Objections to Molinistic Monergism

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

|

January 5, 2018

Recently a committed Calvinist sought to interact with me regarding the model I have offered showing how Molinism can be completely monergistic (See A Molinistic Model of Monergism). That is to say, the model of Molinism I have offered shows how God is the author of salvation from beginning to end and man plays no role in the salvation process, yet is still genuinely responsible for his damnation. This Calvinist claimed that although I used to be a Calvinist (who bought it, taught it, screeched it, and preached it) that I did not properly understand Calvinism. In fact, he claimed that I attacked a straw man. The following is my response to his critiques:

Jared: Tim, you say “Since Molinism affirms that man is free to choose to reject God’s saving grace or not, many Calvinists jump to the conclusion and assume that Molinism must be synergistic.” Man’s ability to reject God is still synergism because it leaves salvation up to the creature not the creator, or at the very least it is a cooperative effort between God and man which is synergism.


Tim: False! Monergism is the view that God is the author of salvation from beginning to end and does all the work in the salvation process. That is to say, man does *absolutely nothing* to help God save him. Go review the model I offered again; accordingly, on this model, man does *absolutely nothing* in the salvation process.

Synergism is the view that man plays a positive role in his salvation by helping God *do something* in the process of his salvation. Again, on the model I offered, salvation is not up to the creature whatsoever and there is nothing the creature can do to save himself or even help God save himself! In fact, on this particular model (and there are others to consider as well), the only way one will NOT be saved is if they actually *do something*! There is absolutely nothing the creature can do to save himself. On this monergistic model of Molinism, salvation is up to God alone. The only thing that is “up to” the creature on this model is his damnation, but salvation is a different story.

There is a significant philosophical difference here, Jared, and if you fail to miss this you will continue to attack a straw man.

You followed that with, //… at the very least it is a cooperative effort between God and man which is synergism.//

False again, Jared! On the model I offered, there is nothing man can do to save himself — or even help to save himself! Look closely at it again; if the creature does *absolutely nothing* then he will be saved. Monergism is the view that the one who is saved does *absolutely nothing*. So, unless you want to start talking like Lawrence Krauss (the atheist who argues against the Kalam by affirming that “nothing is actually something”) then we have a monergistic model of Molinism on our hands. As Dr. Kirk MacGregor stated:

“It would take a wily philosopher to argue that doing nothing is actually doing something.”


Jared: //Of course the Calvinist rejects this proposition because this suggests that God’s will can be thwarted by a creature, which we all would agree is not possible.// 


Tim: Well, as Greg Koukl has explained, one must always ask “What do you mean by that?” If God causally determines all things to happen according to His will, then sin is illusory. The definition of “sin” is “missing the mark.” However, if God’s will can *never* be thwarted by a creature, then all creatures are causally determined by God to always hit a “bull’s eye” every single time — we never really miss the mark, and thus, we never really sin even when doing something the Bible clearly states is “wrong!” This deterministic view melts into absurdity. Thus, Calvinistic determinism is absurd and false.

However, if it is ever really “up to” creatures to miss the mark against the will of God, then we can genuinely say that we are free and responsible for our sin. Thus, we ought to be held accountable for our sin. The deterministic Calvinist does not have access to genuine freedom or responsibility. All they are left with is that God causally determines all things to happen exactly as they happen. This also includes Satan’s rebellion, the fall of man, Hitler’s holocaust, ISIS, and all sin and evil in the world. On Calvinism, God is the one who is truly responsible for evil. Again, Calvinistic exhaustive divine determinism is absurd!

The Molinist, however, has access to both freedom/responsibility of man “missing the mark,” and to the claim that “God’s will is never thwarted.” This is the case because on Molinism, God created a world in which He knows how man will always FREELY choose. Since man freely chooses, there are no causal strings attached (natural or supernatural) and mankind is genuinely free to choose to miss the mark and sin. God simply knows how man would freely choose to sin logically prior to creating the universe, and thus God predestines the sin of man without causally determining the sin of man.

It is a logical mistake to conflate the two concepts of predestination and causal determinism.


Jared: //Your point # “1- God, by nature, is a volitional unmoved mover who is free to choose between options in accord with His nature. (This is supported via the Kalam and the Argument from Time).” Although it may seem intuitive to say that “God is free to choose between options in accord to his nature” I don’t believe you could establish this through exegesis (or you didn’t show this in the linked articles) as it relates to Gods plan of salvation.//


Tim: Nor did I intend to, Jared! I offered logic-based arguments to support this step of the model. One is free to reject logic, but I have no interest in devoting time arguing with one who has rejected logic and reason (Isaiah 1:18). With that said, have fun making a case via exegesis that God does NOT have the power or ability to choose between options in accord with His nature!


 Jared: //At the very least you are presupposing something you have not proven as epistemologically derived from scripture.//


Tim: FALSE! It is not “presupposing” when I have offered logical arguments supporting the proposition. This is part of doing theological philosophy, Jared (by the way, it is impossible to engage in theology apart from logic and philosophy). Since the Bible does not clearly state that God can or cannot freely choose between options in accord with His nature, then a systematic theologian is free to think logically about the issue. You are free to presuppose and assert otherwise, but presuppositions and assertions are not arguments. I, on the other hand, have provided arguments supporting this step of my model.

I recommend further reading on this issue (See Extra-Biblical Data & Hermeneutics and “The Bible Trumps Logic”).


Jared: //If this is not stated in the Bible as part of Gods Decretive will, that is he chooses between options in our salvation verses predestination which is clearly taught throughout scripture.//


Tim: Whoa! Hold your horses, Jared! You are now attacking a straw man and NOT the first step of the model! The first step of the model says nothing about salvation or predestination (which I agree with you is clearly taught throughout scripture). Moreover, please do not make the logical mistake of conflating predestination with causal determinism!

The first step of the model simply notes that God possesses libertarian free will to choose among options in accord with His nature — nothing more, nothing less. If God does not possess this freedom, then say goodbye to the Fine-Tuning Argument, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument, and more (See The Apologetic Significance of Molinism). If God does not possess the freedom to choose to create a universe — let alone this specific universe — then you exist necessarily! Are you willing to affirm that both God and Jared exist necessarily?


Jared: //Compatibilists have no problem with mystery in Theology and don’t usually think we are in a position as creatures to speculate about the creator’s unrevealed Decretive Will.//


Tim: If one is so quick to retreat to mystery, why not just assert that both Calvinism and Molinism are true and then appeal to mystery as to how it all shakes out? The reason is obvious: Calvinistic determinism and the libertarian freedom Molinism offers seem to be mutually exclusive and logically contradictory. Thus, logic plays a vital role in our hermeneutic and our theology!

Moreover, the Compatibilist might “have no problem with mystery,” but the problems Compatibilists have are legion! Peter van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument demonstrates the incoherence of Compatibilism and I have gone into depth and detail pointing out many problems with this view (See Can You Have Your Cake & Eat It Too? and Semi-Compatibilism & Responsibility). That is to say, appealing to Compatibilism is worse than retreating to mystery; it is appealing to logical incoherence! Since truth and logic are inextricably linked (you cannot have one without the other), when a Christian appeals to the incoherence of Compatibilism they are tacitly exclaiming “Christianity is not true!!!”


Jared: //The second step of your Molinistic Model states: “2- By God’s grace, humans are created in the “image of God.” By nature, then, we are free to choose between options in accord with our nature. (This is supported via the Freethinking Argument).” By nature you do not seem to mean depraved nature, which separates from God because you seem to settle on Libertarian free will in here as having the ability to choose God or Sin… which the bible doesn’t support.


Tim: There you go again, Jared! You are jumping the gun and to conclusions that this step does not purport to offer! Thus, you attack a straw man! I encourage you to deal with the step exactly as it is worded and not to put additional words in my mouth. I am merely stating that humans are created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, it stands to reason that if God has the ability to choose among options in accord with His nature, then man has the ability to choose among options in accord with his nature. Not only is this supported by the Freethinking Argument (which I noted in the model), it also seems to be supported exegetically (see Molinism is Biblical).

Make no mistake: I am not arguing that man can choose among options that are not in accord with his nature. For example, although a man might freely choose to attempt to flap his arms and fly like a bird, he is not free to flap his arms and fly like a bird. With that said, however, there are some things that man is free to choose from in accord with our nature (that’s why we have menus at restaurants)! Moreover, I am not making a case that man — left to his own devices — can freely choose to love and follow God. To assume otherwise is to miss the mark which will ultimately lead to the attack of another straw man.


Jared: //The Bible also teaches us that man is born dead in transgression and sin (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3, Ephesians 2:1-5). The Bible teaches that because unregenerate man is “dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:5), he is held captive by a love for sin (John 3:19; John 8:34) so that he will not seek God (Romans 3:10-11) because he loves the darkness (John 3:19) and does not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).//


Tim: I affirm all the above Bible verses, Jared! This is why the model I offered affirms that God’s grace (call it prevenient or common) is a necessity if one is going to be saved! That is to say, since the above Scripture you offered is true, one can be freed by God and saved (a true love relationship with God) if and only if God offers His amazing — but resistible — grace!


Jared: //So here is really the heart of the matter, I would agree that man has free will, but his will or volition is derived from his nature.//


Tim: Then there is nothing genuinely free about this so called “free will” you affirm, Jared! Indeed, it is “free” in name only, but it is really casually determined by God because God is the one who is ultimately responsible for our natures (according to your view). As PvI’s Consequence Argument demonstrates, if X is necessary, and Y necessarily follows from X, then Y is also necessary. That is to say, if X is necessary, then so is Y. So, if man is not responsible for his nature, then man is not responsible for the sin that necessarily follows from his nature.

God is responsible for that much!

Yet, the Calvinist claims that although God is responsible for sin and evil, that somehow it is good, righteous, and just to torture the majority of humanity — who were “born that way” (with no choice but to possess a sin nature) — in the eternal fires of hell because God chose not to “zap” them with His irresistible grace (even though nothing was stopping Him from doing so). This view is absurd!


Jared: //If a man has a depraved nature from birth, his will dictates his actions which as stated from scripture above is not to submit to God through repentance and faith in Christ.//


Tim: Then why would an omnibenevolent God (John 3:16, 1 Tim 2:4, 1 Tim 4:10, and 2 Peter 3:9) allow anyone to suffer the eternal holocaust of hell for being born with a nature that ultimately was causally determined by God (since, as you claimed above, “His will can never be thwarted”)? This Calvinistic view sounds more like the Muslim’s view of Allah than the God revealed by Jesus! Again, Calvinism is absurd!

Moreover, consider this: Hitler tortured Jews for a few years in concentration camps for being “born that way,” on your view, God tortures the majority of humanity into the eternal fires of hell for being “born that way” too (even though God has the power to “zap” all people with His “irresistible grace”)! How can a Calvinist claim that when Hitler tortures people for a finite amount of time for being “born that way” that it is wrong, bad, sinful, and evil. Yet, when God tortures people in the infinite sufferings of hell for all eternity for being “born that way” that it is all of a sudden good, righteous, and praiseworthy?

Again, Calvinism is absurd!


 Jared: //This is why man gets a new nature through regeneration, God grace, so that he has the ability to see his sin and thus repent and put his faith in Christ not his autonomous self.//


Tim: By “ability” to you mean that he CAN (may or may not) “see his sin and repent”? That is what my Molinistic model espouses (actually, my particular model claims that one who freely does not resist “along the way” *WILL* freely repent and be saved)! However, if you assert that this grace of God is “irresistible” then by “ability” you mean nothing more than a domino has the “ability” to fall if it is struck by another falling domino. But to say a domino has the ability to fall if struck by another domino is ridiculous. It does not just have an ability to fall — it WILL fall! There is a significant difference between “can” and “will.”


Jared: A Libertarian Will is not a Biblical category because no where in scripture do we see man’s nature being neutral, we are in Adam or in Christ (1 Cor. 15:22), a mans volition is never neutral.


Tim: Your assertion assumes the “zapping” of irresistible grace and that there is never a transition period or a process or an ability to resist along the way. You are free to assume, but I have offered logic-based arguments supported by Scripture which argue otherwise. Throwing our assumptions does nothing to defeat an argument, Jared.

Moreover, you seem to err in assuming that one must always make choices in accord with their greatest desire determined by one’s nature. In fact, if you assert this to be the case, then you can never rationally affirm anything you think is true. Thus, you cannot claim to possess knowledge that Calvinism or compatibilism is true. This would be the case because the only reason you think it is true — according to your view — is because Calvinism is your greatest desire (even if it is actually false)!

Compatibilistic free will (CFW) is logically incoherent (as we discussed above) and thus cannot be biblical. And if the Bible is true then CFW must be false! Libertarian freedom, on the other hand, is heavily implied (if not clearly taught) in both the Old and New Testaments as we see that humans have options from which to choose. In fact, the unregenerate Israelites are offered a choice to choose life or death, blessings or curses. At that point, Moses pleads with the Israelites to choose life!

Moses precedes his plea for life by making it clear that the unregenerate Israelites actually possess the ability to make this choice. That is to say, this choice is “up to them” and not causally determined by things external to them. He makes it clear that this is not only something they possess the ability to do, but moreover, it is not even “too difficult” for them to make this choice. He says, “you may do it.” The ESV reads, “so that you CAN do it” (emphasis mine). This is not just biblical support of libertarian freedom to choose otherwise; it seems to be libertarian freedom regarding an offer to choose God — or at the least, not to reject Him.

Moses makes his views regarding libertarian freedom clear in the Old Testament. Moreover, in the New Testament, Paul clarifies his position regarding libertarian free will in 1 Corinthians 10:13. He states,

“God is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

God has provided (at least some) humans with an ability not to sin. We are able to not fall into temptation. Accordingly, whenever one sins, they did not have to as there was a genuine ability to do otherwise (“a way of escape”) available for them to choose. This is exactly what is meant by libertarian free will! Therefore, when someone freely chooses to sin and they were ABLE not to sin, it follows that they are genuinely respons-ABLE for their sin, not God.

Paul also implies that we possess libertarian freedom when it comes to our thoughts. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 the Apostle Paul writes:

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Paul states that “we” — and implies that we ought to — take our thoughts captive to obey Christ. Paul seems to teach that we are responsible free thinkers of the libertarian variety. Accordingly, Paul makes it clear that all of our thoughts are not causally determined and forced upon us from external sources; we possess the ability to freely think and to think otherwise. That is to say, YOU are responsible for your own thoughts and the beliefs that follow (at least some of them).

Paul is clear that we ought to take our thoughts captive to obey Christ — to obey reality! He also teaches that we can be taken captive by incorrect thinking in Colossians 2:8. It follows that humanity is engaged in a battle. This battle is “not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). No, whether we realize it or not, each and every one of us is in a battle for our mind!

Paul urges us to take our thoughts captive before they take us captive. We are responsible for our thoughts and thus, we ought to be free thinkers! Which is not even possible on a deterministic view as many Calvinists affirm.

Finally, Paul is clear that Christians are not controlled by anything external to ourselves. He makes it clear that God has given Christians an ability to be in control. Consider 1 Timothy 1:7:

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Think about what “self-control” means, Jassen! If Christians genuinely do have self-control, as Paul preaches, then something other than the self is not causally controlling you and me. This is all biblical data supporting libertarian free will, Jared, so please do not make the bald assertion that “a libertarian will is not a Biblical category.”

Luis de Molina founded his view on Scripture first!


Jared: //Step #4 of your model states: “4- In this state of depraved separation from God (sin nature), humans do not even know God exists if merely left to our own devices.” This is not Paul’s understanding of mans nature, man is active rebellion to God. Men suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).//


Tim: Exactly! Jared, you just made my point for me! God offers grace and truth to all people and some choose to RESIST it even though they do not have to (so much for irresistible grace)! Since they are ABLE not to resist, this is exactly why those who do resist God’s amazing grace — God’s perfect love —  are respons-ABLE for their actions and respons-ABLE for their damnation!


Jared: //Because they are totally depraved, this sinful lifestyle seems right to men (Proverbs 14:12) so they reject the gospel of Christ as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18) and their mind is “hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is unable to do so” (Romans 8:7).//


Tim: It is “unable to do so” because they have rejected what God has made clear. In fact, Romans 1 tells us that they had the truth and exchanged it for a lie (let that sink in). Since they resist God’s grace they harden their hearts (just as Pharaoh did) and they literally become “unable” because of their free and evil choices.


Jared: //Step #5 of your model states: “5- If humans do not even know God exists, then, left to our own devices and apart from God’s grace, it would be impossible to choose to love and follow God (thus, Pelagianism is impossible on this view).”

Yes agreed! Ephesians 2:8-10, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


Tim: I’m glad you finally agree with me, Jared! I am also happy that you brought up the second chapter of Ephesians! William Lane Craig points out that one might say this passage clearly states that faith is a gift from God, not something that we possess any ability to exercise. However, Craig engages in proper hermeneutics to correct this faulty thinking:

“Look at Ephesians 2:8-9 again. Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— not because of works, lest any man should boast.” Doesn’t this show that faith is simply God’s gift to you and not something that you do on your own? I think that is incorrect and I think demonstrably so. Let me ask those of you who are our vigilant Logos software users to tell us what is the gender of the word for “faith” that is used in verse 8? I should mention here that in Greek, as in modern day German, every noun has a gender. There are three genders – masculine, feminine, and neuter. It is the same in Greek. Now, what is the gender of the word pistis or faith? Feminine. So it is feminine gender for pistis or faith. What is the gender of the pronoun in verse 8 “this.” Neuter! Touto is the word. It is neuter. So the antecedent of “this” is not the word “faith.” You would have to have a feminine pronoun in order to refer to “faith.” Rather, what the word “this” refers to is the whole preceding clause, namely, salvation by grace through faith. That is not your own doing. This is the gift of God. This is the way God has elected to set it up; he is going to save — by his grace — everyone who has faith in Christ. That is not your own doing. But it does not teach that saving faith is the gift of God. That is grammatically prohibited.”

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defender…/transcript/s10-17

“Ephesians 2:8 emphasizes that this setup, this arrangement, is by God’s own choice. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast.” Remember we saw that the word “this” is neuter whereas faith is feminine. So “this” doesn’t refer to the faith, this refers to this arrangement of salvation by grace through faith. That arrangement is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God. It is God’s sovereign choice to save people in this way by grace through faith.”

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defende…/transcript/s11-031

Once one understands how the original Greek should be understood one might argue that this is actually synergistic! However, with my model in mind, monergism still makes sense. Bottom line: Pelagianism is still impossible on this view.


Jared: //You lose me here with much disagreement, this is Wesleyan not Monergistic, Prevenient Grace is not Common Grace, although I tip my hat to the effort to stay away from Pelagianism.//


Tim: You can call it what you want, Jared, but like it or not, my model shows how common grace *is* prevenient grace.


 Jared, //Step #6 of your model states: “6- God, in His love for all people, provides amazing prevenient grace to all people (Romans 1:20), writing the law on the human heart (Romans 2:15), conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-9), and draws all men (John 12:32). This is commonly referred to as “common grace.” Romans 1:20 is not a text that can be used for Prevenient Grace, which is a kind of shifting a mans depraved will from total inability to choose God to a neutral will with the possibility of choosing God.//


Tim: Sure it is, Jared! (Are you tacitly affirming the other Bible verses I offered can be used for prevenient grace?) I know you don’t want Romans 1:20 to be used to support my view, but it is a form of grace offered to ALL people! In fact, this grace is so powerful that Paul says that “no one is without excuse!” Now, if the “irresistible grace” of TULIP is *also* required, then those who have not been “zapped” by God’s irresistible grace have a powerful excuse. For more on this “zapping” I recommend reading The Relevance of Irresistible Grace.


Jared: //[Romans 1:20] is general revelation which renders man without excuse, knowing that there is a God but the suppress this truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18) and thus they are accountable to God for their sin.//


Tim: //Thank you for making my point for me, Jared! God has provided this grace to all mankind — who would not even know that God exists if it were not for the grace of God’s revelation. Since this grace is not irresistible, some freely choose to resist it — even though they do not have to (that is why they are without excuse)! Since they are ABLE not to resist, they are respons-ABLE and account-ABLE for their resistance!


Jared: //This of course is a point of tension in compatibilism, that Scripture teaches mans inability to choose God apart from regeneration however is still accountable for his sin. Calvinists have no problem with this because God has all the knowledge but we have only some of God’s knowledge.//


Tim: I’ve got to stop you right there, Jared! As I noted above, it is one thing to throw your hands up and retreat to mystery, it is quite another to affirm logical contradictions! If the Bible is true, it will always be logically coherent. Thus, when one makes two logically mutually exclusive claims about the Bible, that is a nice way of shouting “Christianity is not true!” Truth and logic are inextricably linked, therefore, Christians ought to avoid logical contradictions.

Moreover, the Bible does not teach the compatiblism Calvinists affirm. That is to say, the Bible does not teach that God causally determines all things and that humans are free/responsible. Biblical compatibilism, on the other hand, teaches that God predestines all things and that humans are free and responsible for some things. Predestination is not the same thing as causal determinism. It is a logical mistake to equate and conflate the two concepts.

Molinism makes sense of all the biblical data from cover to cover (even Romans 9) — Calvinism fails. Note that the following argument deductively proves that TULIP is false, divine determinism is false, and that determinism ought not be conflated with predestination:

1. If irresistible grace (the “I” of T.U.L.I.P.) is true, then for any person x, if God desires to, has the power to, and knows how to cause x to go to Heaven and not suffer eternally in Hell, then x will go to Heaven and not suffer eternally in Hell.

2. If God is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient, then for any person x, God desires to, has the power to, and knows how to cause x to go to Heaven and not suffer eternally in Hell.

3. There is at least one person who will not go to Heaven and suffers eternally in Hell.

4. Therefore, one cannot affirm both (i) that irresistible grace is true and (ii) that God is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient (a maximally great being).

5. God is a maximally great being.

6. Therefore, irresistible grace is false.

7. Therefore, divine determinism is false (God does not causally determine all things).

8. God is completely sovereign and does predestine all things (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5,11).

9. Therefore, predestination and determinism are not to be conflated.

10. The best explanation of the data is Molinism.


Jared: //If the creature knew all that God’s knows than we would be God, but as creatures we must know our place and trust God even though his full Decretive Will is not known to us.//


Tim: You say that “we must know and place our trust in God.” What do you mean by “we must”? Is that really up to us on your view, Jared? Do we really have a choice if we are going to “know and trust God”? Or does God transform our nature against our will so that some of us will and others will not. Moreover, does God give you a “Calvinist loving nature” and me a “Molinist loving nature”? If so, why would he transform me from one who used to possess a Calvinist loving nature, to now one who possesses a nature that is repulsed by the philosophy of Calvinism? If God determines our natures and our natures determine everything about us — including our thoughts and beliefs — how would Christians ever settle theological disagreements?

I digress, the salient point is that NOWHERE have I argued that “the creature must know all that God knows,” Jared. Again, you attack a straw man! Let me be clear: I am stating that although appealing to mystery is sometimes acceptable, affirming logical incoherence is bad — VERY BAD!


Jared: //Also, I agree that Romans 2:15 refers to the common Grace of God (God’s restraining of sin and blessing in the world saved and unsaved) however, in this point you suggest that common grace draws and convicts men as a form of regeneration. This has never been seen this way even Wayne Grudem states in his Systematic Theology that “Common grace is the grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation.”//


Tim: Never say “never,” Jared! As a PhD candidate in systematic theology, I argue that this can be understood as part of the regeneration *process* and that one is free to resist and reject it along the way. In the article where the model is offered, I explain why this “process” is necessary as opposed to mere “zapping.”

Moreover, appealing to a Calvinist to affirm your own Calvinism is not impressive! Although I respect Grudem, I think he makes many mistakes (I have even told Wayne that much to his face — and argued with him in the recent past). I definitely do not consider him to be the “final authority” on these matters. Moreover, appealing to authority (a logical fallacy) does nothing to demonstrate my argument is wrong or incorrect; rather, you must offer logical argumentation to defeat my arguments.


Jared: //True to your synergistic introduction, you then return to synergism in point #7 which also seems a bit universalistic (“allowing all mankind to start making some free and volitional choices in accord with our new nature”)…//


Tim: What do you mean by “a bit universalistic,” Jared? I have not argued for universal salvation in the slightest and to even hint otherwise is to attack another straw man! I have, however, argued that all people have been offered a grace that they do not have to resist (although many do). I like how Kevin Harris recently put it: “God is an aspiring universalist,” however, universalism (the view that all people go to heaven) is clearly not something that I affirm (See True Love, Free Will, & the Logic of Hell).


Jared: //… and “7- Therefore, by God’s grace, human nature has changed from a “totally separated from God nature” to a nature that has now experienced enough divine revelation (influences) allowing all mankind to start making some free and volitional choices in accord with our new nature; namely, to choose to resist God’s grace and revelation, or not. Mankind is without excuse because we do not have to resist what God has made clear (Romans 1:18-20). “#8- If one does not reject or continually resist the grace and revelation God provides them, then God will continually provide more and more until the person reaches the point of “no return” and will become saved.” 

Again this is not monergism nor is it new, this is Wesleyan Arminianism and synergistic.//


Tim: False! Again, as I explained above, you simply fail to see how doing absolutely nothing is not doing something. The model I offer shows how if one does absolutely nothing (not anything), they will be saved. This is the epitome of monergism! You can stomp your foot all you’d like, but it is still monergism.


Jared: //Monergism is the view that God works through the Holy Spirit to bring about the salvation of an individual through spiritual regeneration regardless of the individual’s cooperation.//


Tim: My model says nothing about a person needing to “cooperate” to be saved, Jared. It merely states that one must do nothing and not resist God’s grace. My model shows that one cannot do anything to be saved. If one does nothing — and does not resist all of the work God is doing to save the individual — then this individual will be saved. Salvation is a gift from God and God alone.


Jared: //You clearly state above that “Therefore, by God’s grace, human nature has changed from a “totally separated from God nature” to a nature that has now experienced enough divine revelation (influences) allowing all mankind to start making some free and volitional choices in accord with our new nature; namely, to choose to resist God’s grace and revelation, or not.” This is pure and simple creaturely cooperation and boarding on universalism and because monergism rests on the belief that God does not need the individuals cooperation you’re your explanation and view is not monergism.//


Tim: Wrong again! Look at my model closely (I chose my words carefully). I never argued that one had to “cooperate.” The choices I offered were to choose to resist God’s grace or not (these are philosophically different concepts). However, “or not” does not necessarily imply a choice to love and follow God. “Or not” can simply mean to do nothing — which is exactly what the Calvinist says you can do to be saved! If one does nothing and God saves him, then we have monergism! This is exactly what the Molinistic model I offer espouses.


Jared: //Also a person resisting grace is not enough to jettison human cooperation because the persons salvation still hinges on him not resisting…//


Tim: False! As I noted above regarding Ephesians 2, any person’s salvation hinges on God and God alone. No one can choose to save themselves! No one even seeks God left to their own devices. The only thing that a person is responsible for is his or her damnation. However, it does not logically follow that if one can only be responsible for their damnation, then they must also be responsible for their salvation.


Jared: //… so in the resisting you are still giving the creature not the creator not only control but the glory in his salvation.//


Tim: You seem to completely misunderstand the model, Jared! If one freely chooses to resist God’s love and saving grace, the only thing a creature can get “glory” in is their own damnation!

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),

Tim Stratton

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About the Author

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

Tim pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (B.A. 1997) and after working in full-time ministry for several years went on to attain his graduate degree from Biola University (M.A. 2014). Tim was recently accepted at North West University to pursue his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a focus on metaphysics.

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