Friday, March 13, 2015
From the January 2012 E-Block.
As we now move to the critic's treatment of the U petal in TULIP, we find that he has almost totally foregone dealing with the complex explanations I offer in favor of an excuse that he will only select certain foundation beliefs which he thinks undermine my whole argument. Unfortunately, in so doing, he manages to get my views mostly wrong as he tries to pigeonhole them into something with which he is familiar.
As before, the representation of his replies are in bold, and any quotes from our original U article are in italics.
You think that people have more of a problem with the idea of election itself than they do the unconditional piece. Actually most people consider “limited atonement” to be the most controversial point.
I don't "think" any such thing, nor do I indicate any such thing. I do say that the U is probably the most controversial point, and I base that on extended observation and discussion with those who oppose it -- and I might add that limited atonement, in terms of a category, merely describes what the election in the U amounts to; so in reality, what people find difficult in L comes of what is in U and is derived from it. So regardless, even if L offends most, it is because of U that it is controversial.
It is not election that people find offensive, but rather the fact that the basis of election is wholly and entirely located in God, and not some outward work or decision or foreknowledge of some work or decision man makes.
That is merely the expected hyper-Calvinist response, which seeks to lay fault at the feet of human sin (rather than honest questions) for disputing Calvinism. In other words, even if you say it is election you find offensive, as most critics do, the Calvinist of this brand will simply say you are lying because in the evil depths of your heart, you are actually offended by the basis of election lying wholly in God. My experience and study shows that it is indeed election that causes the offense; but of course I will merely be told that every one of my sources is a liar refusing to acknowledge Calvinism's glorious truths.
From here the critic embarks on an extended critique of middle knowledge (Molinism). This was actually a considerable waste of time, because I have been told by several Molinists that my views are not in full accord with theirs. Not that it really matters, for despite my explanations indicating that God is fully sovereign, we are assured by the critic that I really do see the basis for election in human choice -- I just don't see it, or won't admit it. That's not an answer, of course, but once again, merely the same sort of pious hyper-Calvinist dismissal as the one above which simply calls people liars when no other option is available.
It is complained that I need to show how all this works with Romans 9, but apparently the critic failed to search my archives and locate that treatment when writing his critique. Additionally, the concept of free will is criticized under the premise that it is to be defined as "will that is free from any and all external causes." I did not offer any such definition, nor is what I offered in line with such a definition. Rather, I define free will as nothing more than the ability to choose among options. Externals may in some way influence the choice, so I would not say that it means "free from" such externals at all. Additionally, it is also assumed that I hold to the particular Molinist view that God cannot know what a free creature will decide, which I do not. And so the critic ends up criticizing, for an extended period, a view I do not hold.
Also falsely attributed to me is a view that "predestination depends on good works." It is said that I "say as much" when I say:
Is there unrighteousness with God? Hardly. "Why not choose me?" -- Esau. At the very least it may be said in reply, "Because look what happens if you do."
However, this overlooks the much larger picture I painted in the article, in which God has designed -- by His own sovereignty -- persons for specific purposes. It also overlooks the fact that my subject here isn't even salvation, but the larger practical picture of all of the created order and God's purpose in it. In essence, the critic fails to grasp the actual complexity of my thesis, and so tries to force-fit it into categories he understands (or thinks he does) so that he can offer a misdirected critique.
Next up: we approach my minimal treatment of Romans 9 in the U article (not my detailed treatment in a later article). My commentary on high and low context is dismissed as "obscure" (which I suppose to this critic, it would be!), which is unfortunate since it is a point that is quite critical to my explanation. It is then said:
You contend that the Hebrew would have no interest in issues of free will and predestination. I wonder how you reconcile this with the fact that Paul was a Roman citizen writing to a Roman church that had a predominantly Gentile composition with a Jewish minority?
I don't need to, because the point is that the Hebrew resolved this issue by simply pointing out that God acted in history and was real, so whatever solution there might be, there had to be one -- it was trumped, though, by the simple fact that the universe was real, God was at work in it, and so that meant it wasn't our place to act as though it were a problem. That Paul was a Roman citizen did not change this ( how could it??); but this is all of no matter anyway, because Romans 9 is a case of Paul giving precisely this answer, as we showed in detail in our exegesis of Romans 9.
From here, the critic refuses to substantially deal with points I raise from Marvin Wilson, under the premise that Wilson is too biased, has an axe to grind, etc -- which I take to be the argumentative equivalent of a no mas. The critic does try to defuse some of Wilson's examples of block logic, but in so doing, merely unwittingly confirms Wilson's actual points. Thus, concerning both Pharaoh hardening his own heart, and God hardening it, is is said:
There are two perspectives here: God’s perspective and man’s perspective. We see Pharaoh hardening his heart in fulfillment of God hardening His heart. Moses was told clearly that God would harden Pharaoh’s heart.
But this does not defuse the paradox at all; it merely explains it in another way. "God's perspective" and "man's perspective" are just as much at odds and the paradox remains intact. All the critic has done has assumed that if he attaches a "God said so" to the front of it, the paradox disappears. It does not.
Two other examples are offered, but since no citation is given for where these are found in Wilson, I am not able to comment as not enough details are give. In the end, it is no surprise the critic instead find it necessary to resort to loaded language (eg, "Pelagian nonsense"), once again force-fitting ideas too complex for him into categories more familiar to him.
The critic closes with his own extended exegesis of Romans 9, leaving all else I say far behind. Since he has done nothing to address my own detailed exegesis -- not having even looked for it -- our own treatment ceases here as well.
The critic skips our brief treatment of L, so we will continue with I next time.
Posted by J. P Holding at 7:50 AM