Natural Man before the Fall: Ability and Grace

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Saiph, Oct 26, 2005.

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  1. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Ron, here's is the theological argument Bruce is asking you to interact with. Note especially points 1 and 2.

     
  2. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Pat,

    The Confession deals with "liberty" and the "moral ability" of the four states of man. It does not deal with power of contrary choice, which is libertarian free will.

    Ron
     
  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Ron,
    Let me preface the following (which is lengthy) by offering that it is possible that I have misunderstood your intention. So let me try to reset what I read you to advocate:

    1) You appear to affirm, along with Saiph, the necessity of supernatural grace, prior to the fall, in order for Adam and Eve to walk in righteousness. Later you write: "Obviously Adam needed something additional to sustain him because given the circumstances presented to the soul he fell."
    ---This has all the appearance of the Roman doctrine, and not the Reformation.

    2) You wrote: "Adam did not choose this (sinful) intention to act contrary to God´s law; " because then all intentions must be chosen, and no one makes that many choices. There has to be a non-chosen starting point. This appears to necessitate the presence of a sinful nature out of which erupts the first sinful intention.
    ---Saying Adam's sin-nature is not his fault is deeply troubling to me. This is far too cut-and-dried, as I hope to explain below.

    3) You write: "Adam certainly possessed liberty, which is simply the ability to act according to one´s intention;" Our Confession speaks of an unforced, "natural liberty" of the will that by nature is not absolutely determined to choose either good or evil. Ordinarily, this liberty is defined as the ability to act according to one's nature. So you appear to say that intention always comes out of nature, and is ever congruent with it. In your response to me you indicate that neither nature nor intention is originally the result of any human action, but precedes all action.
    ---Ordinariliy, this seems a reasonable conclusion. But Adam's condition does not correspond to any condition in our experience. He had a nature that was good, and yet God clearly places before him a real choice (despite the hidden decree) such that apparently his good nature did not preclude him from acting against it. His natural liberty was evidently more pronounced than ours who, being redeemed, have some measure of this power restored to us (being able not to sin).

    4) You write: "he also possessed moral ability," Our Confession speaks of Adam's "freedom and power" to will and to do that which was good. And at the same moment, that possession of it was mutable, "so that he might fall from it."
    ---There is no indication that such mutability is the product of any non-inherent factor. The Confession is clear that it was not the moral ability/freedom and power that was changeable. No, the adverb modifies the verb "had", meaning possessed. He possessed those things after a mutable fashion as his created endowment.

    5) You write: "Adam did not lose LFW when he fell; he merely lost is [sic] moral ability to choose Godward." By which I understand you to say that he did not lose the former, for he did not possess it to begin with. And he lost the latter in conjunction with or in consequence of the fall.
    ---But a sinful nature not being mutable, if Adam possessed a sinful nature in anticipation of the fall (for on this reckoning, how could a fall occur apart from a pre-existing sinful nature?) then there was no real loss of moral ability when he fell, for it was not in his power to choose Godward out of the sin nature. He had no power before the first stirrings of desire to take the fruit hit him.


    That much I understand you to advocate, along with what I perceive are difficulties. What follows is my response to your response.


    Ron,
    When you say that, given my position, I have to affirm LFW (the philosophical principle that claims that man makes such free decisions as that God's foreordination is precluded) in order to speak intelligibly about Adam's inexplicable choice, I deny.

    Because I know God never suspended his controlling decree for a moment since creation. And I know that Adam was indisputably predestined to fall, because I affirm the Sovereignty of God. Certainly from the standpoint of the decree Adam could not have not fallen. Because it happened. Therefore we know it was sure in retrospect. I reject the false-alternative fallacy.

    And I affirm that outside the decree Adam had real liberty of choice, even to the point of contradicting his nature. The Standards call that "being left to the freedom of their own will." He was created wise (Col. 3:10), but could play the fool (Ecc. 7:29). His constitution was upright and he was posse pecare, capable of losing his estate as soon as he was created. This was the first estate, and if it seems impossible for us in our fallen or redeemed estates to adequately grasp Adam's powers, that is no argument of their lack of reality, given the testimony of Scripture.

    I will not affirm any position that actually evaporates moral accountability. Neither will I affirm a position whereby creaturliness itself, apart from divine props, necessitates a fall. God decreed not merely Adam's "final act" but the complex of motivations within. He is the orderer of all "second causes", yet so as he is not the Author of any sin (WCF 3.1, 5.2).

    I readily accept some "inclinationS" back of Adam's choice. But how and when in the event came to be the "tipping point" over into sin (when God had made him "very good"), I have no idea. And the Reformed world has consistently affirmed this mystery.

    All you have done is change the question from "how could he perform this rebellious act?" to "how could he have been motivated to rebel?" I don't know, and as far as I can tell no one has found a Scriptural "explanation" for how a man, inclined to do righteousness and supported by all the inducements to obedience imaginable, nevertheless found the motivation and chose to disobey God instead. Adam attempted to choose autonomy, and made himself twice a slave.

    Long ago, Rome adopted the solution of "privation". But this was not finally buttressed by Scripture, but by neo-platonism (Augustin) and Aristotelian (thomistic) philosophy. Your position, so far as I can discern it from the posts so far (including the reasoning in the posts before your/my entry into the discussion), is indistinguishable from Augustin and Thomas, from Rome and some Federal Vision folks. In the posts above, you are affirming grace before the fall in the vein of the donum super additum. You are offering an answer to the perennial dilemma that appears to deny Adam's inherent power to obey, as constituted a creature, without special grace. For all the reasons discussed above, I cannot accept this solution to the dilemma.

    I think the "strongest motivation" simplisticly implies that all our motivations exist in an ordered hierarchy, and that this is the only proper way to view human action. I disagree. We may be "sufficiently motivated" to a course of action by a multitude of factors, some quantifiable, some not.

    We can definitely say we always "do what we want" in the absence of actual coersion (for then it is not we doing, but being pushed like a broom). But our motivations are multiple, and may even be contrary on occasion. Within us, both a sinful motive and a proper motive may both spur us on toward an action! Which is stronger? How do you know? Does the sinful motive, if it is stronger (God knows) obliterate the "goodness" of the act and the good motive? I say all this to show that an appeal to "the strongest motive" is reductionistic. Useful sometimes, but not definitive.

    Adam gave in to temptation in ideal circumstances, whereas Jesus did not under worse conditions. Did Jesus experience real temptation in the wilderness? Yes. Could he see the lying "benefits" that Satan blandished before him? Yes. Could he have fallen? No, never, for his divine nature--not a donum super additum--precluded such. Yet he was truly tempted to the final degree, and never gave in. He resisted the devil, and ever put him to flight.

    All of our sins, including Adam's sin, are the result of our giving in to temptation before it peters out. And now man without Christ doesn't even want to resist sin. He is only able to sin. The redeemed don't get back the supposed pre-fall donum. They receive back the creation nature in principle, and receive saving, regenerating grace, but are renewed in the image of Christ, not Adam. They are capable of not sinning. And in glory will there be donum in that advancement? No. But perfecting grace due to union with Christ, and sin will be no more. The sin-nature will be eradicated, root and branch. We will eternally be the redeemed-by-grace.

    Concupiscence=strong, uncontrollable evil desire, lust. Is this itself sin? Yes. Is the sin-nature sin? Yes, in our current condition our desire for sin is ungovernable. So the sin-nature includes concupiscence. But did Adam have concupiscence before the fall? That is the $64,000 question. Jesus did not have concupiscence! So why do we suppose Adam should have? Because he fell? But now you are saying that Adam had a sin-nature before he fell! This is untenable. Scripture presents the incident in the garden as a single event, culminating in the act of taking and eating. At the beginning Adam is in innocence. At the end, he is sinful. As he falls, he becomes sinful. Nothing else will do justice to the account of the fall.

    At the place where Adam and Eve determine to put the Word of the Lord to a test, to assume "neutrality", they have become rebels. For they have really already accepted Satan's Word over God's. This is progression indeed, but it cannot be ascribed to the outworking of an already depraved nature. That is simply not how Scripture describes Adam and Eve (Eph. 4:24). They were not "deprived" of that "grace" which kept them whole from their first moment of existence. They were "deprived" of "additional assistance" that they neither asked for, nor were entitled to demand.

    You say Adam's transition to a sinful estate was not a product of choice, but results from a having a sinful nature and desires already. So where is the transition at all? Do you assume the removal of grace? Furthermore you say Adam was culpable by reason of the first stirrings of his-own sinful desire. Hitherto kept in check? How is this different from Roman theology?

    Syllogism?
    God made man "very good"/"holy"/"righteous".
    Righteous men choose to do righteousness.
    (insert mystery here)
    therefore: Righteous man (nevertheless) chose to do unrighteousness.

    How does this affirmation undermine my Calvinism? I deny.


    You do not like my counter-assertion. That's fine. It is Confessional doctrine I have already sworn an oath to (3.1; 4.2; 5.2, 4; 6.1, 2; 9.2; 19.1). It is already proven. As I said, I am not going to attempt to poke holes in the deterministic rationale presented (clothed in predestinarian garb). I think that it is sufficient to appeal to the statements of Scripture that contradict that rationale. Your whole initial post contained not one Bible reference, no Scriptural syllogism of your own, merely a series of arguments that, in the end, denies 1) Man's creation in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; 2) power to stay therein; 3) every inducement to continue in fellowship with God; and 4) freedom of will (see WLC 17, 20, 21).

    And brother, I also trust that it was not your intention to deny the Confession to which you also have sworn an oath. In all my exchanges on the board, I hope to grow in grace, and pray my brethren do as well. Where I am at fault or faithful, may God grant me wisdom to cleave to the truth.

    Peace,

    [Edited on 3-3-2006 by Contra_Mundum]
     
  4. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Dear Bruce,

    When I say that Adam needed something additional, I am not saying that he needed an internal work of the Spirit. I am saying that he needed a different state of affairs presented to soul or God to have pre-interpreted the circumstances Adam found himself in differently. In other words, Adam either needed a different state of affairs or a different decree of behavior given the same state of affairs.

    Who said that Adam was not responsible for his sin nature? You´re responsible for your sin nature, not by imputation but because it´s yours.

    Our intentions are always consistent with our nature. Liberty is the ability to act according one´s intention and the intention is always consistent with the nature.

    Our intentions are always congruent with our nature. I don´t know what "œcomes out of nature" means. The intention is not caused by the nature. The intention is caused by the state of affairs presented to the soul, as Dabney would put it.

    That´s correct, narrowly considered. Certainly choices can contribute to future states of affairs and also future intentions. Notwithstanding, no intention or nature is chosen.

    True. Adam´s nature was mutable.

    Yes

    Adam´s first sin was his propensity to act sinfully, from which a specific intention to act sinfully proceeded. To deny this is to argue that Adam acted sinfully with a propensity and inclination to act uprightly. If Adam acted sinfully when his strongest inclination at the moment of choice was to act uprightly, then he could not be held responsible for his action of sin. It would have been a purely contingent act and, therefore, not one that he intended.

    You´re painting this with too broad a brush. First off, "œoutside the decree" is philosophically meaningless because we do not operate "œoutside" of God´s decree. Secondly, "œchoice" is not "œaction," so if you are not equivocating over terms, then you might be introducing terms that are not germane to the specifics of this discussion. The choice was presented to a man who was upright. The action was made in accordance to an intention, as all actions are if they are real choices made in accordance with liberty, the ability to choose as one wants. We both agree that the action was sinful. The question is whether a sinful action can proceed from a pure intention. Can a choice to sin proceed from a strongest inclination that is not sinful? Can morally relevant choices be contrary to the strongest inclination at the moment of choice? If not, then the choice to sin must have proceeded from an inclination to sin! And a sinful inclination can only come from a nature that is already fallen.

    I find this all rather amusing. Can you produce quotes from these men and groups that affirm that Adam´s first sin was his first inclination to sin and not his action that proceeded from that inclination? Moreover, all these folks affirm the Trinity. Should I abandon my belief in that too? Sir, you should keep in mind that to bear false witness is"¦ well I´ll just say - not wise. Do Federal Vision folks speak on this matter? It seems to me that you might have some bottled-up anger that you are unleashing upon me in a most inappropriate way. Someone warned me about this site just today, saying that as a hobby-horse Federal Vision was the whipping boy of the season. I have no time for such nonsense.

    Yes, so what? We are sufficiently motivated by the relevant state of affairs, whatever constitutes them. That begs the question of whether a sinful action can proceed from a non-sinful motivation. If it can´t, then the strongest inclination at the moment of choice to act sinfully was therefore sin. There´s no mystery here, sir. There are only two possibilities. Either the strongest inclination to act sinfully was a sinful inclination or it wasn´t. If it wasn´t, then the strongest inclination to act uprightly was followed by a sinful action, which would destroy the moral relevancy of the action since it would not have been according to what was intended at the moment of choice! If the strongest inclination was sinful, then the first sin was Adam´s inclination to act sinfully and not the action that followed from the sinful inclination. It´s not any harder than that.

    This seems rather confused to me, so I´ll pass.

    I agree.

    I disagree that the converted are "œcapable of not sinning" this side of glory. All our works are tainted with sin while we´re in this body of death.

    I hope you are not thinking that I believe that Adam was born with concupiscence. Of course he wasn´t.

    Wow, you really haven´t understood a word I´ve said. In one sense I´m relieved. I am not saying that Adam had a sin nature before the fall. I am saying that at the logical moment Adam had a sinful inclination, the fall occurred. The sinful inclination constituted the fall in other words. The action, as it were, that proceeded from the sinful inclination was necessary due to the preceding inclination to act sinfully.

    There´s that broad brush again.

    This too is wrong. Again, you have not understood my position even in the least. The first part is correct, that Adam´s transition to a sinful estate was not a product of choice. But, neither was it the result of "œhaving a sinful nature and desire already." The transition was not a result of having a sinful nature. The transition was at the logical point of the ontological change.

    Go see my first post on future tense truth propositions.

    Yes, I do see that you are not going to attempt to refute the arguments that are before.

    This is rather unfortunate of you to speak this way; especially in light of the imprecision and broad brush proof-texting of both the Confession and Scripture you have offered.

    Please bear no more false witness against my position and I´ll be fine agreeing to disagree. I'm fine either way. I am just concerned for you.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Ron
     
  5. mybigGod

    mybigGod Puritan Board Freshman

    The confession states that mans will was mutible. Obviously after the fall mans will was in bondage. This distinction has not been brought out. I see in the mutible state that man being righteous was subject to weakness. Weakness is not a sin but it is a very important part of choice. We can want to choose the good but if the weight of the bad habit is heaveir than the desire to do good we will choose the bad.
    In the garden the will was subject to change. That does speak to the ability of man as a predispostion which is more in line with the predispostion power to choose which does not have evil as its source.

    "And therefore, if more were still added to their strength, to a certain degree, it would make the difficulty so great, that it would be wholly impossible to surmount it; for this plain reason, because whatever power men may be supposed to have to surmount difficulties, yet that power is not infinite; and so goes not beyond certain limits. If a man can surmount ten degrees of difficulty of this kind with twenty degrees of strength, because the degrees of strength are beyond the degrees of difficulty; yet if the difficulty be increased to thirty, or an hundred, or a thousand degrees, and his strength not also increased, his strength will be wholly insufficient to surmount the difficulty. "J Edwards

    [Edited on 3-3-2006 by mybigGod]
     
  6. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Tom,

    That man was in "œbondage" after the fall is true. What relevance does that have to this discussion?

    Adam had not "œbad habit" prior to the fall.

    This statement is somewhat cryptic, at least to me.

    Don´t you just love Edwards!

    Tom, the point of the discussion is that Adam´s sinful action must have been in accordance with an overall inclination to act as he did, lest his action was unintended and, therefore, morally irrelevant. Since a sinful action cannot come from an inclination to please God, then it must be true that Adam had a sinful inclination prior to his sinful action; his action was the sinful movement that was congruent with the sinful inclination. The sinful inclination, which was sin, was not chosen, nor could it have been! Every time we act sinfully our inclination toward a particular sinful action is sin in and of itself, yet such sinful inclinations are not chosen. We are responsible for every un-chosen sinful inclination, so why not Adam?

    Ron
     
  7. mybigGod

    mybigGod Puritan Board Freshman

    Tom, the point of the discussion is that Adam´s sinful action must have been in accordance with an overall inclination to act as he did, lest his action was unintended and, therefore, morally irrelevant. Since a sinful action cannot come from an inclination to please God, then it must be true that Adam had a sinful inclination prior to his sinful action; his action was the sinful movement that was congruent with the sinful inclination. The sinful inclination, which was sin, was not chosen, nor could it have been! Every time we act sinfully our inclination toward a particular sinful action is sin in and of itself, yet such sinful inclinations are not chosen. We are responsible for every un-chosen sinful inclination, so why not Adam?

    Ron
    Ron the point Edwards is making is that the reason we choose evil is not necessarily because of sinful inclinations but because we do not have the will to choose good. That is what is involved in choice. We have no right to blame sin for our bad choices. I can quote him on this one. So you pre fall theory lacks sense. Adam chose to sin because he lacked the will to choose obedience. We need to keep the majors major and the minors minor. Thats what Edwards does, look there are alot of reasons we choose one thing over another, but when it comes down to it we choose based apoun our lack of will the sin side.
     
  8. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Tom,

    I'm afraid you don't understand Edwards. Edwards thesis is that we choose according to our strongest inclination necessarily. Moroever, Edwards defines the will as the faculty of choice, or that by which the mind chooses. Accordingly, to say that one does not have the "will" to choose God, means that one does not have the inclination to choose God. However, a choice is made just the same, which is according to an inclination, is it not? When the choice is sinful, so must be the inclincation, otherwise the choice would not be morally relevenat for it would occur for no reason whatsoever.

    I agree and nothing I said contradicts this.

    *sigh* Did Adam choose to act without an inclination to act?!


    I think you need to internalize Edwards a bit more. He's most worthy of your time. If you care to respond, maybe you wouldn't object to putting your thoughts into a formal argument that takes a valid form.

    Blessings,

    Ron
     
  9. mybigGod

    mybigGod Puritan Board Freshman

    In this discussion you are saying that man must have a sin nature in order to have a pre disposition to choose to sin. Yet man has a free will pryer to the new birth. How can man be held responsible if in his inability if he forms a system that blames sin directly for his bad choices or his inability to choose spiritual good. This is not logical and is not what inability is all about. You are misrepresenting edwards postion. Man sins because he is responsible for the lack of will, and not because of Gods imputation of sin.
     
  10. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    This statement is a bit confused to me. A sin nature is the disposition to sin; the disposition does not proceed from the nature.

    Man never has libertarian freedom. I thought you were Edwardsian.

    The "sytem" one "forms" is subjective and not relevant. Do you know what you want to ask?

    Nobody is talking about imputation, so get that thought out of your mind. Man's fallen condition is a necessary condition for his sinful actions. The question we are supposed to be discussing is whether Adam's first sinful action of the mind choosing proceeded from a pure intention or an intention to sin. It must have been the latter since we act according to what our intentions contemplate, which is the basis for moral accountability. Yes, man is responsible for his lack of desire to please God, and this too his sin. When Adam was first void of this desire, he was not void of it without also having a fallen nature, for such a lack of desire to please God is indeed the consequence of a fallen nature.

    I feel like I'm picking sand with tweezers and you keep shoveling dirt.

    Ron
     
  11. mybigGod

    mybigGod Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks i am doing the best i can. So bear with my reasoning. I can sense we are on opposite sides of this issue. I Will spueeze this fruit until i get every las t drop, no punn intended. What you are saying is that grace was a power to effect the proper choice pryor to the choice to sin in the garden. When the grace was witheld then sin entered and man fell. So grace equals God is responsible because God chose to withhold grace and man lost the power to choose good.
    So now man is in bondage to sin and sins because he has a sin nature and he chooses to sin because of that desire he has in himself from the nature of sin. IT seems that you are saying man is responsible but you are in you r reasoning are blamin g God. God withheld His grace, man was unable to choose not to eat, he was not responsible for the lack of desire to choose good.
     
  12. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Tom,

    God is responsible for creation, preservation and redemption. Every bit of it! What needs to be nuanced is that responsibility is not a sufficient condition for culpability. God has a sufficient reason for the sin he ordains. Man is responsible for his intentions and his choices because they are his intentions and choices. There's no contradiction here; if you think there is one, then please show - with precision and brevity - how the law of non-contradiction is being violated.

    Blessings,

    Ron
     
  13. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Ron, et al.,
    I have pressing duties to which I must attend. I cannot respond as I would like. Just a few words are in order, and they are mostly unrelated to the substance of the discussion.

    1)
    It goes practically without saying that the internet is notoriously impersonal. Therefore, any disagreement is open to the widest possible interpretation. We react to no verbal cues or personal mannerisms the way we do in ordinary conversation, or even over the phone. Thus it is even more imperative that we focus on the words themselves, trying not to import any inconsiderate or inappropriate nuance to them.

    Note the above quote from me by Ron. In it I plainly state that what follows is my disernment or perception of Ron's position--a perception that is the product of the flow of the thread from beginning up to his post that I am interacting with. It should be manifest that my perception may be correct or erroneous. But at no point do I claim with any degree of authority: "Ron, this is your position," nor state a conclusion evidently based on gross ignorance--i.e. not even reading what he wrote. I don't think anyone could have read my posts and come to that conclusion.

    Background:
    Prior to Ron's entering the discussion, Saiph's stance was controverted by Dr. RSC. Ron "appeared to me" to come to the defense of Saiph's stance. Dr. RSC made mention of the outside entities referred to, and I have respect to his judgment. Therefore, I think it reasonable that someone coming to defend Saiph's stance has to contend with the charges against that stance from the previous 50 posts or so. This thread is admittedly a limited context. However it contains a few quotes from at least Augustin and Thomas relevant to the thread. And statements from "competent authority", such as a Professor of Church History at a premier seminary. If I have misapplied them to Ron's thought, then of course I owe him an apology. But being wrong is not a sin.

    Ron finds my perception (my blindness? my error?) amusing. Instead of correcting me, or showing how the quotes and comments already present in this thread-context do not, in fact, have any bearing on the present state of the discussion (but I did not speak in a vacuum), I am "advised" or "reminded" that false-witness is a serious offense. This statement is a hairs-breadth from a direct accusation of lying perjury. Am I in danger of making false-witness against the outside entities, or against Ron? Both? I appeal to the rest of the thread. If that information is bad, or misapplied, then I am in error, but I am not false-witnessing.

    And yet, at the end of the post I am asked:
    Technically, even if I had a strange desire, I could not "bear false witness" against a position, but only against a person. I can be in error about a position; I can falsely ascribe a position to another person. This, too, is an nearly-direct accusation of me being a false-witness against Ron.

    But in addition, Ron tells me one of his "perceptions"--it "seems to him" that I am inappropriately unleashing bottled-up anger upon him. Is he entitled to his opinion about my frame of mind or heart? Yes, although I would prefer that he kept that opinion to himself and dealt exclusively with the merits or demerits of my written statements. If what "seems" to him is wrong, ... then Prov. 10:18 is perhaps just as applicable to him as me?

    Titus 1:7 says an elder must be "not quickly angered," and 1 Tim. 3:2, "temperate [and] self-controlled." If Ron really were accusing me, and not merely stating what seems to him to be the case, it would be a serious accusation indeed--one where I might even merit the discipline of suspension from my office, as one found unfit according to the standards of the Word. This would be as serious a charge as the false-witness charge.

    Strong, disagreeing opinions are not necessarily angry opinons, or personal hostility. Again, the impersonal internet medium is uncondusive to attitudinal display. Hence the widespread use of the "emoticon" smileys, etc., to put them on display. Surely, some of Ron's comments could be (mis)read as angry retorts, or snide commentary. But it wouldn't be fair to read attitude into them. I think the same courtesy is in order, in the absence of name-calling, profanity, internet "shouting" (i.e. whole sentences and paragraphs in capitals), and what have you.

    Thankfully, its only your perception, Ron. I accept that, unpleasant as it is. I certainly bear some portion of the responsibility for other men's perception of me. If possible, as far as in me lies, I want to be at peace with everyone. So, Ron, I'll try not to give you that impression in the future. Thanks for your concern.


    Other points:
    2) I think Dabney's Systematic is most apropo and relevant to the larger discussion, specifically his lectures on Covenant of Works through the Fall. Some of the best material (In my humble opinion) is on or around pages 311-12, I believe. He also takes issue with Edwards at one point, but I am not sure whether that disagreement is germane to the exchanges above, and I cannot investigate further at this time.

    3) I again apologize where I have failed to grasp anyone's statements or arguments up to this point, or for being unclear myself concerning points of doctrine I hold dear. To this moment, I find myself aligned dogmatically to Dabney, so far as I understand him to be dogmatic. I fully admit to the unknown mystery to which he also admits. And I reserve myself from dogmatic committments to the same degree as Dabney himself where he offers his conjecture.


    Forgive me, I must (!) exit.
     
  14. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Pastor,

    Your most recent post might be the most innacurate of all.

    Ron
     
  15. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Look at it this way, if Adam and Eve refrained from eating simply because they were dieting, their hearts were nonetheless far from God since they lusted after what was forbidden. Jesus is not a legalist, nor is the Father. The fall was the spiritual adultery that occurred prior to acting upon the first sinful desire! It's really that simple.

    Ron
     
  16. mybigGod

    mybigGod Puritan Board Freshman

    Here is the truth, man had the ability to obey Gods command not to eat of the tree of the knowlege of good and evil in himself. He had a free choice. There are only two representatives in the human race. There is the first man adam and the second man Christ. If the first mans weaker desire was in some way related to the presences of grace then the second man would be culpable for the first mans sin. The point in the gospel logic is that the second man in Himself did what the first man in himself could not do. If you reason any other way then you cut out the profound elements in the individual doctrines of law and grace that Christ life and death brought into reality for His own. Just give me back my puritians.
     
  17. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Tom,

    Did Adam have contra-causal freedom, which is libertarian free will?

    Was Adam's action of eating according to his strongest inclination at the moment of choice?

    Did Adam choose his inclination to eat?

    If Adam intended to eat but was tackled, would his intention that he was not at liberty to act upon been sin?

    Blessings,

    Ron
     
  18. mybigGod

    mybigGod Puritan Board Freshman

    Actually, the strongest desire to do evil has many circumstancial designs in that desire, granted the desire is present because of the presence of sin but its strength is not only determined by inward workings but what comes from the outside. Its strength and its ability to flourish is not always processed rationally. I am speaking here of post fall.
    Now in the garden man had only the desire to do good, that is he had no competing desire ,inwardly. Yet his will was mutible so that it was susceptible to other powers to weaken its strength. The question here is if man had the ability within himself to resist any power to out weigh his desire to do good. Adam must have had that ability because he choose to disobey knowingly. The question is was it an intellectual knowlege or was it an intimate knowlege? It was the only choice made that had a desire to do good known intimately yet choose to disobey inspite of that knowlege. There were no irrational abilities pryer to the desire to sin.
    Was the desire to fall with the woman stronger than the desire to obey God? Im not so sure that this concept entered into his rational process pryer to the act. Scripture evidence?
     
  19. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    We cannot have rational intercourse if you continue not to answer any of my questions. I'm getting private messages and e-mails from lurkers from another board, etc., saying how clear I've been, so I'll take that as a cue to move on. If you don't understand by now, I can't help you for I've done all I can do.

    So long.

    Ron
     
  20. mybigGod

    mybigGod Puritan Board Freshman

    Look Ron, the point you have made over and over has been the desire preceeded the choice. I know that , but there are other circumstances that go into what makes a desire stronger or weaker. You just keep repeating yourself. I have acknowleged that desire preceeds choice. My point is there is much more in this whole pre fall "willing "than your montra.
     
  21. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Tom,

    Let´s review the bidding.

    The following two propositions are true: "If lack of desire to choose righteousness, then desire to choose to sin." And, "If desire to choose sin, then lack of desire to choose righteousness." The antecedent and consequent can be reversed because the propositions are tautological! To have a lack of desire for righteousness is to have a desire to sin. One doesn´t logically precede the other for they mean the same thing! Consequently, the following statement of yours must be false: "œthe reason we choose evil is not necessarily because of sinful inclinations but because we do not have the will to choose good." Tell me, Tom, can you imagine a lack of inclination to choose righteousness that would not be accompanied by an inclination to sin? Can you imagine the reverse being true, that an inclination to sin not be accompanied by lack of inclination to choose righteousness? No such states of affairs exist because a lack of desire for righteousness and a desire to sin are necessary conditions for each other respectively because they mean the same thing!

    What is being argued is that Adam´s first sin was not an action toward the fruit, for if it was then he could have been prevented from sinning had Eve tackled him! Tom, his inclination was for the fruit, which was sin! Moreover, if Adam´s first sin was an action of the mind choosing and not his fallen desire, then the action would have proceeded from a heart that was still inclined toward righteousness, which would mean that Adam intended not to act sinfully but did so anyway according to chaotic causes contrary to his intention.

    That´s quite a remarkable comment given your inability to deal with the thesis that is before you.

    See above

    How long would you like me to wait for you to catch up with the discussion?

    The bus is pulling a way from the curb, Tom.

    The bus is heading down the street, Tom.

    If Adam still had the ability to act in righteousness at the logical moment he acted, then his inclination must still have been toward righteousness and not toward sin. However, Adam acted in unrighteousness, which presupposes that his inclination was already toward unrighteousness, lest he had contra-causal freedom - which you say he did not have!

    The bus is out of sight, over the horizon... :cool:


    Ron
     
  22. mybigGod

    mybigGod Puritan Board Freshman

    Moral Inability consists not in any of these things; but either in the want of inclination; or the strength of a contrary inclination; or the want of sufficient motives in view, to induce and excite the act of the Will, or the strength of apparent motives to the contrary. Or both these may be resolved into one; and it may be said in one word, that moral Inability consists in the opposition or want of inclination. For when a person is unable to will or choose such a thing, through a defect of motives, or prevalence of contrary motives, it is the same thing as his being unable through the want of an inclination, or the prevalence of a contrary inclination, in such circumstances, and under the influence of such views. J Edwards

    Ron you are mis -stating my case. I dont have the time rite now will get back latter. You are confusing my post fall with my pre fall.

    [Edited on 3-7-2006 by mybigGod]
     
  23. Ron

    Ron Puritan Board Freshman

    Tom,

    I might not be interacting with what you mean but I am certainly interacting with what you are saying.

    Ron
     
  24. mybigGod

    mybigGod Puritan Board Freshman

    Here it may be noted, that there is a circumstantial difference between the moral Agency of a ruler and a subject. I call it circumstantial, because it lies only in the difference of moral inducements, by which they are capable of being influenced, arising from the difference of circumstance. A ruler, acting in that capacity only, is not capable of being influenced by a moral law, and its sanctions of threatenings and promises, rewards and punishments, as the subject is; though both may be influenced by a knowledge of moral good and evil. And therefore the moral Agency of the Supreme Being, who acts only in the capacity of a ruler towards his creatures, and never as a adjunct, differs in that respect from the moral Agency of created intelligent beings. God's actions, and particularly those which he exerts as a moral governor, have moral qualifications, and are morally good in the highest degree. They are most perfectly holy and righteous; and we must conceive of Him as influenced, in the highest degree, by that which, above all others, is properly a moral inducement; viz. the moral good which He sees in such and such things: and therefore He is, in the most proper sense, a moral Agent, the source of all moral ability and Agency, the fountain and rule of all virtue and moral good; though by reason of his being supreme over all, it is not possible He should be under the influence of law or command, promises or threatenings, rewards or punishments, counsels or warnings. The essential qualities of a moral Agent are in God, in the greatest possible perfection; such as understanding to perceive the difference between moral good and evil; a capacity of discerning that moral worthiness and demerit, by which some things are praiseworthy, others deserving of blame and punishment; and also a capacity of choice, and choice guided by understanding, and a power of acting according to his choice or pleasure, and being capable of doing those things which are in the highest sense praiseworthy. And herein does very much consist that image of God wherein he made man, (which we read of, Gen. 1:26, 27, and chap. 9:6.) by which God distinguished man from the beasts, viz. in those faculties and principles of nature, whereby He is capable of moral Agency. Herein very much consists the natural image of God; whereas the spiritual and moral image, wherein man was made at first, consisted in that moral excellency with which he was endowed. J Edwards ,Freedom of the Will
     
  25. mybigGod

    mybigGod Puritan Board Freshman

    II. This notion of Adam being created without a principle of holiness in his heart, taken with the rest of Dr. T."˜s scheme, is inconsistent with what the history in the beginning of Genesis leads us to suppose of the great favours and smiles of Heaven, which Adam enjoyed while he remained in innocency. The Mosaic account suggests to us, that till Adam sinned, he was in happy circumstances, surrounded with testimonies and fruits of God´s favour. This is implicitly owned by Dr. T. when he says, (p. 252.) "œThat in the dispensation our first parents were under before the fall, they were placed in a condition proper to engage their gratitude, love, and obedience." But it will follow, on our author´s principles, that Adam, while in innocency, was placed in far worse circumstances, than he was in after his disobedience, and infinitely worse than his posterity are in; under unspeakably greater disadvantages for avoiding sin, and the performance of duty. For by this doctrine, Adam´s posterity come into the world with their hearts as free from any propensity to sin as he, and he was made as destitute of any propensity to righteousness as they: and yet God, in favour to them, does great things to restrain them from sin, and excite them to virtue, which he never did for Adam in innocency, but laid him, in the highest degree, under contrary disadvantages. God, as an instance of his great favour, and fatherly love to man, since the fall, has denied him the ease and pleasures of paradise, which gratified and allured his senses, and bodily appetites; that he might diminish his temptations to sin. And as a still greater means to restrain from sin, and promote virtue, has subjected him to labour, toil, and sorrow in the world: and not only so, but as a means to promote his spiritual and eternal good far beyond this, has doomed him to death. When all this was found insufficient, he, in further prosecution of the designs of his love, shortened men´s lives exceedingly, made them twelve or thirteen times shorter than in the first ages. And yet this, with all the innumerable calamities which God, in great favour to mankind, has brought on the world"”whereby their temptations are so vastly cut short, and the inducements to virtue heaped one upon another to so great a degree"”have proved insufficient, now for so many thousand years together, to restrain from wickedness in any considerable degree; while innocent human nature, all along, comes into the world with the same purity and harmless dispositions that our first parents had in paradise. What vast disadvantages indeed then must Adam and Eve be in, who had no more in their nature to keep them from sin, or incline them to virtue, than their posterity, and yet were without all those additional and extraordinary means! They were not only without such exceeding great means as we now have, when our lives are made so very short, but had vastly less advantages than their antediluvian posterity, who to prevent their being wicked, and to make them good, had so much labour and toil, sweat and sorrow, briers and thorns, with a body gradually decaying and returning to the dust. Our first parents had the extreme disadvantage of being placed amongst many and exceeding great temptations"”not only without toil or sorrow, pain or disease, to humble and mortify them, and a sentence of death to wean them from the world, but"”in the midst of the most exquisite and alluring sensitive delights; the reverse in every respect, and the highest degree, of that most gracious state of requisite means, and great advantages, which mankind now enjoy! If mankind now, under these vast restraints, and great advantages, are not restrained from general, and as it were universal wickedness, how could it be expected that Adam and Eve, created with no better hearts than men bring into the world now, and destitute of all these advantages, and in the midst of all contrary disadvantages, should escape it?J Edwards vol.1 pg 179
     
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