Originally Posted by Smokering
Are you sure? I'd suggest that maybe he did - and he knew about the decision that wasn't made as well.
But perfect definite foreknowledge means that He didn't just foresee multiple options, He knew which one was the "real" option - which choice would actually be made. His knowing that is logically contingent on someone actually making that choice.
What if both were made,?
It is interesting though that Christ was limited in ways that God is not - he wasn't omniscient, he was bound by time and space, he was tempted. And I think it is important to remember that it is in perfectly adhering to God's will that we have perfect freedom. Although we are in a sense free to sin, it is sin that makes us slaves to our passions, and to the events around us. The Incarnation does tell us something about God, about his nature if you want to put it that way; he is able to empty himself while still remaining God.
One Person of the Godhead "emptying Himself" is surely different from all Three emptying Themselves, though, surely? There was never a point in which none of the Persons in the Godhead were omniscient or omnipotent.
It depends. First, would free will mean God was totally emptying himself? I don't think so really. Secondly, the realities we see in Christ are telling us something more generally about God. In fact it is through the Son that there is a creation, and it is the Son that had to empty himself for creation. There is something about our relationship with God that requires that kind of suffering, that kind of emptying, that kind of self-giving by God. Can we quantify what that is all about> It doesn't seem so. But does it inform the kinds of things we think God might be able to do? It does for me.
I am still not sure why you think freedom makes God powerless? I don't know of anyone except perhaps a Deist who might say that. Of course he could intervene, and most Christians believe that at times he does, for some reason of his own. Do you not believe in miracles? That is just an example of God intervening when we don't expect him to. I am also surprised that you feel that God cannot control the things he wishes to while accommodating human freedom. I got sent a "meeting creator" email recently to arrange a group meeting. It takes in the dates that everyone is free and sets up the most advantageous time for the meeting. If a wee computer can do that, I don't worry that God can't manage to arrange history where he wants to.
Miracles are God intervening in the physical laws of the universe. Predestination is God interfering in human decisions, which is a different kettle of fish. Obviously I don't have a problem with it, being a Calvinist, but Arminians tend to recoil from the idea, saying that God wants us to love Him freely and so on. Which makes it odd that they'd be OK with God doing it sometimes. Why is it OK sometimes, but not always?
I don't know if we can really answer this question - why it would be just some times but not others. I suppose what I would say is that God would not over-ride what is essential to our freedom, what makes us human. But I'm also not sure I would say he does it - over-ride our freedom. I do, however, think he could.
But history is inextricably linked to human decisions. Wars happen because people decide to make war; plagues happen in part because of human decisions about hygiene, quarantine and so on; economic growth is tied to people deciding to buy things. You could argue that if God wanted to stop a war from happening, He could let everyone freely decide to go to war and then thwart them "guerilla-style" through a series of technical blunders, communication breakdowns or outright miracles; but that wouldn't be much in the way of "freedom", would it? And it's not the pattern we see in Scripture, where God happily makes people bless Israel instead of cursing her, or causing Pharaoh to harden his heart against the Israelites.
I wonder how specifically God needs to set up history? It may be that he is able to achieve his ends while allowing a lot of possibilities. I doubt God spends a lot of time stopping wars if we are determined to have them - I suspect God's ends are not often that specific. It isn't a situation where God has to either set up a set of laws and let things run out like clockwork, nor does he need to interfering the pattern that has been set. Things can be arranged to fall out to achieve God's ends while at the same time taking account of every choice individuals make, or would make, or could make. And of course if every possible choice is always made, that changes the whole perspective on the thing.
Your computer program presumably only works if everyone is free at some point for the meeting. Under a LFW perspective, what if God wanted to spread the Gospel to a remote tribe in Ethiopia, but no missionary freely chose to go there? Would He override someone's free will "just this once"?
Not one missionary out of millions of people? Even if he made him an offer he couldn't refuse? Do you think he couldn't co-ordinate the choices of all people through history so an appropriate person would be available at the right time? OTOH I suppose he might let us suffer the consequences of our stiff necks.
Yeah - I don't think substitutionary atonement can really be pushed to far to be honest. But I am not saying that the rational is wrong. I am saying it is not the only, or highest, way of being, and it is not God's way of Being (or not-Being). I am also not saying we can gain no knowledge from Scriptures, and I don't see where anyone has suggested that - it is a very tindery straw man. What I am saying is what we know about God is only through our own interactions with him. In that sense, you might say that it is subjective. What we know about God is filtered by our own way of knowing. Just as I am sure my actions from my dog's POV have some doggy interpretation, we only see God according to our own mode. That is ok, because God created it, and so it is true, and it is even connected to God's mode. And what is more, perhaps unlike dogs and humans, we can see that God's mode is different than ours.
You haven't given me any reason to believe that rationality is not God's way of Being, though. You're just asserting it. I don't see it in Scripture - quite the reverse. Why do you believe it?
I did give a reason. Do you think God is finite, or that he has limits? To be unlimited includes unlimited by our reason and categories. As for Scripture: Thao already mentioned Job, which is an apophatic theology if I ever saw one, summarized with ".Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?" There is the fact that when God talks to people he uses an intermediary, or they cannot see him all, or he is somehow obscured (as in the cloud, or when only his hind parts are seen and his face is hidden), or there is the case of the burning bush where he is actually in a form which in some ways defies logic. Paul tells us that God " alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see". Or in Romans we have, "O 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 hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? " And there are any number of places that refer to God's infinity.
Why do you think he couldn't have stopped the man's hand or his decision? He could stop either I suppose, though not without destroying the hand as a hand for that moment, or the free will for that moment. Since free will, and hands, are good things, why would God want to destroy them? On the other hand, is the murderer actually able to really destroy anything God has made? (Re: Pharaoh I think that Pharaoh was probably implicated. If Pharaoh wasn't that kind of guy, he wouldn't be Pharaoh.)
I don't think free will is necessarily a good thing. (And, huh? The hand would still be a hand even if God stopped it hitting the daughter.) Sure you can adopt an "it'll all pan out in the end" approach - Paul says that the sufferings of the present time will be as nothing from a heavenly perspective. But if your defense for LFW is that God can interfere with it if He wants to, why is there such an objection to God always "interfering"?
A hand (or whatever) isn't a hand if it doesn't function as a hand. A thing's end is part of what the thing is. If God created free will, then it's good..The point here was that God interfering in the action would mean the destruction of an objective good. When I say that God can interfere, what I mean is that if he chose to, he could. Nothing is stopping him, he has the power to do so. He doesn't because he doesn't choose to. Power can be made manifest in inaction as well as action.
God cannot be emotional - you need to have a body to have emotions. Usually (though one could define it differently I suppose) it also implies change. I don't know that I would say it results in pantheism - though I suppose it might - but saying that God's nature or attributes must be the same as those of creation seems to be very close to a kind of pantheism.
Why do you need a body to have emotions? There are disembodied spirits (of humans) in Heaven who are described as having emotions; angels are described as having emotions, too. I don't see how this follows at all - just because emotions are linked to hormones and so on in humans doesn't mean they always are. Nor do I think it's unreasonable to expect common attributes between God and His creation - we are made "in His image", after all.
Sure God and creation share things, and creation is a revelation of God. But pantheism doesn't differentiate between the two. When we say that the attributes we see in creation must be the same as God's, then we are moving, I think, towards a pantheistic position. We have to expect similarities, but also differences.
If you want to define emotions as orientations of the will, I am fine with saying God, angels etc have them. In Heaven the two (emotion and will) are presumably united in humans. I would tend to say that God, or an angel, had an orientation of will toward joy rather than an emotion of joy. Emotions are usually defined as psychological and physical states, which is physical. I think this is a case of Scripture describing things in human terms rather than in reference to the things themselves. God is not properly wrathful - but under some circumstances we may exist in a state where we perceive wrath from him.
There are many many places where God's love and will for all of creation is found. When you ask if I am a universalist in this context I am not sure what you mean. I think Christ died for all people, that we have all been "saved" whether we know it or not, or accept it or not. It is simply a fact that we are connected to God in this way, and even those who go to Hell (and I hope that there are none) are in fact still bound up in God's love. That isn't the traditional understanding of a universalist, but it may be from your POV.
Hmm - OK. Universalists generally believe that there will definitely be no-one in hell, but your view is definitely unusual from my perspective. Are you saying we're all saved, but the salvation isn't efficacious unless it's accepted? Or that you can be saved but still go to hell?
Yes, that is how I would have defined a universalist too. I guess I would say yes - the salvation isn't efficacious unless one accepts it; but I do think even then one is saved. I think Hell has to do with the state of our relationship with God. He loves even the dammed, but what is the experience of that love to someone who is rejecting it? In essence they have dammed themselves rather than God damming them. If we cling to things that are not of God, his love burns them away, and we experience that more the more we cling to them.
I'm not sure what Calvinists mean by "common grace"?
Oh, sorry. Common grace is basically good things God gives to (more or less) everyone, regardless of whether they are elect or not - sort of "general goods" that tend to make the world a nicer place. Romantic love is considered to be one of these things - it won't get anyone to heaven, but it's not given out only to a select few. The beauty of the world is another; the joy of having children, or a love of music or art or mathematics; friendship; that kind of thing.
So if the non-elect (is there a catchy name for them?) have the law written on their hearts, is that supposed to be a grace for themselves, or for other people who see them? It kind of seems like it would suck for them, at least in the long term.
With regard to human nature - sin is essential the act of choosing not-God. It is severing our connection to him and moving away into nothingness. That's why we become less than fully human, and subject to death as the result of sin. But what does it mean if God himself has chosen not-God? How can God move away from himself? I can make God encompass that in my theological model, but I'm not sure how you can because it seems to be a logical contradiction. I don't see how sin is possible in this view, and that means God is condemning those who are not sinning at all. And that is not really copacetic with divine justice.
God causing someone to sin is not the same as God Himself sinning (which I agree is impossible, not only theologically but very possibly logically). In your view, God has occasionally interfered with LFW and directly caused sin, right? How is that theoretically different from a view in which He always does it? Isn't that just a matter of degree?
I am not able to say yes or no to this I'm afraid, so I really can't answer. But if God caused a person to sin, I am not sure that it would "count" if that makes sense. It wouldn't belong to the person. (But - thinking about it, I think That suggests to me that God may not interfere, because I can't see how the sinful act could fail to affect the person psychologically. Still, I think I would not bet on it either way.)
Secondly, in the cases I was thinking about with groups, I'm not sure you could argue that they used SS. They also looked pretty closely at what the early Church actually did and taught in the writings of the Fathers and in the liturgies. So they were accessing Tradition, even if they didn't know it. And until they had actually completed their journey they would probably tell you that they were still not part of the Church - they didn't for example have access to the Sacraments. So it would seem in that case if you said that SS led them there, then it lead them to a way of existing as Christians that actually destroyed SS. That speaks to the power of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, but would not perhaps be a recommendation for SS.
Even so, they had to use their private judgment, Scripture and reason to come to the conclusion that those writings were true. Those are techniques which Tradition declares epistemically unreliable, so having come to a belief in Tradition, how could they trust the process that led them there?
It says they are unreliable alone for some things, though not useless, and God's ability to step in is not limited by Tradition. Revelation in general doesn't destroy that which is below it, it takes it up. Remember that Scripture and Tradition are part of the same Revelation. Would you say that a person who decided after studying that the Bible was God's word would have put his own process of discernment in question?