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Calvinism and Analyticity

Rich Davis has responded to a piece written by Guillaume Bignon and myself. I would like to thank him for taking the time to interact substantially with our initial response.  In this piece, I am going begin with a few points of clarification on the arguments that Bignon and I give. The clarifications will be important to understand what moves I am making in the final section, which ends on matters more philosophically substantial. As a result of this discussion, I hope to make it more clear what challenges exist for Davis’ case against Calvinism. It is now impossible for anyone to follow this discussion without having read the pieces linked above. If you have not yet done so, do that first.  But in case you do not, [...]

2018-06-07T21:20:01+00:00 May 9th, 2018|Comments Off on Calvinism and Analyticity

The irrelevance of ‘whoever’ in John 3:16 and what really matters: A response to Brian Abasciano

In “Whoever Reads John 3:16 Can Know that ‘Whoever’ Is Really There”, Brian Abasciano argues against four Calvinists: James Anderson, Guillaume Bignon, James Gibson, and James White. (I, Guillaume, apologize for not being named “James”. In my defense, my middle name is “Jacques”, which is the French title of the book of James; surely that must count.) Abasciano argues that all four Calvinists have made an embarrassing mistake by failing to understand the Greek text in John 3:16. If these Calvinists had consulted BDAG or even John Calvin’s own writings, they would have recognized that John 3:16 really does convey a generic sense of “whoever”. We, Bignon and Gibson, will let Anderson and White defend themselves since they actually spend some time discussing matters of translation. But as [...]

2018-06-07T21:18:44+00:00 April 24th, 2018|9 Comments

For God so loved the world: A Calvinist Response to Richard Brian Davis

This piece is co-authored by Guillaume Bignon and James A. Gibson. Order is alphabetical.  In "Calvinism's Gospel Tautology," Richard Brian Davis argues that John 3:16 is evidence against the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement. According to that doctrine, the death and resurrection of Christ is intended for only a subset of humanity, the elect. How, then, is a Calvinist to understand "world" in this passage? Davis considers one possibility suggested by R.C. Sproul.  "The world for whom Christ died cannot mean the entire human family. It must refer to the universality of the elect (people from every tribe and nation) or to the inclusion of Gentiles in addition to the world of the Jews" (Sproul, cited in Davis). Davis argues that it is a fundamental mistake to take the [...]

2018-06-07T21:23:19+00:00 April 7th, 2018|13 Comments

The Moral Psychology of Depravity and the Difficulty of Living in the Kingdom

Unconditional election is one of the infamous doctrines of Calvinism. How broadly unconditional election is understood varies among Calvinist writers. Lorraine Boettner defines the doctrine by citing the Westminster Confession, III.iii-vii (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 84), and that includes a passage on the purpose of election as well as a passage about God passing over those who were not extended divine mercy. The latter passage is suggestive of infralapsarianism, which Boettner goes on to discuss. It is less important to get into the details of Boettner's account than it is to see that he provides a broad characterization which encompasses other robust doctrines. Other Calvinist writers are more narrow in their characterization. Louis Berkhof characterizes election as unconditional. "Election does not in any way depend the on foreseen faith or good [...]

2018-06-07T21:24:01+00:00 March 30th, 2018|Comments Off on The Moral Psychology of Depravity and the Difficulty of Living in the Kingdom

Agency and Bottom-Up Determinative Causation

I am reading through a book on theories of the nature of the mind and I wanted to comment on an argument discussed in a chapter by William Hasker. For one thing, Hasker is a very good philosopher worth reading and reflecting upon. For another, his argument is worth discussing because it is interesting and not obviously wrong. This will provide an occasion, as well, to see how arguments against determinism can often be tied to other metaphysical theses without that being made explicit. And once so explicit, we can see that arguments against naturalistic determinism do not as easily slide over against theologically deterministic views like Calvinism. Nancy Murphy distinguishes between ontological and causal reductionism. The former is a thesis about the the ontology of different levels (physics, chemistry, [...]

2018-06-07T21:30:20+00:00 March 10th, 2018|11 Comments

A Conditional Problem for Adherents of Universal Divine Love

The predominant view of God's love among Christian philosophers in the current century, as well as the last, is that God's love extends to every person, such that God's love so extended entails God desires the salvation of every person. Why would any Christian hold such a view? One answer is that there are verses that can be brought forth as evidence for the view that God desires the salvation of every person. If so, it is inferred that the best explanation of this desire is God's love. (Note: the verses themselves do not speak to the entailment, but only to the desire. It is a further step needed to make the connection between God's love and the desire.) I will not discuss here whether the verses brought forth as [...]

2018-06-07T21:25:02+00:00 June 22nd, 2017|6 Comments

Final Remarks on the 1 John 4 Dispute Pertaining to Calvin and His Glaring Omission

My initial criticism of Jerry Walls' book, Does God Love Everyone?, has generated a series of responses. Thomas Talbott, who is also a proponent of the same point that I criticized, wrote a criticism of my first post, to which I rushed a rejoinder. Talbott has written a two part-series response: Part I Part II This post will correct a mistake I made in an earlier post, where I badly interpreted, or better, attributed to Talbott an argument which I did not read carefully (i.e. hardly skimmed). In addition, I will clarify how my argument is to be understood. The responses against my original argument are unsuccessful, although it is entertaining to read about how many "fatal" mistakes I have made. In any case, I do not see much benefit to continuing this. For this [...]

2018-06-07T21:28:22+00:00 November 3rd, 2016|4 Comments

Eternalist Theological Determinism

In "Theological Determinism and the 'Authoring Sin' Objection," the third article in the book Calvinism and the Problem of Evil, Heath White lays out a model of theological determinism that, he argues, withstands the objection that God is the author of evil. An interesting feature of White's view is that it is theologically deterministic without being necessarily Calvinistic with respect to soteriology. White does not reject Calvin's soteriology in this article and nothing he says, so far as I can tell, commits him to it. The main historical figures lurking in the background, I believe, are Augustine and Aquinas rather than Calvin. Anyway, what this post will do is describe White's theological determinism and how he responds to the charge that God is culpably bound up with evil given determinism. [...]

2018-06-07T21:27:47+00:00 October 26th, 2016|4 Comments

A Rejoinder to Thomas Talbott on Calvin and the Love of God in 1 John

[This post contains a massive error in one of the arguments I attribute to Talbott pertaining to Calvin on 1 John. I want to acknowledge that front and center. He calls me on that in his response, I get called on that in the comments, and I correct that mistake in the final post on this topic.] In Calvin and the Love of God in 1 John, I examine a quote from Jerry Walls' book, Does God Love Everyone? The Heart of What is Wrong with Calvinism. Walls believes it to be a stunning omission that Calvin never cited two verses - 1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16 - in the 1500 or so pages of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. In response, I point out that almost no one [...]

2018-06-07T21:27:27+00:00 September 27th, 2016|3 Comments

Calvin and the Love of God in 1 John

In his book, Does God Love Everyone? The Heart of What is Wrong with Calvinism, Jerry Walls writes the following: But here is what is truly remarkable: not one time in this book [the Institutes] does Calvin ever quote "God is love." In his massive book that is 1,521 pages long and that discusses thousands for biblical texts and discusses God's nature extensively, Calvin never one time cited 1 John 4:8 or 1 John 4:16. Not even once! This is a stunning omission. (Page 5) Walls finds this striking, because for so many pages and for what Walls describes as a "systematic theology" on the previous page, he would expect that Calvin would cite these two passages in particular. The only other discussion Walls gives of Calvin's Institutes is on pp. 17-18, where he quotes Calvin on [...]

2018-06-07T21:27:03+00:00 September 20th, 2016|9 Comments