Monday, February 11, 2008

Credit where Credit is Due

It is apparent that the faith of a man (his coming to a belief regarding the Gospel) is the thing which God asks to see and subsequently graces the man of faith unto salvation. Some would say that if a man's faith is of himself it is a work and as a work cannot save. But what would keep it from being his work? The answer comes that God gives him the faith as well as the grace.
I ask (as a humble seeker after truth) on what basis was that removal of credit? I answer (because this is a blog and not a forum) that the appeal of the credit removal is our fully functional common sense. It is based on the fundamental nature of justice stated thusly: The agent responsible (and thereby credited) is the agent causal to the degree causal. If God is 100% causal to a man's faith, God is 100% to be credited and man can claim 0%. I believe that is fair, don't you?

But hold on! But wait a dang minute!

Those that claim such a "who do believe, me or your own lyin' eyes" explanation for the source of faith are doing so to protect a broader system in which God is exhaustively sovereign. In such a view, all things, from monad to mood to movements of the heavens, are decreed by God and His will is 100% and no other thing contributes an iota of autonomous causality.
If that is so, and for the sake of taking from a man his own faith, supporters of this broader view have assented to the definition of justice, how is it that any works (denied as a source of salvation) can be works at all? How is it man receives 100% credit for his sins although he is 0% causal? If a man is credited for one, why not the other? If sins are credited because they look like they are done in the here and now by the man willing them and doing them, why not his faith which looked like he had done actually within himself?

I don't ask that that my brothers in Christ who hold such a notion abandon their system of sovereignty but that they admit to proposing a sophistry regarding faith. Its strength as an argument is based on an idea of justice to which they do not subscribe.

35 comments:

Daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel said...

What you offer here is a caricature of Calvinism. It boggles the mind to read accusations of sophistry from a man who believes that God cannot know the future. I'll throw my lot in with Calvin and Luther rather than dabble in such fantasies. People who live in glass houses and all that.

The Oracle said...

Daniel,
I merely am passing on the argument some Calvinist brothers have used to me. You may not have used such a sophistry (which I gather you agree was a sophistry since you claimed it was a caricature) but I only point it out for those that have used it. How is Open Theism (with which you clearly don't agree) a glass house of sophistry? And what is the nature of your epistemology in an appeal to Calvin and Luther?

Daniel said...

I don't know how God molds us as a potter fashions clay and still holds us responsible for our sins, but he does. I suspect it has something to do with his infinite wisdom, power, and goodness: far beyond what our syllogisms can contain.

We are brothers in Christ, and we are commanded to unity. Before you remove the Calvinist speck from your brother's eye, first remove the Open Theist plank from your own. As to Open Theism being sophistry, all of Scripture teaches God's foreknowledge and predestination of everything that comes to pass. The subject is not open for debate (though we've tried anyway).

I merely mentioned Luther and Calvin as brothers in the faith who held to orthodoxy regarding divine predestination. Us trying to explain God's sovereignty is the kind of thing for which God rebuked Job- "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" We don't know how it is, but we know from Scripture that it certainly is.

The Oracle said...

You hold a view that you admit logic attempts unsuccessfully to correct you on. Are not all logical conclusions manifestly suspect because there is somewhere, somehow a "beyond syllogism" truthness? For your answers you only offer something you "suspect". You wish to be believed?
While you side with Calvin and Luther (admittedly notables) I will side with Moses, David, Jonah, Isaiah, and Hezekiah who all believed in a God who would change His mind. I will side with the Gospel which has as a crucial element the mercy of God, the change of His intention for the sinner. I know you have abandoned the corrective power of logic but God, if logical, cannot both change His mind and not. It is called a universal law for a reason, (no pun intended).

Mark said...

Daniel,
Now let me get this straight, Evan's beliefs are 'fantasies', however, you have no idea how Calvinism's precepts, nor the basic doctrines as you see them taught in scriptures, make sense logically. Is this what you are saying?
Mark

Daniel said...

Mark,

That is correct.

Mark said...

Daniel,
It usually takes hours of therapy for a Calvinist to admit what has only taken you a matter of three posts. Namely, that the theology makes no sense. You're well on your way to recovery. Congratulations.
Mark

Jeff Moss said...

Hmm, let's see...

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." -Ephesians 2:8-9

"'For so the Lord has commanded us:
"I have set you as a light
to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation
to the ends of the earth."'
Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." -Acts 13:47-48

"Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul." -Acts 16:14

"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." -Romans 12:3

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith..." -Galatians 5:22

"And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." -1 Timothy 1:14

"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:1-2

"Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:" -2 Peter 1:1

"Shall the ax boast itself
against him who chops with it?
Or shall the saw exalt itself
against him who saws with it?
As if a rod could wield itself
against those who lift it up,
Or as if a staff could lift up,
as if it were not wood!"
-Isaiah 10:15

Evan, do you really still think that even our believing response to God's initiation is something we come up with on our own? If so, you may have seemed to preserve your nice little logical system, but at the cost of rejecting the Word of God.

The Christian Church says, with Augustine and Anselm, "Let me believe so that I may understand." She exercises a humble faith whose origin she may not even know, and by it she attains understanding and wisdom.

The skeptic says, "Let me understand so that I may believe." And yet he closes his ears to the plain teaching of the simple Word preached, and in the end has neither faith nor knowledge.

If we believe the Word of God first, trusting that even our faith is His gift, the logical puzzles will be resolved. If we reject this starting point, then despite our praises of logical reasoning, we have placed ourselves squarely on the slippery slope that leads to nihilism and absurdity.

Your teaching contradicts the Scriptures quoted above, and many others. I pray that this divergence comes only from pardonable confusion or ignorance, and not from obstinate arrogance.

Please consider what I say. Thank you for the privilege of interacting with you.

Your younger brother in Christ,
Jeff

The Oracle said...

Jeff,
Thanks for the detailed accounting of Scripture. That is the correct appeal and source of knowing. Apart from the fact that I differ with your handling of some of those texts, lets just allow that God is active in causing our faith. The question remains to ask of the Scriptures, how does God cause that faith?
I am sure this passage will spring to mind.
"So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ." Romans 10:17
This comes a couple of verses after this wonderful truth:
"But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:14
Such a rhetorical question has as an answer, the won't call without belief and that won't believe without hearing, and they won't hear without someone telling them. This, it affirms is the path to faith from God, the appeal of the information of the Gospel, an understanding that Jesus is the Christ, and that the sinner is in need of a Saviour.
You seem to assume, after declaring that God brings faith to a man, that it is some sort of toggle switch that is flipped in some and not in others. The Scriptures teach that it is a communication of truth that, when understood and valued, brings that faith from God.
At the end of the chapter it says,"But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people." Romans 10:21
The communication of the Gospel goes to more than those that turn. Those that come to God are those, as it says in John 6:45
Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.
Faith is the result of an interchange of information between God and Man. It is the seeker that says, rather than the sceptic, "Let me understand so that I may believe."
Acts 28:23-24 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in great numbers. And he expounded the matter to them from morning till evening, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, while others disbelieved.
In fact the Holy Spirit has come for this purpose. John 16:7-11
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."

There is another option other than "pardonable confusion or ignorance," [or] "obstinate arrogance."

I may have a substantive argument from the Word of God.

Jeff Moss said...

Evan,

Your response shows remarkable ingenuity -- dare I say "sophistry"? -- but fails to come to grips with several of the passages I'd already quoted.

"Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul." -Acts 16:14

Here the word was already available to Lydia, but the Lord did something directly in addition -- "opened her heart to heed" -- and so she believed.

"'For so the Lord has commanded us:
"I have set you as a light
to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation
to the ends of the earth."'
Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." -Acts 13:47-48

The preaching was heard by many, applauded by some (among the Gentiles), but it was precisely those who had been appointed to life who actually believed. Their election (by God) to eternal life was logically prior to the appearance of faith in their hearts.

"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." -Romans 12:3

We are to have restrained and sober views of our own capabilities, recognizing that God has granted a certain measure of faith to each of us and that we should exercise it accordingly.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." -Ephesians 2:8-9

Salvation and all it involves (by grace, through faith) does not flow from us but is God's gift. Therefore we are emphatically denied any right to take credit for it ourselves.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith..." -Galatians 5:22

Faith is originated in us by the Holy Spirit, not by our own souls or other inner capacities. Of course, our minds and even bodies do have something to do with faith in action, but God always ultimately takes the credit for it.

Evan, I can't see any firm basis for your anti-Calvinist sophistry. You appear to be assuming what you seek to prove -- not a good policy for one who prides himself on logic.

Thanks again for the discussion, and I look forward to our next face-to-face conversation.

-Jeff

The Oracle said...

Jeff,
Continuing to talk about the toggle switch being flipped does not upend the text letting you know HOW God causes faith. What say you? Does faith come by hearing? Yes ? No? Why is it connected to hearing and being convinced? And, you know, that also seems to follow what we all encountered in our own salvation.
Yes, we will have to gather in person to do these things justice (for I believe in justice).

Daniel said...

My inability to explain something logically does not make it false. The Trinity has the appearance of being illogical, but it's true. Scripture teaches both God's absolute sovereignty and our culpability for sin. We have these doctrines from a higher authority than Logic. When your syllogism doesn't square with Scripture, I suggest revising the syllogism rather than Scripture.

Calvinists don't deny that God uses instruments to accomplish his purposes. This is not an either/or choice (either instruments or God). While the instruments are the immediate cause of salvation, God is the primary, the ultimate cause of everything- including good, evil, rain falling on the just and unjust, destruction in cities, and salvation.

Justice will be done in this matter as in all others, but I hope we don't have to wait until Judgment Day for God to give us unity in this through the Spirit.

The Oracle said...

Daniel,
Also if I shot someone and the police ask me who did it, should my answer be, "the bullet, officer"? It was the proximous cause of wounding, was it not? The only way it can be held to account is if it, by accident or bullet's self will, added something to the will of the shooter. For instance, I intended to shoot him in the leg and the bullet decided to head for the heart. If we could prove that the bullet made that choice, I could get off with an "assault to create grave bodily harm" and the bullet would go to the gas chamber for murder. To the degree its addition contributed to the wounding, to that degree it is causal and accountable.
You do believe that this is true, don't you?
What causality do we freely contribute to our actions which were not decreed by God?

See my post on why your view is pantheism from
Tuesday, August 15, 2006

John Barry said...

Jeff,

You speak of faith as both a gift of God, and as something we exercise. How do you distinguish the two? In other words, what, exactly, is the "faith" that God gives? Or is God doing the believing in the "believer"?

Jeff Moss said...

John,

Is the dinner that you're going to sit down to tonight a gift from God, or something that people (including yourself) had to work for?

If it's only the second, then why do you give thanks for it? (I assume that you do thank God for the food you eat.)

John Barry said...

Jeff,
May I deduce from your analogy that you view salvation as synergistic?

Jeff Moss said...

John,

Two responses, and since I don't know you, I'm just probing non-specifically here.

1. The fact that believing in Christ is (a) a gift from God and (b) something I do, does not mean that salvation is synergistic. God and I are involved in my faith in vastly different ways. To use another analogy: Is your personhood a gift of God, or the work of your parents? Well, in a way you could say it was both (and other things too). But ultimately, all the credit for your existence must go to God. The fact that you "live and move and have being" is NOT the result of some kind of synergistic cooperation between God and your parents.

2. If you think I sound like a synergist about salvation, then is Evan a monergist -- with the work all on man's side? And how about you? What do you believe about these things?

John Barry said...

Jeff,

You say, "God and I are involved in my faith in vastly different ways."

What, specifically, are those ways?

I don't believe that faith, per se, is given at all. This is because I understand faith, or "believing", to be an act of the will. And, (thus far), I am unable to conceive of one's own willful action being given by someone else.

Rather than "giving faith", God furnishes evidence of His love for man. Man either believes the evidence and is convinced, or not.

In John 9, Jesus asks the man born blind (whom he healed) "Do you believe in the Son of man?" Does the blind man reply, "I can't. God hasn't given me faith yet."?

Jeff Moss said...

John, you wrote,

You say, "God and I are involved in my faith in vastly different ways."
What, specifically, are those ways?


There are great mysteries here, but let me try to state the two sides and bring them together meaningfully. From the human perspective, the act of faith is described in this way: "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life" (John 3:36). However, from the Divine perspective (which is always primary, or foundational), Christ says, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44), and again, "No one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father" (John 6:65); and further, "He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:35-37).

In other words, when the Father chooses to save a man, he draws him to Christ. Those who are drawn by the Father, and only those, do in fact come to Christ. He will satisfy their hunger and thirst so that they will never again be lacking, and will never be cast away from Him. He prompts their believing approach to Him, and yet that approach is a real action on their part. He is the Potter and they are the clay; or to change the image, He is the good Shepherd, and they are sheep who know and follow His voice because they are His sheep.

I don't believe that faith, per se, is given at all. This is because I understand faith, or "believing", to be an act of the will. And, (thus far), I am unable to conceive of one's own willful action being given by someone else.

In fact, even though believing is a genuine and responsible act of the soul, the Bible still speaks of God both giving faith and preventing it. As I demonstrated in part to Evan (above), the Bible often describes people's believing as the direct result of God's prior choice of them and transforming work in them: see Acts 11:18; 13:48; 16:14; 18:27; Eph. 1:3-6; Phil. 1:29; 2 Thes. 2:13; James 2:5; etc. Again, for His own purposes, He prevents certain Jews from believing: "Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 'He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them'" (John 12:39-40; see also 2 Thess. 2:11).

Yet despite all this, it remains true that believing is a real (and responsible) action of ours in answer to God's gracious initiative. How many times have Christians found themselves crying out like the father of the demon-possessed boy, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24)? Father, You are drawing me, and I want to believe ... but I can't do it on my own; Lord, enable me to have faith in You!

In John 9, Jesus asks the man born blind (whom he healed), "Do you believe in the Son of man?" Does the blind man reply, "I can't. God hasn't given me faith yet."?

I think you're missing the point of this exchange. At the moment you describe, the formerly blind man had already demonstrated faith by obeying Christ's command (and therefore being healed) and by defending Him before the Pharisees--even to the point of maintaining that this Man must have come from God (vv. 32-33). At this point, Jesus seeks to make him aware of his faith and raise it to a higher level, so He asks, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" (a title of the Messiah, cf. Daniel 7:13-14). The man answers, with absolute trust that puts our own feeble faith to shame: "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" Truly, this man had been born blind for a purpose (vv. 2-3)--that the works of God might be revealed in him!

John Barry said...

Jeff,

What do you mean by God "giving faith"?

Jeff Moss said...

John,

When I follow the Biblical authors' example by speaking of God's gift of faith (Romans 12:3; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; James 2:5; 2 Peter 1:1), here is what I think it means:

God designed our souls, including our intellect and emotions and will, when He created us in His own image and likeness. When He chooses to open a sinner's eyes to the Truth, His Spirit works with the man's created faculties to bring about willingness to believe in the gospel, to entrust himself to Christ.

The Lord once hardened Pharaoh's heart (Ex. 10:20, 27; 11:10) and caused the Egyptians to hate His people (Ps. 105:25), all for His own good purposes. But He also softens hearts and restores minds to the purpose for which they were created, that is, to love Him.

Is this clear enough? And how would you respond to my other comments above?

Jeff Moss said...

Evan,

Would you accept the one-paragraph statement on my blog as an accurate summary of what you are arguing in your original post here?

Here's what I said (http://oneflockoneshepherd.blogspot.com/2008/02/who-gets-credit.html):

"In his post "Credit where Credit is Due," pastor Evan Wilson argues that judgment for sins and salvation by faith must work on the same principle. He goes on to propose that this principle must be centered on the work of man, not the work of God. In other words, the argument goes, if mankind can be justly held responsible for his sins, he must also be given full credit for his own saving faith--which therefore cannot be caused by God."

John Barry said...

Jeff,

You write:

"When [God] chooses to open a sinner's eyes to the Truth, His Spirit works with the man's created faculties to bring about willingness to believe in the gospel, to entrust himself to Christ."

I also believe that the Spirit works to bring about willingness to believe the gospel and trust in Christ. But I refer to this activity as God furnishing evidence of the truth to the sinner, and persuading the sinner to entrust himself to Jesus. I don't call this activity "giving faith". God "giving faith" implies, at least to me, the transfer of a commodity from God to the sinner. Since faith is not a commodity, but a willful action, the expression "giving faith" strikes me as absurd.

As for God's choosing to open a sinner's eyes to the Truth, we know that He chooses (i.e., He wills) to save all: "...[He] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." And, "... but [He] is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

To the extent you understand the verses you cite to mean the Spirit working with the man's created faculties to bring about willingness to believe in the gospel, to entrust himself to Christ--we are in basic agreement.

You say, "Those who are drawn by the Father, and only those, do in fact come to Christ."

Jesus says, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

As for God hardening Pharaoh's heart, the question arises, *how* did He do it? God also hardened the hearts of Pharaoh's servants, and they tell Pharaoh, "How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?

I'll touch on some of the Scriptures you reference in another post.

Jeff Moss said...

John,

You said that you were in basic agreement with me on this point:

"When [God] chooses to open a sinner's eyes to the Truth, His Spirit works with the man's created faculties to bring about willingness to believe in the gospel, to entrust himself to Christ."

But your explanation shows that you really don't believe this. In your position, the Spirit of God does not "bring about willingness to believe the gospel"; instead, He tries to bring about willingness to believe. Sometimes He succeeds, but other times He can't manage it. If your views match Evan's on this point, then only about 5% of people truly believe, which apparently means that the Spirit fails 95% of the time.

That's a denial of the Divine omnipotence. In other words, you're not talking about Yahweh God, but rather a god limited by forces beyond his/her/its control.

John Barry said...

Jeff,

I don't hold to an extra-biblical view of God's power.

You don't like the idea of God furnishing evidence to convince people to entrust themselves to Him? How then does He actually bring about willingness to believe the gospel? Does He override the will? Does He coerce? How does He do it?

The Oracle said...

Jeff,
I almost missed that you had asked me a direct question. You had asked whether or not I agreed with your summation.
You said:
"In his post "Credit where Credit is Due," pastor Evan Wilson argues that judgment for sins and salvation by faith must work on the same principle. He goes on to propose that this principle must be centered on the work of man, not the work of God. In other words, the argument goes, if mankind can be justly held responsible for his sins, he must also be given full credit for his own saving faith--which therefore cannot be caused by God."

You seem to have bent my remarks out of shape. I am not about the centrality of man vs. God, but the consistency of truth claims, that sauce for the goose be for the gander as well. My argument is "If you can successfully move credit for faith from the man by pointing to the action and decree of God, you are supposing a view of causality equals responsibility." I was merely asking the Calvinist who does such to abandon his sophistry or to abandon his doctrine. Either is a net gain for truth. Your conclusion of what I was really up to had some truth in it (and which I imagine you would reject) but that truth we can get to later. First, what is your theory of why a man is accountable for his sins but not for his faith. This exchange has reminded you that principles have consequences so don't evoke one with which you are not willing to live.

John Barry said...

Jeff,

A couple of comments on some of the texts you have referenced.

Romans 12:3 - if we assess ourselves, we are to do so soberly, in accordance with our God-given capacity for understanding the truth--which capacity is not static.

Galatians 5:22 - The Spirit grows faith, or faithfulness, in the believer. Again, how does He do it? By bringing truth to our attention, by furnishing evidence--particularly of God's love and faithfulness.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - It is salvation by grace through faith that God gives--not faith all by itself.

Philippians 1:29 - the Philippians were given the opportunity to believe in Jesus, just as they were given the opportunity to suffer for His sake.

2 Peter 1:1 - they believed, just as Peter and co did.

Acts 13:47-48 - I take it that the Holy Spirit and Peter were both active in setting these Gentiles up for eternal life.

Acts 16:14 - I don't know what means the Lord used to open Lydia's heart. Perhaps He put the thought into her head to "listen to this man", and she willingly listened.

Daniel said...

Evan,

Man's default state is not sitting on a fence between sin and salvation, deciding which way to jump. We are dead in our sins because of the fall of Adam our father. Romans 3 says that no one seeks after God and no one does right. Only the sovereign work of God's grace in us can make us alive in order to bear fruit unto righteousness.

The Oracle said...

Daniel,
Thanks for chiming in again. I'm sure we can agree that spiritual death (whatever that entails though I believe you have committed the error of over specification) does not make one either physically or mentally dead. The Gospel presented to the mentally alive who have come to know of their spiritual death could convince them to turn to God for grace. Much like St. Paul who in Romans 7 "loved the law of God in his inmost being". He had a battle between his living mind (pro-God) and his dead spirit (pro-Sin). And he says "Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
This is why we convince the lost, proving the Jesus is the Christ.

Daniel said...

If you hold to a sharp distinction between spiritual and mental faculties your argument makes perfect sense. These are mysterious waters. If you can explain how the mind is completely free of the spirit, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din. Even if I grant that our faculties are totally separate, isn't it likely that a dead spirit still has great influence over a healthy mind?

It is my belief that the Fall affects mankind mind, body, and soul. Because of the curse, our souls were enslaved to sin, our minds turned to darkness, and our bodies returned to dust. Only the God who made us can restore all our faculties and resurrect us from living death.

The Oracle said...

I agree Daniel. The mind is given up to futility. The only point I make is that it is not dead. You have given the impression that this spiritual death is a sort of incommunicado state which can not move itself. Whatever the fallen state of man's mind, it is able to hear, believe and call upon the Name of the Lord.

Philistine said...

Mmm...the theological contortions people have to go through to mold the seeming contradictions in the Bible into doctrinal coherence.

This begs the question of why a God--who ostensibly wants us to be spending our time saving souls--would put together such a cryptic manuscript. Didn't he know how much time we would waste trying to figure it out?

Jeff Moss said...

Philistine,

God's choice to write mystery and paradox into the Bible was entirely deliberate and wise, like all that He does.

Although we can understand some things about ultimate truth (by meditating on His revelation), ultimately we must say:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
"For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?"
"Or who has first given to Him, and it shall be repaid to him?"
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Philistine said...

Interesting, Jeff. It isn't just on matters of Calvinist doctrine that the Bible appears to be internally inconsistent. The gospels are full of little details that vary from one to the other. Such contradictions fuel the fires of critics.