“But I have to tell you man, if that is all Calvinism means by the word “ordain” then I don’t have a problem with the Westminster Confession when it says that God did “ordain whatsoever comes to pass.” There’d only be a small annoyance that the men who wrote this worded it poorly and could have eliminated a lot of confusion if they just wrote “whatsoever comes to pass is in God’s plan.””
Well, I think that you have again misunderstood what I said. The decree is a simple plan. However, God is the one who writes all of history including the actions of men in it. It is *not* that God looks ahead of time, sees what man does, and fits his plan around what He foresees man will do. My only point in writing this definition was to dispel the straw-man of Calvinism that God winds-up all humans like a toy at the beginning of creation, and they simply move and do what He wants them to do.
In other words, I do not deny that God actually wanted (in the decretive sense) all the actions of men in history to come to pass since He planned them.
“I looked up ordain in the Webster Dictionary, and it defined it as “to establish or order by decree or law.””
That is a dictionary of the modern English which has nothing to do with *Theological terms*, especially ones that originated during the times of the 17th century Protestant scholastics. You might want to purchase and use a Dictionary of Theology or a Calvinistic Systematic Theology instead.
That you are using secular definitions of terms instead of theological definitions is a constant problem throughout your response.
“In one sense I absolutely agree with you, in the other sense I start to worry about other Scripture that says how things happen against God’s will (even if he’s philosophically the “first cause” of everything. So I won’t argue or agree with your interpretation of these Scriptures until I understand this better.”
Yes, when I used the term, ‘ultimate cause,’ I meant it in the sense that God *wanted* it to happen (again, in a decretive sense but not in a prescriptive sense). God set in action a chain of events that He knew would result in whatever would happen, *and* He *wanted* it to happen (again, in a decretive sense but not necessarily in a prescriptive sense). When it says that “God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled,” (Revelation 17:17) God specifically *wanted* the kings to give their power over to the beast (which would no doubt include idolatrous worship).
This does not mean, however, that God wanted them to worship the beast in the prescriptive sense since God specifically forbids false worship. Rather, the way that this event would probably happen would be like that described in Job 1 or 2 Chronicles 18:18-22. God would bring Satan before Him and specifically permit Satan to “entice” and influence the minds of those kings and tell Satan to “prevail” in doing so (2 Chronicles 18:18-22). God *wanted* Satan to “prevail” in the decretive sense so that God’s purpose might come about.
When God *wants* (decretively) a certain evil event to happen, He willingly permits an evil spirit or man to do evil in order to bring about His purpose. God is never the one who entices to sin (James 1:13). He always *permits* it to happen. However, He never gives demons open reign everywhere and in all cases. God specifically sets the parameters of what He will allow the demon to do, sets the goal, and allows no more. God *wants* the evil event to happen so that it will fulfill His righteous purposes.
I know that I’m being a bit repetitive, but I don’t know how else to show you the distinction between God’s prescriptive (i.e. law) will and His decretive (i.e. providential) will. In essence, what I am saying is that defining the term, “God’s will” or “God wants this to happen,” in the sense that God prescribes a law for mankind is far too narrow for how the Biblical text uses it.
“Do you see the problem here? If the “free choice” is caused by something, then it wouldn’t be a “free choice” in the first place.”
But that is the very issue under dispute, and it won’t be solved by a simple appeal to your intuitions. This has been debated back and forth by philosophers of metaphysics for many years now.
“A moral agent’s free will doesn’t cause choices, instead free will is the power through which the moral agent makes his choices. The fact that God gave him this “power” does not mean (a) that he is suddenly omnipotent, or (b) that God caused the free choice.”
But self-causality simply assumes one’s own self-existence, i.e. aseity. If God creates and sustains their very ontic existence, from where does their power come from to bring into being their self-generated choice? I don’t know how else to explain it to you. Sorry.
You go on to quote Geisler, but compatibilists of all stripes have pointed out that that is far too simplistic and creates all sorts of problems. Philosophy isn’t my best field, and so, I can only recommend some works:
J.M. Fischer’s The Metaphysics of Free Will
J.M. Fischer’s My Way: Essays on Moral Responsibility
John Frame’s No Other God
John Frame’s The Doctrine of God (pp.138-145)
Persiflage wrote (concerning 1 Samuel 2:25):
“Why did God desire to put them to death? Because they were already wicked in the first place - wicked enough for God to want to put them to death sooner than later (as opposed to the entire human population). And there is no reason for us to conclude that God preordained for them to reject him in the first place.”
Again, you’re missing the force of the passage. The passage states:
“But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death.” (1 Samuel 2:25)
They chose to disobey BECAUSE *GOD WANTED* them to. Again, this is not in the prescriptive sense as if God told them to do so or God Himself controlled their minds, but nevertheless, the text names God as the *cause* of their disobedience.
He was the ultimate cause, not in the sense that He simply set in motion a chain of events that “just happened” to result in their choice, but rather, it was a *calculated* move on His part. They chose exactly what He wanted them to chose, not because they just so happened to chose it, but because He knew that the events that He set in motion would be the *effective cause* of their choice.