Eternal Frustration

Here are some recent thoughts that I have had about the topic of eternal generation. I was dialoguing with a Latin trinitarian. He stated that the Father possesses a property that causes him to emanate the Son.  So, naturally, I asked if the Son possesses that same property then it seems like he should emanate a son aswell.  This was his thoughts about that problem:

Every property of the divine essence is firstly a hypostatic property of the Father; but each property which is communicated is instantiated distinctly by the distinct hypostases.

Ergo, when you say “is THIS life-givingness, etc.” — it sounds as though you are presuming that each of the hypostases instantiates essential properties in exactly the same way. If you are not saying that, please clarify.

Again, it’s both. They possess generically the same essence, therefore generically the Same in Being; but the essential being of each Person is inextricable from the being of each other Person, therefore also numerically One in Being; *but not in some formless way with no Order of Subsistence*.

The problem with that answer is that it leaves the possibility that the Son can generate another person. The Trinity thus becomes contingently true. Jimmy Stephens successfully argued this in my mind:

If the Son avoids necessitating a Second Son because He instantiates the Father’s life differently than the Father, it still follows that the Second Son is made possible by the Son’s instantiation of the Father’s life.

P1. If the Son involuntarily emerges from the Father’s life, then the Father’s life entails the possibility of a Son. (actual -> possible)
P2. If the Son possesses the Father’s life, then the Father’s life possessed by the Son entails the possibility of a Second Son (quadrinity). (communication of numerically one property)
P3. If the Son involuntarily emerges from the Father’s life, then the Father’s life possessed by the Son entails the possibility of a Second Son. (From P1 & P2)
P4. If the Father’s life possessed by the Son entails the possibility of a Second Son, then God is possibly a non-Trinity.
P5. If God is possibly a non-Trinity, Christianity is false.
P6. If the Son involuntarily emerges from the Father’s life, then Christianity is false.
P7. If EG (version “nuh uh, that’s not EG”), then Christianity is false.

Another slight pass at an answer was that the Holy Spirit fulfills that for the Son. The Son and the Father are what the Holy Spirit proceed from. It is debatable whether generation is meant to be the same as spiration but it leaves the problem the dilemma still applies to the Holy Spirit. He has both the eternal life of the Father and therefore the ability to generate or spirate another person. It also seems like the doctrine of God being pure act also implies that this infinite regress does imply an infinite amount of persons for the Godhead.

Michael Jones on Idealism

Michael Jones recently was interviewed by Braxton Hunter and Johnathan Prichett. It was an interview styled like MSNBC interviewing Obama. You have to wonder if Hunter and Prichett even have arms with the softballs they threw for Jones. 

They start off by attacking fundamentalist anti-intellectualism. While that has its merits, it is quite evident that these people are culpable of what is being charged with them. Their taking philosophical speculations and straining Christianity through that. They try to rebut that by stating that Christianity requires philosophical assumptions. That our exegetical method has philosophical assumptions. But that is superficial because we distinguish between good and bad philosophical assumptions. I use to dialogue with a man that believed he didn’t need the Bible because he had the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit that was the basis of all his theological convictions. I’m sure that they wouldn’t grant Richard Carriers philosophical assumptions just because we all have some.

Now, since this is an SB Traditionalist show, they had to mention the Calvinism issue. They asked him how determinism doesn’t follow if the word is merely the product of divine thinking? He said “Molinism”. They instantly accepted that without question because they obviously haven’t thought about it very hard. What is Molinism? It is obviously a theory about how to reconcile God’s sovereignty and human freedom. But how does it try to do so? Well, it does it by positing a third logical moment in God’s knowledge where he chooses from the feasible worlds the one world where he achieves his ends. This moment of knowledge is between God’s natural and free knowledge:

In thinking about God’s knowledge theologically it was customary for many years, until and including the Reformation, to distinguish between God’s necessary knowledge and His free knowledge. The distinction is obvious and natural. God’s necessary knowledge includes several kinds of truths. It is the knowledge of matters such as the truths of mathematics (for example, 2+2=4). It is also the knowledge of truths such as the whole is greater than the part and no circle can be a square. God’s necessary knowledge also includes His knowledge of all possibilities, such as possible people, the possible lives they could lead, and the whole range of possible worlds. These are known to God immediately and intuitively.

God’s free knowledge, on the other hand, is His knowledge of His decree (of that which, in His wisdom, God freely and unchangeably ordained to come to pass). That which God decrees is obviously a subset of all the possibilities that are known to Him. His decree also has its source solely in His mind and will. …

What is middle knowledge? At the center of this recent interest has been God’s knowledge of possibilities involving human choice (the ‘counterfactuals of freedom’ as they have been called). Why this innovation? Its proponents are concerned to preserve what they consider to be two vital beliefs. The first is God’s providence and total foreknowledge. The second is the idea that human beings are ineradicably free in an indeterministic sense. When we speak of indeterministic freedom, we mean that any human being, in a given set of circumstances, has the power to choose A or to choose not-A. The problem is obvious. How can this be consistent with God’s universal providential rule and his purposes of redemption?

The Molinists’ way of attempting to keep all this together was to suggest that there existed, besides God’s natural knowledge and his free knowledge, a third kind of knowledge. They argued that God also has “middle knowledge” (between the other two). What this means can be briefly explained. Given a whole array of possible worlds (that God knows), given worlds in which men and women were free in the relevant indeterministic sense, God knows what they would freely choose in every possible circumstance. God has knowledge of all such possible outcomes. If placed in one set of circumstances, God knows what Jones would freely choose. If placed in another set of circumstances, God knows what Jones would freely choose. This is true for all possible people and all possible circumstances. God has this middle knowledge by inspection of all the possibilities that the free will of each person might choose.

In His power and wisdom, He chooses that possible world, that total combination of individuals and circumstances, whose expressions of free will best serve His purposes. 

https://www.ligonier.org/blog/molinism-101/

Notice the emphasis that this is between his natural and his free knowledge. The reason that is the case is that this knowledge is of contingent counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. That is because not every world is created by God and therefore it is thought that some are contingent. In an Idealist scheme, these worlds are all necessary because all possible worlds are equally real. So, in reality, no worlds are merely possible given theistic idealism. All worlds that are possible are actual given that view. So, all events are necessary just as divine thinking is necessary. Event timelines follow necessarily and not contingently. That is determinism. God thinks his thoughts, they don’t cause him to think.

The conversation moves to the issue of what motivates this metaphysical view of the world. Pritchet appeals to the notion that one cannot escape their own perspective.

Pritchet is forthright about the origins of this philosophy. It comes from subjectivism. On this idealism, it is conceded that one cannot get beyond one’s own mind in order to escape the egocentric snare. We are stuck in our own first-person perspectives. Notice, however, this is itself an attempt to get outside an individual perspective and describe the limitations of all others. The problem with this idealism is that in order to analyze universal conditions of knowledge, one cannot be limited by a non-universal perspective. (HT. Jimmy Stephens)

Further Suggestions:

Christianity and Idealism

 

Thibodaux: A Dependent Independence

Thibodaux has written a response to my article. So, let’s review it:

http://spirited-tech.com/COG/2019/08/06/thibodaux-the-saga-continues/

https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2019/08/09/tackling-calvinist-errors-on-omniscience-aseity-plus-a-deductive-proof/

I’ve been pretty clear since the beginning of our dialogue that God doesn’t derive His attributes from creation. Quoting previous posts:

Does Thibodaux not distinguish between a person professed position and the implications of the position? Sure, he denies that that is his position but that is the implication of his position. He doesn’t do anything to dispell us of that argument.

To sum up the heretofore poorly-explained objection, the objector makes the error of conflating the attribute of omniscience with the specifics of God’s knowledge. As I’ve already pointed out to him,

He doesn’t actually explain my objection and his response to it is simply inept. Omniscience deals with the issue of foreknowledge. Isn’t omniscience just stating that God knows everything? Wouldn’t that include foreknowledge? That doesn’t mean other intricate discussions about God’s knowledge doesn’t occur(Natural and free knowledge). It simply means we are talking about God’s knowledge and I even specified it to foreknowledge in my response to him. So, it is hardly true that that is a presupposition or a premise of my argument. He has to demonstrate why it is necessary for me to conflate omniscience with foreknowledge.

He seems to be asking, “Is God temporally not omniscient?” If the same God is both transcendent and immanent (not just one or the other), then God in His immanence (within time) would know all that He does from His also-transcendent (from outside of time) perspective. Given that, our objector’s question seems to be a category mistake.

This position just suffers too many issues. If taken consistently he would maintain that all of God is incarnate. If he thinks God in immanence is omniscient, then why can he change his mind? The only consistent understanding of these passages from his perspective is to take it that God in his immanence is not omniscient.

I also made a counter-argument showing that God’s innate attributes, such as His faithfulness, are not created by people, but that some optional aspects of those attributes (such as who He is faithful to) do involve creation. The objector replies with a counter-example of his own:

The point is the same argument that he produced about Faithfulness and Omniscience can equally be made about God’s goodness. … So, either he has missed the argument I provided, or his argument about God’s attributes has zero relevance.

This is a sad attempt for him to try to redeem his failed position. The point that I brought up that these things aren’t “optional aspects” at all. They aren’t relevant to why God possesses those attributes. It isn’t like God becomes a better being by exercising these “optional aspects”. They aren’t relevant to the reason why God knows what someone would do in the future. Because God’s foreknowledge is simply an issue dealing with God’s attributes and why he is the way he is. So, my dilemma of irrelevance or absurdity stands. If these examples where relevant, then God’s acts cause him to change himself(from the timeless perspective if Thibodaux isn’t keeping up).They are simply Cambridge changes that are external to God. That’s already been stated in this “conversation” with Thibodaux.

That’s right folks, your choices are just metaphysical dice-rolls. Fallacy sighting confirmed:

This section is about the “Authorship of Evil” objection he dragging out because his doctrine of God is so bad. He is too inept to know that this is a red herring. It has nothing to do with the fact his position doesn’t allow for aseity to be the case. But his article gives no explanation for why they aren’t blips of chance. I’ve already stabbed one of his articles on this point:

http://spirited-tech.com/COG/2019/07/11/teleological-explanation/

Authorship of evil isn’t relevant to this conversation. He tries to make the necessitarian objection again. Now, he doesn’t grant the distinction between natural and free knowledge in this argument. Nor did he care for my recommendation for dealing with the issue. He still has completely ignored my argument that if God’s knowledge of the future is dependent upon the random choices of moral agents.

http://spirited-tech.com/COG/2019/08/09/libertarian-foreknowledge/

So, in terms of this, Thibodaux believes created facts cause God to know the future. Very Open Theist like.

Libertarian Foreknowledge

Jimmy Stephens recently stated something that I have been arguing with J. C. Thibodaux. Here is a relevant part of the conversation:

TheQuestioner:

In a discussion with a fellow believer, I brought up the fact that Jesus declared to Peter that He would deny Him as an example against the PAP. I said that because Jesus knew in advance what Peter would do, Peter couldn’t have done otherwise. They said that this doesn’t suggest that Peter couldn’t have done otherwise, but would not do otherwise. Would you say that God’s knowledge of what we will do means that we could not have done otherwise? Or can we still have done otherwise?

 Jimmy Stephens:

By itself, no. That is, God’s foreknowledge by itself without any analysis is insufficient to use this way. The problem is that libertarians and Calvinists have different views of foreknowledge. This turns into a grounding objection. On Calvinism, Jesus knows because of what the Father tells him, and the Father knows because God determines the matter. On libertarianism, God knows not because of His determination, but because God knows timelessly.

On the libertarian model, God’s knowledge of future events is either mysterious (e.g., Michael Brown), based on brute facts (e.g., Plantinga, Craig), or caused by created facts.

TheQuestioner:

What does it mean for something to be caused by a created fact?

Jimmy Stephens:

I mean that it is in virtue of the creature’s choice that God knows what will happen, not vice versa.

Bridled Tongues

I was in a recent conversation about whether profanity is inherently immoral. Here are some of the statements and questions that arose:

If you can’t read this in violation of Matthew 15:10-20, Ephesians 4:29, Ephesians 5, and James 1:26, there is no rational grounds to reject ANY curseword given the “neutral” context.

I hope you realize that when you reject bad words, then all words are now good?

This means that he commits himself to the notion that words are inherently immoral. That certain words are immoral in any given circumstances to use. I think an example would show the absurdity of this notion. The word ‘plowing’ can take agricultural meaning but also a sexual connotation. If his position was correct, then it would mean that the word is inherently immoral. The word ‘faggot’ can refer to a homosexual in one culture but cigarette in another. But this seems already to be a stretch. The issue is here has to do with one’s philosophy of language:

1. words don’t have intrinsic meaning
Rather, they take on the denotations and connotations we assign them; and those differ across groups of people. An older demographic may take “dammit” to be a swear word. But it would be odd to assume that because they take it that way, therefore that is how I intended to use it. I don’t consider “dammit” to be a swear word; it is simply an expression of annoyance or exasperation. There’s nothing inherently unchristian about those emotions.

https://bnonn.com/why-cant-christians-swear-dammit/

The Matthew 15 verses assume that such words are immoral but why think they all fill in the category of verse 19? So, it simply begs the question of whether they are immoral. Jesus is just furthering his teaching about the heart of a man being revealed by what comes out of the mouth of a man(Matthew 12:32-37). Ephesians 4:29 quotation assumes that these words can never be used in a proper way. So, once again, it begs the question of it being immoral or if it can be used to edify.

James 1:26 just commits him to the same fallacy. He needs to show that these texts have a principle demonstrating that certain words are immoral rather than certain usages of words. This ties into a theme throughout James 3:1-12, 4:11-12. It seems to be more about controlling our anger, passions, attacking others character(slander), gossips, and deceits.

Bridle his tongue: This metaphor for controlling speech can have the sense of “putting a bit in the mouth of a horse” (see 3:3) and can be used in the context of controlling anger (e.g., Ps.-Phocylides, Sent. 57), and in a moral sense of controlling passions (Lucian of Samosata, The Dance 70, and Tyrannicide 4), or speech (Philo, Dreams 2.165; this sentiment is well attested in the Old Testament, Ps. 34:13; 39:1; 141:3; Prov. 10:31; 12:18–19; 15:2, 4; 17:20; 18:21; 21:6, 23; 26:28; Wis. Sol. 1:11; Sir. 5:11, 13–14; 19:16; 20:18; 22:27; 25:8; 28:17–18, 26; 32:8). Religion (thrēskeia) is a term stressing the cultic aspects of worship/service (Wis. Sol. 14:18, 27; 4 Macc. 5:7, 13; Philo, Special Laws 1.315; Josephus, Ant. 1.13.1 §222; 12.6.3 §271).

Lockett, D. R., & Evans, C. A. (2005). James. In C. A. Evans & C. A. Bubeck (Eds.), John’s Gospel, Hebrews–Revelation (First Edition, p. 271). Colorado Springs, CO; Paris, ON; Eastbourne: David C Cook.

The last passage I will mention is Ephesians 5. He’s probably is referring to Eph. 5:1-5. But I’ve already explained that previously:

http://spirited-tech.com/COG/2017/06/30/all-joking-aside/

So, from my understanding Eph. 5:1-5 is mainly referring to sexually immoral conversation.

BTW this conflict also brings confusion in the light of the 3rd commandment. I can argue using God’s name in vain is dependent upon the context, and saying “OMG” is not in violation, “that’s just what we’ve been taught as a society.” Therefore making the 3rd commandment of God to no effect and having no value, if using God’s name in vain is “really” not using God’s name in vain. I hope you see the inconsistency in your argumentation.

I don’t think any of these are an implication from what I said and I never said cultural relativism is true. I stated that we should take a passage that would’ve made the same point in their culture so we can apply it. The other reason I brought up culture is that biblical passages can’t be taken for granted. We often carry cultural influences that inform of understanding instead of reason and exegesis. So, that mispresents what I’ve stated.

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2014/12/using-lords-name-in-vain.html

Thibodaux: The Saga Continues

J.C. Thibodaux has responded to my refutation:

https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2019/08/01/calvinist-debate-talking-past-the-argument/

Before we get to that, his big objection in his initial post was that the Arminian view of free will would somehow ‘explain’ God’s attributes. Though I expressed that his objection about people ‘explaining’ God’s attributes wasn’t clear, instead of any clarification we get this:

The problem with the second point is that it is clearly incorrect. It is relevant because it still shows that Arminians have tensions in their worldview.

He’s still not clear what he means by this, but suffice to say that complaining about creation ‘explaining’ God’s attributes without even defining his objection proves neither tension nor relevance.

It is clear that J.C. doesn’t understand what explanations are. For example, the Leibnizian cosmological argument is an argument about explanations. It asks the question about the necessary foundations of reality. Why is there something rather than nothing? Explanations are reasons for why something is the case. So, we are asking the same metaphysical question about God’s being(mainly his attribute of omniscience).  The fact remains that what makes it the case that God knows a person’s future choice is grounded in the fact that they will choose such and such. It isn’t grounded or explained by God. The reason for which God knows certain things are thus grounded not in himself but in the world.

We also went a little bit into the nature of God and time. I mentioned John Frame….

I should also point out the fact that John Frame is a Calvinist.

Hmmm…so he is… Hey, wait! Maybe that’s why I cited him when I mentioned, “Calvinists are no strangers to the idea of God’s transcendence over time…!”

My statement was only at a slight pass implying that Frame’s view simply implies Calvinism anyways, but nothing that I wish to argue here because the amount of time dedicated to J.C. has surpassed productivity.

Since God on Frame’s view exists both timelessly and at every point in time, then we can still ask at any moment, how he knows future choices from that specific moment….

He seems to think God in his temporal existence is located everywhere throughout time. So, God simply observes each moment and therefore knows what we are going to do. The problem with that answer is how at any moment in the past can he know what a human will choose?

And he’ll get the same answer that I gave before: “God also exists outside of time, and is therefore not limited by time or the ‘present’ as we see it….” 

It makes one wonder how our objector can read that God knows because He exists outside of time (transcendence) and conclude that we’re arguing He knows because He exists within time (immanence)?

While my question still stands, is God temporally not omniscience? So, if the answer is yes, then I don’t understand why my question of why God knows a future moment from a past or present moment he is in is not relevant.  If God’s timelessness grounds his omniscience, then what about God in his immanence? But stating God is timeless doesn’t undermine my argument showing that his foreknowledge is dependent upon the creation. So, the argument is in need of some clarifications. 

Furthermore, if he tries to appeal to the “Eternal Now” view, then I’ve on other occasions have provided resources showing the faults in those theories:

http://spirited-tech.com/COG/2017/03/31/timeless-foreknowledge/

http://spirited-tech.com/COG/2017/09/08/sudduth-eternal-now/

The other problem is that of time. Does Thibodaux hold to an A series or a B series of events? If A theory is true, then the future is unreal. So, God would only be located in the present or only in the past and the present.

The answer to that should already be obvious. Between the two, only the B theory of time allows for God to exist in a state ‘above time,’ as it were.

I’ve asked Dr. Poythress(Dr. John Frame’s right-hand man) about which theory of time he holds. He maintains an A theory of time. So, it is a fair question to ask because people that hold your position about God’s relation to time still disagree with you.

He calls my argument “noob arguments” in his moment of class and maturity but as I’ve pointed out on other occasions many philosophers throughout time have discussed these issues. They know the difficulty of dealing with future contingents.

Of course there’s some difficulty in describing things that don’t fit in with the normal human experience and perception of time (even some things observable by science such as gravitational time dilation). However, the idea of God’s transcendence in relation to time is already quite well-known as a defeater argument against determinist objections to the Almighty’s abilities, rendering his protests mere cringeworthy noobie mistakes.

This is freewill theist pandering and it isn’t worth addressing. It isn’t becoming of a “veteran” debater that he is contending to be.

How in the world can anyone read, “If God did not create the world, there would be no human persons to be faithful to, but that would not detract from His faithfulness.“, and conclude that it means ‘divine goodness is dependent on us’?

He states that I’m not paying attention but it seems that he isn’t tracking my argument. The point is the same argument that he produced about Faithfulness and Omniscience can equally be made about God’s goodness. It is an analogous argument. That means if he wishes to make those arguments then he is committed to the other arguments in principle. 

No one is arguing that God’s nature has changed or acquired new attributes, but as I argued, the “relational, optional specifics encompassed by those attributes” do change. When God chose to create the world, He chose to involve people as objects of certain of His attributes, and said attributes come to involve people.

God is eternally faithful whether we exist or not. God has chosen to create man and made covenants with him. God’s faithfulness has not changed, who God is faithful tohas changed. God knows all that is whether He creates the world or not. God has chosen to create a world with free agents. God’s omniscience has not changed, who God knows about has changed. That is an important distinction, and the point of confusion that our dear objector is stuck on and talking past in his objections to what no one is arguing.

All of these are just Cambridge changes and have nothing to do with what we are discussing. The topic is about the nature of god’s attributes and the explanations of them. I’ve presented a model where God is ‘Self-Contained’ no explanation extends beyond God himself. Freewill theists wish to agree with that sentiment but are inconsistent when it comes to grounding God’s knowledge of future contingents in the random and arbitrary choice of human agents. So, either he has missed the argument I provided, or his argument about God’s attributes has zero relevance. If they were relevant, then God’s attributes would be explained by divine actions of being faithful, or good, or whatever. But very few people think we ground God’s characteristics via his actions.

The last thing he brings up is that God’s foreknowledge can’t be innate(or grounded) in God because it would imply it essential then for God to create us. I think this is simply a denial of aseity because it is him admitting that characteristics of God are not innate to him but something he takes on. The question of necessitarianism becomes relevant. What kind of freedom does God possess? Others have talked about that:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2018/02/when-god-comes-to-fork-in-road.html

But it seems clear. J. C. thinks that necessitarianism is problematic. If some of God’s characteristics are contingent upon the world, then wouldn’t that imply on his view the world is necessary for God to have certain qualities? Seems to me that he has his own problem of necessitarianism arising from his commitments.

Further Suggestions:

TheCouncil:

Arminianism and Aseity

Thibodaux’s Cooked Goose

 

Thibodaux’s Cooked Goose

J.C. Thibodaux has responded to an article I wrote against his view of aseity.

https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/calvinisms-inconsistencies-on-gods-attributes/

The first of his objections involves people ‘explaining’ God.

Van Til thinks of aseity as God being self-contained. Nothing can further explain God other than himself but on Thibodaux scheme, God being is explained by creatures. But how can a being that is a se or self-explained be further explained by created things(people and their choice)?

It isn’t really clear what he’s asking. If he’s talking about how we define God, He most certainly is, in some ways, defined by His creation.

“God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’” (Ex. 3:15a)

“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob…” (Isa. 43:1a)

God identifies Himself by both His relationship to His people and status as Creator (which of course requires a creation).

This leaves Thibodaux in a dilemma, if God is truly independent of the world, then his attributes aren’t dependent upon the world, but under his scheme, God’s being is dependent upon the world. God’s attributes are explained by certain things of the world.

I’d look at those passages at as extrinsic relations God has given his act of creation. Nothing in creation has given him a certain attribute. So, it seems he’s forcing these passages to mean something more than they actually state.

Nobody is making the argument that free will requires us to create God’s being.

Yes they were in fact: the post was addressing a particular fallacy by a Mr. Prussic that amounted to just that. That said, if that’s not what our dear objector is arguing for, then the objection against us ‘explaining’ God is apparently as irrelevant as it is ill-defined and poorly explained.

Well, if Prussic was making that argument, then Ben Henshaw doesn’t understand your article. He sent it to me to refute what I was arguing. The problem with the second point is that it is clearly incorrect. It is relevant because it still shows that Arminians have tensions in their worldview. It also is relevant to my conversation with Ben because it was my argument. If anything, Thibodaux article is irrelevant and Ben needs to read articles before he sends them as refutations. But that may be too much to ask for Arminians.

Our objector’s piece here is a bit of a facepalm. Calvinists are no strangers to the idea of God’s transcendence over time (that is, in addition to being within time [immanent], God also exists outside of time, and is therefore not limited by time or the ‘present’ as we see it, see John Frame’s The Doctrine of God, pp. 570-71), but when it comes to arguing against free will, they temporarily fall into a state of obfuscating ignorance (à la Hays and his ilk), which makes for some hilarious noob arguments.

If their choices ground these future contingents, then how can God know prior to what they are going to do before they choose to do it?

From a perspective of prior to creation, it is hard to see how it is coherent to suppose God knows something that is either false or has no truth value.

How could non-existent things ground God’s knowledge?

Maybe because being in the stretch of all time that is clear to God is not non-existent from God’s perspective.

 I should also point out the fact that John Frame is a Calvinist. I don’t accept his thoughts about God’s relation to time. But I fail to see how it solves the issue. Since God on Frame’s view exists both timelessly and at every point in time, then we can still ask at any moment, how he knows future choices from that specific moment.

The other problem is that of time. Does Thibodaux hold to an A series or a B series of events? If A theory is true, then the future is unreal. So, God would only be located in the present or only in the past and the present.

He calls my argument “noob arguments” in his moment of class and maturity but as I’ve pointed out on other occasions many philosophers throughout time have discussed these issues. They know the difficulty of dealing with future contingents.

He seems to think God in his temporal existence is located everywhere throughout time. So, God simply observes each moment and therefore knows what we are going to do. The problem with that answer is how at any moment in the past can he know what a human will choose? Knowing it after the fact is different from knowing it before the event occurs. But notice that God’s knowledge doesn’t derive from his being but from his experience. God’s knowledge is dependent upon what he sees.

It is easy to see on a Calvinist scheme that God simply thinks of agents making particular choices and that is what makes it’s true.

Per Calvinism, that would be ‘decreeing,’ not ‘thinking,’ though neither road will avoid slamming headlong into the author of sin problem.

This is just such ignorance regarding what could or probably could be said that I don’t see why I should explain the issues. Calvinism doesn’t explicate all the metaphysical doctrines a Calvinist could hold. For example, he said that it is ‘decreeing’ and not ‘thinking’ that grounds the truth values of future tensed propositions. But he doesn’t know if I’m a Calvinist idealist that maintain the world is just is contained in the divine mind. Calvinist may take that route(as many Arminians do). The point I was making is that possible worlds(including the actual world) can be grounded by the Divine mind. God thinks of events and chooses to instantiate a world he wants. I’m not an Idealist but he has a simplistic idea about what options a Calvinist is open to.

It’s a short walk to Open Theism at this point.

Indeed, if we were to adopt the “How kin God know yer tomorree choice-makins’ if dey ain’t done happund yet?” stance that he’s posited for the moment, then I suppose Open Theism would follow.

It is almost like the mocking parts of the article are more intelligent than the mocking parts.

He does try to address the main argument in the post, but sadly falls flat.

That clearly makes some aspect of God dependant on my choices.

The dilemma either an essential attribute of God is dependant on human choices or God simply doesn’t know the future.

I address this point in the post linked to above, comparing God’s knowledge to His faithfulness: God is both omniscient and faithful regardless of whether the world exists or not, but the specifics thereof – who He knows about and who He is faithful to, depends upon our existence.

I refute that way of thinking in my article below:

http://spirited-tech.com/COG/2019/07/21/arminianism-and-aseity/

It is like arguing because God is good to various people throughout time, that divine goodness is dependent on us. But isn’t God’s goodness not dependent on his creation? God acts in ways revealing to us what he is like. But his being is in no way dependent upon the world. That is just to deny aseity. Hence you’re conceding to my argument without realizing it.

That is true, God is faithful regardless of whether there is a world, just as He is omniscient. Catch is, God’s faithfulness now doesn’t just exist by itself, He is not only innately faithful, but He is now faithful to people like Abraham. God being faithful to Abraham requires that there be an Abraham. Our over-eager objector is confusing God’s immutable attributes with the relational, optional specifics encompassed by those attributes. To show what I mean by comparison:

  • God is faithful (immutable attribute)
  • If God did not create the world, there would be no human persons to be faithful to, but that would not detract from His faithfulness
  • God did create the world and is faithful to His covenants with His creation
  • Said faithfulness to His creation is an optional aspect of God’s faithfulness contingent upon Him creating

I think those points are beyond dispute here, so why is it so hard to grasp:

  • God is omniscient (immutable attribute)
  • If God did not create the world, there would be no human persons to know about, but that would not detract from His omniscience
  • God did create the world and knows everything about His creation
  • Said knowledge of His creation is an optional aspect of God’s omniscience contingent upon Him creating

What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Our objector failing to understand the comparison shows that he’s not yet grasped the issue: if God knowing our free choices would make God’s attribute of omniscience “dependent on man,” then by his logic, God being faithful to people would likewise make God’s attribute of faithfulness “dependent on man!”

I would just concede that that is an implication of Thibodaux’s worldview. I think God is unchanging and timeless. In some fashion, Thibodaux is committed to that as well. He maintains that God is also timeless and separate from the world in one regard. If God is timeless, then his nature can’t be changed at any time. Because he is timeless. So, Thibodaux is only speaking about God qua his temporality. Now, I don’t hold Frame’s view as I have said already, but I’m pointing out that in his own position that these are just events where God’s faithfulness is demonstrated and not that God because of these covenants are acquiring a new attribute. So, he is presenting a position that is unnecessary because God is just as faithful in his atemporal existence as in his temporal existence but what he saying couldn’t be true of God’s atemporal existence. God obviously acts consistent with what he is. That is why we have God being faithful to various individuals throughout time. These extrinsic relations God that has reflected his character.

When I studied the subject some years ago, it dawned on me just how nonsensical was the idea that all of God’s knowledge is innate to Him rather than some aspects of it being dependent upon things like His choice to create. It actually raises a rather awful implication:

[Me]: If God’s knowledge is innate to Him, then everything He knows is innate to Him. My existence is one of the things God knows about. If God innately knows that I was born some time in the latter part of the last century, then that fact has eternally been an innate part of God’s knowledge; God therefore had no choice but to create me, else He would falsify His knowledge. Thus God’s omniscience is now dependent upon my existence.

This could even be taken a step further: I’m a believer in Christ, part of the elect. God has innately and eternally known that I’ll be part of the elect -that fact is part of His divine essence (according to Mr. Prussic anyway). By that logic, God not only had to create me, but to make His knowledge true, had no choice but to elect me as well (and Calvinists accuse me of being “man-centered”), else falsify His knowledge. Even the Potter doesn’t have any real freedom by such backwards thinking! We could go on and on, but suffice it to say that divine simplicity interpreted in such a way as Mr. Prussic does breaks down into complete incoherence.

The Fallacies of Calvinist Apologetics: The Arminian View of Divine Foreknowledge Attacks God’s Simplicity and Immutability

In an ironic twist, the [high] Calvinist view actually militates against God’s aseity: If the specifics of God’s omniscience, such as His knowledge of us, are essential parts of God’s being, then God must create us for His knowledge to hold true! The idea of God having some innate compulsion and having no choice as to whether He creates or redeems people also runs afoul of another one of His attributes: maybe after a refresher on transcendence, our objector can study up on a certain attribute known as Sovereignty. I’ve heard some Calvinists believe in that too.

This is more silliness from the author. the point is that humans future actions can’t be the grounds for which God knows what they will choose to do. God decrees events to occur at specific times. God knows himself and all his acts. This is what grounds his natural and free knowledge. Clearly, Thibodaux hasn’t studied that hard if he isn’t aware of those distinctions that Calvinist have made. Hopefully, he can prepare a better script next time.

Further Suggestions:

Triablogue:

Does God love the damned

J.C. Thibodaux, The Bully of the Bayou

How much worse!

Thibodaux

Dr. John Frame:

Divine Aseity and Apologetics

 

Hardened Hearts

Eze. 36:24-27

24 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.

Jer. 31:31-34

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Some think that this is problematic for Calvinism. If the changing of human hearts is a new covenant promise(that being understood as regeneration), then Calvinism would only be true in the NT. But hasn’t God saved everyone the same way? The heart is understood as the internal locus of emotion, will, and thought. One issue with this understanding is whether these things themselves appear in the OT. Take Dr. Greg Welty’s understanding:

Second, the New Covenant is made with believers only. This of course is the exact reason why the New Covenant is unbreakable, for only believers will persevere to the end without breaking God’s covenant. Three blessings are spoken of with respect to the New Covenant: law written on the heart–“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts” (v. 33); personal knowledge of God–“No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest” (v. 34a); and forgiveness of sins–“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (v. 34b). Now the contrast between the Old and the New is not that these three blessings will be experienced for the first time in redemptive history by the people of God! That would be to succumb to radically dispensational assumptions. The elect in every age have experienced these blessings, including the elect under the Old Covenant–law written on the heart (Psalm 37:31, 9:10, 76:1); personal knowledge of God (1 Samuel 2:12, 3:7); the forgiveness of sins (Psalm 32:1-2). Rather, the true contrast between the Old and the New Covenants is that now under the New Covenant, all who are covenant members experience these peculiar blessings. The fact that not all covenant members experienced these blessings under the Old Covenant is part of the divine motivation for readministering the covenant under the New! (v. 32: “It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers . . . because they broke my covenant.”)

https://www.gracegems.org/C/baptism%20welty.htm

You don’t have to accept that option but it shows that other solutions are possible. The idea that OT saints receive the benefit of having new hearts is found in most non-dispensational theologies.

Let’s consider the Ezekiel passage. What does it mean to have a ‘new heart’ and a ‘new spirit’? The metaphor is to encapsulate the internal seat or locus of a human person’s emotions, will, and thoughts. The stony heart metaphor is about how unbelievers are unresponsive and unyielding. So, God will change that by giving them a ‘new heart’ and a ‘new spirit’. These will allow them to respond positively to God and he will cause them to walk according to his commands.  The theme of spiritual renewal shows up as a need in the Old Testament as well(Psalm 51:10-12). 

The other text that should be discussed in John 3:5:

There is a better way of proceeding. First, set out John 3:3 and John 3:5 so that their parallels become obvious:

John 3:3                                                       John 3:5

Very truly I tell you                                        Very truly I tell you

no one can see the kingdom of God            no one can enter the kingdom of God

unless they are born again                           unless they are born of water and the Spirit

Immediately it becomes clear that “born of water and the Spirit” (3:5) is parallel to “born again” (3:5). In other words, “born of water and the Spirit” can’t refer to two births, one natural and one spiritual; rather, it refers to one birth, the birth Jesus is referring to when he speaks of being “born again.” It follows that Jesus’s use of “born of water and the Spirit” is Jesus’s explanation of what he means by “born again,” and is intended to answer Nicodemus’s question.

Second, in what follows it becomes apparent that Jesus thinks his explanation should have been enough for Nicodemus. Indeed, Jesus rebukes Nicodemus for not understanding, even though he is “the teacher of Israel” (3:9–10). As a learned Pharisee, Nicodemus had studied what we would call the Old Testament, along with a great deal of additional theological reflection. From all this learning, what should Nicodemus have picked up from Jesus’s words that should have given him much better understanding of what Jesus was talking about?

That brings us to the third detail, the decisive clue. The question to ask is this: where do “water” and “the Spirit” come together in the Old Testament in a context that promises a new beginning? There are several possibilities, but the most obvious is Ezekiel 36:25–27:

I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

So God is promising through the prophet Ezekiel, six centuries before Jesus, that a time is coming when there will be a transformative new beginning, characterized by spectacular cleansing symbolized by water that washes away all impurities and idols, and by the powerful gift of the Spirit that transforms the hearts of people. That is what is required if people are to see and enter the kingdom of God.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/born-water-spirit-mean/

One question from the person that opposes the view that I presented, why did Jesus tell Nicodemus to do this if this is impossible to do until Acts 2? Furthermore, this is something that Nicodemus is supposed to be familiar with.

Another argument for thinking so are the fruits of the Spirit:

Finally, there’s the argument from analogy. If, in the NT, certain virtues are the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), and OT saints exhibit the same virtues, then by parity of argument, the same effect implies the same cause. The Spirit is the source or agent of both. That seems to be equivalent to “circumcision of the heart”.

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2019/08/were-ot-jews-indwelt-by-spirit.html

This is also seen in the New Testament in places such as Romans 8:9-11

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

This states that anyone that belongs to Christ also is indwelt by the Spirit of God. This is also indicated by verse 14. Did OT saints not belong to Christ? Did Christ not redeem them? Is it not the righteousness of Christ that is imputed to them(Rom. 3-4, 2 Cor. 5:21)? This seems to be implied implications of the passage. Thomas Schreiner states in his commentary about the issue:

Paul writes, “If the Spirit of God dwells in you” (εἴπερ πνεῦμα θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν, eiper pneuma theou oikei en hymin) so that the readers consider whether the Spirit indwells them, wanting them to draw the conclusion that he does. D. Moo (1991: 518) rightly notes that “being in the Spirit” is a power sphere or realm in contrast to the realm of the flesh. A change in dominion has occurred for those who are united with Christ and have tasted the fruits of the dawning new era. The second half of verse 9 simply restates verse 9a and elaborates on it. Those without the Spirit of Christ don’t belong to Christ; they are unbelievers and still in the realm of the flesh. Dunn (1988a: 429) veers off in suggesting that Paul writes because some who claimed to have the Spirit may be deceived. Against Dunn, Paul is not addressing what believers claim but what they are, and thus the text emphasizes that all believers have the Spirit.

Schreiner, Thomas R.. Romans (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) (pp. 752-753). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

It hardly seems like the dominion of the flesh is something new. People have been unbelievers throughout time. So, it seems unlikely that this is a New Covenant development. It also seems that the Spirit is a necessary precondition for one to be saved and be adopted by God.

Further Suggestions:

Daniel I. Block:

The Prophet of the Spirit: The Use of RWH in the Book of Ezekiel

CARM:

If eternal security is true, why did the Holy Spirit depart from Saul?