May 17th, 2013
I just saw one of the comments by Jim in a previous post (Face the Facts–There are Gaps in Biblical Genealogies) and I thought I’d briefly add some thought to it.
Max. Thank you. Excellent post as usual. Hitchens also used the 250,000 number frequently in his debates so as to make the point “look at your horrendous God – willing to allow all those generations to perish before he sent a savior…” He had no idea that Scripture clearly affirms a retroactive efficaciousness to the Atonement.
I’ve seen this objection made against Christianity several times and it’s a rather horrendous objection (bolded). I’ve never researched the numbers on how many people have existed before the coming of Jesus and I don’t know how many people have existed since Jesus. I don’t think the numbers really matter that much, to be honest.
I don’t understand why anyone thinks this is such a horrendous concept. Obviously, this is an internal issue particular to Christianity. Christian doctrine never makes the claim that salvation was impossible prior to the resurrection of Jesus. I think it’s quite clear that the New Testament (well, OT too!) teaches that the atonement applied to those who came before Christ as well as those succeeding Christ. So what’s the problem?
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September 3rd, 2012
Earlier today I was listening to Dan Barker talk about how he knew that he was a born again Christian. He went to all these church events and was heavily involved with evangelism–all the Christian things Christians do. Well, Dan Barker no longer describes himself as a Christian. He, and many people like him, are very emphatic when they say that they were once Christians and they actually were saved or born again. However, if anyone is going to claim to be an Ex-Christian they’re going to have to say that they never were saved to begin with.
My concern isn’t with the doctrine of preservation or perseverance. (You can read about my position in my post, “Can You Lose Your Salvation? A Molinist’s Perspective.”) This is a different issue, and you’ll see what I mean shortly. What interests me is when individuals who claim to be non-Christian (atheist, agnostic, Muslim, etc.) claim that they were actually Christians prior to apostasy. What are the conditions for being a Christian? Well, there are many conditions such as divine election, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the efficacy of the atonement, etc. Those are all important but what concerns the “apostate” is the sufficient and necessary conditions of believing the truth of the death, burial, resurrection and application of atonement to oneself. When one apostatizes they must commit to the truth that the aforementioned conditions are actually false.
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June 22nd, 2012
There are primarily six passages in the Bible that concern the issue of homosexuality. In Leviticus 18.22 it says that it is an abomination for a man to lie with another man as with a woman. In Lev. 20.13 the death penalty is prescribed in Israel for such an act, along with adultery, incest, and bestiality. In Gen. 19 Sodom is destroyed for their homosexuality and wickedness.
In I Cor. 6.9-10 Paul writes, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God.” The words in the list translated “men who practice homosexuality” refer in Greek literature to the passive and the active partners in male homosexual intercourse. In I Tim. 1.10 along with fornicators, slave traders, liars, and murderers as “contrary to the sound teaching of the Gospel.” In Rom. 1.24-28 Paul states,
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
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May 1st, 2012
The grounding objection asks the question: By what means or grounds does God know what he knows (particularly middle knowledge)?
Suppose I have an argument similar to the grounding argument from the grounding objection claiming that contingent truths are not self-explanatory but must simply exist, from all eternity, as an ungrounded, metaphysical surd. How would I, as a Molinist, respond?
This objection is merely the result of misunderstanding the means by which God knows what he does. God’s knowledge is wholly intuitive and relies on no existent entity and is completely compatible with divine aseity. According to Luis de Molina,
God does not get his knowledge from things, but knows all things in himself and from himself; therefore, the existence of things, whether in time or eternity, contributes nothing to God’s knowing with certainty what is going to be or not to be… For prior to any existence on the part of the objects, God has within himself the means whereby he knows all things fully and perfectly; and this is why the existence of created things contributes no perfection to the cognition he has of them and does not cause any change in that cognition… [And] God does not need the existence of those things in his eternity in order to know them with certainty.
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April 25th, 2012
The task of a Molinist perspective of middle knowledge is to remove the perceived dilemma between human freedom and divine foreknowledge. There are a minority of philosophers and theologians who hold to this Molinist doctrine. On a promising note, middle knowledge is in modern philosophical debate and works advocated by some of the most prominent philosophers such as Thomas Flint, William Lane Craig, Ken Keathley, Kirk MacGregor, and perhaps one of America’s greatest philosophers, Alvin Plantinga. These leading Molinists serve in prominent societies such as the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, the American Philosophical Association, and the American Academy of Religion, who serve as witnesses to middle knowledge amongst leading Calvinists, Openness Theologians, atheists, and philosophers of other schools of thought. Middle knowledge, when implemented into modern discussion, serves as a defense to the many forms of the problems of evil (most notably the soteriological problem of evil), a plausible solution with explanatory scope and power for issues such as predestination, the doctrine of biblical inspiration and inerrancy, and is compatible with every other orthodox doctrine.
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February 16th, 2012
FOCUS: Can a born-again believer lose his or her salvation while simultaneously affirming God’s sovereignty and human free will while being consistent with Scripture?
An Examination of the Perseverance of the Saints Doctrine
Apostolic warnings against apostasy pose a difficulty for the classic doctrine of perseverance of the saints because either the warnings seem superfluous or else it seems possible for the believer to fall away after all. The attempt to construe the warnings as the means by which God effects perseverance fails to distinguish the classical doctrine from a Molinist doctrine, according to which believers can fall away but in fact will not due to God’s extrinsically efficacious grace. A Molinist perspective is coherent and, unlike the classical doctrine does not render superfluous the apostolic admonitions.
The traditional doctrine of perseverance states that not only will the saints maintain grace and salvation, but literally cannot fall from grace. (It is very important to approach these and understand these texts in light of appropriate exegesis.) However, this seems to ignore numerous Scriptures, which warn the danger of apostasy of those who deliberately fall from grace:
Rom. 11:17-24; I Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:4; Col. 1:23; I Thess. 3:5; I Tim. 1:19-20; II Tim. 2:17-18; Jas. 5:19-20; II Pet. 2:20-22; I Jn. 5:16
Perhaps the most prominent:
Therefore leaving the elementary teachings about the Christ, let us press on the maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the death and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do, if God permits. 4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. 7For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings for the vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed and it ends up being burned. Heb. 6.1-8 (NASB)
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February 13th, 2012
For a context of where I’m coming from concerning Molinism please see my previous posts:
- Middle Knowledge in a Nutshell
- Why I’m Not an Arminian
- Why I’m Not a Calvinist
- God Controls Everything–Good and Bad
- Overpower–Is God Ultimately Responsible for Everything?
- The Pelagian Equivocation
- The Singular Redemption View of the Atonement
- Does God Ever Literally Change His Mind?–Yes
- Is a Molinist Concept of Providence Discomforting?
- Word of the Week Wednesday: Supralapsarianism
- Holds a high view of God’s sovereignty while holding to an equal and uncompromising view of human free will.
- Provides a better model for understanding how it is simultaneously true that God’s decree of election while His rejection of the unbeliever is conditional.
- Affirms the genuine desire on the part of God for all to be saved in His universal salvific will (which is problematic for the Calvinist) claiming that God loved the whole world (John 3:16) yet, Christ has a particular love for the Church (Eph. 5:25).
- God control’s all things, but does not cause all things.
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February 1st, 2012
The Word of the Week is: Supralapsarianism
Definition: From the Latin, supra (prior to, below, before), lapsis, (fall). A term used to denote the logical moment of God’s election of the saints. Supralapsarianism if the belief that God chose the elect logically prior to the fall of man.
More about the term: Supralapsarianism is generally held by Calvinists and a few Molinists. Supralapsarianism places the moment of divine election logically prior to the fall of Adam as opposed to logically posterior to the fall, which is known as infralapsarianism. When God chose the elect he did so without viewing them or considering them in their fallen state. God chose them in a pre-fallen state. This position can create controversy and may have unsavory implications. One of the implications is what’s known as double-predestination. This is the idea that God chose the reprobates (the non-elect) in the same fashion in which he chose the elect. This isn’t a necessary implication of supralapsarianism since God’s decree of reprobation may be logically posterior to the fall.
This view of soteriology is held by Alvin Plantinga, who is a Molinist with Calvinistic tendencies (there’s a wide spectrum of Molinism ranging from supralapsarianism to Wesleyan). Plantinga uses this idea in his theodicy, ‘O Felix Culpa’ (O happy sin). The reason why evil exists is because God first desired the cross of Christ–the means by which God would get the most glory. In order to bring about the cross there must be sin, thus God permits sin to happen because he desires the cross (which is why evil exists–so God may be glorified by atoning for it).
May 3rd, 2011
As the days continue to pass since new of Bin Laden’s death my interaction with other Christians have been quite mixed. Some are more saddened that he has gone to hell and some are more joyous that he is dead. I’m careful about how I make that distinction. My continuous reflection has got me thinking, “Why am I not more appreciative of justice?”
This is how I work it out and how I believe God views mercy and justice. Antecedently, God willed and genuinely desired Bin Laden to repent and to respond to the revelation he has been given. However, consequently, because of Bin Laden’s rejection of God and infatuation with evil, God has willed that Bin Laden atone for his own sins and for there to be justice. This justice is his death and punishment in the afterlife. Why am I not taking joy in God’s justice? I believe my apprehension of justice is far removed from how God loves justice since it is ontologically based in him.
Yes, antecedently we should not joyful that Bin Laden is taking on his own punishment. However, in turn and consequently, God is receiving his glory from Bin Laden’s sins being atoned for. For the Christian, hell is a good thing, hell is the means by which God renders justice to those who have not had their sins atoned for by Jesus Christ on the cross. The important thing is to make the antecedent-consequent distinction in how we respond.