By Dr. James Ach- [We will address Biblical proof texts cited in the author’s quote of McCune in Part 2 since these are common proof texts used by Calvinists to support unconditional election, and this article is addressing a response about decrees.]
So a flunkie who calls himself ‘Hip and Thigh” from “the- blood- of- Jesus Christ -doesn’t- save -us” John MacArthur ministries, decided to challenge one of our articles on the decrees of God as viewed by Calvinism. Naturally for Bible agnostics like this, he begins with the assumption that we are wrong by default because we use the KJV and are KJVO. I suppose that means we are wrong about the Trinity, deity of Christ, believer’s baptism, cessation, the existence of God, virgin birth, Christ’s sinlessness, etc..merely because we hold that the KJV is the word of God.
Of course, we pointed out this presumptuous fallacy when James White used it as well. We received no response when we asked how Norman Geisler was considered orthodox when he wrote an endorsement of the front of James White’s “The King James Only Controversy” but was considered a heretic when he wrote, “Chosen But Free” against Calvinism. As we will presently see, his scholarship is about as believable and accurate as his initial presuppositions and opening diatribe.
Quip and Lie finally begins his drivel in what he probably thinks is sound exegesis with the following:
Of course, anyone who is a serious student of God’s Word knows that the doctrine of God’s eternal decrees, especially as they pertain to the salvation of His elect people, does not hang upon the English word “decree” or “decrees” as translated in the KJV. I personally would expect more from someone who puts “Dr.” in front of his name, but we are dealing with an individual who takes Larry Vance seriously as a researcher.
Nothing like the begging the question fallacy right off the bat. What Quip and Thigh really means is that unless you arrive at the same conclusion as he does, you haven’t really studied SERIOUSLY. But let’s entertain his logic for a second.
If Calvinism did not hang upon the English word “decree” then why use it in the first place? Did John Calvin hang his hat on a word that had not even been introduced into the KJV yet? When John Calvin wrote, “Men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on anything but what he has previously decreed with himself, and brings to pass by his secret direction” was Calvin using the KJV here? Since the KJV was published about 50 years after Calvin died (1564) this shows just what kind of Quipper and Liar we’re dealing with here. I would certainly expect more from someone who believes they have the same ability as Samson to fight with a hip bone instead of an ice cream cone.
Quip and Lie takes a pot shot at Laurence Vance, but offers nothing in response as to why Vance was not qualified to write against Calvinism. And to date, there has been no published work by any Calvinist author refuting Vance’s book, “The Other Side of Calvinism”.
Now notice how Quip and Lie attempts to sneak in shady and uncertain “scholarship” after attempting to inoculate his readers with vitriol about our article and website:
Rolland McCune, in his first volume on systematic theology (pp., 308-309), looks at the Hebrew text and identifies 6 key words that pertain to God’s decrees: yatsar, ya’ats, ‘etsah, chashab, machshebeth, nathan. Depending upon the context they can be translated as decide, purpose, plan, device, ordain or other similar words describing God’s actions that He decided to do in eternity. They are used in such passages as Psalm 139:16, Isaiah 19:12, Jeremiah 32:19, Genesis 50:20, Jeremiah 1:5.
Coming to the NT, McCune notes 10 key words that pertain to God’s decrees and purposes: horidzo, prooridzo, protithemai, proetoimadzo, tasso, proginosko, prognois, procheiridzomai, procheriotoneo. Likewise, depending upon the context, those words can mean to determine, appoint, fix, foreordain, elect, set beforehand. They are found in such passages as Acts 2:23, Romans 8:29, Ephesians 1:9 and 2:10, Acts 17:26, and 1 Peter 1:1:2.
While none of those words are necessarily translated as “decree” and “decrees” in the KJV, the doctrine of God’s eternal decrees is clearly confirmed by any honest evaluation of the relevant passages. But that shouldn’t concern a KJV onlyist who believes God’s Word is frozen in only one translation that is 400 years old.
Notice first that NONE of the Hebrew words carry the same meaning that Calvinism gives to “decree”. Quip and Lie was likely hanging his hat hoping this wretched Jew did not know Hebrew. We’ll even borrow from Strong’s (a Calvinist favorite) for evidence of Quip and Lies folly (If Quip and Lie would like us to use Wallace, Mounce or anyone else, we can do that, too):
Yatsar: To form, fashion.
Ya’ats: Advise, counsel.
Etsah: Counsel, advise.
Chashab: To think, account for
…Ah, we get the point. Now what the typical Calvinist will do here, is take any of the alternate renderings where the verb form may be used in context with a passage that indicates God either foreknowing something or bringing a SINGLE EVENT to pass, and then reconstruct the definition of the word as if the word in and of itself means the same thing outside of the context it was used in. However, even THAT does not work because just as in the English word decree, none of these Hebrew words imply that God decreed anything from eternity and caused it to come to pass in the deterministic fashion in which Calvinism defines “decrees”.
This is precisely why you see the sleight- of- hand used here by Quip and Lie. Notice that after attempting to convince the reader with his plethora of initial insults and the certainty of his theology, he then punts to UNcertainty with, “the Hebrew words CAN be translated…” (typical anti-KJVO “scholarship onlyism” Bible agnostic logic) Which is it? Do these words prove the Calvinist decree as defined by Calvinism is accurate or not? Quip’s argument was that there are words in Hebrew that are equivalent to “decree”. Well of course there are! Why is that? Because “decree” IN THE BIBLE DOES NOT MEAN THE SAME THING AS DECREE DEFINED BY CALVINISM and that was the whole point of our article, “The Decrees of God”.
For example, the decrees spoken of in Daniel 4-6 show decrees made by a king. Something they gave counsel about or ordered. The Calvinist will then say “See! There it is! The word ‘decree’ is similar to these other Hebrew words”. And that’s the catch. Here Quip and Lie wants the readers to agree with him first that decree is not an isolated usage, get the reader to believe that “decree” and other Hebrew words for “counsel” “ordain” are synonymous with decree, and then proceed to create his own definition of decree which for any Calvinist, is defined by Calvin or the Westminster Confession (pick one); that God from eternity past has determined ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER come to pass. This then causes the reader to believe in the Calvinist usage of other Hebrew usages as synonymous with the Calvinist definition of decree by default. Neat trick isn’t it! Yes, if you are truly that gullible.
Naturally, when the Calvinist is faced with the implications of this statement, they will blame supralapsarianism although the infra and supralapsarians all use the same ‘proof texts’. Even some Calvinists like Berkouwer bite the bullet on this one, “We can not speak of before and after in God’s eternal decrees as we do in time, hence the difference between supra and infra can be called imaginary because it implies the application of a temporal order to eternity”. And yet when the Calvinist is faced with such conundrums, they simply pawn it off on “mystery”, or in Quip and Lie’s case, on the KJV that wasn’t around when John Calvin wrote about God’s decrees.
Quip and Lie proceeds to argue about God’s eternality, of which we have a question for him as well!
“I’ll go out on a limb and assume that our KJVO apologist at least affirms the eternality of God. To my knowledge, I don’t think I am dealing with an open theist Socinian heretic.
So far so good. We are not Open Theists. We do believe that God knows the future, but disagree that foreknowledge is an independent force of God that creates its own opportunities and events. It’s not the God of Foreknowledge, but the foreknowledge of God. Foreknowledge means to know, and to know ahead of time, it does not mean to create. God did not KNOW the world into existence, He SPOKE the world into existence. If everything were determined simply because God foreknew it, then all matter and creation would necessarily be eternally existent because you can not separate what God knew from when He actually created anything. But moving on so as to not overwhelm our critic with common sense…
An eternal God knows all things, because He is, say it with me, ETERNAL. There is no knowledge He has to gather to Himself. Add to that the fact that He is the creator. An eternal creator creates all that there is, and because He is the creator, He not only knows all that will transpire in history future, He has planned it so, all the good, bad, and ugly. The fact of detailed biblical prophecy affirms that point.
That means God has planned for man’s salvation, and specifically from Scripture, a particular people, or what is revealed to us as His redeemed elect. It is not some nebulous concept of “The Elect” to which God has left people to choose if whether or not they will join the club. It is people, individuals, that God chooses.
But let’s leave the theological ramifications aside for now. Our KJVO advocate insists God’s decrees do not pertain to election or predestination He also brashly claims God’s decrees are only made in TIME and not eternity. He wants to keep God out of the electing to salvation business and let man choose his own destiny with his freewill. But does the Bible confirm his thesis?
…ETERNAL (Did I say it right?). First of all, I do not disagree with the obvious that God knows the future, and that He has planned for certain things. God’s planning would be a natural element to His desires and wishes. But that’s where the Calvinists should stop when it comes to the foreknowledge of God. But instead, they make the pantheistic leap from there that because God knows all things, and has plans for the future, that He MUST cause all of those events to come to pass. The implications of this is that God is in fact the author and first cause of evil and sin. Though the average Calvinist vehemently rejects this implication, it is inescapable if their theology is followed consistently. And as we will demonstrate shortly, there are some things that God “decreed” that DID NOT HAPPEN.
Quip and Lie says, “let’s leave off the theological ramifications” and then offers that decrees are related to God’s predestination and election. Scripture? Proof? Plenty of presuppositional philosophy but no proof albeit two passages from Ephesians and Timothy, neither of which support his claim.
Of Ephesians 3 Quip writes:
Without this becoming an exercise in the obvious, let’s first consider Ephesian 3:11 (taken from the KJV text so as to be consistent),
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
Note my emphasis. “Eternal purpose.” God had a purpose that is described as eternal. There are actually two words here translated as “purpose” and “purposed.” Both words,prothesis and poieo have the meaning “to set forth” and “to do,” respectively. Paul is saying that in eternity, because again, they are “eternal” purposes, God set forth to do something. In the case of Ephesians 3, it is to reveal God’s wisdom in regards to the salvation of the gentiles. That is eternal salvation that was “decreed,” because well, if you purpose to do something, that means you decreed it to happen, right?
No Non Calvinist denies that God’s PURPOSE is that He desires all men to be saved, and that Christ accomplished the atonement to secure that purpose for those who repent and believe. But Quip’s interpretation is altogether implying something the text does not say. There is a stark difference on what God’s purpose and plan is and him forcing men against their wills based upon an arbitrary election that damns some sinners simply because God had pleasure in condemning them to an eternal hell. Read the text again Quip, “purpose (prothesis)” here is not a verb (nor an exception to where nouns are used as verbs) and thus you can not imply action on God’s part by forcing a grammatical implication that is not in the text.
And on Timothy, Quip opines that,
Let’s look at one more taken from 2 Timothy 1:8,9,
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began…
Once more, note my emphasis. Paul speaks of being saved and called by a holy calling. Paul did not get called because of his works, but according God’s own purpose and grace. The word “purpose” is again translated from prothesis, which means “to set forth.” What did God set forth to do according to Paul’s words? To save and call him and his friend Timothy to whom he is writing. When did God set forth to save and call Paul and Timothy? BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN. When exactly is that? Oh, I’ll venture a guess here and say ETERNITY PAST! In fact, the phrase “world began” was translated from pro chronos, which means “Before Time!.”
The very translation this guy claims to be the only sure and reliable Word of God flatly contradicts him. Now he sits upon the horns of a significant dilemma. Will he side with the authority of his beloved translation or his feverish devotion to hating Calvinism? Or perhaps he’ll choose a third option of spinning the Bible in such a way so as to re-interpret it to favor him? What’s a rapid, anti-Calvinist KJV onlyist to do?
Once again, the exact same flaw as his argument on Ephesians 3:11. Remember, the entire context of his debate was about our article on the decrees of God, and how Calvinism defines decrees as God determining all things whatsoever comes to pass. 2 Timothy 1:8-9 shows God had a purpose, what He desired and wanted to happen, but He also chose to give men free will (the libertarian kind). What this verse does NOT say, is that God CAUSED anyone’s salvation as determined by any decree, past present or future or as “determined” (as Calvinism defines determine) at all.
Now let us show you some monkey wrenches in Quips theology.
The story follows in 1 Samuel 23 where David is on the run from Saul. David is cornered in Keilah with Saul hot on his trail. David then inquires of the LORD in verses 12-14,
Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the Lord said, They will deliver thee up.
13 Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth.
Notice that the LORD said of Saul “he WILL deliver thee up”. What happened in verse 13? Saul, “FORBARE to go forth”. Saul did NOT deliver David up, Saul FORBARE. God said unequivocally that Saul WILL deliver David, and then Saul did not because David did something that altered the course of his destiny in the same manner that a sinner alters his destiny of judgment when He trusts Christ as Saviour.
If God “determines all things” then naturally God is the author of all the confusion that men experience. Yet 1 Corinthians 14:33 says He is not the author of confusion. If God determines all things, then that includes all the temptations men face, yet God says “Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted of God’. See James 1:12-14. If God desires and causes others to sin by the determination of His counsel before the foundation of the world, then we would not read the following statements by God in Jeremiah 32:35,
And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
In the OT, Israel is the elect of God (Isaiah 45:4) and yet God sent Jonah to a city of Gentiles. What’s more is that God throws the following nuts and bolts against the Calvinist determinist in Jonah 3:8-10.
But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Now can Mr. Hip see where God said, “and God repented of the evil, that HE SAID HE WOULD DO unto them, and DID IT NOT”? Chalk it up to “conditional prophecy” if you want to, but it demonstrates that not everything that God says is determined to come to pass by some eternal decree because the Scriptures prove over and over again that man’s decisions made in time can and HAVE altered the path of what God said WOULD HAPPEN with and without conditions.
Now on to our final question that we have for Mr. Lip and Chicken Thigh. If sin is necessary to vindicate God’s sovereignty, to the extent that He eternally decreed that all things come to pass as He ordains them, was there a lapse in God’s sovereignty before He executed judgment on the first sin? Was God fully God, content from all eternity and satisfied BEFORE He became sovereign over creation? If God decreed all such events, included sin because of its “eternal purpose”, and therefore his decree and preterition are necessary to prove His sovereignty, what happened to God’s sovereignty from the time that He was content and satisfied from eternity past to the time when the first sin was manifested, and the subsequent judgment of that sin?
If Quip and Lie thought for one second that us ignoring some of his ridiculous comments was any indication of his pedantic intellectual superiority, let this be the beginning of a beautiful love/ hate relationship, where we hate to see well meaning believers caught up in error, but love debunking the arguments and fallacies of self aggrandizing Bibliophobes.