theory of sin, so far as concerns the Adamic connection, in the century previous to that in which Augustine's principal dogmatic influence falls. Indeed, it is evident that this latter Father was the recipient as well as the propagator of that particular system which goes by his name. He only developed an anthropology that had been gradually forming in preceding centuries...//endquote//

Ken Hamrick

Jim,

On pp. 47-48, Shedd turns to Cyprian:
//blockquote//The writings of Cyprian (258) exhibit an increasing tendency in the Western Church towards the doctrine of an original sinfulness, and a monergistic renovation of the human soul. The pressure from Gnosticism was now less heavy, and the attention of theologians was being turned more to the effects of sin upon the will itself. As a consequence, less emphasis was placed upon the doctrine of human power, and more upon that of Divine grace. "All our ability," says Cyprian, "is of God. In him we live, in him we have strength. Our heart merely lies open and thirsts. In proportion as we bring a recipient faith, do we drink in the inflowing grace." Respecting the guilt of original sin, Cyprian is fluctuating, and not entirely consistent with himself. He seems to hold that original sin is not so culpable as actual sin, and yet teaches that it needs remission. "The infant," he remarks, "has committed no sin. He has only contracted the contagion of death from his progenitor, and hence remission of sin is more easy in his case, because it is not his own but another's sin that is remitted to him."//endquote//

Shedd continues with Ambrose and Hilary (pp. 48-49):
//blockquote//In the writings of Ambrose (397) and Hilary (368), the two most distinguished Latin theologians of the 4th century, we find the doctrine of a sinful, as distinguished from a corrupt, nature still more distinctly enunciated than in Tertullian and Cyprian, and more use made of the ideas and phraseology of the fifth chapter of Romans. The following passages from Ambrose will indicate his general view of original sin, and of the Adamic connection. Quoting Romans v. 12, which in the version of his day was rendered "in whom all have sinned," he remarks: "Adam existed (fuit), and we all existed in him; Adam perished, and all perished in him." "We all sinned in the first man, and by the succession of nature, the succession of guilt (culpae) was transfused from one to all." "Before we are born, we are stained with contagion, and before we see the light we receive the injury of the original transgression." "'In whom all sinned,'--thus it is evident that all sinned in Adam, as if in a mass; for having corrupted by sin those whom he begat, all are born under sin. Wherefore we all are sinners from him (ex eo), because we all are [men] from him." Statements similar to these are made by Hilary.//endquote//

Read those last sentences again--they are not quotes from Augustine, but from Ambrose. And yet, how similar the two sound. Although I disagree with Adam's sin being a personally condemning imputation to us, I must agree with Shedd's assessment as he continues:
//blockquote//We find, then, the germinal substance of the Augustinian theory of sin, so far as concerns the Adamic connection, in the century previous to that in which Augustine's principal dogmatic influence falls. Indeed, it is evident that this latter Father was the recipient as well as the propagator of that particular system which goes by his name. He only developed an anthropology that had been gradually forming in preceding centuries...//endquote//

Ken Hamrick

Jim,

Jim,

On pp. 47-48, Shedd turns to Cyprian:
//blockquote//The writings of Cyprian (258) exhibit an increasing tendency in the Western Church towards the doctrine of an original sinfulness, and a monergistic renovation of the human soul. The pressure from Gnosticism was now less heavy, and the attention of theologians was being turned more to the effects of sin upon the will itself. As a consequence, less emphasis was placed upon the doctrine of human power, and more upon that of Divine grace. "All our ability," says Cyprian, "is of God. In him we live, in him we have strength. Our heart merely lies open and thirsts. In proportion as we bring a recipient faith, do we drink in the inflowing grace." Respecting the guilt of original sin, Cyprian is fluctuating, and not entirely consistent with himself. He seems to hold that original sin is not so culpable as actual sin, and yet teaches that it needs remission. "The infant," he remarks, "has committed no sin. He has only contracted the contagion of death from his progenitor, and hence remission of sin is more easy in his case, because it is not his own but another's sin that is remitted to him."//endquote//

(To be continued...)

Ken Hamrick

Jim,

Shedd continues with Ambrose and Hilary (pp. 48-49):
//blockquote//In the writings of Ambrose (397) and Hilary (368), the two most distinguished Latin theologians of the 4th century, we find the doctrine of a sinful, as distinguished from a corrupt, nature still more distinctly enunciated than in Tertullian and Cyprian, and more use made of the ideas and phraseology of the fifth chapter of Romans. The following passages from Ambrose will indicate his general view of original sin, and of the Adamic connection. Quoting Romans v. 12, which in the version of his day was rendered "in whom all have sinned," he remarks: "Adam existed (fuit), and we all existed in him; Adam perished, and all perished in him." "We all sinned in the first man, and by the succession of nature, the succession of guilt (culpae) was transfused from one to all." "Before we are born, we are stained with contagion, and before we see the light we receive the injury of the original transgression." "'In whom all sinned,'--thus it is evident that all sinned in Adam, as if in a mass; for having corrupted by sin those whom he begat, all are born under sin. Wherefore we all are sinners from him (ex eo), because we all are [men] from him." Statements similar to these are made by Hilary.//endquote//

Read those last sentences again--they are not quotes from Augustine, but from Ambrose. And yet, how similar the two sound. Although I disagree with Adam's sin being a personally condemning imputation to us, I must agree with Shedd's assessment as he continues:
//blockquote//We find, then, the germinal substance of the Augustinian theory of sin, so far as concerns the Adamic connection, in the century previous to that in which Augustine's principal dogmatic influence falls. Indeed, it is evident that this latter Father was the recipient as well as the propagator of that particular system which goes by his name. He only developed an anthropology that had been gradually forming in preceding centuries...//endquote//

Lydia

"It would be a mistake to think that the Augustinian anthropology stands or falls with the Latin mistranslation of Rom. 5:12."

Hi Ken,

Actually I do not think it 'stands or falls' on that verse and that is why I said this:

"I am finding it pretty amazing ***some*** of it boils down to a faulty translation of Romans 5:12 and that is the verse that so many bring out to prove imputed guilt."

I mentioned it because I hear this passage used all the time to affirm imputed guilt from the YRR in my neck of the woods.

I am lurking and reading and learning a lot from you all. I am not officially theologically educated but one of the foolish and ignoble. :o)

peter lumpkins

Ken,

I found four of your comments in the trash bucket. It could have been the length or some word the filters didn't like. All are posted. Not sure if any are duplicates...

peter lumpkins

Ken,

First, while I’m unsure what you have in mind about being a “Baptist centrist” I would consider myself “centrist” but without appealing to Andrew Fuller. Second, it’s fairly common knowledge that while all may celebrate Fuller’s role in salvaging Baptist Calvinism from the wreckage to which Hyper-Calvinism had brought it—I most certainly do--we are not obliged to necessarily accept Fuller’s distinction between moral inability and natural ability he famously borrowed from Edwards’ concept in Freedom of the Will. This is precisely why I asked if you were philosophizing or speaking of a distinction required from the biblical text.

Third, you aver that when speaking of total depravity, both Calvinists and Arminians confuse the “ordinary use” with the “theological use” thus leading to the absurd conclusion that of people “not being able to come to Christ no matter how much they might want to come to Him” (italics yours). I’m afraid neither Calvinist nor Arminian—at least from what I know of them—would agree with you. Neither would remotely suggest anyone would ever in a thousand lifetimes want to come to Christ apart from getting a newly bestowed grace-given want-er since depravity killed the original one. In short, no one dead in trespasses and sin wants Christ given both historic Calvinist and Arminian perspectives. In addition, assuming confusion between an “ordinary use” of inability/will with the “theological use” is purely argumentative on your behalf since you’ve offered nothing by way of showing such a distinction is warranted other than quoting Fuller with whom you happily agree—“But when Scripture speaks of such inability, it speaks of it in only a moral sense.”

Fourth, I find your reading of Gen 37:4 thoroughly lacking. You take a slice of historical narrative describing the actions—or in this case, inaction of men-- and turn it into a philosophical defense of will and ability/inability—

“You see, when the ideas of will and ability are wrapped up together, then the meaning gains a complexity and nuance that the natural, ordinary use does not have. It is true that they were unable to speak peaceably, but only because their hateful hearts refused to speak peaceably to him. It is not true in the simple, ordinary sense of the word, that they could not speak peaceably no matter how much they might want to.”

Even more, you top it off by framing your interpretation in terms of whether or not we actually believe the Bible: “Since Scripture says it this way, then it must be true…”  Coming afterward to a grand conclusion: “That is the difference between a volitional freedom and a moral freedom.

Ironically, Ken, I find this type of reading of the Bible precisely Jim’s point concerning Augustine. Jim argues that Augustine brought his own philosophical beans to the barbeque when it comes to some key ideas of the Christian faith. In short, he read Scripture through some old Neo-platonic, Manichean lens he’d not discarded. From what you’ve just stated is your understanding of Gen 37:4, it appears to me you’re doing exactly what Jim says of Augustine; namely, reading the biblical text with some type of philosophical filters imposed upon the text. Interestingly, it would not have been so obvious had you not taken a slice of descriptive history to prove your point. However, because you used historical narrative to prove your philosophical point, it’s pretty hard to miss.

peter lumpkins

Ken

You make a fairly big deal in going on about the nature of sinners being a self-centeredness—“As far as the nature of sinners, they are self-centered without exception…A man is either God-centered or self-centered…his reasons for resisting or avoiding sin are never God-centered reasons, and resisting sin is never the main current or direction of his life… the self-centered sinner is morally unable to turn away from self, sin and the world without God's gracious intervention.” Fine. Who is arguing otherwise? Did I miss Jim arguing otherwise? I haven’t and wouldn't unless you'd try to make the argument that self-centeredness alone defines sinfulness. So, what is your point?

 

 

peter lumpkins

BTW, if you want to make blockquotes, follow the standard html coding

peter lumpkins

Ken,

A couple more things. First, continued quotes from Shedd add exactly nothing to this thread. He's an Augustinian-Calvinist for heaven's sake! Please grace us with at least a bit more balance and choose more varied sources. Quote scholars yes. Be my guest. I like quotes from scholars. But long and repeated quotes from a Reformed apologist if ever there was one (i.e. W.G.T. Shedd) can get old quickly.

Second, you brushed aside Augustine's mistranslation of Rom. 5:12 way too quickly--in fact, almost as if it was irrelevant. And, yes, there is uncertainty about the matter but not about whether Rom 5:12 actually says all sinned [in Adam]. No question there whatsoever. The text does not say this. Period. Furthermore, to so much as hint that theological matters should trump what the text actually states is, for my money, the worse type of exegesis imaginable. Nor do all sides agree about this I assure.

You further state that 'the aorist tense of "all sinned," together with the continual and repetitive return to the one transgression of the one man in the context, make a case for the Augustinian/realistic reading that is as strong as any other exegesis.' Well, that's just not true, Ken. The "aorist tense" as a possible affirmation implying "all sinned in Adam" has been thoroughly scrutinized by a number of scholars conservative and liberal and found wanting.

Finally, you conclude "The only objections of any strength to the realistic interpretation are theological objections and not textual objections." I'm confused. Above you minimized textual objections--"as I said to Lydia, It would be a mistake to think that the Augustinian anthropology stands or falls with the Latin mistranslation of Rom. 5:12." Now you seem to imply that if actual textual objections were present (which you attempted to wash down the drain with the "aroist tense" point), perhaps non-Augustinian critics would have a stronger case. As it is, the only worthy objections are theological objections.

For my money, this reduces to theology not based upon Scripture but despite Scripture. Theology driving exegesis rather than exegesis driving theology...

Ken Hamrick

Peter,

The four found in the trash bucket must have gone there due to length, and should remain there, since I broke them up and reposted. They are duplicates. Thanks.

peter lumpkins

O.K. I pulled some back down (hoping they were the rights ones...)

Ken Hamrick

Peter, the 2 posts that begin with "...Shedd turns to Cyprian," and the 1 post that begins with "...Shedd continues with Ambrose..." can be deleted. Sorry for the confusion---I don't what I'm doing wrong. I lost another reply today to Just today, another of my replies was lost, for which I don't have a copy. I get the hang of it eventually.

peter lumpkins

No problem, Ken. We all lose to the black hole of the internet at times. Some of my best comments were gobbled up! :^) I now rarely fail to copy my comment to the clip board on virtually every comment I write before I push publish for that very reason. I've saved many comments like that.

Lord bless, brother...

Jim G.

Hi Ken,

There is a lot to answer here, so I will try to briefly touch on all your points in order.

You shifted the discussion on moral freedom. Your original point, and my reply to it, had nothing to do with surrender to God. It had to do with your assertion that there is a meaningful distinction between moral and volitional freedom. You then make a new assertion "sinners are self-centered without exception." This is not true either in abstract discussion or human experience. This type of either-or dualistic thinking is what imprisoned Augustine in the first place. I do not think it is possible to so pin down the thoughts and intents of the human heart and to so grossly oversimplify human motivation.

The problem of Romans 5:12 is not the "all sinned" but the introduction to the clause. The "eph ho" was always understood by the Greeks (and it was their language) as "because" and the Latins translated it as "in whom." The idea of "in whom" leads toward participation leading to guilt. Universal human presence in Adam is not excluded by the "because" rendering, but there is no textual warrant for original guilt if Rom 5:12 is rendered "because." That is the context of my words that state "real participation leads to original guilt." If the sin in Adam is mine by my participating in it, guilt does follow. But if the participation in Christ is analogous to participation in Adam, does such an interpretation lead either to universalism in salvation or something worse?

As for Ambrose, he is certainly not consistent in his views. Other places he repudiates the foundations of what became original guilt. I think Shedd saw what he wanted to see (as we all can do). Augustine himself was not always consistent either. Hope that helps.

Jim G.

Ken Hamrick

Peter,

If you want to know what I mean by a Baptist centrist, you can find it here: http://sbcopenforum.com/2012/08/29/beyond-traditionalism-reclaiming-southern-baptist-soteriology/
You stated:

Second, it’s fairly common knowledge that while all may celebrate Fuller’s role in salvaging Baptist Calvinism from the wreckage to which Hyper-Calvinism had brought it—I most certainly do--we are not obliged to necessarily accept Fuller’s distinction between moral inability and natural ability he famously borrowed from Edwards’ concept in Freedom of the Will. This is precisely why I asked if you were philosophizing or speaking of a distinction required from the biblical text.
"Obligated to accept Fuller's distinction?" That is strange language. I offered nothing for you to accept by mere obligation. Rather, as would be expected in such a discussion, I presented Fuller's distinction with an argument for it's validity. Those who seek the truth in such matters will not dismiss such an argument without considering how their own view stacks up against it.
Third, you aver that when speaking of total depravity, both Calvinists and Arminians confuse the “ordinary use” with the “theological use” thus leading to the absurd conclusion that of people “not being able to come to Christ no matter how much they might want to come to Him” (italics yours). I’m afraid neither Calvinist nor Arminian—at least from what I know of them—would agree with you.
Of course, they would not agree. That is why I put the words "lead to" in bold. I was pointing out a confusion of ideas, which they implicitly hold but would explicitly deny. But regardless of denials, the confusion results in an inherent contradiction that is easily brought to light with the following question about depravity: Are sinners unable to come to Christ no matter how much they might want to come, or could they come to Christ if they really wanted to? Neither C's nor A's can squarely address this question. In other words, does the inability consist only in the unwillingness, or is the inability of a nature such that the will is irrelevant to the inability? If the former, then they are simply unwilling and are without excuse; but if the latter, then the inability is independent of the will, and does offer an excuse.
Neither would remotely suggest anyone would ever in a thousand lifetimes want to come to Christ apart from getting a newly bestowed grace-given want-er since depravity killed the original one. In short, no one dead in trespasses and sin wants Christ given both historic Calvinist and Arminian perspectives.
Exactly!--They would never want to--and that is all the inability that is needed to keep them from Christ until grace intervenes to change that.
In addition, assuming confusion between an “ordinary use” of inability/will with the “theological use” is purely argumentative on your behalf since you’ve offered nothing by way of showing such a distinction is warranted other than quoting Fuller with whom you happily agree—“But when Scripture speaks of such inability, it speaks of it in only a moral sense.”
I did more than assume. I brought an argument from reason and Scripture to the table. Sure, it was short and only dealt with one passage, but it's a start. There's hardly room or patience in a comment stream for anything thorough. And although you berated the argument as "thoroughly lacking," you offered nothing by way of rebuttal but rhetoric. Is that how you respond to an argument from reason and Scripture? If you disagree with the argument, should you not at least offer reasons why the argument fails or the exegesis does not adhere to the meaning of the text? You claim that I am reading my philosophy into the text of Gen. 37:4 (and Fuller as well, since he presents the same argument and text), but you do not show in any detail how such a criticism is valid. Where exactly in the text have I read anything inappropriately? Where precisely would you disagree? Would you disagree that Joseph's brothers could have chosen to speak peaceably to him if they really wanted to?
Even more, you top it off by framing your interpretation in terms of whether or not we actually believe the Bible: “Since Scripture says it this way, then it must be true…”
This accusation is false. Here is what I actually wrote:
Why is it that they could not speak peaceably unto him? Or, is it even true that they could not? Since Scripture says it this way, then it must be true... but in what way?
Peter, how is not clear from these sentences that what I was referring to by "it must be true" was "that they could not speak peaceably unto him"? In no way did I even imply that it was my interpretation that "must be true."It is much easier to paint an argument or reading of Scripture as inappropriately philosophical than to actually establish it as such.

Nevertheless, brother Peter, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss such things with you. Be blessed!

Ken Hamrick

Peter,

You stated:

First, continued quotes from Shedd add exactly nothing to this thread. He's an Augustinian-Calvinist for heaven's sake! Please grace us with at least a bit more balance and choose more varied sources. Quote scholars yes. Be my guest. I like quotes from scholars. But long and repeated quotes from a Reformed apologist if ever there was one (i.e. W.G.T. Shedd) can get old quickly.
Well, the blockquotes would not have been as "long and repeated" if four duplicate posts had not been pulled out of the trash can and reposted :) . I will try to heed your advice, though. But I must point out that bringing quotes of support from an "Augustinian/Calvinist" ADD balance to this discussion, rather than detracting from it. Care to count how many Augustinians are quoted in Jim's essay?

Ken Hamrick

Peter,

You stated:

Second, you brushed aside Augustine's mistranslation of Rom. 5:12 way too quickly--in fact, almost as if it was irrelevant. And, yes, there is uncertainty about the matter but not about whether Rom 5:12 actually says all sinned [in Adam]. No question there whatsoever. The text does not say this. Period. Furthermore, to so much as hint that theological matters should trump what the text actually states is, for my money, the worse type of exegesis imaginable. Nor do all sides agree about this I assure...
For balance, let's hear from an Arminian. Regarding Rom. 5:12, F. Leroy Forlines, Classical Arminianism, (Nashville: Randall House, 2011), p. 25, explains:
"Death passed upon all men" is the effect. "All have sinned" is the cause. Concerning the Greek word translated "have sinned" in the KJV, there are two possibilities insofar as Greek grammar is concerned. "Have sinned" is a translation of hemarton, which is the aorist. If we understand the aorist as a simply aorist, we would translate "all sinned." It would mean that all sinned at some time in the past. This would mean that death passed upon the race because the race sinned at some time in the past. If wwe understand the aorist as being a gnomic aorist, we would translate it "all sin." If we understand it to be a culminative aorist, we would translate it "all have sinned." Whether we understood the Greek to be a gnomic aorist or a culminative aorist, the interpretation would be the same. It would mean that death passes upon all men because all people sin. If we understand that death passed upon all men because all men sinned at some time in the past, death would pass upon all because all sinned in Adam. If we understand that death passes upon all men because all sin, death would pass upon each person because of his own sins, not the sin of Adam. The context must decide which of these interpretations is correct.
Forlines goes on to conclude, pp. 26, 29:
While Greek grammar may allow the statement in 5:12 to refer to each individual's sin, the context decides against it and in favor of the other grammatical possibility. It is clear in the total context that 5:12 is to be interpreted, "all sinned in Adam."
...The language... of Rom. 5:12 and of the natural headship view are identical. The "all sinned"... must be twisted to mean "all are accounted as sinners" for the federal headship view. "All sinned" is in the active voice. "All are accounted as sinners" would require the passive voice.
To be continued...

Ken Hamrick

Peter, (continuing...)

Brian Vickers, Jesus' Blood and Righteousness (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), p. 123, offers this:

The long debate over Romans 5:12 stands at a kind of crossroads where grammar and theology intersect. These two subjects are rarely combined these days, but they converge in this text, and any interpretation based solely on theology apart from grammar, or vice versa, will come up short.
Although Vickers disagrees with the realist (Augustinian) view, he acknowledges it as one of "a handful of interpretive options" (p. 128), and summarizes it on p. 129:
The "realist" view, that all sinned "in Adam" because all humanity was somehow actually present in the person of Adam, basically maintains a theological rationale for Augustine's interpretation, "in whom." Though Augustine's reading of in quo for εφ ω is almost universally rejected, the realist view typically understands εφ ω as a relative clause referring back to Adam. In this view, stress may be laid on either Adam's role as the first man from whom all humanity proceeds seminally, or on the participation of all human nature in the person of Adam.
To be continued...

Ken Hamrick

Jim,

We disagree on the nature of the sinner. But it doesn't seem like much traction can be had either way, so I'll move on...

You stated:

The problem of Romans 5:12 is not the "all sinned" but the introduction to the clause. The "eph ho" was always understood by the Greeks (and it was their language) as "because" and the Latins translated it as "in whom." The idea of "in whom" leads toward participation leading to guilt. Universal human presence in Adam is not excluded by the "because" rendering, but there is no textual warrant for original guilt if Rom 5:12 is rendered "because." That is the context of my words that state "real participation leads to original guilt." If the sin in Adam is mine by my participating in it, guilt does follow. But if the participation in Christ is analogous to participation in Adam, does such an interpretation lead either to universalism in salvation or something worse?
If 5:12 is rendered "because," there is still a warrant for a real participation. Whether that participation incurs a personally condemning guilt is a separate question. I hold that it incurs a racial guilt that brings temporal consequences on the race that have no personal relation to individuals (no eternal condemnation). But even the straight Augustinians find sufficient warrant in this passage for their view. A key word is "one:": one sin, one man, one transgression, repeated and emphasized. Thus, the inference "because all sinned [in the one man]" is strongly justified.

As for the parallel, participation in Christ comes to those who are in Christ, just as participation in Adam came from being in Adam. All were in Adam's loins when he sinned. All were born out of Adam, spiritually speaking. It is opposite with salvation, as all are reborn into Christ. We were not in Christ during His defining act of obedience, but the Christ who died on the cross is the same Person into whom believers are now joined.

As for Ambrose, he is certainly not consistent in his views. Other places he repudiates the foundations of what became original guilt. I think Shedd saw what he wanted to see (as we all can do). Augustine himself was not always consistent either. Hope that helps.
It doesn't help, Jim; because you claimed that this transmitted guilt was Augustine's innovation and that Ambrose did not hold such a view. Shedd provided you with a direct quote. It might help if you provide a quote to the opposite effect; but even so, the fact that Ambrose taught both sides of the issue would still disprove that Augustine's view was innovative rather than coming out of one side of Ambrose's inconsistent view.

Nonetheless, I do appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you, and am glad you posted your article here.

Jim G.

Hi Ken,

I've got 2 conversations going on at once with you. See the other thread in my explanation that I do not deny real union with Adam. We are in substantial, though not total, agreement on this point.

I'll need to look into Ambrose further before I decide how to proceed with this study, publication-wise. I will go back and review my sources and Shedd's. Thanks for that point, though I'm not quite ready to concede mine. Ambrose was never a Manichee and never had a dualistic approach to things as Augustine did.

Could you clarify what you mean by this: "We were not in Christ during His defining act of obedience, but the Christ who died on the cross is the same Person into whom believers are now joined." It seems to me that there is a real asymmetry in your view of real participation. Why were we really "in" Adam 6000+ years ago but not really "in" Christ 2000 years ago? Is our solidarity in Adam stronger than ours in Christ?

Jim G.

peter lumpkins

Hey Ken,

First, a few loose ends. You judge it as “strange language” for me to suggest celebrating Fuller in one way while asserting we are not obliged to accept Fuller’s distinction in another way. I see that as not strange at all since I didn’t imply by it what you assumed it necessarily meant—”mere obligation.” Now from my perspective, your follow up statement qualifies nicely for “strange language”: “Those who seek the truth in such matters will not dismiss such an argument without considering how their own view stacks up against it.” Are you implying I’m not interested in seeking the truth? I grant you the benefit of doubt but the phrase nonetheless remains “strange” not to mention irrelevant.

More significantly, you claim “as would be expected in such a discussion” that you “presented Fuller's distinction with an argument for it's validity.” Well, perhaps you think you did. But about all I can detect from much of your reply is a string of arguable assertions both initially when you first mention Fuller and subsequently when you cite Gen 37 as biblical evidence, finally to conclude

“Volitionally, there was nothing to stop Joseph's brothers from speaking peaceably except their own willful refusal; but in the moral sense, their sinful hatred made their continuing refusal certain.”

Within the text cited, however, there’s no basis at all for the psycho-philosophical distinction you insist is there, Ken. The text says “when” the brothers “saw” that their father “loved [Joseph] more than all his brethren” they “hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” You seem to impose upon this verse a presupposed distinction between their volition on one hand and moral ability/inability on the other. But nothing in the verse necessarily suggests your categories.

Even more, what the biblical author stated is not what you stated as the reason for the brothers not speaking peaceably to him. You conclude it was nothing more than their “willful refusal” presumably being driven by their “sinful hate.” Where in the text is there implied a single syllable concerning their volitional refusal to speak peaceably to Joseph? There isn’t. You’ve addressed what the text does not address. On the other hand, what seems to be at least partly “driving” their hate for Joseph was their Dad’s outright favoritism of Joseph over them—“when” the brothers “saw” that their father “loved [Joseph] more than all his brethren” they “hated him…”

Nor was Joseph to be completely exonerated from adding to the problem given verse 5—“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more” (cp. v.8). Contrarily, you altogether ignore these contextual factors in your interpretation and substitute what is nowhere implied by the language used—“Volitionally, there was nothing to stop Joseph's brothers from speaking peaceably except their own willful refusal.”

In addition, you cite the brother’s “sinful hatred” as what made their “continuing refusal certain.” Perhaps it played some role we might grant. But the text does not say this. It says, when they saw their father’s love toward him, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. Pure description. Clearly no apparent reason exists to make what appears to be the rigid causal connections you propose--willful refusal driven caused and/or made certain by sinful hatred.

In fact, if anything, hatred seems to be an effect not a cause!  Seeing paternal favoritism led to sibling hatred. Only after seeing the presence of their father's love toward Joseph did they hate him for the lack of paternal love they received. This certainly doesn't justify their hatred. But it does explain it and stands, in some significant way, as to the cause of their hate. In short, it wasn't just about their willful refusal driven exclusively by a particular sinful hate for Joseph as you suggest.

Consider also the next verse: “And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.” Hate seems to be the consequence not a cause if we follow the storyline. Indeed the author seems to give the impression that Joseph was, in many ways, the instigator in all this, spitting in the soup so to speak before his brothers ate. Even Jacob saw this: “ And he told it [the dream] to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him…” (v.10, embolden added). Hence, rather than looking at the entire corpus of what’s going on in the text, you instead deduce from a single descriptive verse within an historical narrative a universal principle of human volition and moral inability. For me, it just does not follow, Ken.

Nor am I alone, I scoured every resource I had at my disposal—including dozens of reputable commentaries—and not a single one so much as hinted that Gen 37:4 supported anything like you’ve suggested here. Now, I concede I could be wrong—along with every other resource I consulted. Granted. But I’m afraid you’re going to have to come up with more than what you’ve presented thus far about Gen 37:4 to warrant its further use here as a sound argument toward the validity of your psycho-philosophical distinction.

A couple more incidentals I just thought of: as for whether Jim quoted any other than non-Augustinians, I think his bibliography seems to be quite sound--John Rist, John V. Fesko, Peter Johannes Thuesen, Kam-lun E. Lee, Bradley Nassif, Donato Ogliari among others. Readers can judge. As for your quoting Forlines, it’s certainly an improvement over continued quotes from Shedd; but a) Forlines albeit an Arminian is nonetheless an Augustinian. So you really didn’t mix things up and “balance” it out now did you?; and, b) Forlines did nothing more or less in the quote you provided than what you seemed to have suggested earlier, Ken: slight the textual fact that “in Adam” is not in Romans 5:12 and offer in its place a theologizing of why we ought to, in essence, add it anyway.

I think I got the important stuff. Thanks for the chat. Have a good week end.  

Lydia

Jim,

When I was "trying" to read some Augustine a while back (I found him hard to read as he seems to jump around) I kept coming across some strange beliefs. I might have it wrong but did he believe or assert at one point that Adam and Eve were created mortal? That is the sense I got from some of it but cannot remember what I was reading. I also remember that he believed that Mary was a perpetual virgin.

I got the sense there was a sort of revulsion to the thinking that anything good could come from the material world.

Ken Hamrick

Jim,

You inquired:

Could you clarify what you mean by this: "We were not in Christ during His defining act of obedience, but the Christ who died on the cross is the same Person into whom believers are now joined." It seems to me that there is a real asymmetry in your view of real participation. Why were we really "in" Adam 6000+ years ago but not really "in" Christ 2000 years ago? Is our solidarity in Adam stronger than ours in Christ?
Adam “was a type of the one who was to come,” because both Adam and Christ are the heads of their spiritual seed. We are not only physical descendants, but spiritual descendants of Adam. When Christ redeems us, He causes us to become the spiritual seed of Christ (Isaiah 53:10; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:12-13; John 3:3). We were united with Adam when he sinned, and death passed through to all of us. When we are united to Christ, we are united to His death, and life passes through Him to us (Rom. 6:1-14). The defining act of the one head brought death to his seed, while the defining act of the other Head brings the free gift of life to His seed.

The seed of Adam are propagated in a different way from the seed of Christ. It is the nature of human propagation to produce a being that is separate from the parent. While the child’s spirit comes from his father, the spirit of the child, once conceived, is separate from the father. This is opposite in the case of the believer and Christ, since the believer becomes "one spirit" with Christ.

Unlike human propagation, when the Spirit of Christ is propagated to His seed, there is no separation involved — the continuity of being is maintained beyond propagation. Because of the nature of God, He is able to propagate His Spirit to all believers without that Spirit becoming a separate entity. Though the propagation of a child of Adam involves the disuniting of the child and father, the propagation of a child of God is the bringing of the believer into union with God.

The excessively philosophical and naturalistic terms that are characteristic of most realists have served to obscure this parallel relationship of union to identity. Viewing the union in Adam as a union of species and a union of nature has hindered the recognition of the parallel of spiritual unions, and provided a reason for objections by the nominalists. John Murray [The Imputation of Adam's Sin, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1959), pp. 33-34] makes such an objection:

The analogy instituted in Romans 5:12-19 (cf. I Cor. 15:22) presents a formidable objection to the realist construction. It is admitted by the realist that there is no "realistic" union between Christ and the justified. That is to say, there is no human nature, specifically and numerically one, existing in its unity in Christ, which is individualized in those who are the beneficiaries of Christ's righteousness. On realist premises, therefore, a radical disparity must be posited between the character of the union that exists between Adam and his posterity, on the one hand, and the union that exists between Christ and those who are his, on the other... This sustained emphasis not only upon the one man Adam and the one man Christ but also upon the one trespass and the one righteous act points to a basic identity in respect of modus operandi. But if, in the one case, we have a oneness that is focused in the unity of the human nature, which realism posits, and, in the other case, a oneness that is focused in the one man Jesus Christ, where no such unity exists, it is difficult not to believe that discrepancy enters at the very point where similitude must be maintained. For, after all, on realist assumptions, it is not our union with Adam that is the crucial consideration in our involvement in his sin but our involvement in the sin of that human nature which existed in Adam. And what the parallelism of Romans 5:12-19 would indicate is that the one sin of the one man Adam is analogous on the side of condemnation to the one righteousness of the one man Jesus Christ on the side of justification. The kind of relationship that obtains in the one case obtains in the other. And how can this be if the kind of relationship is so different in respect of the nature of the union subsisting?
There is indeed a realistic union between Christ and the justified, butit is a union of spirit. The parallel has an inverse quality: the spirit of Adam is propagated to all, while the spirits of the many are collected back into one head, Christ. We are generated out of Adam and regenerated into Christ. The "modus operandi" is that of a shared personal identity. While mankind was still within Adam, mankind shared the personal identity of Adam, and shared the ownership of his defining action (his sin). When a man is joined to the Spirit of Christ, he shares the personal identity of Christ such that he gains an ownership in His defining action (His obedience and death). We are joined to Adam's sin because we were joined to Adam at the time of his sin; but we are joined to Christ's death because we are joined to Christ now. Since Adam's "seed" are propagated by dispersion, it was necessary that we be united in Adam during his defining action. But Christ's "seed" are propagated by annexation, rather than by dispersion, and so we need not be united in Christ during his defining action. Unlike the case of Adam, when the Spirit of Christ is propagated to a believer, the Person of Christ is also propagated. It is not merely a spirit derived from Christ that indwells us, but the Person of Christ Himself. Therefore, it is sufficient for our ownership in His defining action that the Christ within us now is the same Christ who died on the Cross. This objection of the nominalist, then, is utterly overturned, and the parallel stands more vividly than ever before.

Jim G.

Hi Lydia,

I believe you are correct on those observations, though I have not dealt with Augustine's interpretation of Genesis very deeply. It would be consistent with his underlying cosmological and metaphysical dualism.

Jim G.

Jim G.

Hi Ken,

I know this is off-subject from Augustine, but you have some interesting ideas about the realism of inclusion in salvation. I see your point in most places, and this is an area of great interest to me (My "Perichoretic Salvation," published by Wipf and Stock, 2011, is a revision of my doctoral dissertation on the same subject).

Did you come up with these ideas yourself or are you following along after someone else with some refinements? I ask because there are a couple of essential missing elements in your synthesis, but ones that probably need to remain missing in order to hold on to unconditional election (as, but correct me if I am wrong, you say you do). I would rather move the discussion of the real union of the believer and Christ off this comment stream, since it does not directly relate to Augustine, but I'd be happy to continue it via email if you would like. Just ask Peter and he can give you my email address, but now that I think about it, you might already have it.

Jim G.

Ken Hamrick

Jim,

It's the product of my own studies that I'm preparing for publication. I do have you email, so I'll drop you a line.

Ken Hamrick

Peter,

You stated:

...you claim “as would be expected in such a discussion” that you “presented Fuller's distinction with an argument for it's validity.” Well, perhaps you think you did. But about all I can detect from much of your reply is a string of arguable assertions both initially when you first mention Fuller and subsequently when you cite Gen 37 as biblical evidence, finally to conclude
Volitionally, there was nothing to stop Joseph's brothers from speaking peaceably except their own willful refusal; but in the moral sense, their sinful hatred made their continuing refusal certain.
Within the text cited, however, there’s no basis at all for the psycho-philosophical distinction you insist is there, Ken. The text says “when” the brothers “saw” that their father “loved [Joseph] more than all his brethren” they “hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” You seem to impose upon this verse a presupposed distinction between their volition on one hand and moral ability/inability on the other. But nothing in the verse necessarily suggests your categories.
"Psycho-philosophical?" You're making this much more complicated than it needs to be. Yes, I gave you an argument--every argument is "a string of arguable assertions." If you would challenge any of those assertions, then that would be an opposing argument. The argument consists of the following:
1) "In the ordinary use of the term, ability, as viewed with disregard to will, it's meaning is simple and clear--one is either able or unable.

This proposition is undeniable.

2) "But in the theological use of the term [ability], as mingled with the idea of will, the utmost care must be used in understanding the meaning..." "...when the ideas of will and ability are wrapped up together, then the meaning gains a complexity and nuance that the natural, ordinary use does not have."

This proposition is proven in 3).

3)"It is true that they were unable to speak peaceably, but only because their hateful hearts refused to speak peaceably to him. It is not true in the simple, ordinary sense of the word, that they could not speak peaceably no matter how much they might want to."

This proposition ought to be undeniable. Would you really have us believe that you do not know the difference between not being able to do something because it is not within your natural powers to do so, and not being able to do it because you are so averse to it? This is not some psycho-babble, but common-sense stuff.

4) Conclusion: "That is the difference between a volitional freedom and a moral freedom. Volitionally, there was nothing to stop Joseph's brothers from speaking peaceably except their own willful refusal; but in the moral sense, their sinful hatred made their continuing refusal certain."

You offered no argument to refute this. Can you point to anything other than willful refusal that stopped Joseph's brothers from speaking peaceably to him? Do you think that Joseph's behavior or the father's favoritism really provided an excuse in the eyes of God for their behavior--as if they were left without any natural powers to speak peaceably? The text does not need to explicitly say that this inability consisted in unwillingness, as you seem to object, because it is a manner of expression common to language to imply the nature of the inability by the context.

5)Although the inability consists only in the unwillingness, the terms of inability are still appropriate[Fuller:]"…It is just as impossible, no doubt, for any person to do that which he has no mind to do, as to perform that which surpasses his natural powers; and hence it is that the same terms are used in the one case as in the other. Those who were under the dominion of envy and malignity “could not speak peaceably;” and those who have “eyes full of adultery cannot cease from sin.” Hence, also, the following language, “How can ye, being evil, speak good things?”

Together, these 5 propositions do compose an argument. The fact that the cause is itself an effect proves nothing. The reason for their hatred is irrelevant. All that is relevant to this argument is that their inability was not some lack of natural powers to do what was right, but only an aversion of heart that left them without excuse. And I am not limited to this single passage, either. There are some other examples of this expression. But it is commonly understood, anyway---take your taxes for example. If you hate what the government is doing with your money, and you tell them that you are angry and unable to pay your taxes, they will still put you in jail. Why is that? If you are unable, then you are unable. The problem is that they will immediately understand the implied distinction between an inability that consists in want of natural powers and an inability that consists only in want of will, and they will arrest you for having no excuse.

As for providing balance, it's not my role as one defending Augustinianism to provide a balance between the two sides.

peter lumpkins

Ken,

"You're making this much more complicated than it needs to be". I gave what I think is a straight-forward reading of an historical, descriptive narrative. On the other hand, you pleaded a psycho-philosophical distinction (yes, "psycho-philosophical" since it deals with the inner constitution of the human makeup in categories routinely discussed in philosophical circles) between volition and ability no where to be found in the text. Instead it's imposed upon the text.

Now, I'm quite content to allow the readers to judge who is "complicating" matters, Ken. Thanks.

peter lumpkins

BTW, Ken, to respond to your final line, when I was referencing "balance" I was only offering a friendly poke contrary to what I took as a friendly poke to me when you stated above: "But I must point out that bringing quotes of support from an "Augustinian/Calvinist" ADD balance to this discussion, rather than detracting from it. Care to count how many Augustinians are quoted in Jim's essay?" (my embolding). I meant nothing other than a playful jab on your own words. That's all.

I'm done now. Have a nice night.

Ken Hamrick

Thanks, Peter. Tone is hard to read sometimes. I appreciate the friendliness. I also appreciate you giving me the benefit of the doubt earlier.

Be blessed!

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