Monday, October 24, 2016

Logic Test

Something like this logical argument (a term for the form of the argument, not a value judgment) has been used to prove that those evil Calvinists are clearly wrong. I think it proves something else. Here are the logic statements.
1. God truly loves all persons.
2. To truly love someone is to desire their best.
3. The best for all persons is to be found in a right relationship with God, a saving relationship in which we love and obey Him.
4. Therefore, all persons will be saved.
Now, the anti-Calvinist argues that God can save everyone by giving everyone "irresistible grace". Since He doesn't, the Calvinists are wrong. I have to say that "proving" that Calvinists are wrong here doesn't help the rest. There is a necessary breakdown someplace. We know that #4 doesn't happen, so what went wrong? Does God not "truly love" all persons? Or perhaps His hands are tied and He is incapable of saving everyone? In short, does He lack the desire or the ability to accomplish what this logical sequence suggests must be accomplished?

Luckily for me it is not my assignment to straighten everyone out on this, so you're on your own here. But be careful about going places like "God is incapable" or "God doesn't love" with impunity. You'd better have good, logically consistent, biblically consistent reasons for one of those. I'm not offering answers here. I'm just asking you -- you the Calvinist or you the non-Calvinist (obviously excepting the Universalist) -- to see that you (yes, all of you) have a dilemma to resolve here. There are answers, and we are commanded to "be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in you." (1 Peter 3:15)

Update:
It is clear to me from comments and responses that this post was largely baffling. More than one thought it was a "Calvinist versus everyone else" argument. Some thought I was trying to prove Universalism. One said that this argument appears sound and nearly does prove Universalism. (How "nearly" works into this I can't tell.) It appears to be poorly considered on my part to engage my readers with a question of logic when it contains in it a component commonly producing much emotion. My mistake. Most people cannot both think and feel at the same time, and if feelings are first engaged, thinking is typically subverted.

The argument does not prove that Calvinists are wrong. If allowed to stand, it proves that Christianity is wrong. That is, Christ, with all His references to eternal flames and torment, was mistaken. Sinfully mistaken. The argument does not favor Arminians. They, like Calvinists believe that not all are saved, as does anyone else who is a Christian of any biblical nature. It doesn't even favor "Leftist Christians" who like to be more generous with their "salvation" because if the argument stands and all are not saved, God fails for them, too.

A few of you engaged the argument itself, and I appreciate that. The argument, as it turns out, is not sound. Its premises are vague and, in the end, faulty. Therefore, its conclusion is false. There, now we can all go home and forget about those nasty Calvinists ... or Arminians ... or whatever stripe you care to dislike. As for me, I've learned a valuable lesson.

32 comments:

Neil said...

Yep. Those who hold to that logic have a God who created people with a will that trumps God's will (uh, but if He made them that way . . .) or He won't intervene to try and save them.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I've never heard an "anti-Calvinist" use this ridiculous argument. This is what a universalist would argue, and that would be against Calvinists and non-Calvinists.

Stan said...

No, Glenn, you're right. No "Calvinist" or "anti-Calvinist" (I only use that term to refer to those who are disagreeing with "Calvinist" but protest being referred to as "Arminian".) would use this argument. The point of the exercise is that both disagree with the conclusion, so both have to figure out what's wrong with it.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

So you lump me as an "anti-Calvinist" rather than a "Non-Calivinist" (as I term myself). I do not refer to myself as an Arminian because I am not Arminian. That's a big trouble with Calvinists -- if you aren't a Calvinist, then you automatically become an Arminian.

David said...

I've not heard of a fourth option in regards to election. Calvinist, Arminian, or Open are the only groups I've heard of.

Stan said...

There are those who are adamant that they are neither Calvinist or Arminian. I suspect it is a reaction to something other than the questions at hand or ignorance that there are questions at hand. (The classification of "Calvinist" or "Arminian" is purely in regards to the five questions raised by Arminius's followers.) But I'm not much concerned about "Are you a Calvinist or Arminian?" in this post. I'm asking everyone to consider the problem, because everyone but the Universalists have to answer it.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

David,

That's because that is how Calvinist classify everyone. If you disagree with TULIP, then you are, to Calvinists, de facto Arminian. I don't follow any man but Jesus, and my theology is straight from Scripture. THAT is an option, whether you want to acknowledge it or not.

Stan said...

Glenn, I'd just like to point out that neither "Calvinist" nor "Arminian" follow Calvin or Arminius. The point is not the names but the doctrines behind them. And "my theology is straight from Scripture" is precisely what I claim.

Sadly, having jumped through all these hoops, you've been tripped up by terms intended to avoid just this problem -- "Calvinist" and "anti-Calvinist -- and managed to completely ignore the question at hand. Too bad. I thought maybe you might be able to shed some light on it. Unfortunately it looks like your distaste for "Calvinist" (the term) has prevented you from examining the question. My loss.

Craig said...

It seems like one thing your series of statements fails to account for is that if true it posits a God who doesn't allow any choice. It also doesn't seem to account for the role that sin/rebellion plays. It also seems to ignore that things are arranged for God's glory and purpose rather than for our best.

Stan said...

There's a problem there, isn't there? Perhaps there are competing "best for all persons" here.

It is certainly oriented solely to "good for me" without regard for God.

Craig said...

It reminds me of some of what I've heard from various prosperity preachers, if you don't pay too much attention it sounds pretty good, but once you really look at it you start to see problems.

Bob said...

1. God truly loves all persons.
2. To truly love someone is to desire their best.
3. The best for all persons is to be found in a right relationship with God, a saving relationship in which we love and obey Him.
Conclusion: Therefore, all persons will be saved.

This list is plainly in the induction logic form. that means that the conclusion is an inference to the best possible solution against all rivals. however that being stated, we know that all persons are not saved. therefore that conclusion is invalid. when such a condition occurs, we must look at the supporting statements to find the error.
The first suspect must be 1. since 2. and 3. follow from number 1.
start by asking the question: Does God really love all Persons to the degree that statements 2. and 3. follow?
The first question more specifically should be : In what way does God love all persons?
we find the answer in John 3: 16 FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD "IN THIS WAY", THAT WHO SO EVER BELIEVES.... WILL BE SAVED. so in light of this new information, we have defined a more exclusive type of love, for those that believe.
now we can make a clearer statement by substituting "believer" for "someone" or "persons".
then the conclusion would be justified because it is the summation of all supporting statements.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I pointed out in my first comment that the argument you note in your article is what a universalist would argue. My comment was also to correct your statement that it was an argument an "anti-calvinist" would make, but most "anti-Calvinists" are not universalists. Ergo, my first comment was specifically addressing your article. I could have gone a wee bit farther by noting that the supposed logical progression includes a false premise, which leads to a false conclusion.

My other comment was addressing your statement that anyone not a Calvinist is an Arminian, and noting that this claim is a fallacy.

You are correct -- Calvinists don't necessarily follow Calvin, they follow Augustine, who is the originator of that particular doctrine. But as for my understanding of Arminius, the doctrine behind his teachings are a mixture of Augustine and the original doctrines of the N.T., the latter being what separated him from the Calvinists.

I had no intention of turning this comment string into a "Calvinist" vs "non-Calvinist" discussion. I only wanted to correct the original claim about those would make the argument you showed in your article.

Stan said...

Glenn, just to be clear, I have held from the beginning of writing this post all the way through that "Arminian" is not in view here ... at all. You oppose "Calvinists" which, by definition, makes you "anti-Calvinist" without suggesting "Arminian". I tried to take that into account in the post and I tried to make that clear in the comments. To all readers, Glenn is not "Calvinist" and not "Arminian". I make no claim that "not Calvinist is Arminian." Others may; I do not.

I made no claim that this is an argument that either a "Calvinist" or "non-Calvinist" would make. It is an argument I've read in multiple places and I asked everyone to figure out what's wrong with it because only the Universalist agrees with it.

I missed the place where you pointed out a false premise (which is the kind of thing I was looking for) and can't find it in the string of comments. Could you repeat that, please? Which premise is the false one? (I hope you're referring to the argument in question, not "Calvinist" or not.)

One last thing. I accept at face value that you are not "Calvinist" and not "Arminian" and that you take your position from Scripture. You, on the other hand, assume that I cannot take my position from Scripture and am, apparently, lying when I say I do. I would appreciate it if you would avoid that kind of misrepresentation. I try not to malign you; I'd think you might return the favor.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Stan,
Apparently I misread the article at one point: when you mentioned "anti-calvinists" I took that to mean they were those who also used this logic fallacy, which is why my first comment was that I've never heard anti-calvinists use this argument. Other than that, my first comment just said that only universalists would use this argument.

It was your response to me that labeled me "anti-Calvinist" because I refuse to be called an Arminian, which was what my further comment addressed - the lumping of all non-calvinists as Arminian. And I was responding to David when I said I got my theology straight from Scripture.

I didn't previously note the logic fallacy; I stated in my last comment that I could have done so, so you didn't miss it.

I never said you didn't get your theology from Scripture, never said you were lying. I do believe that hose who teach/accept what Calvin, via Augustine, taught (TULIP) just follow their misrepresentation of what Scripture says. And you can say I have a misrepresentation of what Scripture says. That's all well and good, but it isn't claiming each other is lying.

I was just pointing out how unfair it is to always be labeled Arminian just because I disagree with Calvinism, and this got the string sidetracked.

Actually, the argument's premises aren't the problem, rather the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises.

Stan said...

"Actually, the argument's premises aren't the problem, rather the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises."

Yeah, yeah! That's what I was looking for. How?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The conclusion doesn't follow because especially with premise #3, just because it is what is best, that doesn't mean it is what people will choose. No one can be saved outside a right relationship with God,

Stan said...

Oh, by the way, I just realized that the original source of that logic structure was a skeptic, not anything Christian ("Calvinist" or anything else). That's why I'm asking Christians (of all stripes) for an analysis.

As to your analysis, would you say that Premise #3 is faulty, then? Premise 3 says, "The best for all persons is to be found in a right relationship with God, a saving relationship in which we love and obey Him." It appears that you would amend that to "The best for all persons is to choose to be in a right relationship with God." In this case, God has no say in it, depending instead on each individual to make his or her choice. Is that an accurate assessment of your assessment?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

God in His sovereignty allows people to choose to either accept Him or reject Him, just as He allows us to choose everything else we do in life. You may believe differently, but THAT is what I see the Bible teaching.

Stan said...

I'm sorry, Glenn. I see there are things we can't talk about. This is one. I simply sought to properly understand what you were saying, but in issues like these I suppose you'll just see it as a dispute, so we can just let it go. Thanks.

David said...

I'm sorry, but isn't that the Arminian view of election? God chooses those that choose Him?

Craig said...

The fact that the construct comes from a skeptic helps explain why the logical progression is flawed. This is someone's made up version of what they think Christians believe as opposed to something from an actual Christian.

Now we all know that so called Christians come up with all sorts of wacky stuff, but this reads like someone who doesn't really understand Christianity setting up a straw man.



Stan said...

I'm sorry, David, I'm trying to avoid an "Arminian vs Calvinist" debate here.

Stan said...

Yes, this is "proof" of no God. Or no logical thinking. Not sure which. The problem is that too many good Christians might be baffled by it.

Craig said...

That makes a little more sense.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

David,

Arminius may have taught that, but that is also what I see the Bible teaches. So let's not get into the Calvinist/non-Calvinist discussion. Whether Arminius taught some of what I learned from personal study is irrelevant - I do not follow Arminius' teaching, nor do many non-Calvinists.

David said...

Sorry, was asking for clarification, not debate.

Unfortunately, logic seems to be the last thing on people's minds when discussing religion, as if faith and reason are enemies.

David said...

But saying that "I believe in Scripture" doesn't actually tell me anything. I don't believe in the teachings of John Calvin, but what he taught aligns with what I see in Scripture, so I call myself a Calvinist, not because of the teacher, but the alignment I see with Scripture. What i believe comes from Scripture. I understand the concern of falling into the I am of Paul/I am of Cephas trap, but as long as we understand it to be a short hand for my theology, there's no reason to get our hackles up over a clarifying term. And saying I believe in Scripture is not helpful in telling me what you believe and is insulting to me by inferring that I don't. Groupings have their dangers, and clarification is sometimes necessary, but in terms of specific theologies, in a text based communication, they facilitate conversation.

Stan said...

You really feel the need to make this non-Calvinist/non-Arminian post into a Calvinist-Arminian debate, don't you, David? I really wasn't hoping for an "us vs them", but a "let's all work together on this faulty line of thinking" thing. Not gonna happen; no way, no how, I guess.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

David,

While Arminius may have had similar teachings to my beliefs, they are not the same, ergo I refuse to be called by, or associated with his name. And yet it is a rare Calvinist who allows that, and assigns to me the name "Arminian."

Now, drop the discussion in this topic.

David said...

I'm not wanting to debate about which side is right. Its the hated use of the titles that concerns me. And its the implication that agreeing with a certain teacher some how is not as good as agreeing with Scripture, that using a short-hand term to express a theological view is some how wrong and offensive, when I feel that being told that agreeing with a person that holds the same view, and using it to concisely explain my position is some how less than the ambiguous "I believe in Scripture". Obviously, most of the people reading and commenting on your site find their theology in Scripture, not the teachings of long dead theologians. The dismissal of such terms as Calvinist or Arminian as short-hand insults my intelligence. Do you really think that I believe that you believe in the teachings of Calvin, or Glenn in the teachings of Arminius? No, I believe you all found your beliefs from Scripture, and found like minded individuals that are more widely known to express your position in an easily understandable way. "I'm a Calvinist" gives far more information about what you believe than "I believe in Scripture".

I've skipped over the main point of your post, and I apologize. What started as a simple, clarifying question some how blew up to an "us vs them" discussion. Not want I wanted. But the implied slight kept gnawing at me.

As for the logical statement: 1-God doesn't love all persons (I assume that comes from the flawed understanding of "God is love" and of love itself). With a flawed primary premise, the conclusion can only come out wrong. The middle steps are fine, but the conclusion based on the false statement necessarily leads to a false conclusion.

Stan said...

I know. "My beliefs come from Scripture but yours don't" doesn't set well with me, either, but sometimes I just have to let it go. Most Bible-believing Christians derive their beliefs from Scripture, and the divide is not "Bible or not" but "is that what it means or not?" Unfortunately there are just some topics that "cannot be discussed in polite company". They set off emotional responses without a careful mental check.