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The New “No Straw Man” challenge

Discussion in 'Salvation (Soteriology)' started by Hammster, Dec 5, 2019.

  1. Hammster

    Hammster Melanin Level - Low Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    I did this in General Theology a few years ago because of some of the discussions going on. I thought I’d try it here to see how it goes.


    As usual, Reformed Theology is misrepresented by what folks think is being taught. Generally, it’s not accurate, though I’m sure it’s well-intentioned. I’m sure I made some of the same arguments myself.

    So here's the challenge. Below you will find links to some various documents that those who hold to Reformed Theology will agree on, at least soteriologically. The challenge is to quote from one of them, and then state why you believe it is incorrect. This will hopefully lead to a reasoned discussion. Any argument that does not start this way will be considered off topic. You are, however, free to start your own thread on that matter.

    Here are your links.

    The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (I would have used the Westminster Confession, but I'm Baptist :))

    Canons of Dordt

    Heidelberg Catechism

    Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin, Christian Classics Books, Bible Study

    Please respect what’s being asked. If you cannot, then just post elsewhere. Thanks.

    ETA. Since this is now in Soteriology, let’s stick to that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
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  2. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    I remember that thread. You made some exceptions as the thread went on:

    Your conclusion was that the Institutes contradicted Dordt, John 3, and Ephesians 2. Perhaps it would be useful to know at the outset of this thread to what extent the Institutes are normative for your own definition of Reformed Theology?
     
  3. Hammster

    Hammster Melanin Level - Low Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    Just follow the OP. Thanks.
     
  4. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    The problem is that many "Calvinists" that you meet online often don't really know or follow the official Calvinist confessions, and other official teaching of Calvin. e.g. - They just know the five points of TULIP and drive that into the ground sometimes actually taking positions contrary to Calvin on infant baptism, the Church Fathers, etc.
     
  5. Hammster

    Hammster Melanin Level - Low Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    That’s not really the topic.
     
  6. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    My question is directly related to the OP. You list the Institutes as a normative text for Reformed Theology, and yet in the past have eschewed this text as normative. Indeed in the OP you claim that Reformed agree on the documents listed, yet you yourself disagree with some of the documents listed (link) and even believe two of the documents to be contradictory (link). That is, unless you have changed your position since the last time you posted this same identical thread? I am simply wondering to what degree you actually agree with the documents listed.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    But for the sake of your thread, here are two quotes where John Calvin and "Reformed theology" (your term) describe God as the author of evil who directly uses it for his own ends:

    The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how muchsoever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as he permits, nay unless in so far as he commands, that they are not only bound by his fetters but are even forced to do him service (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 11)

    I concede more - that thieves and murderers, and other evil-doers, are instruments of Divine Providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute the judgements which he has resolved to inflict. (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 5)
    Note that in the first quote we are told that God not only permits, but actually commands and forces the ungodly to perpetrate evil. The second accordingly has thieves and murderers "being employed by the Lord himself" in their thievery and murder. Calvin seems to be saying that the Lord uses them as the instruments by which he executes his judgments. In this there is a strange similarity between Calvin's God and Don Corleone, who also used murderers to execute his judgments.
     
  7. Hammster

    Hammster Melanin Level - Low Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    You probably missed the ETA. In this thread, we need to stick to soteriology. That would be good for the other thread, though.
     
  8. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Ah, true enough. The premiere objection to Reformed soteriology is double predestination, which is found in the Institutes. But as noted in post #2, you disagree with the Institutes on this topic. If I come across anything objectionable in Reformed soteriology besides double predestination, I will be sure to re-visit this thread and ask you about it. ;)
     
  9. Hammster

    Hammster Melanin Level - Low Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    I suppose I should clarify. There is a sense of double predestination. If God predestines some for salvation, then the rest would be destined for damnation. What I disagree with is equal ultimacy in which God acts on the reprobate in the same way He acts on the elect.
     
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  10. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    From what I gather, Reformed tend to disagree on the logical implications of Calvinistic single predestination. Some will say that it necessitates a strong double predestination, some will say that it does not, and many fall in-between. That is to say, does election lead to (1) active reprobation, or is it consistent with (2) a simple "passing over" of the non-elect?

    1. Many professing a desire to defend the Deity from an individual charge admit the doctrine of election, but deny that any one is reprobated. This they do ignorantly and childishly, since there could be no election without its opposite, reprobation. (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 1)
    2. According to which decree He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe; while He leaves the non-elect in His just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. (Canons of Dordt, First Head, Article 6)
     
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  11. Hammster

    Hammster Melanin Level - Low Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    These may not actually be in contradiction. Both of the following are true.


    Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
    Romans 9:21-22


    Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
    Ephesians 2:3

    So there’s a sense where God created the vessels for destruction, and a sense that they are naturally reprobate.
     
  12. jahel

    jahel Well-Known Member

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    if anyone cleanses himself of what is unfit, he will be a vessel for honor: sanctified, useful to the Master, and prepared for every good work.… says anyone.
     
  13. Hammster

    Hammster Melanin Level - Low Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    ???
     
  14. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    I would say that there is a significant difference between actively causing and merely allowing. If you cause something to happen, you do not merely allow it to happen. If you allow something to happen, you do not actively cause it to happen.
     
  15. renniks

    renniks Well-Known Member

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    __" God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree."

    None of the scriptures provided even come close to saying that God has decreed all things that will come to pass. It's one thing to say God will accomplish his purpose, it's quite another to say God has decreed everything that happens. God can accomplish his purpose in offering salvation while allowing quite a lot of things to happen that he doesn't no decree or in any way endorse.
     
  16. Hammster

    Hammster Melanin Level - Low Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    What if you allow something to happen that you could stop?
     
  17. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Then you still did not cause that thing to happen. Even if it is a sin of omission, omission is not the same as commission.
     
  18. Hammster

    Hammster Melanin Level - Low Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    My adopted daughter is with us because of omission. Is her birth mother not responsible?
     
  19. Hammster

    Hammster Melanin Level - Low Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    Is there anything that happens that God has no control over? In other words, is there something He’s not sovereign over?
     
  20. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    If a mother neglects her child then she both causes and allows her daughter to be orphaned, but in different senses. When two things are contradictory--such as causing and allowing are--it means that they cannot both be present in the same respect. So if you think God both actively reprobates and merely passes over, you would have to show how he does each in a different respect.

    In the case of the mother we could say that she allows malnourishment to occur by neglecting her duty to feed her daughter. She is not the direct cause of malnourishment. The direct cause is the nature of bodily metabolism absent food.

    Responsibility is a larger issue than our previous discussion. That said, the issue of responsibility is appropriate to our larger topic, because many see the Calvinistic God as analogous to the neglectful mother. They would say that as the child, unable to feed itself, necessarily dies without the aid of the mother, just so with the reprobate in relation to the Calvinistic God.
     
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