Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Is Grace Resistible? Sure it is!

The following quotation was found in a recent post on a popular Arminian blog. It is by James Arminius, the founder of Arminianism, and purports to put the whole controversy between Calvinists and Arminians into perspective by getting down to the root issue:


The representations of grace that the scriptures contain, are such as describe it capable of “being resisted,” (Acts 7:51) and “received in vain” (2 Cor 6:1), and that it is possible for man to avoid yielding his assent to it and refuse all cooperation with it (Heb 12:15, Matt 23:37, Luke 7:30).  While, on the contrary, this [Calvinist] Predestination affirms that grace is a certain irresistible force and operation.
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In this manner, I ascribe to grace the commencement, the continuance and the consummation of all good.  To such an extent do I carry its influence that a man, though already regenerate, can neither conceive, will, or do any good at all, nor resist any evil temptation , without this preventing [i.e. preceding] and exciting, this following and co-operating grace.
From this statement it will clearly appear, that I by no means do injustice to grace, by attributing, as it is reported of me, too much to man’s free will.  For the whole controversy reduces itself to the solution of this question, “Is the grace of God a certain irresistible force?’  That is, the controversy does not relate to those actions or operations which may be ascribed to grace (for I acknowledge and inculcate as many of these actions or operations as any man ever did), but it relates solely to the mode of operation, whether it be irresistible or not.  With respect to which, I believe, according to the scriptures, that many persons resist the Holy Spirit and reject the grace that is offered. (From Arminius Speaks: Essential Writings on Predestination, Free Will and the Nature of God, ed. John Wagner, pp. 45, 69)


Resistance is Futile.
If I was an Arminian I would avoid presenting this quotation, for it only proves that Arminius did not understand the teachings of Calvinism on this subject. We do not teach, "Grace is Irresistible," and just leave the statement there as if it was an absolute fact in all cases. On the contrary, we teach that "Grace is Irresistible when it Works to Effect the Salvation of the Elect." We name this working of grace the Effectual Call because it consists in both the outward and inward call of the Gospel, which, working in combination, bring us out of our blind rebellion and into genuine faith. We call it "saving grace" simply because its effect is to save. Grace is extended and offered to the non-elect as well, but it does not result in salvation. Thus it is not called "saving grace" and it is not irresistible. The person effectively (and voluntarily) resists this grace that could have saved him, had he not resisted. Arminius thoroughly misreads the Calvinist's view.

Scripture is clear regarding the fact that grace is resisted by unbelievers:
Jonah 2:8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
Isaiah 26:10 If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly and does not see the majesty of the LORD.

Calvinists actually affirm, with these and other statements of Scripture, that grace is resisted continually by the non-elect--and by the elect themselves prior to their conversion. This is mankind's default mode under Adam. The obvious question is: what could ever be so powerful as to turn a person from this self-destructive course? Well . . . nothing but the irresistible saving grace of a Sovereign God!

It has been said that the real divide between Calvinists and Arminians lies in this question: Whose will is ultimately decisive in salvation: my will, or God's? Both wills are clearly involved; but which one is ultimately decisive? Those who say "God's will" are monergists of one sort or another; those Christians who say "my will" are synergists of some kind (and badly mistaken, I might add). Calvinists are among those who joyously declare, "God's will was ultimately decisive! He chose to save me when, otherwise, I would only have resisted Him forever." And they thank Him for turning their stubborn hearts, granting repentance, bestowing faith in Christ, and bringing them from death to life.

They know it was not their will, but His mercy, that accomplished their salvation. They know because they remember how utterly lost they were when they themselves resisted that mercy.

Here is a song by Sovereign Grace Music that sums it all up very well:



10/13/13 Addendum 
An Arminian commenter has insisted that Arminius actually did understand the Calvinistic teaching on Irresistible Grace, and has asked that I amend my post to reflect this. So noted. I may have misread Arminius (which seems easy to do, since his writings are not as clear as, say, Calvin's, or even Wesley's). In any case, I believe Arminius is now in heaven with the Lord, so he certainly understands the whole truth today, including Irresistible Grace, and likely thanks God for it on a regular basis. Perhaps he is even singing the song in the video above right at this moment!





21 comments:

  1. Derek writes,

    If I was an Arminian I would avoid presenting this quotation, for it only proves that Arminius did not understand the teachings of Calvinism on this subject. We do not teach, "Grace is Irresistible," and just leave the statement there as if it was an absolute fact in all cases. On the contrary, we teach that "Grace is Irresistible when it Works to Effect the Salvation of the Elect."

    Actually, what it probably proves is that you have not bothered to read Arminius much. Arminius was well read in Calvin and studied under Beza. He debated some of the top Calvinists of his time (Junius and Perkins). I am pretty sure he understood Calvinism.

    I am sorry if you feel your views were misrepresented by Arminius, but Arminius was quite obviously speaking about the grace that is intended to save. That is what the debate is about. It is not about grace that is not intended to save. It is with regards to the grace that God applies to save someone. That grace is always resistible according to Arminius and never resistible according to Calvin (and you as you admit above). Should Arminius be faulted because you did not realize that was the crux of the controversy he was addressing in this quote?

    But regarding your point that Arminius didn't know what he was talking about, or didn't understand Calvinism, all we need is further context. After the section quoted above (from page 45), Arminius continues,

    "According to the primary intention and chief design of God, grace conduces to the good of those persons to whom it is offered and by whom it is received. While, on the contrary, this doctrine [Calvinist irresistible grace] drags along with the assertion, that grace is offered even to certain reprobates, and is so far communicated to them to illuminate their understandings and to excite within them a taste for the heavenly gifts, only for this end and purpose, that, in proportion to the height to which they are elevated, the abyss into which they are precipitated may be the deeper, and their fall the heavier; and that they may both merit and receive the greater perdition."

    Here Arminius is describing Calvin's doctrine of evanescent grace, which many Calvinists today distance themselves from despite the fact that it was very important for Calvin’s theology and plainly represented his thoughts about how grace sometimes operates. Perhaps this proves that Calvin didn't really understand Calvinism and so one could hardly blame Arminius if he didn't understand it either.

    So it seems all you have said is that in Calvinism, God's grace is resistible and irresistible, depending on God’s intentions. That is exactly what Arminius was saying, though in the quote I gave he was (I thought quite obviously) focusing on that grace which is intended to save."

    God Bless,
    Ben

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    1. Ben,

      Thank you for commenting. If Arminius was focusing on saving grace, and trying to say that it is resistible, he does not seem to make this obvious from the Scriptures he references. The Scripture references mentioned by him point to the Jewish fathers who rejected Yahweh, the Pharisees who rejected Christ, the apostate city of Jerusalem, possibly unbelievers within the church, etc. If Arminius wanted to answer the Calvinists' doctrine (as explained by Calvin or others), he should have referenced cases they would recognize as examples of "saving grace" being resisted. Of course, since "saving grace" actually "saves," it would be impossible to find an example of "saving grace" being ultimately resisted and thus not "saving." In other words, the whole argument seems useless because it only begs the question. Arminius leaves the Calvinists' foundational Biblical presuppositions unaddressed. For this reason, I contend that he might have failed to understand the point he was arguing against, though he certainly had access to the correct information as you have noted.

      Like so many other Calvinist/Arminian discussions, this one seems to have people talking past one another and not even realizing it. Fortunately for all of us, God's grace is wide enough to envelope all of the misunderstandings of Calvinistic and Arminian soteriology.

      Blessings,
      Derek

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    2. Derek,

      Your comments about the Scripture references are strange. There is no reason to think that in any of them, God did not intend to save those who resisted that grace, and you haven't really given any reasons either. All you have done is filtered them through your presupposition that such instances can't possibly have reference to God's intention to save since such grace was resisted. But that is question begging. For example, you then write,

      If Arminius wanted to answer the Calvinists' doctrine (as explained by Calvin or others), he should have referenced cases they would recognize as examples of "saving grace" being resisted."

      And what passages would these be since Calvinists insist that saving grace (grace given with the intention of saving) cannot be resisted? But you seem to quickly recognize the problem when you write,

      Of course, since "saving grace" actually "saves," it would be impossible to find an example of "saving grace" being ultimately resisted and thus not "saving." In other words, the whole argument seems useless because it only begs the question.

      However, your comment confuses the intention with the result. But it doesn’t really matter, because Arminius is just comparing the two views and pointing out the crucial difference. So of course there are presuppositions involved. Your critique seems to entirely miss the point of what Arminius is addressing.

      You then write,

      Arminius leaves the Calvinists' foundational Biblical presuppositions unaddressed. For this reason, I contend that he might have failed to understand the point he was arguing against, though he certainly had access to the correct information as you have noted.

      But he did understand it and does argue against it. I wonder how much of Arminius you have read, since you seem to be drawing plenty of unfounded assumptions from this quote. He addresses the issue head on (even in this quote). The Calvinist claims that God’s grace that is intended to save will necessarily save. It is irresistible. Arminius contends that God’s grace that is intended to save does not necessarily save, since it is resistible. He is not saying that Calvinism is necessarily false because of this.

      What he is saying is that this lies at the heart of the controversy between his view and the Calvinist view. It is primarily a response to those Calvinists who wrongly charge Arminius with a soteriology that is not rooted in God’s grace. Arminius is saying that his view of salvation is just as dependent on God’s grace as the Calvinist view (see the second quoted section). The only difference is that in his view this grace is resistible, while the Calvinist holds that it is irresistible. That is THE difference between the two views on God’s grace. Both views depend on God’s grace entirely for salvation and faith to be possible. The difference lies only in whether or not that grace is resistible. That’s the point of the quote and that is the point of my post. Nothing more.

      But you seem to see it as a slam on Calvinism that needs to be defended. I don’t understand that.

      But it still remains, that despite your assertions, Arminius understood full well that Calvinists held that grace could, at times, be resisted. So your response is in error on that point (which seemed to be the main point of your post). That was the main thing I was pointing out in my comment.

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    3. Ben,

      Calvinists and Arminians are still talking past one another on this topic. Both agree that grace can be, and is, often resisted. The difference does not lie there. The actual difference lies here: for Arminians, God intends to save all (or at least most) people but for some reason does not achieve what He intends. Why? Apparently His intention is thwarted because grace is resisted. As a Moderate Calvinist (in the tradition of Bunyan and Baxter), I can actually agree with all of that in some measure where the non-elect are concerned.

      However, for all Calvinists, God does not intend to save all, but irresistibly bestows saving grace on only those He intends to save. To the rest, He extends an invitation, which, when left to the sinner's own choice, is rejected every time.

      Thus, while Arminius agrees that grace is totally necessary in every way, he does not view it as necessarily transforming the will of the sinner. Calvinists see grace as THE THING that effectually transforms the sinner's will as the Holy Spirit works within the elect when the Gospel call reaches them. He makes grace effectual in them. For Arminians, it is not grace itself, by itself (or even in conjunction with the Spirit's work), that is effectual for salvation. It is the sinner's willing consent to grace that makes it effectual in that particular sinner.

      In other words, for Calvinists grace changes the will and produces faith. For Arminians, the will is effectual as it exercises faith and consents to grace. This is quite a different view of what grace is and does in the sinner, at least where the will is concerned. And it is, I think, the crux of the issue once all of the qualifications and other clutter are laid aside.

      Blessings,
      Derek

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  2. However, for all Calvinists, God does not intend to save all, but irresistibly bestows saving grace on only those He intends to save. To the rest, He extends an invitation, which, when left to the sinner's own choice, is rejected every time.

    Except it is not their choice at all since they really have no choice. The only "option" for them is to reject and that rejection was decreed from eternity. So Calvinism posits irresistible damnation as well as irresistible grace/salvation, for the sinner cannot resist the decreed state he finds himself in, nor can he resist the decree to reject the supposed "well meant" offer. He can only do what he is decreed to do and can only end up where he was decreed to end up- in hell (for the ultimate glory of God, of course).

    Thanks for clearing that up for me.

    For Arminians, the will is effectual as it exercises faith and consents to grace. This is quite a different view of what grace is and does in the sinner, at least where the will is concerned. And it is, I think, the crux of the issue once all of the qualifications and other clutter are laid aside.

    Except that even the ability to "consent" to saving grace is enabled by prevenient grace. I am sure you know that, but wanted to add it since you left that part out. But what you write here is really no different than what Arminius said. The person, enabled by grace to receive salvation through faith, can yet resist and refuse salvation according to Arminianism. In Calvinism, the person cannot resist. He is irresistibly caused to believe.

    In Arminianism God’s grace makes it possible to say yes to God, but does not make it impossible to say no. In Calvinism God’s grace irresistibly causes one to say yes and thereby makes it impossible to say no. And, according to you, God also gives grace to the reprobate (in an "invitation"), which has no intention of saving them and accomplishes nothing (except to supposedly increase their guilt as Calvin taught and Arminius echoed in the quote I provided).

    All of this is in accordance with what Arminius said, and that is what you have now repeated (except that you left a little out about prevenient grace). So I still don’t understand how you are faulting Arminius here when you seem to plainly agree with him. So it seems the problem is not that Arminius didn't understand Calvinism, but that you didn't understand Arminius (as I stated in my first comment to you). Indeed, all that you say here in describing the Calvinist view of a certain "resistible" grace (in that they can't help but to refuse the "invitation" in accordance with God's irresistible eternal decree) amounts to the same thing Arminius said in the quote I provided above:

    "According to the primary intention and chief design of God, grace conduces to the good of those persons to whom it is offered and by whom it is received. While, on the contrary, this doctrine [Calvinist irresistible grace] drags along with the assertion, that grace is offered even to certain reprobates..."

    But your post insisted that Arminius didn't understand your view. So the "crux" of your post's argument is still inaccurate. My hope is that God decreed from eternity that you will now correct the error that he likewise decreed from eternity you would make in the first place :-)

    God Bless,
    Ben

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  3. Ben,

    Your comments about Calvinism are consistent with hyper-Calvinism and with the incompatibilist viewpoint assumed by Arminianism (it's ironic that hypers and Arminians stand united in opposing compatibilism). From my perspective as a compatibilist, though, your conclusions make no sense and do not represent the Calvinism I embrace. I am daily more convinced that the rejection of compatibilism leads to an unnecessasry theological and exegetical polarization which only breeds needless friction.

    It is entirely possible that I have misunderstood Arminius. If he truly understands the teachings of Calvinism regarding Irresistible Grace, that is much to his benefit.

    Blessings,
    Derek

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  4. Derek,

    You write,

    Your comments about Calvinism are consistent with hyper-Calvinism and with the incompatibilist viewpoint assumed by Arminianism (it's ironic that hypers and Arminians stand united in opposing compatibilism).

    That is nothing but sheer assertion on your part. I am in no way describing hyper-Calvinism and nothing I wrote is incompatible with compatibilism. If you think I am, then you should demonstrate it. Compatibilists hold to exhaustive determinism and all that I said follows from that (and mostly I just repeated back what you said to me). But making unbacked and unargued assertions seems to be the hallmark of compatibilism.

    It is entirely possible that I have misunderstood Arminius. If he truly understands the teachings of Calvinism regarding Irresistible Grace, that is much to his benefit.

    It's nice that you admit this. Will you then adjust the claim you have made in your post?

    God Bless,
    Ben

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    1. Ben,

      You said: "Except it is not their choice at all since they really have no choice. . . . So Calvinism posits irresistible damnation"

      God decrees & people have no choice = HYPER CALVINISM
      God decrees & people also choose freely/voluntarily = Compatibilistic Calvinism

      By definition, what you wrote describes hyper Calvinism. History makes the definitions plain.

      I suggest reading my article series on the hardening of Pharaoh's heart and the one about Square Circles for supporting argumentation, both Biblical and logical, regarding compatibilism. Those articles are linked somewhere in the sidebar of this blog. You might additionally choose to read the many recent posts on this blog related to Compatibilism for further argumentation which has been laid out for the curious and teachable.

      Blessings,
      Derek

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    2. Will you then adjust the claim you have made in your post?

      Certainly. An addendum has been placed at the end of the post to note the possibility of mistake.

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  5. Here's the "ironic" part:

    From my perspective as a compatibilist, though, your conclusions make no sense and do not represent the Calvinism I embrace.

    Why is it that things need to make sense for those who oppose you, but never need to make sense when you are defending your own view? If it doesn't make sense, why not embrace it, Derek? Isn't that what we are supposed to do with such things? Just smile and embrace the tension, right?

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    1. Ben,

      I find your comment bizarre, inapplicable and ill-informed. Almost everything written on this blog represents an attempt to "make sense" of challenging concepts. Where do you find me saying that one should embrace something simply because it does not make sense? Show me and I will retract that absurdity immediately.

      I will be waiting patiently for you to show me an example of this. If not, will you adjust what you have asserted in your comment?

      On the other hand, I have encouraged people to embrace clear Biblical teachings that might appear to be incompatible, even if they cannot achieve a complete logical explanation of them. Do you discourage this? If not, then perhaps we agree.

      Blessings,
      Derek

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  6. God decrees & people have no choice = HYPER CALVINISM
    God decrees & people also choose freely/voluntarily = Compatibilistic Calvinism


    The problem is that choice is rendered meaningless if God decrees all things. Choice involves alternatives to choose from. If God decrees our every thought, desire and action and controls the movement of our minds, then there is never any real options, no real alternatives, no “choice.” And certainly it is not accurate to say we “choose feely” in an entirely predetermined world. But you add “voluntarily”, which I suppose is intended to qualify what you mean by freely. To do something voluntarily does not mean our volition is free, which is where choice ultimately has meaning. It is word games like this that make your position seem dishonest (which is what Matt pointed out in his discussions with you).

    I was also careful to explain why choice didn’t make sense in your view in my comment. I didn’t claim that you don’t use the word or attempt to make sense of it, only that, despite such things, it doesn’t make sense (indeed, I was responding to your use of the word) and leads to the exact conclusions I drew based on the doctrine of exhaustive determinism which all Calvinists hold in common. The only way you can makes sense of our “choosing freely” in an exhaustively determined world is to mess with the meaning of choice and freely to make them compatible with determinism (which is what classical compatibilists do). But that’s not embracing tension or paradox in the way that you claim we should. It’s eliminating it.

    Question: Can you “choose” contrary to the decree of God?

    By definition, what you wrote describes hyper Calvinism. History makes the definitions plain.

    Not at all. Just because you use the word “choice” doesn’t mean you can make any sense of it (at least not without doing serious damage to the way the word is normally understood and used). The logical implications lead to the same place, whether you are willing to accept that or not. Word games don’t change that.

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    1. Ben,

      You are simply insisting and asserting that belief in divine pre-determination of all things by eternal decree is incompatible with human free choice as you understand it. Your comments assume incompatibilism, a priori. That is fine, but it does not make your position more logical or rational than my belief that God has wisely foreordained that our free choices would be pre-determined and fully foreseen from His perspective. I am baffled that you (and many others) fail to see these twin truths in Scripture. But I am also baffled by the fact that I could not (or would not) see them for so many years. Therefore, at the end of the day, I am sympathetic to your position while vehemently opposing it (which is an interesting paradox).

      Blessings,
      Derek

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  7. I suggest reading my article series on the hardening of Pharaoh's heart and the one about Square Circles for supporting argumentation, both Biblical and logical, regarding compatibilism. Those articles are linked somewhere in the sidebar of this blog. You might additionally choose to read the many recent posts on this blog related to Compatibilism for further argumentation which has been laid out for the curious and teachable.

    Derek, no offense, but I have read about compatibilism to death and I have read a lot on your blog and in your discussions with others. I just find it to be extremely weak. I find it to be double talk. I find it to be incoherent. I find it to be arbitrary. I find it self-defeating. I find it to be special pleading of the worse sort. I find it to be rooted in severe equivocation of terms and concepts. Reading the same things over and over isn’t going to change my mind about that. But since you asked nicely, I will read the ones you mentioned that I haven’t yet read.

    I find your comment bizarre, inapplicable and ill-informed.

    I likewise find your comments regarding compatibilism bizarre, inapplicable and ill-informed. What are we to do about that?

    Almost everything written on this blog represents an attempt to "make sense" of challenging concepts.

    Really? When you hold to things that are mutually exclusive and say that we should just accept that they are not, even though by all accounts they are, that is hardly trying to make sense of challenging concepts. But these aren't even challenging concepts I am talking about. Contradictions are not the same as "challenging concepts". Rather, they simply and plainly reveal error.

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    1. Ben,

      No offense taken, and I am grateful for any time and thought you have invested in the consideration of my little scribblings.

      Here again, unfortunately, you assume incompatibilism and then leverage that mere assumption against my rational and Biblical belief in compatibilism. I will re-phrase my earlier question: Where have I ever encouraged anyone to embrace things that are mutually exclusive? A primary point of this blog is to demonstrate that some things which are assumed to be mutually exclusive are actually not incompatible, but have been turned into false dichotomies under the limitations of thinking that is more rationalistic than Biblical in its orientation. How is your repeated assertion that my paradoxes are actually contradictions any different, in terms of logic, from the assertions of false teachers who have used the same kind of reasoning to (supposedly) disprove core doctrines such as the Trinity, orthodox Christology, the inerrancy of Scripture, and even the progressive nature of sanctification? By the terms of your own rational demands, can you logically explain how Christ is entirely divine and entirely human, having fully two very different Natures and yet holding them inconfusedly in His one Person? In view of this basic and foundational Biblical doctrine alone, how can you avoid admitting that God has revealed some truths about Himself which might appear impossible and contradictory to us, based on what we mistakenly think are "mutually exclusive" categories? How will you avoid heresy if you apply the same thinking to the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union that you are applying to compatibilism? Can't the God who did the impossible thing of incarnating Himself in the Person of Christ also do the impossible thing of correlating His eternal decrees with temporal human decisions in ways that we cannot fathom?

      Blessings,
      Derek

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  8. Where do you find me saying that one should embrace something simply because it does not make sense?

    I don’t think I said that your claim was that we should embrace things “simply because” they do not make sense. Where did I say that exactly? But you do say that we should embrace things that do not make sense all over your blog. Of course, you “claim” that these are just apparent and not real absurdities, but you can’t demonstrate that in the least. It is just an assertion that you seem to expect others to accept (and if they don’t, you have a lot to say about them and their approaches).

    My point was that it was strange to see you recoil at something as bizarre and not making sense when your whole approach is based on embracing such things (even it your approach doesn’t say we should embrace them “simply because” they do not make sense). Perhaps you just need to embrace them here as well? Perhaps you are being too rational in your critique of what I was saying in my comment. Perhaps compatibilism and hyper-Calvinism are actually compatible. Why not?

    Show me and I will retract that absurdity immediately.

    So it is absurd to say we should embrace things simply because they do not make sense? Can you please explain how that is an “absurdity” and your embracing things that do not make sense (i.e. they are absurdities) is all well and good?

    I will be waiting patiently for you to show me an example of this. If not, will you adjust what you have asserted in your comment?

    Can you show me where I said you said we should embrace something “simply because” it doesn’t make sense? Here is what I wrote,

    “If it doesn't make sense, why not embrace it, Derek? Isn't that what we are supposed to do with such things? Just smile and embrace the tension, right?”

    That is a question. Really, it is two questions. So it is weird that you say I claim you said we should embrace things “simply because they do not make sense.” But the question is meant to illustrate that you do not have any seeming basis to have a problem with things that do not make sense, unless you are going to be rather arbitrary about it.

    On the other hand, I have encouraged people to embrace clear Biblical teachings that might appear to be incompatible, even if they cannot achieve a complete logical explanation of them. Do you discourage this? If not, then perhaps we agree.

    This is a loaded comment. First, you assume that the things you hold to as paradoxes are based on “clear Biblical teachings.” Of course, that is the main point of contention. I don’t hold that anything you say supports Calvinism represents clear Biblical teaching.

    Second, when you say, “even if they cannot achieve a complete logical explanation of them” it is hard to understand what you mean by “complete logical explanation.” Are you saying that such things are a little logical, or part logical? Could you demonstrate that please? If not, why not just say, “even if they cannot achieve a logical explanation”?

    What I discourage is a system that makes itself impervious to falsification by slapping inappropriate labels on things that under any other circumstances would clearly reveal error. What I discourage is a world view that claims to be able to somehow distinguish between what is a contradiction and what is only an “apparent” contradiction (not “completely” illogical?) when there is absolutely nothing to distinguish the two except for the arbitrary assertion of the one making the claim.

    Hope that helps.

    God Bless,
    Ben

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    1. Ben,

      Okay, to answer your questions directly:

      “If it doesn't make sense, why not embrace it, Derek?"

      Give me a compelling reason to do so, and I will. Oh but wait, then it would "make sense" to some degree, wouldn't it? There would be a reason for embracing it.

      Speaking of reason, there are some great Biblical texts behind the paradoxes I embrace. The propositional truths they express are perspicuous and reasonable, even if I can't explain all of the ways they interrelate, and even if stating them side by side creates an apparent contradiction at the word level. When this happens, I pray and study for a better understanding. That is what this blog is all about; it is, in part, a record of my studies in Biblical truths that on the word level seem to contradict. If I can explain the interrelations so as to apparently "solve" the paradox, I still hold my explanation as far less authoritative than the text of Scripture, and thus will not claim to have eliminated the apparent contradiction. On the other hand, if I can't logically explain all of the interrelations, I assume it is my own limitation rather than a fault in the Word of God. The Truth is not "part logical," but there are limits to what logic can achieve when fallen human beings are attempting to explain the infallible counsels of a transcendent and all-wise God. Wouldn't you agree? If you possess logic that can fully explain all of the interrelations of the propositions found in divine revelation without contradicting orthodox Christian theology, I will buy all of your books (yet I still won't hold your logical explanations as high as Scripture). Rather than saying you "solved the paradoxes," I will say you have offered a possible explanation that is apparently logical, and I will remain open to the discovery of another explanation that is more (or at least equally) logical. In other words, I am fully in favor of logic; I just don't believe logic will ever enable us to advance beyond what is actually presented in the Scriptures. What I am describing here is little more than the logical application of Sola Scriptura. I assume you believe in that.

      Thus, your question makes no sense to me, as it bears no reflection on my own practices or thought patterns, and offers no Biblical or logical reasons for what you are suggesting.

      "Isn't that what we are supposed to do with such things?"

      In short, Ben, "no." Your question either smacks of sarcasm or encourages us to embrace irrationality. Either way, it deserves even less of an answer I have given here. So we will move on.

      "Just smile and embrace the tension, right?"

      See previous answer.

      As to your other comments, you just don't seem to grasp my position at all. Perhaps I am a poor communicator. I'll keep working on expressing my convictions here on this blog, and I will eagerly hope you continue to seek understanding, whether here or elsewhere.

      Blessings,
      Derek

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  9. That's quite an "addendum" Derek, right at the bottom after the video along with a few snide remarks. If your heart isn't in it, why bother?

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    1. Just making the most of every opportunity.

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    1. Rusty,

      Thank you for commenting. Your comment is very appropriate, I think, and it is also a good reminder of the reality of Christian unity. In spite of the fact that Ben and I do not communicate so well sometimes (and definitely don't agree on certain theological points, obviously), we do have genuine Christian love for one another. I don't think we're very well suited as debate partners, ultimately. However, I admire and respect Ben's dedication to principle, his strong conviction and tenacity, his ability to organize complex thoughts, his skill in turning a phrase, his desire to present the character of God in what he believes is the most profitable and accurate way, and his undeniable commitment to the study of Scripture and theology. Among other things. And I would guess he secretly harbors a similar respect for me.

      At the end of the day, we have much more in common than we disagree about. If someone came along attacking the Gospel of grace, the authority of Scripture, the Incarnation of Christ, the Trinity, or other core Christian doctrines, I have no doubt that Ben and I would stand shoulder to shoulder in absolute solidarity defending these Truths. I assume we have a shared experience of Christ, and grace, and the Gospel, which would make us natural allies under a slightly different set of circumstances.

      Under the present circumstances, however, we just end up disagreeing a lot.

      Blessings,
      Derek

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Mgmt.