Jim from Torrington and Gene Cook on the Two Wills of God

 
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darin-houston



Joined: 05 Nov 2005
Posts: 134
Location: Houston, TX

PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 5:08 pm    Post subject: Jim from Torrington and Gene Cook on the Two Wills of God Reply with quote

I was listening to The Narrow Mind the other day (Gene Cook’s show), and our favorite caller Jim from Torrington CT called in to discuss the so-called two wills of God.

It was an honest yet very typical exchange on the subject (typically confusing, that is), and because I so much appreciate the spirit with which Jim discusses these things, I had to share it in the hope that it would give us a good backdrop to discuss some of these things with the new Calvinists who have joined us lately or who may be lurking around and maybe haven’t begun to interact yet.

Since I can type almost in real-time (depending on the pace of a conversation, of course), I “girded up” my sleeves, set aside my carpel tunnel frustrations, and here ya go….


...

JIM We were talking about the two wills theory a couple of weeks ago...

GENE Yes

...

JIM OK, so, all right -- we're talking about God's secret or sovereign will -- the things that He will accomplish, vs. his moral or preceptive will -- When I as a believer sin, I'm doing the sovereign will of God, correct?

JONATHAN That is correct.

GENE Yes

JIM Jeez... isn't it a good thing to do the will of God?

GENE Uhh .. well, it depends on which sense you're speaking of in terms of God's will.

JONATHAN decretively, but not preceptively.

GENE In one sense, you can say it was a good thing for Judas to betray Christ...

JIM Not for Judas, though.

JONATHAN Very bad for Judas...

GENE When it comes to God's glory -- you see, this is why when it comes to Reformed believers, we are very particular in pointing out that all things are done for the glory of God, so when we say is it a good thing in the big scheme of things, yes - because it brings glory to God, because when I sin, what happens? God chastens me as His son, which causes me to be humbled and disciplined and to cry out to God.....

JIM Yeah, but He could do that without having you sin, though.

GENE Well, I'm not sure...

JIM If He's sovereign in that sense...

GENE What He could do and what He does do are two different things... we're talking about what He does do...

JONATHAN for His own glory, He has purposed that Y sin will bring about X good...

JIM So, I didn't have a choice in sinning then...

G&X (simultaneously) NONONO you did...

GENE We also have to make the distinction that God works through primary and secondary causality.

JIM But, but I couldn't have "NOT" sinned.

JONATHAN Well, in the Old covenant sense, but then we're talking about God's decretive will.

JIM See... this is confusing.

GENE ...and you don't know what His decretive will is, and so you (being a volitional being) actually chose to sin.

JONATHAN Yeah -- so, God was pleased to decree man's responsibility and duty in the preceptive will of God, and also pleased to decree our violation of that command...

JIM Hmm

JONATHAN And, I think even John Calvin in the Religious Institute touches on that ultimately God's will is "one," but from our perspective to make it coherent we have to speak of two wills -- the decretive will and the preceptive will of God.

JIM Yeah, well I've read Calvin on that, and it's just .. sometimes it's just very hard to understand.

JONATHAN Yeah... it's a very difficult subject, and we hit a paradox eventually...

JIM Yeah, but Jonathan, most paradoxes I've seen end up being contradictions, and there can't be a contradiction, so...

JONATHAN Yeah, there can't be a contradiction, but a paradox.... when it comes to God's eternality, His incomprehensibility, we're gonna ... unless we're going to have a divine mind, we're going to have to embrace the idea that at some point along the road of God and His eternality, we're going to hit a paradox, and that's what we do have with an apparent paradox with the two wills - what we have is ultimately that God's will in the ultimate sense is one, but it is kinda played out in creation in subcategories such as preceptive and revealed will of God (that is, the commandments).




OK, now to my scriptural question....




JIM Mark 4, Christ is talking about the parable of the sower, and then he goes on in v. 11/12 and says “to you it has been given the secret of the Kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything is in parables, SO THAT they may indeed see but not perceive – they may indeed hear but not understand LEST THEY SHOULD TURN AND BE FORGIVEN… so, Christ is teaching in parables – like veiling His message, so they won’t turn and be forgiven. Do I understand that right?

GENE Yes!

JIM Why does He have to viel His message to the totally depraved?

GENE That’s a great question… (pause)

JONATHAN Yeah… (pause) … well, He does it because it’s an outworking of His purpose, so the depraved are further hardened through their rejection of the message. They’re already deceived, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (you have to have the truth to suppress it), and the Word comes and they are further deceived in their own conceit.

JIM So, you’re saying that here… they’re just deepening their rejection / depravity…

JONATHAN Yes… it’s confirmation in their reprobation.

GENE See, the other thing is … we’re talking about the public ministry of Christ, so when I go and I proclaim the gospel to an unbeliever, and he doesn’t get it… this gives me insight as a believer as to why that happens… so, my message is not veiled, but Jesus is specifically veiling His parables and hiding Himself so to speak from those who are His enemies, which I think is an important distinction, because so many times in Christianity we hear that God wants to save every single person…..

JIM …right…that’s untenable, you know….

GENE right…

JIM I mean, you know because I talked to Steve Gregg this week, and I brought this up – the fact – does God want all men to be saved? He said “yes,” – well, what about the times in scripture where he purposely does deceive – He sends a spirit of stupor – He doesn’t want THEM to be saved?!

GENE …What did he say?...

JIM Well, “they could have been saved at a different time….” , basically.

GENE Well, that’s pretty convenient … (laugh)

JONATHAN When you make the statement that God wants all men to be saved, it’s normally presented in an irrevocable context – in other words, He always wants everyone to be saved at all times

JIM Yeah…

JONATHAN That’s how they teach it…

GENE So, Steve Gregg would have to admit that on Tuesday, for sure, He didn’t want him to be saved….

JIM Right…

GENE Which is going to now escalate into His sovereignty into when a person gets saved, which is going to actually lead right down the track of Calvinism.

JIM You know – for me -- I’ve kind of come over to the Calvinist side – I’ve told you that – but, to me, if you even think that God’s foreknowledge is only like “pre-knowledge” rather than “fore-ordaining,” it still ends up being the same. God lets Joe be born into the world – He knows the circumstances of His life – He probably even organizes the circumstances of His life – He knows he’s never going to accept the gospel – even if he has freewill, I still end up at the same place, you know?...

JONATHAN And in some ways, you can end up in a worse place… because it ends up being fatalistic – like, God knew this, and He just passively stood by and let it happen – He had full and complete knowledge of who would perish, and yet there was no decretive will or purpose or sovereign design behind it.

JIM Yeah, Arminians don’t get God off the hook – I don’t care (what they say), even Open Theists don’t get God off the hook.

JONATHAN NOO… you might as well become a Calvinist…

(what follows is a nice discussion in anticipation of the James White debate, including a pretty nice defense of Steve’s position and debate approach by Jim)

Finally, Gene comes back to the “God could have done it another way….”

GENE I wanted to touch one one other thing you brought up before we go – we were talking about God decreeing even our sinful acts, you made the point that maybe God could have done it another way, but as I’m thinking about that, I don’t think that He could… and the reason I say that is that in my own life, if I hadn’t even as a Christian rebelled against God and come into contact with my own sinful nature and my rebellion, I’m not sure if I would hate sin as much as I do and love grace as much as I do, and even with God decreeing the sin that takes place in my life – even though I am the one responsible for it, it causes me to love grace – to cry out for forgiveness and to hate my sinful nature and to want for the day when Christ will vindicate the last enemy which is death.

JIM Even CS Lewis, who was an Arminian, believed that even when we sin, God doesn’t give us the grace at that moment to overcome that sin, and for the lesson to cause us to depend on Him more and more….

GENE …and I would agree with that…I have no problem with that statement…

JIM Yeah, it’s kind of more the way I would have worded it – God doesn’t give us the grace to overcome that sin, He kind of lets us have the opportunity to let our nature run its course – let it do what He knows it’s going to do, and then that eventually brings us into a closer relationship with Him….

GENE …the question is --- How does He know it’s going to do what it’s going to do?

JIM Because He created it that way…

JONATHAN Right…

GENE We would say He “decreed” it that way…

JIM Well, yeah – it’s kind of a domino effect, Gene – you push that first domino down, which was Adam, He knew exactly which direction each domino was going to go….

GENE …but Judas Iscariot, as a domino didn’t necessarily have to betray Christ…

JIM NOO… I would say he had to.

GENE Well, he had to because Peter tells us in Acts 4 that it was according to God’s predestined plan…

JIM So, yeah, he had to…he had no choice – I don’t care about choice because I know that my freewill only got me in trouble.
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