You are herePreterism and Calvinism: The Scriptural Argument, Part 3

Preterism and Calvinism: The Scriptural Argument, Part 3

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By Virgil - Posted on 21 January 2005

by Virgil Vaduva
This is my third and last part of my contra Calvinism series of articles. If you are newly involved in this controversy, you might want to read the first and second article before you continue with the third part. You may not get a full context on what I am talking about in this last part without reading the entire series.This is my third and last part of my contra Calvinism series of articles. If you are newly involved in this controversy, you might want to read the first and second article before you continue with the third part. You may not get a full context on what I am talking about in this last part without reading the entire series.For the last several days I have been fending off a barrage of questions from supporters of Calvinism here, so time has been very scarce. But I was finally able to get around to my last article on this topic in which I will go over a few key Scriptural points that I consider important in dealing with Calvinism. I will show how Preterism forces us to rethink and reconsider everything, especially Calvinism.

As I have shown in the two previous columns, the issue of Calvinism has deep philosophical and theological implications. The heavy involvement of many people in the discussion of these articles also shows that there is a lot of theology left to be synthesized and exhaustively developed by Preterists. For hundreds of years, futurists have had almost exclusive reign over the development of doctrine, so we have our work cut out for us. Yes, as many have pointed out, Preterism affects virtually every aspect of Christianity, so what I am experiencing, is that just when I think I have something figured out, something else becomes more obvious or more obscure. We should therefore all look at Preterism as the means to a fuller understanding of Scripture, not the end of the trip. Until one of us will sit down and develop a systematic theology volume from a Preterist perspective, some confusion will continue to reign, especially since many of us Preterists still appear to be stuck in the ways of tradition and creeds.

The bogus idea of total depravity

In my eyes, the strength of Calvinism rests almost entirely on the issue of total depravity, or the concept of man’s “utter depravity” and the perceived notion that man is wholly unable to do anything good. This is based on the notion of “sin nature”, which is supposedly a “substance” of some sort (be it spiritual or physical) which appeared with the fall of Adam. Since that time, until our present day, this “sin nature” has been passed on to children by birth. This “sin nature” is what “mostly” causes us humans to sin and this is why humanity is totally depraved.

Other Christians even take the concept of sin nature one step further, saying that all matter on the planet or in the universe has been affected by sin nature, and generally speaking, many things which go wrong in the world are associated with the sin nature of the world. How many Preterists subscribe to this is impossible to know, but I do know that quite a few continue to subscribe to the notion of Adam’s sin being passed on to all humanity through birth.

Many Calvinists use Paul’s discourse in Romans 7, 8 and 9 to “prove” that the world is indeed depraved. There are two fundamental problems with this approach: Paul’s discourse is taken out of its covenantal context of Law (death and sin) vs. Christ (life and righteousness), and a predilection is brought to the text which reads into it something that is not there.

In Romans 7 Paul goes through several comparisons and pictures of the two covenants, and explains how one brought to life sin, and therefore death. In verse 9 Paul writes: “I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died.” The English of the passage is very clear; therefore there is no need to get into the Greek language. This is the classic antithetical approach taken by Paul across his letters, in order to demonstrate the huge contrast between the Law and Christ, or the Law and lack of it. Paul is evidently saying that in his life, there was a time when he was alive, yet once the commandment came, he died due to the sin which came along with the commandment.

The core of this argument is Paul’s claim of being “once alive.” Regardless of how a Calvinist chooses to interpret the meaning of “once” unless Paul was lying, the obvious conclusion is that Paul was alive at some time in the past, and not just that, but he was alive apart from the Law. Now Paul was in fact always a Jew, born under the Law, so the question to be asked is “when was Paul APART from the Law?” Of course, the only time when Paul was apart from the Law was when he was a child and he lacked the understanding of the commandments, and ignorance of the Law was indeed a justifiable excuse not just for Children (Deut: 1:35-39) but also for Gentiles “who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.” (Romans 2:14, 15)

So it stands to reason that since Gentiles were not being held to the standards of the Law, so much less would Children be held accountable for something beyond their understanding and beyond their doing, because “all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law.” (Romans 2:12)

Paul is using the same antithetical approach in Ephesians 2 where he writes: “remember that you were once separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12, 13)

Those subscribing to the idea of total depravity also reference Romans 5:12, as the ultimate text in support of their views. In fact, I remember discussing this issue with someone, and this individual, in his eager anticipation to prove that all men inherit Adam’s sin only quoted half of Paul sentence as follows: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men.” The problem is that he left out the most important part of Paul’s statement. The verse in fact reads: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because they all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) According to Paul then, why did death spread to all men? Because they had children? Of course not. The cause of death is clear: because they all sinned. So then, in Romans 5, Paul is not teaching that sin is perpetuated and inhabits all men through their physical birth; he is in fact teaching the opposite of this notion. Paul is making two key statements here:

1. Sin entered the world through Adam; therefore death entered the world through sin.

2. Death spread to all men, because they all sinned.

Paul very clearly equates sin with death, so we can safely deduce that lack of sin equates life. This is very consistent with Paul’s statement of “once being alive apart from the Law” and the general understanding of Christian salvation coming through Christ’s removal of sins which consequently gives us life.

Nowhere is Paul teaching or introducing the notion that physical birth somehow causes humans to inherit Adam’s sin or some portion of it. Judaism rejects this notion as well. In Jewish thought, the view of total depravity is rejected and man is born as a neutral being, with the ability to choose both good and evil. As far as I can see, Augustine was the first to come up with the notion of total depravity, which has been perpetuated with the help of Calvin to our days. Preterists should understand that inserting sin into the birth process of mankind warps our understanding of the fall. Either Adam’s fall was purely a spiritual event, or it has universal physical implications that continue past AD 70, in which case God failed in his plan to restore us back to an “Adamic state” and His presence as promised.

Another interesting instance that is relevant to this discussion is Deuteronomy 1 where Moses explains to Israel why only certain people will enter the Promised Land. Note his words: “Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give your fathers…moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.” (Deuteronomy 1:35-39)

The “evil generation” of Moses would not enter the Promise Land, yet children were to be allowed in. Moving over to the New Testament and Christ’s description of the true Promised Land, the Kingdom of God, we read: “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

It is evident now that Jesus was simply translating the Mosaic requirements for entering the Promised Land, i.e. “no evil,” into the spiritual requirements for entering the Kingdom of God, i.e. “no evil.” Children qualify in both instances. This evidence should shout from the mountaintops to all Calvinists as proof that children lack sin, sin nature, or any other bastardized version of Adam’s sin, especially in the already established context of the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 20, we are given the description of a man who commits all sorts of abominations. This man has a son, and his son observes all the sins of his father, so much so that he becomes a good man, and does all good things required by God. Ezekiel asks: “Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity?” And we are given the unequivocal answer: “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” (Ezekiel 18:19, 20)

Additionally, should our Calvinist friends choose to put Paul’s idea of “sin” in its proper covenantal context, they would understand that while the words “sin nature” really bastardize the concept which Paul was trying to get across, sin nature is accurate in the sense that Paul would have made “sin nature” analogous with “the Law,” the two of them being almost indistinguishable in that context. The Law, i.e. “the commandment” has become the stumbling stone for Israel, and it could not be overcome, thus sin itself (the Law) could not be overcome without Christ.

A noteworthy comment to be made is the fact that the idea of “sin nature” infesting all creation is in fact the result of overemphasizing the physical outcome of the fall. Most, if not all futurists believe and teach that the very structure of matter itself was changed at the time of the fall. Rather than viewing the fall as a purely spiritual event, when Adam spiritually died because of his sin, they translate Adam’s spiritual death and misconduct into the changing of the physical universe via the notion of sin nature. So, according to them, man’s main problem became physical death, thus man’s main concern is looking for a solution to his physical death: a physical resurrection.

Clearly, total depravity becomes an empty doctrine when confronted with the problem of children’s sin. If total depravity is a valid position, then children have sin, and if they do die in their sins before they profess their faith, they are in theory lost for eternity. The same goes for the millions of aborted babies over the years, and infants dying during delivery. Interestingly enough, this puts children in a double standard position: children have to profess faith to be “saved” but they don’t have to “profess sin” to be lost. When confronted with this situation, Calvinists cannot and should not be allowed to make an emotional argument which I’ve heard so many times: “God will not let children go to hell.” If their callous theology does not allow for the non-elect to be saved and for children to be sin-free, then they should face their own music when it comes to comforting the many parents who sob at the graves of their children and tell those parents that their children, unless elected, could be “tormented in the Lake of Fire forever and ever.” How do you think this would go with the Calvinist congregations in America and how will the bank accounts of churches be affected when nobody shows up on Sunday mornings?

The elect

And if according to Calvinism my six month old daughter Sophia happens to be part of the elect, and if she dies tomorrow in her “Adamic sin”, consequently she will go into God’s presence regardless of her sin or sin nature. This conclusion is borderline sacrilegious, and it negates the teaching of “the elect” being irresistibly drawn unto God. A six month old infant is not drawn to God. Elmo may be an attraction, but certainly God is not.

On the other hand, if we put “the elect” into the covenantal context of the first century, we will be able to build a more accurate picture of what “the elect” was all about. Let’s look at just a few passages and consider their relevance:

In 1 Peter 1 we read: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.

Paul wrote in Titus 1: “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness– a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light.

In 2 Timothy 2:10 Paul again writes: “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

And finally, in Romans he again writes: “What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor.” (Romans 11:7, 8)

What is absolutely fascinating about these passages is that they seem to contain some very obvious time-statements and they appear to define “the elect” only as a first-century occurrence, and more specifically as “the remnant” which Paul describes in Romans 11. When Paul explains the nature of the elect in Romans 11, he does it in the context of defining the “remnant of Israel.” Note verse 5: “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

Paul knows he is talking to gentiles in Rome ("I am talking to you gentiles" v.13) so he has to go into greater details in order to make gentiles understand who this “elect” group of people was comprised of. He goes on to describe Israel as a tree, out of which branches were broken off (non believing Jews), and into which other branches were grafted (believing gentiles). THIS my friends is what is being described as the “elect” across the New Testament. Roman Christians were part of the elect – Paul warns them: “otherwise, you also will be cut off.” (v. 22)

The first-century believers, both Jews and Gentiles, the elect, were to usher in the arrival of Christ. The typological relevance of Israel wandering in the desert for forty years is quite important here. The non-believing Jews were cut-off from the riches of milk and honey of the Promised Land, and specific people were elected to prepare Israel for the entrance into the Promised Land. They were in fact a sort of first fruits who served as a picture of what was to come for the whole world: “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” (James 1:18)

The idea of “first fruits” of course comes from the Feast of First Fruits when the harvester would turn over to God the very first and very best of his wheat, by “electing” which wheat was to be given to God. Of course, the election was based on the merits of the wheat itself, not on random choice made by the harvester.

From this first-century angle, the first fruit elect were to prepare the world for the return of Jesus, and for the entrance in the post AD 70 spiritual Promised Land, at which time they were to finally enjoy, with the rest of the world, the promises they have been awaiting for forty years. This is why the coming of Christ was in fact a first-century event: “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Mark 13:20)

Make a note that just being part of the elect did not mean exemption from the perils of the first-century circumstances: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24)

Fortunately, Jesus was to return soon and gather them back to Himself: “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)

Another thing worth mentioning in relation to predestination and election, is the total inability of Augustine and his followers in dealing with what they called “perplexing” passage of 1 Timothy 2:3, 4 which states: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Jaroslav Pelikan's excellent research on this matter brings great benefit to us in this instance. When discussing Augustine's inability to reconcile predestination with with 1 Timothy 2:4, Pelikan wrote: “Augustine's teaching that the will of God must always, in sovereign grace, achieve its intended purpose was not easy to harmonize with the biblical assertion that universal salvation was the will of God. If not all men were saved, did this mean that God had not willed it or that the saving will of God had been frustrated? Augustine resorted to various devices to square his position with 1 Timothy 2:4 . . . 'All men' meant all the predestined, because every kind of human being was represented among them.” (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), page 321)

Just like many Calvinists today, Augustine was tap-dancing around the issue. The early church recognized the plain teaching of the Scripture that universal salvation was the will of God. But rather than reconsidering his own position, Augustine took the route of manipulating the meaning of “all men” so that ultimately the passage was forced into his “predestinationalist” mold. “All men” becomes “some men” which eventually becomes “the elect” which is being stretched across centuries and linear time until some future return of Christ. This is a total lack of perspective on Augustine’s part. It follows then that if Augustine failed to see “the elect” as a first-century occurrence, his views, and therefore Calvin's views of predestination, election and salvation have to be viewed very cautiously, with a high level of suspicion.

Pelikan himself commented on Augustine's position and Gottschalk's similar attempts to circumvent the meaning of 1 Timothy 2:4 saying: “This statement of Paul's, the predestinarians had to admit, was 'extremely perplexing and much discussed in the writings of the holy fathers and explained in many different ways.' Therefore its interpretation was 'not to be settled precipitately, but very cautiously.' They rehearsed Augustine's various attempts to circumvent the text's affirmation of the universal salvific will of God. From the use of the identical word 'desires' in 1 Timothy 2:4, 'who desires all men to be saved,' and in Romans 9:18, 'He has mercy upon whomever he desires,' Gottschalk strove to demonstrate that 'truly God has not in any way desired to save with eternal salvation those whom, as Scripture testifies, he hardens.' The 'all men' in the text must mean 'all men who are saved' rather than 'all men' in general.” (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 3: The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300), page 90)

It is truly fascinating to me to see overwhelming scriptural evidence of a God willing salvation for all mankind, and see the same mankind creating doctrine that attempts to limit the will of God to a smaller number of people. We should not follow in Augustine's steps when looking at 1 Timothy 2, and we should take the text at face value. We see Paul royally screwing up the works for our Calvinist friends here. He is not only asking that “prayers be made on behalf of all men” but he is unequivocally stating that God “desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.” Both statements of Paul deny the Augustinian view of election and predestination: not surprisingly, prayer can change God's mind concerning men, and secondly God actively desires for all man to be saved. God's desire of salvation for all man puts the burden on “all men” to choose God, not vice versa.

At last by placing the elect in a first century framework, we are true to the time-sensitive nuances of the passages describing the elect, and we are also enforcing the basic truth of Preterism: Jesus did come back in AD 70, for the sake of His elect! You are hard pressed to say that you are a Preterist, if you continue to claim that there is still a group of “elect” people today – that is utterly inconsistent. Placing the elect into a first-century frame destroys the idea of Calvinism’s elect as being a post AD 70 concept!

His death shall bring...God dwelling with man.

Some of you may remember that about a year ago or so I wrote a column discussing the water baptism in the pre and post AD 70 world. I concluded back then that I see enough evidence to suggest that water baptism was a first-century occurrence which had the very important significance of taking an individual from a status-quo, non-covenantal state of existence (or from under the Law) into a New Covenant state of being, i.e. in Christ. Typology in this instance is the equivalent of a 250 pound army drill sergeant screaming out to us how the various baptisms presented in the Bible are relevant to our conversation.

Since this article is getting quite lengthy, I will not go into the great details of each baptism, so I will only discuss the general aspect of typology of Noah's flood and what happened in AD 70. There are only two passages in the New Testament which speak about “the baptism of fire.” In both instances, it is John the Baptist describing Jesus as being the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16) We know that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was the time of the Pentecost. Many futurists believe the baptism of fire is synonymous with the “tongues of fire” at Pentecost. It is obvious to me, for reasons that would take too much time to elaborate, that the “baptism of fire” to which John the Baptist was referring, was actually a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, as a judgment over the nation of Israel and Jerusalem.

With that said, we know that each past instance of baptism, be it the baptism into Moses – which Paul referenced in 1 Cor. 10 – or the “baptism” of Noah's flood, was the precursor and the initiator of a new covenant between God and man. The baptism into Moses resulted in the Law; the baptism of the flood resulted in life for Noah's family. In both instances, the wicked were destroyed, and the “elect” remained (Pharaoh’s armies and Noah’s contemporaries were destroyed and washed away) In the same manner in AD 70, the wicked were destroyed, and the “elect” remained and were gathered to Christ.

Now relative to Noah's flood and its timing, it appears that Methuselah’s name means “his death shall bring” and also it appears that Methuselah died on the very year in which Noah’s flood came. The flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights after which salvation and life came to those left, Noah's family. I propose that Methuselah's name should not to be taken as much as “his death shall bring judgment” as it should be taken as “his death shall bring life.” Translate this into the first century environment, and we have Jesus (YHWH delivers) dying, after which a 40 year period of time a severe judgment on Israel ends, and all God's elect is saved. Thus Christ's death brought life, and His baptism of fire brought the world into a New Covenant with God.

A New Map of the World

The questions over this scenario are not as much over the obvious similarities between Methuselah and Christ, but more or less over how wide the implications of the baptism of fire of AD 70 were. It is evident to me that the baptism of AD 70 led to a New Covenant being instituted, and the whole world being reconciled to God in perhaps a much more comprehensive way than we initially thought.

Before jumping to conclusions, make note that I do not see “reconciliation” as being equal to “salvation.” The two concepts are being presented as separate ideas or processes as far as I can see. In 2 Corinthians Paul writes: “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18,19)

This is consistent with God describing His presence in the midst of Israel in Exodus 25: “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them...there I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.” (Exodus 25)

The similarities with Revelation are striking: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.” (Revelation 21:3)

Would God be willing to dwell among men if reconciliation with mankind was not a reality? If not so, then how can we claim as Preterists that God now dwells among us?

Paul said “...through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”(Col. 1:20)

The traditional thinking of both Arminianists and Calvinists is that reconciliation and salvation are one and the same thing, and generally they both mean “not going to hell.” This thinking doesn't resolve the apparent universal applications of many passages throughout the Bible. The doctrines of “total depravity” and “the elect” were built on this model and they still stand on this foundation.

Under the old paradigm the dilemma remains unsolved; in two thousand years the Church has been unable to settle the dispute. Preterism inevitably leads us to the creation of a new proposal which makes more sense and makes this debate irrelevant. We either continue to limit the will of God by continuing to teach Calvinism or Arminianism, or we reject both views in favor of a new understanding of reconciliation and salvation founded on Preterism, and on the understanding that “reconciliation” and “salvation” are not a matter of geography and the thermostat settings, but they are a matter of God as already having reconciled the world to Himself.

For a very long time, the Covenant Theology folks have been trying to define the Church as the New Israel of God, and in a sense, Covenant Theology has been doing well at answering critics. However, with the arrival of Preterism on the scene, I see a total lack of both interest and ability to answer the questions raised by us. In what appears as blatantly paradoxical, many Preterists with a reformed background continue to see “the elect” as a post-AD 70 phenomenon. They continue to teach predestination and despite God's will to save all men, they limit his universal willingness to a narrow willingness to save only “the elect.”

By taking the position that AD 70 reconciled the entire world and all things both on earth and in heaven with God, Calvinism and Arminianism become irrelevant. If the world has indeed been fully reconciled to God, then God's new Israel is not the Church, rather the whole world has become the New Israel of God, and the Church is in fact the New Jerusalem described in Revelation. I believe that this new map of the world resembles a more accurate picture of the types for salvation and reconciliation presented throughout the Bible. Furthermore, before Calvinists cry foul, God's sovereignty--which Calvinism had everything but patented with the US Patent and Trademark Office--is not just maintained, but magnified a thousand fold. We have a picture of an all loving and all powerful God, able to do what he set out to do: reconcile the world to Himself. The integrity of the Scripture is maintained. The notion of “the elect” is maintained, and at last, the understanding of God's Kingdom is wholly accurate and easy to understand.

The definition of “kingdom” is that area over which a king has full dominion. As Preterists we often proudly claim that “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ." (Revelation 11:5) Yet today, we are still confused over how far God's sovereignty extends; if it goes as far as the walls of the New Jerusalem or what it all means. I propose that true to Revelation 11:5, the Kingdom of our Lord encompasses ALL creation. God has already reconciled the entire world to Himself, and therefore His Kingdom is now encompassing all creation on earth and in heaven. I have heard Preterists explaining that God’s Kingdom is “ever expanding.” Sorry folks, that’s not good enough. Either his Kingdom has replaced the world kingdom or it has not. Either the stone seen by Daniel grew into a mountain that occupies the whole earth or it did not. We can’t have it both ways.

Now what does this do for salvation? Oh, I am sure that someone out there will use the “u” word. Don't bother, I will say right now, I am not a universalist – universalism has nothing to do with Christ, and I see no evidence of all humanity being saved. Clearly, those standing outside of the New Jerusalem are not bearing a “saved” status in the eyes of God. They have been reconciled to God, they are in Israel, they are under the domain of the King but they ignorantly profess their rejection of Him by living out of covenant with God. This parallels well the fact that while God redeemed all Israel from Egypt, not every single Jew was living in covenant with God. Nonetheless, even those Jews not keeping their end of the deal still enjoyed all the global benefits (milk and honey) of the Promised Land. Likewise, those who are outside of the New Jerusalem, who are not keeping their end of the covenant, get to enjoy all the benefits of God's presence today. What will happen after their deaths and what are the implications of the Lake of Fire? I do no know – I am split between annihilationism and eternal punishment, and honestly I am not that concerned with it.

If the Lake of Fire is “where God is not”, and if God's own “I AM” identity and sovereignty brings identity and life to those in His presence, then those in the Lake of Fire simply “are not.” This brings my argument full circle, back to my first article where I believe I made a strong case for why the statement “I am” gives us enough of an identity to know that we are independent, free-will beings; however, the best thing about saying “I am” is that after AD 70, we can all say “I am...in and with Him, and He dwells with me.” Perhaps the Lake of Fire qualifies as “He is not”, and therefore whatever ends up in this Lake of Fire also “is not.

To wrap this up, I believe Preterists need to reconsider where they stand in their analysis of the world around them. The ideas of Calvinism are not compatible with Preterism. Either the world has been reconciled to God according to His will, or it has not and He failed. Either God wills for “all men” to be saved, or only for “the elect.” Let all of us sit down and take a new look at this thing. If I said I was not struggling with this I would be lying – maybe if we all put our minds together, we can make some sense of it, and with prayer and positive debate, we can all benefit from God’s real and present Kingdom.

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mazuur's picture

Virgil,

I have one question concerning the following.

"If the world has indeed been fully reconciled to God, then God's new Israel is not the Church, rather the whole world has become the New Israel of God"

If the whole world is the "new Israel" (and not the Church), how does that fit with Romans 11:26 where Paul says "and all Israel will be saved"?. Seems like he would only say "and all Jerusalem will be saved".

Thank,
Rich

P.S. Excellent article!

-Rich

Jer2329's picture

QUESTION 53: Why is preterism so popular among the "Reformed?"

http://www.strato.net/~dagreen/questionsandanswers4.html#note53

SuperSoulFighter's picture

7. Preterism is Reformed Theology realized and confirmed in history:

God brought an entire covenant-world to a cataclysmic end because it is absolutely impossible for man to become justified through an act of faithful obedience to God. (Total Depravity) If there had been any conceivable way that man could have found life through a faithful act of obedience to God, then there would not have been any need for the Cross of Christ, or for the fiery destruction of the world of human "righteousness," or for the establishment of the eternal New Covenant of God's Righteousness.

God created a spiritual nation from within the nation that embodied man's "righteousness." This was accomplished sovereignly by God's Spirit, despite the sinfulness, ignorance and weakness of every man who was chosen. (Unconditional Election, Irresistible Grace) God had mercy on the spiritual nation that He created, but He sovereignly hardened the fleshly nation. (Limited Atonement) God's New Covenant nation --the Church-- is permanent and eternal. Therefore, so are her children. (Perseverance of the saints)

This point in particular fails to address the fact that the Old Covenant Israelites exemplified a unique level of spiritual darkness and degradation, Jer, as they rejected their own God and their Covenant with Him, IN SPITE OF their possession of (and acquaintance with) His written revelation of Himself and His Will.

God brought that "world" to an end because it was utterly impossible for THEM to experience redemption and restoration to fellowship with their God through Law-keeping and conformity to the Mosaic religious system via the sacrifices of the Levitical priesthood. The limitations and imperfections of that "world" were unique AND contained the seeds of its own mortality. God predetermined its "end" in its inception.

I don't believe that there is a necessary link between the Reformed tradition and doctrinal paradigm, and Preterism by any means. Certainly, there are attractive elements in Preterism for Reformed folks - but there are likewise many attractive aspects of it for people from other Creedal affiliations also. Ultimately, it is the TRUTH within Preterism that draws true seekers of Truth to it.

John

Jer2329's picture

[John]
> ............the Old Covenant Israelites
> exemplified a unique level of spiritual
> darkness and degradation..............
>
> God brought that "world" to an end because
> it was utterly impossible for THEM
> to experience redemption and restoration
> to fellowship with their God..........

So the old covenant fell short of bringing about redemption and restoration partly because Israelites were uniquely more sinful and degraded than other men.

And all the Nazis say, "Amen."

No thanks, John.

Dave
http://www.preteristcosmos.com

SuperSoulFighter's picture

I realize my comments (taken out of their context) SOUND "racist", Dave. And YOUR relation of my statements to Nazism fails to take into account the fact that the "Jews" the Nazis murdered in death camps had NO REAL RELATIONSHIP WHATSOEVER to the Jews/Israelites of the Bible.

The perspective I have taken and promoted concerning the unique spiritual darkness of the Old Covenant People is based on God's OWN statements. Here is an example.

7 And the Lord said to Moses, "Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!' " 9 And the Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! 10 Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation." (Ex. 32:7-10)

6 Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people. (Deut. 9:6)

13 "Furthermore the Lord spoke to me, saying, 'I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people. 14 Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.' (Deut. 9:13,14)

15 The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. 16 Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. (Deut. 10:15-17)

6 Then the runners went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the king and his leaders, and spoke according to the command of the king: "Children of Israel, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; then He will return to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 And do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, so that He gave them up to desolation, as you see. 8 Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you. 9 For if you return to the Lord, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him." (2Chron. 30:6-9)

You can see from these texts that the Old Covenant People had a uniquely obstinate, unsubmissive streak in them. They paid lip service to the idea of a Covenant relationship with God, but in heart they weren't completely committed to it. They tended to rebel against their God quite consistently, as a result, ultimately leading to their degradation and corruption as a People, beyond the degradation of other races and peoples (Romans 1:18-32).

God had high expectations and standards for His OC People. Not only did they fail to meet them, but they set a NEW standard for base corruption and virtual dehumanization of themselves.

When you say "no thanks" to my view, Jer, you misapply texts exclusive to the OC People, finding in them references to mankind's supposed utter inability to seek God autonomously. YOUR view is equally repugnant to me. And I am forced to say "no thanks" to Reformed ideas and beliefs in this area.

JM

Jer2329's picture

[John]
> I realize my comments (taken out of their
> context) SOUND "racist", Dave. And YOUR
> relation of my statements to Nazism fails to
> take into account the fact that the "Jews" the
> Nazis murdered in death camps had NO REAL
> RELATIONSHIP WHATSOEVER to the Jews/Israelites
> of the Bible.

Even assuming that is true, your classification of Israelites as uniquely more sinful and degraded than other men sets a racists precedent. It's that kind of thinking that people like the Nazis have used to convince people to commit genocide.

[John]
> The perspective I have taken and promoted
> concerning the unique spiritual darkness
> of the Old Covenant People is based on
> God's OWN statements. Here is an example.
>
> .................
>
> You can see from these texts that the Old
> Covenant People had a uniquely obstinate,
> unsubmissive streak in them. They paid lip
> service to the idea of a Covenant
> relationship with God, but in heart they
> weren't completely committed to it. They
> tended to rebel against their God quite
> consistently, as a result, ultimately
> leading to their degradation and corruption
> as a People, beyond the degradation of
> other races and peoples (Romans 1:18-32).

Your quotes only proved that certain or many Israelite generations were stiff-necked. There is NOTHING in those quotes about Israelites as a people throughout their generations being "UNIQUELY" more sinful and degraded than other races or peoples.

What happened to the Jews in A.D. 70 does NOT prove or indicate or suggest or hint that Israelites/Hebrews/Jews as a people throughout their generations were "uniquely" more sinful and degraded than other men. The idea that ANY other race or people would have done any better in their place is a humanistic, racist dream.

[John]
> God had high expectations and standards
> for His OC People. Not only did they fail
> to meet them, but they set a NEW standard
> for base corruption and virtual
> dehumanization of themselves.

A.D. 70 proved no such thing about them as a race or as a people throughout their generations. You are making the EXACT same historical error that the Nazis made.

[John]
> YOUR view is equally repugnant to me.
> And I am forced to say "no thanks" to
> Reformed ideas and beliefs in this area.

Yes, your hatred of God's sovereignty has led you to the racist principle. Therefore, what you find repugnant is of no consequence.

Dave
http://www.preteristcosmos.com

SuperSoulFighter's picture

As a Nation and People, Dave, the Scriptures explicitly reveal the Israelites/Jews to have been particularly and uniquely rebellious against their God.

Would other nations and races of people have been equally rebellious? Possibly. It IS noteworthy, however, that most other races SEEM to have conformed to the requirements of THEIR "gods" (false gods) much more consistently than the Israelites and Jews did where the requirements of God's Law were concerned.

The Israelites and Jews were always more of a Nation and People than a "race", Dave. Their blood was mingled time and again with Gentile blood, and the only lineage that God was particularly concerned with keeping pure was that of the Levites and their priesthood.

No, I have NOT adopted any "racist principle" beyond what is clearly advocated in God's Word concerning the People who came under Satan's sovereignty toward the end of the history of their "world", and who actively resisted their own God, as His enemies. My hatred of the CALVINIST false characterization of God's sovereignty is Biblically consistent, Dave. I suggest you consider revising your own perceptions and views in this area.

John

Jer2329's picture

[John]
> As a Nation and People, Dave, the Scriptures
> explicitly reveal the Israelites/Jews to have
> been particularly and uniquely rebellious
> against their God.
>
> .......
>
> .....is clearly advocated in God's Word

If it is "explicit" and "clear," it is very strange that you are unable to prove it by so much as ONE "explicit" and "clear" Scripture reference. All you can prove is that there were Israelite generations that were stiff-necked. And you jump from there to the wildly illogical conclusion that Israelites/Hebrews/Jews throughout their generations must have been "uniquely" more sinful and degraded than other peoples and races.

[John]
> Would other nations and races of
> people have been equally rebellious?
> Possibly.

Then you have reduced your original statement (that the old covenant fell short of reconciliation partly because Israelites were "uniquely" more sinful and degraded then other races) to a mere possibility, which reduces your whole humanist house of cards to a mere possibility."

[John]
> It IS noteworthy, however, that most
> other races SEEM to have conformed to
> the requirements of THEIR "gods" (false
> gods) much more consistently than the
> Israelites and Jews did where the
> requirements of God's Law were concerned.

Since there is absolutely no way to prove or disprove that statement, the fact that it "SEEMs" true to you is not meaningful or "noteworthy" at all.

[John]
> The Israelites and Jews were always
> more of a Nation and People than a
> "race", Dave.

If the word "race" bothers you, John, then perhaps you should not have implied three times that Israelites were a "race," before I even mentioned the word "race":

[John #1]
> ....beyond the degradation of OTHER
> RACES and peoples (Romans 1:18-32).

[John #2]
> Would OTHER nations and RACES of
> people have been equally rebellious?

[John #3]
> ....most OTHER RACES....

Whether or not the Israelites had a pure blood line is irrelevant. The fact is that they were a people, nation and culture that existed for 2,000 years, and were descended, in large part, from a common ancestor. And now you have taken it upon yourself to vilify such a "race" as "UNIQUELY" sinful and degraded compared to other races! That doctrine, John, is pure and unabashed racism. It is the seed of hatred and genocide, and real Christians should have nothing to do with it.

[John]
> My hatred of the CALVINIST false
> characterization of God's sovereignty is
> Biblically consistent, Dave.

Racism is never biblically consistent, John, even if you and the Nazis rename it, re-package it and call it "biblically consistent."

Dave
http://www.preteristcosmos.com

SuperSoulFighter's picture

You are obviously predisposed to guiding this discussion in a particular direction, Dave (i.e. the implication that I'm a "racist" for declaring the Jews/Israelites to have been particularly rebellious and "stiff-necked" against their God). I'm not going to play that game with you beyond these final comments.

[John]
> As a Nation and People, Dave, the Scriptures
> explicitly reveal the Israelites/Jews to have
> been particularly and uniquely rebellious
> against their God.
>
> .......
>
> .....is clearly advocated in God's Word

Dave: If it is "explicit" and "clear," it is very strange that you are unable to prove it by so much as ONE "explicit" and "clear" Scripture reference. All you can prove is that there were Israelite generations that were stiff-necked. And you jump from there to the wildly illogical conclusion that Israelites/Hebrews/Jews throughout their generations must have been "uniquely" more sinful and degraded than other peoples and races.

The fact is, Dave - Moses was informed by God, at one point, that He was prepared to destroy the ENTIRE NATION and start over with Moses and HIS descendants (Deut. 9:13,14). That is how "stiff-necked" that Nation and People were.

Let's see how explicit the Scriptures get concerning the spiritual state and tendencies of the Israelites/Jews LATER in their history. Perhaps that "stiff-necked people" was only the INITIAL generation of Israelites - those that were involved in the Exodus from Egypt.

6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. 7 And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, And have consumed us because of our iniquities. (Isaiah 64:6,7)

The Nation and People became utterly resistant to - and antagonistic toward - their own God time and again throughout their history. Isaiah's description of the Israelites is "all-inclusive", Dave. Their very "righteousnesses" were like "filthy rags" to God. Talk about strong language, eh? But let's keep moving. Romans 1 has some interesting things to say about the Israelite Nation and its historical characteristics, spiritually (and morally) speaking.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, KNOWING THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT OF GOD, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.(Romans 1:18-32)

The ISRAELITES/JEWS were the ones who "suppressed the truth in unrighteousness" (v.18), Dave. They were the STEWARDS of God's Truth as revealed in His written Word. But they chose to CORRUPT it with their own, additional laws, and ultimately PERVERT its intended meaning and purpose.

That which could be known about God by man was uniquely known by THEM, for God SHOWED it to them (in the various elements of their Mosaic system of worship, established at Mt. Sinai, and in their Scriptures) - v.19. From the very creation of THEIR "world", God's INVISIBLE characteristics (not the things about him revealed in the physical creation surrounding man in general) were uniquely revealed to the ISRAELITES/JEWS so that THEY "were without excuse" (v.20). THEY were the ones who "knew God" as a Nation and People, from the very beginning of their existence and history as a "world" or civilization. But they chose NOT to glorify God, nor were they thankful (v.21). Their foolish hearts were DARKENED - far beyond the state of "darkness" experienced by mankind in general. The LIGHT in them had become darkness - and how great was that darkness! The subsequent list of moral corruption and degradation expresses God's revulsion and disgust over the utter depravity His own Old Covenant People descended to.

Note that in v.32, the people guilty of all of the disgusting, evil, perverted behaviour outlined in vss. 24-31 actually KNEW the Law of God and HIS perspective on such behaviour and lifestyles. They KNEW that God despised such corruption, and considered such acts worthy of DEATH under His Law. But these very same people not only practiced these things IN SPITE OF this knowledge, but they APPROVED of those who likewise practiced these things.

This is how utterly CORRUPT and DEGRADED the Nation of Israel and the Jews became over the course of their history, Dave. We're talking about a general, all-pervasive, moral and spiritual rot that existed in them as a People. A certain "subset" WITHIN the Nation were less susceptible to the natural tendency to reject the God of Israel and His righteousness, and these people were pre-selected by God to be the forerunners of His SPIRITUAL Nation.

The deceptiveness and untrustworthiness of Jacob/Israel, the "father of the Nation" pretty much set the standard for his physical offspring and descendants. As a People, they tended to vascillate readily according to the prevailing "majority opinion" at any given moment in time. I guess it could be called a "genetic flaw/trait", although it didn't prevent God from accomplishing His Will and through them anyway (to His great credit).

Have you ever read any of Luther's or Augustine's nasty comments on the Jews as a People, Dave? My views are TAME and GRACIOUS compared to their vituperative treatment of their nature and characteristics as a People. Of course, Luther mistakenly assumed that the "Jews" of HIS day were one and the same Nation as the "crucifiers of Christ". I believe Augustine probably made the same mistake.

[John]
> Would other nations and races of
> people have been equally rebellious?
> Possibly.

Dave: Then you have reduced your original statement (that the old covenant fell short of reconciliation partly because Israelites were "uniquely" more sinful and degraded then other races) to a mere possibility, which reduces your whole humanist house of cards to a mere possibility."

The Scriptures don't provide us with SPECIFIC instances of whole Nations and Peoples outside of Israel demonstrating a positive response to God (other than the Ninevites, who repented rather quickly in response to the preaching and proclamations of impending judgment by Jonah).

The point is, Dave - the Scriptures DO reveal the Israelites/Jews as unusually rebellious against their own God - to a virtually unanticipated degree. God appears to have been rather shocked at how far these people departed from His original standards set for them.

A big part of their problem, of course, is that they had a uniquely high standard set for them in the Mosaic Law. Coupled with their National, ethnic tendency to rebel against governance by God in a true theocracy, this was a formula for the disaster described in Romans 1. There is nothing "humanist" in the reasoning I find clearly expressed in Scripture, Dave. By contrast, I see NO Scriptures advanced by yourself clearly indicating that the Israelites/Jews were no more rebellious and inherently corrupt than any other Nation or People among mankind as a whole.

[John]
> The Israelites and Jews were always
> more of a Nation and People than a
> "race", Dave.

Dave: If the word "race" bothers you, John, then perhaps you should not have implied three times that Israelites were a "race," before I even mentioned the word "race":

The word "race" doesn't "bother" me, Dave, except that it's not the most accurate word, when considering the anthropological data evident in the history of the ancient Nation of Israel.

Dave: Whether or not the Israelites had a pure blood line is irrelevant. The fact is that they were a people, nation and culture that existed for 2,000 years, and were descended, in large part, from a common ancestor. And now you have taken it upon yourself to vilify such a "race" as "UNIQUELY" sinful and degraded compared to other races! That doctrine, John, is pure and unabashed racism. It is the seed of hatred and genocide, and real Christians should have nothing to do with it.

"Real Christians" should get their facts straight according to the Scriptural revelation and declaration of those pertaining to the nature of the ancient People of Israel as a Nation and "world" (civilization). You don't have a leg to stand on here, Dave. I stand steadfast on the clear statements of Scripture. YOU, by contrast, haven't advanced ONE Scripture indicating that the Israelites/Jews were no more corrupt or rebellious against God than any other Nation. YOU have a "humanistic" perspective on these things, and are determined to portray the Israelites/Jews in as positive a light as possible, in DIRECT CONTRADICTION to the Word of God.

Christ Jesus Himself referred to the Jewish religious in savagely derogatory terms. He used INCREDIBLY strong language to declare how evil and corrupt they were (Matt. 23:13-33). And these were the RELIGIOUS LEADERS of the Israelites - those whose "righteousness" was supposed to be exemplary and represented the ultimate standard to which all OTHER Israelites/Jews should aspire to.

You have ALOT of rethinking to do on this subject, Dave. Your argument is with God and His Word, not me.

And you can drop the "Nazism" charges altogether. I really don't appreciate being compared with murderous psychotics. My views are NOT parallel with theirs, nor would I EVER advocate genocide of ANY "people" - particularly those they (the Nazis) picked as an "easy target" due to their status in society and readily identifiable ethnicity. Get your history and facts straight, Dave. You're way, way off-base here.

John

Jer2329's picture

[John]
> Israelites exemplified a unique level of
> spiritual darkness and degradation
>
> the Scriptures DO reveal the Israelites/Jews as
> unusually rebellious
>
> The deceptiveness and untrustworthiness of
> Jacob/Israel, the "father of the Nation" pretty
> much set the standard for his physical
> offspring and descendants. As a People, they
> tended to vascillate readily according to the
> prevailing "majority opinion" at any given
> moment in time. I guess it could be called
> a "genetic flaw/trait"......
>
> ....their National, ethnic tendency to rebel
> against governance by God.....
>
> .....I see NO Scriptures advanced by
> yourself clearly indicating that the
> Israelites/Jews were no more rebellious and
> inherently corrupt than any other Nation or
> People among mankind as a whole.

So the Israelite race was "uniquely" and "unusually" more sinful and degraded than all other races because the Israelite race was "genetically flawed" and therefore "inherently corrupt" and had an "ethnic tendency" toward sin!

INCREDIBLE!! You sound EXACTLY like a Nazi! Hitler would have LOVED you with a passion!

This discussion is terminated, John. All men, especially Christians, should avoid you like AIDS.

Dave
http://www.preteristcosmos.com

MichaelB's picture

Absolutes

The following is provided as food for thought. The logic is a bit deep here and there and who's to say the conclusions are correct? It is merely an exercise of the mind starting with the three main attributes of God and then drawing conclusions. The information is provided here to provoke your thought. Consider it if you choose.
The 3 Attributes of God are:

Omnipotence - He has the power to do anything He desires (Job 42:2; Luke 1:37).
Omnipresence - He is in all places, all the time (Jer. 23:24; 1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 90:2).
Omniscience - He knows all things (1 John 3:20).
Out of these attributes flow His works:
Election - choosing who is saved (John 1:12-13; 6:37-40; Eph. 1:4;11; Rom.. 8:29-30; Acts 13:48; Phil. 1:29).
Creation - bringing the universe into existence (Isaiah 44:24; Col. 1:16-18).
Providence - guiding and providing for His creation (Psalm 135:7; Ecc. 3:13; Acts 14:17).
There are natural conclusions to be drawn from God's attributes.
If He is omnipotent, then He has the power to accomplish anything He desires. He can create, alter, or destroy a universe and all that is in it.
His omnipotence necessitates that He retain complete control over all objects that exist and events that occur; otherwise, He would not be omnipotent.
Therefore He is able to Create whatever He desires and govern over all He has created.
If He is omnipresent, then nothing is hidden from Him.
This includes all dimensions; all time whether past, present, or future; and every form of existence either thought, action, or substance.
Therefore God fully encompasses all that exists.
If He is omniscient, then He eternally comprehends all things actual as well as potential.
Furthermore, it is necessarily true that God comprehends all things from His eternal nature since omniscience, by default, is to know all things eternally lest there be a "time" when God did not know something.
God comprehending all things actually means that He comprehends all things that do exist.
This includes all objects in the entire universe, all thoughts, all actions, all motions, etc.
God comprehending all things potential means
all things that could exist but do not exist whether they be thought, motion, deed, object, energy, etc.
all things that have existed but no longer exist whether they be thought, motion, deed, object, energy, etc.
all things that will exist but do not yet exist whether they be thought, motion, deed, object, energy, etc.
Logically, there are an infinite number of potential objects and events and combinations of objects and items that could have existed. But since they do not all exist, their knowledge is restricted to the mind of God, since only He could conceive of an infinite number of potential objects and events.
Logically, there are an infinite number of potential object and events that were not chosen by God (through His creative action) to exist outside of His mind. Therefore, the present world is the world that God has chosen to exist out of an infinite number of possible existences.
To deny God's omniscience is to deny His omnipresence. In order for God to know all things, He must be in all places at all times, past, present, and future.
If God's omnipresence is denied, then this god is not the God of the Bible.
If God voluntarily does not know all things (i.e., He chooses to restrict His knowledge of future free will choices of people), then, since He is omnipresent, He would have to know all the choices of people -- by default. To not know these things would be impossible for God since it would entail a type of "forgetting" where God would choose to not know something which He must, by nature, know. This is self contradictory and cannot be true. Therefore, God must know all things because He is omnipresent and because He is omnipresent, He knows all things.
Therefore, since God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, He is able to create anything He desires while retaining perfect knowledge and complete control of all actual objects and actions -- including perfect knowledge and complete control of all possible combinations of events of all those objects and actions.
It necessarily follows that all things (actual and/or potential) that have been, are now, or will be in existence occur by the direct control of God and/or the permitted control of God.
Conclusion: With all knowledge, God has absolute control over all He encompasses.

In creation God brought into being a finite set of actualities derived from an infinite set of potentialities.
Having been created and set in motion by God the actual number of combinations of objects and events that will occur has been decided upon by God.
It cannot be that these are unknown to God, lest that violate His omniscience.
None of the actualities are accidental, nor can they be accidental,
since accident would suggest something beyond God's omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience.
since accident would imply another "god" outside the knowledge, presence, and control of God.
None of these actualities can function in a manner that is outside the knowledge, presence, or control of God
because they have been brought into being by Him.
because God cannot make something greater than He.
Therefore all that exists is under His knowledge and control.
All that exists, exists not because of accident, but because God has ordained that it exist.
By ordain, I mean to order by virtue of His superior authority and purpose.
This includes any result of any combination of events.
....since that result would have been foreknown and, therefore, ordained by God as He selected and permits the causes that brought that result.
Therefore, all results are foreknown; that is, they are known because they are ordained by God, and, by logic, must be what God has either caused or permitted to occur.
This includes those events which are the results of creatures with wills because,
no will could exist apart from the knowledge or control of God because God created all wills and/or the condition that provides for the existence of the will.
human freedom (being able to make equal choices of right and wrong - libertarianism) cannot be unknown by God since He is in all places at all times. Because He is in all places at all times, He necessarily knows all the choices made by all people.
It follows then that evil is something permitted by God, not caused by Him, yet is and under His absolute control.
God cannot be the author of evil since God is holy and God cannot violate His own nature.
If God violated His own nature, He would be self contradictory and, therefore, not be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent since all three attributes are concurrent with self-absoluteness.
Evil is the permitted rebellion against God.
yet it is not greater than He, nor is it out of the reach of His control, nor beyond His knowledge lest it violate His attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.
God has created the circumstances by which rebellion against Him is permitted but it is not He who is the direct cause of the rebellion.
God encompasses all that is, including evil. In other words, evil is permitted to exist within the infinite realm of God's existence.
Evil, apart and separate from God, operates within His controlled realm, because nothing could exist outside God's control.
Evil, then, operating within the realm of God, can be used by God for His good (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23).
This is true since God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent and would have ordained evil's permitted existence in the universe for the purpose of accomplishing His ultimate will....otherwise, it would not be permitted to exist.
Additionally, it also follows, then, that everyone is either elected or not elected into salvation.
This is because in God's infinite control of all things in all time, nothing can exist that He has not brought directly into existence or allowed to indirectly come into existence.
This includes the person with the will to choose or reject God.
The human "freewill" cannot exist outside the knowledge, control, and purpose of God, lest God not be omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.
Each person is created by God with tendencies, preferences, and abilities.
This includes the "tendency" to believe or not as some maintain.
Each person is put, by God, in an environment that is helpful or not helpful to receiving the gospel.
God is aware of all these variables, knows the outcome, and places the person there.
Therefore, salvation is ultimately dependent solely upon God because God is in control of all variables of all situations including the wills of His creation.
It could be no other way.

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Omnipotence - He has the power to do anything He desires (Job 42:2; Luke 1:37).

The problem with this definition and the Scriptures used to support it, is that it doesn't conform to the standard English meaning of "omnipotence".

"Having unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; all-powerful." (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Copyright 2000)

In other words - true "omnipotence" has NO parameters. The force and power of an "omnipotent" Being is not governed by that Being's Will, Person or Character in any definable way. The whimsical, capricious "god" of the Muslims - Allah - is truly "omnipotent" in this sense. There is literally NOTHING that he is incapable of (including wicked, unrighteous, unjust acts - even though they apply terms like "The Merciful" or "The Compassionate" to him).

But the God of the Bible has power limited to that which He DESIRES - meaning that only those things that conform to His Characteristics of Love, Justice, Holiness, etc. are WITHIN HIS CAPACITY TO ACCOMPLISH. The flip side to this is that there are things that are UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE for Him to do!! He cannot do something UNJUST, or UNHOLY, or UNMERCIFUL, for in so doing He would CEASE TO BE GOD. This denial of His very Being and Self would cause Him to cease to exist. His "immutability" and perfection would be forever compromised. Thus, His power is NOT "unlimited". Rather, it has specific volitional boundaries as governed by the nature of His Person.

Omnipresence - He is in all places, all the time (Jer. 23:24; 1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 90:2).

False. He is NOT in "all places" at "all times". This is nothing more than blatant pantheism. If God exists in every atom and molecule of the material universe and realm, then we must start worshipping rocks, trees, animals, furniture and each other, like the pagan pantheists. God's Presence is clearly LIMITED to a specific time/space location at any given moment. He is NOT "omnipresent".

Jeremiah 23:23,24, "23 "Am I a God near at hand," says the Lord, "And not a God afar off? 24 Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?" says the Lord; "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says the Lord."

How do the prophets use the terms "heavens and earth", Michael? Check it out. Research the context more carefully. Another meaning than the one you evidently see is implied here.

"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!" (1Kings 8:27)

Let's just check the context on that verse shall we, Michael? It's a Preterist hermeutical distinctive we tend to take considerable pride in.

28 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: 29 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, 'My name shall be there,' that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. 30 And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive."

I think those bold-type, emphasized portions speak for themselves. Clearly, Solomon was not suggesting that God was "omnipresent", in his hyperbole in v.27. He was speaking in somewhat exaggerated terms for the sake of effect, magnifying the glory of God. He was NOT suggesting that God cannot be present in one location only, at any given moment in time. Clearly, heaven is God's DWELLING PLACE, and because He was not present at all times in Solomon's Temple ALSO - Solomon pleaded that He would pay heed to the prayers offered there and by those who looked toward it, rendering their prayes to the God of Israel. There is no case to be made for "omnipresence" in this text, Michael.

2 "Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." (Psalm 90:2)

I don't know why you see "omnipresence" indicated in this text, because it's just not there. There is NO mention of the nature of God's presence here whatsoever. All it states is that His Being is antecedent to the existence of the natural realm, because He created it all. I think considerable "reading into" the text (eisegesis) is involved in the "prooftexting" you provided with these statements, above.

JM

DrDre's picture

The pantheistic idea of God is different from what Christians understand omnipresent to mean. The pantheistic interpretation takes the personhood from God and He is not identified separate from His creation that's how they justify bowing down to anything. However the traditional Christian interpretation sees God as outside the realm of His creation (transcendent), yet imminent...

Dr. Dre

SuperSoulFighter's picture

"Transcendent, yet imminent". Doesn't that sound like a contradiction in terms, DrDre? Indeed it does - because it IS. True "omnipresence" indicates that there is NO place (space/time location) where God's Presence is NOT, at any given moment. That would INCLUDE, naturally, all of the space in each atom and molecule of matter. There really is no argument in favor of "omnipresence" where the Presence and Person of God are concerned.

God's Presence came and went in the Garden. His Presence had a specific manifestation and location in the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

And no "anthropomorphic" argument effectively deals with the plain language and contextually-established meanings expressed in the literal narratives of Scripture. God's words would be DECEPTIVE (deliberately so) if we understand him to be speaking of Himself in terms of "limitations" where none really exist. We would also be forced to conclude that God found it IMPOSSIBLE to communicate effectively and clearly with finite man, in seekign to reveal His Person to us. In other words, God's written revelation was ultimately a FAILURE, if His statements concerning His own Person and knowledge are simply figurative, deliberately misleading distortions, attempting to "humanize" Himself in order for man to more readily and easily relate to Him. It's one thing for God to state that He has "eyes" (an anthropomorhic expression giving Him a human piece of anatomy which He may or may not have - although not in a PHYSICAL sense - indicating that He SEES things, events and people) - it's quite another to say that He is reliant upon TESTING people to determine the nature of their hearts and minds for Himself. Such expressions of knowledge limitation serve no, true "anthropomorphic" purpose, and merely cloud the issue of WHO God is and the nature of His Person.

"Transcendent yet imminent" doesn't work, rationally and philosophically speaking, DrDre. He is either/or. I stand firm on the position that He is LIMITED and CAPABLE of "imminence" in terms of His interactions with THIS realm, and mankind.

DrDre's picture

So that would mean that you don't subscribe to the hypostatic union of Christ? Keep in mind that God is not limited by rationality or philosophically in all cases. If He isn't omniscient that would mean that He thinks, correct?

Dr. Dre

SuperSoulFighter's picture

I DO subscribe to Christ's hypostatic union as both God and man - but I don't quite see the relationship between that idea and our discussion of God's attributes.

While it MAY be true that God, in His Person, is not limited by what we think of as "rationality" or "philosophy" (those concepts blurring and changing with the ever-changing "mind of man"), I think I can make a rather strong case for God's REVELATION OF HIMSELF being both rational AND philosophically sound (even according to finite, human terms).

Yes, since God is NOT "omniscient" - He definitely thinks. He doesn't just respond to events and people like a pre-programmed automaton. He creatively interacts with people on an ongoing, developmental basis.

DrDre's picture

Did you get a chance to look at the I Peter 1:20 and Eph 1:4? I must say that I am enjoying the dialogue. So which attributes would you use to describe God?

Dr. Dre

SuperSoulFighter's picture

Yes, as a matter of fact, I did examine and address those texts for you, DrDre. Check my comment in response to yours, above:

  • http://planetpreterist.com/modules.php?name=News&file=comments&op=showre...
  • I, too, enjoy discussing these things with you, DrDre. Thank you for your efforts to remain objective and courteous!

    How would I describe the attributes of God? His Knowledge is Limited and Dynamic. His Presence is limited, yet capable of instantaneous relocation (in time and space). His Power is defined and informed by His Will which is governed within the parameters of His Character and Nature (hence, His Power is ALSO limited).

    John

    DrDre's picture

    I think that we have to be careful w/this one. We only know about God through revelation (via several different mediums). This discussion is way more complex than presented by both sides. Consider this thought, how can God hear all prayers or can He? Is it because He is all present, all powerful, or all knowing? We have to keep both anthropopathic expressions in check, especially when reading the OT. Then we add God the Holy Spirit into the mix and in my mind things get a bit more difficult...

    Dr. Dre

    SuperSoulFighter's picture

    Hi, DrDre! I'll give you a brief (and I believe Biblically accurate) answer for you concerning God receiving the prayers of His saints.

    7 And of the angels He says: "Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire." (Heb. 1:7) Note that God's angels are "MINISTERS" on His behalf. Let's take a closer look at some of the things they actually DO.

    13 But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool"? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? (Heb. 1:13,14) The angels were HEAVILY involved in the lives of the NT saints - but not only them. They were involved with the lives of the OT saints and history of the Old Covenant People also.

    Note the case of Daniel in particular.

    20 Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, 21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. 23 At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved... (Dan. 9:20-23)

    Clearly, the ANGELS relay prayers back and forth from man to God and back again, DrDre. They are His intelligence, reconnaisance and communications network. They are supernatural spirits, so their powers to accomplish these tasks are beyond human ability and comprehension. But they have their own difficulties in doing this, also.

    10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. 11 And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. 12 Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come." (Dan. 10:10-14)

    If God were TRULY "omnipresent" and "omniscient", DrDre - would He send angels to speak on His behalf to His saints, rather than communicate with them directly? Of course not. Particularly when those angels are, at times, RESISTED in their efforts to communicate wiht the saints as emissaries of God. It would seem foolish and unreasonable to send a "finite angel" to do His bidding and communicate iwith His People IF God is truly "infinite" in every aspect of His Being. Of course, He is clearly NOT infinite in terms of His Presence, Power and Knowledge - so these anecdotes reveal Him as the Divine ADMINISTRATOR of the planet and the "world" of His Covenant People, rather than the "Great Puppet Master". Do you see the difference, DrDre?

    I'm enjoying this discussion with you, and your openness to review these ideas in as objective a manner as possible. I totally understand what you're going through emotionally in considering these things. My Full Pret father-in-law can't accept these ideas and views of God either, at present. It's too hard for him, who was raised to believe in an "infinite God" (such a God being incapabe of true, relational interaction in any kind of intimate way with finite man anyway, His utter "transcendence" making any comprehensible revelation of Himself to the mind of finite man a contradiction in terms).

    John

    DrDre's picture

    In another post you asked me about God knowing in all eternity about Christ's sacrifice, see 1 Pete 1:20 and Eph 1:4. I don't want to debate what foreknowledge means in the passage, but that He knows. Also, omnipresent is not an issue, as His omniscience renders omnipresent not needed in my minded, but I am still looking into all of it...

    Dr. Dre

    SuperSoulFighter's picture

    He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (1Peter 1:20)

    The term you need to focus on isn't "foreordained" here, DrDre, but "world". Christ Jesus was pre-planned to be the propitiatory sacrifice for the Old Covenant "world" before its inception in the giving of the Law to Moses at Mt. Sinai. God pre-blueprinted the history of THAT "world" before actually bringing it into being.

    "4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love," (Eph. 1:4) Who are the "us" in this text and what is the "world"? Go down to verses 11,12 in this chapter, at the end of Paul's homily on "predestionation". Here it is. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. Neither you nor I are members of that elite group known as "we who first trusted in Christ". The first individuals to place faith in Christ Jesus were the pre-AD 70, New Testament saints. ALL of the preceding passage deals with THEIR unique "predestination/election" to fulfill their unique role in redemptive history. NONE of Eph. 1:4-12 applies to you and me, DrDre. Note all of the personal pronouns. There is no contextual justification whatsoever for "reading ourselves into" the pronouns of this passage, or any other (unless there is CLEAR basis for doing so in the IMMEDIATE context).

    Yes, if "omniscience" were true, then "omnipresence" wouldn't be as much of an issue. BUT if "omnipresence" is true - then "omniscience" would seem to be necessarily implied within the idea, as an "everywhere present" God would naturally have knowledge of all things at all times.

    Glad you're still looking into it, DrDre. The most fundamental issue IS God's supposed "omniscience" (the Scriptures revealing Him as LIMITED in knowledge, I believe).

    Keep studying! Glad to be of help where I can!

    John

    DrDre's picture

    I am thinking the omnipresent thing over...

    Dr. Dre

    SciotaMicks's picture

    I tend to lean in the direction of your response. However, how would you answer the issue of God and Christ co-existing yet occupying seperate "places". Of course, this assumes one believes Christ was fully God.

    -A

    SciotaMicks's picture

    His omnipotence necessitates that He retain complete control over all objects that exist and events that occur; otherwise, He would not be omnipotent.

    Absolutely false. Omnipotence is defined as having unlimited power. It says nothing about retaining "control" over all things.

    Job 42:2 - I know that You *can* do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

    According to the proper definition, God has the power to allow chaos if He so wishes. And He is no less soverign if He chooses to do so.

    Yet another instance of someone's personal beliefs being allowed to define doctrine.

    Virgil's picture

    Mike,

    This is not a good argument to use.

    God's omnipotence also dictates that He can choose to not know everything about us. With that simple clause, your entire argument collapses. Just because God CAN know something, it doesn't mean he chooses to know it. Just because He knows the future, it doesn't mean that He makes the future happen. Calvinists seem to be unable to differentiate between these two diametrically opposed but highly compatible qualities of God.

    vento's picture

    Virgil,

    I'm trying to get my mind around this, so this may sound strange, but if God chooses "not" to know something, wouldn't he have to "know" the things he chooses not to know? Otherwise, could he be taken by surprise?

    Just some thinking out loud...

    Thanks,

    Scott

    DrDre's picture

    Excellent point, but if you have the power to know something and you don't stop something then what? This is the traditional understanding of the Hebrews, but we go through contortions when reading Is 45:7 because it isn't our cup of tea...

    Dr. Dre

    Virgil's picture

    You mean as in God knowing that Jesus will be killed and not stopping it from happening? The problem is not with God - the problem is with our understanding and our perception of good and evil. "All things" work together for good. Your perception is off...Jesus being killed was a horrible thing - in His wisdom, God used the worst thing that the world has ever seen and turned it into the best thing the world has ever seen. If He can do that with Christ's death, what makes you think He can't do it with the death of a child, or a parent?

    DrDre's picture

    No, I understand what you are saying it was clearly a horrible thing. What I am saying is that Paul makes it clear that what was to happen was clearly KNOWN through all eternity, that's all I am saying. I agree, and we are delving into the issue of 2 wills, which I reject God only has one...

    Dr. Dre

    Markos's picture

    Dr.Dre,
    Where does Paul say God knew Christ would die from all eternity? That's the first question. And then two, why in Gethsemane did Jesus ask God, "IF it is possible. . .let this cup pass." If what was going to happen was exactly fixed to the minutest detail why would Jesus as God the Father this? I'm just curious.

    Markos
    AtavistChristian.com

    Markos Mountjoy

    davo's picture

    Michael, regarding God's omniscience, you make a lot out of God knowing all "things". Could it be that the "all things" that 1Jn 3:20 refers to is actually to the basic nature, or heart of man – seeing as the word "things" is not actually in the Greek text. Much in the sense of:

    Jn 2:24-25 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

    Just a thought.

    davo – pantelism.com –

    DrDre's picture

    This is a good argument, this has been rebuttal to open theism. To my mind it is a self defeating argument as you prove. It can be proven from the scriptures and philosophically to be bankrupt. Over on Rod's posting I'm listening to John (SuperSoul) and Markos explain this (open theism) position biblically. Maybe you can post your posting there and have them reply (and that keeps me from basically typing what you already typed). Good solid argument...

    Dr. Dre

    rfwitt's picture

    Virgil,
    Did I miss it somewhere but I don't recall seeing any reference to Romans 7:14-25. Sounds to me that St. Paul was dealing with a corrupted nature. Please explain.
    Richard.........

    Virgil's picture

    A corrupted nature? You mean as in corrupt trees, dirt and air? Where exactly do you see this?

    rfwitt's picture

    Virgil,
    You didn't answer my question. I'm not interested in comedy but a straight answer. How do you interpret Roman 7:21 - 25 in light of what you believe. I would see it as St. Paul struggling with a sinful nature.(RO 7:21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!)
    Richard......

    Virgil's picture

    Richard,

    Please don't patronize me. You said:

    Sounds to me that St. Paul was dealing with a corrupted nature. Please explain.

    I asked: What nature? Please explain your question if you want a straight answer. What kind of "nature" are you talking about? Trees, dirt, grass, air?

    rfwitt's picture

    Virgil,
    Have you never read the term "sinful nature". (corrupted by sin). By nature it is meant that which is natural to man. By nature man is a sinner (born with a sinful nature). The question is still on the table (which you seem to evade) what do you do with Romans 7: 14-25. You did not address that in any of your correspondence with me. I believe St. Paul is talking about his struggle with a "sinful nature" (a natural disposition to sin).
    Richard.......

    Virgil's picture

    Richard,

    You are taking a few verses out of context ignoring the most basic principle of reading the Bible (or anything else for that matter). Please read the entire chapter 7 in Romans. Paul is not talking about a "sin nature" - he is talking about the Law and he is associating it with "the flesh" in verse 5:

    "For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death."

    He is next contrasting the "while we were in the flesh" with this:

    "But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound..."

    Really - the logic is quite simpe: While we were in the flesh we were dead....BUT NOW we have been released from the Law. The flesh = being under the Law.

    The same logic wraps up the chapter:

    "But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good"

    The Law, while it gave birth to death was still "good", however the Law is what showed "sin to be sin" -- "by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful" (verse 13)

    Now, I want YOU to tell me how Paul's discourse on "sin nature" shows that infants and children have sin.

    Erick's picture

    Hi Virgil, thanks for the articles, but after reading this and the others I just have some random comments that you or others can feel free to respond to. No offense, but over-all I think you've largely misunderstood and misrepresented Calvinism, and most of your arguments have been posed before. I DO think Calvinists have taken some verses out of context, or have failed to recognize the particualr first century application (e.g. Rm.3), and yet in some cases I think traditional Calvinistic interpretations have been more true to preterist thought than the interpretations you et. al. are offering. I don't write any of this in a spirit of anger or personal criticism (I'm truly happy right now, and think you're a great guy - I hope we can worship together someday :^) but, I do want to add my two or three cents; so let me know what you think, and thanks again...

    1) I think you are taking the Ezekiel verse way out of context. "Dying" in 18:20 cannot be seperated from the physical judgement God was bringing upon the physical inhabitants of the land through Babylon. God physically killed and exiled the wicked in the land via the Babylonians (17:21) and was going to hold each person responsible for their own transgression of the Torah as the first part of chapter 18 demonstrates. This has absolutely nothing to do with a case for or against original sin, but citizens of Israel trnasgressing God's civic law, and God literally executing them (and "soul" does not mean spiritual essence - but "individual").

    2) God was not reconciling all PEOPLE to himself in 70AD but "all" PEOPLES (Jews and Gentiles). The Jews were largely ethno-centric, and the Apostles consistently corrected this veiw by teaching the ethno-inclusiveness of the gospel -- that God wants all (every type of) men to be saved. Again, you are pulling these verses out of context. What surprises me is that the classic "Calvinistic" approach to these verses has in large part been more supportive of what preterists emphasize regarding Gentiles being made joint heirs with Israel in the New Covenant Body... this is preterist through and through.

    3)This is in regards to comments on another article but relevent here too ... The "sin" Cain was to master wasn't sin in general, but the specific temptation to murder his brother. God knew what was on his mind and told him to "cool out," but Cain (in His total inability) did not heed God's warning.

    4) Anyone who's had or worked with children know that they are far from innocent bundles of joy. Having "faith like a child" is a lot differnet then having "innocence like a child."
    As for parents - if they "being evil" know how to give good gifts to their children then God certainy will provide for them too.

    5) Lastly, in the previous articles you guys seemed to say "Calvinism" was incorrect because all Calvinists have been futurists - but so have all Arminians. Guilt by association is no way to argue a case. For example - all Trinitarians have been futurists too, does that mean that doctrine is suspect?

    Right now I'm in the middle of a blizzard and have to go... but I hope to be able to write more later. Thanks again for bringing this topic up.

    In His Love, Erick

    SuperSoulFighter's picture

    I'd like to contribute a couple of comments and thoughts, here, since one of Erick's comments actually addresses interpretations and ideas that I introduced in my article, and which I didn't notice making an appearance in any of Virgil's.

    3)This is in regards to comments on another article but relevent here too ... The "sin" Cain was to master wasn't sin in general, but the specific temptation to murder his brother. God knew what was on his mind and told him to "cool out," but Cain (in His total inability) did not heed God's warning.

    There is no evidence in the text/context of Gen. 4:7 that the sin Cain was instructed to "master" WASN'T "sin in general" (i.e. his own "sin nature"). Furthermore, even if it was the SPECIFIC sin against his brother that God sensed was tempting Cain, God CLEARLY instructed him - NOT to "cool down" but to RULE OVER IT. There is NO suggestion in that text or context that Cain had ANY "total inability" to rule over the sin with which he was being tempted. God's words would be sadistically deceptive IF Cain had no such ability, in reality. "You SHOULD rule over it". If it was utterly IMPOSSIBLE for Cain to "rule over" his sin (i.e. "over-rule" or "over-ride" it) - God's words have no meaning here.

    Also, as I noted to Dave Collins in the comments section of my own article - ABEL successfully "over-ruled" his OWN "sin nature" and the promptings toward disobedience within him and clearly made a sacrifice PLEASING to God. Abel is the POSITIVE example of the autonomous meeting of God's requirements. He is declared to be "righteous Abel" APART from supernatural regeneration within him (Matt. 22:35). He partook of the very same "fallen nature" that Cain had - but he CHOSE to exercise faith in God and make a sacrifice in keeping with God's requirements. Here is how Heb. 11:4 identifies this process in Abel.

    "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks."

    Notice that he was declared righteous in RESPONSE to his faith. It was not a righteousness imputed to him BEFORE he exercised faith, in and of himself, but AFTER. On the basis of his autonomous CHOICE, God declared that he was a partaker of His righteousness.

    There is NO indication whatsoever that Abel's "sin nature" was eliminated or neutralized in any way prior to his making an acceptable sacrifice to God by faith. Rather, his "sin nature" was over-ridden by his autonomous choice, and he received God's approval and blessing as a result.

    Just a few thoughts from my angle.

    John McPherson

    Erick's picture

    Thanks for the response John. We'll have to agree to disagree for now, but I will try to keep an open mind and consider your points. Thank you again for the article. May God bless you abundantly in your studies.
    - me

    SuperSoulFighter's picture

    Thanks, Erick. I appreciate your willingness to keep an open mind. I'll be content with that. May God bless you, also, in your studies.

    John

    Virgil's picture

    Erick,

    Can you show me where "most of the arguments" about Calvinism have been posted here before? And where in the Calvinist argument have they been more "true to the preterist thought?"

    Your comments are way off base, and each one of them, except the comment on Ezekiel 18 fails to even address scripture.

    God "was reconciling the world" to himself. There is no "peoples" mentioned anywhere - the passages are very universal in their meaning....and as I already showed, God willed for "all men" to be saved. How you turn that into PEOPLES is beyond me...and it insults my intelligence.

    1 Timothy 2 has been a thorn in the side of calvinists since the very beginning of their doctrine, so don't dance around it. Nothing is taken out of context. The passage has a plain meaning. If Paul wanted to say "God will for SOME people to be saved" he would have said that...he didn't.

    You are doing exactly what Augustine and every other calvinist has been doing with the passage for hundreds of years. If you can exegetically explain to me your position, I would be happy to consider it, but don't take this route in the discourse. Anyone can make general statements about any topic in an effort to prove someone else wrong. Let's talk specifics here and stop thinking about each other that we are stupid.

    Erick's picture

    Virgil, I meant no insult to your intelligence; I think you are a really smart guy. I didn’t say most of the arguments were “posted” at your web site, but “posed” before i.e. in history. I also hinted at why I thought traditional Calvinistic thought with its common explanation of ALL meaning “all peoples” or “all elect” was more preteristic in its approach to the “mystery” of a Gentile/Jew unified New Covenant “Israel.” Maybe I’ll write an article someday to explain this further, but I’m pressed for time like everyone else. I would rather spend some time talking about the one passage you claim to be a “thorn in the side” for Calvinists (which is odd because I’ve never had a problem with it, and Calvin himself called your objections “childish folly” - Commentary on First Timothy 2:4. What HAS been a thorn in our side is its misinterpretation by Armenians - not that you claim to be that either I guess). I didn’t address 1 Tm. 2:4 in detail because I didn’t have time before, but I am between shovelings right now (plenty of snow here in CT) so I will do my best now.

    Let’s begin by recognizing that even if God wanted all individuals saved it would still say nothing of their own ability to turn to God apart from his irresistible grace. Citing this verse does nothing to support your argument regardless. I may “want” my car to go 0 to 60 in three seconds but unfortunately it doesn’t have that ability, in fact there is “total inability.” Does God always get what he sovereignly wants? Obviously not (according to you at least), if some people go to hell (and if your interpretation of this passage is correct). And why would they go to hell, and not repent according to the commandment of God? I say because they are totally depraved - in iniquity their mothers conceived them, and they sin because they are sinners. But this is neither here nor there; let me show you why from the SCRIPTURES I believe Paul is talking about all types of people, and not all individuals.

    1 Tim. 2:4 states the following:

    “… [God] who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (NASB)
    Literally: “… God, who all men wishes to be saved and to knowledge of truth to come.”

    Let’s establish the broader context. Paul is writing to Timothy, a half Jewish disciple (Act 16:1) sent to minister to the Ephesian church to which this letter was sent (1 Tim. 1:3). Earlier Paul had Timothy circumcised because of the constant contact he would have with Jews in Derbe and Lystra, and the ethno-centric Jew of the first century in Ephesus would no doubt also have a serous aversion to Timothy without this drastic step being taken. Also, the Jews who were already despised by the local Gentile worshippers of Diana (Act. 19:34) would not be so warm-hearted towards toward these pagans, nor the local authorities that thought little of this “sect.” Paul saw that Timothy would be the right guy to help bridge some ethnic and theological gaps in this city, and so stayed him there to minister and rebuke those who wanted to focus on genealogies and “be teachers of the law” (1 Tim. 1:7) to the spiritual detriment of the poor Gentile Christians.

    We know that this community of believers started out largely Jewish, with about twelve disciples who were baptized by John (I assume “the Baptist” (Act. 19:3,7)). For three months Paul taught the kingdom in the synagogues (Act. 19:8), to which many Jews responded in faith. After some hardened their hearts he spent two years “reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus,” from which we can deduce that some Greeks as well as Jews may have begun to fellowship together (Act. 19:10 -20). By virtue of the fact that Paul later devotes a whole letter almost exclusively to the Gentiles in Ephesus (Eph. 2:11-12) correcting their notion that they are second class citizens in the kingdom (as opposed to first class Jewish believers), we know that the Gentile numbers would eventually be as significant as the Jewish.

    A weaker point, yet one worth considering is that we also see Revelations 2:6 in which Jesus compliments this church in the last days for hating the practices of the Nicolaitans - a group thought by some to have been started (though it cannot be proved) by a “fallen from grace” Jewish proselyte deacon Nicholas (Act 6:5). If it were assumed that Nicholas was the founder of this group, he (and his ilk from Jerusalem) would obviously be zealous for the Law - having undergone circumcision at a later age to join the Jewish community (contrast this with Timothy who was circumcised later to spread the message of grace). If this is the case, we must ask how did this church come to “hate” such legalistic deeds (as contrasted with licentious deeds of the Neo-Balaams in Pergamos (Rev. 2:14-15 both of which the Lord hated)). What was it that transformed this church from a legalistic Jewish dominated community (this can be demonstrated without reference to the Nicolaitans), to one that apparently “hated” legalism?

    As I stated, Paul left the right man for the job in the city to deal with the tensions between Jew and Gentile believers - the young man Timothy. Who else could bridge such gaps? He was in essence Jew and Gentile, circumcised out of love for the Jew, spreading the gospel with Paul out of love for the Gentile as well. He was mentored by Paul who emphasized his glorious ministry to the Gentiles (e.g. 2 Tm. 1:11; 4:17). He was not predisposed to hate either group, nor be ethno-centric, for he was a “mixed breed.” Timothy was taught the Old Testament by his grandmother and mother from his youth (2 Tm. 3:15) and so no Jewish sectarian could stump him with the Scriptures. This was the first step in nurturing this hurting church.

    Secondly, Paul wrote a letter primarily devoted to the Gentiles in Ephesus in which he explains to them that they were not afterthoughts in God’s redemption plan, nor born-again illegitimately, but were God’s very own “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). He goes on to explain to them that they are now joined to the “commonwealth of Israel” (2:12) as one Body with the Jewish believers. He repeatedly emphasizes this point, calling them “fellow citizens” (2:19) and reminds them that of God he was predestined to be a minister to the Gentiles (1:9; 3:1-13). He admonishes them not to loose heart over their tribulations, and informs them that for this reason, “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom THE WHOLE FAMILY in heaven and on earth is named” that they would be able to realize how much God loves His Gentile children (3:19). He realizes there are problems going on between them and the Jewish Christians and so explicitly tells them to do their part to behave in this “one body” with “one God and Father of ALL [Jews and Gentiles] who is above ALL [people from every nation], and through ALL [Jew and Gentile believer], and in YOU ALL [Christians from the JEWS and GENTILES]” (4:4-6) (unless of course you think God is in every individual - you don’t believe THAT do you? I think I‘ve shown from the context that that is untenable - or at least an unlikely interpretation).

    Lastly, Paul wrote specifically to Timothy about how to handle among others the Jewish (or Jewish sympathizing) Christians in Ephesus who “desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm” (1 Tm.1:7-8). Timothy was instructed to “wage the good warfare” at Ephesus with the pure gospel of Christ in these last times when some would depart from the faith and speak lies to others, “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1:18, 4:1-3). This then is the broader context of Paul’s first letter to Timothy, and quite frankly the broader context of much of the first century, i.e. ethno-centric Jews consigning Gentiles to second-class citizens in God’s kingdom (keeping them in their “Gentile court” outside the temple) and Jesus, Paul, et al. correcting them with doctrines such as the one to the ethno-centric Jewish teacher of Israel Nicodemus, “for God so loves the WORLD [Jews and Gentiles] that WHOSOEVER [Jew or Gentile] believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” Jn. 3:16 - (I’m sure I’ll get slack for this one too).

    Consequently, why would it be thought strange when we see that in Eph. 4:4-6 “all” means Jew and Gentile Christians, and that the broader context of Paul’s letter to Timothy in Ephesus could easily support this contention? Moreover, the qualifiers to the “all” of 1 Tim. 2:4 are blaring out at us in 3D Technicolor. Paul shows that he means all TYPES of people when he immediately adds, “for kings and all who are in authority.” Now if Paul simply meant all individuals, wouldn’t that necessarily cover the king? But the point is that they were to “pray for those [in this case Gentiles] who persecute you.” If Paul literally meant for them to pray for every individual (after all that’s who God wants to save) wouldn’t that require knowing everybody. I must admit, I pray for a lot of people, but I can’t imagine that God is going to grant my request to save EVERY individual -- but perhaps I just lack faith, I just pray for all TYPES of people. But on top of this, Paul after telling them to pray for ALL [types of] MEN (like GENTILE kings) reiterates to these ethno-centric legalists that this pleases God who wants ALL [types of] MEN (and woman) to be saved, and how does he put the last nail in the coffin of their bigoted, discriminatory, anti-authority/anti-Gentile prayer life? First, in verse 5, he appeals to the mediatorial work of Christ for ALL men (and where have we heard about this ethno-inclusive gospel that was to be testified about “in due time” more clearly than in Ephesians 3:1-7 regarding this “mystery” concerning the Gentile elects’ redemption). He further appeals to his own Christ commissioned Apostolic ministry, “for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle - I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying - a teacher OF THE GENTILES in faith and truth.” (2:7).

    Virgil, I’ve never been a good “dancer” and honestly wasn’t trying out some new moves before, I was just being brief. You sound like you honestly are willing to reconsider your views on this passage, and I hope I’ve provided the necessary justification for you to do that. I’m not saying you have to change your views on Calvinism in general, but I do think you ought to take a second look at what Paul’s point is in this particular verse. Paul saying, “God wants SOME to be saved” would completely defeat his point, and add fuel to the fire already in Ephesus. As preterists, we of all people know that words like “world” “earth” “all” etc. are often qualified by the context. Is it even the slightest bit remotely possible that the same thing is going on in 1 Tm. 2:4? I do hope I’ve planted a seed of doubt for you. If not, I still respect your right to be wrong :^) - that was a joke. Now I must go shovel some more snow.

    Very Humbly, Erick.

    davecollins's picture

    Erick, That is quite good exposition, my friend.
    Without question Paul's letters to Timothy are practical instructions rather, than foundational doctrine.(Like Romans& Ephesians)

    Paul also said; Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

    He truly is the Savior of the world, in that, He is the only Name given among men whereby we must be saved.

    Some futurist, Spurgeon maybe, wrote; The front of the portals to heaven announces; Whosoever will may come..and the back side affirms; Chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world.

    We can't see the Wind, but thankfully we can see evidence of It's Presence.

    Again, Great post! Dave

    Jer2329's picture

    Hi Virgil, :)

    Dave Collins asked the following question:

    Since God had to "elect" in the first century to guarantee people to call others out of the OC(also thru election)and to serve in His New Covenant age, what changed in the heart of man since, so that he does not require God's divine empowerment to receive the relational, spiritual Presence of Christ? In other words, why was God's choice nessecary then, but not now?

    I am curious what your answer to that question is.

    Also, you said in your article:

    So it stands to reason that since Gentiles were not being held to the standards of the Law, so much less would Children be held accountable for something beyond their understanding and beyond their doing, because “all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law...... (Romans 2:12)

    I don't see the logical connection between your statement and the verse you quoted to support it. You said that because Gentiles and children were/are without the law (or apart from the law) they are sinless, justified, excused, saved and have the life of Christ. Yet the verse you quoted to support that position says that all who sin "without the law" "PERISH." How does that verse support your teaching?

    Also, if "No Law = Absolutely Zero Sin," why did Paul say that "Sin was in the world" before the giving of the Law, and that "Death reigned" over all men before the giving of the Law (Rom. 5:12-14)?

    Dave :)
    http://www.preteristcosmos.com

    SuperSoulFighter's picture

    Dave Collins asked the following question:

    Since God had to "elect" in the first century to guarantee people to call others out of the OC(also thru election)and to serve in His New Covenant age, what changed in the heart of man since, so that he does not require God's divine empowerment to receive the relational, spiritual Presence of Christ? In other words, why was God's choice nessecary then, but not now?

    If I may insert a comment here, I'd just like to make the observation that it was not the nature of MAN that changed, so much as the SPIRITUAL ECONOMY and situation of man that changed. The MEANS OF ACCESS TO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD changed, as did God's dealings with man. The means by which God enabled man to interact with Him changed. No longer do we need to make animal sacrifices for sin (such as those made by Abel, Noah, Job, etc.). Non-Covenantal mankind's relationship to the Creator changed in that respect. But in order to enjoy eternal INTIMATE relationship with God as one of His subjects, in His Kingdom - the extra step of entering into the New, SPIRITUAL Covenant is necessary.

    God's choice was necessary THEN, because He pre-drafted and blueprinted the history of His Old Covnenant Nation Israel at its very inception. Thus, in order to bring that Plan to fruition correctly, He had to "predestine" certain people to certain roles, even engaging in "breeding" (genetic manipulation/engineering via arranged marriages) in order to bring into being people of a certain temperament type and character who would respond FAVORABLY to Him and His Law. He actively engineered many of these people in their FETAL stage WITHIN THE WOMB (e.g. King David - Psalm 139:13, Psalm 22:9,10).

    Anyway - I trust those thoughts clarify things a little better, Dave.

    JM

    Virgil's picture

    what changed in the heart of man since, so that he does not require God's divine empowerment to receive the relational, spiritual Presence of Christ?

    Nothing changed in the heart of man..it's not about man's heart. It's about reconciliation with God. Look at this as a relational problem, not a geographical problem.

    You said that because Gentiles and children were/are without the law (or apart from the law) they are sinless, justified, excused, saved and have the life of Christ. Yet the verse you quoted to support that position says that all who sin "without the law" "PERISH." How does that verse support your teaching?

    Consider the big picture, not just the word "perish." The very next verse says "for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified."

    Gentiles who lived away from Israel without any knowledge that there even was a Law, were judged apart from the Law, based on their own insight of what is good and bad because in verse 15 Paul says "they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them"

    God in his infinite justice would not have condemned Gentiles according to a Law they were not aware of, just like He wouldn't have condemned children according to sin they couldn't discern from their crib.

    DrDre's picture

    I disagree vehemently, it IS about the heart. Without the change of heart there is nothing...

    Dr. Dre

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