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» Ship of Fools   » Ship's Locker   » Limbo   » Purgatory: Is Calvinism the Asperger's Syndrome of Protestantism? (Page 8)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Is Calvinism the Asperger's Syndrome of Protestantism?
Zach82
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Yes, it is obviously about Jews and Gentiles, insofar as Paul is establishing his soteriology in contrast to that system. He flat out explains what the pots metaphor is about. He clearly says that the "vessels of mercy" "he had afore prepared unto glory," and can be Jew or gentile. That right there makes your interpretation impossible. The pot metaphor is used to support his argument, not as a foil.

You and Dafyd's reading is really a perfect example of an incredibly strained reading intended to shoehorn one's theology into the text. Paul is being very lucid here. This actually is a theological treatise, unlike those parables you tried to take as theological treatises.

[ 02. August 2012, 13:28: Message edited by: Zach82 ]

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Yes, it is obviously about Jews and Gentiles, insofar as Paul is establishing his soteriology in contrast to that system. He flat out explains what the pots metaphor is about. He clearly says that the "vessels of mercy" "he had afore prepared unto glory," and can be Jew or gentile. That right there makes your interpretation impossible. The pot metaphor is used to support his argument, not as a foil.

Yes. His argument being that God was perfectly entitled to make the Jews into special, holy pots and the Gentiles into common use pots.

NOT that God was perfectly entitled to make the saved into special pots and the unsaved into discards.

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
That picture of the Pharisees is the result of Protestant polemic using the Pharisees as stand-ins for late medieval Roman Catholic theology. The Pharisees themselves believed nothing of the sort.
What did they believe:
Luke 18: 11: The Pharisee prayed thus: 'God I thank you that I am not like other people...'.
The Pharisee is thanking God for his righteousness. He believes that his righteousness is due entirely to God. He doesn't think that he's earned God's grace by his righteousness. He believes that his righteousness has been given to him by God's grace. The Synod of Dort could not fault him.

No. The Pharisee's fault is that he believes he is not like other people - he believes he is elect and other people are not.

Just picking up this specifically Dafyd.

While I think there is a lot of helpful stuff in the NPP this is an example where to a man with a hammer everything is a nail.

This is the reason Luke gives as to why Jesus told that parable: "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else,"

How can we interpret the story in any other way than that?

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Zach82
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quote:
Yes. His argument being that God was perfectly entitled to make the Jews into special, holy pots and the Gentiles into common use pots.

NOT that God was perfectly entitled to make the saved into special pots and the unsaved into discards.

Orfeo, Paul explains his metaphor in that passage, and that isn't it. Turn off your theology and just read what the passage says.

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
quote:
Yes. His argument being that God was perfectly entitled to make the Jews into special, holy pots and the Gentiles into common use pots.

NOT that God was perfectly entitled to make the saved into special pots and the unsaved into discards.

Orfeo, Paul explains his metaphor in that passage, and that isn't it. Turn off your theology and just read what the passage says.
In all sincerity I AM reading it. It is part of a great big long discussion about Jews and Gentiles. It is simply not a discussion about Christians and non-Christians.

It's not that I think it supports my theology. It's that I think it's on a completely different topic which was of high relevance to Paul's audience in the 1st century AD and of almost no relevance to us today.

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Zach82
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quote:
In all sincerity I AM reading it. It is part of a great big long discussion about Jews and Gentiles. It is simply not a discussion about Christians and non-Christians.
Paul seems to think it is, since he says the "vessels of mercy" which are "prepared for glory" are "us, both Jew and Gentile."

You might be reading it, but it is with such a theological agenda that the text itself becomes meaningless.

quote:
It's not that I think it supports my theology. It's that I think it's on a completely different topic which was of high relevance to Paul's audience in the 1st century AD and of almost no relevance to us today.
Convenient.

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Convenient.

[Mad]

Get stuffed, Zach. I'm done. I have had an absolute gutful of your attitude, and I don't even care enough to generate another Hell call.

Have a nice afterlife.

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Zach82
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quote:
Get stuffed, Zach. I'm done. I have had an absolute gutful of your attitude, and I don't even care enough to generate another Hell call.
Pot, kettle, as always.

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orfeo

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There is NOTHING 'convenient' about disagreeing with you. The 'convenient' thing to do would be to roll over, say "oh my goodness yes, Zach, you're absolutely right and you're such a BRILLIANT theologian, how could I have ever doubted you."

If I disagree it's because I genuinely disagree, not because it's 'CONVENIENT'.


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Zach82
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You have any idea how condescending you seemed when you refused to read my posts because I cited the wrong version of the bible, threatened to call me to hell over the KJV, posted a half dozen times about how I'm not engaging with you because I didn't follow your posting format, then simply declared it irrelevant when my point about the passage became clear?

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
This is the reason Luke gives as to why Jesus told that parable: "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else,"

How can we interpret the story in any other way than that?

That's ok, so long as we don't think that the Pharisee believes he is justified by his righteousness. The Pharisee thinks his righteousness is due to God, from grace. He is a very proper anti-Pelagian in his attitude to grace.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Dafyd, your exegesis is so strained that you've made me lose all will to argue with you. I think my exegesis of the passage is clear enough.

It may be clear to you, but it omits a lot of the context. It's rather too neat and clear to be a plausible reading of an argument as complex as Romans 9-11. And it's not half as clear as 'God desires everyone to be saved' (1 Timothy 2:4). You don't get much clearer than that.

Also, I trust we all agree that it's not compatible with loving your neighbour to wish that your neighbour is damned. It's not even compatible with loving your neighbour not to care whether your neighbour is damned. Now most of us are actually pretty blase about the idea that lots of people might be suffering eternal torment. We're deficient in charity. If we had more charity we would find it more intolerable. Now your reading would have us believe that it should be tolerable. Your reading has it that whether or not our neighbour is damned or saved shouldn't matter to us since either way God is glorified. In practical terms, your reading counsels us to have less charity towards our neighbour.
Any reading of Scripture, however 'clear', that has the effect of lessening our charity towards our neighbour is Satanic.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Any reading of Scripture, however 'clear', that has the effect of lessening our charity towards our neighbour is Satanic.

Perhaps I'd make myself clearer and be less provocative if instead of 'Satanic' I said 'badly wrong'.

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orfeo

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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
You have any idea how condescending you seemed when you refused to read my posts because I cited the wrong version of the bible, threatened to call me to hell over the KJV, posted a half dozen times about how I'm not engaging with you because I didn't follow your posting format, then simply declared it irrelevant when my point about the passage became clear?

I didn't read your posts because they had nothing in them besides a slab of quote in centuries old English (you contributed nothing), threatened to call you to hell because you appeared to be doing your darnedest to keep popping up while not actually saying anything, said you weren't engaging because you didn't say anything ABOUT the passages no matter how much I asked, and declared it irrelevant because I think your interpretation is wrong, however 'clear' you insist it is. It's ridiculous for you to keep implying that Dafyd and I can't possibly genuinely disagree with you on the meaning of the passage.

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orfeo

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Let me spel it out for you. You rejoined the conversation with "there's the rub". Your next 3 posts had no words from you whatsoever. Then, after a nice bout of bickering, we are up to you telling me to engage.

Engage with WHAT? You hadnt SAID anything. You apparently think your passages are so clear they don't need explaining. Followed by your stunned discovery that at least two of us don't believe the passages say what you think they say.

This isn't some conspiracy on my part, Zach. While this is going on I was getting meaningful responses back from several people such as chris stiles. My anger and frustration rose with you precisely because there WAS an actual conversation going on to which you were contributing precisely nothing.

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
That's ok, so long as we don't think that the Pharisee believes he is justified by his righteousness. The Pharisee thinks his righteousness is due to God, from grace. He is a very proper anti-Pelagian in his attitude to grace.

Er, no.

You could be right, but there is no evidence for that in the story. When an Olympic athlete says 'thanks' to the person putting the gold medal over their head it does not mean that they recognise their award as a gift of grace.

As I said, Luke makes it clear what the point of the story is. You are reading something else in with no textual reason to do so.

(Apologies to any Australians who will find it hard to get that analogy.)

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Fëanor
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
That's ok, so long as we don't think that the Pharisee believes he is justified by his righteousness. The Pharisee thinks his righteousness is due to God, from grace. He is a very proper anti-Pelagian in his attitude to grace.

Er, no.

You could be right, but there is no evidence for that in the story. When an Olympic athlete says 'thanks' to the person putting the gold medal over their head it does not mean that they recognise their award as a gift of grace.

As I said, Luke makes it clear what the point of the story is. You are reading something else in with no textual reason to do so.

(Apologies to any Australians who will find it hard to get that analogy.)

There's no textual reason to read the story the way that you do, either. The Pharisee's beliefs aren't fully explicated in the story. However, they were an actual, historical, group of people -- and their beliefs (or maybe their meta-beliefs?) can be determined from sources outside the text in question. That's sorta the point of the NPP, innit?
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Zach82
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quote:
There's no textual reason to read the story the way that you do, either. The Pharisee's beliefs aren't fully explicated in the story. However, they were an actual, historical, group of people -- and their beliefs (or maybe their meta-beliefs?) can be determined from sources outside the text in question. That's sorta the point of the NPP, innit?
Paul is very careful to explain his position and the position of his opponents in that passage. Like I said, Romans is a true blue theological treatise. Real righteousness comes by grace, God's election, through faith. The "them" in that passage, the "vessels of wrath" are those who imagine that works make one righteous. Simply being circumcised is not of any value because it is a work, and no works at all are righteous before God. He also, it so happens insists that choosing is a work like any other. "It is not of him that willeth..."

[ 03. August 2012, 17:00: Message edited by: Zach82 ]

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Fëanor
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
quote:
There's no textual reason to read the story the way that you do, either. The Pharisee's beliefs aren't fully explicated in the story. However, they were an actual, historical, group of people -- and their beliefs (or maybe their meta-beliefs?) can be determined from sources outside the text in question. That's sorta the point of the NPP, innit?
Paul is very careful to explain his position and the position of his opponents in that passage. Like I said, Romans is a true blue theological treatise. Real righteousness comes by grace, God's election, through faith. The "them" in that passage, the "vessels of wrath" are those who imagine that works make one righteous. Simply being circumcised is not of any value because it is a work, and no works at all are righteous before God. He also, it so happens insists that choosing is a work like any other. "It is not of him that willeth..."
Sorry if it wasn't clear from the context, but I was referring to the passage in Luke -- not the passage in Romans.

For the record, I hold a similar view of the Romans passage, but I don't think engaging with you on it is a productive use of my time.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
You could be right, but there is no evidence for that in the story. When an Olympic athlete says 'thanks' to the person putting the gold medal over their head it does not mean that they recognise their award as a gift of grace.

I'm not sure that analogy proves your point on a number of levels.
1) The major disanalogy is that the athlete is thanking the person for the medal that the athlete earned by winning the competition. The athlete doesn't thank the person with the medal for winning the contest; they thank their coach, family, primary school teacher, etc. So on the analogy the Pharisee thanking God for his righteousness must have earned his righteousness by doing something else. But there's no way by which you can earn righteousness.
Or schematically:
Athlete: Person: Winning: Medal ::
Pharisee: God: ???: Righteousness.
The only candidate for ??? is grace or God's election of Israel which is grace anyway.

2) I don't know whether the athlete is thanking the person as in their capacity as a representative of the Olympics for the medal, or whether they're thanking them in their own person for doing the job of handing out the medal. In the latter case, it's an example of good manners: in this case good manners consists of playing that the person is doing the job not because they're paid but gratis. And in the case of God, this isn't playing. In the former case, they're thanking the Olympics for setting things up so that the athlete could receive recognition for their achievement. The athlete doesn't get a medal for merely the physical achievement e.g. while training: it's only if the Olympics set things up that they receive recognition, and they're thanking the Olympics for that.

So I don't think your analogy shows my reading is wrong.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Paul is very careful to explain his position and the position of his opponents in that passage.

It hasn't stopped you from misunderstanding him though. The 'it' in 'it is not of him that willeth' is clearly and plainly the election of Israel.
You really need to read up on the New Perspective on Paul. This is the wikipedia page. That is a result of a) reading the earliest available Jewish texts to find out what the early Jews were actually saying and b) looking at Paul as far as possible through fresh eyes cleared of anti-Roman Catholic and anti-Arminian polemic. (Basically, 'works' here and throughout Paul's writings means circumcision and the other markers of Jewish identity.)

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Fëanor:
There's no textual reason to read the story the way that you do, either. The Pharisee's beliefs aren't fully explicated in the story. However, they were an actual, historical, group of people -- and their beliefs (or maybe their meta-beliefs?) can be determined from sources outside the text in question. That's sorta the point of the NPP, innit?

[Confused] I didn't say how I read the story. All I did was quote, verbatim, the reason Luke gave for why Jesus told the story.
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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
So I don't think your analogy shows my reading is wrong.

Righteousness only comes from God. Whether he gives it only due to his grace or to those who deserve it is precisely what is being discussed on this thread.

If you are genuinely saying that you've never met anyone who freely thanks God (or nature for that matter) for good aspects of their behaviour and personality and yet is also proud that these aspects reflect well on them then, well, you don't get out much.

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Kwesi
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Zach 82
quote:
People say they believe God's offer of salvation is unconditional, but actually make it conditional on a person's decision to accept it. Which is a condition if there ever was one.


Surely, not. The offer remains unconditional whether or not it is accepted.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
Righteousness only comes from God. Whether he gives it only due to his grace or to those who deserve it is precisely what is being discussed on this thread.

If you deserve something you deserve it on account of your merit. If you don't have righteousness you don't have merit. It makes no sense to say that righteousness is given to those who deserve it, since before righteousness is given to them ipso facto they don't deserve it.

quote:
If you are genuinely saying that you've never met anyone who freely thanks God (or nature for that matter) for good aspects of their behaviour and personality and yet is also proud that these aspects reflect well on them then, well, you don't get out much.
The question of whether good aspects of behaviour and personality reflect well on the person is I think irrelevant to the discussion between Arminians and anti-Arminians.
(The question more germane to the parable of the Pharisee I would have thought is whether bad aspects of behaviour and personality reflect badly upon a person. There are a lot of Christians who seem to think that it's fine to look down with contempt upon the publican so long as they express contempt about themselves as well.)

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
Righteousness only comes from God.

Everything only comes from God.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Gamaliel
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I'm back after a week's holiday and this thread is giving me a head-ache ... [brick wall]

I'd like to bang all heads together.

A few thoughts ...

@Chris Stiles - I've not thought this one through entirely, but you keep re-iterating the point as to why some posters have apparently heard and responded to God whilst thousands of others haven't. How do we know that? is profession of Christian belief and church attendance the only measure of how people 'stand' before Almighty God?

It would seem from the Gospels that there are other measures than that - and I know I'm being a bit anachronistic there.

There are plenty of passages, both OT and NT that suggest that God is pleased when ANYONE, irrespective of their faith position, does anything that is good and right.

Ok, that might not constitute 'saving faith' and so on in the nice neat Calvinist schema, nor the Arminian one either for that matter.

It strikes me that the Orthodox view, which has some dangers and difficulties attached to it too, is much broader in that it recognises that whilst works don't save us, God does appear to value works to some extent ...

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the whole Protestant soteriology thing is far more dualistic than the scriptures would suggest.

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chris stiles
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Gamaliel -

quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
@Chris Stiles - I've not thought this one through entirely, but you keep re-iterating the point as to why some posters have apparently heard and responded to God whilst thousands of others haven't. How do we know that? is profession of Christian belief and church attendance the only measure of how people 'stand' before Almighty God?

I'd agree, the 'thousands of others' is a bit of an exaggeration and unhelpful to the argument I'm trying to make. It would be better if people focused more closely on one particular person who hasn't (apparently) responded to God.

In terms of the response itself - it seems to me that most of those on the 'free will' side are usually putting forward a spectrum of 'acceptable' responses. With some people apparently having made these, and others apparently not.

My question is, why? I suspect people will try and cloak their answer with mystery - because the 'obvious' answer would either finger something extra from within, or something extra from without (each answer then begs a followup question).

Cloaking the answer in mystery obfuscates the 'problem' that Calvinists (and to a lesser extent Lutherans) have, but doesn't really come to a 'better' conclusion.

There are other problems with the free-will answer to theodicy as it applies to salvation - apart from anything else it would appear that the 'best possible world' is one in which a large number of people are going to end up in hell.

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
Righteousness only comes from God. Whether he gives it only due to his grace or to those who deserve it is precisely what is being discussed on this thread.

If you deserve something you deserve it on account of your merit. If you don't have righteousness you don't have merit. It makes no sense to say that righteousness is given to those who deserve it, since before righteousness is given to them ipso facto they don't deserve it.
I don't get that Dafyd. You seem to be simply giving me a circular argument here. As Ken says everything comes from God. Are you saying that means that none of us should ever be proud? ('Cos if so then you are correct but rather out of touch with reality.)

Or more likely I'm missing something.

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
Righteousness only comes from God. Whether he gives it only due to his grace or to those who deserve it is precisely what is being discussed on this thread.

If you deserve something you deserve it on account of your merit. If you don't have righteousness you don't have merit. It makes no sense to say that righteousness is given to those who deserve it, since before righteousness is given to them ipso facto they don't deserve it.
I don't get that Dafyd. You seem to be simply giving me a circular argument here. As Ken says everything comes from God. Are you saying that means that none of us should ever be proud? ('Cos if so then you are correct but rather out of touch with reality.)

Or more likely I'm missing something.

I deserve nothing, and what I am given is given by His grace alone. It cannot be earned.

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Gamaliel
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I don't think anyone here is saying that it can be earned.

It does seem to me, though, that scripture gives us plenty of grounds for believing that God is pleased by anyone's response to his grace, irrespective of whether that person is a fully-signed up believer or not.

I don't think it's 'cloaking' things in mystery to say that none of us really know the answer to this one and that the whole thing is God's prerogative and not ours.

All we can do is to co-operate, so far as we can, with the grace that we have received. 'See to it that none of you fall short of the grace of God ...'

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Johnny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
]I deserve nothing, and what I am given is given by His grace alone. It cannot be earned.

As Gam says, no one disagrees with that.

The bit I don't understand (but it may well be because I've not understand Dafyd properly) is where Dafyd appears to be saying that it would be impossible for the Pharisee (in Luke 18) to be proud about his own righteousness because it cannot be earned.

ISTM that is tantamount to saying that it is impossible for human beings to have a distorted perception of reality.

Just because we cannot earn God's grace (by definition) does not prevent people from thinking that they somehow deserve it.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

I don't think it's 'cloaking' things in mystery to say that none of us really know the answer to this one and that the whole thing is God's prerogative and not ours.

I have no problem with this sentence either - and I don't see that many Reformed/Lutheran would have any particular problem with it.

There are some here though who appear to think that this 'mystery' creates more problems under a Calvinist scheme than it does in non-Calvinist schemes. I'm simply contending that it's a problem in every scheme (bar open theism/universalism - which have problems of their own).

quote:

All we can do is to co-operate, so far as we can, with the grace that we have received. 'See to it that none of you fall short of the grace of God ...'

Why do some co-operate more than others? [Big Grin]
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Gamaliel
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[Big Grin]

'Why do some seem to co-operate more than others?'

No idea. I would also submit that what our idea of what it means to co-operate with divine grace is different when viewed from God's perspective. And seeing as how none of us here are God nor can claim to have an inside track on how the Almighty works, then I would suggest that this is where the 'mystery' comes in.

It would appear from Romans 2:13-16 that it is possible for those 'who do not have the Law' to 'do by nature the things required by the law' - which rather goes against the whole 'depravity' thing inherent within Calvinism, it seems to me - at least in the way it is often applied.

'... since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.'

vv.15-16. NIV

Some of you may have heard Calvinist preachers addressing these verses, but I haven't. Indeed, they seem to cause some slight embarrassment to evangelicals of all shades - but I'd imagine broader Calvinists and Lutherans would be able to handle the apparent contradiction - as well as more the more nuanced among the evangelicals.

At any rate, I'm not sure they fit into any neat theological schema from either side of the argument. The key word is 'secrets' - the 'secrets of men's hearts.' It's only God who can know those .

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Johnny S:
Righteousness only comes from God. Whether he gives it only due to his grace or to those who deserve it is precisely what is being discussed on this thread.

It makes no sense to say that righteousness is given to those who deserve it, since before righteousness is given to them ipso facto they don't deserve it.
I don't get that Dafyd. You seem to be simply giving me a circular argument here.
What I'm saying is that your characterisation of the Pharisee's position is circular. On account of what does the Pharisee think he deserves righteousness if he doesn't have righteousness already? The position doesn't make sense.

Or to repeat the schema:

Athlete: Person: Winning: Medal ::
Pharisee: God: ???: Righteousness.

What could ??? possibly represent given that it doesn't represent righteousness?

[ 05. August 2012, 13:38: Message edited by: Dafyd ]

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
There are some here though who appear to think that this 'mystery' creates more problems under a Calvinist scheme than it does in non-Calvinist schemes. I'm simply contending that it's a problem in every scheme (bar open theism/universalism - which have problems of their own).

It's not that it creates more problems. It's just that it creates a worse problem. I don't understand how anyone who is not a sociopath can find the doctrine of irresistible grace tolerable, let alone comforting, without being a universalist.
(That there are such people, I'm sure. I just don't understand them.)

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Gamaliel
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It works for those people who can 'shut down' or close off those parts of their brain that baulk against the idea - which is why, offensively perhaps, I'm suggesting that Calvinism appeals to those of a particular, rather geeky or legalistic mindset - the computer programmers and data-nuts of this world rather than your painters and poets ...

[Razz]

You'll notice that I didn't allude to the aspie thing of the OP then. I've abandoned that analogy.

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Jengie jon

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You are wrong there, I suggest you read Jonathan Edwards sermons, seriously, not for his theology but for his dramatic style. He used words and just words to create the terror. He relied almost entirely on the words, his church was dark, his voice quiet and lowly modulated. He'd have made an excellent horror fiction writer. A "man in black" before he was invented if you like. That guy knew all about dramatic tension and can write.

Apparently parts of the institutes are in what today would be considered free verse, I am sorry but my Latin is not up to verifying this claim. Then Calvin is a rhetorician not a logician as are most lawyers.

What you mean Gamaliel is those parts of Calvinism you have come across tend to be geeky. I admit they are the loud mouthed self publicists amongst us and unless you spend time reading much wider then you will not hear the other voices. However go and look at the names mentioned here as Calvinist before you make up your mind.

Jengie

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
It's not that it creates more problems. It's just that it creates a worse problem. I don't understand how anyone who is not a sociopath can find the doctrine of irresistible grace tolerable, let alone comforting, without being a universalist.

Well, unless you are a universalist you still have a problem that God chose to create a universe in which he knew a number of people were definitely going to end up experiencing eternal torment.

It's basically the problem of theodicy. The open theist solution is that God is not all powerful, the universalist solution is that God is not all good.

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
It works for those people who can 'shut down' or close off those parts of their brain that baulk against the idea - which is why, offensively perhaps, I'm suggesting that Calvinism appeals to those of a particular, rather geeky or legalistic mindset - the computer programmers and data-nuts of this world rather than your painters and poets ...

And I'm suggesting that that is not only offensive but, much more seriously, its blatantly untrue. And untrue for about three different reasons - to believe it to be true you would have to hold false beliefs on how human minds works as well as false beliefs about what Calvinism is.

If Calvinists were crocodiles and brains were cornflake packets then geraniums might fly.

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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
It's basically the problem of theodicy. The open theist solution is that God is not all powerful, the universalist solution is that God is not all good.

Not sure this is a fair appraisal of open theism or universalism, chris stiles! Have you read up on these views, to find out how their advocates answer your charges? Here is something on Open Theism if you're interested.

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Gamaliel
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Bollocks, Ken.

[Razz]

I am, of course, exaggerating to make a point. I think the point still stands.

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balaam

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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
It's not that it creates more problems. It's just that it creates a worse problem. I don't understand how anyone who is not a sociopath can find the doctrine of irresistible grace tolerable, let alone comforting, without being a universalist.

Well, unless you are a universalist you still have a problem that God chose to create a universe in which he knew a number of people were definitely going to end up experiencing eternal torment.

It's basically the problem of theodicy. The open theist solution is that God is not all powerful, the universalist solution is that God is not all good.

@Dafyd - It is comforting because even the chief of sinners can be saved. It worked for Paul, it can work for us too.

@chris stiles - it isn't a problem for annihilationists either.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
Well, unless you are a universalist you still have a problem that God chose to create a universe in which he knew a number of people were definitely going to end up experiencing eternal torment.

I do hope universalism is true. If it isn't true, it must be for a good reason.

If God doesn't choose to create a universe with free will, then there aren't any people with free will for God to know whether they'll end up experiencing eternal torment, or annihilation for that matter, or not. That only happens to be known if God chooses to create the universe anyway.

quote:
It's basically the problem of theodicy. The open theist solution is that God is not all powerful, the universalist solution is that God is not all good.
I'm not an open theist. If people have free will, it is because God gave it to them with his power. But we as sinful human beings don't understand what power really is. Asked for an example of power, we wouldn't choose a man tied with a belt and taken where he does not wish to go(*), and asked for an example of glory we wouldn't choose a man executed on a cross.

I can't see any reason for thinking that the universalist God isn't all good, unless it is the pro-free will argument that a universe wholly determined by God would be meaningless. The only conservative Protestant arguments I can see for thinking that the universalist God isn't all good are basically variants on the theme that I can only really glorify God for my salvation if some people are damned. Which is to say, as if I can only really enjoy my choc ice if my brother goes without. Which idea seems to me rather sinful than holy.

(*) Yes, that's Peter. Tradition has it he shared his master's fate, only upside down.

[ 05. August 2012, 18:54: Message edited by: Dafyd ]

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Balaam:
@Dafyd - It is comforting because even the chief of sinners can be saved. It worked for Paul, it can work for us too.

I find that the more I feel some faint glimmerings of love for my neighbours the less I care about whether it can work for us and the more I care about whether we want it to work for them.

[ 05. August 2012, 19:01: Message edited by: Dafyd ]

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Gamaliel
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I think there's a particular strand within Eastern monasticism which asserts that the closer we get to God the less concerned we are about our own salvation and the more concerned we are about the salvation of others, Dafyd.

Ken's highlighted the late-night Christian Union thing of 'am I really saved?' and posits Calvinism as the antidote to that - which makes sense on one level. What I'm suggesting is that it isn't as black-and-white as that and we aren't faced with a clear and clean choice between Calvinism and Arminianism any more than there's a clear and clean choice between some form of Calvinism and some form of Open Theism. Still less that if you aren't a Calvinist you're some kind of Pelagian.

I really don't think it's as binary as that.

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Ramarius
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
It's not that it creates more problems. It's just that it creates a worse problem. I don't understand how anyone who is not a sociopath can find the doctrine of irresistible grace tolerable, let alone comforting, without being a universalist.

Well, unless you are a universalist you still have a problem that God chose to create a universe in which he knew a number of people were definitely going to end up experiencing eternal torment.

It's basically the problem of theodicy. The open theist solution is that God is not all powerful,.

Well only if you think the only way to order the universe is through hard determinism. Open theism affirms that God can still (and sometimes does) determine events by his power alone. But usually he orders the universe by being ultra smart - so smart he can anticipate any eventuality and have a response laid on for it to achieve his purposes. Check out some of the links others have given and let us know what you think about it.

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Ramarius
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I think there's a particular strand within Eastern monasticism which asserts that the closer we get to God the less concerned we are about our own salvation..

I'd be interested in any links or references you have for that Gamaliel - don't see much of that in any Orthodox liturgies I've read.

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Gamaliel
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It's not from any of the liturgies, Ramarius, but it does crop up from time to time in some of the hagiographies - but I can't remember which ones.

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Gamaliel
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Mind you, if I were to give you a 'proper' Orthodox answer to that one, Ramarius, I would suggest that you don't just read the Liturgies but attend a Liturgy and see how it works in context ...

I do get the impression, though, that the Orthodox (and they are not alone in this) are not as obsessed about their own individual, personal salvation as can be the case in certain evangelical settings. They tend to emphasise the collective rather than the individual - although they do emphasise personal faith too, of course.

It is, of course, both/and rather than either/or.

I think that's what bugs me about aspects of extreme Calvinism. There's an element of it that does sound a bit like the caricature that Dafyd put forward - 'I can't really enjoy my choc ice unless someone else hasn't got one ...'

That's the issue, it seems to me, not enough both/and in it and too much either/or.

There's something essentially dualistic about the whole thing.

I'm not saying that Arminianism is any better. That can get far too anthropocentric. I'm with the Calvinists when it comes to a suspicion of 'altar-calls' and so on.

Now, there must be a Third Way, a more excellent way ...

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