The Pat Answer to the Election Question

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TK
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The Pat Answer to the Election Question

Post by TK » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:57 pm

I came across this question and answer today:
If God is all knowing why does he create people who he knows will not be saved?
I would be interested in hearing your answer to a question of mine. Say for argument sake that i will live my life out and die as an atheist. i would be judged a sinner and sent to hell for eternity. Now, God is all knowing. He knew before i even existed that i would choose to be an atheist. He knew he would end up sending me to hell. Even if i had the opportunity to accept jesus, he KNEW i wouldn’t, because he is ALL KNOWING. So then why would he allow me to come into creation knowing that i would not be saved, and sent to hell? I hope to hear a response from you soon, and maybe we can talk some more.- Joe

Thanks for the question. God is indeed all knowing and nothing happens out of his control and knowledge. So when people sin against him, he is not caught by surprise and needs to come up with a rescue plan to deal with the mess. He has always known what he is doing in saving people. Out of his goodness and kindness, he chooses to save mankind who sins terribly by rebelling against him. It is really something that God does that mankind does not deserve. Out of his mercy, God chooses to save some from the eternal punishment they rightly deserve. By sending Jesus to die in their place, God gives forgiveness to them.

Therefore, because of our sins, our default position in front of God is his judgment and punishment. This is what we deserve. But God gives us something that we do not deserve, that is his love shown through his forgiveness in Jesus. That’s why the Bible does not speak of God creating people that he does not save. Rather, the Bible speaks of God choosing some that he saves. It is God’s ultimate goodness and kindness shown to us. So the question for us is whether we have accepted such kindness by trusting God’s son Jesus Christ.
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The problem with this “pat” answer and others like it is that it seems to ignore that God created the system, at least that is what calvinists believe.

Boiled down to basics the answer above can be summarized that everybody deserves to go to hell because they are sinners and that while God would be justified in casting everyone into hell, he rather chooses to save some. I have heard it said that it is not unfair to the folks he chooses not to save but is rather SUPER fair to those He chooses to save.

But I don’t see how it can be deemed fair at all since God is the one who decided to create humans who he knew would sin and be doomed and reserves the right to preordain who will be saved and there is nothing anybody can do about it.

Maybe my question/point is not clear and if so I apologize. I will clarify if I am able.

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steve
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Re: The Pat Answer to the Election Question

Post by steve » Fri Jul 20, 2018 3:46 pm

You are right that the answer offered skirts the objection altogether. The openness Christian would resolve the difficulty simply by saying God did not foreknow how this person's life would turn out.

I would answer otherwise:

The question comes from the typical narcissistic orientation of asking, "How dare God do something that doesn't turn out well for me?" One must first understand that God's cosmic plan is bigger than the fortunes of one selfish individual.

God does not intervene to interrupt the normal course of nature on a regular basis. The atheist exists because his parents had an encounter by their own free will. For God to have prevented a conception that otherwise would naturally have occurred would have involved the interruption of physical processes with which God usually does not interfere. It is not His policy, nor can anyone make a case that it would be better for Him to do so.

The (foreknown) atheist in question may become the father or ancestor of one who will serve God faithfully. This child of God will not be born if God does not allow his/her ancestors to exist.

Those ancestors have every opportunity to be saved, and the responsibility to do so. If they choose to rebel instead, this should have no bearing on whether God gets what He wants in a later generation.

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Re: The Pat Answer to the Election Question

Post by Paidion » Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:29 pm

Well, I'll answer from the "openess" point of view. God did not know in advance that the person would not become a Christian. For if He had known in advance that this was the case, then the person COULD NOT have become a Christian. For if the person HAD of his own free will chosen to become a Christian and HAD in fact become a Christian, that would imply that God hadn't known in advance that he would not become one.
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Re: The Pat Answer to the Election Question

Post by steve » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:23 pm

Well, I'll answer from the "openess" point of view. God did not know in advance that the person would not become a Christian. For if He had known in advance that this was the case, then the person COULD NOT have become a Christian. For if the person HAD of his own free will chosen to become a Christian and HAD in fact become a Christian, that would imply that God hadn't known in advance that he would not become one.
Not necessarily. It would depend upon how God "knew" what this man would do. If God knew it because it was determined by God's own decree, then yes, the man had no choice.

On the other hand, if what determined the man's actions were only his own free choices, as is usually the case, then God's knowing it in advance would not cancel this fact.

We might say that, if God foreknows something, it must be, in some sense, determined. Even if we allow this suggestion, it leaves unanswered the corollary question, "determined by whom? By divine decree, or by the man's actual choices?"

Openness theologians cannot imagine that God could foreknow something without being the actual cause determining that thing. Such an assumption is gratuitous. We have no way of knowing what God can do, or how He can do it. Even human beings can predict certain future events with certainty without being, in any sense, the cause of those events.

I think I have heard that some quantum physicists believe there are 11 dimensions (I can only even imaging three—or four, if we include "time"). What if there really are 11 dimensions? Do you suppose that God would know all about them, and of their contents?

There is no rational case to be made that God Himself has no access to knowledge superior to, or in dimensions beyond, our own. Jesus, for example, foreknew exactly how many times Peter would deny Him, and in what time-frame, before he would thereafter repent. Did Jesus knowing that mean that it was determined by God? Not in my theology.

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Re: The Pat Answer to the Election Question

Post by Paidion » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:23 pm

Openness theologians cannot imagine that God could foreknow something without being the actual cause determining that thing.
Well, I have never presumed God's foreknowledge of an event was the cause of the event. My position is that ANY absolute foreknowledge of an event occuring at a future time T (it is irrelevant who knows it) is logically inconsistent with the event NOT occurring at time T. Therefore, I conclude that absolute foreknowledge of the future actions of a free-will agent cannot be known. There is even an OT scripture which indicates that God did not know what Israel would do.

The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: "Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore?And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. (Jeremiah 3:6,7 ESV)

Surely if the LORD THOUGHT Israel would return to Him and she didn't return, He couldn't have KNOWN she wouldn't return.
Or even if the Hebrew word is translated "said" instead of "thought" as in the NKJV, it wouldn't make much difference. For surely God wouldn't SAY "She will return to me" if He knew in advance that Israel wouldn't do so. That would be lying, and God cannot lie.

People can PREDICT future events, based on their knowledge of people and how they behave, and their predictions often turn out to be correct. God, who has complete knowledge of people and how they behave, is in a MUCH better position to correctly predict what people will do. But clearly in the Jeremiah passage, Israel's actions didn't turn out as He had predicted.
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Re: The Pat Answer to the Election Question

Post by steve » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:56 pm

But clearly in the Jeremiah passage, Israel's actions didn't turn out as He had predicted.
I agree that, to my mind, the Jeremiah passage has always seemed a good one for the Openness position. It is one of those passages that have too chalk-up to anthropomorphism (undisputed examples of which abound in the Old Testament). I believe this statement carries the force of God saying, "Anyone would have supposed that..." Of course, I could alternatively take the verse at face value without appeal to anthropomorphism, if not for the many times that we actually see God demonstrating His detailed knowledge of future events and actions of men—and even pointing to this ability in Himself to demonstrate that He really is God.
God, who has complete knowledge of people and how they behave, is in a MUCH better position to correctly predict what people will do.
True. Perhaps this is how He knows the future. I have never claimed to know how Jesus could know and predict Peter's three denials and his subsequent repentance, but He foreknew of them with certainty (He introduced the prediction with the solemn, "Most assuredly I say unto you..." John 13:38). He could have proven to be a false prophet, if Peter did not act as Jesus assured him he would. Once the prediction was made, the outcome was certain.

If Jesus knew Peter well enough to know what he would choose in the next eight hours, would He be unable to predict, in the same manner, what Peter would do in twelve, twenty-four or seventy-two hours? Where is the limit? Might He even have been able to predict accurately everything Peter would do for the rest of his life on earth? Where would we draw the line—and why?

Once Jesus predicted what Peter would do, could Peter have done otherwise? Was it not determined? Yet, I have no reason to believe that it was God who determined it. I believe it was Peter's own choices that made it occur, and that Jesus simply had prior knowledge that this would be so.

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Re: The Pat Answer to the Election Question

Post by Singalphile » Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:43 pm

I agree with TK that the answer is pat, and I agree with Steve that it doesn't address the objection/question at all!

Steve's response is of course much more helpful.

I would answer with the following points:

1. Unsaved people will perhaps not live on in eternal torment.

If the "eternal torment" view of hell were true, it would certainly mean that no person's life is worth living if he or she is not eventually saved. A person might live a healthy, happy, relatively "good" life, but it would mean nothing, because he or she would end up in utter, hopeless misery for trillions of years and beyond.

In fact, there is very little biblical support for that view of hell (a few scattered sentences, at most). There are no passages of scripture that explicitly teach it, and dozens of scattered sentences that arguably contradict it.

So, if that assumption about hell is not true, a person may live a decent life, even if he or she does not end up saved. That person may suffer some corporal punishment (possibly corresponding to the suffering he or she caused) and eternal capital punishment, but his or her life might still have been worth living.

As far as we can tell, Christians have always had different opinions about that. Have you studied the arguments thoroughly, or are you just going by what you've always heard? Wouldn't your conclusion about that affect your objection?

2. (As I first hear from Steve) A person may not come to know God, but he or she could directly or indirectly lead others to know God. Assuming God knows all of that, what is He supposed to do?

3. Everyone does in fact do bad things (at least everyone with, say, an average 4 year old's cognition). Should God have not created anyone? Where's the cut-off point where God should preemptively not create somebody?

4. In Christianity, everyone will be justly and fairly judged (Romans 2:5ff). God is not far from any of us (Acts 17). All men are without excuse (Romans 1). Even if God does know that they will choose to reject Him or His advances, no one can say that God is unjust. There is, I think, even a little biblical support for the notion that those who are judged will be able to make a case for themselves (e.g., Matt 25). That possibility can't be ruled out, at least.

5. In any case, nobody deserves to live forever. Eternal life is a gift (Rom 6).

6. Some Christians believe that God does not know what everyone will choose to do, since those choices do not yet exist, and it's arguably logically incoherent to say that God knows something that doesn't exist or will never actually exist. It is possible that God choice to create a system in which truly free-will beings (i.e., in His image) are granted the ability to make decisions that He will not and/or cannot know. One would have to study the Christian Scriptures thoroughly before making a judgment about that.

7. What is your better system?
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23

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Re: The Pat Answer to the Election Question

Post by Paidion » Sun Jul 22, 2018 7:00 pm

Hi Steve, you wrote: I have never claimed to know how Jesus could know and predict Peter's three denials and his subsequent repentance, but He foreknew of them with certainty
Okay... what was His prediction concerning the number of times the rooster crowed before Peter's denial?

In Matthew and Luke's record, He said, "Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times." And then each of them record that the rooster crowed.
But according to Mark's account, the Lord said,""Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times." Mark also records in 14:72 "And immediately the rooster crowed a second time."

Now either the Lord said "before the rooster crows" (seemingly once) or "before the rooster crows twice." So clearly somebody got it wrong—which isn't surprising since Mark's gospel is believed to have been written around A.D. 66-70, and Matthew's and Luke's around A.D. 85-90.

So let me make a suggestion. I believe that Peter denied Jesus three times—a historical fact. Perhaps decades later, when the gospel writers wrote their account, knowing that Peter denied Him three times, they "remembered" his saying "before the rooster crows (or crows twice) you will deny me three times." But perhaps our Lord actually said, "Before the rooster crows you will deny me," basing that prediction on what He knew about Peter's impulsive character. When my oldest son was three years old, I could have predicted that if I said, "Jamie come here," that he would come. That's because I knew his character. Whenever I said that, he always came. But surely that didn't mean it was inevitable that he would come. On some occasion, he might have chosen not to come. So isn't it possible that Peter, in spite of his impulsive character, might have chosen NOT to deny Christ? Or did Jesus saying he would make it inevitable?
Paidion

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Re: The Pat Answer to the Election Question

Post by steve » Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:33 am

In other words, all four of the Gospels fabricated a prophecy of Jesus that He never uttered. Four witnesses is not enough to constitute credible testimony? How, then, do we know Matthew and Luke did not fabricate the Sermon on the Mount from whole cloth—or the resurrection of Christ? Either the Gospel writers were honest and reliable, or else we have no way of knowing anything Jesus really said or did. They are our only witnesses to most of it.

The difference in the number of times the cock crowed has no bearing on whether Jesus predicted Peter's denials or not. If the writers were making up a story about Jesus' prediction, based upon what actually later happened, as you suggest, then they are as likely to have remembered how many times the cock crew as how many times Peter denied Christ. How would they all have inserted the latter information verbatim, but messed up on the former detail?

I do not believe that the two accounts about the cock crowing are contradictory. This kind of difference in reporting is commonplace, even within a single Gospel. For example, Matthew 2:21 says that Joseph took Mary and Jesus out of Egypt into Israel. In verse 23, it says that Joseph (no mention of Jesus or Mary) settled in Nazareth. One passage mentions three people traveling, the other mentions only one—did Matthew contradict even himself?

Though I have no problem with a theory that an actual prediction of the cock crowing twice (remembered more distinctly by Peter, as told to Mark) might be compressed, by another narrator, into a simple statement about a cock crowing, I also would have no problem, alternatively, thinking that one writer or another actually forgot the detail of how many cock crows there were, since this was not the focus of the prophecy.

However, to say they made up the prophecy after the fact is to say they were willing to attribute to Jesus detailed prophetic knowledge which He actually did not possess. How many other ways might they have boasted, falsely, of His supernatural manifestations?

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Re: The Pat Answer to the Election Question

Post by Paidion » Mon Jul 23, 2018 5:38 pm

Okay, Steve, you don't like my suggestion at to what Jesus may have actually said. Fine. I'm all right with that. But I still think my main thesis is valid:
No one (whether human or divine) can know in advance what a free-will agent will choose.
For to know such is a logical contradiction in terms. Here is the logic:
If A knows at time T that B will do X at time T+n (where "n" is a quantity of time) then B is NOT ABLE to choose Not-X at time T+n.
For if B chooses Not-X at time T+n, then A DID NOT KNOW at time T that B would do X at time T+n.
Therefore, it is logically contradictory for ANYONE to know in advance what a free-will agent will choose.
I would be happy to know the thoughts of some of the other people who post to this forum, especially those of Matt, who, like myself, I understand, is a believer in "open theism."
Paidion

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