Following is my response to a comment to my article “The Exalted View of God in Scripture” posted on SBCToday.com in March 2014. The same article is posted on this blog, April 7th, without all of the comments that can be found on SBCToday.com. When I say “you said” I am referring to his comment on my article, which is in quotations. Then I respond.
Thanks for your response. I am not trying to avoid your questions, but they are rather open-ended—as you know, people write books on such questions. Consequently, I am guessing at what you are concerned about particularly. If I miss your point, I apologize, but it seems imprudent for me to write a long answer to a question that may not have been asked.
You said, “Concerning the first sentence of the fifth paragraph, would you mind addressing God’s decrees as they relate to sin or if they don’t?”
First, it is a good reminder for both of us that the concept of “the decrees of God” falls within the category of speculative theology; therefore, one should be tentative in his affirmation of such. Yes, of course, they are related to sin in theology—infra, supra, etc. However, I find the discussion regarding them and God’s role in the reality of man’s sin to obscure the real question. That is, did it please God to create man with a compatible free will and thereby predetermine that man would freely choose to sin; while concomitantly determining only to offer redemption to some, thereby predetermining that untold numbers spend eternity in hell by God’s desirous design according to His good pleasure? In Calvinism, God did in fact do this, regardless of one’s position on the decrees. This truth can be seen in the reality that according Calvinism, God predetermined that He would save some and not save some when He could have saved all via compatibilism, unconditional election, and selective regeneration. Whether He did this prior to determining to create, allow the fall, etc., or not is ultimately inconsequential to the true question. Consequently, Reprobation is a reality whether active, passive, or consequently. That is the issue. Do we believe the Bible teaches that? I do not, and all the discussions regarding the order of decrees neither changes nor clarifies the true problem with Calvinism’s view of God, man, and sin.
You said, “Concerning your sixth paragraph, would you mind interacting with: posse peccare, posse non peccare, non posse non peccare, posse non peccare, non posse peccare?”
I suppose that you are asking about something to do with the four states of man, e.g. able to sin, able not to sin, not able not to sin, able not to sin, and unable to sin.
Of course, you well know that this is another open-ended question. Consequently, I will say, according to Calvinism’s embracement of compatibilism, the question is how a Calvinist explains that Adam could have chosen to sin or not sin and whatever he did in fact choose, he could have chosen otherwise. It is not enough for Calvinists to state such, but rather how can it be in Calvinism with its adoption of compatibilism? It truly cannot be. For if man was able to sin and able not to sin and whatever he did in fact do he could have done otherwise, you have a libertarian view of free will. For clarity, Calvinism does not merely affirm that God knew Adam would sin—all Biblicists believe that—but rather that He created man with a compatible “free will” and thereby determined that man would inevitably freely choose to sin. Again, sometimes our talk (I am not saying you have done this, but rather decrees, posse…etc.,) obscures this harsh reality of Calvinism. That is what I want to avoid because it is not only unhelpful, but it is an impediment to our knowing God.
You said, “Would you also interact with experiential knowledge concerning people dying in infancy…. Although you state ‘,a human’s first experience of sin after Adam and Eve comes from inheritance, i.e. procreation,’ I’m not sure whether you would claim that infants have an experiential knowledge of sin or if those in heaven are observing us?”’
You answered the question in your citation, “a human’s first experience of sin after Adam and Eve comes from inheritance, i.e. procreation.” Experience does not require volitional choice, but rather just experience. Every person experiences sin after the fall. They only experience it in different ways. Jesus experienced sin—consequences, presence, etc.—without ever sinning. A baby experiences sin in procreation, i.e. conceived in sin. A simple way to see that everyone, including prenatal beings, experiences sin is by answering the question, who goes to heaven without the work of Christ on the cross? My answer is no one, and I assume you would say the same; therefore, everyone experiences sin.