Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Episcopius on the Knowledge of the Will of God

The Arminian Confession of 1621
Chapter 9
On the Knowledge of God's Will, revealed in the new covenant

  1. Further, the will of God, comprehended in the gracious covenant which our greatest prophet, the only begotten Son of God, clearly and fully revealed to us in his Gospel, is embraced in two principle heads. First, those things which God for his part decreed to do in us or about us through his Son Jesus Christ, that we may be made partakers of that eternal salvation offered by him. Second, those things which he wholly wills to be done by us through his own grace, if we really want to obtain eternal salvation.
  2. Those things which God decreed to do for his part in order to provide our salvation, are principally two. 1. He decreed for the honor of his beloved Son to choose for himself sons through him to salvation and life eternal, to adopt, justify, seal with his Holy Spirit and finally to glorify all those and only those truly believing in his name, or obeying his gospel, and persevering in faith and obedience until death, and to the contrary, to reprobate unbelievers and the impenitent from life and salvation and to damn them perpetually. 2. He has decreed through his same Son, to confer to all that are called, although miserable sinners, such efficacious grace through which they may really believe in their Christ the Savior, obey his gospel and be freed from the dominion and guilt of sin, indeed also through which they may really believe, obey and be freed, unless by a new defiance and rebellion they reject the grace offered by God.
  3. The first decree is the decree to predestination to salvation or election to glory, by which is established the true necessity and at the same time the usefulness of our faith and obedience for obtaining salvation and glory. But to dogmatically establish some other anterior, prior decree by which certain individual people were peremptorily elected by name to glory and all others were reprobated to eternal torture, is indeed to deny the true nature of this decree, to invert right order, to take away the merit of Jesus Christ, to obscure the glory of divine goodness, righteousness and wisdom, and indeed utterly to subvert the true power and efficacy of the whole sacred ministry, and thus of all religion.
  4. The second decree is the decree of calling to faith or election to grace, by which is established the necessity and at the same time the usefulness of divine grace, or the means necessary for us to yield faith and obedience to Jesus Christ according to the will of God, revealed in his Gospel. Because truly we ought first to be sure about that will of God which he wants us to yield to him, than of the grace necessary for fulfilling that will, of the glory promised to be conferred to those performing the divine will. It is for this that we shall treat them all henceforth in the same order in which they have been proposed.

The Arminian Confession of 1621, trans & ed. Mark A. Ellis, Pickwick, Wipf & Stock, Eugene, Oregon, 2005, pp74-75

Arminius on the Will of God

The Works of James Arminius - Vol. 2 (Private Disputations)

Disputation 18: On The Will Of God

1. The will of God is spoken of in three ways: First, the faculty itself of willing. Secondly, the act of willing. Thirdly, the object willed. The first signification is the principal and proper one, the two others are secondary and figurative.

2. It may be thus described: It is the second faculty of the life of God, flowing through the understanding from the life that has an ulterior tendency; by which faculty God is borne towards a known good — towards a good, because this is an adequate object of every will — towards a known good, not only with regard to it as a being, but likewise as a good, whether in reality or only in the act of the divine understanding. Both, however, are shown by the understanding. But the evil which is called that of culpability, God does not simply and absolutely will.

3. The good is two-fold. The chief good, and that which is from the chief. The first of these is the primary, immediate, principal, direct, peculiar and adequate object of the divine will; the latter is secondary and indirect, towards which the divine will does not tend, except by means of the chief good.

4. The will of God is borne towards its objects in the following order:

(1.) He wills himself.

(2.) He wills all those things which, out of infinite things possible to himself he has, by the last judgment of his wisdom, determined to be made. And first, he wills to make them to be; then he is affected towards them by his will, according as they possess some likeness with his nature, or some vestige of it.

(3.) The third object of the will of God is those things which he judges fit and equitable to be done by creatures who are endowed with understanding and with free will, in which is included a prohibition of that which he wills not to be done.

(4.) The fourth object of the divine will is his permission, that chiefly by which he permits a rational creature to do what he has prohibited, and to omit what he has commanded.

(5.) He wills those things which, according to his own wisdom, he judges to be done concerning the acts of his rational creatures.

5. There is out of God no inwardly moving cause of his will; nor out of him is there any end. But the creature, and its action or passion, may be the outwardly moving cause, without which God would supersede or omit that volition or act of willing.

6. But the cause of all other things is God, by His understanding and will, by means of His power or capability; yet so, that when he acts either through his creatures, with them or in them, he does not take away the peculiar mode of acting, or of suffering, which he has divinely placed within them; and that he suffers them, according to their peculiar mode, to produce their own effects, and to receive in themselves the acts of God, either necessarily, contingently, or freely. As this contingency and liberty do not make the prescience of God to be uncertain, so they are destroyed by the volition of God, and by the certain futurition of events with regard to the understanding of God.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Philosophical Determinism vs. Valley of Slaughter

An extreme Calvinist writes ... “In biblical Calvinism, God predestines every event. That includes mental events.”

The Bible offers ... “Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind: Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter.” (Jer 19:4-6 AV)

I am curious how God predestines a mental event that was never formed in His mind. This is not a challenge to His omniscience or even his decreed permissive will. Instead I call into question the conflict between hard determinst philosophy that has the LORD determining the very thoughts of men and the scriptural evidence that opposes such musings. In order to predestine, the thought has to be formed by the one decreeing such thoughts. This is a separate and more involved accountability than permissive will that is decreed via omniscience through the workings of a freely willed soul. Either the thought came into the mind of God (speaking anthropomorphically) satisfying a criteria for predestining anything or it did not. The Bible states it did not. The extreme Calvinist claims it does. Which shall we believe?