A Calvinistic Theological Determinism: Review of Theodore Zachariades’ Hard Determinism

My interest in Dr. Zachariades’ view of theological hard determinism lies in a debate that he and I will be involved in later this spring in Charlotte, NC. He and I will be on opposing debate teams as we take up the question, Is Arminianism Heresy? The issue concerning theological hard determinism is somewhat related to this question in my opinion. What we are attempting to do as theologians and Christian philosophers is to ensure that our understanding of God accurately reflects the God that is revealed in Scripture. In particular, we are attempting to make sure that our view of God as sovereign ruler over all that exists, is compatible with our view of God as good or just or righteous. Furthermore, we are attempting to synthesize these doctrines within the framework of a reality that undeniably involves evil. God is good. God is sovereign. Evil exists and is judged by God. How do we square our view of God with the state of affairs that has obtained in the world?

 

In a recent post directed at James White, Theodore Zachariades provides us with a glimpse into his view of free will and human responsibility. The aim of this blog article is to help you think a little more clearly about these issues.

 

Dr. Zachariades admits that he affirms a view of determinism called “theological hard determinism.” It is theological because it is derived from his view of God and of Christian theology. It is hard determinism because it denies any definition of freedom whatsoever. What makes Zachariades’ position interesting is that hard determinism in the philosophical literature denies human responsibility. This is because it is generally accepted that a necessary condition for human responsibility is free will in some sense. Zarchariades must affirm human responsibility, but he wants to harmonize that view with theological hard determinism.

 

Zachariades claims that “Free will in a compatibilist-determinist worldview is only free in name. Libertarians, of all stripes, renounce these arguments by compatibilists, and thereby they win the argument by the definition.” I confess that I am not at all sure what he means when he says they “win by definition.” I think they would only win by definition if their definition was indisputable. But that is the point. That is why there is a definition of free will called compatibilistic free-will. This version of free will rejects the libertarian definition. Hence, winning by definition is not open to the libertarian side as far as the compatibilist is concerned. It assumes what it has failed to prove. Zachariades then asks the question, “If free will is compatible with determinism, why not claim that libertarian free will is compatible with determinism?” This question seems to me to reveal that Dr. Zachariades is out of step with the literature on this subject. He does not appear to understand libertarian free will or compatibilistic free will, or both.

 

Libertarian free will is defined as contra-causal free will, meaning that regardless of the circumstances, the decisions of the will are uncaused by anything external to the will itself. Since determinism holds that everything, including decisions of the human will are caused, determinism is incompatible with libertarian free will. Hence, one cannot hold to libertarian free will and determinism, not if they care about being rational. Zachariades does not seem to understand that libertarian free will is only one kind of free will found in the literature. Compatibilistic free will is compatible with determinism. That is why it’s called compatibilistic free will. And that is why this form of determinism is called compatibilistic determinism. It rejects the idea that determinism is ipso facto incompatible with human freedom.

 

Christianity teaches that human freedom is a necessary condition for human responsibility. We see this throughout the Scripture. In Luke 12:47, Jesus makes this very clear: And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. The servant freely chose to act contrary to his master’s will. Two things at a minimum seem to be necessary in this text. First, the servant knew his master’s will. Second, the servant chose to act contrary to his master’s will. These combine to form the basis for the servant’s judgment. This theme appears everywhere in the NT. Another location that is worth mentioning is Romans 1 and 2. Romans 1:18 tells us that the ungodly suppress the truth of God with their unrighteousness. In other words, their behavior, their actions, their choices are the basis for God’s righteous judgment. Again, in Roman 2:15, Paul argues that the Gentiles are condemned by the works of the law that are written in their heart because of the choices they make regarding that law. They know the law and they act to either do what is right or to do what is forbidden. They are fully aware of the law in their conscience, but it is the act of the will that produces the condemnation and guilt. This will come into play below.

 

Hard Determinism denies human responsibility. To reinforce what Steve Hays has already said, “Hard determinists are incompatibilists who take a harder line: since determinism is true, free will does not exist in the sense required for genuine responsibility, accountability, blameworthiness, or desert. Robert Kane, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Free Will (Oxford 2002), 27.” See the Hays article here: Triablogue on Determinism

 

It seems pretty clear to me that Theodore wants to ignore the literature already in place regarding the definition of hard determinism and to come up with one of his own. This is not surprising since he does the very same thing with free will, ignoring the literature and forcing his own definition on the rest of us.

 

Now, one might ask, if human responsibility is not grounded in some sense of free will, then what does Theodore ground it in? He grounds responsibility in knowledge: “The criteria for judgment is knowledge, and that based on the explicit prescriptive will of God.” Theodore tells us that Adam’s choice was inevitable. And he seems to be using ‘inevitable’ in the strongest possible sense. In so doing, Dr. Zachariades finds himself opposing Augustine and every other church father for that matter,  from Luther to Calvin and even the great reformed confessions and catechisms, not to mention, the overwhelming majority of reformed theologians and philosophers on this question. That Adam was free to obey the command and ratify eternal life had he chosen to do so has enjoyed a place of prominence in Christian history from the beginning. But that doesn’t seem to bother Dr. Zachariades because he has Gordon Clark on his side, or at best, apparently, on his side. I am not convinced that Clark would agree with Zachariades.

 

Gordon Clark writes, “Free will Is not the basis of responsibility. In the first place, and at a more superficial level, the basis of responsibility is knowledge.” But Clark went on to say, Responsibility, therefore, must be so defined as to make room for imputation, as well as to account for our everyday voluntary actions.” What are voluntary actions if they are not human beings acting without coercion, manipulation, or force? Clark seems somewhat vague here. However, he does go on to define responsibility as follows: a person is responsible if he can be justly rewarded or punished for his deeds. Now, Clark argues that God, being sovereign, by definition can always punish someone for their deeds and that is the end of the matter.

 

Clark says, “God is sovereign. What he does is just, for this very reason: Because he does it.” Clark offers no additional qualifications for this view. Clark says that if God punishes a man, the man is justly punished; and hence the man is responsible. Well, this is really not the end of the matter. What this argument does is make it impossible for anyone to challenge this particular understanding of the divine nature. First of all, the basis for God’s moral actions is not God’s sovereignty. It is logically possible for a god to be sovereign and infinitely immoral. God’s goodness is not subsumed under his sovereignty.

 

The Bible uses human language to reveal God to us. God has accommodated us in that he has stooped down in order to speak to us in a way that we can understand. When the Bible talks about God’s infinite power, we understand that God’s power has no limitations. When the Bible talks to us about God’s goodness, his justice, his righteousness, we understand what it is communicating because we understand what it means for something to be good. This is where the concept of analogical knowledge must come into play. We know that God is good in a way that we can know and understand but his goodness is also different, both qualitatively and quantitatively, but not in a way that makes it impossible for us to understand. Human knowledge is analogical, not univocal and certainly not equivocal. When we say that God is good and just, we have something in our minds to which he can be compared. Because this is the case, we understand that God is good and know what it means to say that God is good.

 

Whatever God does is not good simply because it is God doing it. Yes and no, sort of. It is good because God is a perfectly good God and would not do anything that is evil. If Theodore is understanding Clark rightly, then God could create a group of women and a group of men and then have the men brutalize and rape those women for eternity and that would be right simply because God did it. And the women would deserve the torture simply because it is God doing it. I find such a hypothesis to be outrageous and far removed from the biblical revelation of God. Now, I am not convinced that this is the sort of Argument that Clark is really making. There is room to understand Clark as saying the same thing I am saying, but in a different way. I can say that it is right because God does it. But that only means that God has revealed himself as being good and only does what is good. It does not mean that rape becomes sanitized if God is doing it. That is a complete distortion of biblical truth. However, it does seem to me that Theodore’s argument actually turns on this point because of his openly avowed theological hard determinism.

 

The reformers from Augustin to Calvin to the great confessions and catechisms were all very careful to caution us about not making God the author of sin. The language they used repeatedly concerned itself with not making God the author of sin. But this makes no sense if Zachariades is right in his theological hard determinism. If whatever God does is right just because God does it, then why do we need to bother with insisting that human beings are responsible? Why make knowledge the ground of responsibility if God could damn to hell without knowledge and still be a good God? When Scripture tells us, there is no injustice in God, it isn’t telling us that God behaves badly but because it is God acting, it is actually good behavior. Nonsense. When Scripture says that there is no injustice in God, it is saying something meaningful. It is saying something we can understand.

 

Knowledge is not enough to ground human responsibility. While knowledge is a necessary condition for responsibility, it is not sufficient. The Scriptures mentioned above clearly ground responsibility in the choices of agents who are in some sense free to choose as they do. Responsibility is grounded in the acts of the agent, not just facts that one knows. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17)

 

Theological hard determinism is incompatible with all stripes of free will. This is not only true for the fallen will, it is just as true for the will of our first parents. Christianity has always taught that human beings are responsible for their actions before God. Any view that leads to a denial of human responsibility should be rejected as incompatible with Christianity. If it is the case that human freedom is a necessary condition for human responsibility, then it seems to me that hard determinism of any kind, including theological, is incompatible with Christianity and as such, it should be rejected.

 

Compatibilistic free will defines free will as the ability to act according to one’s desire, one’s nature, without force, coercion, or manipulation. Free will is essentially doing what you choose to do. It is compatible with determinism because it does not see the divine decree as a causal agent. It views the divine decree as the blueprint for the state of affairs that is to obtain. The idea of causality turns on the doctrine of analogical knowledge, never making God the immediate cause of immoral actions, contrary to Theodore’s view where he actually argues that God creates moral evil. Such teaching should be repudiated. Imagine the blueprints for a house and then think about all the causes that have to actualize before the house is complete. James 1:13-16 locates sin within human desire. John tells us that evil or sin is a privation, a lack of law. Reformed theology has a long history of affirming divine sovereignty and human responsibility without making God the author of sin. It has a long history of claiming that men are responsible for their choices. Dr. Zachariades is in the slim minority of reformer thinkers who affirm a hard determinism. It makes me wonder if he is really a hyper-Calvinist who has just not come out yet.

Why ‘Racism’ Isn’t Wrong

Darrell provides a biblical perspective on the question of racism.

Just Thinking...for Myself


In surveying the current socio-cultural landscape in America, it seems increasing numbers of individuals are either identifying as social justice activists or aspire to be one.

What began with the protestations of one individual over perceived systemic “racial” injustices being perpetrated against black people, primarily by those who occupy certain positions of authority (e.g. police officers), has morphed into a global movement with other notable athletes and celebrities remonstrating in solidarity.

Now, before I go on, I want to confess that the reason I placed the word racial in quotations above is because, unlike most social justice activists, I happen to not subscribe to the idea of “race” as an aspect of human identity. In fact, my personal perspective on the subject is more closely aligned with that of the late anthropologist Dr. Robert Wald Sussman, author of The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea who…

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Prejudicial Polemics: The Michael Browns(ville) Revival

I have been hesitant to jump into the fray regarding the James White – Michael Brown matter. However, I discovered this morning that Michael Brown is scheduled to speak at the upcoming Light the Fire Again conference this April in Toronto, Canada. The tagline for that event is, We Are Believing God To Begin Anew The Might Movement Of His Holy Spirit That Swept Across The Earth At The Close of the Last Century. What I want to do is draw your attention to the speakers at this conference on the one hand, and the goal of the conference on the other.

 

Reinhard Bonnke – False faith healer that has manipulated Africans for decades. See the HBO Special here.

Daniel Kolenda who claims to have led 77,044,674 to Christ at his last count. Astonishing!

John Kilpatrick – the former pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God who was at the center of the Brownsville Revival and the blasphemous worship exhibited in that event.

John Arnott – the pastor of the Airport Vineyard Church in Toronto, Canada made famous by the Toronto Blessing. The worship practices were bizarre to put it mildly.

Lou Engle – A leading charismatic leader and a proponent of the Latter Rain blasphemy.

Claudio Freidzon – Charismatic Pastor of the King of Kings church is Buenos Aires. Freidzon received an impartation of the anointing from Benny Hinn and Rodney Howard-Browne. Freidzon’s services were characterized by the Holy Laughter so called. John Arnott and his wife Carol traveled to Argentina and received the impartation from Freidzon.

Heidi Baker – this woman’s shenanigans are well documented all over you tube and the internet. See more outrageous blasphemy here:

Rick Joyner – a last days restorationist is documented by Hank Hanegraaff as saying that the exploits and miracles of the last days church is going to tower over what happened with Peter, Paul, and John.

Randy Clark – another charismatic leader from the Toronto Blessing’Laughing Revival movement that got his impartation directly from Rodney Howard-Browne.

Jeri Hill – wife of Steve Hill who was the evangelist responsible for starting the Brownsville Revival. Mr. Hill passed away in 2014 at the age of 60 after a 7-year bought with cancer.

Lila Terhune – an intercessory prayer guru who was once asked by John Kilpatrick to come to Pensacola from Mississippi to head up the intercessory prayer team in Brownsville.

Oh, yeah, I left off one of the speakers. Supposedly this speaker is one of the few Charismatics that rebukes his own for their abuses and outrageous tendencies. I will come back to that. As one examines this list, it looks like a class reunion for the who’s who of the outrageous, blasphemous, and heretical Toronto Blessing over the late 90s. We have the pastor of the Brownsville Assemblies of God, the pastor of the Toronto Vineyard, John Arnott, the wife of the evangelist who got Brownsville started, Jeri Hill, the pastor who imparted the anointing to the Arnotts, Claudio Freidzon, Rick Joyner, Randy Clark, and even the prayer warrior, Lila Turhune. Gee, I wonder why they didn’t invite Rodney Howard-Browne. I am sure someone in the know, knows the answer to that question. So all these leaders from the abusive and embarrassing movement known as the Toronto Blessing are having a reunion. What is the purpose for this reunion? Oh, that’s right, let me state it clearly one more time: We Are Believing God To Begin Anew The Might Movement Of His Holy Spirit That Swept Across The Earth At The Close of the Last Century.

Well, golly, I wonder what they mean. I say we pretend we have no idea and give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are going for a mulligan. You think? Maybe they all agreed, boy, we really screwed that up the last time so let’s see if we can keep this one on the fairway!

And lest I forget, they have called in their favorite Laughing Revival, Toronto Blessing, Brownsville chicanery apologist, Michael Brown in order to deal with the anticipated criticism which inevitably will be produced by what is about to take place up there in the north country. Now, some people think that Michael Brown’s friendship with and worse, his endorsement, defense, and approval of these people is simply a light-hearted affair, not anything worthy of uproar. In fact, those who express serious reservations about Brown and who expect his friend James White to hold him accountable as Dr. White is so incredibly good at doing with everyone else involved in the same level of error, are now being labelled as heresy hunters. What an interesting label. In fact, Dr. White thought that a recent address of this issue by Chris Rosebrough was painting Brown in the worse possible light. I have followed Brown since the mid-90s when I was still a Pentecostal pastor. I have his book defending the Brownsville Revival. I have watched Brown defend this foolishness for over 20 years. Trust me when I say, Chris did NOT paint Brown in the worse possible light. In fact, not even close. SO much more could be said about Brown, but Chris was being kind as was Todd and Phil. Very kind indeed.

This conference is a bold proclamation from the former Toronto Blessing Leaders and here is what we should be hearing them say LOUD and CLEAR:

Now, let me remind you of what you are in for in case you forgot what the Toronto Blessing and Brownsville Revival were like or in case you weren’t around to grapple with them at the time.

And finally, what would this reminder be without our favorite Toronto Blessing, Laughing Revival, Brownsville Revival Apologist, the one, the only, Michael Brown:

The funny thing is that I haven’t even talked about the incredibly dangerous teachings coming out of this movement. The egregious errors and heresy that was promulgated by these leaders was and is not just disturbing, it was and continues to be outrageous and intolerable. And here is Michael Brown, in hindsight, defending it. He defended it on the Dividing Line recently as well. Now, I have not said that Michael Brown is not a believer. I will not say that. I have not even said he is a heretic. But I will say that he keeps company with and shows a public hearty approval of those who are heretics and he does so with bold confidence. Should we shun a man like this or provide cover for him to continue to do what he does? Worse, should we extend his reach into our audience by defending him and perhaps leading others to believe that he isn’t that bad when he himself is leading many to believe that his heretical friends and associates are not that bad? What do you think? Personally, I wouldn’t give Dr. Brown an inch of space or a second of time if doing so mean that others could be duped into entering his warped world of charismania. This “fire” nonsense is just that, nonsense. None of these people have any sort of anointing or any kind of fire. Not one of them. Todd, Phil, and Chris are absolutely right to classify Michael Brown as a dangerous man who should be avoided if for no other reason than that he holds the gate open for the wolves. And it is just as contemptible to hold the gate for the wolves as it is to be one.

Listenig to Michael Brown address these issues feels a little like this:

 

 

The Privation Theory of Evil: Introduction

One of the most popular and serious objections to Christianity is the argument against God from the existence of evil. If God is all-powerful, he could prevent evil. If God is perfectly good, he would prevent evil. Evil exists. Therefore, God does not exist. That is to say, the sort of God that Christianity claims exist, a God who is all-powerful and perfectly good, does not, in fact, exist. This argument is basically claiming that there is a contradiction within the Christian worldview. For the Reformed Christian, this argument is particularly sharp because of the deterministic nature of Reformed theology. If the Reformed doctrine of predestination is true, and God, in fact, ordains all that comes to pass, then doesn’t this entail that God is the author of sin? This issue is one that Christians have had to grapple with throughout each generation of the church.

Daniel M. Johnson says “the mainstream of Christian philosophy has resisted Calvinism because of a general sense that Calvinism makes the problem of evil – far and away the most serious philosophical challenge to theism – harder to solve.” [Calvinism and the Problem of Evil, 19] Christian doctrine clearly affirms that God is not the author of sin and any view that leads to such a conclusion is highly objectionable to the Church. Gen. 1:31 says that all that God created was very good. James 1:13 says that God cannot be tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone else with evil. John 1:5 says that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. 1 Cor. 14:33 says that God is not the author of confusion. In a recent blog post, Theodore Zachariades postulated that the Hebrew word Isa. 45:6-7 rāʿ meant moral evil as well as physical evil. Zachariades writes The word evil here is sometimes used for wicked immoral actions of men. [Click here for Source]

John Calvin would have disagreed with Zachariades on this point. Calvin wrote, A little before, the Lord had declared that “everything that he had made … was exceedingly good” [Gen. 1:31]. Whence, then, comes that wickedness to man, that he should fall away from his God? Lest we should think it comes from creation, God had put his stamp of approval on what had come forth from himself. By his own evil intention, then, man corrupted the pure nature he had received from the Lord; and by his fall he drew all his posterity with him into destruction. Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity—which is closer to us—rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination. And let us not be ashamed to submit our understanding to God’s boundless wisdom so far as to yield before its many secrets. For, of those things which it is neither given nor lawful to know, ignorance is learnèd; the craving to know, a kind of madness.” [Institutes III.XXIII.8] Not only is Calvin careful to blame man for his own evil intentions, he rebukes those who insist on looking into what he thinks are things that are not lawful to know and says that we are engaging in a kind of madness when we attempt to harmonize what God has placed beyond our reach.

Christianity has a long history of dealing with the problem of evil from both the external charge as well as the internal challenges. It was Augustine, probably the greatest Christian theologian to have ever lived and without a doubt the greatest in his day and before him there was no greater until we come to the apostles. Augustine, taking a page from Aristotle argued that evil is not itself a thing, but rather a lack of something, a privation. The privation theory of evil says that evil is the lack of good, or being, where being and good are understood as convertible. Evil is not a substance or a property, but a lack of some substance or property. Scripture provides greater support for this view than one might at first imagine. What is sin? After all, moral evil is sin. 1 John 3:4 tells us that sin is lawless. In other words, sin is the absence of law. It is the negation of law. Sin is to lack law. So the argument goes thusly: Evil is lawlessness. Lawless is a privation of law. Therefore, sin (evil) is a privation of law. I remind you that we are talking about moral evil, not natural or physical evil. A person who is not righteous is one who is unrighteous. Again, an unrighteous person is a person who lacks the property of being righteous.

Gen. 1:31 says that God saw everything that he made, including man, and that it was ṭōwb mĕʾōd, very good. It lacked nothing. Reformed theology has always taught that Adam was created possessing original righteousness. He was very good. He possessed all he needed to obey the command, to serve God, and to live forever. But Adam exercised his freedom contrary to God’s imperative and as a result, fell headlong into sin. This brings us to the letter of James.

James 1:13-16 says, Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. The problem began with Adam. He was capable of his own desires. He was to order his desires after God’s desires. But he was lured and enticed by his own desire, that is, he was lured to consider elevating his own desire over God’s desire. It is not evil to be tempted. It is not a sin for a man to be tempted. The fact that Adam could be tempted was not due to some defect in him. God has already said that Adam was created very good. Yet, Adam was lured by his own desire. And regrettably, Adam permitted his desire to conceive. He took the forbidden fruit and broke the command. As a result, Adam’s desire brought forth sin, and sin brought forth death.

Adam’s decision to follow his desire created a privation of being, a privation of goodness, or better, godliness, within his entire person. Once the door was open, the foul infection of privation touched every part of his person. Adam surrendered his righteousness for unrighteousness. He allowed his desire to move him from law-keeping to lawlessness. Adam deprived himself of righteous standing before God.

To recap, we see that Adam was created not lacking anything. We also see that Scripture does actually affirm that sin or evil is a privation, specifically, a privation of divine law. Divine law is the expression of God’s perfect nature. Sin is the privation of godliness, the lack of being like God. We see that man sins when he is lured and seduced by his own desires. If man permits his desires to actualize, sin, or privation of godliness is the result. The loss of godliness brings forth death.

The charge against God then is mitigated when the Christian takes this path. God is under no obligation to create anything in the first place. Since evil is a privation of good, it is not something created. It is a lack of something. Now, the charge will come that it is true that God was free to create or not to create, but if God chooses to create, then he is not free to create just any world willy-nilly. Which world God creates will be determined by God’s purpose for creating. Moreover, God’s purpose for creating will be a purpose that is perfectly consistent with his nature. This brings us to the objection that God is culpable for creating a world in which privation was not only possible but ordained by him from the beginning. This does not remove the original objection after all.

In answer to this charge, the Christian can bring in the doctrine of analogy. Man’s knowledge is analogous to God’s knowledge, which means that there is a point of contact but there is also a point of discontinuity. God is like man and he is unlike man. God’s knowledge is similar to man’s knowledge but not identical to it. There isn’t just a difference of degree in God concerning his attributes, but there is also a difference in quality. So, when we say that God causes x, we do not mean that God causes x in the same way that a creature causes x. God has already said that his ways are higher than our ways. (Isa. 55:9) If we say that God is, in some sense, the cause of everything that comes to pass, we must be careful to distinguish between this divine causality and our creaturely causality. This brings us to the question, “Is God under any obligation to bring about the sort of world where privation of good or godliness is not actualized?” I cannot see why he should be. What God is obligated to do is to actualize the sort of world that is in accord with his purpose. And we know that his purpose flows from his perfectly good nature. So if the purpose of God is to actualize a world in which divine glory is maximized for example, and the maximization of God’s glory is indeed the highest possible good, then it seems to me that if such a world entails privation of good or the presence of evil, that God is fully justified (as if God needs to justify himself to anyone) in his decision to actualize such a world.

This returns us to the charge that God is the cause of sin. God ordained a world in which the privation of good would occur. And at the end of the day, that makes God the cause of sin. And this is a charge that Christians have sought to avoid for centuries. God did not walk into the garden and tempt Adam. God did not work in Adam in order to coerce Adam to act in accord with the decree. We say that it is true that God has ordained everything that comes to past but that the cause of sin is located in Adam himself who acted in a way that was contrary to the divine imperative. God is sovereign over all creation and man is responsible. God is not the author of sin. We can say then that God is both sovereign and just in ways that are meaningful, that we can understand, but also in ways that far exceed our ability to fully understand. The tension is unavoidable.

The final objection is that paradox is an illegitimate move in hermeneutics and Christian theology. The whole point is to show that Christian belief is rational, or reasonable. But if the existence of paradox in theology serves as a legitimate ground to reject a particular Christian doctrine, then we had better abandon the Trinity and the Incarnation just for starters. The rejection of paradox is essentially the rejection then of biblical Christianity.

 

 

Mr. Ed

 

 

A Concise Response to JD Hall on Hyper-Calvinism

The Arminian Controversy

First of all, at the very beginning of his article, Hall writes, “Hyper-Calvinism is a sub-Christian doctrine. It is an enemy of Christ. If Hyper-Calvinism could be anthropomorphized into a person, he should be rounded up, hogtied and burned at the stake like Michael Servetus.” It seems clear enough that JD Hall thinks Hyper-Calvinism is heresy. To be clear, I think it is a pernicious error, a serious theological error, but I am not convinced it meets the biblical definition of heresy. It seems to me that some people actually believe that the biblical definition of heresy is: “if I don’t agree with a particular teaching, then it is heresy.” For the sake of Christian unity, I believe it is critically important that we exercise good reason coupled with biblical discernment so that we can recognize actual heresy when we see it and take the appropriate actions.

Hall initially goes through what Hyper-Calvinism is not. It is not a synonym for Calvinism, something that many Arminians claim. Hyper-Calvinism is not being really enthusiastic about the doctrines of grace. I call those who are Hyper-Intense regarding the doctrines of grace, extreme Calvinists. They seem to care more about the doctrines of grace than they do about any other aspect of Christian truth and praxis. Their mission is not to make Christians, it seems to be to make Calvinists. Where Jesus commanded his immediate disciples to make disciples from all nations, the extreme Calvinist reads, “make Calvinists.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a Calvinist. And I believe we should teach the truth and make disciples. And I believe it is impossible to responsibly disciple a man without attempting to help him understand the doctrines of grace. But there are many other issues that are just as important and, shockingly, more important for that man to know and do.

Hall continues by saying that a Hyper-Calvinist is not one who thinks that Calvinism is the gospel. I agree. But, at the same time, as much as I love the doctrines of grace, Calvinism is not the gospel. The gospel is outlined in clear and basic language in the pages of the New Testament and it isn’t the doctrines of grace. The doctrines of grace are at best inferences derived from the more detailed nuances of the gospel. How well one understands those inferences has nothing to do with how well they understand the gospel. One does not have to understand the doctrines of grace to have a basic understanding of the gospel. And one certainly does not have to have a sufficient understanding of the doctrines of grace in order to have a sufficient understanding of the gospel. Understanding the doctrines of grace is not the necessary condition for understanding the gospel. That said, does someone have a deeper understanding once they have an understanding of the doctrines of grace? I believe they absolutely do! And I believe that every Christian should work toward having a deeper understanding of the gospel and this will entail an understanding of the doctrines of grace. But to overemphasize the doctrines of grace at a minimum causes us to at least begin to look in the direction of the Hyper-Calvinist. Nothing can be emphasized more than the gospel, not even the doctrines of grace.

What is Hyper-Calvinism? Hyper-Calvinism has its roots in the early 18th century. Since he wrote the first publication rejecting the free offer of the gospel, John Hussey has the dubious honor of being the first official Hyper Calvinist. Hyper-Calvinism has its foundation in the order of divine decrees known as supralapsarianism. This is also known as high Calvinism. This version of the divine decree has God electing men to eternal life and reprobating others prior to sin and the fall. His version of the order of the decrees is problematic for a variety of reasons. One problem with this approach is that it can tend to overemphasize divine sovereignty and weaken human responsibility. And this is what we see when certain individuals push high Calvinism further than they should. It tends toward Hyper-Calvinism. This is why mainline Calvinists grow concerned when they see young men exhibiting an imbalanced enthusiasm concerning the doctrines of grace. This can easily lead to a high Calvinism and eventually to Hyper-Calvinism unless there is a healthy balance in place. This is why it is so critically important for young men to be part of a structured discipleship plan under the oversight of their elders and pastors. That cannot be overemphasized. Otherwise, they get their theology from the internet, and worse, they begin to mimic not only the beliefs of internet cowboys, they also begin to mimic their behavior. These things ought not to be. Get your theology, your ideas, and your spiritual food from your pastors, your local community, your brothers and sisters that you see week in and week out. Get involved in their life and let them get into your life.

Special Note: Holding to supralapsarianism does not make one a Hyper-Calvinist. You can be supralapsarian and not a Hyper-Calvinist, but I know of no Hyper-Calvinist who did not embrace or does not embrace supralapsarianism.

Hyper-Calvinism has several traits associated with it and unlike Calvinism, which generally means you embrace all the doctrines of grace, if you embrace any of the following elements, it typically means it is safe to describe you as a Hyper-Calvinist.

  1. Hyper-Calvinism rejects the well-meant, free offer of the gospel to all sinners. The offer of the gospel is supposedly only for the elect.
  2. Hyper-Calvinism rejects a desire in God for the universal salvation of all men. The claim is that this is contrary to divine election.
  3. Hyper-Calvinism rejects the concept of duty-faith. Sinners do not have a duty to believe the gospel because, if they are not elect, they cannot believe it.
  4. Hyper-Calvinism denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.
  5. Hyper-Calvinism denies the doctrine of common grace.

As you read items 1-5, it is not the case that one has to subscribe to all of these points in order to meet the definition of Hyper-Calvinism. The affirmation of any one of these points would place a person in the Hyper-Calvinist camp. Now, Hall is right that the belief that Arminianism is heresy is not enough to classify someone as a Hyper-Calvinist. However, the reason that so many people think it does is that very often Hyper-Calvinists, for whatever reason, feel a need to emphasize their belief that Arminianism is heresy. From my perspective, the first thing that any thinking Christian has to do is provide an exegetically defensible definition for heresy before they start slapping that label on people or beliefs. From what I have read thus far about the subject of heresy is that few of these bloggers care to provide a biblical definition of the word.

Hall goes on to insert an answer from John MacArthur during one of his routine Q&A sessions at Grace Community Church. Not only did JD interpret MacArthur is the worst possible light, he also removed important content from the quote. Here is the content JD included:

“The question comes, ‘Can somebody who holds an Arminian view be a Christian?’ And I would hate to say they couldn’t be. I really believe that it is possible to be Arminian and to be a Christian…to misunderstand your human capability, to misunderstand the election, to misunderstand the extent of the atonement, even to misunderstand the irresistible nature of God’s saving grace, and even to think you could lose your salvation. But, at the same time–while being confused or ignorant of those things–to know that you’re a sinner and know that the only way of salvation is through Jesus Christ. I guess you could say that someone could be an Arminian and push those points far enough, where they could jeopardize my confidence that they really are a Christian. You could push the point of not being totally depraved far enough where you’re actually being saved by your own works, by your own belief, by your own ingenuity, by your own self-induced faith. And you could get to the point where you could really wonder whether someone understands that it’s all a work of God.” 

 

Here is the rest of what MacArthur said:

But I think it would be going too far to say someone who holds an Arminian view or anyone who holds an Arminian view is by virtue of that view, not a Christian. I think there are people who just don’t understand rightly those things, but who know they’re sinners and who cry out in their sin for the Lord to save them. They don’t understand how what they’re doing works together with the great purposes and power of God, and, consequently, can’t give God fully the glory He deserves for all of that, but they could be genuinely saved by hoping in Christ and Christ alone.

Now, JD comments on MacArthur’s answer as follows:

Please note that MacArthur and Sproul recognize a hypothetical scenario in which a self-professed Arminian may be saved (but you can read their clear reluctance in saying such a thing without great caution and explanation), they seem to say that their profession of Arminianism must not be real in any tangible sense. It may be professed, as I read the Peter and Paul of our age, but to consider the Arminian saved they must presume upon them ignorance of the actual doctrines they’re professing. In other words, they must not truly be Arminians if they are to truly trust in Sola Gratia-given Sola Fide.

 MacArthur is not saying, contrary to JD, that they do not understand Arminianism and that they are just ignorant of the issues. Clearly, MacArthur is saying that a person who actually holds an Arminian view is ipso facto lacking in their understanding of how the process of salvation actually works. I couldn’t agree more. What Hall seems to be attempting to do is get his pal Sonny Hernandez off the hook. Sonny has gone on record as saying that Arminians are not Christians. But then in his next breath, claiming that if they are Christians it is despite their Arminianism. When MacArthur says that it is going too far to say someone who holds an Arminian view or anyone who holds an Arminian view is by virtue of that view, not a Christian, he is saying something that directly and clearly contradicts Sonny Hernandez’s statements regarding the issue. Hernandez would even be at odds with Sproul’s position on the question. They aren’t barely Christian or barely saved. If they are Arminians, they aren’t Christians. A contradiction is a contradiction. Hernandez is clearly in disagreement with MacArthur, Sproul, and every mainline Calvinist theologian I know of today. In fact, the majority of reformed folks who would be in agreement with him are located squarely in the Hyper-Calvinist camp. The overwhelming mass of reformed Christians, pastors, and theologians would oppose Hernandez’s view that Arminians are not Christians.

Is Hyper-Calvinism heresy? If one defines heresy as any belief that so changes the Christian worldview that it essentially destroys that worldview, then I cannot see how Hyper-Calvinism is heresy. That does not rule out the possibility that some Hyper-Calvinists could be heretics. It also does not rule out the fact that some heresy could be the result of Hyper-Calvinist beliefs. That is a real possibility. I also reject the idea that Arminianism is ipso facto heresy.

Hall quotes Spurgeon as if he thinks that Spurgeon agrees or believes that Arminianism is heresy. But if one looks at the phrase in Spurgeon, there is a quest as to whether or not the expression heresy of Arminianism is intended to identify Arminianism as heresy or more specifically blame the rise of certain heresies on Arminianism, similar to the genitive of source. I say that because Spurgeon was clear in other places that he did not think Arminianism was heresy:

“The controversy which has been carried on between the Calvinist and the Arminian is exceedingly important, but it does not so involve the vital point of personal godliness as to make eternal life depend upon our holding either system of theology.” – C.H. Spurgeon [The Complete Works of C. H. Spurgeon, Volume 7: Sermons 348-426] 

“But we always believe, and are ever ready to confess, that there are many doctrines which, though exceedingly precious, are not so essential but that a person may be in a state of grace and yet not receive them. For instance—God forbid that we should regard a belief in the doctrine of election as an absolute test of a man’s salvation, for no doubt there are many precious sons of God who have not been able to receive that precious truth; of course the doctrine is essential to the great scheme of grace, as the foundation of God’s eternal purpose, but it is not, therefore, necessarily the root of faith in the sinner’s reception of the gospel. And, perhaps, too, I may put down the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints in the same list. There be many who, no doubt, will persevere to the end, but who yet cannot accept the possibility of being assured thereof; they are so occupied with the thoughts of their probation that they come not to the mature knowledge of their full salvation.” [C. H. Spurgeon, “The Root of the Matter,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 9 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1863), 218.]

Another reformer who did not believe Arminianism to be heresy is Willam Ames:

The position of the Arminians, as held by most that favor it, is not properly a heresy but a dangerous error in the faith, tending to heresy. As maintained by some of them, however, it is the Pelagian heresy, because they deny that the effective operation of inward grace is necessary for conversion. [-Wiliam Ames, Conscience: Its Law or Cases, Five Books, IV, Question 4]

There is currently a movement among young reformed men to cluster together on the internet, in groups on Facebook, creating their own websites, developing their beliefs, convictions, and practices from men who are on the internet. While they rant against personality worship, it is fascinating to me to watch how the personality of the internet leader or internet cowboy Christian just so happens to mirror either their own personality or a psychological projection of who they wish they really were. The internet cowboy Christian can do nothing wrong. He cannot say anything that is wrong. He cannot possibly hold to any beliefs that are wrong. And what is very tragic is that the local pastors under which these young men ought to sit, and to whom they should be submitting, are little more than afterthoughts. And what usually ends up happening, is that the local elders, pastors, and leaders are usually judged by how they measure up to and agree with their internet cowboy Christian hero. And it should be just the opposite.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. [Titus 2:6-8]

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” [1 Peter 5:5]

 

Mr. Ed

A Brief Presuppositional Response to Naturalism

If apologetics is one of your passions, and you haven’t yet read Alvin Plantinga’s book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, I suggest you fix that as quickly as possible. Most of what I am going to say in this short post comes from Plantinga’s work.

 

Naturalism, in general, is the view that everything is natural, i.e. that everything there is belongs to the world of nature, and so can be studied by the methods appropriate for studying that world, and the apparent exceptions can be somehow explained away. [Oxford Companion to Philosophy, 640] So, a naturalist is going to dismiss anything supernatural out of hand. Any source that makes supernatural claims will be summarily dismissed as unreliable, implausible, and unwarranted. One method for debating with a naturalist employs arguments and evidence, most of which come from Scripture. There is absolutely nothing wrong with employing Scripture in this way. That is one option and it is a good and acceptable one. But it isn’t the only method open to the Christian. I want to talk about another method: the presuppositional method.

 

One of the tactics I have employed now for years is to put the naturalist or the individual on the defensive side of the conversation, not that I am attacking them and forcing them to defend their worldview. But rather, I do this in a way that simply asks questions and as I hear explanations, I ask more questions. It becomes a conversation about their worldview and sooner than later, about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

The first thing every Christian has to understand is that there is no such thing as neutrality. Greg Bahnsen rightfully says, “The plea for Christians to surrender to neutrality in their thinking is not an uncommon one. Nevertheless it strikes at the very heart of our faith and of our faithfulness to the Lord.” [Banhsen, Always Ready] The idea of neutrality on matters like this has its origin in Pelagianism and pagan Greek philosophy and should be avoided at all costs. The Christian is to make sure the unbeliever feels the full weight of the divine imperative.

 

As a presuppositionalist, I like to employ a transcendental argument type most of the time when interacting with opponents of the gospel. A TA simply asks the question, in order for the condition X to obtain, what else must be the case. In other words, what must be the case in order for X to be the case? We are asking what the necessary condition is in order for X to obtain. Now, I want to return to the naturalist, the person that believes that all that exists is the natural world, and that everything that happens in the natural world must have a natural explanation.

 

In Where the Conflict Really Lies, Alvin Plantinga argues that there is a real conflict between naturalism and the scientific theory of evolution. Now, since naturalism worships at the altar or science, this would be a real problem if it turns out to be true. What is the conflict? Naturalism tells us what reality is ultimately like, where we fit into the universe, how we are related to other creatures, and how it happens that we came to be. [Plantinga] But this philosophy, this worldview is supposedly based on a complete naturalistic understanding and explanation of a world that is purely natural at its core.

 

The problem begins in the human cognitive faculties. These faculties include things like memory, perception, introspection, a priori intuition, morality, etc. Now, according to naturalism, human beings, and this includes our cognitive faculties, are the product of a purposeless, cobbling together by natural selection. As Barry Stroud said, “There is an embarrassing absurdity in [naturalism] that is revealed as soon as the naturalist reflects and acknowledges that he believes his naturalistic theories of the world…I mean he cannot say it and consistently regard it as true. Patricia Churchland says, “Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in the four F’s: feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing.”

 

Churchland goes on to admit that if it is true that our cognitive faculties have arisen by way of the mechanism and processes proposed by contemporary evolutionary theory, this gives us reason to doubt two things: (a) that a purpose of our cognitive systems is that of serving us with true beliefs, and (b) that they do, in fact, furnish us with mostly true beliefs. Darwin himself expressed the same doubt when he wrote, “With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

 

With this in mind, we push forward to the thrust of my argument: if naturalism is true, and men evolved from primordial life forms over millions of years, then how can anyone trust the human cognitive faculties? To put it in a syllogism, Plantinga’s argument is as follows:

 

  • If naturalism and evolutionary theory are true, then my cognitive faculties are very likely not reliable.
  • Naturalism and evolutionary theory are in fact true.
  • Therefore, my cognitive faculties are very likely not reliable.
  • If my cognitive faculties are very likely not reliable, then I should probably not believe any beliefs that are formed using my cognitive faculties.
  • The belief that naturalism and evolutionary theory is true is a belief formed using my cognitive faculties.
  • Therefore, it is unlikely that naturalism and evolutionary theory is true because they are based on an unreliable belief forming mechanism.

 

As Plantinga points out, if we truly believe in naturalism and evolutionary theory, we clearly have a defeater for our intuitive assumption that our cognitive faculties are reliable. Now, we bring this back to the transcendental argument. The necessary condition that must exist in order for naturalism to be the case is the reliability of the cognitive faculties. And since we had demonstrated that on a purely naturalistic understanding of reality, that condition cannot obtain, it follows that naturalism crumbles to the ground because it rests on a belief that is self-referentially incoherent as Plantinga calls it.

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:30-31)

Mr. Ed

Hernandez – Barker Q & A Review

Earlier this year, Sonny Hernandez debated Dan Barker on the question, “Does God Exist?” I recently watched this debate and found it to be somewhat unsatisfying as far as debates are concerned. The part of the debate that I think it would be most useful to review is the Q&A section. There were a lot of good questions accompanied with a lot of unsatisfying answers in my opinion. The goal of this particular post is to restate the question and then provide the answer I would have given and why. I hope you find my interaction useful.

Before I get to the first question, I want to take a few lines to address Barker’s cross of Sonny on a couple of points. Dan asked Sonny if genocide was wrong. Admittedly, Sonny struggled with that question. I would have said that genocide is the result of the fall. It is the result of sin. It is the product of divine judgment upon sinful man. Why God has not killed us all can only be attributed to his mercy and grace and longsuffering. End answer! Now, keep thinking about this question, Christian. Dan used the word “peaceful” when he described the village that Israel killed. Dan assumes that the people in the village are “innocent” victims. They are not. We begin with original sin and the fact that we are living under divine judgment, divine wrath. But for grace, we are all doomed to genocide and deservingly so. Dan tries to sneak his ethic into the question and then indict God. Dan will have to defend his morality. This is something he cannot do. Second, Dan asked Sonny a direct question: would you kill me if God, beyond any question, came to you and told you to kill me. Again, Sonny struggled in his reply. I would have said yes. It is a hypothetical question and if I assume the conditional “God spoke to me and told me to kill Dan” and that in fact actually is the case, then I would answer yes.

Question: “How can you say that I am not an atheist and that you are a Christian?”

Answer: The Bible tells us that all men know that God exists but that they pervert and suppress that knowledge according to Romans 1. So, an atheist is nothing more than a person who knowingly and willingly suppresses the knowledge of the truth of God’s existence. The Bible says that a true Christian is one who endures to the end and that those who leave the Christian community were never really Christians to begin with and this is according to the apostle John in 1 John 2:19. End Answer.

Question: why did God wipe out the people from Noah’s generation instead of coming down like Jesus did to save the world?

Answer: Noah’s generation morally impure or totally corrupt and living a state of continual depravity? They, like all sinners, were undeserving of God’s mercy. Noah’s generation deserved to be purged from the earth and God’s decision to destroy them was righteous. God’s action served a greater good, namely, his plan. It is like a parent who turns in his son when he finds out he is a serial killer, knowing he will get the death penalty. Justice does not detract from the parent’s love but the greater good moves the parent to act. The parent’s heart breaks but they act out of a desire for what they know is a state of affairs that represents a greater good. End Answer.

Dan Barker’s objection: the previous answer means that God is unjust. But this is simply not the case. It actually means just the opposite. God is just, and he moves to punish evildoers. Noah’s sins were punished in Christ the same as ours allowing God to display mercy to Noah while pouring out his wrath on the rest. This makes God infinitely just as well as infinitely merciful. Philosophically, one has to ask if it is possible to display justice, righteousness, and goodness in a state of affairs where there is no evil.

Dan’s certainty: Dan says that he can be certain of any statement that corresponds with reality. This is the claim that all knowledge is empirical in nature, based on observation or sense perception. And Dan is actually wrong. The method Dan is using is induction and induction can never produce certainty. However, Dan has no way of showing how his statement, that he can be certain of statements that correspond with reality because that statement itself is not empirical. There is nothing in reality that corresponds to this statement. There is no way to observe it. All knowledge comes through the senses is a claim to knowledge that did not itself come through the senses. Dan’s statement is self-defeating. The second problem for Dan is located in the follow-up question, “how do you know what is real?” Dan is not appealing to reality, he is not observing reality, what Dan is doing is appealing to his interpretation of reality which is nothing more than begging the question. He is presupposing his own interpretation of reality in order to show that its true. It is the textbook example of viciously circular reasoning. He is appealing to induction to prove induction. It was David Hume who destroyed the validity of the principle of induction and Dan Barker has done nothing but engage in the sort of circularity that led Hume to see the fallacy of the method itself.

In his closing remarks on Hume, Bertrand Russell concluded, “What these arguments prove – and I do not think the proof can be controverted – is that induction is an independent logical principle, incapable of being inferred either from experience or from other logical principles, and that without this principle science is impossible.” (Russell, The History of Western Philosophy, 674)

Question: do you agree with slavery now or human trafficking because Jesus never spoke against slavery or rape?

Answer: First, Jesus spoke against sexual immorality of all types and this would include rape. Second, the Bible never, ever condones rape. Third, slavery was a fact of life in ANE cultures and it was and is itself the product of the fall. The economic framework of those cultures was such that there is no comparison in modern times to that particular kind of slavery. Additionally, Christian masters were given strict commands regarding the treatment of slaves. Finally, it was Christian principles that led to the decline and abolishment of slavery over time as economies changed. The real problem here is that apart from God, there is no way to condemn slavery of any kind because, if God does not exist, then human beings are not created in his image. And if this state of affairs has actually obtained, then human beings possess no more value or dignity than a roach. Moreover, if our morality is derived from social contract theory, then there was a time when slavery was not wrong because society approved of it. The slavery objection is an unwinnable objection. The Christian has to get past the shock of the objection, stop being so sensitized by our culture which elevates the sins of racism and slavery to the status of the worse possible sins any human could commit and keep their mind focused on the teachings of Scripture.

Dan says that he has disproven the Bible at this point. But all Dan has done is complained about the God revealed in the Bible. He has done nothing to disprove the credibility or reliability of the Bible. It is difficult to understand why he thinks otherwise.

Question to Dan: what is an example of evidence that would cause you to conclude that God exists? Dan says that if Sonny were to make a detailed prophecy that came true, this would qualify as the sort of evidence that would place his position on God in jeopardy. Dan then calls the prophecies in Scripture nothing more than stories.

Answer/Response: Here we see Dan’s dishonesty at its worse. He also says that most Christians accept the “fact” of evolution and that it does not conflict with basic Christian doctrine. Most Christians do not, in fact, accept the theory of evolution. The Christian account says that God created man from the dust of the ground in his image and likeness and breathed into man, the breath of life and he did this in less than one day. Evolution says that man evolved from non-life forms over millions and millions of years. It seems to me that these two accounts are in fact, contradictory to one another.

Question: What is the evidence that God exists?

Answer: The evidence is simply that, apart from the existence of God, you cannot make human experience intelligible. We cannot account for the uniformity of nature without our numerous explanations all reducing in the end, to irrational nonsense. We end up taking a blind leap of faith on the reliability of human cognitive faculties, a position that is viciously circular in nature if evolutionary theory is our basal presupposition. Moreover, we can’t even account for the laws of logic. Human rationality fairs no better than our unfounded belief that science is possible given the debunked principle of induction. We try in every way to claim that the laws of logic are mere conventions of human society, but the more we try to put logic in its place, the more it puts us in ours. Finally, once God is removed from the argument, there is simply no way to explain morality. Indeed, many atheists are beginning to embrace moral nihilism as a result of their coming up empty after innumerable expeditions to find a plausible solution to the question of the good. They know that they have nothing in their worldview that can account for why we know that rape, torture, and murder are really wrong. If humans are accidents of nature, they have no more value than any other accidents of nature because they are just a different form of the same matter as everything else that exists, like tree branches or ants or roaches or kings or heroes or knights. They just are. Talk about a fairy tale.

To put it bluntly, the greatest proof for God’s existence is seen in the fact that the very question of God’s existence is intelligible. In other words, that there are uncontroversial human experiences that are intelligible (nature, rationality, morality) is proof that God exists. You cannot even deny God’s existence without presupposing his existence. The denial of God’s existence presupposes the intelligibility of human experience, something that cannot be accounted for apart from God. As Cornelius Van Til once wrote, “The only ‘proof’ of the Christian position is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no possibility of ‘proving’ anything.” (Van Til, Jerusalem and Athens)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)

 

 

Mr. Ed