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Calvinism, hell, etc.

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  • Calvinism, hell, etc.

    So this thread is for discussing Calvinism, predestination, hell, puppy torture, and other fun stuff that doesn't directly relate to the ex nihilo thread. (Come on in, Jeff, I see you saying "amen" to 7up's posts on this. ) Arguments about free will and determinism belong on the ex nihilo thread.

    I am starting by responding to post #73 and part of post #74 on the ex nihilo thread.

    Originally posted by seven7up View Post
    Let's say that God throws the puppy in the cage of torture because the puppy poops on the carpet, which the puppy (by its very nature) is going to do. In fact, both puppies were pooping on the carpet, but one gets the cage and the other doesn't.


    Both puppies deserved the torture cage in my analogy because both pooped on the carpet. God chose to save one and not the other.
    Really, 7up? I assume you are a fairly decent human being who wouldn't use torture to train a puppy. But you're going to try to fix your analogy by saying that non-housebroken puppies deserve torture? I really think you should toss your analogy and start over.

    Did "infants" going to Heaven accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior? Please explain, because my understanding is that only those who accept the atonement of Jesus Christ can be saved.
    Not before they died, obviously. Since the Bible doesn't speak directly on this, this is all just my speculation. I could see God saving an infant whose believing parents prayed for him, or someone who never directly heard of Jesus but responded to what knowledge of God they had, or an infant that God foreknew would accept him as soon as he became aware of him (e.g. on meeting him after death). In all cases, the person in question would presumably have the mental faculties and knowledge to consciously follow God in heaven, and whatever sins of theirs would require forgiveness (if any; I'm not sure on that point either) would be covered by Christ.

    And what EXACTLY determines who receives the forgiveness, and who does not?
    Source: John 6:4-47

    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me — not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

    © Copyright Original Source

    Those who God enables to come to him and who choose to believe.

    Classic Christian theology says that God predestined/foreordained/chose which individuals He would save and which ones God would not save and this decision was made before God even created any of those individuals ex nihilo. On what criteria was this decision made if NOBODY deserves it in the first place?
    We don't know for sure, since God hasn't explained it to us fully. I have an idea that perhaps we can think of it as God designing his church -- planning who he would create to fulfill all the different parts of the Body, making sure that it would be complete. But he created others as well, people that he loved and designed with good in them, but whom he foreknew would ultimately reject him. They too were created for a purpose -- to serve as a warning to the church, to be the avenue through which tests and refinement would come, etc.

    As humans, we naturally tend to think of God planning things or doing things in sequence, the way we ourselves would have to do it. I think God is able to think of everything at once, just as he is able to interact with billions of people simultaneously -- I think he could have, and quite possibly did, plan everyone who would exist and all of history all at once. It's only because of our human limitations that we think of it as God creating or planning to create everyone and then choosing some but not others.

    LDS theology provides an entirely different perspective. Let's take this famous passage of Jeremiah 1:5

    "Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified (quadash) thee, and I ordained (nathan) thee a prophet unto the nations."

    Quadash: to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, set apart
    Nathan: to ordain, appoint, make

    So, in the classic theism view, you have to interpret this as meaning that God is ordaining, preparing, appointing a person who does not yet actually exist. God just knows what the person is going to do ahead of time.

    In the LDS view, God knows the individual spirit by means of personal interaction prior to mortality. God knows who that being is, based on the person's characteristics and/or the way that the person exercises his/her free will. It is based on that criteria that God places the individual into the mission for which he/she is intended.

    Wasn't your theodicy based on God being stuck with fallible spirits who already existed through no fault of his own? If God has already been interacting with these people for "eternity past," why is he obligated to give them more chances to do wrong?

    Originally posted by seven7up
    Originally posted by KD
    Again, God is never sadistic and his choices are not arbitrary (even the Calvinists I know agree that God did not arbitrarily choose the elect).
    Then they don't understand Calvinism, and they probably shouldn't call themselves Calvinists.
    You just insulted several of my pastors, who I have a lot of respect for (even if I don't agree with them on Calvinism).

    IMO it takes an awful lot of hubris to claim that you understand a doctrine better than the people who not only hold it, but have studied it, obtained seminary degrees and worked in full-time teaching/pastoral positions for years. Given how frequently you and other LDS are irked at non-LDS making assumptions about what you believe, telling you what you believe, etc. I would think you wouldn't do something like this.

    If it is not arbitrary, then on what basis was the decision made?
    I gave you my answer to this above; below are some things I have found on Calvinists' answers.

    I don't think they know. I sent you a PM with a link to my pastor's recent sermon on election/predestination. He basically says we don't know the specifics of why God chose people, but we know it wasn't arbitrary because it was done in love and for a purpose.

    The theology textbook I have that's by a Calvinist (Wayne Grudem) says, "God chose us simply because he decided to bestow his love upon us. It was not because of any foreseen faith or foreseen merit in us...It is 'unconditional' because it is not conditioned upon anything that God sees in us that makes us worthy of his choosing us." His response to the objection that election is unfair as it is all God's doing is, "Paul simply says (referring to Rom 9:20-24) that there is a point beyond which we cannot answer back to God or question his justice...If God ultimately decided to create some creatures to be saved and others not to be saved, then that was his sovereign choice, and we have no moral or scriptural basis on which we can insist that it was not fair."

    Originally posted by seven7up View Post
    Or we will have to have you explain what you agree with, when it comes to Calvinism, as you just said you agree with some things. And perhaps you can explain you do or don't agree with certain things.
    In a nutshell:

    I agree with the Calvinist emphasis on God's sovereignty and sucking it up and dealing with a lot of the hard passages in the Bible that other people seem to me to not deal with, like Romans 9 and Proverbs 16:4. I think that Bible believers really can't get around the concept of predestination.

    I disagree with things like irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints (though the latter may boil down to how I and a given Calvinist define things). I think Calvinist doctrine doesn't place enough emphasis on human responsibility. God has to enable us to come to him, but we have to choose to come to him as well. And I think people can choose not to come if God is calling them, or choose to genuinely follow him for a time and then change their minds.

    Does God take that "first step in enabling people to come unto him" with everyone?
    From what I understand, the Calvinist answer to this is "no" and the Weslyan/Arminian answer is "yes." I like the "yes" answer better but I think there is Biblical evidence for "no." But I don't have a firm answer myself.

    Do you believe that everyone must believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved? If so, what if they never heard the gospel?
    I answered this above. Basically I think that in theory, it is possible for someone who never hears the gospel to be saved, if they respond to what knowledge of God is available to them. In practice, I think this happens very rarely, if at all, with the possible exception of people who die before the age of accountability and those who never have the mental ability to comprehend God, sin, etc.

    It sounds like you are leaning towards "infants who die go to heaven."
    If, when I die, I find out that all babies/people under a certain age who died are in heaven, then I would be totally fine with that and praise God. If I find out that some babies/children were not, I would assume that God had good reason for judging them and that he did so in perfect justice.

    But then we get into the very difficult topic of examples of parents who kill their children so they won't grow up, won't sin and won't go to hell. That crazy, crazy notion has some logic behind it, does it not?
    It is logical only when it is considered outside of the context of the full theology of the Bible. God is the only one who has the authority to decide when people should die. Killing someone because one assumes they are better off dead is assuming that one knows better than God and is an attempt to usurp God of his authority.

    I don't believe in total depravity. I have already explained my position, that any imperfect spirit who enters mortality and faced with moral choices will sin.
    7up, when I ask you a question, it's for a good reason. I suspect your concept of total depravity is different than what most Calvinists define it to be. And your second sentence above does not fully explain what it is that you disagree with about total depravity.

    So, maybe you can give me YOUR definition.
    I don't have a personal definition, I try to go with what the Calvinist definition is because it's their doctrine. Here is one from John Piper:

    Source: John Piper

    In summary, total depravity means that our rebellion against God is total, everything we do in this rebellion is sin, our inability to submit to God or reform ourselves is total, and we are therefore totally deserving of eternal punishment.

    (Here is the link)

    © Copyright Original Source

    If you're going to ask me whether I agree with it or not, I tend to go back and forth. I agree that people are unable to come to God on their own and that we deserve eternal punishment, but I'm unsure whether everything that unbelievers do is sin. Piper makes some good points in favor of that view, but God did create us as good and give us consciences.

  • #2
    Originally posted by seven7up View Post
    Not only that, but after the fall, many Christians believe that every spirit that God creates out of nothing at the moment of conception is created to be totally "depraved" and incapable of doing anything good whatsoever.
    This is what I meant about your definition being different. People aren't created to be totally depraved. If they are totally depraved, it's due at least in part to the effects of the fall.


    • #3
      Originally posted by seven7up View Post
      Let's look at a typical criticism of Christianity from an author/critic/skeptic:

      "If we conclude, then, that God would create Hell to deter human behavior which He disliked—knowing beforehand that the majority of humanity would, as a result, suffer eternal torture—then we would be forced to label this god as evil and sadistic also, because He likewise would have inhumanely tortured individuals in order to accomplish His goals" (Mills, 2006, p. 180).

      As I have explained previously, modern day Christianity's insistence on believing in the relationship between God and creation that you espouse (including the concept of Ex Nihilo creation) invites these kinds of criticisms, which are entirely valid.
      Let's break this quote down:

      "God would create Hell to deter human behavior which He disliked" -- I don't think that's the primary reason for God creating hell. If God's primary purpose was to deter or prevent evil, he wouldn't have created people in the first place. I'm not sure it makes sense to talk about God creating hell for a reason, I think it's more something that was logically and morally necessary given that there were going to be any creatures who would sin.

      "knowing beforehand that the majority of humanity would [be in hell]" -- Knew beforehand, yes. Majority? Given our discussions on the possibility of infant salvation, maybe it's not a majority, but I will grant that it will be a very sizable number of people; and as you said somewhere earlier, even if we were just talking about a single person being in hell, it would be a matter of concern.

      "As a result" -- as a result of what? You said something it is:

      Originally posted by seven7up View Post
      People going to hell is the result of the existence of evil. But, you know, whatevs.
      Is that the point you want me to address? If so, what exactly are you saying? God shouldn't have created anyone who would sin so that he wouldn't be throwing anyone in hell?

      "suffer eternal torture" -- Eternal, yes. As for "torture," let's consider the definition:


      1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.

      4. extreme anguish of body or mind; agony.

      © Copyright Original Source

      Both definitions above have an element of inherent wrongness -- inflicting pain out of sheer cruelty is clearly sadism, and "extreme anguish" implies something out of the ordinary and therefore unlikely to be merited.

      I submit that punishment in hell is not torture, at least to the degree that the word implies sadistic or unmerited pain/punishment. There are degrees of punishment in hell (Lk 12:47-48). People are punished in accordance with their actual sins and their level of responsibility. There may be individuals, such as Satan, whose degree of punishment would be considered excruciating or agonizing, and in that sense it could be called "torture," but even then it would only be what was truly just and deserved.

      "He likewise would have inhumanely tortured individuals in order to accomplish His goals" -- Again with "torture," because that is presumably Mills' main point. People tend to think of torture when they think of hell, and then assume that it must be unjust, because after all, it's torture, and as we tend to use the word, torture is always or nearly always wrong. But I am saying that whatever punishment people experience in hell is only as much as they justly deserve.

      But this isn't your main objection, I don't think. Your objection is that God, in ENCT, supposedly created people who had no choice but to sin, and then punished them for doing what they couldn't avoid doing -- what he created them to do, as you see it.

      As I said in the OP, all your arguments about us not having free will don't belong here. So I will focus on the specific objection that God created us as morally fallible to begin with and then punishes us for being fallible.

      As I have said before, I think God created us as "good" initially, that is, with the potential to obey him. Given our natural limitations, we won't always obey him -- we fall prey to temptation as Adam and Eve did. Then on top of this, there are the effects of the fall, which make us more prone to sin and "depraved" to the extent that we don't seek God on our own and God has to take the first step in bringing us to him.

      However, despite these obstacles, we still have the potential to obey God. We could in theory seek him out (though in practice no one does). It is not that we literally cannot obey, but that we don't obey. I think the Bible is pretty clear that we are responsible for our sin precisely because we do have the ability to not sin (e.g. Dt 30:11, Jn 9:41). (This is one reason why I said I had a problem with Calvinism not placing enough emphasis on human responsibility. I don't agree with the definition of original sin that says we are considered directly guilty of sin solely because of Adam's sin; I think we have a more sinful nature than God originally created us with because of Adam's sin.)

      In other words, my view is that people in hell are punished for things they actually chose to do that were wrong, when they had the ability to choose otherwise.

      Originally posted by seven7up View Post
      7up: We are responsible for our own nature. Do you disagree? If so, who do you think is responsible for our nature?

      KD: We are responsible for part and God is responsible for part. Roughly speaking, we are responsible for our sinfulness and God is responsible for what is good in us.
      If that is true, then God could save every single one of his creations, without exception.
      Not without overriding free will. We have both good and bad in us and we have to choose which we follow.

      This goes to the kind of "total depravity" view that I referenced above. If every person who ever existed was created with the inability to do any good without God, then who's fault is it? That sounds like a design flaw which points to a poor Creator rather than trying to blame the poor creature who was destined to fail.
      AFAIK the Calvinists I know would not say we were created with the inability to do good; we are that way because of the fall.

      Since we have been debating for quite a while now, and you have made this mistake before, I am going to take the liberty of correcting your grammar. "Who's" = "who is". "Whose" is a possessive, like yours, hers, its, theirs. What you meant to say was, "...whose fault is it?"

      Then God picks and chooses who to save "on a whim" despite their created nature, and leaves the rest to their predetermined eternal destruction.
      Again, that is your assumption that it is arbitrary.

      Is God purposefully creating beings in opposition to Himself so that He can contend with them, thus forcing an unnecessary conflict?
      Does God purposefully create beings that he knows will oppose him? I think the Bible says that he does. But not to have unnecessary conflict.

      You know how you said you debated a Trinitarian on another forum, and copied and pasted his quotes from different threads so he was effectively arguing with himself? I keep thinking of that and wanting to do the same thing. Why can't the guy who gave me these answers on the Heavenly Mother thread:

      Originally posted by seven7up View Post
      Don't take it up with me, God is running the show, not me.


      If you have a problem with the order as described in the scriptures you quoted, again, you need to take it up with God, not me. If you have an issue with God not explaining everything at once, then again, I cannot help you. God reveals "line upon line and precept upon precept". He reveals the "mysteries of godliness" when God sees fit to do so, when God feels the world should face it.


      Again, throughout most of recorded scriptural history, there is no details given about many, many things. God reveals things in His due time.
      respond to the guy who is questioning God's judgment and sovereignty and wanting to know why God created people the way he did and just how he decided to save some and not others? Maybe why God chose to save the people he did is a mystery that he doesn't have to explain to you.

      Now me, being the foolish mortal that I am, I try to find explanations and help people to deal with theological issues that they don't like or have a hard time with. The issues on this thread seem to be blocking issues for you, so I'm willing to address them. But since you're a theist and not an atheist, and you apparently didn't like being pressed for answers on the Heavenly Mother thread, can you at least have some respect for the fact that I am trying to answer hard questions, some of which no one has the answers to?

      I'm not saying you shouldn't press me and ask hard questions. I'm pressing you on the HM thread because I want you to realize that the whole doctrine of HM, and especially your explanations as to why the Bible is silent about her, don't add up. But I respect that you are not going to have the answers to all hard questions about Mormonism; and that some things that God does, we don't like and we don't understand and yet we have to suck it up and deal with it. It's just that when we are discussing this stuff, it's like the atheist part of you comes out and you're wanting everything God does to be fully acceptable to you before you'll decide to believe in him. And then you start bringing in your objections to Calvinism before you've fully understood what my view is and how it's different.


      • #4
        P.S. 7up, check your YouTube messages please.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
          P.S. 7up, check your YouTube messages please.

          I have and thank you India.

          I have been busy with a new baby girl. She is going to be 6 months old already.

          I am currently serving as the stake sunday school president.

          I don't have much spare time.



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