I have always had problems with the definition of 'atheism' proposed by the mast majority of modern atheists. I have also always had issues with the definition of 'theism' proposed by moderns theists. We have the following historical definitions from Noah's 1828 Dictionary:
"A'THEISM, n. The disbelief of the existence of a God, or Supreme intelligent Being. [.] Atheism is a ferocious system that leaves nothing above us to excite awe, nor around us, to awaken tenderness."
"THE'ISM, n. [from Gr. God.] The belief or acknowledgment of the existence of a God, as opposed to atheism. Theism differs from deism, for although deism implies a belief in the existence of a God, yet it signifies in modern usage a denial of revelation, which theism does not."
Notice the word 'Disbelief' in this definition of Atheism. Observe also that under Theism it is broad enough to include polytheism but is distinct from deism in that it affirms the possibility of Revelation (A key feature of personhood).
Disbelief is defined here with more verbal force in that it would be a positive rejection of more than what we now generally consider. Because of this an ex-atheist philosopher named Antony Flew tried to precise the definition by making more appropriate distinctions. The result was a distinction between a positive atheist and a negative atheist in a paper he wrote called the "The Presumption of Atheism". In it the definition he proposed for a negative atheism was done by trying to precise the word 'disbelief'. He said:
"the word ‘atheist’ has in the present context to be construed in an unusual way. Nowadays it is normally taken to mean someone who explicitly denies the existence . . . of God . . . But here it has to be understood not positively but negatively, with the originally Greek prefix ‘a-’ being read in this same way in ‘atheist’ as it customarily is in . . . words as ‘amoral’ . . . . In this interpretation an atheist becomes not someone who positively asserts the non-existence of God, but someone who is simply not a theist."
(A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, ed. Philip Quinn and Charles Taliaferro [Oxford: Blackwell, 1997], s.v. “The Presumption of Atheism,” by Antony Flew)
As a result many and most modern atheists have imbibed or adopted this definition along with some form of verificationism. The strange thing about this definition precising is that it ignores the fact of quiescent beliefs. They are beliefs that you are in possession of but are not always held consciously. An analogy would be like the way your computer stores information when you turn it off and is still there when you turn it back on. The big problem with this definition is that it is virtually identical to having a belief that is quiescent instead of not present at all. Thus we could make the same distinction as theists. Namely that of positive theism and negative theism. We could then precise our definition and still fit into the semantic domain of 'disbelief' with lack of belief being the quiescence state of our possessed belief in God. We could say while we are asleep our possessed belief in God is quiescent. This will not suffice alone because we need to accommodate the deism distinction while agreeing that beliefs are cognitive. We could precise our Mono-theistic definition for (Negative) theism to the (Negative) atheist thus:
"The presence of the belief or acknowledgment of the existence of a God who can make possible revelation"
What this results in is that both become trivially true in a validly circular fashion by definition. Because this is the case we arrive at Presuppositional Atheism and Presuppositional Theism. After all 'Presumption' as Antony Flew called it is just another word for 'Presupposition'. These two sorts will have to basically argue against the existence of the presence or non-presence of a belief. How would anyone be able to do that? I will let you think about that but this is all to say such a negative definition seems like a it could be used as a clever and deceptive tactic to always leave open an escape hatch.
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,
8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
(Jam 1:2-8 NAU)
Semantic/Linguistic Theories of Meaning
We all presuppose some linguistic model of communication but rarely do we spend the time to work one out. A theory of meaning is a model we use to establish how we should determine the meaning of words used in speech and written material.
Ideational theory of meaning: A theory holding that the meaning of a word is the idea with which it is regularly associated or for which it stands. According to the theory, ideas are private and independent of language. ... A linguistic expression gets its meaning by being used to indicate ideas.
1. The meaning of a word or phrase is not identical with the idea or thought
2. We dont form sentences like Idea+idea+idea...
3. Sentences can still be meaningful without ideas in the mind of the speaker
4. Some words have no corresponding Idea at all (Not/When-these are functions and not ideas)
5. Mental images are not always identical every time we use them.
(Do you always think of the same dog when the word dog is uttered?)
6. Two seperate expressions could evoke the same idea
(Run/football player/ Sports could all conjure up football player)
7. Meaning can be said to be in the speaker's mind but never simply so.
Behaviorist theory of meaning: The theory that human and animal behavior can be explained in terms of conditioning, without appeal to thoughts or feelings, and that psychological disorders are best treated by altering behavior patterns. Stimulus response-mostly evolutionary model.
1. How is it decided which responses are relevant to the meaning of the expression in question?
(Pass the salt could mean belch based on observation of behavior)
2. Some sentences simply carry no practical response in any non-linguistic behavioral sense.
(Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492)
3. Delineation problem of conditions.
4. The meaning of sentences does not vary directly in proportion to the distribution of situations and responses in the world.
Referential theory of Meaning:
1. Claims that the meaning of a word or expression lies in what it points out in the world.
2. The object denoted by a word is called it's referent.
3. Expressions have meanings because they stand for things: they mean what they stand for.
4. Words are like labels.
1. Two expressions can have the same referent but very different meanings. (Morning star-Evening star-Venus)
2. Two expressions can have the same meaning but different referents.(The present president of the united states-different contexts/times) Indexical referents.
3. Syncategorematic terms don't refer to anything. (If,and,is,be, and therefore)
4. Modal Auxiliary terms don't have referents either. (Should,would,might, and must)
5. A word like dog does not refer to the class of all dogs. (The meaning and referents are different).
6. The meaning of a phrase cannot be identical with a referent of a phrase, because you can say things of referents that you cannot say of meanings and phrases.
What is the referent of the phrase "The author of Perelandra."? C.S. Lewis! Now consider the expression "The author of Perelandra got married". We can say C.S. Lewis got married but we cannot say the meaning of the phrase got married.
The meaning of a sentence,phrase, or word then cannot be limited to what would be experienced or observed if the sentence were true; which is what the referential theory says and requires. This view confuses or conflates the criteria of meaning with a theory of meaning.
Use Theory of Meaning:
1. Claims that meaning of a word lies in it's use.
2. Conventions and traditions play an important role.
3. Not every word stands for objects.
4. World of fiction,ethics,dance,music,aesthetics etc. do not have referents.
Speech-Act Theory of Meaning:
1. Introduced by Oxfard Philosopher J.L. Austin.
2. Words can be used not only to present information but also to carry out actions.
3. Speaking is a performance.
4. In speaking we do certain things, e.g., promise,request,question,assertion, etc.
5. Locutions,illocutions and Perlocutions
A. Locutionary Act:
1. the act of making a meaningful utterance.
2.The act of "saying something" in the full normal sense.
3. content of a locutionary act can be either expressed directly or implied.
4. I warn you to stop smoking.
5. I warn you that cigarette smoking is dangerous.
B. Illocutionary Act:
1. Speaker's intention in delivering an utterance.
2. the type of function a speaker intends to accomplish in the course of producing an utterance.
3. e.g. pass me the glasses please.(Request,order)
4. Also called illocutionary force.
5. the effect a speech act is intended to have by a speaker.
C. Perlocutionary Act:
1. An action or state of mind brought about by, or as a consequence of, saying something.
2. cause physiological changes in the audience, either in their states or behavior.
3. an act is performed by saying something. A person shouts "fire", causes people to exit the building.
Cognitive Linguistics theory of Meaning/Usage variant:
1. Cognitive linguists deny that the mind has any module for language-acquisition that is unique and autonomous.
2. It understands Grammar in terms of conceptualization.
3. Knowledge of language arrives out of language use.
4. Finally, cognitive linguistics argues that language is both embodied and situated in a specific environment. This can be considered a moderate offshoot of the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis inasmuch as language and cognition mutually influence one another and are both embedded in the experiences and environments of its users.
The scripture says we are created in the image of God and part of this is an innate ability to learn language. In other words part of the image of God is that we are linguistic beings like God is. Consequently adopting the Cognitive linguistic theory in total is un-biblical. However we can agree with elements of it. Namely that society and the environment do regulate meaning, and there really is a correlation between psychology and linguistic acts.
In conclusion of all this I think that it is best to primarily use some form of the Usage and speech act theories of meaning for exegesis. Not that the other theories should never be employed but that they are extremely problematic and definitely more deficient as tools to get at the author's intended meaning of a text, which is what we want to do using the historical grammatical method. This has important implications for how we do exegesis and properly handle literature. For example the Biblical Flat Earth view rests heavily on the assumption of the referential theory of meaning. But if that model is unworkable (as I argued above) then a significant foundation of their hermeneutical method is vacuous. This also applies to the scholars arguing their positions on the matter.
1. No Reason to fear death
14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Heb 2:14-15 NAS)
On conditionalism there is absolutely no reason to fear death. Capitol punishment would end up being a relief or deliverance from all suffering and fear. Consequently the view cannot make sense of what the bible teaches about fearing death.
2. No hope in death for unbelievers/those outside of Christ
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. (1Th 4:13-14 NAS)
If conditionalism were true there would be hope of relief from suffering via capitol punishment for the wicked. Which is to say there would be hope for those outside of Christ in death. But this verse declares the opposite.
3. Why should punishment end?
-Their answer is the penalty is paid
-Why then do the lost not get into heaven?
* Works salvation of a sort
4. No escape/relief from punishment
7 "Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty. (Exo 23:7 NAS)
6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;
7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations." (Exo 34:6-7 NAS)
3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet. (Nah 1:3 NAS)
On conditionalism there would pen-ultimately be relief, escape, and some means whereby the guilty are left unpunished, cleared, and acquitted.
5. Christ took our Punishment on the Cross-not in Hell
30 Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (Joh 19:30 NAU)
13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Col 2:13-14 NAU)
6. The Punishment Christ bore for us is the wrath of God
10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (Rev 14:10 NAU)
36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Joh 3:36 NAU)
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (Rom 5:9 NAU)
6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, (Col 3:6 NAU)
7. If the punishment Jesus bore for us is death why do we still die?
15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. (Joh 3:15 NAU)
36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Joh 3:36 NAU)
24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (Joh 5:24 NAS)
8. There are situations that are better than to come under the wrath of god-Annihilationism (Being rendered non-existent or unconscious is one) since it would be as though we were never born.
24 "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." (Mat 26:24 NAU)
9. The bible explicitly says it is appointed for men to die once. The annihilationist view requires that to happen twice (If the punishment is capitol punishment).
NAU Hebrews 9:27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Heb 9:27 NAU)
This is important because if people die once then everyone already pays this debt and so a second death that is identical would be a tremendous case of double jeopardy.
10. Capitol Punishment is indistinguishable from mercy killing or relief from punishment.
In the bible Jesus says no man takes his life from him but he lays it down of his own will (John 10:18). Jesus basically willed the punishment to end by dying which was a relief from his suffering.
11. The bible teaches that after the judgment, and after being thrown into the lake of fire unbelievers will still exist consciously outside the kingdom after a new creation.
11 "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mat 8:11-12 NAU)
26 "Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets';
27 and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.'
28 "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being cast out.
29 "And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.
30 "And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last." (Luk 13:26-30 NAS)
11 And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:11-15 NAS)
NAS Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev 21:1-2 NAS)
8 "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Rev 21:8 NAS)
11 "Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy." (Rev 22:11 NAS)
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
(Rev 22:14-15 NAS)
12. Unbelievers will share the same fate as the devil and his angels, who are apparently immortal.
34 And Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage,
35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage;
36 for neither can they die anymore, for they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
(Luk 20:34-36 NAS)
41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; (Mat 25:41 NAS)
13. Eternal life and Eternal punishment/shame/contempt are parallel.
2 "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. (Dan 12:2 NAS)
46 "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Mat 25:46 NAS)
14. Life is parallel for the resurrected saved and unsaved.
4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life (ζάω) and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5 The rest of the dead did not come to life (ζάω) until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.
(Rev 20:4-5 NAU)
Just about all Old Testament scholars are theological liberals. But could such a gentle and intelligent scholar like Dr. Michael Heiser be one?
Heiser says that in theology, “Liberal refers to the notion, really, of the denial of the supernatural. In some cases the denial of the existence of God. In other cases, if we do believe there’s a god, a liberal would sort of downplay, or deny, totally, that God can do anything, such as miracles. Liberal is a word that is really loaded even still today, and we need to be careful how we use it.”
In other words naturalizing everything. He explains his view of biblical inspiration to us here....
I want you to notice how he himself downplays God's abilities. He then says there is zero evidence in the bible for a view he caricatures as "downloading 21st century" ideas into their brains. I would beg to differ with him and find his attempted reductio quite disanalagous. I will get to that in a moment. He then uses examples of words that meant something in that culture that do not mean the same thing in this culture. I do not deny that language is almost entirely equivocal and changes, but if God can't do that with a word then how can he do that with prophecies? What else can't God do?
Who says God cannot communicate something as an open referent without making the human author "modern", "destroying communication", or "lobotomizing" them? Notice these restrictions on what God can or cannot do here fit his own definition of liberal and what his rationalism dictates is possible. I also want you to notice the false dichotomy presented. The question isn't about divine lobotomies or rendering language useless as a consequence of revealing later information at all. The question is do the human authors of scripture consciously recognize that what they are writing as God's word is written in parts and with a view to the future? Do they write knowing more linguistic data is coming and available? Yes!
1. The Bible is written self consciously in parts with other linguistic material in mind.
KJV Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; (Deu 18:15 KJV)
KJV Joshua 24:25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. (Jos 24:25 KJV)
KJV Joshua 24:26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
Did Joshua break the ordinance that God's word shall not be added too? No because he writes knowing the law is consciously written, knowing there will be more linguistic material.
NAU Proverbs 25:1 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed. (Pro 25:1 NAU)
More linguistic data...
4 "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase."
5 Then I, Daniel, looked and behold, two others were standing, one on this bank of the river and the other on that bank of the river.
6 And one said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long will it be until the end of these wonders?"
7 I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed.
8 As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, "My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?"
9 He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.
(Dan 12:4-9 NAU)
More information is expected to be revealed in the future but is sealed until the end...
NAU Malachi 3:1 "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. (Mal 3:1 NAU)
This verse cannot stand alone and anticipates a future fulfillment....
NAU Luke 1:1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,
2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,
3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;
(Luk 1:1-3 NAU)
NAS Acts 1:1 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach,
2 until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. (Act 1:1-2 NAS)
More linguistic parts...
3 And this is the very thing I wrote you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy would be the joy of you all.
4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not that you should be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.
5 But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree-- in order not to say too much-- to all of you.
6 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority,
7 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
8 Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.
9 For to this end also I wrote that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.
(2Co 2:3-9 NAS)
16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, (2Pe 3:16-17 NAS)
18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages." (1Ti 5:18 NAS)
Quoting from the Gospel of Luke and or the OT...
NAS Hebrews 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1-2 NAS)
2. The Bible is written with a view to the future. That is it expects further linguistic data in it's anticipation and fulfillment pattern.
24 "And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. (Act 3:24 NAS)
NAS Romans 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,
3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,
(Rom 1:1-3 NAS)
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom 15:4 NAS)
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
(1Co 15:3-4 NAS)
Old Testament in view...
11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1Co 10:11 NAS)
4 But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, (Gal 4:4 NAS)
10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry,
11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
(1Pe 1:10-11 NAS)- The OT Prophets realized there was more to it when writing....
Finally I want you to notice this pericope which I think is all we really need to refute such a deficient view of inspiration.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased "--
18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation,
21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
(2Pe 1:16-21 NAS)
Notice this verse clearly says no prophecy of scripture was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the holy spirit spoke from God. The point here is that this verse is saying the prophets were not merely speaking the words of men. That is the opposite of Dr. Heiser's view! But in case you think I am making too much out of this there is more...
Dr. Heiser informs us that Genesis 1 is simply theological messaging in which God did not bother to "update" his chosen people's views.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVBxIC4caHI&t=6095s @ 2:07:00 ish
Elsewhere he says Genesis 1 is a polemic against the other polytheistic worldviews-which I agree with. Question. Is saying this God did it instead of those Gods an "update" to their understanding of cosmology? I think it is! I am not endorsing scientific concordism here (My view is canonical concordism). The point is how utterly self defeating such a view is.
Even at the human level it should be obvious that the way you would do something is probably not the same way I would do something, after all we are different persons. This would clearly be a case of revealing new linguistic and conceptual information to God's people that does not require divine lobotomies nor purely natural means. I really do enjoy Dr. Heiser's work and all but I think I have established pretty clearly that he is inconsistent and fits his own definition of "Theological Liberal". Consequently I cannot endorse him any longer. Don't be fooled by the fancy theological mumbo jumbo and pretended neutrality. Examine the presuppositions and you will find all you need to demolish any scholar. I mean with this kind of liberal naturalizing of scripture I would probably write a book to try and restore the supernatural aspect I removed too! (This is an allusion to his book The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible)
My view that I expressed here about inspiration in citing all these passages is an appeal to a non-mystical working model of Sensus Plenior taking into account progressive revelation and the analogy of faith. It is nothing new, and if it aint' broke don't fix it! With all that out of the way you may want to heed the warning from Dr. Walter Martin HERE. God Bless!!
I am always baffled at how obvious our presuppositions being integral to examining evidence ought to be to others. Hardly anybody seems to think in this fashion anymore. Such is the case with this charge that we shall examine. Perhaps you have heard this charge before:
"The early Church fathers did not hold to the Calvinistic doctrines of predestination and total depravity. It wasn't until Augustine in the 3rd century AD, who was influenced by Gnosticism and Greek philosophy that these concepts arose. He was a Manichean you know! John Calvin simply continued this pagan Greek school of thought of Augustine and smuggled it into his theology just as Augustine did."
This charge is demonstrably false, and historically naive. Because of the presuppositions many of the people who make this charge hold, namely their absolute committal to autonomy; we can observe how arbitrary they are in selecting and suppressing evidence. Jesse Morell argues in this exact manner to defend his Pelagianism. He has even produced an entire work on this in video form around this very premise. On his website he notes that even Ignatius believed in libertarian freewill and denies, original sin, and the total spiritual inability of mankind. For example he cites Ignatius as saying:
APE Ignatius to the Magnesians (long. 5:1 Seeing, then, all things have an end, and there is set before us life upon our observance|of God's precepts¦, but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life.
2 For I remark, that two different characters are found among men— the one true coin, the other spurious. The truly devout man is the right kind of coin, stamped by God Himself. The ungodly man, again, is false coin, unlawful, spurious, counterfeit, wrought not by God, but by the devil. I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but that there is one humanity, sometimes belonging to God, and sometimes to the devil. If any one is truly religious, he is a man of God; but if he is irreligious, he is a man of the devil, made such, not by nature, but by his own choice. The unbelieving bear the image of the prince of wickedness. The believing possess the image of their Prince, God the Father, and Jesus Christ, through whom, if we are not in readiness to die for the truth into His passion, His life is not in us. (IMl 5:1-2 APE)
But Ignatius also said the following in his letter to the Ephesians:
APE Ignatius to the Ephesians (long). 8:2 They that are carnal cannot do those things which are spiritual, nor they that are spiritual the things which are carnal; even as faith cannot do the works of unbelief, nor unbelief the works of faith. But ye, being full of the Holy Spirit, do nothing according to the flesh, but all things according to the Spirit. Ye are complete in Christ Jesus, "who is the Savior of all men, specially of them that believe." (IEl 8:2 APE)
Obviously the Gospel is a spiritual matter if there ever was one. Many such examples can be furnished but my point is simply that one can find early church father examples of the doctrine of total inability and spiritual death. This is contrary to the claim that Augustine the Manichean invented this notion and prior to that the doctrine is lacking and therefore a novelty. Let me give you one more example before I move on to my main point. Barnabas writing around 70 A.D. says the following:
APE Epistle of Barnabas 16:7 Learn, then, how it shall be built in the name of the Lord. Before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak, as being indeed like a temple made with hands. For it was full of idolatry, and was a habitation of demons, through our doing such things as were opposed to|the will of¦ God. (Brn 16:7 APE)
The problem is multiplied for the person pushing this Gnosticism Myth when we examine early Jewish thought leading into the 1st century A.D. We can note right away that there are some Jewish sects going into the first century who upheld the views of total depravity and absolute predestination before any church father ever existed, and before Gnosticism even existed. There simply was no "Monolithic Judaism". Josephus noted that these issues inclusive of the debate on freewill and original sin existed among the Pharisees and Essenes. The Pharisees believed in freewill and fate, while the Essenes held to total depravity and absolute predestination, the Saducees however denied all forms of fate and maintained only freewill. Here we have a very early account of Pelagians, Semi-Pelegians, and Monergists. Hence the International Bible Encyclopedia reads of Josephus' summary of these competing views:
"The account given of the doctrines of the Pharisees by Josephus is clearly influenced by his desire to parallel the Jewish sects with the Greek philosophical schools. He directs especial attention to the Pharisaic opinion as to fate and free will, since on this point the Stoic and Epicurean sects differed very emphatically. He regards the Pharisaic position as mid-way between that of the Sadducees, who denied fate altogether and made human freedom absolute, and that of the Essenes that "all things are left in the hand of God." He says "The Pharisees ascribe all things to fate and God, yet allow that to do what is right or the contrary is principally in man's own power, although fate cooperates in every action." It is to be noted that Josephus, in giving this statement of views, identifies "fate" with "God," a process that is more plausible in connection with the Latin fatum, "something decreed," than in relation to the impersonal moira, or heimarmene, of the Greeks. As Josephus wrote in Greek and used only the second of these terms, he had no philological inducement to make the identification; the reason must have been the matter of fact. In other words, he shows that the Pharisees believed in a personal God whose will was providence."
Josephus writes in the Antiquities of the Jews:
"9. At this time there were three sects among the Jews, who had different opinions concerning human actions; the one was called the sect of the Pharisees, another the sect of the Sadducees, and the other the sect of the Essens. Now for the Pharisees, (11) they say that some actions, but not all, are the work of fate, and some of them are in our own power, and that they are liable to fate, but are not caused by fate. But the sect of the Essens affirm, that fate governs all things, and that nothing befalls men but what is according to its determination. And for the Sadducees, they take away fate, and say there is no such thing, and that the events of human affairs are not at its disposal; but they suppose that all our actions are in our own power, so that we are ourselves the causes of what is good, and receive what is evil from our own folly. However, I have given a more exact account of these opinions in the second book of the Jewish War."
The section where he discusses this more thoroughly in the Jewish Wars that he mentioned in the Antiquities citation above is 2.119-166. He notes that even among the Essenes there were different beliefs regarding their customs. But he explicitly affirms the existence of these three different belief systems which obviously look like our modern day debate on Synergism and Monergism. All of this from the 2nd century BC going into the 1st century AD, before any Gospel accounts, and before any church father existed.
You see how arbitrary and historically naive it is to claim that this view of the predestination, original sin, and total inability started in the time of Augustine is? Recent discoveries of the Qumran community of Essenes have been very helpful in this area. As John Piper points out the Qumran community (who, as we shall see, emphasized total depravity in a way very similar to that of Paul) connected God's absolute predestination with the individual eternal fates of all humanity. Some were predestined to eternal bliss, and others, eternal damnation. Look at the way many sections of the Qumran material reflect this:
"And I, because of Thine understanding, I know that [the righteousness of man] is not in the hand of flesh [and] that man [is not] master of (13) his way and that mankind cannot strengthen his step.....And I know that the inclination of every spirit is in Thy hand (14) [and that] Thou hast ordained [the way of every man] before creating him. And how can any man change Thy words? Thou alone hast created (15) the just and established him from his mother's womb unto the time of good-will (cf Romans 9:23) that he may be preserved in Thy covenant and walk in all Thy way. . . And Thou hast raised up (17) his glory from among flesh whereas Thou hast created the wicked [for the time of] Thy [wr]ath and hast set them apart from their mother's womb for the Day of Massacre. . .(19) Thou hast created all [them that despise] Thy [will] to execute judgment against them (20) in the eyes of all Thy works that they may serve as a sign, and wo[nder unto] everlasting [generations] that [all] may know Thy glory [cf Romans 9:23] and awful might [cf Romans 9:22]." (1 QH 15:12-22)
“Before things come to be, [God] has ordered all their designs, so that when they do come to exist—at their appointed times as ordained by His glorious plan—they fulfill their destiny, a destiny impossible to change…. He created humankind to rule over the world, appointing for them two spirits in which to walk until the time ordained for His visitation. These are the spirits of truth and falsehood. Upright character and fate originate with the Habitation of Light; perverse, with the Fountain of Darkness…. It is actually He who created the spirits of light and darkness, making them the cornerstone of every deed.” (1QS 3.15-19, 24-25)
“And you, O God, created us for yourself as an eternal people, and into the lot of light you cast us for your truth. You appointed the Prince of Light from old to assist us, for in his lot are all sons of righteousness and all spirits of truth are in his dominion. You yourself made Belial for the pit, an angel of malevolence, his dominion is in darkness, and his counsel is to condemn and convict.” (1QM 13.9-11)
A very interesting parallel emerges in all of this regarding the relationship between total depravity and unconditional election as the reformers uphold. For the reformers, because the human person is totally depraved, our will is utterly bent against the things of God and can never assent to the things of God. We therefore cannot believe in God unless God saves us by transforming our will, causing us to believe in Jesus Christ. Most are aware that us reformed folks are fond of citing many Pauline texts to support this. But notice that Paul's notion on these matters strongly resembles those of the Essenes. In a Qumran text called "The Community Rule" it emphasizes the depravity of mankind in a way that bears a striking resemblance to Romans 7:14-25.
"As for me, I belong to wicked mankind, to the company of ungodly flesh, My iniquities, rebellions, and sins, together with the perversity of my heart, belong to the company of worms, and to those who walk in darkness" ( 1 QS 11.9-10)
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Rom 7:14-25 NAU)
Before I move forward to the next area of interest I want to make it perfectly clear that I am in no way considering these Qumran texts as infallible scripture. My point is that it is simply false that these concepts did not arise until Gnosticism and Augustine. I am no way saying that Paul is being syncretistic with the Essenes either. Again the point is that these concepts existed before any NT writing, and before any Church fathers.
More to come......
Sola Scriptura is the view that the that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. More specifically it means that all other sources of authority are subordinate to scripture. It does not deny the existence of other authorities. It really attempts to answer the following question:
How, and on what authority, do Christian believers discern between doctrinal differences?
Scripture teaches that our convictions are not to be based on human wisdom. Human wisdom is not always wrong, but it should be rejected because it is 1: Fallible and 2: Not a sufficient foundation for believing anything about God because only God is adequate to witness to himself. We therefore should not depend upon human wisdom but God's own Revelation of himself instead of the conflicting opinions of man, or untrustworthy speculations of man. Notice in 1 Cor 2:4,5 Paul's conviction of how to resolve matters of doctrine for those in Corinth, and think about his conceptual scheme as we read verse 5.
4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1Co 2:4-5 NAU)
Notice how he separates the power of God and the wisdom of man into two categories and makes a complete contrast of the two. Paul then says explicitly that it is not persuasive words of men, or their own understandings of spiritual insight that our faith rests on. Instead it is the power or strength of God that our faith rests on. Notice also verses 10-13...
10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (1Co 2:10-13 NAU)
After laying out those categories Paul then draws a sharp contrast between the words which man's wisdom teaches and those which God reveals to us through the spirit. So on the one hand we have words taught by the wisdom of man, and on the other we have words that are revealed through the spirit. Paul has made the point in verse 4 that the apostolic message did not originate in the persuasive words of men, but rather the apostolic message originates from the power of God. Paul is saying the understanding itself comes from the wisdom of God's own spirit. Paul thanks God in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 that the Thessalonians did not receive his word as the wisdom of men, but as it is in truth; the word of God. Paul very clearly contrasts the words of men and the words of God. The wisdom of God and the wisdom of men. The spirit of the world and the spirit of God. It is unambiguous here that there is a clear demarcation.
Paul spoke of the Sacred writings which are which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. He says that all these writings known as scripture are literally God breathed "θεόπνευστος -Theopnustos" (2 Timothy 3:16). The bible then would have us beware of the uninspired words of men which are not θεόπνευστος. In other words it is only scripture which is theopnustos and all other authorities are not. In Jeremiah we read:
16 Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the LORD. (Jer 23:16 NAU)
So even in the old testament we find this distinction drawn between words from the mouths of mere men and the mouth of God, with the prescription to not listen to the former. It is not as though human wisdom cannot ever attain truth, but human wisdom can never have absolute assurance except it come from the mouth of God himself. I reiterate that in scripture we find that only these "writings" or "scripture" are called God breathed. In Colossians 2:8 Paul warns God's people not to allow their faith to be compromised by any philosophy which is after the tradition of men rather than Christ. It is made clear again that there is a contrast between man's authority and Christ's authority. The tradition of man on one hand and the authority of Christ on the other.
In Matthew 15:6 our Lord Jesus himself condemned those who "make void the word of God" because of their tradition. God also warns that we are not to add or take away anything from his word (Deut. 4:2). This is such a serious issue that in Revelation God says that whoever does this will attain all the curses in the book and lose all the blessings in that book.
Many people will cite various verses about tradition in support of their views as if tradition is meant in the Eastern orthodox or Roman Catholic sense. This is of course circular but that is why we should examine these verses among the apostles. We will see that tradition in the NT is not the way either the EO or RC conceive of them. There are some verses that speak of tradition as authoritative so we must understand those correctly. In Hebrews 1:2 the author tells us that in the past God spoke to us in many ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his son. Christ then is the epitome or apex of all of God's soteriological revelatory manners and means. So much so that John declares him the word of God. But since we do not experience Christ the same way as the apostles where then did we get our information about Christ? The Gospels.
Jesus also commissioned certain men the right to speak for him in these Gospels. They had the power of attorney. This is very close to what the word apostle meant in the times of the NT. The apostle was considered the man himself. In John 14:26 we see that Christ inspired the apostles themselves with his very word. He did this so that they would not pass on their own wisdom,word, and insight, but rather HIS. We see this expressed in Matthew 10:40 and then culminate in the Great commission at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. Scripture then teaches that the apostles spoke God the father's, and God the son's revelation and not their own. All of which is revealed by the holy spirit. Think about this in light of Peter's own confession and how Christ told him flesh and blood did not reveal Christ but it was the father.
We can see another example in Galatians 1:11-12 where Paul is Jealous for the truth of the gospel and what he has taught precisely because it is not his words, but the words of Christ. This pattern is everywhere in the NT..not man, but God. The father and Jesus Christ revealed the word to the apostles who were taught by the holy spirit. It is then in virtue of this revelatory work of the Apostles as they reveal the father and the son and the power of the spirit that Christ builds his Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.
Contrary to most opinions regarding Peter's confession the rock is not Peter's person because a few verses later Peter is called Satan. If the Romanist view of this verse were correct then we would have to conclude the church is built upon Satan. Some fellow protestants believe Christ to be speaking of himself but I think that view involves too many exegetical gymnastics to make any sense of the matter. I believe that Peter was speaking for all the apostles and so the rock was the confession of Peter speaking for all the apostles. Support for this view can be found in Ephesians 2:20.
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, (Eph 2:20 NAU)
So the sense in which the church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets is in how they present the word of God faithfully, as they are the authorized spokesmen for Jesus words and not their own. If they do that then they provide the foundation for the Church. This teaching then was received as a body of truth which was a criteria for doctrine and for life in and outside the Church. But now we have to answer the next question. How did the church come to know this truth? How did the Church in it's early days come to know of this Apostolic body of truth from God?
Well we know that this body of truth was passed down to the church and through the church. Also, because the truth was passed down from the apostles to the church it was often called "that which was delivered" or the "deposit". So the body of truth gets passed down to the church. Because it is passed down or "handed over" the Greek word paradosis is used. Since this word broadly means to deposit, deliver, or that which is communicated to another, the English word for this is often rendered "tradition" or "the tradition". So the apostles have the truth of God and they hand it over or deliver it to the church, and that comes to be called "the tradition ". The tradition then is just the truth that the apostles teach as a revelation of God the father, son, and holy spirit which is delivered to the church. But what does the NT teach about this tradition?
13 Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
(2Ti 1:13-14 NAU)
Here there is a network of sound words or a body of truth and doctrine that Paul calls a treasure or a "deposit". He says what was entrusted to him and passed on is in need of being guarded ...1 Timothy 6:20-21. So the apostolic deposit is this pattern of sound words or body of doctrinal truth. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 we are told to depart from those persons who depart from this tradition which has been received through the apostles. In 2 Peter 2:21 it is said that "it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them". So it is better to have never known the apostolic deposit than to have known it and turned away from it. These verses clearly show that this body of truth is the standard of sound living for the Christian. In 2 Timothy 2:2 this deposit is to be the standard for all future teaching in the church. So the apostles received a revelation of God which was entrusted to them as a deposit. This deposit is then delivered to the church to be guarded as the standard for all the Christian's sound teaching and living. Moreover the church is prescribed to depart from heretics who depart from this deposit of doctrinal truths that the church received from the apostles.
What is this tradition? Is it the Eastern Orthodox tradition or the Roman Catholic tradition? No, it is the apostolic tradition of sound words which they received by revelation from the father,son, and holy spirit. It is not church tradition, church father tradition, or papal succession. The next question to answer is "How was this tradition or deposit delivered to the church? In what forms? "
In 2 Thess. 2:15 we read that it was by word or epistle. The church then learned about this tradition by receiving it from the apostles orally or by writing. So in two ways this pattern of sound words or body of truth as a deposit came to the church. There is absolutely no hint in this verse that part of the truth came orally and part of it came in writing. Instead it is the whole truth that was transmitted in two forms. It is here just called "the traditions" as if it is one body of truth conveyed in two modes. Moreover Paul does not say here that one mode supplements the other and instead teaches the opposite here. This is important to remember because Roman Catholics and those in the Eastern Orthodox persuasion will use this verse and say that if we only use one of these modes we have not gotten all the truth. There is a huge logical fallacy in their reasoning that way because Paul does not say that. Instead Paul says hold to the traditions you were taught whether by word of mouth or epistle. The church did not receive two sets of truths from the apostles, and instead received one body of truth in two forms. So if you have this body of tradition in either form you have the apostolic traditions. The reason this was so was because of apostolic authority. Remember Christ's words "If they receive you they receive me". The apostles had the power of attorney when they delivered these teachings to many churches. Their word then binds the church. When the apostles speak they speak with divine authority received from God to the church. There are no apostles in the church today. There is absolutely no hint in this verse that this authority is passed on to other people either.
Instead the authority of the apostle's lives on through their teaching. That is to say through their deposit which was passed to the church. This means that the only way which we receive this body of truth now is in writing. The apostles are dead and gone and what they taught continues in their writings. These are in the scriptures which we take as the standard of our faith. In the new testament what the apostles wrote is considered to be the very word of God. For example in 1 Cor. 14:37 Paul says exactly that. Indeed what the apostles wrote even came to have the same authority in the church as what Peter called "the other scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16). Peter considered Paul's writings to be on par with the old testament scriptures. Since there are no more apostles, the authority extends only to the apostles in their 1st century writings.
What are the requirements to be an apostle? I ask this since merely having the contents of this tradition alone does not in any way mean that the authority is transferred. Scripture answers this question for us. In order to be an apostle one must be a witness of the resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor 9:1), be personally commissioned by Christ (Galatians 1:1), and be personally taught by Christ. Notice also that while Paul considered himself as the least or last of the apostles, his student Timothy is never referred to as an "apostle" at all. So in the very nature of the case apostolic authority and revelation ceased along with the apostolic generation. This is why when we look at Jude 3, it reads " the faith""which was "once for all delivered". The faith here is the teaching contents of the Christian faith. This is that body of truth or tradition that was received by the apostles and taught orally, and then committed to writing so that all generations can receive it by it's being deposited in the church.
Long before any reformer Paul, Jesus, Peter, and James give us examples of Sola Scriptura in many ways within holy writ. Jesus often held his audience accountable to the old testament scriptures. This would be strange for Christ himself to hold men accountable to a collection of literature they were unaware of. Christ would do this by asking his audience "Have you not read" or often times in a declarative manner "It is written". Paul similarly would string together sections of the OT for illustrative appeal to authority known to the Rabbi's as Halakh, or stringing pearls. These things are important to keep in mind because many arguments against Sola Scriptura are that what is meant in the passages supporting Sola Scriptura in the NT apply only to the OT. This is why I noted that if that was the case then Peter's putting Paul's words on par with the OT scripture is very significant. Moreover suppose I parallel that argument between Christ and Paul. Suppose I say Paul in 2 Corinthians 11 is not attesting to the Gospel accounts of communion since his account is later. You see this is exactly the point of Sola Scriptura that our testimony alone is not enough and requires the backing of the authority of scripture. So for example among the apostles how did they settle their differences? Not with Plato, Aristotle, or appealing to non-Apostles (Remember Christ is called an Apostle in scripture). Instead I will furnish an example in scripture where scripture is what settles tradition, councils, and personal experience.
In Acts 15 all three criteria were satisfied since all three apostles appealed to scripture as justification, with James' last appeal to Amos 9 closing the council and shaping his personal beliefs on the matter. I believe I have furnished enough information about this already but just in case I have three propositions which I believe firmly establish this doctrine in scripture.
1. We are to recognize only Scripture as what is θεόπνευστος (2Ti 3:16 BGT) God Breathed.
2. Only Scripture is sufficient ἄρτιος (2Ti 3:17) for equipping the Christian for every good work.
3. When we go beyond what is written we run the risk of leaning on mere human wisdom (1 Cor 4:6, 1 Cor 2:4,5).
1. There are many interpretations of scripture therefore you could be wrong about this belief in sola scriptura because you hold a fallible belief in an infallible source!
This objection is very easy to answer. It commits the logical fallacy of Hasty Generalization. It essentially says that because I may have provisional knowledge in one area then I could be wrong in all areas of my knowledge. This objection ignores the distinction of different kinds of knowledge. It focuses on one kind of knowledge and then makes the conflated leap that all other categories of knowledge are equally fallible, therefore committing a second fallacy known as a non-sequiter. Two points of contention here. Firstly, if all knowledge is fallible (known as fallibilism) then fallibilism must infallibly be fallible. The only way for the fallibilist to escape this glaring contradiction is to borrow from infallibilism the same distinctions it tries to avoid.
Secondly, operating on Sola Scriptura this question borrows propositional truths aforementioned in scripture itself (1 Cor. 2). Moreover it assumes the noetic effects of sin which is found in scripture (Romans 1:18-22), and just because I could be wrong in my exegesis it does not follow that Scripture is fallible. It should be noted as well as an illustration that if there were something wrong with my car radio, it is more likely a problem on my end than on the end of the broadcaster. Similarly, just because my interpretation may falter it does not follow that the revelation, or transmission thereof falters.
We may just as well ask the Prima Scripturist and the Sola Ecclessia adherents how they can rest assured that the magisterium or consensus of church fathers avoids a fallibilist belief in an infallible source. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
2. Only a cessationist would be convinced of this argument since they would use it to support that view.
There may be some merit to this objection in a sense because many cessationists do utilize this argument. However it does not follow that in order to be consistent with this argument you should be a cessationist, because other reasons could be furnished for denying cessationism that would not apply to this argument. For example Sam Waldron and others who do argue in this fashion for cessationism never answer questions about their suppressed premises. For example Sam Waldron and Richard Gaffin presuppose in their similar arguments that if there is a new revelation it must be written in scripture. But nowhere in scripture do we find the "tongues" of Apostles recorded.
3. How do you know what books belong in the canon from scripture?
This objection takes more time to respond too because out of these three objections it is the most difficult. Basically only God and his word are infallible, and only he is our infallible ultimate authority. All attempts of justification on this matter via history, allegedly infallible churches and Popes, are impossible to establish apodictic certainty of the canon. It is God himself who is the Canon or standard. I shall work on that article and when it is ready it will be available HERE. In conclusion since none of those methods can establish apodictic certainty of the canon it is proven by the impossibility of the contrary. One may escape this by saying knowledge does not require certainty, but then two things follow. The question cannot be asked since it assumes infallibilism, and two we could then reason that Sola Scriptura does not require apodictic certainty.
Does Ezekiel 18:20 teach that Souls can die? The short answer is that this passage is talking about physical death and not incorporeal existence or lack thereof in the after life. Many older translations like the KJV render this verse as 'Soul' and indeed the Hebrew word here is 'Nephesh' which can refer to an immaterial part of man. But 'Nephesh' can refer to the material part of man as well, or even animals and plants which is evidenced in the opening chapters of Genesis. Many newer translations render it 'Person' here because of this, not to mention that it's old testament citation uses 'Person'.
So why am I making a post about this verse? Well, it is my conviction that understanding this verse as teaching a death of souls leads to many errors in doctrine. Some of these errors are serious and others are not. I have seen Annihilationists, and Trichotomists use it in this fashion. Those opposing the doctrine of Original Sin abuse this text repeatedly citing the second part of the verse as support for a denial of the imputation of Adam's sinful guilt to all of mankind from birth. I am not saying that all of these folks do this deliberately, perhaps most of them do this without meditating on such a pericope in light of other scriptures that seem contradictory. So my goal in this post is to explain what this verse really means according to the context and historical analysis. In other words what did Ezekiel mean when he said this?
In order to understand the author's intended meaning here, it is important to examine the immediate context and then the historical setting to understand Ezekiel's audience. This will give us important clues as to Ezekiel's practical application. This chapter opens up with a question about a proverb in circulation which reads " The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge " . It blames the present situation of exile on the older generation, and bespeaks the fatalism of the “children” of the Exile.
The only other place that I have found that quotes this proverb is in Jeremiah 31:29;30. The meaning in both places differs in details, but both have in common the notion of blaming the current situation on the previous sinful history of ancestry. Since Jeremiah was older and both Ezekiel and Jeremiah were preaching the certainty of Judah's future punishment for her sins in Jerusalem, some believe Ezekiel to be Jeremiah's pupil. We know that Ezekiel wrote this chapter sometime between 590-591 BC since Ezekiel was so meticulous in dating his visions many times right down to the day. This means that this proverb being used was in circulation at least during the time that Nebuchadnezzar the 2nd was ruling Babylon, and possibly when Jehoiachin was ruling Jerusalem.
Though little is known about Jehoiachin's death, it appears that after the 597 BC siege Nebuchadnezzar the 2nd enthroned Jehoiachin's uncle Mattaniah (whom he later renamed Zedekiah) as a Babylonian puppet. It was during the reign of Mattaniah that a massive deportation involving 10,000 Judahites occured, and Ezekiel was among this group (Ezekiel 40:1).
At the end of his eleven year reign in 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar succeeded in capturing Jerusalem. Zedekiah and his followers attempted to escape, making their way out of the city, but were captured on the plains of Jericho, and were taken to Riblah. There, after seeing his sons put to death, his own eyes were put out, and, being loaded with chains, he was carried captive to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-7; 2 Chronicles 36:12; Jeremiah 32:4,-5; 34:2-3; 39:1-7; 52:4-11; Ezekiel 12:13), where he remained a prisoner until he died.
In the next two verses we have a statement of disapproval of this proverb from the Lord, and then a claim to ownership of all souls. It seems that the thrust of this disapproval and claim of ownership lies in the fact that men were treating other men as property and functionally making themselves arbiters of justice, instead of God's law. This could also be because many Suzerain treaties required allegiance to other Gods. Ezekiel then gives three examples of how this thinking results in injustice and arbitrariness or righteousness and justice. Now we can examine the main passage in question. What is it that verse 20 means when it says:
NAU Ezekiel 18:20 "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. (Eze 18:20 NAU)
So given that Ezekiel's audience are those in the captivity of Babylon under the reign of Mattaniah /Zedekiah, these exiles would be imbibing certain laws that Nebuchadnezzar would of required his enthroned vassal ruler Mattaniah to enforce to this annexed people. This was the common way a ruler would expand his territory in the ancient near east after a victory. This mode was called a Suzerain-Vassal treatise. The Suzerain (in this case Nebuchdnezzar) would appoint a Vassal (In this case Mattaniah) to enforce the Suzerain's rules on this newly appended people group. Much like our state representatives enforcing federal laws. Many of these rules were simply court rulings about murder, marriage ,trading, theft, and employment.
One thing almost all of these treaty laws had in common in the middle east was the concept of Vicarious Punishment. Vicarious punishment occurs when the tendency to engage in a behavior is weakened after having observed the negative consequences for another engaging in that behavior. This is similar to the aforementioned case of Mattaniah watching his children die for his rebellion. What this scripture is teaching is that among magistrates this was not how God commanded legal cases in court to be done among the Jews. This verse has absolutely nothing to do with how God punishes anyone or reckons their guilt, and everything to do with how mankind should among each other.
You see, before verse 20 Ezekiel points out their objection saying:
19 "Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity?' When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. (Eze 18:19 NAU)
Some examples of this vicarious punishment can be found in scripture and in many ancient middle east writings. Ezekiel responds to their proverb and objection by quoting Deuteronomy 24:16 in verse 20. In his work on Ezekiel, Greenberg makes the observation that Ezekiel’s theological principle (vv. 4, 20) is a literary inversion of and, therefore, an intentional reference to the law of individual responsibility in Deut 24:16. (“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin”):
Deut 24:16 Ezek 18:20
1. not fathers for children 3. the soul sinning dies
2. children not for fathers 2. son not with the father
3. each dies for his sin 1. father not with the son
Deuteronomy has been well documented as work that follows this Suzerain vassal treatise form. Moses was dealing with the same issue here, so this must be Ezekiel's application as well. What sort of laws were Moses and Ezekiel talking about regarding rejection of this "Vicarious Punishment"? I will supply three examples, from a Hittite Code dating around 1650-1500 BC.
§1 [If] anyone kills a [a man] or a woman in a quarrel, he shall [bring him] (for burial) and shall give 4 persons (lit. heads), male or female respectively. He shall look [to his house for it.]
§44a If anyone shoves a man into a fire, so that he dies, (the guilty party) shall give one person (lit. head) a son in return.
§174 If (when) men are hitting each other, one of them dies, (the other) shall give one slave (lit. head).
Regarding our responsibility to God rather than other men, scripture is very clear on the matter. You see earlier in Deuteronomy 5 Moses speaks of the Jew's responsibility toward a sovereign God as a Suzerain who gives blessings and curses as stipulations to breaking or maintaining their covenant duty on that mountain. There he says:
'You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Deu 5:9-10 NAU)
Moses and Ezekiel do not seem to present any explanation for this seeming contradiction. This implies that they did not hold this to be problematic since there was always a thread of the creator / creature distinction inherent in the Torah. In other words God as creator has and does punish often times through ancestry or federal headship but prescribes men not to do so to other men.
One example is the story of Achen in Joshua chapter 7 where Achen is stoned along with his entire family, and his property is destroyed because of his sin. Moreover in this account the Lord says that they lost the battle against Ai because of this sin against him which brought suffering to all of Joshua's people. There are other examples like the fact that each evil king of Israel of Judah brought punishment to their nations (i.e. no rain because of King Ahab 1 Kings 17f) and all the nation of Egypt was punished for Pharoah's stubbornness (Exod. 7-11). Finally whole lineages being affected due to idolatry (Exodus 20:5).
So in conclusion Ezekiel 18:4,20, like Deuteronomy 24:16 does not teach about the eternal fate of souls, spiritual death, nor do either deny the doctrine of original sin and federal headship. And they certainly do not deny that God can punish people corporately. Instead they are God's commands to us about how creatures living in a moral environment with other creatures should regulate guilt and punishment in this life. This creator creature distinction is even found in our Lord's greatest commands which were always in the law. Just as their are two prescriptions given, one for man's obligation to God and one for mankind's obligation to each other; so there is a punishment for God upon men, and another from men to men. They differ significantly and in both cases no one receives injustice. For more information see this video.
Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'
"The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
(Mar 12:29-31 NAU)
Some opponents of Reformed theology argue the following:
Calvinism as a system claims that God reprobates a large segment of mankind so that they can never be saved. It further claims that the atonement is for this reason limited only to the elect who alone will benefit from the atonement and be saved (with no possibility of falling away). In such a system Jesus died only for the sins of the elect. If this is the case it seems that many passages of Scripture are disingenuous in commanding all people everywhere to repent and believe on Christ when repentance is impossible for reprobates and Christ did not die for them anyway.....
If Calvinism is to be consistent in these claims it cannot allow for a person to rightly tell someone that Christ died for them. The best one can do is say that if they repent and believe, Christ died for them or that Christ died for sinners (meaning “some sinners” but not necessarily the sinner they are presently speaking to) or that Christ might have died for them, or something similar. Therefore, consistent Calvinists say it is wrong to tell the unsaved that Christ died for them.
After making this charge the one issuing it will usually appeal to one pericope primarily, and other passages secondarily. First we will examine the primary text and provide an exegetical response. Let's turn to our text:
NAS 1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1Co 15:1-4 NAS)
Paul is not saying that he is bringing forward new knowledge, but rather he is reminding his audience of the message he received, confirmed with John and James, then made known to them years earlier. He adds to this that it is that same apostolic message that they are currently standing in, rather than "could" be standing in. So it is evident that his goal here is not to make converts but to remind converts of the original message and compare. Paul then adds "by which also you are saved". The idea here is of an already continuing, firm, salvation that will persevere in the future. Contrary to the objector's interpretation Paul is not trying to convey this message to produce converts among them. As Ellicott's commentary for English Readers notes:
The idea here is not, as implied in the English version, that they were converted, and yet that heretofore no results have followed from their belief; it is the same thought which comes out more fully in 1 Corinthians 15:17. They are saved by their faith in the gospel as preached by St. Paul, unless (which is impossible) the whole gospel be false, and so their faith in it be vain and useless.
Paul then adds the phrase "unless you believed in vain". The Greek word used here is "εἰκῇ" and it is overwhelmingly not conveying the idea that unbelievers are being corrected about salvation here. This is shown in the work called "An Exegetical Summary of 1 Corinthians 10-16" by Ronald Trail where he lists the many ways this word can be taken to be meant. He writes:
QUESTION—What does εἰκῇ ‘in vain’ mean?It means that what they believed will not be realized [TH]. Paul addresses the whole membership of the congregation and some may not have a genuine faith [MNTC, TNTC]. This means unless their faith is worthless and they believed without effect [MNTC]. It means believing without due consideration or thoughtlessly [NIGTC]. It means ‘at random’ so that it led nowhere and resulted in nothing [Lns]. It means worthless [AB, Ho]. It means without consideration, heedlessly, rashly [ICC]. It means of no purpose, which would be true if Christ has not been raised [Vn]. The word refers to 15:14 and the possibility that the faith of the Corinthians might be in vain if Christ has not been raised [Alf, NCBC, NIC2]. Paul is using this ironically to refer to the hypothetical possibility that their faith just might be in vain if it turns out that Christ is not raised [Ho, NIC2].
All the contingency is then placed on the veracity of the bodily resurrection itself, it is the object of our faith in question here and not the veracity of faith itself. It would indeed be vanity for any of them to believe if the bodily resurrection is a sham. As if speaking anew to arouse the attention of his audience, Paul begins to give them the same arguments and repeat exactly what the original message is. He starts by emphasizing that this creed is of "first importance" and begins to define the good news they already received so that he can compare their message with his, just as he did with John and James.
Paul then states in verse 3 that Christ died for "our sins". The objection here is that it does not say "the elect's sins". I can readily agree on this point. However, It can equally be said that it does not say "every person's sins". In fact it is probably better to understand this phrase to be Paul including himself along with his audience. And who is his audience? He tells us in the salutation that it is not unbelievers. He explicitly says this letter is to " the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (1Co 1:2 KJV)". It is likely that even here the usage of the word "Our" is referring to the Apostolic circle because they are here called saints who were sanctified. Additionally in scripture, while justification is attached to Christ's resurrection, the canceling of the sin debt and the penalty of death was still paid upon Christ's death.
Returning back to verse 3 of 1 Corinthians 15 it has been noted that the word "our" is a gloss as well; and the whole phrase is likely an allusion to the song in Isaiah 53:3-7 hence the phrase "according to the scriptures". But the attempt made by those who deny limited atonement here rests on the assumption that Paul is quoting this message verbatim (including you or our) in his kerygma. This is simply wrong. The language here is indeed very indicative if a passing on of oral tradition due to use of the words "paradoka" and "paralambano". But the way in which a strict quote is to be found in the Greek is not found here. James White explains it here.
With all of that out of the way only one issue remains to be answered. So are Calvinists telling someone something false when they say Christ died for sinners? Absolutely not! Since we do not know who the elect are. How can we be disingenuous, or labeled liars, for something we are unaware of ? Liars are people who tell somebody something they know is in reality false. Which is why saying Christ died for sinners, or sin is very legitimate. This is known as a synecdoche and there is absolutely nothing wrong or illogical with such usage. Especially considering every person has the quality of being sinful. Additionally this same charge applies to the Arminian due to his scheme of God's foreknowledge. As Loraine Boettner put it in his book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination:
1. THE SAME OBJECTION APPLIES AGAINST GOD'S FOREKNOWLEDGE
Although the Gospel is offered to many who will not, and who for subjective reasons cannot, accept, it is, nevertheless, sincerely
offered to all. The objection so strenuously urged on some occasions by Arminians, to the effect that if the doctrine of Predestination is
true the Gospel cannot be sincerely offered to the non-elect, should be sufficiently answered by the fact that it bears with equal force
against the doctrine of God's Foreknowledge. We might ask, How can the offer of salvation be sincerely made to those who God
foreknows will despise and reject it, especially when their guilt and condemnation will only be increased by their refusal? Arminians
admit that God knows beforehand who will accept and who will reject the message; yet they know themselves to be under a divine
command to preach to all men, and they do not feel that they act insincerely in doing so.
Finally there is a charge regarding how counter intuitive it is for God to command things people are unable to do. While I have dealt with that issue here, and disagree with Schreiner in a sense, I will leave you with Thomas Schreiner's comments in this post for your consideration on this final point.
It should be acknowledged that Wesleyan logic is coherent here, and one can see why Wesleyans would deduce human ability from the giving of commands. Nonetheless, even though their logic is impeccable, it does not necessarily follow that their conclusion is true. An argument may be logically co-herent and not fit with the state of affairs in the world because the answer given is not comprehensive. To put it another way, one of the premises in the Wesleyan argument is not in accord with the reality of life as it is portrayed in the Scriptures. They are incorrect in deducing that God would not give commands without giving the moral ability to obey them. The distinction between physical and moral ability is crucial. For instance, human beings are physically able (in most cases) to walk up steps, but they are physically unable to jump over houses. In a similar way, God gives commands to unbelievers that they can physically obey; that is, they could observe his commandments if they desired to do so. Unbelievers are morally unable to keep God's commands in the sense that they have no desire to obey all of his commandments.
It is a very familiar objection levied from many Anti-Calvinists. We in the reformed camp all hear it eventually, and may have raised the same objection ourselves at one point. What objection? This one:
If God predestined and elected every person to salvation or condemnation before time began, this makes God a monster who has doomed everyone from the womb. John Calvin said that you know!
When I first heard this objection it resonated with me. Something seemed emotionally off, and there seemed to be some truth to the objection. So I found where John Calvin said this and read it. Upon reading it I began to see what all the fuss was about. In reality what Calvin was doing was responding to that very objection. A strange thing emerged as I gleaned the sections pertinent in his Institutes. Here is the full section:
"Now, since the arrangement of all things is in the hand of God, since to him belongs the disposal of life and death, he arranges all things by his sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction. If any one alleges that no necessity is laid upon them by the providence of God, but rather that they are created by him in that condition, because he foresaw their future depravity, he says something, but does not say enough. Ancient writers, indeed, occasionally employ this solution, though with some degree of hesitation. The Schoolmen, again, rest in it as if it could not be gainsaid. I, for my part, am willing to admit, that mere prescience lays no necessity on the creatures; though some do not assent to this, but hold that it is itself the cause of things. But Valla, though otherwise not greatly skilled in sacred matters, seems to me to have taken a shrewder and more acute view, when he shows that the dispute is superfluous since life and death are acts of the divine will rather than of prescience. If God merely foresaw human events, and did not also arrange and dispose of them at his pleasure, there might be room for agitating the question, how far his foreknowledge amounts to necessity; but since he foresees the things which are to happen, simply because he has decreed that they are so to happen, it is vain to debate about prescience, while it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment.”
(John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)
Calvin was saying given the fact that this is true on all views accepting God's exhaustive foreknowledge and fore-ordination, we all must have a solution of resolving responsibility. He then points out various attempts to solve the problem. This leads me to explain how I solve this issue and how I find that it is the other positions other than Calvinism and Universalism which "Doom from the Womb". Sounds a bit like a strong claim doesn't it? I know! Let me explain, and maybe you will find this interesting.
According to the synergistic view of salvation Christ died to secure the possibility of salvation for all individuals, who through belief in the Gospel upon hearing it and accepting it will be saved. This is over and against the Reformed view which says Christ died to secure salvation and consequently some will believe. On both views there must be more than mere assent but also understanding of the Gospel message in order to be legitimately justified. Moreover on the synergistic view it is our belief in the Gospel after preveniant grace has done it's part that secures salvation. Now we arrive at the problem. If Jesus only died to make salvation possible, and this requires cognitive comprehension and freedom of choice upon reception of the gospel, then what about people who will never hear the gospel, are disabled, or die in infancy? To put it another way, if a libertarian freewill belief is necessary to complete this transaction, how can those who cannot possibly believe or comprehend the Gospel be saved?
1. All are born innocent and it is not until we commit sin that we can be held responsible. We are born with a sinful nature but we do not inherit the guilt of Adam. So all this means is that we will inevitably sin as life progresses.
2. Original sin is a doctrine invented by Augustine and it is wrong because we cannot be punished for another person's sin.
3. God's character is so loving and merciful that he would not allow children and the disabled to suffer. This is also why he gave us libertarian freewill because forced love is akin to rape.
All of these responses are simply wrong, and unbiblical. The bible is very clear that we are born "in" sin, with the guilt of Adam imputed to us. We are not merely born with inevitability to sin, but were actually "made" sinners as a result of the fall. Look at the way the progression of biblical anthropology is set forth. The marred image of God in man is imputed to Adam's descendants (Genesis 5:3). Next mankind inherited this condition (Genesis 6:5). Also note that from early childhood and infancy this is true even in the universal Noahide covenant that applies to us today:
And the LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. (Gen 8:21 NAS)
Jonathan Edwards, in his classic work The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended, remarks that on this verse: "The word translated youth, signifies the whole of the former part of the age of man, which commences from the beginning of life. The word in its derivation, has reference to the birth or beginning of existence . . . so that the word here translated youth, comprehends not only what we in English most commonly call the time of youth, but also childhood and infancy.”
While this concept of original sin is clarified by Augustine, it is scripture that declares this to be the case and he simply recognized it. The same word for youth in the Genesis passage above is clarified more in Genesis 46:34 where it clearly means every second before the present age extending back to infancy. This is why the myth of age of accountability is clearly something read into scripture. You see if all mankind is wicked except children then not all mankind is wicked, and verses like Psalm 58:3 become contradictions when they say things like "The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth".
That we have inherited the guilt of Adam and not simply the inevitable propensity to sin after being born innocent is shown in the fact that we die as a result of being made sinners under the headship of Adam and are condemned because of it. This is clearly seen in two specific texts in the Pauline corpus. In Romans and 1 Corinthians we read:
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. (1Co 15:22 NAS)
18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. (Rom 5:18-19 NAS)
Notice Romans 5 clearly says "Made sinners BECAUSE of Adam's Sin instead of ours". This conveys imputed guilt because it sets condemnation in contrast with justification. Thomas Schreiner notes, “Verses 15-19 do not ascribe death and condemnation to the individual sins of human beings (though Paul would not deny such a thesis; cf. the exegesis and exposition of 1:18-3:20). Instead, death and condemnation are traced again and again to Adam’s sin. All people die because of “the transgression of the one man” (v. 15). Condemnation was pronounced because of the one sin of Adam (v. 16). Death reigned through the transgression of one man (v. 17). Condemnation was upon all people because of the transgression of the one man (v. 18). All ‘became’ sinners because of the disobedience of the one man (v. 19)” (Thomas Schreiner, Romans, ed. Moises Silva, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, [Baker Academic, 1998], p. 288)
Regarding v. 19’s mention of Adam’s disobedience making “the many” sinners, we must interpret “the many” here as referring to all mankind and not some of mankind because of the parallelism in v. 15 which says the “many” died through one man’s trespass which obviously refers to all mankind. Plus v. 17 speaks of death reigning to all mankind since Adam and v. 18 mentions “all men” being condemned because of Adam’s trespass. Thus, the context and flow of the text shows “the many” in v. 19 who are made sinners refers to all humanity in Adam. Now, when v. 19 says “by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners,” the word for “made” is katestathēsan and it means to appoint or consider someone as something as a judgement because of their state (Thomas Schreiner, Romans, ed. Moises Silva, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, [Baker Academic, 1998], p. 288; Garlington, 1994:104; Moo, 1991: 358). This is evident from the vast majority of the New Testament texts that use the word (Matthew 24:45, 47; 25:21, 23; Luke 12:14; Acts 6:3; 7:10, 27, 35; Titus 1:5; Hebrews 5:1; 7:28; 8:3).
“The verb were made. . . . does not mean that sinless people were compelled to become sinners, but rather that Adam’s sin constituted them as sinners. They were born as members of a race already separated from God” (Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, [W. B. Eerdmans, 1988], p. 240).
In our modern individualistic society the claim that it is unjust to punish societies corporately for a single person's fault is foreign but not illogical. Notice this is also along side the claim that you cannot justly punish a person unless that person is the one who committed the offense in question. Firstly, numerous examples of corporate punishment do abound in scripture such as the fact that each evil king of Israel and Judah brought punishment to their nations (i.e. no rain because of King Ahab 1 Kings 17f). All the nation of Egypt was punished for Pharoah's stubborness (Exod. 7-11). Those who followed Korah and others received the same fate (Numbers 16). Regarding the logic of this position think of the fact that in a basketball game if one player fouls, the whole team gets penalized.
In fact the bible is very clear that all of us as Christians were once in this sinful state in Ephesians 2:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
(Eph 2:1-3 NAS)
The word for “by nature” is physei and as Frank Thielman notes, “. . .the dative singular of the word, the form Paul uses here, often meant ‘by birth’” (Frank Thielman, Ephesians, eds. Robert Yarborough, Robert H. Stein, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, [Baker Academic, 2010], p. 127).
Thielman then offers biblical and extrabiblical examples showing this is the meaning of the Greek word: “See e. g. Gal. 2:15 (. . .Jews by birth); Sophocles, Oed. col. 1295 (. . .younger by birth); Aj. 1301 (. . . a queen by birth); and Herodotus, Hist. 7.134.2 (. . .noble by birth)” (Frank Thielman, Ephesians, eds. Robert Yarborough, Robert H. Stein, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, [Baker Academic, 2010], p. 127 n. 29).
Regarding the last response it is simply ludicrous to claim that forced love is akin to rape. This type of thinking would mean that things like self sacrifice, such as pushing people out of the way of cars, jumping on grenades in war, and God commanding us to love him and others are illogical. But because of such sloppy thinking in an effort to hold on to absolute autonomy, opponents of Reformed theology are rarely reflective of how their many objections hold far more problematic to their own position. This "doomed from the womb" objection is just such a scenario. Autonomous reasoning without foundation in scripture leads to false doctrine and unbelief which scripture bears out.
6 But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,
7 "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?"
8 And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?
(Mar 2:6-8 NAS)
15 Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he might be the Christ, (Luk 3:15 NAS)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. (Pro 3:5 NAS)
26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered. (Pro 28:26 NAS)
In conclusion, the cooperative salvation position dooms from the womb in the following way. If one MUST believe in order to be saved, every infant is doomed due to the sin of unbelief. One may respond that infants are born innocent so all infants are saved, and while I have shown that to be false, if we assume that it is true, why shouldn't abortion be the greatest heaven filling venue? Would it not follow that we should refrain from allowing children to enter this world because it would deprive them of heaven? Moreover if we don't kill them to secure their salvation wouldn't we be sinning by enabling others to sin? This would mean that it would be a sin to not kill infants.
The position I maintain is more coherent in that God can cause infants to believe and comprehend without introducing libertarian freedom or some ad-hoc age of accountability. So while I would like to think all infants are elect I cannot prove it from scripture. I therefore maintain that God has the same freedom to elect some infants and not others, just as he has the absolute freedom to choose any adult over another. Therefore because God is just, faithful, and knows all things, we can only rely on his judgement on this matter. So while you may disagree with Reformed theology please drop this canard. Neither the synergist nor the monergist can deny that God could of taken many little Hitlers out in infancy, but I know many that would be glad to know that such is the case. What I can prove is that libertarian freewill is not required to be saved, nor some mythical age of accountability.
But you are he that took me out of the womb: you did make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. -Psalm 22:9