October 29, 2020

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.

Wagner on Calvinism

I recently had an exchange with Dr. Brian Wagner. He is a Professor of Theology, Church History, and Biblical Languages at Virginia Baptist College.

TheSire:

“reformed theology has God decreeing the fall as necessary before creation of Adam… how does that make Adam at fault for it? Not logical.”

That is a philosophical objection and not an exegetical objection. Your objection is based on your intuition but who granted that intuition is the arbiter of ethical affairs? Plus your position just begs the question. It assumes what it needs to prove: That being that Determinism is incompatible with moral culpability.

Brian H. Wagner:

If I decreed that tomorrow you will commit murder and create the situation that guarantees you commit that murder and then I torment you for years for committing that murder… am I morally culpable in anyway for that murder?
Setting aside the issue that there are univocal properties between us and God… 😉 Do you believe a divine decree only creates a divinely caused event if the decree makes the event a necessary one?

TheSire:

I don’t think creatures can decree as God decrees. To think they could would be a sort of univocal property between us and God. So, I’ll change the question to if God did that would he be morally justified. I would say yes.

Brian, the problem with God and us sharing his properties is that(via divine simplicity) would entail that we are God. That nothing can distinguish God from creation at that point. Or it could mean that God and us are instantiations of some universal. So, God then loses his independence. God is no longer a se. He is the demiurge of the forms. God has archetypal properties we have properties for creatures. God causes all things to occur. A subset of the things in all things are creatures with their own causation. We’ve had exchanges before. I’m surprised you don’t remember my position.

Brian H. Wagner:

The doctrine of simplicity and radical transcendence that you seem to be professing is not supported in Scripture. You can stay with the philosophical definitions of the ideal god from neo-platonism. I’m sticking with Scripture.

You haven’t factored in the incarnation which conclusively proves God is able to and has univocally share properties of His divine nature with humanity… as also does regeneration.

God doesn’t cause sin… but He did cause the opportunity for possibility of sin to come into existence and was ready and willing to deal with it justly and with mercy if it did.

TheSire:

“The doctrine of simplicity and radical transcendence that you seem to be professing is not supported in Scripture. You can stay with the philosophical definitions of the ideal god from neo-platonism. I’m sticking with Scripture. “

Those are nice sentiments but nobody does that. The closest people that do that are dispensationalist that believes the best interpretation is the surface level one. In second temple Judaism many views floated around and even the views that highly favored transcendence above immanence. So, that isn’t “neo-platonism. That is a surface level view of history and you know that. The other issue is that you haven’t dealt with whether what I said is true or not. I think your view is either Platonism or pantheism. Obviously, you haven’t shown biblical evidence for either of those positions or disagree those are implications of your position. I think also that it is ironic you criticize me for mentioning philosophy when your method your interpretation is to read in libertarian freedom into the Bible with no justification but because you intuit that it is true. But where in the Bible does it say that our intuition is the arbiter of our ethical judgments?

“You haven’t factored in the incarnation which conclusively proves God is able to and has univocally share properties of His divine nature with humanity… as also does regeneration. “

That proves nothing of the sort. I’ve explained this to you before with Divine Timelessness. Christ has two natures. That is different from the other Trinitarian members.

“God doesn’t cause sin… but He did cause the opportunity for possibility of sin to come into existence and was ready and willing to deal with it justly and with mercy if it did”

God doesn’t cause sin but causes the “opportunity for the possibility of sin to come into existence”? Is there a verse that says that or your philosophical speculations? Again you don’t fit your own standard.

Brian H. Wagner:

There is clear Scripture for freewill… even the word itself in our major translations. What there isn’t is the Scripture teaching simplicity or timelessness (non-sequential reality). God doesn’t even tempt with evil (Jas 1:13)… so He clearly doesn’t cause moral evil.

You are aware that second temple Judaism was influenced by Hellenistic thinking… right? I think I’ll stick with the reasonable assumption that God wanted the main ideas in His Word written for popular consumption and thus easily understandable for what’s necessary for salvation and spiritual growth.

Take the last word in this thread of you wish. I wish you the best as you listen to God speak to you through His Word!

TheSire:

“there is clear Scripture for freewill… even the word itself in our major translations. What there isn’t is the Scripture teaching simplicity or timelessness (non-sequential reality). God doesn’t even tempt with evil (Jas 1:13)… so He clearly doesn’t cause moral evil.”

The word being used in modern translations is irrelevant to whether the concept is taught. The term “Freewill” generally means that we make morally relevant choices(Calvinist and non-Calvinist agree on that). When it is translated freewill, it just means a voluntary moral choice. That doesn’t get you to libertarian freedom. You have failed to provide a verse that states that God doesn’t cause evil. So, you have failed your own Bible criteria. Thus you must reject traditionalism in order to be consistent. But I doubt you will. I can talk about James 1:13 but whether this conversation continues will decide that.

“You are aware that second temple Judaism was influenced by Hellenistic thinking… right? I think I’ll stick with the reasonable assumption that God wanted the main ideas in His Word written for popular consumption and thus easily understandable for what’s necessary for salvation and spiritual growth.”

Brian, you’re a nice guy, but you need to see my argument for what it is before you respond. Your objection was that my view of transcendence was a product of Neoplatonic thought. You didn’t say why or what part. The issue with that was my idea predates Plotinus. You being a professor dealing with Church history know that.

“Rightly or wrongly, the Egyptian-born Plotinus (204/5–270) is commonly regarded as the founder of Neoplatonism. He was a pupil of the Alexandrian philosopher Ammonius Saccas (3nd century), who reportedly did not publish anything and remains one of the most enigmatic philosophers of all antiquity.”

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/neoplatonism/

I recently had an exchange with Dr. Brian Wagner. He is a Professor of Theology, Church History, and Biblical Languages at Virginia Baptist College.

TheSire:

“reformed theology has God decreeing the fall as necessary before creation of Adam… how does that make Adam at fault for it? Not logical.”

That is a philosophical objection and not an exegetical objection. Your objection is based on your intuition but who granted that intuition is the arbiter of ethical affairs? Plus your position just begs the question. It assumes what it needs to prove: That being that Determinism is incompatible with moral culpability.

Brian H. Wagner:

If I decreed that tomorrow you will commit murder and create the situation that guarantees you commit that murder and then I torment you for years for committing that murder… am I morally culpable in anyway for that murder?
Setting aside the issue that there are univocal properties between us and God… 😉 Do you believe a divine decree only creates a divinely caused event if the decree makes the event a necessary one?

TheSire:

I don’t think creatures can decree as God decrees. To think they could would be a sort of univocal property between us and God. So, I’ll change the question to if God did that would he be morally justified. I would say yes.

Brian, the problem with God and us sharing his properties is that(via divine simplicity) would entail that we are God. That nothing can distinguish God from creation at that point. Or it could mean that God and us are instantiations of some universal. So, God then loses his independence. God is no longer a se. He is the demiurge of the forms. God has archetypal properties we have properties for creatures. God causes all things to occur. A subset of the things in all things are creatures with their own causation. We’ve had exchanges before. I’m surprised you don’t remember my position.

Brian H. Wagner:

The doctrine of simplicity and radical transcendence that you seem to be professing is not supported in Scripture. You can stay with the philosophical definitions of the ideal god from neo-platonism. I’m sticking with Scripture.

You haven’t factored in the incarnation which conclusively proves God is able to and has univocally share properties of His divine nature with humanity… as also does regeneration.

God doesn’t cause sin… but He did cause the opportunity for possibility of sin to come into existence and was ready and willing to deal with it justly and with mercy if it did.

TheSire:

“The doctrine of simplicity and radical transcendence that you seem to be professing is not supported in Scripture. You can stay with the philosophical definitions of the ideal god from neo-platonism. I’m sticking with Scripture. “

Those are nice sentiments but nobody does that. The closest people that do that are dispensationalist that believes the best interpretation is the surface level one. In second temple Judaism many views floated around and even the views that highly favored transcendence above immanence. So, that isn’t “neo-platonism. That is a surface level view of history and you know that. The other issue is that you haven’t dealt with whether what I said is true or not. I think your view is either Platonism or pantheism. Obviously, you haven’t shown biblical evidence for either of those positions or disagree those are implications of your position. I think also that it is ironic you criticize me for mentioning philosophy when your method your interpretation is to read in libertarian freedom into the Bible with no justification but because you intuit that it is true. But where in the Bible does it say that our intuition is the arbiter of our ethical judgments?

“You haven’t factored in the incarnation which conclusively proves God is able to and has univocally share properties of His divine nature with humanity… as also does regeneration. “

That proves nothing of the sort. I’ve explained this to you before with Divine Timelessness. Christ has two natures. That is different from the other Trinitarian members.

“God doesn’t cause sin… but He did cause the opportunity for possibility of sin to come into existence and was ready and willing to deal with it justly and with mercy if it did”

God doesn’t cause sin but causes the “opportunity for the possibility of sin to come into existence”? Is there a verse that says that or your philosophical speculations? Again you don’t fit your own standard.

Brian H. Wagner:

There is clear Scripture for freewill… even the word itself in our major translations. What there isn’t is the Scripture teaching simplicity or timelessness (non-sequential reality). God doesn’t even tempt with evil (Jas 1:13)… so He clearly doesn’t cause moral evil.

You are aware that second temple Judaism was influenced by Hellenistic thinking… right? I think I’ll stick with the reasonable assumption that God wanted the main ideas in His Word written for popular consumption and thus easily understandable for what’s necessary for salvation and spiritual growth.

Take the last word in this thread of you wish. I wish you the best as you listen to God speak to you through His Word!

TheSire:

“there is clear Scripture for freewill… even the word itself in our major translations. What there isn’t is the Scripture teaching simplicity or timelessness (non-sequential reality). God doesn’t even tempt with evil (Jas 1:13)… so He clearly doesn’t cause moral evil.”

The word being used in modern translations is irrelevant to whether the concept is taught. The term “Freewill” generally means that we make morally relevant choices(Calvinist and non-Calvinist agree on that). When it is translated freewill, it just means a voluntary moral choice. That doesn’t get you to libertarian freedom. You have failed to provide a verse that states that God doesn’t cause evil. So, you have failed your own Bible criteria. Thus you must reject traditionalism in order to be consistent. But I doubt you will. I can talk about James 1:13 but whether this conversation continues will decide that.

“You are aware that second temple Judaism was influenced by Hellenistic thinking… right? I think I’ll stick with the reasonable assumption that God wanted the main ideas in His Word written for popular consumption and thus easily understandable for what’s necessary for salvation and spiritual growth.”

Brian, you’re a nice guy, but you need to see my argument for what it is before you respond. Your objection was that my view of transcendence was a product of Neoplatonic thought. You didn’t say why or what part. The issue with that was my idea predates Plotinus. You being a professor dealing with Church history know that.

“Rightly or wrongly, the Egyptian-born Plotinus (204/5–270) is commonly regarded as the founder of Neoplatonism. He was a pupil of the Alexandrian philosopher Ammonius Saccas (3nd century), who reportedly did not publish anything and remains one of the most enigmatic philosophers of all antiquity.”

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/neoplatonism/