Ye are gods: A Critique on Leighton Flowers’ Recent Debate.

This post was written by TheSire from the Council of Google Plus blog page.

About TheSire
I’m a Christian, Trinitarian, young earth creationist, rational scientific anti-realist, Baptist, Van Tilian, Covenant theology, Inerrancy, Cartesian dualist, Classical theist, Protestant, Reformed, and a particularist. I think often my friends have better views of me and my position than warranted and I thank them all for giving me a place to share them. My influences are Steve Hays, Dr. James Anderson, Dr. Greg Welty, Dr. Vern Poythress, Dr. John Frame, R. C. Dozier, Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Ronald W. Di Giacomo, Dr. James White, Dr. Paul Helm, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, Paul Manata, Turretinfan, and others. ” You’re one of the most intricate thinkers I know so if you believe something I would like to understand why and be challenged to think about it.” Tyler Vela

Ye are gods

I wasn’t going to comment on the Leighton Flowers free will debate but I didn’t expect him to say the things he did. Overall the debate was a train wreck; both sides were trying to preach rather than debate. I wanted, however, to comment on two things I noticed in the debate.

First, Dr. Flowers said the following in his closing statements:

We say people make determinations in the same mysterious way God chose to create “ex nihlio [sic]”: he created something from nothing. We can’t explain exactly how he does that; nobody can explain how God creates something from nothing. But so, too, we are given, by God, the ability to create our own choices. God is creative and we are made in his image as creative beings and therefore we’re given a level of creative ability: the ability to make choices. So the mystery of libertarian freedom is similar to the mystery of creation itself. God created something from nothing. In a similar way, he has given us the ability to create something from nothing: namely, our desires and our choices.

This is problematic because:

i) The Bible teaches that God is the creator of all things. That is a specific function and role for God alone (Nehemiah 9:6Psalm 96:5Isaiah 45:18John 1:1-3Colossians 1:16Revelation 5:13). In Leighton’s view, we share in that function. This view is similar to the Word of Faith movement in which we are a “little God”.

ii) Leighton misunderstands what creation ex nihilo is supposed to imply. The point of creation ex nihilo is to imply that nothing externally constrains God to create and that he doesn’t create from preexisting material. Leighton mistakes this for the libertarian notion that we act independently of intentionality, desires, or any other causal or explanatory notion. However, the analogy cuts both ways: if we, like God, can create ex nihilo and, in doing so, can choose contrary to our nature, then God must be able to act contrary to his nature. That could mean that God commands the good, not because of his nature, but by chance.

Dr. Flowers should abandon the creation ex nihilo analogy because of its consequences. Leighton, because he endorses a view of the will that is purely uncaused, reduces a man’s actions to the byproducts of chance and randomness. He reduces the will to mere schizophrenic activity, acting independently of one’s desires, intentions, neurology, etc. Why should a person be responsible for that?

iii) If a man chooses to create a choice, he requires a prior creative act (choosing to choose). If he seeks to influence the causes of his future choices, he still does not escape choosing to choose. Therefore, he creates an infinite regress of choices and creative acts. Leighton must, therefore, reject his view of free will, or allow for a man to exist for an infinite amount of time. He would have creative agents that have existed for an infinite amount of time with the ability to bring things into existence.

I find it theologically incoherent to make man a se and a creator. Draw your own conclusions.

The second thing I want to comment on in the debate: Leighton stated that even if God determines one event, that doesn’t prove he has necessarily determined all events. The flaw in this reasoning is that the Bible doesn’t state God only (or merely) determines one event. In Genesis 50:20, the acts that Joseph’s brothers meant for evil were a one-time event, but Joseph says God meant them for good “to bring about this present result”, which included events that happened between their evil acts and “this present result”. Leighton seems to ignore the fact that events do not occur in a vacuum, but in a timeline. There is not a single unique event where God “poked” the timeline and made everything else fall into place. Temporally, some events are dependent upon other events much like how a chapter in a novel plays a part in the chapter that follows. Leighton’s view is analogous to saying God determined the shooting of Franz Ferdinand and that the allies would win WW2 without regard for any of the intermediary events.

6 Comments
  1. Woodman 11 months ago

    Sounds as though you’ve camped out in the Calvinism vs Arminianism tempest so maybe you can help me. I’ve spent my formative Christian years in the PCA where 5 pointers are abundant. I’ve always believed that the doctrine of election is rooted in unambiguous scripture. Dr Flowers has a proof text on his YouTube channel showing Tim Keller speak about people in hell being there by choice citing CS Lewis. Seems like a conundrum for a Calvinist. Also does 2 Peter 3:9 create a dichotomy ie if God has predestined those He chooses for salvation He must do the same for the lost making this verse superlative? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    • TheSire 8 months ago

      I didn’t see your comments because this isn’t my blog, but I’ll try to answer your questions:

      “I’ve always believed that the doctrine of election is rooted in unambiguous scripture. Dr. Flowers has a proof text on his YouTube channel showing Tim Keller speak about people in hell being there by choice citing CS Lewis. Seems like a conundrum for a Calvinist.”

      It isn’t a conundrum for me as I think that God decrees that the reprobate would choose not to believe in the Gospel. I don’t think that the concept of choice is incompatible with determinism.

      “Also does 2 Peter 3:9 create a dichotomy ie if God has predestined those He chooses for salvation He must do the same for the lost making this verse superlative?”

      I just think the verse referent is the Church Peter is speaking to. I don’t think this verse teaches God desires to save the reprobate.

      http://spirited-tech.com/COG/2017/03/02/does-god-desire-the-salvation-of-the-reprobate/

  2. Linda Johnson 1 year ago

    By the way, “I’m not a robot”!

    • TheSire 1 year ago

      Linda Johnson,

      I think you have missed my point about how events are interrelated with one another. The point isn’t whether God can determine such events. The point is whether God can determine events in isolations from other events in a timeline. It is actually ironic that you have been espousing a sort of fatalism. You make end events irrelevant to the events in between that bring it about. This is because you are isolating events from their historical setting that allows them to take place. It may be unclear to you why this is true. So, let us define Fatalism:

      “A more interesting (and I think more common) way to understand ‘fatalism’ is as the view that events will turn out a certain way no matter what we do. The central idea here is that future events (at least the major life-impacting ones) are fixed in such a way that our choices are irrelevant; those events aren’t dependent on, or affected by, our decisions or actions to any significant extent. So a fatalist might believe (based on the pronouncements of a fortune-teller perhaps) that he will die on a certain date, or in a particular fashion, regardless of any course of action he might take now.”

      Dr. James Anderson, http://www.proginosko.com/2014/07/calvinism-and-determinism/

      The reason this definition works for your position is that you maintain God can determine these singular events in isolation from preceding events. Think about Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. God may determine his assassination. Why? How does that event make sense apart from other events? Historians often talk about the long and short terms reasons for why events happen.

      “If one person does not sin, another will come along to play that part, grieving God in the process, by the way. He is more than able to bring about His objectives using the freedom of men, and He really means it tthat He hates sin his way.”

      So, if one doesn’t sin then someone else must sin? Do you have an argument for that? It seems that you either need to espouse a form of Molinism or give up this claim. You are then conceding a weak form of determinism.

      “What if–instead of the mechanistic, gear-drives-gear view you have of everything, even of the dealings of God with men–at every decision point, we have real freedom to choose God’s way or not, despite all of the pressures on us, including our own inclinations? ”

      I don’t think it is analogous to a machine but rather to a book and its author.

      “Christian doctrine never believed in this pagan idea, until it got unduly philosophical, accepting the doctrinal spin of Augustine under the threat of death.”

      This is clearly false because Clement of Rome and various other Church Fathers maintained a strong view of predestination. The ironic hypocritical nature of this comment is overwhelming. Do you suppose Libertarian indeterministic freedom was started by Christians?

  3. Linda Johnson 1 year ago

    What you are neglecting to consider is that God _could_ determine the assassination of Franz Ferdinand (although He wouldn’t) and the Allies winning WWII, and because He has such a firm command of this thing, see those objectives through to their completion, all without detemining that individuals would choose to sin or not sin (He sincerely doesnt want them to, but to turn to Him from their sin instead) to bring them about. If one person does not sin, another will come along to play that part, grieving God in the process, by the way. He is more than able to bring about His objectives using the freedom of men, and He really means it tthat He hates sin his way. But killing Archduke Ferdinand is not quite as compelling and sure as the sinful heart of man killing the Son of God when He came into the world. Had Judas not come along to be a false disciple, someone else would have, and God would have simply foreknown that one would, instead, and Jesus would have recognized that one, and made him one of the twelve instead of Judas. What if–instead of the mechanistic, gear-drives-gear view you have of everything, even of the dealings of God with men–at every decision point, we have real freedom to choose God’s way or not, despite all of the pressures on us, including our own inclinations? That way, God’s word does not have to be explained away, or His holiness and righteousness and love made less. All that has to fall is an undeserved commitment to determinism: the predestination of every thought, word, and deed by the Fates. Christian doctrine never believed in this pagan idea, until it got unduly philosophical, accepting the doctrinal spin of Augustine under the threat of death.

    • My Daddy’s Girl 8 months ago

      Thank you Linda. No matter how the Calvinist spins it, it boils down to determinism and fatalism. They just give it a theological name and say it’s ok cuz “God decided it”. Thank God for Dr Leighton Flowers, who gives a voice to those wounded by Calvinist theology. The Scriptures have been misinterpreted too long, mostly by the wealthy and influential, who like their lot in life and find Calvinism a great way to defend the status quo. Check out who supported slavery and it was mostly Calvinists. God predetermined that they be slave owners and that certain other people be slaves.

      God created man in His own image and gave him dominion over the earth. He gave him the ability to have a thought and a choice at the same time. That hardly makes us little gods. God is big enough to deal with even our bad choices.

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