February 16, 2012
FOCUS: Can a born-again believer lose his or her salvation while simultaneously affirming God’s sovereignty and human free will while being consistent with Scripture?
An Examination of the Perseverance of the Saints Doctrine
Apostolic warnings against apostasy pose a difficulty for the classic doctrine of perseverance of the saints because either the warnings seem superfluous or else it seems possible for the believer to fall away after all. The attempt to construe the warnings as the means by which God effects perseverance fails to distinguish the classical doctrine from a Molinist doctrine, according to which believers can fall away but if fact will not due to God’s extrinsically efficacious grace. A Molinist perspective is coherent and, unlike the classical doctrine does not render superfluous the apostolic admonitions.
The traditional doctrine of perseverance states that not only will the saints maintain grace and salvation, but literally cannot fall from grace. (It is very important to approach these and understand these texts in light of appropriate exegesis.) However, this seems to ignore numerous Scriptures, which warn the danger of apostasy of those who deliberately fall from grace:
Rom. 11:17-24; I Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:4; Col. 1:23; I Thess. 3:5; I Tim. 1:19-20; II Tim. 2:17-18; Jas. 5:19-20; II Pet. 2:20-22; I Jn. 5:16
Perhaps the most prominent:
Therefore leaving the elementary teachings about the Christ, let us press on the maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the death and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do, if God permits. 4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. 7For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings for the vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed and it ends up being burned. Heb. 6:1-8 (NASB)
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February 13, 2012
For a context of where I’m coming from concerning Molinism please see my previous posts:
- Middle Knowledge in a Nutshell
- Why I’m Not an Arminian
- Why I’m Not a Calvinist
- God Controls Everything–Good and Bad
- Overpower–Is God Ultimately Responsible for Everything?
- The Pelagian Equivocation
- The Singular Redemption View of the Atonement
- Does God Ever Literally Change His Mind?–Yes
- Is a Molinist Concept of Providence Discomforting?
- Word of the Week Wednesday: Supralapsarianism
- Holds a high view of God’s sovereignty while holding to an equal and uncompromising view of human free will.
- Provides a better model for understanding how it is simultaneously true that God’s decree of election while His rejection of the unbeliever is conditional.
- Affirms the genuine desire on the part of God for all to be saved in His universal salvific will (which is problematic for the Calvinist) claiming that God loved the whole world (John 3:16) yet, Christ has a particular love for the Church (Eph. 5:25).
- God control’s all things, but does not cause all things.
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February 6, 2012
Boethius discusses the problem in reconciling genuine human freedom with God’s foreknowledge in “Divine Foreknowledge and Freedom of the Will” (proses III-VI). He bases his whole discussion on whether or not something that is foreknown happens by necessity. He offers the disjunctive option of the necessity of either thing, which are going to happen be foreseen by God or that what God foresees will in fact happen—either way, he argues, human will is removed. When discussing the uncertainty of future events he concludes that, for God, there must be no uncertainty in these events because it’s then reduced to possible conditionals, or could-counterfactuals. Hence, the law of excluded middle is true for knowledge of future tensed events. He makes an interesting point when discussing aspects about Cicero’s contribution to the problem. If foreknowledge is removed then the events of human will are no longer necessary. Considering all of the discussion so far he believes that everything that happens does so by necessity.
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February 1, 2012
The Word of the Week is: Supralapsarianism
Definition: From the Latin, supra (prior to, below, before), lapsis, (fall). A term used to denote the logical moment of God’s election of the saints. Supralapsarianism if the belief that God chose the elect logically prior to the fall of man.
More about the term: Supralapsarianism is generally held by Calvinists and a few Molinists. Supralapsarianism places the moment of divine election logically prior to the fall of Adam as opposed to logically posterior to the fall, which is known as infralapsarianism. When God chose the elect he did so without viewing them or considering them in their fallen state. God chose them in a pre-fallen state. This position can create controversy and may have unsavory implications. One of the implications is what’s known as double-predestination. This is the idea that God chose the reprobates (the non-elect) in the same fashion in which he chose the elect. This isn’t a necessary implication of supralapsarianism since God’s decree of reprobation may be logically posterior to the fall.
This view of soteriology is held by Alvin Plantinga, who is a Molinist with Calvinistic tendencies (there’s a wide spectrum of Molinism ranging from supralapsarianism to Wesleyan). Plantinga uses this idea in his theodicy, ‘O Felix Culpa’ (O happy sin). The reason why evil exists is because God first desired the cross of Christ–the means by which God would get the most glory. In order to bring about the cross there must be sin, thus God permits sin to happen because he desires the cross (which is why evil exists–so God may be glorified by atoning for it).
January 23, 2012
Think about it for just a moment. Does God ever literally change his mind or course of action? The Christian tradition usually sides with the, ‘No.’ Well, if you say know let me ask you something. What would you do with cognitive, so-called, anthropomorphisms concerning peitionary prayer or changing his course of action (i.e. God changing his mind in response to prayer or sparing Ninenveh)? The traditional hermeneutic concerning anthropomorphisms approaches these statements as literary elements in which God expresses himself through human or animal terms that teach something true about God. Expressions like “the right hand of God” or “the eyes of the Lord,” for example, communicate something true of God’s strength and knowledge. But what does the concept of God’s changing his mind communicate? For example, if indeed it is anthropomorphistic? If God in fact never actually changes his mind [due to prayer], saying he does so doesn’t communicate anything truthful. It is simply inaccurate.
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November 14, 2011
The following are a list of podcasts that I’ve been following and listening to that have been quite helpful in my philosophical, scientific, and theological studies. The criteria for consideration are based on 1) quality of content, 2) accurate presentation of the material, 3) constructive and respectful criticism of opposing views, 4) frequency of podcast release, and 5) a broad range of topics/issues discussed.
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November 10, 2011
The English poet John Milton did well when he said that “Truth will rise to the top through a free and open exchange in the marketplace of ideas.” I am so encouraged when I have and see a substantive dialogue with someone concerning an issue. This is certainly important in every day discussions, blogs, and teaching. I assist in managing and teaching an Intro. to Philosophy course at university and I always encourage my students to make us work hard to convince them of what we believe to be true. Do not simply sit there and take what I say and teach prima facie–challenge me, challenge the thoughts, challenge your thinking.
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October 1, 2011
James White is the director of Alpha and Omega ministries focused on apologetics. I’ve learned a lot about my own theological position as well as others because of his ministry and service. To be honest, I don’t agree with a few things he believes. For instance, I’m a Molinist (he’s not the biggest fan), evidentialist, and an old-earth creationist. Despite our disagreements he has my utmost respect and esteem. He is passionate about God, the gospel, the Church, and the unsaved. I’m a faithful listener of his podcast, The Dividing Line, and there have been moments when I shake my head at some points he makes and there are other times when I’m cheering him on.
I respect White for his defense of the faith from cults, atheists, Islam, Roman Catholicism, unitarians, and others. Where White earns my greatest respect is his integrity and honesty in scholarship and ministry. You won’t find him quote mining or warping his citations. He does the work, he does the research, and he presents it well. Now, on another note, I’m a philosophy graduate student at Liberty University. For those who are familiar with White you’ll know where I’m going with this. White demanded accountability from Caner, the university, and the church for so many discrepancies [and contradictions] Caner asserted about himself. All parties remained silent while all White did was demand honesty and integrity. Thank you, Dr. White.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with White please check out his YouTube channel, his podcasts, and his website. You don’t have to agree with him all the time but you will learn a lot.