Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dealing With a Libertarian Determinist?

JC recently directed my attention to this website where a certain Adam Murrell decided to make some comments concerning a previous post of mine. He decided I needed a lesson in Calvinism by providing an impressive list of "proof texts" that he feels, if I would only take the time to read them, would make the case for Calvinism undeniable.

His post consists of trying to show that the Calvinist position in no way renders God the author of sin. As with most Calvinists, when it comes to this difficult task, he reverts to language that only makes sense in the framework of libertarian freewill (e.g. the language of "permission").

The following quote from Mr. Murrell demonstrates this lapse:

"While God is not the author of sin, He is the permitter of sin in such a manner for His wise, holy, and most excellent end."

Any Arminian could heartily agree with this statement, but such a statement is nonsensical with reference to determinism. I left a comment telling Mr. Murrell that I found his comments to be so consistent with Arminianism that I would, with a few minor exceptions, be willing to claim them as my own. I also pointed out that they are in no way compatible [pardon the pun] with his compatibilism. When I tried to submit my comments his blog informed me that I had used too many "characters". Apparently Mr. Murrell is not interested in any kind of meaningful interaction. Below is the comment I left which was rejected because it was too long:

I want to clarify something and make a few quick points. I wrote the post you are referring to. The context of that post is important. It was in response to some Calvinists at my blog trying to say that Arminians, to be consistent, must be Open theists. You can see how that conversation developed in the combox of this post:

I do want to say, though, that I would be comfortable affirming almost all of what you have said here as an Arminian. However, I believe your use of "permission", etc. is incompatible with determinism and implies libertarian free will, which was kind of my point. Permission makes no sense in a deterministic paradigm, compatibilism included.

Thanks for directing your readers to my blog.

God Bless,

Now, imagine if I had wanted to exegetically engage his list of proof texts! That would be pretty hard considering the comments I left above were deemed too long for his combox. I then left a shorter message telling him that I would be addressing his comments at AP. Those comments never appeared since all comments must first be approved by him.

So I invite Mr. Murrell to make free use of my combox if he likes. I will not restrict the number of characters he can use. Maybe he will take the time to engage the following questions I posed here without lapsing into the language of libertarian free will:

1) How do you make sense of regrets if you do not have the power of contrary choice? Why does your conscience bother you when you sin, if you could not have avoided that sin?

2) If God causes all things, then how can you claim that God does not cause sin?

3) Where did the first impulse to sin come from in both Satan and Adam?

Note: Appeals to mystery are inadmissible. Appeals to "second" causes, etc. must be explained in such a way that they actually get God off the hook for causing sin. It does not help to say that we choose according to our desires, and therefore God is not responsible. If God causes all things, then He also causes our desires. If God is the only true actor in the universe, then all creatures are but passive instruments. If we are but passive creatures with no power of self-determination, then all our actions must be directly attributed to God.

Till then....

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

Dear Mr Ben,
1) As Christians we are not to get cought up in regreting as all is done according to God's will. We are to realize that God has a purpose for everything. Guilt and regrets are a result of the fall, and we are to more and more be liberated from them as we are covered in the blood. Conscience is a tool that God uses at times to reveal to us the wrongs of a certain sin and to convict us. It is thereforew a means that God uses.
2) God is omnipotent and uses everthing to achieve His purpose. He is in complete charge of His creation and uses all aspects of life for His own glory-even sin and the punishment thereof.
3) Man was created with a free will in Adam, and with that will he chose Satan and sin. After this choice he lost communion with God and his will was in bondage to sin and Satan. God in His mercy has chose to liberate some from the tyranny of Satan, even though we of our own free will in Adam chose what we receive.
I do not disagree with you that Adam was created with a free will, but that will was placed in bondage to Satan and sin at the fall. It is now in a state of depravity and its only hope is to be liberated by the Almighty One.
God is not "on the hook" for any sin as we chose that sin in our representative head, Adam. We are the cause, God is the liberator.
God Bless You!