Does God Move When We Pray? A Classical Theistic Response.

If God is impassible and immutable, as classic, Christian theism asserts,  then what is happening when we pray?  How can God be unmoved and unchangeable and still enter into the relational exchange of prayer?

There are a few theological frameworks that we can use to view this question, and in this post I want to sketch out a classical theistic (CT) approach.  In later posts I will sketch out two free will theistic approaches to the conundrum.

According to CT, God determined all things before time and creation.  Accordingly, God is strongly sovereign over every detail of life.  Yes, that includes evil.  This account of the God-World relation raises at least two serious problems: the problem of evil and human freedom/responsibility.  I will leave those issues to the side for the time being, and focus first on the issue of prayer.

So if God is unchangeable (immutable), cannot suffer in response to his creation (impassible) and he has determined all things prior to creation then prayer seems to be a rather hollow exercise.  At best it would appear to be a humorous prank or at worst a cruel joke.

CT escapes this quandary by arguing that if God ordained all things then he mostly certainly ordained the cause of all things.  As such, when we pray it is because God has willed us to do so as the means for the ends he desired.  Prayer on this account connects causally to events in reality, but the connection is ultimately due to divine determinism.  However, while this elegant solution may relieve the pressure regarding the questions of prayer it certainly  increases the pressure on our concepts of human freedom/responsibility and the problem of evil.

If God ordained us to pray (or not pray) as part of his pre-determined plan for the universe then what of human freedom and responsibility?  Why are we commanded to pray without ceasing if it is God’s decree that has determined if we will pray and whether that prayer will cause the divinely desired result?  If I don’t pray, then how am I responsible for my inaction, and if I do pray, then how am I credited for my action?  According to CT’s solution, prayer isn’t the cruel joke; but human freedom is, so it would seem.

More disturbingly, if God has ordained all things, including evil, and human responsibility is a shame (so it appears), then what kind of God are we worshipping?  Is he truly worthy of such devotion given the horrors of evil in this world?

So have we solved one problem only to create two more larger problems?

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27 Responses to Does God Move When We Pray? A Classical Theistic Response.

  1. rainbowmn says:

    mmmm.
    the larger question is why are you treating this as if you can find reason your way to the answer?
    ryan,
    the way forward is to release self-understanding, not to expand it.
    how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    every single perception of God is a misunderstanding. your treatise above is based on actually understanding even one single thing about God, who is by His nature unknowable at this moment in our journey.

    jesus creates a glimmer – even he will be reconceived when we see him as is.

    bty – ‘god neither ‘ordains’ or not ‘ordains’. to suggest such implies there is behavior that exists outside of him. we are only capable of that which is energized by him – we are only made up of the stuff that IS him.

    this discussion needs to go WAY up the tree.

    • rainbowmn,

      Thanks for reading and engaging. Your first question is essentially one of method; and I will lay my cards on the table. I am not a rationalist, an empiricist nor a Modernistic, at least epistemologically. I subscribe to Augustine, Anselm and Calvin in viewing reason as revelation’s handmaiden. We cannot, as you rightly point out, reason our way to God, but we must reason about God because of the incarnation, because revelation has happened. God spoke, and we must seek to understand what he has said. I ground myself in the long tradition of those that have faith that seeks understanding.

      Having said that, often our theological statements or insights, derived from scripture, are merely apophatic, and we presume too much to lay out permanently fixed and clearly marked lines on a number of theological issues because the revelation we have is not sufficient or our reason not clear enough to create finely distinguished points of theology. Regarding this issue of divine sovereignty and human freedom, many people simple hold them in paradoxical tension and mystery, seeing no pathway forward between these two scriptural realities utilizing human reason. That is a reasonable position to end up at, but one must thoroughly tour the house before condemning it.

      As to the allegation of asking speculative metaphysical questions derived from Medieval scholastic inquiry, I believe there is a strong distinction between trying to understand, as much as possible, the dynamics of prayer and our relation to the Father, Son and Spirit and asking how many angels fit on the head of a pin. We can pursue that line further if it is warranted, but I suspect you might agree.

      How do you know “every single perception of God is a misunderstanding?” Have you perceived something in God that draws you to this conclusion? 🙂 If God is unknowable by nature then how is it you have come to know his nature is as you claim? 🙂 Moreover, because the Father sent the Son in a divine communicative-act and the Son sends the Spirit to his church to prepare us and illuminate us for understanding the divine communicative-act, as a Christian it seems difficult to hold to such levels of agnosticism required by your statement. Rahner’s rule applies. The economic trinity is the ontological trinity, and the ontological trinity is the economic trinity. I want to hold to his use of the word IS lightly in order to prevent a collapse between the economic and ontological trinity, thereby preserving the God-World distinction, but, nevertheless, if what happens in the economy of the trinity is true then we must be able to say something (certainly not everything) about the ontological trinity, even if only those statements are apophatic in nature.

      Let’s start there and see where we go from here.

  2. Debbie R. says:

    Rainbowmn, it’s good to have a new topic of “deeper” thought, so let’s let it ride for awhile.

    My faith thoughts: Jesus prayed. Jesus taught us how to pray. I want to be more like Christ, thus I pray. Call that simple faith, but it’s been working for me since I was a little girl. I think the words from Jesus, ..”Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” says it all. We pray to talk and listen to God and for His will to be done on earth…. Prayer changes my heart to be more like Jesus.

    • Debbie,

      Thanks for reading and chiming in. I agree that we are commanded to pray and Jesus taught us to pray. So that I am clear let me say, I am setting up these tensions in order to help bring understanding (in the long run) rather suggest that our practice of piety is off.

      Your statement (prayer changes my heart) is very much in line with the classical theistic position. If prayer does not change an immutable God and all has been his decree since before time then either prayer is useless (but since scripture commands us to do it this is not a logical option for the Christian) or it changes us in some way. If God has ordained all, as well as the means for all to happen (prayer), then prayer is about connecting to the will of God. Prayer on this account is about participating in the divine drama and the divine life. II Peter 1:3-4 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature.”<strong In other words, God moved so we could join in him, and often our prayer is about us trying to convince God to join us. The strength of your position is that pray is a meaningful way for us to get over ourselves and connect with something far larger and valuable that ourselves.

      The downside of the classical theistic tradition, as I said in the post, is that while we resolve the tension on the prayer side of the equation we immediate create deeper tension regarding the issues of evil and human freedom. Free will theists react to that deeper tension by trying to reframe the issue, resolving some tensions by creating others. I will post on those alternative frameworks later this week.

      • Glenn Smith says:

        Hey Ryan~

        Thanks for all you do! You model what every believer ought to be doing on some level – pursuing a view / understanding of God (theology) that is consistent with the Word we have been given!

        Though I am not versed in some of the labels and terminology used in the posts, I certainly identified with Debbie’s view and the second paragraph of your response. Though he has passed now, I learned years ago in my prayers for my father in law that God would have me change as a function of those prayers. Admittedly, though I genuinely desired that he be saved, my ‘feelings’ about him were not in keeping with desire.

        1 John 3:21-22 – “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” Yes we are to ask so that we may receive, we are to seek so that we may find and we are to knock so that all will be opened to us…(Luke 11:9-10, Matthew 7:7-8) however in order for this to happen, it is clear that a child of God, need to submit to God before prayer can be answered or even understand that they truly have been answered (John 15:5-7, James 4:3[wrong person, or asked for in a wrong manner, or from wrong principles, or with wrong ends in view]). We must pray in the will of God and our basis for prayer begins with living lives that are pleasing to God. God’s promises do not place Him under obligation to worldly, carnal or disobedient Christians. He hears and answers only those who walk in His way… thusly I make no presumption about my walk other than for any given prayer to be submitted before God it need begin by the transformation of my heart, mind and soul in any given moment of each and every day.

        Matthew 6:6 says the Father promises reward for prayers prayed in secret. Yet the full study of that verse reveals that He rewards what is done in that secret time. There needs to be a transformation, of heart, mind and or soul during that time. As in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Acts 6:4 speaks of being devoted to the ministry of prayer. I have understood what I know about prayer (admittedly too little!) to mean that though we are called to a time of secret prayer, there should be no adjustment of my life as I go to that secret prayer time. The essence of my secret time in prayer should prevail throughout my day. My activities and work should be performed in the same spirit which makes my secret time sacred. Just as Christ offered prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto God, seeking silence and solitude for long periods such that His prayers were heard only by heaven – so to has the Holy Spirit been given to us for the same purpose.

        We cannot do in perfection what Christ did, so the Spirit makes our lips give a voice. Residing in our hearts, the Holy Spirit seeks to douse the flame of my own desires and replace them with heavenly ones (Psalm 37:4) for it is only those that are trustworthy. He dismisses the will of the self until my will (heart, mind and soul) prays only as the Spirit prays.

        I often wonder how few of my prayers even come close to the manner in which Christ prayed, for surely it was a submission in His perfect love for His Father that enabled His prayers. It is this that leads me to question the presupposition that such a view of prayer necessitates a tension predicated on how God deals with evil and human freedom, for I do not see it.

        Paul implicitly recognizes in the way that he describes himself as a ‘bondservant’ that we will serve someone! In the same way that Christ “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant” (Phil. 2:7), we too, having been bought out of servitude to sin/death, are to live within the divine privileges afforded us in our ‘life in Christ’ and deny ourselves for His sake. The alternative is soul shaking!

        In Psalm 11:5 David declares “the LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.” Conversely Psalm 5:4 says “you hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies: bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors.” This is reiterated in Romans 1:18. Paul does not need to reconcile the existence of evil with a Holy God (ref. Romans 9). Knowing that evil exists and what it is, is what we have been afforded. We know that ‘lawlessness’ existed before man was set upon the earth and that creation, in some fashion was accomplished in order that His glory would be seen by the ‘heavenlies’ within the context of a redemptive plan.

        Given that we have been privileged in Christ, don’t we too often simply confuse freedom with the responsibility that such a privilege brings. If you, Ryan, were called (used in the same sense as in Ephesians 1) to give an address on behalf of the President of the United States, you would undoubtedly feel like you have been granted a great privilege. On the other hand you would be overwhelmed with the responsibility that came with that privilege.

        So it is with prayer. It is a manifestation of our recognition of the privilege (orthodoxy), where we unceasingly seek the strength to deny ourselves (orthopraxis), so that we can carry out the responsibility which comes with having received of the grace extended to us (orthopathos), which goes far beyond the common grace that all men experience.

        Hope I’ve made sense. I can get lost in my thoughts sometimes!

        Grace & Peace
        Glenn

  3. rnieman says:

    Hi Ryan,
    When speaking to God’s Immutability we are talking about who God is and His character. It’s not speaking to the Calvinistic teaching of everything being determined beforehand. If that was the case then your final questions in your post are very valid. The following is a great question rising on another website a while ago speaking to the big problems that arise

    “This question has great importance for pastoral/counseling/evangelistic/apologetic situations. If you are addicted to drugs because God willed for you to be addicted to drugs, if you are hooked on pornography because God refuses to grant you the grace to be free, if you were molested by your uncle because God willed for him to do that to you, if you are being beaten by your husband because God not only “permitted” it to happen but ordered events in such a way that no other outcome was possible, then is God good to you? Is there any hope for the future? Are you responsible to change? Are you rebelling against God if you remove yourself from abusive situations? Is it not true that God ordained these situations for your good? Isn’t your pornography addiction bringing glory to God? ”

    The Arminian view sees God definitely determining things, i.e. creation, just not everything, thus making prayer actually real instead of puppetry. Looking for your future posts.

    Bless you

    • rnieman,

      Thanks for checking in again. You are right divine determinism is separable from immutability and impassibility if you adopt an Arminian or free will theist position. At this point I am trying to be descriptive and not prescriptive in these posts. I am pushing the tension inherent in each position as a pedagogical tool as well as being honest with the evidence.

      Since at the outset I am just dealing with classic theism (Augustin, Aquinas, Anselm & Calvin), I think the hard questions come up in this post due to the weaknesses of this position. Stick around because I think there are similar problems in free will theism.

      You are also right to point out the very practical implications these issues have for counseling and sanctification, not just prayer. Theology is for living. Our orthodoxy and our orthopraxy live in separate rooms, but the do so under the same roof. In other words, right living, right believing and right worshiping are inseparable parts of a life lived before God.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

    • C. Curtis says:

      Is it possible that God brings about his purposes by working through our wills but without violating our wills?

      • rnieman says:

        C. Curtis,
        Absolutely! That’s what scripture communicates

        • C. Curtis says:

          Then why the reference to “puppetry”? What did you mean by that?

          • rnieman says:

            In other words, in the reformed view it’s pure puppetry because everything great and small has been foreordained to happen beforehand, therefore making prayer puppetry if you hold to that view. In the biblical view God does’nt violate our wills but brings things His overall plan to pass in the end. Example Joseph Genesis 50:20
            20“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

            God didn’t ordain this to come to pass before the foundation of the world, he responed to the evil of Joseph’s brothers and brought great good out it.

  4. C. Curtis says:

    A puppet has no self-consciousness nor a will. A puppet only moves because of the external control of the puppet master. But a human being has self-consciousness and a will. A human being does what he/she does because that is what he/she wants to do. I am suggesting that God works out his purposes through the human will without violating that will. The human being is always doing what he/she wants to do. That is not puppetry. In your example from Genesis, Joseph’s brothers did what they did because that is what they wanted to do. God worked through their wills to bring about his purposes.

    • rnieman says:

      Hi C. Curtis, I’m saying the reformed view is puppetry because why pray if God already determined before the foundation of the early last detail would come to pass.

      You said:”The human being is always doing what he/she wants to do. That is not puppetry. ”

      If God ordained every last detail as in the reformed view, how is man doing what he wants to do, not doing what God foreordained him to do?

      You said:” In your example from Genesis, Joseph’s brothers did what they did because that is what they wanted to do. God worked through their wills to bring about his purposes.”

      Let me ask you, did Joseph’s brothers sin against their brother?

  5. rnieman says:

    C. Curtis,
    Agreed. Here are a couple of quotes by Calvin defining what is meant by exhaustive determinism

    John Calvin writes: “We also note that we should consider the creation of the world so that we may realize that everything is subject to God and ruled by his will and that when the world has done what it may, nothing happens other than what God decrees.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.66)

    Calvin writes: “First, the eternal predestination of God, by which before the fall of Adam He decreed what should take place concerning the whole human race and every individual, was fixed and determined.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.121)

    Calvin writes: “Whatever things are done wrongly and unjustly by man, these very things are the right and just works of God.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.169)

    So in applying Calvin’s comment, the implications follow: Joseph’s brother sinned against their brother, God ordained that to happen exactly how it happened, and supplied not the grace to do otherwise. So in light of Ryan’s post we take this into the realm of prayer and arrive at more implications. So in the reformed view the Christian goes to pray, God ordained that they would pray when they prayed, how they prayed, and exactly what they prayed meticulously. How is this not puppetry?

    • Glenn Smith says:

      rnieman~
      Why must we create an alternative to what Scripture plainly says with respect to what it ‘means’ to be free. How does one determine ‘unacceptable’ that which God has determined for us – even exhaustively? Isn’t that exercise in itself a dangerous row to hoe?

      Contextually passages such as Acts 2:23, 4:27-28, John 9:11, Revelation 20:12 and James 1:13 describe man as a valid “secondary” agent and entirely responsible for his actions.

      We are free agents, possessing a certain character, within a certain environment, subject to certain external influences, internally moved by certain affections, desires, habits… and in view of all of this we freely and rationally make a choice. All of this is a function of ‘how’ and ‘why’ we were created.There is no obligation / compulsion on the part of the Creator to substantiate / validate His choices toward the creature.

      The fact that our choice will most certainly be one thing or another and known as such by God, since He controls the exact cause of each influence (even using Satan to such ends). Since the end goal is His glory it is entirely logical that in a real sense, God, as THE primary agent, has predetermined my choice and its outcome, whilst maintaining my free agency.

      Unto His glory, He has created seconday agents for the purpose of destruction (Romans 9) and others who are raised from responsible to priveleged + responsible. The result is, as a free agent, the recognition that such a position cannot be maintained outside of the power of the One who raised us. Thus prayer becomes a necessity within the context of such a privilege.

      Calvin’s desription is not one of puppetry, but rather a description of priviledge as defined by the One who made such a privilege possible – – ref. our Scriptures. Not being content with our role puts us at best in the same position that Job (Job 38-41) placed himself (see Job 42:1-6), at worst in a postion to desire to be God… that did not work out well for Lucifer.

      Grace & Peace
      Glenn

      • rnieman says:

        Hi Glenn,

        Does God determine exhaustively everything that shall come to pass yes or no?

        Bless you,

        Russ

        • Glenn Smith says:

          Hey Russ~

          Your form of argumentation is fallacious as it sets up a false dilemma – – presenting a limited number of alternatives when there may be others to consider. The question was answered in my post.The question is even better answered as you push through Revelation.

          If the answer to your question is strictly no, then the force of authority is stripped from our Scriptures, in that perhaps the prophecies yet to be fulfilled can be thwarted. Such an alternative diminishs God as He has revealed Himself. If the answer is strictly yes, then we are no longer morally culpable – be we in Christ or not! Neither alone is correct.

          Perhaps the essence of your question is bound in discontent with the idea that you are not ultimately in control? Or perhaps if you see yourself as a puppet, you can therefore absolve yourself of moral culpability… I don’t understand your need to call it ‘puppetry.’

          Where Calvin and Arminius agree with Scripture, there go I. I believe the middle ground to both views is to be a ‘sovereignist.’ I wonder how much of Jacob’s struggle with God was centered on his philosophical ideas (how he viewed reality) on fatalism, determinism or predeterminism before God touched his hip – – changed his nature and created a nation.

          Recognizing that our attempt to make our earthly relationships analogous to our relationship to our Creator, breakdown fairly easily I submit the following…

          I have a 13 year old daughter. If I wanted to steer her toward a decision, I can set up a series of circumstances, controlling various aspects of her journey (timelines, exposure to specific people etc.), such that she will make the decision I had foreordained for her. As a parent such foreordination will uphold my role as a (good) parent while simultaneously contributing to her personal well being. Is she still responsible for her decision or is she merely a puppet?

          Given that God accomplishes such things on a cosmic (earthly & spiritual realms) level, with the promise of Romans 8:28 as an underlying element to His purpose what is the real question you are trying ask?

          Grace & Peace
          Glenn

          • rnieman says:

            Glenn,

            you said

            “I have a 13 year old daughter. If I wanted to steer her toward a decision, I can set up a series of circumstances, controlling various aspects of her journey (timelines, exposure to specific people etc.), such that she will make the decision I had foreordained for her. As a parent such foreordination will uphold my role as a (good) parent while simultaneously contributing to her personal well being. Is she still responsible for her decision or is she merely a puppet?”

            How is this meticulous determination? It’s not. The determination you hold to is one where there is no choice but to do what you were foreordained to do from the foundation of the earth.

            Can you pick a sin and walk us through your first post as God being the primary cause agent and us being the secondary cause agent and end up with God not being the author us that sin?

            Bless you,

            Russ

    • C. Curtis says:

      Puppetry includes, at minimum, a puppet master and a puppet. The puppet has no self-consciousness, no will, no volition. The puppet moves only and ultimately because the puppet master makes it to move. The puppet master does not move the puppet against its will because it has no will.

      We are not puppets. We are human beings made in the image of God. We have self-consciousness, will, and volition. We make real choices according to our desires. You and I agree that God works his purposes through our wills without violating our wills.

      The puppet analogy does not fit what I believe you are trying to argue. Why not use the Biblical analogy of the potter and the clay?

      • rnieman says:

        Hi C. Curtis

        You said,
        “Puppetry includes, at minimum, a puppet master and a puppet. The puppet has no self-consciousness, no will, no volition. The puppet moves only and ultimately because the puppet master makes it to move. The puppet master does not move the puppet against its will because it has no will. ”

        What you just said here is what exhaustive determinism is. God foreordains it, and there is no choice to do otherwise. That’s what exhaustive determinism is. I hope that helps.

        bless you

  6. C. Curtis says:

    I am not arguing for a definition of exhaustive determinism. I object to your puppet analogy.

  7. Glenn Smith says:

    Hey Russ~

    I qualified my example re. my 13 year old daughter as limited in its efficacy for providing an example of my position that both (God’s sovereignty – my volition) are together true. Like C. Curtis I was never arguing for exhaustive / meticulous determinism.

    It is clear that you will not be moved from setting up false dilemma’s in order to have your ‘aha’ moment, rather than having an honest conversation. I this case you present your question as a paradox to be unraveled or even cast aside, where there is no paradox.

    We are not in the same place Russ. In fact, what we are dealing with is technically an antinomy which, by definition, cannot be tossed aside as “just silly” nor can it be comprehended. It is not to say that I have not tried, so please do not presume upon my study habits. It is just that I have come to realize that when we ‘do not like something’ we will often change things to suit our thinking.

    A study of Micah had the nation of Israel (northern territories) attempting to put God on trial for their position (under brutal siege) and their understanding of His covenant promises. They had created a God of their own understanding and approached Him as if they knew Him (ref. Matt. 7:21-22). However the God of the Bible is never the defendant and there are consequences for making Him as such.

    A secular philosophical view of human volition, integrated with our scriptures will create ‘bad religion.’ I want no part of the overwhelming amount of bad religion that is circulating under the guise of Evangelicalism.

    So… I am at peace with something that is unavoidable yet insoluble and it is thusly due to a deficiency of my own understanding. The two priniciples are not to be treated as rival alternatives (leading to bad religion) but rather as complimentary and in a way that I do not understand.

    That God is both King and Judge is explicity taught. As King he orders and controls all things, including human actions, in accordance with HIS purpose (Gen. 14:8, 50:20, Prov. 16:9: 21:1, Matt 10:29, Acts 9:27-28, Rom 9:20-21, Eph 1:11…). Additionally He is Judge, holding every man responsible (Matt 25, Rom 2:1-16, Rev 20:11-13…). Both are guaranteed to us by the same divine authority, therefore both are true.

    The larger Arminian argument as given us in Romans 9 has Paul, in his response, refuse to put God on trial, but rather rejects the spirit of the question, declaring that we have no right to find fault with God (thus philosophize about a new of idea of God). This is where I also previous reference Job 38 -41 & Job 42:1-6.

    I now simply acknowledge the existence of an antinomy within His revealed Word (not the only one!) and adore God’s righteousness, both as King and Judge. I will not be drawn into speculation as to how His just sovereignty can be consistent with His just judgement, nor to call the justice of either in question because I find the problem of their relationship to hard – – or as it seems to you… offensive!

    There is resolution in the mind and cousel of God, and it remains a source of joy that I may one day, in heaven, be brought to understanding.

    In the meantime, in opposition to your view that proper counsel, evangelism and apologetics cannot be done outside of an Arminian view (your first post on this page), I will let my knowledge of God’s sovereignty (as outlined in scripture rather than in any theological framework) control the way in which I plan, pray, evangelize, give defense of the hope within and work in His service – – thereby mitigating self exultation/reliance and my intrusion into the work of the Holy Spirit while recognizing that I have been called to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8 / Isaiah 66:2).

    To bring it back to the question Ryan posed in this blog, with respect to prayer… We cannot do in perfection what Christ did, so the Spirit makes our lips give a voice. Residing in our hearts, the Holy Spirit seeks to douse the flame of my own desires and replace them with heavenly ones (Psalm 37:4) for it is only those that are trustworthy. He dismisses the will of the self until my will (heart, mind and soul) prays only as the Spirit prays.

    I often wonder how few of my prayers even come close to the manner in which Christ prayed, for surely it was a submission in His perfect love for His Father that enabled His prayers. It is this that leads me to question the presupposition that such a view of prayer necessitates a tension predicated on how God deals with evil and human freedom, for I do not see it.

    Grace & Peace
    Glenn

  8. rnieman says:

    Hi Glenn,

    I figured you wouldn’t answer a simple question/thought out right but rather continue to talk in circles. That’s a shame. I have yet to set up a false notion. I asked you simple to walk us through how God(the primary) cause and man(the secondary cause) in relation to sin under your theology somehow not have God out to be the author. That’s all…..

    So if you might be kind enough can you walk us through that?

    You also said the following and I’m hoping you could expound a little further. Arminians have no problem with Romans 9 or 10-11 for that matter. We don’t charge God with unrighteous judgements at all. Please elaborate.

    “The larger Arminian argument as given us in Romans 9 has Paul, in his response, refuse to put God on trial, but rather rejects the spirit of the question, declaring that we have no right to find fault with God (thus philosophize about a new of idea of God). This is where I also previous reference Job 38 -41 & Job 42:1-6.”

    Lastly, in the end of the day I absolutely consider calvinists my brothers and sisters, just disagree with some other their theology. So your statement about me thinking ministry can’t be done outside an arminian view is simply not true. I know it can, I just believe ends up with several conundrums and hurting the character of God.

    Bless you

    • Glenn Smith says:

      Russ~
      I fully understood your question and rejected the notion that it can be answered within the way the question was framed. Your first attempt framed the question as if there were only two options – – yes or no to your question. You create a false dilema. There is another – and I shared it. Your second attempt falsely presented the “God’s sovereignty vs mans free will” as a paradox to be solved. It is not. And I shared why.

      You asked… “So if you might be kind enough can you walk us through that?” Again I say, I will not be drawn into speculation as to how His just sovereignty can be consistent with His just judgement, nor to call the justice of either in question because I find the problem of their relationship too hard – – or as it seems to you… offensive!

      I have tried to make myself understood a couple of different ways, offering much more of myself than you have risked. However, what I get is an ‘ad hominemism’ based on what you ‘figured’ and an accusation of talking in circles. Additionally you quote me with respect to Romans 9 and declare that I somehow suggested that Arminianism charges God with unrighteous judgments. Such was never declared nor suggested. It would be appreciated that you not attribute statements to me that I never made. None of this will further the discussion.

      In your post above, Nov. 28th, you cut and paste a paragraph from another WEB site that declares a certain question (not in the post) has great importance for “pastoral / counseling / evangelistic / apologetic situations” and end with your own comment “The Arminian view sees God definitely determining things, i.e. creation, just not everything, thus making prayer actually real instead of puppetry.” I do not think I was off base in surmising that you have a very low opinion of the efficacy of said ministries (including prayer) outside of an Arminian theological framework.

      Lastly, I am glad that you consider “Calvinists” your brothers & sisters, however please note that I never claimed any one theological framework. I would rather be Berean. I hope that I still am considered to be a brother.

      Grace & Peace
      Glenn

      • Glenn Smith says:

        Correction…
        First paragraph should read “You create a false dilemma. There is another option – and I shared it.”
        Addendem to fourth paragraph…
        I used the words ‘low opinion’ however I think I was being too generous. To label prayer as puppetry in any other framework (I assume you were referring to Calvinism) and only “real” within an Arminian view is absolutely denying ministry to any other camp… and perhaps could even be viewed as sinfully presumptuous, for it seems to limit God. Hmmm.

        • rnieman says:

          Hi Glen,

          Thanks for your response. You said:

          “Your first attempt framed the question as if there were only two options – – yes or no to your question. You create a false dilema. There is another – and I shared it. Your second attempt falsely presented the “God’s sovereignty vs mans free will” as a paradox to be solved. It is not. And I shared why.”

          To restate my original question “Does God determine exhaustively everything that shall come to pass yes or no?”

          ***Let take a completely different angle.

          You wrote: “however please note that I never claimed any one theological framework.” You seemed to be defending it pretty hard.

          ***So what exactly do you hold to? How would you define Devine determinism and its scope?

          You also wrote:
          “You asked… “So if you might be kind enough can you walk us through that?” Again I say, I will not be drawn into speculation as to how His just sovereignty can be consistent with His just judgement, nor to call the justice of either in question because I find the problem of their relationship too hard – – or as it seems to you… offensive!”

          And in a previous post you said:
          “The fact that our choice will most certainly be one thing or another and known as such by God, since He controls the exact cause of each influence (even using Satan to such ends). Since the end goal is His glory it is entirely logical that in a real sense, God, as THE primary agent, has predetermined my choice and its outcome, whilst maintaining my free agency.”

          ***You are obviously aware of the charge of exhaustive determinism leading to God being the author of sin and evil. So I simply asked you to walk us through primary and second causes of a particular sin and show us how God doesn’t end up the author of sin. Taking from my original quote I posted, how would a drug addict come to be with primary and secondary causes?

          ***How does God predetermine that person’s choices and they remain a free agent?

          *** Do primary and secondary causes have the same amount of influence on the recipient?

          *** In regards to prayer you mentioned yourself doing various things to shepherd your child, yet ultimately he/she can go their own way. So what hope would there be for a child that goes head long into the world’s ways, what would prayer accomplish? How much of what you prayed (specific words) are predetermined by God, or at all?

          Lastly, I don’t have a high view of calvinistic soteriology because of my reason already mentioned. I think it makes prayer rote and in many causes hopeless. And of course the conundrum of sin and evil in regards to that as well, which I believe is the bigger issue. I also think it has serious complications in the matters of counseling, sin, suffering, etc…Outside of all that, I believe 100% that Arminian and Calvinist alike are co-heirs and brothers/sisters in Christ.

          Bless you,

          Russ

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