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RE: [christian-philosophy] RE: Calvinistic Conception of Grace (Morality of God)

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  • David R. Block
    Hello Alex, Speaking of delayed replies...... Oh well, the kids homework comes first I guess. ... A Calvinist would say no. However, the way they interpret
    Message 1 of 20 , Oct 1, 2000
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      Hello Alex,

      Speaking of delayed replies...... Oh well, the kids' homework comes
      first I guess.

      Aleksandar Katanovic wrote:
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Aleksandar Katanovic [mailto:akatanov@...]
      >
      > Dear David
      >
      > I apologize for my delayed reply. However, I was thinking
      > on your important
      > question, namely the question: Are there crystal clear
      > passages which would
      > refute Calvinism?

      A Calvinist would say no. However, the way they interpret scripture
      can be quite suspect at times.

      > I would answer both yes and no. The problem is that almost
      > every verse can
      > be problematized, even those verses which say that God
      > wants everyone
      > saved. A Calvinist could question the scope of the
      > universal quantifiers
      > (all, any, etc.). However, for me those verses are the most
      > crystal clear
      > passages, and therefore should be the guiding ones in the
      > interpretation of
      > the whole Bible.

      And that is exactly what they do, and it is one of the most maddening
      things that they do. They will openly state that the "whole world" of
      I John 2:2 and I John 5:19 are not the same, but are, in fact, direct
      opposites. I've even seen John Owen's _ The Death of Death in the
      Death of Christ _ which takes the two occurrences of "all men" in
      Romans 5:18 and maintains that in reference to Adam the "all men" is
      universal, yet in reference to Christ the "all men" is the elect. I
      just look at those who quote this as though they have lost their mind.
      (Which is hard to do in e-mail.)

      > Both a Calvinist and me would agree that human agents can
      > understand God.
      > We also agree that human understanding is limited. The
      > crucial question is:
      > how much is human understanding of God limited? It would be
      > meaningless to
      > say that human agents cannot *in principle* understand
      > God's *revealed*
      > Will to humankind. It would imply that we cannot understand
      > the biblical
      > revelation. We Christians say that God indeed communicated
      > with mankind.
      > However, how shall we understand God? Or, alternatively
      > stated: what is the
      > starting point of Christian theology. My answer is that the
      > starting point
      > of Christian theology is the human personhood. Here follows
      > my arguments.
      > Some of them would be Shirley's excellent arguments. Her
      > arguments are
      > crucial, and we need to discuss them in this thread. But
      > there is also a
      > new one, which concerns the Morality of God.

      To me, our understanding is limited by at least two things: 1) God's
      thoughts are above our thoughts, and 2) Even if He were to fully
      explain election, predestination, and the like, I'm not sure that we
      would understand it.

      > What Shirley says is this:
      >
      > >First, according to the biblical revelation, we know that
      > God has become
      > >incarnate in Christ, and so we can infer something about
      > God based on His
      > >own self-revelation. The actual starting-point is thus the
      > gospel story; a
      > >starting-point from below in that we do not presuppose
      > anything about the
      > >nature of God except that it has been revealed in Christ.
      > In other words,
      > >there is no theological "a priori" except Jesus Christ
      > Himself. The prime
      > >reason we can say that the starting point of Christian
      > theology is human
      > >personhood is that we recognize God in this one human
      > person, Jesus
      > >Christ. Note that this is not the theology of Aquinas or
      > the Catholic
      > >Church that still holds Aquinas as the norm for all theologizing.

      Fine, as long as we do not go so far as to make God in the image of
      man, when the Bible clearly states in Genesis that it is the other way
      around.

      > >Second, God has become incarnated not in a form that we
      > cannot recognize,
      > >but in human form, i.e. Jesus Christ. The implication is
      > that the human
      > >personhood is the appropriate form of God's self-communication.

      What does this do to the Old Testament communication from God? God did
      not usually speak to the prophets in Theophanies, so what about the
      OT?

      > Third, God created human being in God's image, meaning that
      > God shares some
      > important qualities that have the same form (Greek.
      > /i/eidos/i/; image,
      > form). It is written that God "breathed into man's nostrils
      > the breath of
      > life; and man became a living soul." It suggests that the
      > *qualities* of
      > human soul (personhood) was inherited from God's divine
      > breath, and not
      > created.

      I believe that God could create with His breath.

      > Fourth, the most central thesis of Christianity is that God
      > is God who is
      > capable of communication with the humankind. Where is
      > communication there
      > is involved understanding. God is not absolutely
      > incomprehensible deity. We
      > actually, in many important things, can understand our
      > Creator. But our
      > understanding is not infinite as His truly is. Nevertheless, His
      > understanding is in the harmony with the most fundamental
      > divine laws,
      > namely the logical laws, which human mind understands. If
      > logical laws did
      > not apply to God, then we can say that God can destroy
      > Himself. But this
      > would be a contradiction, since it is maintained that it is
      > possible to
      > *destroy* something *indestructible*. Notice which terms
      > contradict each
      > other. This would violate the non-contradiction principle,
      > one fundamental
      > logical law for maintaining consistency.

      Yes the law of noncontradiction applies. However, that does not mean
      that we can fully understand all of God's thoughts.

      Isaiah 55:9 (New American Standard Bible)
      9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
      So are My ways higher than your ways
      And My thoughts than your thoughts.

      > Fifth, and more importantly, moral laws are also
      > fundamental divine laws
      > which human agents understand. According to the biblical
      > revelation, the
      > human fall in sin was a result of acquiring the moral
      > knowledge of the good
      > and evil. After acquiring the moral knowledge of good and
      > evil, "the LORD
      > God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know
      > good and evil."
      > Human acquirement of the moral knowledge of good and evil
      > made human beings
      > in one important respect *equal* with God. In the ability
      > of judging
      > whether something is good or evil, we consequently can
      > judge whether God as
      > a Personal Being is good.

      Equal with God? That's a bit much, sir. Other versions have "like," so
      I would hold that this is a simile (like or as). This implies only
      similarities, not equality.

      > Sixth, if we take seriously John 1:1, John 14:6, John
      > 17:17, Heb. 6:18,
      > then we observe that God's self-revelation is that He is
      > the Word (Logos).
      > Further, it is said that God's words are true words. He
      > even created the
      > world by His word. It is strange that God chose to reveal
      > and represent
      > Himself as the Word, if language and communication isn't
      > significant for
      > His nature as Godhead, a unity of the Father, the Son, and
      > the Holy Spirit.
      > God as a personal God was never alone, because His Divine
      > Personality
      > consist of three Holy Persons, which were, are and will
      > always be in a
      > fellowship, a fellowship which presupposes one
      > communication and by that
      > token the language.

      Well, ok, but I don't get the point here. ?:-)

      > The fifth reason is the basis for the new evolved topic
      > "Morality of God"
      > from our Grace-topic. If you agree that logical laws are
      > laws that human
      > agents understand and that they should be applied in our
      > talk about God,
      > then likewise we can understand that the moral knowledge of
      > good and evil
      > also applies in our talk about God. The story of human fall
      > says that we
      > human agents can morally evaluate whether God is
      > *intrinsically* good or
      > *intrinsically* evil. And our moral evaluations are based
      > on biblical
      > reports of God's actions. If God is love, then God could
      > never create some
      > being which would be unconditionally *foreordained* to
      > Hell. Ask yourself
      > this question: if I were god, would I create someone whom I
      > will foreordain
      > to endless pain and unbearable suffering? I take it that
      > you are quite
      > morally sensitive person, and you would answer negatively
      > on the question.
      > If YOU, who is a sinner, would not create some being with
      > the intention to
      > inflict to someone incredible endless pain, then how about
      > God, who is a
      > Morally Perfect Being? The trouble with Calvinist theology
      > is that it
      > doesn't consider God's Moral Perfection, but only emphasize
      > God's Power and
      > Sovereignty. However, God is sovereign, but His Sovereignty
      > is based on His
      > Moral Perfection.

      And here is where I part ways with most Calvinists. I believe that
      election is largely beyond our comprehension in its finest details. It
      also appears to me to be more corporate than individual, based
      primarily on the plurals in Ephesians 1, and that Malachi was dealing
      primarily with the nations of Israel and Edom, and not their
      individual heads; therefore, Romans 9:13 is corporate also, in spite
      of the Calvinist attempt to make it individual.

      > The Bible informs us that God is love. It informs us that
      > He was willing to
      > die on the Cross to save the world. It informs us that God
      > wants everyone
      > saved. It suggest that God is indeed the Most Perfect Good
      > Being. But this
      > would indeed contradict with the doctrine of unconditional
      > election. God
      > would indeed be evil, worst than Demiurg (an evil Gnostic deity).

      If you are asking me to support this, you are asking me to support
      what I don't believe. BTW, election to hell is commonly called
      "reprobation."

      > We should be really careful when we say that God
      > unconditionally elect
      > someone to Hell. I maintain that such God is *per
      > definition* evil. God
      > would be evil if He cause someone harm with no
      > justification for causing
      > such harm. Recall my pragmatic definition of an evil person
      > (from the
      > article "The Wrath of God"). Would you not agree with me
      > with the following
      > definition of an evil agent?
      >
      > With "evil person" we will mean a person that is directly
      > responsible for
      > causing intentional and unjustified harm towards other persons.

      And here the Calvinist would split the will of God into "permissive"
      and "decretive." Yet elsewhere they will maintain that God has but one
      will. So go figure. ;-) They also argue (confusingly, at best) that
      while God is a cause, He is not the direct cause; therefore, He is not
      directly responsible. Confused? Me, too.

      > Please, think more about it. Would God intentionally cause
      > an unjustified
      > harm towards someone? And here we speak about God's
      > intentions before
      > creating the world. According to a Calvinist, God unconditionally
      > foreordained that humans would fall in sin, and His
      > intention was also to
      > unconditionally elect some human to Hell. Well, that would
      > be for me a
      > deity that is per definition evil. What are your thoughts?
      >

      Actually, the Calvinists have man arriving in hell permissively,
      unless, of course, they are Hypercalvinists, in which case all bets
      are off. ;-) They do this through either explicit duality in the will
      of God (which they usually reject), or by positing various forms of
      "causes" which I have to admit I do not understand. The Calvinist
      would claim that if I did understand it, then I would have no
      objections. Somehow, I don't think so.

      Peace,

      David

      ICQ# 76248872
      "If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then
      the first woodpecker that came along would destroy
      civilization"--Murphy's Laws of Computer Programming.
    • Shirley Isaac
      ... Yes, I have found this confusing also! Shirley
      Message 2 of 20 , Oct 1, 2000
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        David R. Block wrote:

        > And here the Calvinist would split the will of God into "permissive"
        > and "decretive." Yet elsewhere they will maintain that God has but one
        > will. So go figure. ;-)

        Yes, I have found this confusing also!

        Shirley
      • Aleksandar Katanovic
        ... Hello David ... God s understanding is infinite, encompassing concepts which we cannot fathom. However, logical laws are fundamental, as shown in my
        Message 3 of 20 , Oct 2, 2000
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          At 22:03 01.10.00 -0500, you wrote:
          > > Both a Calvinist and me would agree that human agents can
          > > understand God.
          > > We also agree that human understanding is limited.

          Hello David

          I said that human understanding is limited, but:

          > > The
          > > crucial question is:
          > > how much is human understanding of God limited?

          >To me, our understanding is limited by at least two things: 1) God's
          >thoughts are above our thoughts, and 2) Even if He were to fully
          >explain election, predestination, and the like, I'm not sure that we
          >would understand it.

          God's understanding is infinite, encompassing concepts which we cannot
          fathom. However, logical laws are fundamental, as shown in my previous
          post. We observed how the non-contradiction principle is fundamental for
          *conceptual* coherence. This logic is human logic. The principle of
          noncontradiction is a *rational* constraint even for God, because it is by
          the virtue of that principle we can discern rationality and delusions. An
          agent who does not understand, or follow or respect the principle of
          noncontradiction is an agent that is incapable of communication with other
          rational agents. Agents that are incapable for communication are typically
          animals, infants, or persons that suffers of certain delusions. Such agent
          is not worthy of the title Rational Agent. Thus, if God is a Perfect
          Rational Agent, then it is surely that He is the one who truly respect and
          follow logic, logic which even a mere human being understands and follows.
          Thus, God's usage of concepts 'election', 'predestination' and the like
          would be logically consistent. These concepts are understood by human
          agents. They are not concepts which we cannot fathom.

          Thus, (1) is true because God's thoughts employs some concepts which we
          cannot even fathom, as a blind person doesn't understand the concept of
          redness. However, this is the only thing which makes human understanding
          limited, and nothing else. A blind person also uses logical principles in
          his concept possession, as God does the same. (Recall what kind of theology
          we end with if we deny this).

          But (2) is false, because all concepts you mentioned are concepts which
          human agents understand, and God had to use these concepts in the same
          manner he would use the concepts 'bachelor', 'married', 'man' and 'woman'.
          God would never affirmatively state the statement: "a bachelor is a married
          woman."

          > > >The prime reason we can say that the starting point of Christian
          > > >theology is human personhood is that we recognize God in this one human
          > > >person, Jesus Christ.
          >
          >Fine, as long as we do not go so far as to make God in the image of
          >man, when the Bible clearly states in Genesis that it is the other way
          >around.

          I agree, David. Our God is not as Greek conceived gods, as Apollo, or Zeus.
          But to be honest, I much prefer to worship Zeus than Calvin's god. I much
          prefer to worship Hermes than god of Plotinus. Why? Because western ancient
          polytheism is actually more close to biblical monotheism than the god of
          the Greek philosophy, although polytheism is in many things grossly wrong.
          But in one thing it hits the right target: it conceives gods as concrete
          persons, who can participate in the whole spectrum of human emotions. Not
          so with the god of Plotinus, or Calvin's god. I maintain that the
          Calvinistic god is morally repugnant entity, and if it had some
          personality, then such personality is schizophrenic and worse than evil
          gods in various polytheistic pantheons, as Seth, Kali or the obnoxious
          Tlazolteotl. At least Tlazolteotl offers to her worshipers sexual
          pleasures, no matter how ugly perverse these pleasures are.

          How can many Christians be so blind in not seeing that the Calvin's god is
          evil? How? I do not dare worship such Calvinistic entity. The permissive
          and decretive will would not help here. More at the end about it.

          > > >Second, God has become incarnated not in a form that we
          > > cannot recognize, but in human form, i.e. Jesus Christ. The implication is
          > > that the human personhood is the appropriate form of God's
          > self-communication.
          >
          >What does this do to the Old Testament communication from God? God did
          >not usually speak to the prophets in Theophanies, so what about the
          >OT?

          The OT is significant for two reasons: (1) it describes God as *concrete*
          Person who shows love, jealousy, hatred, repentance, passion, desires,
          compassion, empathy, sorrow, anguish, pain, joy, and all other emotions;
          (2) it points to Christ, where Christ is the culmination in God's
          revelation in the history of communication between God and mankind.

          > > It suggests that the *qualities* of human soul (personhood) was
          > inherited from God's divine
          > > breath, and not created.
          >
          >I believe that God could create with His breath.

          Not so with *qualities* as Love, emotions as joy, rational powers as
          thinking, etc. If you say that these spiritual qualities are created then
          you maintain that God had not these qualities before creation. Observe what
          was emphasized in my previous post. What was emphasized was *qualities*.

          Of course, God is capable of creating things out of nothing (creation ex
          nihilo), even if it is a mystery for humans. This is for God perfectly
          possible to do because my statement: "God is capable of creating things out
          of nothing" does not involve any contradiction, although we do not
          understand it. It is rather a mystery and not a contradiction. Why? Because
          concepts involved in the proposition are not in the relation of logical
          contradiction. We have (1) 'creating things', and (2) 'out of nothing'. (1)
          is not a negation of (2); (2) is not a negation of (1). Negation of (1) is
          'not creating things'. (2) is simply an abstract logical space of 'no
          existing things', and its negation is 'some existing thing'. 'Some existing
          thing' is not the same as 'creating things'. Moreover, creation is not a
          thing, it is an activity. Furthermore, the very concept 'creation' can
          involve that some thing becomes suddenly "out of nowhere" into being, and
          thus it involves 'out of nothing' as well. Therefore, 'creation ex nihilo'
          is not the instance of [A & not A].

          Notice how our understanding is limited, but even in such cases we can
          differentiate between mysteries and contradictions *by logical principles*.

          But it is the very God's breath which made it possible that "a man became a
          living soul." It was not God's breath which made human body, but rather
          became a living soul in human body. It is not stated that God's breath made
          human soul "out of nothing." In fact, even human body was not made out of
          nothing, but formed out "of the dust of the ground."

          Surely, God is capable to isolate some part of Himself and breathe
          something from Himself into the first human body. The breath-spirit of God
          had enabled the first man to be a living soul, which makes him to be an
          *independent* person with it's own thoughts, emotions and will. The soul in
          the man has *some* divine qualities, in the virtue of its direct source in
          God's breath-spirit. The breath-spirit of God is different from man's
          breath (spirit). If God chooses, God's breath can be an indestructible
          spirit with its own independent vitality that can sustain life. God's
          breath can be a creative breath, as His creative words are, but with one
          personified vitality. God's breath can independently, once they are
          separated from God's Being, if God chooses so, has its own life and
          personhood. According to my Christian Personalistic perspective, God chose
          this: the God-breath, with its own ability to sustain life and manifest
          thoughts and willpower, became the very breath of man, enabling him to be a
          living soul. The soul of man has some divine qualities in the virtue of its
          origin from God's breath, a breath that transformed man in a living soul.
          Without that breath, man couldn't have thoughts and willpower. The will in
          man has its source from the God's breath-spirit; a breath that was
          participated and was internally belonged to the very nature of God. In this
          sense it is not created from nothingness, but *formed* from God's
          indestructible being. Consider the following question: why are our souls
          immortal? Precisely because they cannot be destroyed by annihilation there
          is Hell for the lost damned souls. This idea of immortality of human soul
          can be supported by the Bible, but cannot be proved. Nevertheless, the
          doctrine of immortality (indestructibility) of human soul provides a
          powerful defense for the doctrine of eternal damnation.

          >Yes the law of noncontradiction applies. However, that does not mean
          >that we can fully understand all of God's thoughts.

          Did I suggest that we can fully understand God's thoughts? I believe that I
          did not. So, why do you mention such irritating irrelevant and obvious
          truism? What is important is not to underestimate human moral and noematic
          abilities in our relation to God, as you seem to do. It is precisely this
          underestimation of human abilities that breed such monstrous doctrines as
          TULIP.

          > > Human acquirement of the moral knowledge of good and evil
          > > made human beings
          > > in one important respect *equal* with God. In the ability
          > > of judging
          > > whether something is good or evil, we consequently can
          > > judge whether God as
          > > a Personal Being is good.
          >
          >Equal with God? That's a bit much, sir.

          First, observe my *whole* sentence, because I am quite careful what I
          state. I said: "in one important respect ..." Did I say in all aspects? No,
          of course not. The crucial aspect is the moral aspect, and in the aspect of
          moral perception we are exactly equal with God; otherwise we would not be
          morally accountable beings before God, and be sent to Hell.

          Second, you do not take seriously God's own judgment of our human
          abilities, a judgment which was uttered after human fall. God said:
          "Behold, the man is become as one of us." Now, you object to this by saying:

          >Other versions have "like," so
          >I would hold that this is a simile (like or as). This implies only
          >similarities, not equality.

          Yes, but these translations are based on Biblica Hebraica, a modern version
          (1906, 1912) not acknowledged by Rabbinic teachers, and not on the
          Masoretic text. Read for instance MKJV and Young's literate translation,
          which translate as KJV. My Serbian Bible translates it as KJV; the same
          with Luther's version, and all Norwegian versions. I trust more KJV in this
          respect. (I am not a KJV fanatic; there are some passages which are wrongly
          translated, but my point is that I only respect translations which are
          based on Masoretic text and Textus Receptus).

          But even if we accepted the Hebraica reading, my interpretation would not
          contradict with it.

          > > Sixth, if we take seriously John 1:1, John 14:6, John
          > > 17:17, Heb. 6:18,
          > > then we observe that God's self-revelation is that He is
          > > the Word (Logos).
          > > Further, it is said that God's words are true words. He
          > > even created the
          > > world by His word. It is strange that God chose to reveal
          > > and represent
          > > Himself as the Word, if language and communication isn't
          > > significant for
          > > His nature as Godhead, a unity of the Father, the Son, and
          > > the Holy Spirit.
          > > God as a personal God was never alone, because His Divine
          > > Personality
          > > consist of three Holy Persons, which were, are and will
          > > always be in a
          > > fellowship, a fellowship which presupposes one
          > > communication and by that
          > > token the language.
          >
          >Well, ok, but I don't get the point here. ?:-)

          Well, it is a long story to explain why my sixth reason is important; it
          involves the significance of language. Every language has some structure,
          and there are some who maintain that the logical structure is fundamental
          to *all* languages. It would mean that divine language in many important
          aspects shares the same structure with human language.

          One of the reasons is that any language must have some degree of coherence,
          and one of important criteria of truth is the coherence criterion. The
          coherence criterion could be stated as such: an unambiguous assertoric
          sentence p in a context C within a language L is true if and only if p is
          consistent with other known true sentences in L which are relevant for the
          context C.

          [Note that my consideration about the truth does not depend on any truth
          theory. A theory of truth seeks to tell us what the truth of a judgment
          consists in, or, in other words, to exhibit the essential nature of truth.
          For instance, the coherence theory of truth is the theory that truth is
          *constituted by* coherence among beliefs; likewise, the pragmatic theory of
          truth is the theory that truth is *constituted by* conformity to (usually
          future) experience. What I merely said was one *criterion* of the truth,
          not implying that the criterion constitutes the essential nature of truth.
          Both a coherentist and a correspondist would agree with the coherence
          criterion of truth, by which we judge whether some sentence in a language
          is true or not. Also, my definition does not exhibit the feature of vicious
          circle; truth could be first specified by some another non-circular
          characterization of truth, as for instance the correspondence criterion;
          and then proceed to further specify true statements in the language à la
          Tarski's T-schema].

          If I said, "a bachelor is a married woman," then this statement would be
          false, but its falsity stems from the coherence criterion. This statement
          is false only by the reflection on the inner logical structure of English
          language. (By the principle of identity, the principle of noncontradiction,
          some rules of inference, with the meaning of 'bachelor', and 'married
          woman') Equally, if God said "a bachelor is a married woman," then we
          would indeed wonder how it is possible for God to say that. We would wonder
          because we know that it is impossible for Him to lie (cf. Heb 6:18). Thus,
          God would never say a false assertoric proposition p in some language L, by
          general truth criteria.

          In any language, a meaning of the words and statements are determined by
          the their usage according to some agreed rules. Every rule presupposes the
          concept of correctness/incorrectness of its employment in accordance to
          some agreed standards, precisely because a rule is not a rule if it lacks a
          criterion of its own employment. Rules, concept of correct/wrong and
          standards make a normative structure that serves for communication.
          Communication can never be successful if its structure is totally
          incoherent. No coherence no communication. Correctness and incorrectness
          are closely related to the truth and falsity, if the sentences of the
          language are unambiguous assertoric ones. In propositional (assertoric)
          language, the meaning of the sentence is usually determined by the truth
          conditions, which makes such sentence true. Since every language has some
          kind of coherence, what kind of coherence exhibits propositional language?
          It exhibits a logical consistent kind of coherence, because of the truth
          conditions that is subsumed by the general criteria of the truth/falsity,
          as for instance the coherence criterion. In the virtue of those general
          criteria, every propositional language is a capable instrument of
          communication. A propositional language is one important fragment of
          language, and some would say, as Frege, Dummett, etc. that propositional
          language is the prime function of language. I would say neutrally that all
          other kinds of sentences (interrogative, imperatives, etc.) are
          semantically related to the propositional fragment of language. In other
          words, language is a capable instrument of communication only if it has a
          logical structure. Which amounts to say that the Divine language, which is
          per excellence a capable instrument of communication, share the same
          underlying logical structure with human languages. Thus, God as the True
          Word must respect the laws of Logic; i.e. logic makes *rational*
          restrictions on God. If not, He could lie, and this is clearly inconsistent
          with the teaching of the Bible. Consequently, we can understand our Creator
          in many important things. Of course, it doesn't mean that we understand God
          in all things. But that's irrelevant. What is relevant is the aspect of
          communication where we understand God.

          > > We should be really careful when we say that God
          > > unconditionally elect
          > > someone to Hell. I maintain that such God is *per
          > > definition* evil. God
          > > would be evil if He cause someone harm with no
          > > justification for causing
          > > such harm. Recall my pragmatic definition of an evil person
          > > (from the
          > > article "The Wrath of God"). Would you not agree with me
          > > with the following
          > > definition of an evil agent?
          > >
          > > With "evil person" we will mean
          > > a person that is directly responsible for
          > > causing intentional and unjustified harm towards other persons.
          >
          >And here the Calvinist would split the will of God into "permissive"
          >and "decretive." Yet elsewhere they will maintain that God has but one
          >will. So go figure. ;-) They also argue (confusingly, at best) that
          >while God is a cause, He is not the direct cause; therefore, He is not
          >directly responsible. Confused? Me, too.

          No, I am not confused. But it would not help the Calvinist case.

          First, my definition would render Calvinistic god as evil, even if such
          obnoxious entity indirectly caused evil. Notice what I say in my above
          definition: "directly *responsible*". (I try to be very careful in my
          statements). I do not say that an evil person must directly cause some
          harm, but that it is directly responsible for causing some harm. Causing
          directly some harm is not the same as being directly responsible for
          causing some harm. Of course, the responsibility in question is a moral
          responsibility.

          Some person can directly cause some unintentional harm. As such it is not
          morally responsible at all. Second, some person can be directly responsible
          for indirectly causing some harm. Consider a following example:

          You hire a professional murder because you wish to get rid of your boss.
          You did not directly caused the murder of your boss. It is the hired killer
          who directly caused the murder of your boss. But you are directly
          responsible for the murder; you would be convicted by all legal
          institutions of the world. So, the issue is not whether God directly caused
          or not. Rather the issue is whether God is morally *responsible* for human
          fall in sin.

          Second, the decretive will pertains to decisions made in "eternity past"
          and not in "the realm of providence." God's decretive will is the ultimate
          will. Permissive will cannot be independent of God's decrees. God's decrees
          determines everything else. If there is some Calvinist in our forum, I
          would ask him/her to explain this distinction.

          A five point Calvinist would say that God had decreed (foreordained), "in
          eternity past", that Adam would fall in sin. The whole idea of Calvinism is
          that it is God who controls deterministically everything. All future is
          predetermined, not in an Arminianist manner, but in a pandeterministic
          manner. God unconditionally reprobated people to Hell before creation of
          human race. All Calvinists would say that God foreordained Adam and Eve to
          human fall.

          The idea of unconditional election is that God elects individuals without
          regard of the moral character of human individuals. However, even a
          Calvinist would grant that God would be unjust if God reprobated sinless
          individuals. However, the unconditional election is solely based on God's
          decretive will and not on God's omniscience. Calvinistic omniscient god is
          omniscient because of divine determination of future. That crucial feature
          of Calvinistic concept of omniscience is what it distinguishes from the
          Arminian concept. Thus, if God had unconditionally reprobated some people
          to Hell, then God had first (in logical sense, and not in temporal, since
          we speak of Calvinistic realm of eternity) foreordained "in eternity past",
          "before the foundation of the world", that human race would be a totally
          depraved race. Thus, the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election is
          closely related to the doctrine of total depravity. And similarly it is
          closely related to other points of TULIP. The question is whether U or T
          implies all other points of TULIP, within the Calvinistic framework. That
          could be interesting issue to discuss.

          Peace,
          Alex


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        • David R. Block
          Hello Alex, This is regrettably long. Maybe we need to narrow this down. ... They (election, predestination, reprobation, and preterition) are concepts that
          Message 4 of 20 , Oct 2, 2000
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            Hello Alex,

            This is regrettably long. Maybe we need to narrow this down.

            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: Aleksandar Katanovic [mailto:akatanov@...]
            > Sent: Monday, October 02, 2000 6:34 AM
            > To: christian-philosophy@egroups.com
            > Subject: [christian-philosophy] Limits of moral understanding God?
            >
            >
            > At 22:03 01.10.00 -0500, you wrote:
            > > > Both a Calvinist and me would agree that human agents can
            > > > understand God.
            > > > We also agree that human understanding is limited.
            >
            > Hello David
            >
            > I said that human understanding is limited, but:
            >
            > > > The
            > > > crucial question is:
            > > > how much is human understanding of God limited?
            >
            > >To me, our understanding is limited by at least two
            > things: 1) God's
            > >thoughts are above our thoughts, and 2) Even if He were to fully
            > >explain election, predestination, and the like, I'm not
            > sure that we
            > >would understand it.
            >
            > God's understanding is infinite, encompassing concepts
            > which we cannot
            > fathom. However, logical laws are fundamental, as shown in
            > my previous
            > post. We observed how the non-contradiction principle is
            > fundamental for
            > *conceptual* coherence. This logic is human logic. The principle of
            > noncontradiction is a *rational* constraint even for God,
            > because it is by
            > the virtue of that principle we can discern rationality and
            > delusions. An
            > agent who does not understand, or follow or respect the
            > principle of
            > noncontradiction is an agent that is incapable of
            > communication with other
            > rational agents. Agents that are incapable for
            > communication are typically
            > animals, infants, or persons that suffers of certain
            > delusions. Such agent
            > is not worthy of the title Rational Agent. Thus, if God is
            > a Perfect
            > Rational Agent, then it is surely that He is the one who
            > truly respect and
            > follow logic, logic which even a mere human being
            > understands and follows.
            > Thus, God's usage of concepts 'election', 'predestination'
            > and the like
            > would be logically consistent. These concepts are
            > understood by human
            > agents. They are not concepts which we cannot fathom.
            >
            > Thus, (1) is true because God's thoughts employs some
            > concepts which we
            > cannot even fathom, as a blind person doesn't understand
            > the concept of
            > redness. However, this is the only thing which makes human
            > understanding
            > limited, and nothing else. A blind person also uses logical
            > principles in
            > his concept possession, as God does the same. (Recall what
            > kind of theology
            > we end with if we deny this).
            >
            > But (2) is false, because all concepts you mentioned are
            > concepts which
            > human agents understand, and God had to use these concepts
            > in the same
            > manner he would use the concepts 'bachelor', 'married',
            > 'man' and 'woman'.
            > God would never affirmatively state the statement: "a
            > bachelor is a married
            > woman."

            They (election, predestination, reprobation, and preterition) are
            concepts that human agents think they understand. Do they really?
            Usually not apart from a preconceived theological schema. Your example
            is a shattering glimpse of the obvious, but how does that relate to my
            terms?

            > > > >The prime reason we can say that the starting point of
            > Christian
            > > > >theology is human personhood is that we recognize God
            > in this one human
            > > > >person, Jesus Christ.
            > >
            > >Fine, as long as we do not go so far as to make God in the image of
            > >man, when the Bible clearly states in Genesis that it is
            > the other way
            > >around.
            >
            > I agree, David. Our God is not as Greek conceived gods, as
            > Apollo, or Zeus.
            > But to be honest, I much prefer to worship Zeus than
            > Calvin's god. I much
            > prefer to worship Hermes than god of Plotinus.

            Ignorance alert. Who's Plotinus?

            > Why? Because
            > western ancient
            > polytheism is actually more close to biblical monotheism
            > than the god of
            > the Greek philosophy, although polytheism is in many things
            > grossly wrong.
            > But in one thing it hits the right target: it conceives
            > gods as concrete
            > persons, who can participate in the whole spectrum of human
            > emotions. Not
            > so with the god of Plotinus, or Calvin's god. I maintain that the
            > Calvinistic god is morally repugnant entity, and if it had some
            > personality, then such personality is schizophrenic and
            > worse than evil
            > gods in various polytheistic pantheons, as Seth, Kali or
            > the obnoxious
            > Tlazolteotl. At least Tlazolteotl offers to her worshipers sexual
            > pleasures, no matter how ugly perverse these pleasures are.

            Many have said that Calvin's "God" is not playing with a full deck.
            I'm not sure that I find myself in agreement that the polytheistic
            systems that you present here are any better.

            > How can many Christians be so blind in not seeing that the
            > Calvin's god is
            > evil? How? I do not dare worship such Calvinistic entity.

            You'll have to ask one of them. I have only been presenting the
            Calvinistic arguments that I have run across, and I do not hold to
            Calvinism myself. I was hoping that I would learn some pointers in
            arguing effectively.

            > The permissive
            > and decretive will would not help here. More at the end about it.

            Correct.

            > > > >Second, God has become incarnated not in a form that we
            > > > cannot recognize, but in human form, i.e. Jesus Christ.
            > The implication is
            > > > that the human personhood is the appropriate form of God's
            > > self-communication.
            > >
            > >What does this do to the Old Testament communication from
            > God? God did
            > >not usually speak to the prophets in Theophanies, so what about the
            > >OT?
            >
            > The OT is significant for two reasons: (1) it describes God
            > as *concrete*
            > Person who shows love, jealousy, hatred, repentance,
            > passion, desires,
            > compassion, empathy, sorrow, anguish, pain, joy, and all
            > other emotions;

            Fine, but except for certain theophanies in the OT, God did not
            present Himself in human form. How then is human personhood the
            appropriate form of God's self-communication in the OT? It sure did
            not occur very often.

            > (2) it points to Christ, where Christ is the culmination in God's
            > revelation in the history of communication between God and mankind.
            >
            > > > It suggests that the *qualities* of human soul (personhood) was
            > > inherited from God's divine
            > > > breath, and not created.
            > >
            > >I believe that God could create with His breath.
            >
            > Not so with *qualities* as Love, emotions as joy, rational
            > powers as
            > thinking, etc.

            How so?

            > If you say that these spiritual qualities
            > are created then
            > you maintain that God had not these qualities before
            > creation. Observe what
            > was emphasized in my previous post. What was emphasized was
            > *qualities*.

            NO, God had these qualities before creation. God is in the category of
            creator, and man is in the category of creation. To mingle the two
            categories is to create "category confusion." Or do you believe that
            God Himself is a creation?

            > Of course, God is capable of creating things out of nothing
            > (creation ex
            > nihilo), even if it is a mystery for humans. This is for
            > God perfectly
            > possible to do because my statement: "God is capable of
            > creating things out
            > of nothing" does not involve any contradiction, although we do not
            > understand it. It is rather a mystery and not a
            > contradiction. Why? Because
            > concepts involved in the proposition are not in the
            > relation of logical
            > contradiction. We have (1) 'creating things', and (2) 'out
            > of nothing'. (1)
            > is not a negation of (2); (2) is not a negation of (1).
            > Negation of (1) is
            > 'not creating things'. (2) is simply an abstract logical
            > space of 'no
            > existing things', and its negation is 'some existing
            > thing'. 'Some existing
            > thing' is not the same as 'creating things'. Moreover,
            > creation is not a
            > thing, it is an activity. Furthermore, the very concept
            > 'creation' can
            > involve that some thing becomes suddenly "out of nowhere"
            > into being, and
            > thus it involves 'out of nothing' as well. Therefore,
            > 'creation ex nihilo'
            > is not the instance of [A & not A].
            >
            > Notice how our understanding is limited, but even in such
            > cases we can
            > differentiate between mysteries and contradictions *by
            > logical principles*.
            >
            > But it is the very God's breath which made it possible that
            > "a man became a
            > living soul." It was not God's breath which made human
            > body, but rather
            > became a living soul in human body. It is not stated that
            > God's breath made
            > human soul "out of nothing."

            And neither is it said that it was made out of anything. The
            instrument was the Divine breath, but just how that worked is not
            detailed, so I'm not willing to be so dogmatic over it.

            > In fact, even human body was
            > not made out of
            > nothing, but formed out "of the dust of the ground."
            >
            > Surely, God is capable to isolate some part of Himself and breathe
            > something from Himself into the first human body. The
            > breath-spirit of God
            > had enabled the first man to be a living soul, which makes
            > him to be an
            > *independent* person with it's own thoughts, emotions and
            > will. The soul in
            > the man has *some* divine qualities, in the virtue of its
            > direct source in
            > God's breath-spirit.

            Whoa. Not so fast. Now all of the sudden we have "breath-spirit" ex
            nihilo out of your keyboard. ;-) I thought it was just "breath" not
            long ago. What's happening here? Word games?

            > The breath-spirit of God is different
            > from man's
            > breath (spirit). If God chooses, God's breath can be an
            > indestructible
            > spirit with its own independent vitality that can sustain
            > life. God's
            > breath can be a creative breath, as His creative words are,
            > but with one
            > personified vitality.

            Gee, thought I said that (create with His breath), but you did not
            like it. =:-?

            > God's breath can independently, once they are
            > separated from God's Being, if God chooses so, has its own life and
            > personhood. According to my Christian Personalistic
            > perspective, God chose
            > this: the God-breath, with its own ability to sustain life
            > and manifest
            > thoughts and willpower, became the very breath of man,
            > enabling him to be a
            > living soul. The soul of man has some divine qualities in
            > the virtue of its
            > origin from God's breath, a breath that transformed man in
            > a living soul.
            > Without that breath, man couldn't have thoughts and
            > willpower. The will in
            > man has its source from the God's breath-spirit; a breath that was
            > participated and was internally belonged to the very nature
            > of God. In this
            > sense it is not created from nothingness, but *formed* from God's
            > indestructible being. Consider the following question: why
            > are our souls
            > immortal? Precisely because they cannot be destroyed by
            > annihilation there
            > is Hell for the lost damned souls. This idea of immortality
            > of human soul
            > can be supported by the Bible, but cannot be proved.
            > Nevertheless, the
            > doctrine of immortality (indestructibility) of human soul
            > provides a
            > powerful defense for the doctrine of eternal damnation.
            >
            > >Yes the law of noncontradiction applies. However, that
            > does not mean
            > >that we can fully understand all of God's thoughts.
            >
            > Did I suggest that we can fully understand God's thoughts?

            No. Did I say you did? No. What's the problem? Touchy, touchy. ;-)

            > I believe that I
            > did not. So, why do you mention such irritating irrelevant
            > and obvious
            > truism?

            Oh, it irritates you. Gee, sorry I didn't read your mind and figure
            that out. ;-)

            > What is important is not to underestimate human
            > moral and noematic
            > abilities in our relation to God, as you seem to do.

            Now THIS made me laugh. I don't even know what noematic means! And I
            think that it is equally important that we do not overestimate human
            moral and noematic (whatever that is) abilities to such an extent that
            man becomes God or that we make God in our image, as I have stated
            before.

            > It is
            > precisely this
            > underestimation of human abilities that breed such
            > monstrous doctrines as
            > TULIP.

            And it is the glorification of one's own abilities that leads to
            self-deification. Look at the Roman Emperors. There should be a happy
            medium somewhere.

            > > > Human acquirement of the moral knowledge of good and evil
            > > > made human beings
            > > > in one important respect *equal* with God. In the ability
            > > > of judging
            > > > whether something is good or evil, we consequently can
            > > > judge whether God as
            > > > a Personal Being is good.
            > >
            > >Equal with God? That's a bit much, sir.
            >
            > First, observe my *whole* sentence, because I am quite
            > careful what I
            > state. I said: "in one important respect ..." Did I say in
            > all aspects? No,
            > of course not. The crucial aspect is the moral aspect, and
            > in the aspect of
            > moral perception we are exactly equal with God; otherwise
            > we would not be
            > morally accountable beings before God, and be sent to Hell.
            >
            > Second, you do not take seriously God's own judgment of our human
            > abilities, a judgment which was uttered after human fall. God said:
            > "Behold, the man is become as one of us." Now, you object
            > to this by saying:

            Here, you even quote the "as," yet you object to my contention that it
            is a simile here, which in the English is usually indicated by "like"
            or "as." Needless to say that I find that quite curious.

            > >Other versions have "like," so
            > >I would hold that this is a simile (like or as). This implies only
            > >similarities, not equality.
            >
            > Yes, but these translations are based on Biblica Hebraica,
            > a modern version
            > (1906, 1912) not acknowledged by Rabbinic teachers, and not on the
            > Masoretic text. Read for instance MKJV and Young's literate
            > translation,
            > which translate as KJV. My Serbian Bible translates it as
            > KJV; the same
            > with Luther's version, and all Norwegian versions. I trust
            > more KJV in this
            > respect. (I am not a KJV fanatic; there are some passages
            > which are wrongly
            > translated, but my point is that I only respect
            > translations which are
            > based on Masoretic text and Textus Receptus).

            I got "like" from the NASB and "as" from the KJV and your own citation
            above, if you're interested.

            > But even if we accepted the Hebraica reading, my
            > interpretation would not
            > contradict with it.

            In the interest of time (yawn, it's late here), I have snipped the
            rest and put in another post.

            To be continued.....

            David

            ICQ# 76248872
            "If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then
            the first woodpecker that came along would destroy
            civilization"--Murphy's Laws of Computer Programming.
          • Shirley Isaac
            ... Sure do, or else no one is ever going to be able to butt in on your discussions and this is going to be an Alex and David list! Oh well, let it be.
            Message 5 of 20 , Oct 2, 2000
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              David R. Block wrote:
              >
              > Hello Alex,
              >
              > This is regrettably long. Maybe we need to narrow this down.

              Sure do, or else no one is ever going to be able to butt in on your
              discussions and this is going to be an "Alex and David" list!

              Oh well, let it be.

              Blessings to everyone,
              Shirley
            • Aleksandar Katanovic
              ... Hello David, I apologize for having written a long reply. Shirley is right that I am quite long-winded in my writing. But I prefer to come with arguments
              Message 6 of 20 , Oct 3, 2000
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                At 22:14 02.10.00 -0500, you wrote:
                >Hello Alex,
                >
                >This is regrettably long. Maybe we need to narrow this down.


                Hello David,

                I apologize for having written a long reply. Shirley is right that I am
                quite long-winded in my writing. But I prefer to come with arguments and
                not just state my opinions. Arguments tend to be long if we wish to provide
                a good defense for our perspectives. I am not saying that my arguments are
                good; there is much to be polished, and it is precisely our arguments that
                should be discussed. To see whether they are wrong, whether they can be
                improved, what kind of assumptions are presupposed, etc.

                Also, it is much easier to attack someone's argument than to provide some
                argument. Arguments should be attacked in order to test them, to improve
                them, etc. What I have done in my previous posts on this topic (and
                similarly related ones) is to introduce my perspective, giving some
                arguments, and also attacking Calvinistic perspective. However, until now,
                there were no introduced arguments for defining and defending Calvinistic
                (or similar traditional Christian) perspective. Consequently, there were
                not much opportunity in discussing Calvinistic arguments. What I maintain
                is that Calvinistic perspective renders God evil, and have provided some
                reasons why I maintain this. What I wish is to hear the voice of the
                opposing view, and consider their arguments. But it is important to know
                how to proceed with this kind of discussion in this forum.

                We are not primely concerned with interpretations of the Bible. Rather, we
                are concerned with *philosophical* consequences of some interpretation. You
                have missed the whole point if your goal was to question my interpretation
                by merely providing another. Of course, we should question our
                interpretations, but the manner of questioning should not be mere
                exegetical, but *philosophical*. *If* we discuss our interpretation then we
                are interested by seeing what kind of consequences such interpretation
                yields. What we are interested in is to see whether some Christian
                perspective has a *philosophical* merit.

                My task was to argue that the Calvinistic interpretation of the Bible
                renders God evil, human agents as marionettes. I tried to emphasize that we
                human beings have important abilities which are crucial in our relation to
                God. I gave some reasons why my perspective has some plausibility, and come
                with some passages that support my view that human noematic abilities are
                not so limited as Calvinists ask us to believe. [Noematic has to do with
                abilities of understanding; I use this term because it has some technical
                niceties connected to the Continental phenomenological tradition in
                philosophy; e.g. Husserl, etc.].

                I will give some comments to your post.

                >They (election, predestination, reprobation, and preterition) are
                >concepts that human agents think they understand. Do they really?

                Yes of course, because they are human concepts, otherwise we would not
                think about them.

                >Usually not apart from a preconceived theological schema. Your example
                >is a shattering glimpse of the obvious, but how does that relate to my
                >terms?

                What is philosophically interesting is to discuss the coherence of these
                theological schema. It might be that our usage of these terms are
                incoherent. It would be interesting to hear how you use these terms, and
                evaluate your concept of election and predestination.

                > > I agree, David. Our God is not as Greek conceived gods, as
                > > Apollo, or Zeus.
                > > But to be honest, I much prefer to worship Zeus than
                > > Calvin's god. I much
                > > prefer to worship Hermes than god of Plotinus.
                >
                >Ignorance alert. Who's Plotinus?

                A Greek neo-Platonistic philosopher, who conceived God as a totally
                incomprehensible deity. Logical laws do not apply to the god of Plotinus.
                Of course, that's my understanding of Plotinus' god, who is called the One.
                Perhaps some ardent admires of Plotinus would protest against my
                characterization of Plotinus' religious philosophy.

                >Many have said that Calvin's "God" is not playing with a full deck.
                >I'm not sure that I find myself in agreement that the polytheistic
                >systems that you present here are any better.

                But that's my whole point:)
                These gods are for me one of the worst conceived deities. And Calvin's god
                is among them.

                >You'll have to ask one of them. I have only been presenting the
                >Calvinistic arguments that I have run across, and I do not hold to
                >Calvinism myself. I was hoping that I would learn some pointers in
                >arguing effectively.

                I am afraid that I will not provide good lessons on how to argue against
                Calvinism, because I admit that I am not so fair in the interpretation of
                Calvinism. Also, Calvinism has many versions depending on which point(s) of
                TULIP are accepted. If someone accepts at least one point of TULIP then
                he/she is a Calvinist. [Is that not true?]

                > >
                > > The OT is significant for two reasons: (1) it describes God
                > > as *concrete*
                > > Person who shows love, jealousy, hatred, repentance,
                > > passion, desires,
                > > compassion, empathy, sorrow, anguish, pain, joy, and all
                > > other emotions;
                >
                >Fine, but except for certain theophanies in the OT, God did not
                >present Himself in human form. How then is human personhood the
                >appropriate form of God's self-communication in the OT? It sure did
                >not occur very often.

                It is the unique and most significant historic event in the history of
                mankind. We would not expect God to incarnate Himself everyday, would we?

                > > Not so with *qualities* as Love, emotions as joy, rational
                > > powers as
                > > thinking, etc.
                >
                >How so?
                >
                > > If you say that these spiritual qualities
                > > are created then
                > > you maintain that God had not these qualities before
                > > creation. Observe what
                > > was emphasized in my previous post. What was emphasized was
                > > *qualities*.
                >
                >NO, God had these qualities before creation. God is in the category of
                >creator, and man is in the category of creation. To mingle the two
                >categories is to create "category confusion." Or do you believe that
                >God Himself is a creation?

                No, of course not. But your argument is not so good. First, why is it a
                "category confusion" in saying that some human qualities are also qualities
                that God has? Second, do I mingle these two "categories"? I say the same as
                you that man is a created being who was created by God. But the crucial
                question is: how did God create the first man? The Bible does not state
                that the man was created as a complete being out of nothing. Rather, the
                creation of man was gradual, and not so with other living beings. It was
                stated that man's body was *formed* from the dust of ground, and that the
                God's breath made man into a living soul, and the text doesn't suggest that
                this soul was created out of nothing, but rather being transformed from
                God's breath. What is so wrong with such conception if you object to it?

                > > In fact, even human body was
                > > not made out of
                > > nothing, but formed out "of the dust of the ground."
                > >
                > > Surely, God is capable to isolate some part of Himself and breathe
                > > something from Himself into the first human body. The
                > > breath-spirit of God
                > > had enabled the first man to be a living soul, which makes
                > > him to be an
                > > *independent* person with it's own thoughts, emotions and
                > > will. The soul in
                > > the man has *some* divine qualities, in the virtue of its
                > > direct source in
                > > God's breath-spirit.
                >
                >Whoa. Not so fast. Now all of the sudden we have "breath-spirit" ex
                >nihilo out of your keyboard. ;-) I thought it was just "breath" not
                >long ago. What's happening here? Word games?

                I try to explain how this process creation was done. God's breath is
                spirit, by observing the meaning of the Hebrew term 'neshamah' used in the
                biblical report of God's creation of man.

                > > God's
                > > breath can be a creative breath, as His creative words are,
                > > but with one
                > > personified vitality.
                >
                >Gee, thought I said that (create with His breath), but you did not
                >like it. =:-?

                The question is how was God's creative breath used in enabling man to be a
                living soul. There are many possibilities. "Creative breath" can be
                independent personified life, having vitality to sustain life. As I said below:

                > > the God-breath, with its own ability to sustain life
                > > and manifest
                > > thoughts and willpower, became the very breath of man,
                > > enabling him to be a
                > > living soul.

                Is not God capable of creating man in such manner? My point was to
                emphasize that man's place in the created Universe is unique, by observing
                that the creation of man was done in a special way, that we have *some*
                abilities which were inherited from God by God's breath. That we are
                created in God's image, means that we have something in common with God. If
                we have something in common with God, then it means that we share some
                qualities with God.

                > >
                > > Did I suggest that we can fully understand God's thoughts?
                >
                >No. Did I say you did? No. What's the problem? Touchy, touchy. ;-)

                The problem is that your remark suggests that my view can imply that we can
                fully understand God's thoughts. It is unnecessary to give such remarks if
                you did not suggest that my view implies that we can understand completely
                God's thoughts.


                > > I believe that I
                > > did not. So, why do you mention such irritating irrelevant
                > > and obvious
                > > truism?
                >
                >Oh, it irritates you. Gee, sorry I didn't read your mind and figure
                >that out. ;-)

                You do not irritate me. It is rather the statement which irritates me in
                our *context* of the discourse. It is a statement, or some belief, which
                can irritate me. I am not irritated on you, since I perceive you as a nice
                person.

                You have until now said that human abilities are quite limited in
                understanding God. The view in itself is not wrong, but it can be wrong if
                we at the same time do not say what human agents can understand.


                > > What is important is not to underestimate human
                > > moral and noematic
                > > abilities in our relation to God, as you seem to do.
                >
                >Now THIS made me laugh. I don't even know what noematic means!

                'Noematic' pertains to conceptual understanding, as for instance
                understanding logical relations between concepts. But why is it so funny? ?!

                > And I
                >think that it is equally important that we do not overestimate human
                >moral and noematic (whatever that is) abilities to such an extent that
                >man becomes God or that we make God in our image, as I have stated
                >before.

                What would an overestimation of moral abilities consists of? It is a good
                point you made. But you must explain it more fully, not just state it.

                What is that which worries you with saying that men has a moral perception
                of good and evil, and that we can perceive whether God as a Person is good?

                If we cannot perceive whether God is good, then it doesn't make any sense
                of saying that God is good.

                >And it is the glorification of one's own abilities that leads to
                >self-deification. Look at the Roman Emperors. There should be a happy
                >medium somewhere.

                We are not talking about all kinds of human abilities, but of moral
                perception and understanding logical principles. Your statements would have
                some point if my view implied human self-deification.

                > > Second, you do not take seriously God's own judgment of our human
                > > abilities, a judgment which was uttered after human fall. God said:
                > > "Behold, the man is become as one of us." Now, you object
                > > to this by saying:
                >
                >Here, you even quote the "as," yet you object to my contention that it
                >is a simile here, which in the English is usually indicated by "like"
                >or "as." Needless to say that I find that quite curious.
                >
                > > >Other versions have "like," so
                > > >I would hold that this is a simile (like or as). This implies only
                > > >similarities, not equality.

                We actually agree. We are not equal with God, and we became more similar
                with God by acquiring the moral knowledge of good and evil. But any
                similarity entails that there are some common features which makes two
                things resembling each other. My suggestion is that human moral perception
                is that *common* feature which we share with God. We become more similar
                with God by being equal with God with the respect to moral perception of
                good and evil. What we discuss here is that men is equal with God *only* in
                one respect, namely in our moral perception. This, however, does not mean
                that all men utilize this ability. It is our responsibility to utilize this
                ability. Neither it means that men are equal with God in all respects.

                What you seem to dispute is that human moral knowledge of good and evil is
                the same as God's moral knowledge.

                What is your view on the biblical fact that we humans have moral knowledge
                of good and evil? What does the biblical expression "the knowledge of good
                and evil" mean?

                If I am wrong that we humans cannot perceive what is good and evil, as God
                perceives it, why are we then judged? To repeat another important question:
                if we cannot morally perceive what is good and evil, as God perceives it,
                how can we then say that God is good? All your comments suggest that we
                *cannot* have the same moral perception as God has it. If so, why?

                Peace,
                Alex






                *****************************************************
                Home Page: http://home.chello.no/~akatanov/

                Moderator for:
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              • David R. Block
                Dear Shirley, An Alex and David list? Surely not. My son has a project due on Thursday for which he will need the computer. I might wind up being quiet while
                Message 7 of 20 , Oct 3, 2000
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                  Dear Shirley,

                  An "Alex and David list?" Surely not. My son has a project due on
                  Thursday for which he will need the computer. I might wind up being
                  quiet while he works. :-)

                  David

                  ICQ# 76248872
                  "If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then
                  the first woodpecker that came along would destroy
                  civilization"--Murphy's Laws of Computer Programming.

                  > -----Original Message-----
                  > From: Shirley Isaac [mailto:isaac.shirley@...]
                  > Sent: Monday, October 02, 2000 10:42 PM
                  > To: christian-philosophy@egroups.com
                  > Subject: Re: [christian-philosophy] Limits of moral
                  > understanding God?
                  >
                  >
                  > David R. Block wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Hello Alex,
                  > >
                  > > This is regrettably long. Maybe we need to narrow this down.
                  >
                  > Sure do, or else no one is ever going to be able to butt in on your
                  > discussions and this is going to be an "Alex and David" list!
                  >
                  > Oh well, let it be.
                  >
                  > Blessings to everyone,
                  > Shirley
                  >
                  > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                  > christian-philosophy-unsubscribe@egroups.com
                  >
                  >
                  >
                • David R. Block
                  Hello Alex, Thought I would answer this as I wait for the plumber. Hope he takes a while. :-) There will be some (hopefully) judicious snips in here. If I snip
                  Message 8 of 20 , Oct 3, 2000
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                    Hello Alex,

                    Thought I would answer this as I wait for the plumber. Hope he takes a
                    while. :-) There will be some (hopefully) judicious snips in here. If
                    I snip something that you think I shouldn't, please restate it.

                    > -----Original Message-----
                    > From: Aleksandar Katanovic [mailto:akatanov@...]
                    >
                    > Hello David,
                    >
                    > I apologize for having written a long reply. Shirley is
                    > right that I am
                    > quite long-winded in my writing. But I prefer to come with
                    > arguments and
                    > not just state my opinions. Arguments tend to be long if we
                    > wish to provide
                    > a good defense for our perspectives. I am not saying that
                    > my arguments are
                    > good; there is much to be polished, and it is precisely our
                    > arguments that
                    > should be discussed. To see whether they are wrong, whether
                    > they can be
                    > improved, what kind of assumptions are presupposed, etc.

                    I know. However, I have been in other forums where the volume of words
                    created nothing but "verbal smog," and by the end of the paragraph you
                    were left wondering "Beautiful writing, but what did he mean?" I tend
                    to the blunt and to the point style. :-) Not always a good thing.

                    > Also, it is much easier to attack someone's argument than
                    > to provide some
                    > argument. Arguments should be attacked in order to test
                    > them, to improve
                    > them, etc. What I have done in my previous posts on this topic (and
                    > similarly related ones) is to introduce my perspective, giving some
                    > arguments, and also attacking Calvinistic perspective.

                    Certain pieces of it deserve it.

                    > However, until now,
                    > there were no introduced arguments for defining and
                    > defending Calvinistic
                    > (or similar traditional Christian) perspective.
                    > Consequently, there were
                    > not much opportunity in discussing Calvinistic arguments.
                    > What I maintain
                    > is that Calvinistic perspective renders God evil, and have
                    > provided some
                    > reasons why I maintain this. What I wish is to hear the
                    > voice of the
                    > opposing view, and consider their arguments. But it is
                    > important to know
                    > how to proceed with this kind of discussion in this forum.

                    Do tell.

                    > We are not primely concerned with interpretations of the
                    > Bible. Rather, we
                    > are concerned with *philosophical* consequences of some
                    > interpretation. You
                    > have missed the whole point if your goal was to question my
                    > interpretation
                    > by merely providing another. Of course, we should question our
                    > interpretations, but the manner of questioning should not be mere
                    > exegetical, but *philosophical*. *If* we discuss our
                    > interpretation then we
                    > are interested by seeing what kind of consequences such
                    > interpretation
                    > yields. What we are interested in is to see whether some Christian
                    > perspective has a *philosophical* merit.

                    Hopefully the philosophy can stand the biblical test, and not fall
                    victim to:

                    Colossians 2:8 (NASB)
                    See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty
                    deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the
                    elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

                    > My task was to argue that the Calvinistic interpretation of
                    > the Bible
                    > renders God evil, human agents as marionettes. I tried to
                    > emphasize that we
                    > human beings have important abilities which are crucial in
                    > our relation to
                    > God. I gave some reasons why my perspective has some
                    > plausibility, and come
                    > with some passages that support my view that human noematic
                    > abilities are
                    > not so limited as Calvinists ask us to believe. [Noematic
                    > has to do with
                    > abilities of understanding; I use this term because it has
                    > some technical
                    > niceties connected to the Continental phenomenological tradition in
                    > philosophy; e.g. Husserl, etc.].

                    Thanks for the definition. One less head scratcher.

                    > I will give some comments to your post.
                    >
                    > >They (election, predestination, reprobation, and preterition) are
                    > >concepts that human agents think they understand. Do they really?
                    >
                    > Yes of course, because they are human concepts, otherwise
                    > we would not
                    > think about them.
                    >
                    > >Usually not apart from a preconceived theological schema.
                    > Your example
                    > >is a shattering glimpse of the obvious, but how does that
                    > relate to my
                    > >terms?
                    >
                    > What is philosophically interesting is to discuss the
                    > coherence of these
                    > theological schema. It might be that our usage of these terms are
                    > incoherent. It would be interesting to hear how you use
                    > these terms, and
                    > evaluate your concept of election and predestination.

                    Well, here's the source:

                    Romans 8:28-30 (NASB) And we know that God causes all things to work
                    together for good to those who love God, to those who are called
                    according to His purpose. (29) For those whom He foreknew, He also
                    predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He
                    would be the firstborn among many brethren; (30) and these whom He
                    predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also
                    justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

                    I believe that He predestined those whom He foreknew. It doesn't read
                    "foreordain." That predestination is to be conformed to the image of
                    His Son, not a predestination to heaven or hell, but a predestination
                    of believers to heaven ultimately where we will finally be conformed
                    to the image of Christ. Nonbelievers are not even mentioned here, so
                    it would not be prudent to base any conclusions about their destiny on
                    this text. Several vague areas remain, and I can live with them. There
                    is no concrete agreement on what "called according to His purpose"
                    means. Likewise, there is no revelation here on just what it is that
                    God "foreknew." I do not grant the statement that God foreknew His own
                    decrees, because the Calvinists then turn around and say that the
                    decrees are eternal, which means that they cannot be foreknown since
                    they have always existed. I also have a problem with foreknown faith,
                    because the text just doesn't say *what* is foreknown. I have a great
                    deal of difficulty with "unconditional election" as well, because I
                    cannot conceive of a choice (which is what election is) being made in
                    a vacuum (unconditional). Such would be the very definition of
                    arbitrary.

                    > > > I agree, David. Our God is not as Greek conceived gods, as
                    > > > Apollo, or Zeus.
                    > > > But to be honest, I much prefer to worship Zeus than
                    > > > Calvin's god. I much
                    > > > prefer to worship Hermes than god of Plotinus.
                    > >
                    > >Ignorance alert. Who's Plotinus?
                    >
                    > A Greek neo-Platonistic philosopher, who conceived God as a totally
                    > incomprehensible deity. Logical laws do not apply to the
                    > god of Plotinus.
                    > Of course, that's my understanding of Plotinus' god, who is
                    > called the One.
                    > Perhaps some ardent admires of Plotinus would protest against my
                    > characterization of Plotinus' religious philosophy.

                    OK. Thanks for the information.

                    > >Many have said that Calvin's "God" is not playing with a full deck.
                    > >I'm not sure that I find myself in agreement that the polytheistic
                    > >systems that you present here are any better.
                    >
                    > But that's my whole point:)

                    OH!

                    [snip]
                    > I am afraid that I will not provide good lessons on how to
                    > argue against
                    > Calvinism, because I admit that I am not so fair in the
                    > interpretation of
                    > Calvinism. Also, Calvinism has many versions depending on
                    > which point(s) of
                    > TULIP are accepted. If someone accepts at least one point
                    > of TULIP then
                    > he/she is a Calvinist. [Is that not true?]

                    Not if you ask a full five point Calvinist. Indeed, the rejection of
                    just one point often results in disassociation, condemnation,
                    ridicule, etc. And heaven forbid that you define any of their famous
                    points much differently than the Canons of Dort (sometimes spelled
                    Dordt). With most Calvinists, it is an all or nothing proposition. A
                    four-point Calvinist is called an Amyraldian. One, two, and three
                    pointers are called other names, usually "heretic." ;-)

                    [snip]
                    > >Fine, but except for certain theophanies in the OT, God did not
                    > >present Himself in human form. How then is human personhood the
                    > >appropriate form of God's self-communication in the OT? It sure did
                    > >not occur very often.
                    >
                    > It is the unique and most significant historic event in the
                    > history of
                    > mankind. We would not expect God to incarnate Himself
                    > everyday, would we?

                    Well, now you are not getting my point. The OT population was seldom
                    visited by an incarnate deity; therefore, they seldom had the
                    appropriate form of God's self-communication in the OT. Was God
                    communicated to them inappropriately then or what?

                    > > > Not so with *qualities* as Love, emotions as joy, rational
                    > > > powers as
                    > > > thinking, etc.
                    > >
                    > >How so?
                    > >
                    > > > If you say that these spiritual qualities
                    > > > are created then
                    > > > you maintain that God had not these qualities before
                    > > > creation. Observe what
                    > > > was emphasized in my previous post. What was emphasized was
                    > > > *qualities*.
                    > >
                    > >NO, God had these qualities before creation. God is in the
                    > category of
                    > >creator, and man is in the category of creation. To mingle the two
                    > >categories is to create "category confusion." Or do you
                    > believe that
                    > >God Himself is a creation?
                    >
                    > No, of course not. But your argument is not so good. First,
                    > why is it a
                    > "category confusion" in saying that some human qualities
                    > are also qualities
                    > that God has?

                    That's not what I said. I said that the Creator is in a different
                    category from His creation. I say they are created in man by the
                    Creator, who, of course, already has them as the eternal God. And I
                    would state it in reverse fashion. God has some divine qualities that
                    He created in man. Saying it your way, to me, lowers God to the level
                    of humanity.

                    > Second, do I mingle these two "categories"? I
                    > say the same as
                    > you that man is a created being who was created by God. But
                    > the crucial
                    > question is: how did God create the first man? The Bible
                    > does not state
                    > that the man was created as a complete being out of
                    > nothing.

                    Ex Nihilo creation is typically restricted to the planets, stars, etc.
                    in most of what I've seen. You can quit preaching to the choir on this
                    point. ;-)

                    > Rather, the
                    > creation of man was gradual, and not so with other living
                    > beings. It was
                    > stated that man's body was *formed* from the dust of
                    > ground, and that the
                    > God's breath made man into a living soul, and the text
                    > doesn't suggest that
                    > this soul was created out of nothing, but rather being
                    > transformed from
                    > God's breath. What is so wrong with such conception if you
                    > object to it?

                    The couching of terms in "suggest," "implies," etc. suggests (couldn't
                    resist) that this is but an interpretation and that, therefore, the
                    alternate possibility that His breath was a creative force cannot
                    simply be dismissed.

                    > > > In fact, even human body was
                    > > > not made out of
                    > > > nothing, but formed out "of the dust of the ground."

                    What necessitates that man's soul and spirit be created out of
                    something?

                    > > > Surely, God is capable to isolate some part of Himself
                    > and breathe
                    > > > something from Himself into the first human body. The
                    > > > breath-spirit of God
                    > > > had enabled the first man to be a living soul, which makes
                    > > > him to be an
                    > > > *independent* person with it's own thoughts, emotions and
                    > > > will. The soul in
                    > > > the man has *some* divine qualities, in the virtue of its
                    > > > direct source in
                    > > > God's breath-spirit.
                    > >
                    > >Whoa. Not so fast. Now all of the sudden we have "breath-spirit" ex
                    > >nihilo out of your keyboard. ;-) I thought it was just "breath" not
                    > >long ago. What's happening here? Word games?
                    >
                    > I try to explain how this process creation was done. God's
                    > breath is
                    > spirit, by observing the meaning of the Hebrew term
                    > 'neshamah' used in the
                    > biblical report of God's creation of man.
                    >
                    > > > God's
                    > > > breath can be a creative breath, as His creative words are,
                    > > > but with one
                    > > > personified vitality.
                    > >
                    > >Gee, thought I said that (create with His breath), but you did not
                    > >like it. =:-?
                    >
                    > The question is how was God's creative breath used in
                    > enabling man to be a
                    > living soul. There are many possibilities.

                    And that is my point. You have your interpretation, and I have mine,
                    yet there seems to be only yours as acceptable. So God created man
                    from the dust of the ground, but the dust may have been created ex
                    nihilo (or so it appears). Why must the immaterial part of man (soul
                    and spirit) be created from something? I don't think that God needed
                    something to use to create the immaterial part of man.

                    > "Creative breath" can be
                    > independent personified life, having vitality to sustain
                    > life. As I said below:
                    >
                    > > > the God-breath, with its own ability to sustain life
                    > > > and manifest
                    > > > thoughts and willpower, became the very breath of man,
                    > > > enabling him to be a
                    > > > living soul.

                    This, at first and second reading makes me ask the following
                    questions: If the breath of God has the ability to sustain life and it
                    became the very breath of man, then why does man die? Have we lost the
                    breath of God in the fall? Or is it not the same breath, only similar?

                    > Is not God capable of creating man in such manner? My point was to
                    > emphasize that man's place in the created Universe is
                    > unique, by observing
                    > that the creation of man was done in a special way, that we
                    > have *some*
                    > abilities which were inherited from God by God's breath.
                    > That we are
                    > created in God's image, means that we have something in
                    > common with God. If
                    > we have something in common with God, then it means that we
                    > share some
                    > qualities with God.

                    I am more likely to agree with your last statement here, stated like
                    this. Stating that God has human qualities, to me, is in reverse
                    order.

                    [snip the misunderstanding here on what I "suggest"]

                    Please, please, do not try to read between my lines, there isn't
                    anything there. That's not my style. If I want something to be put
                    between my lines, I'll double space (paragraph separation doesn't
                    count).

                    > You have until now said that human abilities are quite limited in
                    > understanding God. The view in itself is not wrong, but it
                    > can be wrong if
                    > we at the same time do not say what human agents can understand.

                    Gee, and waste all of that bandwidth? ;-)

                    > > > What is important is not to underestimate human
                    > > > moral and noematic
                    > > > abilities in our relation to God, as you seem to do.
                    > >
                    > >Now THIS made me laugh. I don't even know what noematic means!
                    >
                    > 'Noematic' pertains to conceptual understanding, as for instance
                    > understanding logical relations between concepts. But why
                    > is it so funny? ?!

                    That I'm doing something that I don't know anything about. That's
                    funny. Since I did not know what "noematic abilities" were, I could
                    not over, under, or give any estimate of them at all.

                    > > And I
                    > >think that it is equally important that we do not
                    > overestimate human
                    > >moral and noematic (whatever that is) abilities to such an
                    > extent that
                    > >man becomes God or that we make God in our image, as I have stated
                    > >before.
                    >
                    > What would an overestimation of moral abilities consists
                    > of? It is a good
                    > point you made. But you must explain it more fully, not
                    > just state it.

                    In general, process theology and open theism are two camps in which
                    some excesses have arisen. I am more sympathetic to open theism, and I
                    do think that they raise valid questions, but some have attempted to
                    put human limits on God (which is why I objected to your terminology
                    earlier).

                    > What is that which worries you with saying that men has a
                    > moral perception
                    > of good and evil, and that we can perceive whether God as a
                    > Person is good?

                    That particular statement raises no problems.

                    > If we cannot perceive whether God is good, then it doesn't
                    > make any sense
                    > of saying that God is good.
                    >
                    > >And it is the glorification of one's own abilities that leads to
                    > >self-deification. Look at the Roman Emperors. There should
                    > be a happy
                    > >medium somewhere.
                    >
                    > We are not talking about all kinds of human abilities, but of moral
                    > perception and understanding logical principles. Your
                    > statements would have
                    > some point if my view implied human self-deification.

                    I am glad that you don't mean to imply it. I think I have misread you
                    at times.

                    > > > Second, you do not take seriously God's own judgment of
                    > our human
                    > > > abilities, a judgment which was uttered after human
                    > fall. God said:
                    > > > "Behold, the man is become as one of us." Now, you object
                    > > > to this by saying:
                    > >
                    > >Here, you even quote the "as," yet you object to my
                    > contention that it
                    > >is a simile here, which in the English is usually
                    > indicated by "like"
                    > >or "as." Needless to say that I find that quite curious.
                    > >
                    > > > >Other versions have "like," so
                    > > > >I would hold that this is a simile (like or as). This
                    > implies only
                    > > > >similarities, not equality.
                    >
                    > We actually agree. We are not equal with God, and we became
                    > more similar
                    > with God by acquiring the moral knowledge of good and evil. But any
                    > similarity entails that there are some common features
                    > which makes two
                    > things resembling each other. My suggestion is that human
                    > moral perception
                    > is that *common* feature which we share with God. We become
                    > more similar
                    > with God by being equal with God with the respect to moral
                    > perception of
                    > good and evil. What we discuss here is that men is equal
                    > with God *only* in
                    > one respect, namely in our moral perception. This, however,
                    > does not mean
                    > that all men utilize this ability. It is our responsibility
                    > to utilize this
                    > ability. Neither it means that men are equal with God in
                    > all respects.
                    >
                    > What you seem to dispute is that human moral knowledge of
                    > good and evil is
                    > the same as God's moral knowledge.

                    Actually, I would like to know where you see the similarities ending,
                    if at all.

                    > What is your view on the biblical fact that we humans have
                    > moral knowledge
                    > of good and evil? What does the biblical expression "the
                    > knowledge of good
                    > and evil" mean?

                    Well, the bible indicates that this is something that we can be
                    trained at discerning:

                    Hebrews 5:14 (NASB) But solid food is for the mature, who because of
                    practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

                    > If I am wrong that we humans cannot perceive what is good
                    > and evil, as God
                    > perceives it, why are we then judged? To repeat another
                    > important question:
                    > if we cannot morally perceive what is good and evil, as God
                    > perceives it,
                    > how can we then say that God is good? All your comments
                    > suggest that we
                    > *cannot* have the same moral perception as God has it. If so, why?

                    It isn't "cannot," it is "may not." Once one has been trained well in
                    discerning good and evil (Hebrews 5:14), we may actually attain that
                    level. While I believe that there is general revelation, we men have a
                    nasty habit of ignoring such revelation and veering off towards
                    Darwinism, Atheism, Agnosticism, and all sorts of other things and
                    following such teachings as we are taught them. Our moral perception
                    is subject to outside influences and capable of being corrupted. In
                    that corruption, it is not necessarily the same as God's moral
                    perception. The "seared conscience," for example. Man, in general, is
                    capable of the same moral perception as God.

                    ICQ# 76248872
                    "If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then
                    the first woodpecker that came along would destroy
                    civilization"--Murphy's Laws of Computer Programming.
                  • Aleksandar Katanovic
                    Hello David I think that we actually agree in two important things: 1) that logical principles apply in our talk about God 2) human moral perception *can* be
                    Message 9 of 20 , Oct 3, 2000
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                      Hello David

                      I think that we actually agree in two important things:
                      1) that logical principles apply in our talk about God
                      2) human moral perception *can* be same as God's moral perception.

                      Your point with "may be" is very good!

                      I will snip many parts of your reply, because I agree with them, and give
                      some comments and answers.

                      >Well, here's the source:
                      >
                      >Romans 8:28-30 (NASB) And we know that God causes all things to work
                      >together for good to those who love God, to those who are called
                      >according to His purpose. (29) For those whom He foreknew, He also
                      >predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He
                      >would be the firstborn among many brethren; (30) and these whom He
                      >predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also
                      >justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
                      >
                      >I believe that He predestined those whom He foreknew.

                      How do you understand this "foreknowledge"? Both proginosko (verb) and
                      prognosis (noun) can mean a consideration for future, a planing, and a
                      *determination* of future courses based on planing. These Greek words mean
                      forethought or some kind of considerations for the future. It means a
                      provident care, some kind of planning beforehand and arranging some
                      preparations.Those pre-arrangements and considerations make some kind of
                      determinations/decisions in God's Will, which constitutes His
                      foreknowledge. My interpretation of God's foreknowledge is more
                      Calvinistic, in that I maintain that God's knowledge is based on His
                      decisions, and not on passive observations. The thing I disagree with
                      Calvinistic conception of omniscience is that I maintain that God's
                      decisions are conditional. Moreover, God in His infinite understanding (Ps.
                      147:5) has an understanding of the infinite manifold of every possibility,
                      and this includes about evil possibilities too.

                      According to the view of the Nescience of God, God did not know that Adam
                      would fall in the sin. Since I accept the view of divine nescience, can the
                      view of divine nescience be reconciled with the statements that God had
                      foreknown all those who are in Christ, and had foreknown Christ's death,
                      unless God knew that the man would fall in the sin? Let us consider a
                      following proposal to the solution:

                      God had some consideration on the possibility of mankind's revolt against
                      Him. He thought about that possibility, and on the basis of that
                      forethought He made some plans and arrangements, to deal with this
                      possibility. When God foreordained, or foreknew Christ's Sacrifice, then
                      both his foreordination and foreknowledge were conditional. The Calvinist
                      error is to take for granted that the election, foreordination and
                      foreknowledge are unconditional. If you can accept the idea of conditional
                      election, then you would have no problems to accept the idea of conditional
                      foreknowledge, or conditional foreordination. Conditional divine
                      foreknowledge means that God took into consideration *every* future
                      possibility, and according to this knowledge He made plans for each of
                      them. It is said that Christ was "verily foreordained." However, the term
                      used here is 'proginosko', the term which can be translated into
                      "foreknew." This would mean that God had no second thoughts whether He will
                      sacrifice Himself in the case of human fall. He had such great love that He
                      planned even His death in the case of human fall. Also God foreknew us,
                      meaning that God determined to elect all in Christ, and this determination
                      was based on planing.

                      What do you think about my perspective on God's foreknowledge?

                      >Well, now you are not getting my point. The OT population was seldom
                      >visited by an incarnate deity; therefore, they seldom had the
                      >appropriate form of God's self-communication in the OT. Was God
                      >communicated to them inappropriately then or what?

                      No, of course not. The point with my mentioning Christ's personhood is to
                      show that human personhood should not be underestimated in our
                      understanding God. Consider this interesting verse: "For who hath known the
                      mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ
                      (1 Cor 2:16)." It both states how our mind is limited in understanding God,
                      but at the same time it says that we can have Christ's mind.

                      > > >NO, God had these qualities before creation. God is in the
                      > > >category of
                      > > >creator, and man is in the category of creation. To mingle the two
                      > > >categories is to create "category confusion." Or do you
                      > > >believe that
                      > > >God Himself is a creation?
                      > >
                      > > No, of course not. But your argument is not so good. First,
                      > > why is it a
                      > > "category confusion" in saying that some human qualities
                      > > are also qualities
                      > > that God has?
                      >
                      >That's not what I said. I said that the Creator is in a different
                      >category from His creation. I say they are created in man by the
                      >Creator, who, of course, already has them as the eternal God.

                      What do you mean when you say that God created these qualities in man?
                      Consider the ability to love someone. I think that this ability is
                      intrinsically divine, and thereby cannot be created.

                      >And I
                      >would state it in reverse fashion. God has some divine qualities that
                      >He created in man. Saying it your way, to me, lowers God to the level
                      >of humanity.

                      But God was human when He walked among us. Was He not? God chose not to be
                      incarnated in the body of an ant, but in human flesh. Would not that
                      suggest that human nature has some importance for God? However, I agree
                      with you David, that we should have a balance when we speak of human value.
                      We should not overestimate it, nor should we underestimate it. Both courses
                      are dangerous. I would say that human dignity and all positive human
                      aspects are due to the biblical fact that we are created in God's image.
                      Our depravity is due to human quenching the light of God's image in our lives.

                      >The couching of terms in "suggest," "implies," etc. suggests (couldn't
                      >resist) that this is but an interpretation and that, therefore, the
                      >alternate possibility that His breath was a creative force cannot
                      >simply be dismissed.

                      What happened with that breath? (1) Did it cease to exist? (2) Did it
                      return to God? (3) Or did it remain in human body?

                      I do not think that it ceased to exist, because it was divine
                      indestructible. Did it return to God? It was stated that it entered into
                      human body and "man become a living soul." What do you think, which of the
                      three above alternatives is most plausible? My interpretation of God's
                      creation is based on choosing the third alternative.

                      > > > > In fact, even human body was
                      > > > > not made out of
                      > > > > nothing, but formed out "of the dust of the ground."
                      >
                      >What necessitates that man's soul and spirit be created out of
                      >something?

                      <...>

                      >Why must the immaterial part of man (soul
                      >and spirit) be created from something? I don't think that God needed
                      >something to use to create the immaterial part of man.

                      It was necessary for God to breathe into man's nostrils the breath of
                      *life* only if God chose to create an *autonomous* being with whom He could
                      have *free* inter-personal fellowship. If God wanted to have a personal
                      fellowship with a new being, which has both an *autonomous* and *free*
                      personhood, then the possibility for such free autonomy can only be
                      realized by giving something from Himself in creation of such independent
                      personality. For there is only one kind of entity that can have *potential*
                      independence from God, namely God's breath, which once separated from His
                      Holy Being, can in its potency manifest independently one living on its
                      own. This is because Divine breath, which is also a spirit, is creative
                      *potential* force in the universe, with its own willpower and *life*. The
                      same thing is with God's words that emanate from His being. They are
                      creative forces that created world; for it is by His words that our Lord
                      created the world.

                      God wanted to create a being with an independent free will, but as such
                      that it is unpredictable even for God. Only way to do it was to give
                      something from Himself. Freedom and autonomy pertains to spiritual dimension.

                      >This, at first and second reading makes me ask the following
                      >questions: If the breath of God has the ability to sustain life and it
                      >became the very breath of man, then why does man die? Have we lost the
                      >breath of God in the fall? Or is it not the same breath, only similar?

                      I will tell you how I understand this, but without providing any argument. OK?

                      First, the breath of God *transformed* itself into human spirit, so that
                      man become a living soul. All descendants of Adam has inherited Adam's
                      spiritual qualities.

                      Second, human spirit is not as God's spirit. Our breath is not creative as
                      God's is.

                      Third, sin is the cause of the physical death, and I regard sin not only in
                      moral terms, but also in metaphysical terms. In metaphysical terms, sin is
                      a spiritual disease, which has infected human universe. It causes the decay
                      of our physical body. As a spiritual disease, it is a disease of will,
                      weakening human will. It both degrades our freedom and autonomy. However,
                      our soul is indestructible; it cannot be annihilated. But it can lose its
                      integrity, being threatened to be under the total control of sin. Sin in
                      metaphysical sense is that which is a personified aspect of some particular
                      evil manifestation influencing our human will, and as such is the total
                      alienation from God's nature.

                      >It isn't "cannot," it is "may not." Once one has been trained well in
                      >discerning good and evil (Hebrews 5:14), we may actually attain that
                      >level. While I believe that there is general revelation, we men have a
                      >nasty habit of ignoring such revelation and veering off towards
                      >Darwinism, Atheism, Agnosticism, and all sorts of other things and
                      >following such teachings as we are taught them. Our moral perception
                      >is subject to outside influences and capable of being corrupted. In
                      >that corruption, it is not necessarily the same as God's moral
                      >perception. The "seared conscience," for example. Man, in general, is
                      >capable of the same moral perception as God.

                      David, we actually agree on this. You have formulated better than me my own
                      view on this moral perception.

                      Peace,
                      Alex

                      *****************************************************
                      Home Page: http://home.chello.no/~akatanov/

                      Moderator for:
                      1) http://www.egroups.com/group/christian-philosophy
                      2) http://www.egroups.com/group/anabaptist

                      *****************************************************
                    • David R. Block
                      Alex, I will address your comments as time allows. My son had several major projects due this week and tied up the computer quite nicely. Peace, David ICQ#
                      Message 10 of 20 , Oct 6, 2000
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                        Alex,

                        I will address your comments as time allows. My son had several major
                        projects due this week and tied up the computer quite nicely.

                        Peace,

                        David

                        ICQ# 76248872
                        "If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then
                        the first woodpecker that came along would destroy
                        civilization"--Murphy's Laws of Computer Programming.
                      • David R. Block
                        Hello Alex, ... The Calvinistic bent on foreknowledge is too problematic for me. Jonah s seeming unconditional prophecy, that turned out to be conditional,
                        Message 11 of 20 , Oct 8, 2000
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                          Hello Alex,

                          Aleksandar wrote:
                          > Hello David
                          >
                          > I think that we actually agree in two important things:
                          > 1) that logical principles apply in our talk about God
                          > 2) human moral perception *can* be same as God's moral perception.
                          >
                          > Your point with "may be" is very good!
                          >
                          > I will snip many parts of your reply, because I agree with
                          > them, and give
                          > some comments and answers.
                          >
                          > >Well, here's the source:
                          > >
                          > >Romans 8:28-30 (NASB) And we know that God causes all
                          > things to work
                          > >together for good to those who love God, to those who are called
                          > >according to His purpose. (29) For those whom He foreknew, He also
                          > >predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He
                          > >would be the firstborn among many brethren; (30) and these whom He
                          > >predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also
                          > >justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
                          > >
                          > >I believe that He predestined those whom He foreknew.
                          >
                          > How do you understand this "foreknowledge"? Both proginosko
                          > (verb) and
                          > prognosis (noun) can mean a consideration for future, a
                          > planing, and a
                          > *determination* of future courses based on planing. These
                          > Greek words mean
                          > forethought or some kind of considerations for the future.
                          > It means a
                          > provident care, some kind of planning beforehand and arranging some
                          > preparations.Those pre-arrangements and considerations make
                          > some kind of
                          > determinations/decisions in God's Will, which constitutes His
                          > foreknowledge. My interpretation of God's foreknowledge is more
                          > Calvinistic, in that I maintain that God's knowledge is
                          > based on His
                          > decisions, and not on passive observations. The thing I
                          > disagree with
                          > Calvinistic conception of omniscience is that I maintain that God's
                          > decisions are conditional. Moreover, God in His infinite
                          > understanding (Ps.
                          > 147:5) has an understanding of the infinite manifold of
                          > every possibility,
                          > and this includes about evil possibilities too.

                          The Calvinistic bent on foreknowledge is too problematic for me.
                          Jonah's seeming unconditional prophecy, that turned out to be
                          conditional, raises too many issues (Jonah 3:4).

                          If God's foreknowledge included the repentance of the Ninevites, then
                          why the unconditional language of the prophet in 3:4? Doesn't that put
                          Jonah in the position of declaring what God knows to be a false
                          message? Doesn't that have God knowingly having His prophet declare a
                          false message? If God knows that the people of Nineveh would repent,
                          then Jonah's unconditional language is a problem.

                          Passages in Jeremiah 18 and 26 are also problematic, since it would
                          appear that God would be relenting from His planned actions in
                          response to the action of man.

                          Jeremiah 18:8 (NIV)
                          and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent
                          and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
                          Jeremiah 26:3 (NIV)
                          Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way. Then I
                          will relent and not bring on them the disaster I was planning because
                          of the evil they have done.
                          Jeremiah 26:13 (NIV)
                          Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then
                          the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced
                          against you.
                          Jeremiah 26:19 (NIV)
                          “Did Hezekiah king of Judah or anyone else in Judah put him to death?
                          Did not Hezekiah fear the LORD and seek his favor? And did not the
                          LORD relent, so that he did not bring the disaster he pronounced
                          against them? We are about to bring a terrible disaster on ourselves!”

                          > According to the view of the Nescience of God, God did not
                          > know that Adam
                          > would fall in the sin. Since I accept the view of divine
                          > nescience, can the
                          > view of divine nescience be reconciled with the statements
                          > that God had
                          > foreknown all those who are in Christ, and had foreknown
                          > Christ's death,
                          > unless God knew that the man would fall in the sin?

                          One could accept it as a mystery on faith, if one was so inclined.

                          > Let us
                          > consider a
                          > following proposal to the solution:
                          >
                          > God had some consideration on the possibility of mankind's
                          > revolt against
                          > Him. He thought about that possibility, and on the basis of that
                          > forethought He made some plans and arrangements, to deal with this
                          > possibility. When God foreordained, or foreknew Christ's
                          > Sacrifice, then
                          > both his foreordination and foreknowledge were conditional.

                          Conditional foreordination? Now that's a new one! This sounds like
                          Calvinism's "permissive decree." What's the difference?

                          > The Calvinist
                          > error is to take for granted that the election, foreordination and
                          > foreknowledge are unconditional.

                          Got that right.

                          > If you can accept the idea
                          > of conditional
                          > election, then you would have no problems to accept the
                          > idea of conditional
                          > foreknowledge, or conditional foreordination.

                          Or again, one could take the "if there are conditions, God didn't
                          reveal them" stance. I have yet to see chapter and verse where any
                          conditions were prerequisites for God's choice of the elect. Likewise,
                          there are no places where God is said to be arbitrary in His choice,
                          either.

                          > Conditional divine
                          > foreknowledge means that God took into consideration *every* future
                          > possibility, and according to this knowledge He made plans
                          > for each of
                          > them. It is said that Christ was "verily foreordained."

                          Er, chapter and verse, please?

                          > However, the term
                          > used here is 'proginosko', the term which can be translated into
                          > "foreknew." This would mean that God had no second thoughts
                          > whether He will
                          > sacrifice Himself in the case of human fall. He had such
                          > great love that He
                          > planned even His death in the case of human fall. Also God
                          > foreknew us,
                          > meaning that God determined to elect all in Christ, and
                          > this determination
                          > was based on planing.

                          This introduces the Calvinist version of the "chicken and the egg
                          question:" Which came first, election or belief? I think you and I
                          would both answer belief.

                          > What do you think about my perspective on God's foreknowledge?

                          Conditional foreknowledge is similar to what I believe. I do not
                          believe that God's plan is so subject to miscarriage that He has to
                          nail down every detail by divine decree. He can handle whatever
                          happens. To me, that is a much more powerful God than One that must
                          nail down every detail lest something go awry.

                          > >Well, now you are not getting my point. The OT population
                          > was seldom
                          > >visited by an incarnate deity; therefore, they seldom had the
                          > >appropriate form of God's self-communication in the OT. Was God
                          > >communicated to them inappropriately then or what?
                          >
                          > No, of course not. The point with my mentioning Christ's
                          > personhood is to
                          > show that human personhood should not be underestimated in our
                          > understanding God. Consider this interesting verse: "For
                          > who hath known the
                          > mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the
                          > mind of Christ
                          > (1 Cor 2:16)." It both states how our mind is limited in
                          > understanding God,
                          > but at the same time it says that we can have Christ's mind.

                          OH!

                          > > > >NO, God had these qualities before creation. God is in the
                          > > > >category of
                          > > > >creator, and man is in the category of creation. To
                          > mingle the two
                          > > > >categories is to create "category confusion." Or do you
                          > > > >believe that
                          > > > >God Himself is a creation?
                          > > >
                          > > > No, of course not. But your argument is not so good. First,
                          > > > why is it a
                          > > > "category confusion" in saying that some human qualities
                          > > > are also qualities
                          > > > that God has?
                          > >
                          > >That's not what I said. I said that the Creator is in a different
                          > >category from His creation. I say they are created in man by the
                          > >Creator, who, of course, already has them as the eternal God.
                          >
                          > What do you mean when you say that God created these
                          > qualities in man?
                          > Consider the ability to love someone. I think that this ability is
                          > intrinsically divine, and thereby cannot be created.

                          God created man in His image, and I have no problem with love being
                          part of that image. Unless, of course, one can produce a catalog of
                          items that make up this divine image in man, and show that love isn't
                          on the list.

                          > >And I
                          > >would state it in reverse fashion. God has some divine
                          > qualities that
                          > >He created in man. Saying it your way, to me, lowers God
                          > to the level
                          > >of humanity.
                          >
                          > But God was human when He walked among us. Was He not?

                          Yes, He did. But He freely took on that nature in the incarnation.

                          > God
                          > chose not to be
                          > incarnated in the body of an ant, but in human flesh. Would
                          > not that
                          > suggest that human nature has some importance for God?

                          I did not mean to imply that the human nature was unimportant.

                          > However, I agree
                          > with you David, that we should have a balance when we speak
                          > of human value.
                          > We should not overestimate it, nor should we underestimate
                          > it. Both courses
                          > are dangerous. I would say that human dignity and all
                          > positive human
                          > aspects are due to the biblical fact that we are created in
                          > God's image.
                          > Our depravity is due to human quenching the light of God's
                          > image in our lives.

                          Amen!

                          > >The couching of terms in "suggest," "implies," etc.
                          > suggests (couldn't
                          > >resist) that this is but an interpretation and that, therefore, the
                          > >alternate possibility that His breath was a creative force cannot
                          > >simply be dismissed.
                          >
                          > What happened with that breath? (1) Did it cease to exist?
                          > (2) Did it
                          > return to God? (3) Or did it remain in human body?

                          Before reading onward, I would say 2 and 3. I would also say that
                          there is even the possibility that this is an anthropomorphism.
                          (Anthropomorphism = human attributes that are attributed to God as
                          figures of speech for an illustrative purpose: "hands of God," "Arm of
                          the Lord," and, yes, possibly even, God's breath.)

                          > I do not think that it ceased to exist, because it was divine
                          > indestructible. Did it return to God? It was stated that it
                          > entered into
                          > human body and "man become a living soul." What do you
                          > think, which of the
                          > three above alternatives is most plausible?

                          A combination of 2 and 3.

                          > My
                          > interpretation of God's
                          > creation is based on choosing the third alternative.
                          >
                          > > > > > In fact, even human body was
                          > > > > > not made out of
                          > > > > > nothing, but formed out "of the dust of the ground."
                          > >
                          > >What necessitates that man's soul and spirit be created out of
                          > >something?
                          >
                          > <...>
                          >
                          > >Why must the immaterial part of man (soul
                          > >and spirit) be created from something? I don't think that
                          > God needed
                          > >something to use to create the immaterial part of man.
                          >
                          > It was necessary for God to breathe into man's nostrils the
                          > breath of
                          > *life* only if God chose to create an *autonomous* being
                          > with whom He could
                          > have *free* inter-personal fellowship. If God wanted to
                          > have a personal
                          > fellowship with a new being, which has both an *autonomous*
                          > and *free*
                          > personhood, then the possibility for such free autonomy can only be
                          > realized by giving something from Himself in creation of
                          > such independent
                          > personality. For there is only one kind of entity that can
                          > have *potential*
                          > independence from God, namely God's breath, which once
                          > separated from His
                          > Holy Being, can in its potency manifest independently one
                          > living on its
                          > own. This is because Divine breath, which is also a spirit,
                          > is creative
                          > *potential* force in the universe, with its own willpower
                          > and *life*. The
                          > same thing is with God's words that emanate from His being.
                          > They are
                          > creative forces that created world; for it is by His words
                          > that our Lord
                          > created the world.

                          And I wonder if the interchangeability of spirit and breath is making
                          us both a little nit-picky. ;-)

                          > God wanted to create a being with an independent free will,
                          > but as such
                          > that it is unpredictable even for God. Only way to do it
                          > was to give
                          > something from Himself. Freedom and autonomy pertains to
                          > spiritual dimension.

                          So he created man with a spirit in the image of His that had freedom
                          and autonomy. I think the argument diverges when we get down to * how
                          * the breath (or spirit) of God created the spirit of man. We are told
                          He used His breath, I don't recall the account saying * how * He used
                          it.

                          > >This, at first and second reading makes me ask the following
                          > >questions: If the breath of God has the ability to sustain
                          > life and it
                          > >became the very breath of man, then why does man die? Have
                          > we lost the
                          > >breath of God in the fall? Or is it not the same breath,
                          > only similar?
                          >
                          > I will tell you how I understand this, but without
                          > providing any argument. OK?

                          OK.

                          > First, the breath of God *transformed* itself into human
                          > spirit, so that
                          > man become a living soul. All descendants of Adam has
                          > inherited Adam's
                          > spiritual qualities.
                          >
                          > Second, human spirit is not as God's spirit. Our breath is
                          > not creative as
                          > God's is.
                          >
                          > Third, sin is the cause of the physical death, and I regard
                          > sin not only in
                          > moral terms, but also in metaphysical terms. In
                          > metaphysical terms, sin is
                          > a spiritual disease, which has infected human universe. It
                          > causes the decay
                          > of our physical body. As a spiritual disease, it is a
                          > disease of will,
                          > weakening human will. It both degrades our freedom and
                          > autonomy. However,
                          > our soul is indestructible; it cannot be annihilated. But
                          > it can lose its
                          > integrity, being threatened to be under the total control
                          > of sin. Sin in
                          > metaphysical sense is that which is a personified aspect of
                          > some particular
                          > evil manifestation influencing our human will, and as such
                          > is the total
                          > alienation from God's nature.
                          >
                          > >It isn't "cannot," it is "may not." Once one has been
                          > trained well in
                          > >discerning good and evil (Hebrews 5:14), we may actually
                          > attain that
                          > >level. While I believe that there is general revelation,
                          > we men have a
                          > >nasty habit of ignoring such revelation and veering off towards
                          > >Darwinism, Atheism, Agnosticism, and all sorts of other things and
                          > >following such teachings as we are taught them. Our moral
                          > perception
                          > >is subject to outside influences and capable of being corrupted. In
                          > >that corruption, it is not necessarily the same as God's moral
                          > >perception. The "seared conscience," for example. Man, in
                          > general, is
                          > >capable of the same moral perception as God.
                          >
                          > David, we actually agree on this. You have formulated
                          > better than me my own
                          > view on this moral perception.

                          Well, thanks. One in a row :-) .

                          Peace,

                          David

                          ICQ# 76248872
                          "If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then
                          the first woodpecker that came along would destroy
                          civilization"--Murphy's Laws of Computer Programming.
                        • B Wojcik
                          ... I d like to see reasons for that statement ... Aren t there differences between the revealed will of God and the secret will of God ... Based
                          Message 12 of 20 , Oct 9, 2000
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                            >> The thing I
                            > > disagree with
                            > > Calvinistic conception of omniscience is that I maintain that God's
                            > > decisions are conditional.

                            I'd like to see reasons for that statement


                            > The Calvinistic bent on foreknowledge is too problematic for me.
                            > Jonah's seeming unconditional prophecy, that turned out to be
                            > conditional, raises too many issues (Jonah 3:4).

                            > If God's foreknowledge included the repentance of the Ninevites, then
                            > why the unconditional language of the prophet in 3:4? Doesn't that put
                            > Jonah in the position of declaring what God knows to be a false
                            > message? Doesn't that have God knowingly having His prophet declare a
                            > false message? If God knows that the people of Nineveh would repent,
                            > then Jonah's unconditional language is a problem.

                            Aren't there differences between the revealed will of God and the 'secret'
                            will of God

                            <snip>

                            > > The Calvinist
                            > > error is to take for granted that the election, foreordination and
                            > > foreknowledge are unconditional.
                            >
                            > Got that right.

                            Based on...?


                            <snip>

                            > This introduces the Calvinist version of the "chicken and the egg
                            > question:" Which came first, election or belief? I think you and I
                            > would both answer belief.


                            What do you do with 'chosen in Him before the foundation of the world' in
                            Ephesians? Or Jacob and Esau in Romans 9?

                            <snip>

                            > Conditional foreknowledge is similar to what I believe. I do not
                            > believe that God's plan is so subject to miscarriage that He has to
                            > nail down every detail by divine decree. He can handle whatever
                            > happens. To me, that is a much more powerful God than One that must
                            > nail down every detail lest something go awry.

                            But this bases salvation on what man does, not on what God has done,
                            therefore it is inconsistent with God's stated purpose of bringing glory to
                            himself.

                            <snip>

                            > > Our depravity is due to human quenching the light of God's
                            > > image in our lives.

                            So you believe in the 'spark of divinity' in everyone?

                            <snip>

                            - Bernie
                          • David R. Block
                            Hello Bernie, You are responding to two people here. You do realize that, don t you? ... That s Alex, ask him. ... Now you have two wills of God. Yet Calvin
                            Message 13 of 20 , Oct 9, 2000
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                              Hello Bernie,

                              You are responding to two people here. You do realize that, don't you?

                              Bernie Wojcik wrote:
                              > >> The thing I
                              > > > disagree with
                              > > > Calvinistic conception of omniscience is that I
                              > maintain that God's
                              > > > decisions are conditional.
                              >
                              > I'd like to see reasons for that statement

                              That's Alex, ask him.

                              > > The Calvinistic bent on foreknowledge is too problematic for me.
                              > > Jonah's seeming unconditional prophecy, that turned out to be
                              > > conditional, raises too many issues (Jonah 3:4).
                              >
                              > > If God's foreknowledge included the repentance of the
                              > Ninevites, then
                              > > why the unconditional language of the prophet in 3:4?
                              > Doesn't that put
                              > > Jonah in the position of declaring what God knows to be a false
                              > > message? Doesn't that have God knowingly having His
                              > prophet declare a
                              > > false message? If God knows that the people of Nineveh
                              > would repent,
                              > > then Jonah's unconditional language is a problem.
                              >
                              > Aren't there differences between the revealed will of God
                              > and the 'secret'
                              > will of God

                              Now you have two wills of God. Yet Calvin held to one will of God.

                              > <snip>
                              >
                              > > > The Calvinist
                              > > > error is to take for granted that the election,
                              > foreordination and
                              > > > foreknowledge are unconditional.
                              > >
                              > > Got that right.
                              >
                              > Based on...?

                              I don't know what the unconditionality is based on. ;-)

                              > <snip>
                              >
                              > > This introduces the Calvinist version of the "chicken and the egg
                              > > question:" Which came first, election or belief? I think you and I
                              > > would both answer belief.
                              >
                              >
                              > What do you do with 'chosen in Him before the foundation of
                              > the world' in
                              > Ephesians? Or Jacob and Esau in Romans 9?

                              God chose believers corporately before the foundation of the world.
                              Please note that all of the pronouns (except for 'I') in Ephesians 1
                              are plural. In Romans 9:13, Paul is quoting Malachi, where the focus
                              is on the nations, not the individuals. I would therefore maintain
                              that Paul is speaking of the nations and not the individuals. Unless,
                              of course, you would have the apostle ignore the context he is quoting
                              from.

                              > > Conditional foreknowledge is similar to what I believe. I do not
                              > > believe that God's plan is so subject to miscarriage that
                              > He has to
                              > > nail down every detail by divine decree. He can handle whatever
                              > > happens. To me, that is a much more powerful God than One
                              > that must
                              > > nail down every detail lest something go awry.
                              >
                              > But this bases salvation on what man does, not on what God has done,

                              I don't see how. Please explain.

                              > therefore it is inconsistent with God's stated purpose of
                              > bringing glory to
                              > himself.

                              And how is it inconsistent with that purpose?

                              > <snip>
                              >
                              > > > Our depravity is due to human quenching the light of God's
                              > > > image in our lives.
                              >
                              > So you believe in the 'spark of divinity' in everyone?

                              Again, that was Alex, he can answer for himself.

                              Cheers,

                              David Block

                              ICQ# 76248872
                              "If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then
                              the first woodpecker that came along would destroy
                              civilization"--Murphy's Laws of Computer Programming.
                            • Aleksandar Katanovic
                              ... What is unclear here? That s the whole issue between a Calvinist and a non-Calvinist. ... Yes, of course; but it would not help a Calvinist. Secret will of
                              Message 14 of 20 , Oct 10, 2000
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                                At 13:29 09.10.00 -0500, you wrote:
                                > >> The thing I
                                > > > disagree with
                                > > > Calvinistic conception of omniscience is that I maintain that God's
                                > > > decisions are conditional.
                                >
                                >I'd like to see reasons for that statement

                                What is unclear here? That's the whole issue between a Calvinist and a
                                non-Calvinist.

                                >Aren't there differences between the revealed will of God and the 'secret'
                                >will of God

                                Yes, of course; but it would not help a Calvinist. Secret will of God can
                                never be in contradiction with the revealed will of God.

                                > > > The Calvinist
                                > > > error is to take for granted that the election, foreordination and
                                > > > foreknowledge are unconditional.
                                > >
                                > > Got that right.
                                >
                                >Based on...?

                                David and me agree with our diagnosis of the Calvinistic error:)

                                >What do you do with 'chosen in Him before the foundation of the world' in
                                >Ephesians? Or Jacob and Esau in Romans 9?

                                This is a *philosophical* forum where we do not discuss exegetical issues,
                                whether we shall adopt this or this interpretation but rather investigate
                                the philosophical consequences of some interpretation.

                                But if you are interested in non-Calvinistic interpretation of these terms
                                and Rom 9, please read following.

                                Please read this:
                                http://www.uio.no/~aleksank/katabole.htm
                                http://www.uio.no/~aleksank/rom9.htm

                                >But this bases salvation on what man does, not on what God has done,
                                >therefore it is inconsistent with God's stated purpose of bringing glory to
                                >himself.

                                You must prove that a non-Calvinistic soteriology has a following
                                conclusion: salvation is based on what man does. You must carefully define
                                your concepts and then proceed to show that your contention is correct.

                                Regards,
                                Alex

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                              • B Wojcik
                                David, ... Yes, and because my time was limited and because I have joined the group in the middle of the discussion I wanted to jump in somewhere. ...
                                Message 15 of 20 , Oct 10, 2000
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                                  David,
                                  >
                                  > You are responding to two people here. You do realize that, don't you?

                                  Yes, and because my time was limited and because I have joined the group in
                                  the middle of the discussion I wanted to jump in somewhere.

                                  <snip>
                                  > > Aren't there differences between the revealed will of God
                                  > > and the 'secret'
                                  > > will of God
                                  >
                                  > Now you have two wills of God. Yet Calvin held to one will of God.

                                  I'll have to think about this since it seems in this I am laboring under a
                                  false supposition...


                                  > > <snip>
                                  > >
                                  > > > > The Calvinist
                                  > > > > error is to take for granted that the election,
                                  > > foreordination and
                                  > > > > foreknowledge are unconditional.
                                  > > >
                                  > > > Got that right.
                                  > >
                                  > > Based on...?
                                  >
                                  > I don't know what the unconditionality is based on. ;-)

                                  Among others Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither
                                  having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election
                                  might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
                                  2 Timothy 1:8-9 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,
                                  nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the
                                  gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us
                                  with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own
                                  purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world
                                  began.


                                  >
                                  > > <snip>
                                  > >
                                  > > > This introduces the Calvinist version of the "chicken and the egg
                                  > > > question:" Which came first, election or belief? I think you and I
                                  > > > would both answer belief.
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > What do you do with 'chosen in Him before the foundation of
                                  > > the world' in
                                  > > Ephesians? Or Jacob and Esau in Romans 9?
                                  >
                                  > God chose believers corporately before the foundation of the world.

                                  If this is true, it would seem to be meaningless. Are some 'elected' who do
                                  not believe?

                                  > Please note that all of the pronouns (except for 'I') in Ephesians 1
                                  > are plural.

                                  That would make sense since he is addressing the people in Ephesus, but it
                                  doesn't prove (or disprove) the point.

                                  > In Romans 9:13, Paul is quoting Malachi, where the focus
                                  > is on the nations, not the individuals. I would therefore maintain
                                  > that Paul is speaking of the nations and not the individuals. Unless,
                                  > of course, you would have the apostle ignore the context he is quoting
                                  > from.

                                  There are many example of OT quotes in the NT, that do not follow commonly
                                  held rules of context. So even if this is true, the context of the NT
                                  passage should be more important than that of the OT.

                                  > > > Conditional foreknowledge is similar to what I believe. I do not
                                  > > > believe that God's plan is so subject to miscarriage that
                                  > > He has to
                                  > > > nail down every detail by divine decree. He can handle whatever
                                  > > > happens. To me, that is a much more powerful God than One
                                  > > that must
                                  > > > nail down every detail lest something go awry.
                                  > >
                                  > > But this bases salvation on what man does, not on what God has done,
                                  >
                                  > I don't see how. Please explain.

                                  You have God *reacting to what happens, therefore there must be something
                                  outside of His control.

                                  >
                                  > > therefore it is inconsistent with God's stated purpose of
                                  > > bringing glory to
                                  > > himself.
                                  >
                                  > And how is it inconsistent with that purpose?

                                  If salvation is *not* all of God, man can claim credit, and therefore glory
                                  for it.

                                  Thanks for looking at my ramblings,

                                  - Bernie
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                                  > christian-philosophy-unsubscribe@egroups.com
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                • B Wojcik
                                  Alex, ... I recently joined the list, I know that this is the basis for the disagreement, but I was hoping to see the reasons for the belief. ...
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Oct 10, 2000
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                                    Alex,
                                    <snip>
                                    >>>I maintain that God's
                                    > > > > decisions are conditional.
                                    > >
                                    > >I'd like to see reasons for that statement
                                    >
                                    > What is unclear here? That's the whole issue between a Calvinist and a
                                    > non-Calvinist.

                                    I recently joined the list, I know that this is the basis for the
                                    disagreement, but I was hoping to see the reasons for the belief.

                                    > >Aren't there differences between the revealed will of God and the
                                    'secret'
                                    > >will of God
                                    >
                                    > Yes, of course; but it would not help a Calvinist. Secret will of God can
                                    > never be in contradiction with the revealed will of God.

                                    I confess after reading David's reply and looking at the issue again briefly
                                    that I need to rethink this area.


                                    > This is a *philosophical* forum where we do not discuss exegetical issues,
                                    > whether we shall adopt this or this interpretation but rather investigate
                                    > the philosophical consequences of some interpretation.
                                    >
                                    > But if you are interested in non-Calvinistic interpretation of these terms
                                    > and Rom 9, please read following.
                                    >
                                    > Please read this:
                                    > http://www.uio.no/~aleksank/katabole.htm
                                    > http://www.uio.no/~aleksank/rom9.htm

                                    I see I have my reading for the next few days. <grin>

                                    > You must prove that a non-Calvinistic soteriology has a following
                                    > conclusion: salvation is based on what man does. You must carefully define
                                    > your concepts and then proceed to show that your contention is correct.

                                    Okay, as time permits I will pursue this question, while I continue to read
                                    the ongoing discussion.

                                    Thanks,

                                    - Bernie

                                    >
                                  • Aleksandar Katanovic
                                    ... OK, let us see whether the Bible really teaches the perverse doctrine of unconditional reprobation. We will consider only Esau and Jacob case in this post.
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Oct 11, 2000
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                                      At 12:46 10.10.00 -0500, you wrote:
                                      > >
                                      > > I don't know what the unconditionality is based on. ;-)
                                      >
                                      >Among others Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither
                                      >having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election
                                      >might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)


                                      OK, let us see whether the Bible really teaches the perverse doctrine of
                                      unconditional reprobation.

                                      We will consider only Esau and Jacob case in this post.

                                      "(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or
                                      evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of
                                      works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall
                                      serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I
                                      hated (Rom 9:11-13)."

                                      People often fail to understand that in this whole section the apostle is
                                      talking about nations and not about individuals. Turning up
                                      the passage quoted by Paul we read:

                                      "And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of
                                      people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be
                                      stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger (Gen
                                      25:23)"

                                      Esau the individual never did serve Jacob; in fact it was, if anything, the
                                      other way around. Jacob bowed himself down to the ground before Esau (Gen.
                                      33:3), addressing him as "my Lord" (Gen. 33:8, 13) and calling himself
                                      Esau's servant (Gen. 33:5); Jacob begged Esau to accept his gifts (Gen.
                                      33:11) for Esau's face seemed like the face of God to him (Gen. 33:10).
                                      Esau the individual certainly did not serve Jacob, it was the nation Esau
                                      (or Edom) which served the nation Jacob, (or Israel). Paul's point is that
                                      God's choice of Israel was made when both nations were still in the womb,
                                      and neither had done good or evil. The choice of the nation was not a
                                      reward for merit, but part of a God-determined strategy.

                                      It has nothing to do with the election of individuals to heaven, but rather
                                      it concerns the realization of the Messianic plan.

                                      Paul's next quotation: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (Rom.
                                      9:13)" comes, as H. C. Moule pointed out, "from the prophet's message a
                                      millennium later." F. F. Bruce comments that the quotation is: "from
                                      Malachi 1:2f, where again the context indicates it is the nations of Israel
                                      and Edom, rather than their individual ancestors Jacob and Esau, that are
                                      in view." The Lord has loved the nation of Israel but hated the nation of
                                      Edom.

                                      Since God has used these words love and hate in this way, we must ask
                                      whether he anywhere indicates what he means by them. A clue comes first
                                      within the history of Jacob itself:

                                      "And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah,
                                      and served with him yet seven other years. And when the LORD saw that Leah
                                      was hated (Gen 29:30-31)"

                                      The text itself seems to indicate that hated here means "loved less than."
                                      Barnes says: "It was common among the Hebrews to use the terms love and
                                      hatred in this comparative sense, where the former implied strong positive
                                      attachment and the latter, not positive hatred, but merely a less love, or
                                      the withholding of expressions of affection"; Jesus himself speaks to them
                                      using their own language conventions, when he says:

                                      "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and
                                      children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot
                                      be my disciple(Luke 14:26)"

                                      The parallel text in Matthew 10:37 shows us that again the word hate is not
                                      literal, but implies "love less than." See also Proverbs 13:24; Matthew
                                      6:24 for other uses of love/hate in such comparisions.

                                      Regards,
                                      Alex

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                                    • Aleksandar Katanovic
                                      ... Well, does it teach that God *unconditionally* elects and reprobates? No, of course not. Where does it teach in these verses? God s purpose is to save all
                                      Message 18 of 20 , Oct 11, 2000
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                                        At 12:46 10.10.00 -0500, you wrote:

                                        > > I don't know what the unconditionality is based on. ;-)
                                        >
                                        >2 Timothy 1:8-9 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,
                                        >nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the
                                        >gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us
                                        >with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own
                                        >purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world
                                        >began.

                                        Well, does it teach that God *unconditionally* elects and reprobates? No,
                                        of course not. Where does it teach in these verses?

                                        God's purpose is to save all men, but He chose to save only those who
                                        freely choose to believe in Christ.

                                        Rather, you should ask yourself what kind of consequences would imply if we
                                        adopt your interpretation. Well, your interpretation would obviously imply
                                        that the God of the Bible is a monstrous evil deity.

                                        Consider for instance a following verse:

                                        "I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I,
                                        the LORD, do all these things (Isa 45:7)"

                                        We could of course interpret that the God of the Bible is evil deity. But,
                                        here, we, as Christians, do not interpret that God creates directly evil,
                                        but rather say that God is in the last instance the cause of everything, as
                                        the first Originator of all things. God created evil in the sense that He
                                        is the indirect, and not a direct, cause of evil, by creating free agents
                                        who rebelled against Him. We do not say that God is responsible for evil.
                                        Otherwise, God would be evil indeed.

                                        Nevertheless, Calvinist interpretation of the Bible is precisely an
                                        interpretation that renders God as evil.

                                        Regards,
                                        Alex




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                                      • David R. Block
                                        Hello Bernie ... Oh. Jump right on in. ... Election is often defined as a choice. OK, but what is that choice based on? The choice itself? That s circular
                                        Message 19 of 20 , Oct 13, 2000
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                                          Hello Bernie

                                          > -----Original Message-----
                                          > From: B Wojcik [mailto:bawojcik@...]
                                          > David,
                                          > >
                                          > > You are responding to two people here. You do realize
                                          > that, don't you?
                                          >
                                          > Yes, and because my time was limited and because I have
                                          > joined the group in
                                          > the middle of the discussion I wanted to jump in somewhere.

                                          Oh. Jump right on in.

                                          > <snip>
                                          > > > Aren't there differences between the revealed will of God
                                          > > > and the 'secret'
                                          > > > will of God
                                          > >
                                          > > Now you have two wills of God. Yet Calvin held to one will of God.
                                          >
                                          > I'll have to think about this since it seems in this I am
                                          > laboring under a
                                          > false supposition...
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > > > <snip>
                                          > > >
                                          > > > > > The Calvinist
                                          > > > > > error is to take for granted that the election,
                                          > > > foreordination and
                                          > > > > > foreknowledge are unconditional.
                                          > > > >
                                          > > > > Got that right.
                                          > > >
                                          > > > Based on...?
                                          > >
                                          > > I don't know what the unconditionality is based on. ;-)
                                          >
                                          > Among others Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet
                                          > born, neither
                                          > having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God
                                          > according to election
                                          > might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

                                          Election is often defined as a choice. OK, but what is that choice
                                          based on? The choice itself? That's circular reasoning. The choice may
                                          truly be unconditional, but we are nowhere told explicitly that it is
                                          unconditional.

                                          > 2 Timothy 1:8-9 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the
                                          > testimony of our Lord,
                                          > nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the
                                          > afflictions of the
                                          > gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us,
                                          > and called us
                                          > with an holy calling, not according to our works, but
                                          > according to his own
                                          > purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus
                                          > before the world
                                          > began.

                                          Even the Arminian has their prevenient grace, so it is still according
                                          to grace in their system. Somehow, the Arminian position has been
                                          painted as having faith as works. Romans 4:5 and 11:6, reduce that
                                          thought to rubbish.

                                          > > > <snip>
                                          > > >
                                          > > > > This introduces the Calvinist version of the "chicken
                                          > and the egg
                                          > > > > question:" Which came first, election or belief? I
                                          > think you and I
                                          > > > > would both answer belief.
                                          > > >
                                          > > >
                                          > > > What do you do with 'chosen in Him before the foundation of
                                          > > > the world' in
                                          > > > Ephesians? Or Jacob and Esau in Romans 9?
                                          > >
                                          > > God chose believers corporately before the foundation of
                                          > the world.
                                          >
                                          > If this is true, it would seem to be meaningless. Are some
                                          > 'elected' who do
                                          > not believe?

                                          1) I don't understand how it would be meaningless, please explain.
                                          2) No, there are none "elected" who do not believe.

                                          > > Please note that all of the pronouns (except for 'I') in
                                          > Ephesians 1
                                          > > are plural.
                                          >
                                          > That would make sense since he is addressing the people in
                                          > Ephesus, but it
                                          > doesn't prove (or disprove) the point.

                                          It would tend to cast doubt on individual election.

                                          > > In Romans 9:13, Paul is quoting Malachi, where the focus
                                          > > is on the nations, not the individuals. I would therefore maintain
                                          > > that Paul is speaking of the nations and not the
                                          > individuals. Unless,
                                          > > of course, you would have the apostle ignore the context
                                          > he is quoting
                                          > > from.
                                          >
                                          > There are many example of OT quotes in the NT, that do not
                                          > follow commonly
                                          > held rules of context. So even if this is true, the context
                                          > of the NT
                                          > passage should be more important than that of the OT.

                                          After being taught "context, context, context" for years, I'm not sure
                                          that I buy this.

                                          > > > > Conditional foreknowledge is similar to what I
                                          > believe. I do not
                                          > > > > believe that God's plan is so subject to miscarriage that
                                          > > > He has to
                                          > > > > nail down every detail by divine decree. He can
                                          > handle whatever
                                          > > > > happens. To me, that is a much more powerful God than One
                                          > > > that must
                                          > > > > nail down every detail lest something go awry.
                                          > > >
                                          > > > But this bases salvation on what man does, not on what
                                          > God has done,
                                          > >
                                          > > I don't see how. Please explain.
                                          >
                                          > You have God *reacting to what happens, therefore there
                                          > must be something
                                          > outside of His control.

                                          Outside His control? He can always intervene whenever, however, and
                                          wherever He wishes. Unless, of course, one wishes to deny creaturely
                                          freedom and leave the responsibility of sin at God's doorstep.

                                          > > > therefore it is inconsistent with God's stated purpose of
                                          > > > bringing glory to
                                          > > > himself.
                                          > >
                                          > > And how is it inconsistent with that purpose?
                                          >
                                          > If salvation is *not* all of God, man can claim credit, and
                                          > therefore glory
                                          > for it.

                                          It is not the faith that saves, but the object of that faith, Christ.
                                          How can man claim credit for the object of faith?

                                          > Thanks for looking at my ramblings,
                                          >
                                          > - Bernie

                                          You're welcome, Bernie.

                                          Peace,

                                          David Block
                                          ICQ# 76248872
                                          "If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then
                                          the first woodpecker that came along would destroy
                                          civilization"--Murphy's Laws of Computer Programming.
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