Juxtaposing the Temporal and the Eternal

A review of the interplay between God’s omnipotence and humans’ volitional will.

Readership: Christians
Length: 3,500 words
Reading Time: 12 minutes

Introduction

Elspeth gave us this excerpt (written in 1858) from Charles Spurgeon, one of the most famous Calvinists in modern church history.

”The system of truth is not one straight line, but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. I am taught in one book to believe that what I sow I shall reap: I am taught in another place, that “it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no presidence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.”

Elspeth added,

“One of the biggest issues I have with many Calvinist’s arguments (at least online) is that there seems to be an unwillingness to acknowledge the reality that God’s view is eternal, not temporal, omniscient, not finite. Mainly it’s because of a weird pride in having been chosen.

Clearly it hasn’t been a bedrock truth that Calvinists think that man has no free will. I don’t know that anyone could ever be that foolish. But I may be wrong.”

Yes. I think there’s generally a lot of muddiness about these things, precisely because it can be challenging for many people to toggle between the divine/eternal perspective and the created/temporal one.

It is not, and never has been, controversial that God foreknows all of history. This is a necessary consequence of God being eternal and omniscient — that is, He knows what will occur at every point in created time before He creates time, because He is present at all points of created time at the same time, since He is eternal. This is basic metaphysics and has never really been controversial.

Temporal and Eternal

The key distinction here is the obvious difference between the eternality of God, on the one hand, and the temporality of creation, on the other.

God is eternal. This means that His entire existence is beyond time, it transcends time. It precedes the existence of anything temporal, and so a reference to God’s existence “before” time began is not only meant in a temporal sense, but also in an existential one — God simply IS, as He says when he first describes himself in Genesis as אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה“I am He Who Is” or “I am The Existing One” — in Exod. 3:14. “Before all that you see, I AM.” “I AM” is IS-ness itself. In other words, God is saying that He exists outside the confines of time and place, i.e. He is eternal.

And His eternal existence is not just “before” in a temporal sense (although that is true enough), but in an existential and ontological sense — God’s Being, His “Being-ness”, His “Is-ness”, is ontologically prior to the existence of everything in temporal reality. Indeed, in the NT, Paul himself reminds us that it is God “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). This is because God’s “Being” is the only Being that is actually “Real” in the eternal sense of the meaning of the word “Real” — His Be-ing is not temporal (i.e., temporary), but Real precisely because He is eternal. And all created “beings” participate in the divine and eternal “Being” in a derivative/created/limited/temporal way — in the realm of “temporal being”, which is to say, a form of being which is not eternal, like the true, ultimate and divine form of “Being”, but which is its temporal manifestation, and therefore is a temporary, created form of “being”, which itself derives its shadow/echo of “being-ness” (the temporal version of it) from the eternal and true “Being” in which it lives and moves, and from which its own derived, temporal “being” comes … and to which it returns as well. This is what it means to say that God’s “Being” is ontologically prior to our own created “being”, and that the latter (i.e., our created “being-ness”) lives and moves and gets its “being-ness” from the eternal divine “Being”-ness of God.

The eternal God, being prior to creation not only temporally but also ontologically, because God is eternal, therefore sees all of creation, in all of its permutations and details, throughout all of time, as if it were in the present tense. That is to say — the eternal God is simultaneously present at each and every point in time at the same time, and is fully present in each of them and, vice versa, each such point is fully and simultaneously present to the eternal God. Again, this is because God stands outside of time, He transcends it ontologically — all of it is created by Him and therefore known fully to Him because it gets its very being in a relationship of ontological dependency on His own eternal Being. Time is, in this sense, a fact of creation from the eternal/divine perspective, as much as a tree is to ours. It is a derivative reality that is created and temporary, and it poses no boundary to the divine knowledge in the sense that things taking place at “later points in the timeline” would not be mysterious, as they are to the human/created/temporal (and limited) mind — in the mind of the divine, all of these points of time are simultaneously present, and were so from before the point when time began.

Because all points of time were known in full in the mind of God prior to the time when time itself began, the Fall itself was known to God, as was God’s response, and all of God’s other interventions into the “timeline” of created space/time. This is also reflected in the NT, where Paul clearly says that “God chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love, He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ …” (Eph. 1:4-5). This choosing and election to be adopted in Christ was something that took place before the foundation of the world — which means that the need for it, and the need for Christ and his specific redemption of humanity, and the fall which preceded it, were all known in the mind of God as well before the foundation of the world, for it is in this knowledge that God’s choice of Paul and the others was made “before the foundation of the world” (καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου).

Thereby, all of this raises the obvious questions:

  • If God is perfectly and fully aware of all of this — that is, of all conditions and causes as they cascade throughout all of time, including all human acts and all decisions and so on — prior to the beginning of time, in what sense is human free will “real”?
  • Does free will exist?
  • If so, how?

Free-Will vs. “Predestination”

This intersection of God’s eternal omniscience and humans’ temporal volitional will (i.e. freely chosen actions) is normally where human minds get tripped up. If God knows all causes and conditions, does free will really even exist, or is it just an illusion, where all of our acts and decisions are pre-ordained and fated, and therefore outside of our control?

Again, the key to unpacking this lies in understanding the distinctions made above between the eternal and the temporal, between “Being” and “being”, uncreated and created, and, to the very limited extent that is possible for a temporally limited mind, keeping both perspectives in play at the same time.

Inside the space of created time, and therefore from the perspective of “beings” inside that created time, we do have free will in that we are not God’s marionettes, generally speaking. Our acts of volitional will are volitional from our perspective regardless of the fact that God has always been aware of what choices we would make prior to the time when time began, because the temporal creation includes volitional will within the framework of that temporality — it is simply the case that the eternal Being is aware of all points in time before time begins, and so He knows all causes and conditions, all temporal occurrences, before even the first of them takes place in time. These two things — that volitional free-will is “real” in the created temporal space, on the one hand, and that God is aware of, in a complete and total and perfect knowledge sense, of each and every cause and condition in the created temporal space, including all human acts and decisions, prior to the first moment of time — are both true.

These are both true at once because of the difference in perspective between the temporal and the eternal — the temporal perspective is limited and the eternal is not. Therefore from our limited temporal perspective (which is the only one available to us in a real sense), human free will is “true”, whereas in the eternal perspective, all of the acts of that free will are fully known, for the entirety of temporal history from start to finish, before any of creation existed. It is because of this that the very existence of the human freedom to act in the temporal space is itself derivative of God’s decision to create, and thereby enable all of those specific causes and conditions to actually take place in temporal space — that is, God creates and enables human freedom by means of His decision to create a temporal reality which includes human freedom in it, but He knows all of the outcomes which arise from that freedom prior to creating the temporal reality that includes it.

That is to say — the temporal perspective (real volitional will) is real inside the confines of the temporal space, but (as is the case in general with temporal “being” and eternal/real “Being”) it is derivative of what is actually “Real”. “Reality” (capital R) in it’s fullest sense contains the perfect foreknowledge of God of all causes and conditions throughout time, and the decision by God to create the temporal space time, with all of those specifically foreknown causes and conditions, and which thereby enable all of them to actually take place in the created/temporal/derivative “reality”. It is in this way that both human free will and the perfect divine foreknowledge and perfect divine fore-ordination (in terms of willing into being) of all events in time are true — both are true and are not contradictory, if one holds both the temporal and the eternal perspectives in play at the same time.

God is also active in history as His own agent (or “player” in the game sense), and when He wishes to influence a certain course of action, there are “setups” that are designed so that people do, according to their free will, certain things. Again, God knows everything that’s going to happen from before time — all “causes and conditions”–, so there are no surprises for God from His perspective. But within the space of created temporal causality, we have been given volitional free will. I actually don’t believe that the Calvinists all deny this way of looking at things, perhaps apart from some of the very online uber-Calvinists.

Free-Will vs. Grace

The next issue arises with respect to the interaction between the human will and divine grace. For Luther, following Augustine, the human will was almost entirely corrupt, and therefore from Luther came the famous Reformation slogans such as Sola Fidei, Sola Gratia, and so on, which all flow from a perspective that they are necessary for salvation to be possible because of the deeply depraved and incapable state of the post-lapsarian human will. But despite this, Luther nevertheless believed that the grace which saves is freely given to all, and that all are free enough to accept or reject that free gift of grace at any time — meaning that God provides the means to everyone to accept his gift of saving grace (i.e., the grace needed to accept the gift of faith), but that this gift can be rejected and resisted by the human will. This is consistent with Luther’s view that the human will was corrupted in that it could not accept faith without grace enabling it to do so, but not so utterly corrupted that it could not even accept the grace that leads to faith. Again, in Luther’s view, God knows who will accept and who will reject, but he lets the individuals make that decision using their created temporal wills, because the temporal reality which God created includes human volitional will.

It’s not actually clear how much John Calvin himself subscribed to what subsequently became “TULIP” Calvinism, as articulated at the Synod of Dort. Certainly Calvin’s famous “Institutes of Christian Religion“, which was itself revised numerous times over his own lifetime, doesn’t refer specifically to a TULIP-style approach to doctrine, or that these specific elements were key to the entire Calvinist view of the faith. However, in the context of their earlier dispute with the Arminians, Calvinists later insisted that the grace that saves is always “effective” (i.e., it never fails to save in any case where it is given by God), and therefore, contrary to Luther’s teaching, that it cannot be resisted by the act of the will, or through a stubborn refusal to accept the gift of saving grace.

This means that, from a Calvinist point of view, God does not provide such grace to everyone, but only to those whom He chooses — otherwise all would be saved, since saving grace never fails per the Calvinist scheme. Therefore, in the Calvinist understanding, God moves from foreknowing/foreordaining, on the one hand, to differentially saving by his own fiat, on the other, which gets rolled under the all-encompassing “sovereignty” concept that lies at the core of all Calvinist thinking. It is this understanding — not of “predestination” in terms of God knowing what’s going to happen (He must know given his eternal nature and how that relates to created space/time), but rather that He individually determines Himself, irrespective of anything other than His own inscrutable sovereign will, who is saved and who is not, and only provides grace to the saved, while withholding it from the rest.

The Calvinist view does not necessarily follow from the view that God knows what will happen and that He also “foreordains” what will happen by choosing to create a timeline, all the events of which He is fully aware of. This perspective is a substantial step further, and says that God determines outcomes in a very specific, individual way, inside the temporal space, in such a way that human freewill as it exists in the temporal space is completely irrelevant when it comes to human salvation. In other words, predestination is a process that is fully automated, fully orchestrated by God, and which never fails in any individual case of an individual that God determined to be among those to whom he would provide saving grace before time began. That’s also the view that runs counter to the idea of free will. It doesn’t totally deny free will but rather holds that free will plays no role in human salvation, and it isn’t a view that is held by any Christians but the Calvinists. Today, even many who refer to themselves as “Calvinist” or “Reformed” will back away from this “hard double predestination” viewpoint in favor of a more “Arminian” view (the one which was condemned at the Synod of Dort), which creates a separate category of “prevenient grace”, which is the grace that is given to all which all can accept or reject, such that if one accepts that grace, then the never failing saving grace is provided in response to that acceptance.

Conclusions

Of course, the issue of the exact interface between the human will and the divine energy in the temporal world (i.e., grace) is not clear — there is a lot of room for different views, and there always were different views running alongside each other in the church. The same is true for the meaning of the word “elect”. Calvinism has its rather famous understanding of the meaning of that word, expressed above. Luther accepted the concept, but Lutheran theology, like Catholic theology, generally takes the view that this refers to God’s foreknowledge and foreordination as Paul describes in Eph. 1:4, and not His specific intervention in the temporal space with grace for some but not others. Lutheran theology therefore concludes that one should act as if one is elect, if one is being called to repentance and to serve God — that is, if one has been called to the Gospel. Whereas, the stricter Calvinists hold the view that some people who experience that call experience it falsely, and are not actually “elect”. Other church fathers have suggested that the term simply means those whom God knows, due to the reality of his foreknowledge of all of history, will be saved. All of these views have existed side by side in the church since the beginning really, if you examine the early fathers. It was only later that rigorous logical views became hardened and camps formed, as we have today.

The significance of this for religious believers today varies, depending on the degree of one’s faith. Some people are called to a simple faith, and there are many blessings in this if one is called to it — it is easier in many ways. If one is a sophisticated thinker in other areas of life, however, it is extremely unlikely that one is called to have a simple faith, and in my own experience, many people who try to retain a simple understanding of faith that does not “keep pace” with the level of sophistication of their understandings of other things will end up dropping their faith at some point in time. This is because the simple view of faith doesn’t correlate with their life experience and it can’t “keep up” with the rest of their understanding, so at some level, it stops “working” for them from a mental perspective. So, unfortunately, for people who have a more sophisticated understanding of other things, it becomes necessary for them to delve into the depths of these issues and revise their mental model of faith, both to address their own questions, as well as to deal with the perspectives that the world will foist upon them. This kind of situation is often called a “crisis of faith”, and in my opinion, everyone goes through a crisis of faith at some point in their lives. The successful navigation of a crisis of faith is pivotal, both as to the continuance of one’s own faith as well as one’s children, and in terms of any evangelism or other issues that relate to people of no faith or people of other faiths.

A simple understanding of things is a luxury that most of us do not have, I think, in the current world, with its sophisticated critiques. Whenever others in the world come across an understanding of Christianity that is not well-grounded intellectually, massive problems can, and often do, ensue. We would be wise to be aware of this and to head it off pre-emptively, if possible.

Post Script from Jack

To follow up with the conclusion of this post, I endured a crisis of faith that lasted close to a decade. I recounted this experience in a series of posts which may be insightful to the reader.

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35 Responses to Juxtaposing the Temporal and the Eternal

  1. Sharkly says:

    This was Paul’s, more brief, inspired explanation:
    Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
    12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
    13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
    14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
    15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
    16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
    17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
    18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
    19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
    20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
    21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
    22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
    23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
    24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

    Based upon this, we should not be haughty about our presumed election, but fearful of God, and humbled that we should be chosen through no works of our own doing. We should exercise our own salvation with fear and trembling.(Philippians 2:12) Knowing that eventually every knee will bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. But some of us were chosen to acknowledge this now unto salvation, while others will claim to have done many fine things in God’s name and yet Christ will not recognize them as His redeemed ones.

    Although standardized testing says I’m smart, I choose to have a simple childlike faith. A lot of it can be summed up as follows: Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
    A dreadful fear of God, and “Pascal’s Wager” is enough to keep me from angering the Almighty by entertaining doubts for more than a passing moment. I don’t want to risk a moment in such an unfaithful state. I think I received my fear of God via God’s grace and by seeing my own father live fearing God every moment of our lives together. His frame never wavered ever: God was real, always present, and to be greatly feared above all else.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. professorGBFMtm2021 says:

    Of course sharkly is right!Those who are saved usualy know at a very early age like samuel the prophet in the old testament who heard the voice of god,even as he thought it was the preist eli.my own life parraels that of samuel in that soon after I was very old at age 2, I just knew with no doubt in my mind that god was true,but every man a liar!I have said this before as all of you know,but it seems I needed to repeat it again!We are not saved or endowed with gifts by our father for our sake but his good pleasure,as christ made very clear in luke12:32:”Do not be AFRAID little flock,for your FATHER is PLEASED TO GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM”!Therefore I fear no man or especialy women(Again old-school red-pill here!)
    P.S.Anybody up for a bible verse battle?
    Post-script from the professor of prophetology:Anybody need more proof of gods eternal holyness or his C.S.A. blood-bought servants salvation?

    Liked by 2 people

    • cameron232 says:

      “P.S.Anybody up for a bible verse battle?”

      Nope because that assumes the dogma/makes the a priori assumption of sola scriptura.

      LoL – my Bible verse can beat up yours.

      Liked by 1 person

      • professorGBFMtm2021 says:

        Heres my thoughtful response,are not catholics&orthodoxs suppose to follow pope francis?But you speak of sola scripture,when you do not follow the vicar of christ!?You are protestants or not-protestants whomever does not follow francis!Is that sola scripture or your supposed faith?
        P.S.See how I roll with my ”holiness”!? Dal’P.S.Why did’nt you tough-guy keyboard larperz anonymous catholics&orthodox tell this to dalrock?He fought for you on his site, like I would fight for you too,but we are the enemy?
        Is pope francis the vicar of christ or not?

        Like

  3. cameron232 says:

    Thanks for a thoughtful post Nova. I’m the world’s worst armchair theologian/Bible-student but here’s a series of random comments posted separately if you feel like responding to any of them.

    Paul and “corporate salvation.” Some have claimed that election-type verses that translate “you” and “us” were written in the context of 1st century Christianity where the Jewish context was strong and most of the Christians WERE Jews. The Jews understanding of election was corporate and it is within this context that Paul is writing. Therefore, “you” and “us” doesn’t mean that all individuals within the Church or the individual elect will be saved, just that the Church is elect. The Church is Israel. I don’t know how valid this perspective is but I’ll note that Protestantism is a Northwest European movement and Northwest Europeans are probably the most individualist peoples in the world.

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    • Novaseeker says:

      Karl Barth, the leading Reformed theologian of the 20th C, was of the view that only Christ is elect, and that Christians who are “in Christ” (as Paul reiterates repeatedly) are included in Christ’s election, and are thereby saved, by being “in Christ”.

      That view is quite close to a Catholic or Orthodox view of being saved by virtue of incorporation into Christ, although unlike Barth we would view it in a more corporate sense of the visible Church as the making present of that Christ, of His Body, into which we are incorporated, and thereby the means of which we are “in Christ”, and thereby participate in the saving work of Christ and, per Barth, Christ’s election.

      See: https://postbarthian.com/2016/08/28/dear-karl-barth-election-mean-individuals/

      Liked by 1 person

      • cameron232 says:

        Incorporation into Christ through participation in His divinity through His Church/body, through His sacraments (affecting with an “a” the grace signified) and (sometimes suffering through) obedience to Him.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Novaseeker says:

        Right, but the sacramentality can only take place in the Body — not outside of it. Barth obviously is not going to approach it from a sacramental perspective, but his approach is certainly closer to a Catholic or Orthodox view than say Calvin’s was, never mind the Synod of Dort.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cameron232 says:

        That’s true – Lutheran sacraments (two or three of them depending on which Lutheran you ask) are not considered valid by Catholics. Neither are Anglican as made clear in a Papal Bull I think – the idea is that Anglicans never, as evidenced by their own words, intended to continue the holy sacrifice of the mass as understood by Catholics and Orthodox – although continuing Anglicans will argue they did all day long.

        I’ve heard that some Orthodox used to accept Anglican sacraments as valid until the Episcopals went nutty-progressive but I heard this from continuing Anglicans who of course want to look as much like the English version of the Orthodox (same holy number seven ecumenical councils but with Elizabethan English and even better theology!) as they can.

        Like

      • Novaseeker says:

        Interesting. I’ve never actually seen an Orthodox statement about non-Orthodox sacraments being “valid”, either way. Different churches have had different praxis about who gets admitted to the Eucharist under what circumstances, or what someone coming from where has to do to be admitted to the Orthodox Church (baptism, chrismation or something else), but it’s a mistake to read into that praxis some kind of generalized idea about the validity or non-validity of the sacramentality, in general, of where that person was coming from.

        Regards the Anglicans I recall a rather famous quote from 19th C Russian (Orthodox) theologian Alexei Khomiakov written to an Anglican divine stating that Catholicism and Protestantism were two sides of the same coin, a perspective that doubtless infurates both Catholics and Protestants alike, but reflects more the general Orthodox view (see: https://bit.ly/32Oj1ML ). It isn’t intended as an insult, but rather just a statement of how things look from a different perspective when standing outside the Western Church(es) altogether.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cameron232 says:

        @Novaseeker, yes Khomiakov is making the argument of Protestant reaction resulting in shared legal perspective with Catholicism even if the formulation is opposite -the question for both is where does a man stand with God. And the purity/truth of precise doctrinal statements vs. (I assume) ecumenical councils and the writings of the early Church Fathers for the Orthodox?

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      • Novaseeker says:

        It’s different from that. What Khomiakov was saying is that the entire framework is different. It’s typical for a Western Christian to frame it that way (so, it’s councils and tradition vs precise statements and institutions), but Orthodoxy, from the inside out rather than the outside looking in, is a different way of doing Christianity more or less in total.

        I didn’t grasp this until I had been Orthodox for a number of years — before I was Orthodox it looked like it does to you: here are the differences, what else is there? After being Orthodox for a while and actually living the faith in the Eastern Orthodox way, it became apparent that the entire paradigm is different. And the trouble is that it is almost impossible to explain it, because it touches more or less every aspect of everything concerning the faith — not the “beliefs” as such, but the active practice and living of the faith. And it isn’t just “the practices are different”, either … it’s hard to explain.

        But that’s what Khomiakov was getting at. We over here are more different from you than we look from your perspective (I used to have that perspective as well, remember). But explaining precisely how is difficult because the differences are experiential in nature and only become apparent (or at least did so for me, and I think it is a common experience among newcomers to Orthodoxy) after a longer term more in depth personal exposure from the inside out (i.e., from inside of Orthodoxy).

        Not very helpful, I know, but it is what it is.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Elspeth says:

        That was wonderfully insightful and informative, Nova. Thanks for including that link.

        I’ll ask the man what we think about it later, 🙂 , but in reality, I think the Post Barthian piece strikes at the heart of a true understanding of where we stand re: election. Think of what Christ himself said when someone approached him with the greeting, “Good Teacher”. He replied:

        So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sharkly says:

        “…stating that Catholicism and Protestantism were two sides of the same coin…”

        Mother of Harlots ~ whoring daughter churches (birthed during the reformation)

        I can see it. I just also see the various Orthodox and Anglicans as daughter churches birthed out of the Great Whore as well. The entire church, being the body of Christ which took on the sin of the whole world, upon the cross, and has been put to sleep, so that a tiny remnant or a rib can be separated out to be made by God into the bride of the Last Adam. The body of Christ (the church) is not the bride of Christ, only a small subset of the church will become the bride. They are being separated out, even now. Hear me now, believe me later.

        Just as the religious leaders at Christ’s first coming were separated into Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and such, yet all like sheep had wandered away from the truth provided by the Good Shepherd, each unto his own way, so too today, the churches various divisions are all are apostate from Christ worshipping according to the traditions of men (and even the Feminism of women now).

        Ecclesiastes 3:15(NLT) What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

        History repeats! “God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”
        “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”

        Show me even one church that does not blasphemously emasculate God, even the Father, by saying women are His image!

        The earliest church fathers which you claim to be descended from unanimously wrote that only men were the image and glory of God.

        1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

        Ambrosiaster wrote: Paul says that the honor and dignity of a man makes it wrong for him to cover his head, because the image of God should not be hidden. Indeed, it ought not to be hidden, for the glory of God is seen in the man. … A woman therefore ought to cover her head, because she is not the likeness of God but is under subjection.

        Your organized churches all idolatrously worship a hermaphrodite deity, imaged by both men and women, much like Baphomet.

        2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
        17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
        18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

        To read more about this, I put up a new post today, somewhat on this topic:
        https://laf443259520.wordpress.com/2021/04/26/the-chief-human-enemies-of-christ/

        Liked by 2 people

  4. cameron232 says:

    “Luther accepted the concept, but Lutheran theology, like Catholic theology, generally takes the view that this refers to God’s foreknowledge and foreordination as Paul describes in Eph. 1:4, and not His specific intervention in the temporal space with grace for some but not others.”

    Luther wrote a lot of things – his work is very voluminous – It can be hard to reconcile Luther with Luther -there are academics that nearly make a career out of doing this. It’s likely that Luther’s views on many things changed over time – in some ways he may have regressed.

    Luther is closer to Catholicism than a lot of people realize. It’s primarily the sacerdotal priesthood where they differ most fundamentally, at least in day-to-day practical soteriology. In the Lutheran view, when you doubt your salvation and you sin, you look to the cross in faith to be reconciled. The Catholic Church of course has sacramental confession and reconciliation, believing that the bishops and priests carry that function given to the apostles as described in the gospel of John – the bishop/priest acts in persona Christi.

    I’ve even been to Wisconsin Synod churches where the people sign themselves with the cross.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Novaseeker says:

      Yes — the Missouri Synod Lutherans are in many ways very similar to NO Catholics, albeit more conservative than many NO parishes are in practice, sans priesthood of course (although they do look the part). Many Catholics who turn up at an LCMS or WELS parish and see a huge crucifix are quite shocked, because most of the Protestantism in the US is not Lutheran, but is either dissenter Anglo (i.e., everything in Anglo Protestantism that was not CofE) or dissenter German (i.e., not Lutheran). The Protestantisms that came here were more fringey than Lutheranism and Anglicanism (although we have Lutherans and Anglicans here, as you know, being a former Anglican), and so most Catholics, when they hear the word “Protestant” may think “Luther” but they picture “evangelicalism” in their minds, and not the LCMS parish.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. cameron232 says:

    Elspeth posted a link to a reformed Arminian paper which I skimmed. In it was an example of why I struggle with a lot of versions of Protestant theology. They were clear in the paper to explain that the Arminian view, despite being opposed to Calvinism, does not allow one to be reconciled to the faith if one apostatizes. Verses were quoted of course – Hebrews specifically. In the real world I don’t think this is what happens most of the time. Most people don’t enact an “anti-conversion.” They don’t pray the anti-sinner’s-prayer in rejection of Christ. Most people start to sin more and more, don’t repent of it, stop going to church, stop practicing the faith – they just sort of drift away.

    Sin that is committed with knowledge/willfully is enacted unbelief. Sin is unbelief.

    I’ll note that Wesleyan Arminian view seems to intuit this more – John Wesley’s “backsliders.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elspeth says:

      Generally, I am a person who loves to dig into philosophies, parse them, etc.

      When it comes to competing strains of Christianity, however, I have mostly given that up. I have known Catholics for whom it was more than obvious that their faith was more than just rituals and legalism, and have rankled Protestant friends with my insistence that said Catholic is a Christian in every discernible way.

      Conversely over the past year I have rankled some of those same friends by insisting that the woke believers who everyone knows is a lover of Jesus are, in fact, on their way to apostasy as they promote this new social justice religion as part of the gospel.

      The Spurgeon quote Nova included is about where a lot of this begins and ends with me. I believe Christ when he says you know a tree by its fruit, and I trust him to separate the wheat and tares.

      We all encountered the faith within our respective cultural and traditional backgrounds. God is more than capable of reaching us within those frameworks if we are truly looking for him.

      I know how that sounds to the Orthodox and Catholics here, 😝. I don’t view faith in the sovereignty of God as flaky, but then, I’m a girl.

      Liked by 3 people

      • cameron232 says:

        Orthodoxy can view both Catholicism and Protestantism (including modern evangelical Christianity) as “legalistic” -that is as often obsessing over knowledge/certainty of one’s spiritual status/status with God. This can be seen from an Orthodox PoV as the heritage of Western/Latin Christianity. The emphasis in Orthodoxy on Holy Mystery – I think to include God’s will for your end – seems very much respectful and mindful of God’s ultimate sovereignty – every bit as much as, say, Calvinism. Very much consistent with faith in the sovereignty of God.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Elspeth says:

        I agree. Which is why you won’t hear me carrying on about so-and-so group being “not Christians”. In all of our particular strains are wheat and tares. Trees bearing fruit and those good for nothing more than to be hewn and cast into the fire.

        I find that thought equal parts conforting, humbling, and fearful. I have my hands too full working out my own salvation with fear and trembling to be worried with condemning someone else. Besides, I am far too well acquainted with my own weaknesses for that.

        Now, that said: professed believers who tout abortion, sexual perversion of all kinds, material wealth above all else, or promote undeniable heresies?

        That’s a horse of a different color. I do believe that we are called to contend for the faith. We should not accept clear falsehood or sin for the sake of peace.

        Liked by 2 people

    • cameron232 says:

      Plenty of Latin American Catholics did go into apostacy (I don’t mean the ones who converted to Protestantism which isn’t apostate from a Catholic point of view) because they didn’t get what they saw as the benefits of Christianity (equality). The SJW/equality Christianity thing has played out before and you’re probably right about how it will end for people (or their children as they fail to transmit the faith). Liberalism does the SJW/equality thing better than a religion with supernatural beliefs.

      Plenty of us are prone to wanting things FROM Christianity – I want good wives for my sons and good husbands for my daughters – so I am guilty too. But I try to remind myself that it’s all independent of my earthly needs and wants even if those are for my children. My needs and wants are subordinate to higher things – the opposite view leads to moral relativism.

      It’s interesting, the older black woman I used to ride to work with. You can see the side of her that seems sincere – her social media profile is images of cute little black girls kneeling in prayer – you can tell how that’s personal for her and I can understand and sympathize with this – but the same woman believes in abortion as an inviolable right, thinks Republicans are all racists, etc. Weird for me how these beliefs can coexist but I can’t see in her heart.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Red Pill Apostle says:

      Cameron – I believe that Wesley’s backsliders are the seeds in the rocks in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13). The verses that follow the parable are telling in that Jesus explains who has been given knowledge and who hasn’t. Most likely, those backsliders are not cases of had and left the faith. They are cases of not having faith in the first place.

      The way I have thought about Arminian vs Calvinist views over the years that has helped me is discerning which point of view in scripture makes the most sense of what God has revealed about Himself. We know the hairs on our head are numbered and they don’t fall out unless God wills it. We know from numerous places in scripture that God sustains all things (Col 1:17 for example) which means that every electron in orbit in every atom in the universe is sustained (kept in existence) by God. Our finite brains can’t fathom this. My take is that in light of God’s intimate involvement in creation’s minute details, it makes more sense that God would also be in control of bigger things like what we’ll do and who He has marked for eternity with Him, rather than not.

      Don’t get me wrong there are hard questions on both sides of the debate that we don’t know the answers to. Arminian thinkers have to grapple with if people are truly free to choose (i.e. not knowing the choice that will be made because face it, if perfect and all powerful God knows what you’ll choose ahead of time it’s not really a choice) is God really sovereign? Calvinist thinkers have to deal with the question if God is sovereign and planned everything out why are we culpable for our sin? For me, the Calvinist line of thought fits better with what we know from scripture so I choose to theologically struggle with the culpability question rather than the sovereignty question.

      Liked by 1 person

      • cameron232 says:

        RPA, I do not get the impression that’s what Wesley thought his backsliders were- that’s the Calvinist take on Wesley I suppose. If there’s a Methodist in the house, I’ll gladly be corrected. Reformed Arminianism is definitely not the same as Wesleyan Arminianism OR Calvinism -three distinct ways of thinking.

        As far as I can tell, the Church has long distinguished, conceptually, between God’s positive and God’s permissive will, incorporating both into its teachings I suppose. I’m the worst armchair theologian so don’t know if that helps.

        Like

      • cameron232 says:

        I guess I keep coming back to the same point – sin is enacted unbelief. Not too many Christians never sin. Our faith should be but is not perfect – I haven’t yet been able to throw a mountain into the sea, etc. The early Church it seems had to deal with these realities.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Red Pill Apostle says:

    Sharkly is on point above. The reformed concept of the elect is wildly humbling when you have the correct Biblical perspective on humanity. Most people naturally come from the frame that there is good in people and so God not saving all is a great evil. It is easy to see where the logical conclusion is that people choosing evil is what gets them eternal damnation. The truth is that humanity, and we as individuals, are so sinful as to be dead in our sin (Eph 2) and actual enemies, as in actively warring against, of God (Rom 5) such that all deserve eternal condemnation. That in His love He would choose to pull any of us, me included, from that fate, by paying our consequences Himself, is the cause of grateful humility. Any other response to such grace is absurd.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Red Pill Apostle says:

    I have a follow up thought. I grew up in a conservative Baptist church that was very much Armenian in its theology. it was not until a friend and I got into a discussion surrounding if someone could actively seek God for salvation absent the Holy Spirit’s prompting that I “saw the light” so to speak. For me, it was and is seeing scripture through a reformed lens, much like seeing life though a red pill lens, that caused the Gospel to come alive. My view on life went from believing I deserved good things because I was living life as close to Biblical commands as I humanly could, to realizing that the evil in my heart is such that I don’t deserve good in life. Anything that is good then, is a gift of God’s grace to me.

    The shift in outlook has practical applications. The first 15+ of marriage for me started out with ‘uh oh, this isn’t good” and moved on to pure hell. I was the Proverbs 21:9 & 19 guy. What kept me from bailing is the understanding that God, in His perfect wisdom and planning, put me and the Mrs. together. I can see how He has used my marriage to change me. I know my boys will have better understanding starting out than I did. It may be that my hard earned wisdom will be passed down for generations and in doing so will be part of something more important than me. I may never fully understand why He did this, but I know in His sovereignty he did it and who am I as the creation to say the perfect creator was wrong?

    PS Armenian me would have written something completely different. That version of me would probably be a motivational speaker running a $500 a seat grift to tell people, “I did it. You can do it too! Just follow these 5 easy steps outlined in my book. Pick up your copy in the back for $19.95.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • professorGBFMtm2021 says:

      Redpillapostle,what do you think I have been telling everybody on the manosphere for the last 2+months now?Nobody can buy the gifts of god,certainly not eternal salvation!You either have them or not,I thought this was clear to all!?Deti is the best speaker on holding together a marriage&he charges nothing for it!I’m the best speaker on the mic,before&after it hits the ground,when the fight needs to begin, as all know,from my endless battles here&everywhere else!

      Like

      • Red Pill Apostle says:

        I will now limit my posts to, “What professorGBFMtm2021 said” with citations of Deti’s prior posts. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Rock Kitaro says:

    Very interesting! So many times, I’ve often thought of “Free-Will” as the human illustration or demonstration of God’s choice, the chosen elect. What you said about Luther is on point. God’s gift of salvation is indeed freely given to everyone…but it’s up to the individual to accept it. I was reading in MacArthur’s Study Bible a few days ago, where MacArthur points out that false teachers like to use the Bible scriptures like 1 John 2:2 and say, “See! Jesus died for the sins of the whole world!” as if no further belief or action is needed on the individual’s part. MacArthur says that the scripture isn’t referring to every single individual, but mankind in general. Thus, it is freely given to everyone “mankind.” but it’s up to the individual to accept it.

    And of course, 1 John 2:4-6 goes on to reveal how those who “accept it” of their own free will are those who keep his commandments. Not one who merely professes to be Christian, openly say they believe in Jesus…and then goes on living life however way they want.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cameron232 says:

      At least one prominent Eastern Orthodox theologian is attempting to revive apokatastasis, the belief that hell is not eternal and all will be reconciled to God at some point in the future. This was taught by Origen and was condemned by a Church council although it’s modern proponents (including a couple of catholic bishops) will tell you it wasn’t condemned. Funny, but it makes hell sound rather like purgatory. There’s the usual fight over translation – the Greek “eternal” can be translated as “a long time” I guess – IDK – it’s all Greek to me. Of course, “their worm dieth not” kinda argues against this.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. anonymous_ng says:

    Perhaps much of the problem comes with the lack of precision in language which was mentioned somewhere above.

    Regarding omniscience:

    Imagine the game of tic-tac-toe. A quick web search comes back with a number around 250K as the number of unique games that are possible. I imagine that God’s omniscience is like knowing all of the possible game combinations for all people for all choices, in database terms, a cartesian join.

    The Babel image library is a similar kind of idea. https://babelia.libraryofbabel.info/about.html

    However, isn’t it possible via the imprecision of language, that God knows every step of our lives, but doesn’t know exactly which one of them we’re going to walk? I find this a reasonable assertion, and arguments about it are arguments of what we mean by the act of knowing and of the definition of omniscience. Or, perhaps God chooses to not pay attention to that bit of knowledge so as to experience in some small way the joy of seeing which path is chosen. IDK.

    Regarding the nature of the universe:

    In conjunction with this, for some time, I have been conceiving of the universe thus: God created the universe and all therein, kicked it into motion, and then removed himself from things except via the angelic host both fallen and not which only interact with mankind via the intellect.

    No, this doesn’t comport well with established theology, and it leaves me struggling to explain the historical miracles, Saul’s struggle on the road to Damascus, and legion sending the swine into the sea, but it does side step the apparent missing miracles of the modern era and changes the equation surrounding God’s will.

    Regarding free will:

    If God didn’t want mankind to have free will, certainly He could have created us without. Thus, I presume that He intended for us to exercise that free will. In fact, isn’t the whole point that of man choosing God of his own free will?

    To me then, this makes the metaphoric putting out of a fleece and seeking God’s will(perfect will) as being akin to the man with one talent who buried it in the ground, or in a more modern context, of an employee who when told to do something returns to the boss at every step of process to ask again for guidance.

    Last comment:

    From all of this, I find that Ecclesiastes describes a much different Christian life than the men’s prayer breakfast, bible study, small group meeting, church on Sunday, contemporary Christian music on the radio, modern version of the Christian life.

    Ecclesiastes 12:10 – 14
    The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

    P.S. – I haven’t spent time looking to see how the church father’s have answered these questions. I just spend a lot of time in my own head. So, I might well have espoused fifteen different heresies in one page.

    Liked by 1 person

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