By grace, through faith

A common thorn in the side of most Calvinists is Ephesians 2:8 which reads

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

To keep with the reformed doctrine of irresistible grace (ie. men being robots) they prefer to make the case that faith is included in the gift given from God.

The problem with your interpretation is that if faith is included in what is gifted to us then it makes the through (διὰ) superfluous and unnecessary given the context.

Rather, πίστεως (faith) is the conduit διὰ (through) which χάριτί (grace) is actualized.

Word for word it is: τῇ The γὰρ for/reason χάριτί grace ἐστέ you σεσῳσμένοι are saved διὰ through πίστεως faith καὶ and τοῦτο this οὐκ not ἐξ out of ὑμῶν of yours θεοῦ God τὸ the δῶρον gift/sacrifice/offering.

Further, Robertson’s Word Pictures puts it this way:

Neuter, not feminine ταυτη, and so refers not to πιστις (feminine) or to χαρις (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part. Paul shows that salvation does not have its source (εξ υμων, out of you) in men, but from God. Besides, it is God’s gift (δωρον) and not the result of our work. (emphasis mine)

For more context, this verse is almost the same as verse 5 before it but with the addition of “through faith”. Verse 5 reads:

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

If faith is part of the gift and is indeed necessary for salvation, why was it omitted in verse 5?

It seems that only by making the illogical leap to thinking of faith as a work12 can a person sustain the notion that faith along with grace is not of ourselves.

  1. Which should be rejected anyway since such a view of faith as a work would make verse 9 incoherent. []
  2. Galatians 3:6 among other verses point to the fact that faith is not a work under the law. []
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20 responses to “By grace, through faith

  1. How does the demonstrative pronoun not have a grammatical antecedent? The participle for "you have been saved" is masculine, not neuter. It seems to leave no grammatical antecedent for "τοῦτο". "This" has to refer to something grammatically. I don't doubt Robertson's ability in Greek, but I'd like to see how it works.

    Robertson's grammatical analysis is far from undisputed. I would dispute it if I had more fluency in Greek, but I indeed question it. The glaring problem of not actually offering a antecedent or even a postcedent that can grammatically fit with the demonstrative pronoun causes me to seek for further explanation. Until I can find it I am forced to stick with my current analysis, which is not without precedent.

    A Westmisnter California NT scholar offers this analysis: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/archives/97-03/0394

    To understand the pronoun, more properly rendered "this", as referring to the entire preceding clause is not an uncommon understanding of the use of pronouns. It is usage common even in the English language. (e. g. "I fell asleep while driving down the highway, drove off the road and plummeted down a wooded hill; that was quite a wild ride.") I presume that one of the reasons that so many translators render the pronoun as "that" rather than "this" is due to the English idiom where the pronoun "that" is understood to refer to an entire preceding clause, more so than "this".

    I also wonder why you call it a "thorn in the side" of Calvinists, but I certainly appreciate your modifier "most".

    I don't quite understand what you are saying here:
    "It seems that only by making the illogical leap to thinking of faith as a work can a person sustain the notion that faith along with grace is not of ourselves."

  2. An analysis that finds our faith is a gift from God seems quite far from impossible. It's certainly a possible interpretation and isn't in any danger of harming the rest of NT teaching on faith anyhow.

    "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…" Hebrews 12:2
    author=ἀρχηγὸς

    "Little Liddell" entry for ἀρχηγὸς:

    …Beginning, originating II. as Subst. like ἀρχηγέτης, a leader, founder, Lat. auctor; a first father. 2. a prince, cheif

    for ἀρχηγέτης:
    …a leader: the founder of a city or family. II. a first leader, prince, cheif.

    Cassell's Latin Dictionary entry for Auctor:
    auctor -oris, m. (augeo), one that give increase. So (I) an originator, causer, doer. …. Etc.

    "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake…" Philippians 1:29

    "But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” "

    John 6:64, 65

    As well it is our responsibility:

    "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"
    Acts 16:13
    " [God] now commandeth all men every where to repent:"
    Acts 17:30

    and we are guilty of sin if we don't:

    "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
    Revelation 21:8

    I like the comic BTW.

  3. Oh, and thanks for the free advertisement!

  4. The idea of irresistable grace isn't well reflected in an picture of men being robots.

    The 1689 LBC (a document representing a generic reformed view of irresistible grace) represents the situation thus: "they come most freely, being made willing by his grace." In this statement, the writers were careful to remember that man is made in God's image, and as such is a personal being. Thus, though God's work be perfect and effectual, the man's actions and will are not absent, but instrumental. The confession later states that concerning the efectual the creature is "wholly passive therein", but not in the sense that he does not truly act, for later in the sentence comes this, "being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead." Then the creature's actions and will (personality) are essential to this event though they do not begin it.

    Man, being created in God's image, is analogous to God. Thus his actions, though true actions, are not ultimately determinative, but are derivatively important. Man's actions are analogous (i. e. imaging God in his acting) rather than original, it is only in this way that his actions can be truly significant. The doctrine of God's ultimate sovereignty isn't one of God's immediate control over every action of men, but one in which He does exercise His authority by use of means and intermediary causes, also where by him all things consist. (Col. 1:17) In Him we live and move and have our being. To try to collapse all of these actions and events into one cause (and an impersonal one at that) is not a faithful representation of the generic reformed position for it removes the personal nature of God and the derivatively personal nature of man from the picture.

  5. Whoah, I appear to have hit a nerve there.

    True, RWP's grammatical analysis may be disputed, as are almost all of the analysis done by Calvinists (many times by other Calvinists). That is why I believe the strongest argument lies not with one's ability to parse nouns and verbs (not that that isn't useful) but in one's ability to bring to bear contextual Biblical evidence to strengthen their case. In this instance we have Paul repeating himself and his main ideas, as he is prone to do, and in a few verses prior to verse 8 we read the exact same sentiment sans the "through faith" bit.

    As for faith being a gift. I'll address that in a future post. Suffice to say here, however, that faith can only be a gift in the Calvinistic sense if we do great violence to the words used.

    In that case, what you are calling faith is not, by definition, faith.

    • The nerve you struck was the one that wants further explanation of your argument.

      Of course the strongest argument always lies in the understanding provided by the context, but that doesn't mean, as you affirm, that proper analysis of grammar is a weak or un-needful tool. Especially when the context doesn't rule out a number of different analyses. The grammatical analysis ought to make sense, and so far, I need some help understanding how A. T. Robertson gets where he got.

      I also can't see how a repetition of "by grace you are saved" is detrimental to an understanding that the grammar of 2:8 can be understood as "τοῦτο" referring to the whole preceding clause.

      Interestingly our friend Wesley didn't have a problem with my grammatical analysis:

      "By grace ye are saved through faith – Grace, without any respect to human worthiness, confers the glorious gift. Faith, with an empty hand, and without any pretence to personal desert, receives the heavenly blessing. And this is not of yourselves – This refers to the whole preceding clause, That ye are saved through faith, is the gift of God." (from Wesley's Explanatory Notes)

      Concerning 2:5 Wesley seems to think that the repetition of "for by grace are ye saved" in 2:8 has more to do with man's prideful unwillingness to receive grace than displaying the ultimate source of faith:

      "By grace ye are saved – Grace is both the beginning and end. The apostle speaks indifferently either in the first or second person; the Jews and gentiles being in the same circumstance, both by nature and by grace. This text lays the axe to the very root of spiritual pride, and all glorying in ourselves.Therefore St. Paul, foreseeing the backwardness of mankind to receive it, yet knowing the absolute necessity of its being received, again asserts the very same truth, Ephesians 2:8 , in the very same words."

      Clarke seems to take the same grammatical analysis as Robertson, but it still leaves me with the question, why search outside of the text for an antecedent? The salvation that they say it refers to is already represented by name in the text in the word "σεσῳσμένοι", the masculine substantive participle. Why should we then search outside of the text to supply a different word for it?

      The notion of faith supplied by such an understanding as I currently hold (concerning the grammatical analysis of "τοῦτο" in 2:8) doesn't make any claim that faith doesn't come from us in the sense that it is us who have it. It is to say that it doesn't originate in our own hearts, but has an author in the grace of God. Of necessity we do act in believing, being created in God's image, but our actions are derivative of the God in whose image we are made.

      As to the context, there isn't much commentary offered by this passage on our acting in exercise of faith proper. The main thrust of Paul's argument here is a magnification of God's Grace in our salvation and life in Christ. As such nearly all action throughout the chapter is ascribed to Christ, and passivity to us. Except in the first five verses where we are said to have " walked according to the course of this world", "had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath", to be "dead in trespasses and sins".

      Due to the nature of this passage not much can be done after a polemical fashion on the part of your camp, but to make this passage a weaker support of the doctrine of faith's ultimate origin. You can't make a positive case and haven't made a rock solid negative case. All I really want is further explanation, for your post is really brief and doesn't touch on much of the necessary parts of solving the problem, but provides a few questions that need answering.

  6. Now I am confused. You are affirming that my grammatical analysis is correct, but that is what your blog post set out to contest was the grammar. As you wrote:

    "The problem with your interpretation is that if faith is included in what is gifted to us then it makes the through (διὰ) superfluous and unnecessary given the context."

    You then offer a differing grammatical analysis from A. T. Robertson's Word Pictures.

    You further offer as reason to think that a grammatical analysis understanding the entire preceding clause as the antecedent, and thus including the idea of faith in the gift of God, is untenable due to verse five's first containing the phrase "by grace are you saved", asking:

    "If faith is part of the gift and is indeed necessary for salvation, why was it omitted in verse 5?"

    When what I offered in the original blog post didn't go beyond grammatical analysis, why begin to insert into the discussion other matters such as the nature of faith? I didn't offer any explanation of the definition of faith, but rather assumed that most Christians already know what it is.

    Once again your caricature of Calvinism is a bit off, and even if it isn't you are talking to someone who doesn't believe the things you say they do anyhow. As you describe irresistible grace, the doctrine you have ignored to create your reductio could fill volumes on the doctrine of nature of man and the nature of God.

    As I have already said:

    "The notion of faith supplied by such an understanding as I currently hold (concerning the grammatical analysis of "τοῦτο" in 2:8) doesn't make any claim that faith doesn't come from us in the sense that it is us who have it. It is to say that it doesn't originate in our own hearts, but has an author in the grace of God. Of necessity we do act in believing, being created in God's image, but our actions are derivative of the God in whose image we are made."

    As I have also said in the past:

    "The idea of irresistable grace isn't well reflected in an picture of men being robots.

    The 1689 LBC (a document representing a generic reformed view of irresistible grace) represents the situation thus: "they come most freely, being made willing by his grace." In this statement, the writers were careful to remember that man is made in God's image, and as such is a personal being. Thus, though God's work be perfect and effectual, the man's actions and will are not absent, but instrumental. The confession later states that concerning the efectual the creature is "wholly passive therein", but not in the sense that he does not truly act, for later in the sentence comes this, "being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead." Then the creature's actions and will (personality) are essential to this event though they do not begin it.

    Man, being created in God's image, is analogous to God. Thus his actions, though true actions, are not ultimately determinative, but are derivatively important. Man's actions are analogous (i. e. imaging God in his acting) rather than original, it is only in this way that his actions can be truly significant. The doctrine of God's ultimate sovereignty isn't one of God's immediate control over every action of men, but one in which He does exercise His authority by use of means and intermediary causes, also where by him all things consist. (Col. 1:17) In Him we live and move and have our being. To try to collapse all of these actions and events into one cause (and an impersonal one at that) is not a faithful representation of the generic reformed position for it removes the personal nature of God and the derivatively personal nature of man from the picture."

    I would ask that you please interact with reality here. I haven't redefined any words here yet. If I have your bare assertion is a long way away from showing it. If you really think Calvinists believe those things, then you have a different thing to address in me.

  7. Great post Wes. The cartoon was helpful in explaining. Without libertarian free will we are left to casual determinism.

  8. Why is 'gar' translated 'reason', and 'touto' translated 'you'?

    • Thanks for catching that, I corrected toutu to 'this'. I left gar as 'reason' but added 'for' to it for clarity. I chose reason because that is one of it's definitions according to Strongs:
      properly, assigning a reason (used in argument, explanation or intensification; often with other particles)

      It also makes sense since Paul is building a case for grace being the only means of salvation.

      BTW: Your other posts were simply too long so I didn't read them and consequently won't be responding to them either. If you want me to address a single point (made in roughly one paragraph) then I invite your to repost it.

  9. I think the link below benefits the post. It's by R.C. Sproul from his book, "The Mystery of the Holy Spirit." It's worth a read. It's not very long, but it relates to this discussion.
    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/on

    • Thanks Seth!

      This is an excellent example of the problem in viewing faith as a work under the law. You see, if Sproul is right and faith is a work under the law then it certainly does mean the debate between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is one of synergism vs monergism. However since it is impossible to show how faith is a work under the law (because it isn't) raising the issue of monergism vs synergism is simply a red herring.

      And here is where we also get to see the double-speak employed by Calvinists like Sproul.

      "The reason we do not cooperate with regenerating grace before it acts upon us and in us is because we can- not. We cannot because we are spiritually dead. We can no more assist the Holy Spirit in the quickening of our souls to spiritual life than Lazarus could help Jesus raise him for the dead."

      That is very interesting, mostly because if people are dead in the way Sproul seems to think they are, then they can do _neither_ good nor evil. If God were to punish such a person, we would have to accuse him of literally beating a dead horse, that is, something that can do nothing other than lay there.

      However the language of the whole of Scripture simply doesn't support such a notion and Sproul knows it, that's why he stated at the outset that:

      "Yes, the faith we exercise is our faith. God does not do the believing for us. When I respond to Christ, it is my response, my faith, my trust that is being exercised."

      Well if Sproul says that at the outset and yet by the end comes to the conclusion that we are totally dead without the quickening of the Holy Spirit, what is he doing in the interim to alleviate the apparently logical paradox he has created?

      The answer: He fundamentally redefines what faith is.

      In the reformed view faith is simply a mechanistic system predicated on a chain of causes that eventually rests on God. Where faith is traditionally and commonly accepted to mean an act of the will (albeit not a directly volitional act).

      Therefore Sproul's assessment that faith is evidence of regeneration preceding salvation is only valid if we add in a hidden premise that faith is merely a mechanistic output of a predefined set of inputs. The trouble with that view is that if the will is reduced to a machine where faith is nothing more than a product of a series of causal inputs (regeneration being one of them) then the very words used such as "will" and "faith" loose their meaning.

      Moreover, on this view of faith, we end up begging the ugly question of why God does not choose to regenerate all men so that they will automatically choose to place their faith in Christ and be saved. Then again, this butts up against another ugly reformed doctrine which is that God does not really love all men nor does he want them to all be saved.

      In the end, however, I would agree with Sproul's assessment that regeneration precedes faith. That the Holy Spirit's prior operation is a necessary precondition to one's placing their faith in Christ. however it is far from certain that such regeneration is a sufficient condition for one's placing their faith in Christ. Indeed, Scripture indicates in many places that it is not sufficient as we have many accounts of people freely spurning the love and drawing of Christ. In other words, regeneration may precede faith, but it by no means causes faith.

      So while a positive contribution can not be made in regards to one's salvation, a negative contribution (ie. choosing to reject the drawing of the Holy Spirit unto salvation) is certainly possible.

      • "That is very interesting, mostly because if people are dead in the way Sproul seems to think they are, then they can do _neither_ good nor evil."

        There's a little problem here. Sproul thinks that people are dead such that they only do evil, not that they "can do neither good nor evil." This is why he can comfortably say "the faith we exercise is our faith," and, prior to spiritual resurrection, "we cannot because we are spiritually dead." It would, perhaps, be "double-speak" if he didn't believe other things in lieu of those two.

        • "Sproul thinks that people are dead such that they only do evil"

          This is where the double speak comes in. You see, if I were to ask whether sinful man sins of his own free volition then you would undoubtedly say "yes". However, if I asked if man knew he were sinning you would either have to say no in order to remain logically consistent within your own system or you would have to say yes if you wish to affirm what the Bible says on the matter. You see, throughout Scripture we are entreated with language that makes it appear (that is, if we do not presuppose a doctrine that claims otherwise) that man knows he is sinning (in spite of knowing what good is) and yet chooses to forgo God's will thereby making himself, of his own free will, a rebel just like Satan, the rebellious angel and Adam and Eve, the rebellious progenitors of our race.

          However, men like Sproul seem to think that if they redefine "faith" and "will" to mean something which is slavishly enslaved to some other causal entity (ultimately controlled by God, so the number of gears in the causal machine is really irrelevant) they can use the same words the Bible does without doing fundamental damage to language itself. Faith or belief, while not a volitional action, is still an action taken by a will that must be free in some capacity or else the word is emptied of its meaning.

          So when men like Sproul, who are smart guys that know better, equivocate on the meanings of the words they are using, they are being deceptive and dishonest. They are practicing double-speak in the classic Orwellian sense by attempting to subvert the very words being used. They would be more honest and respectable if they were to say what they plainly mean in language everyone can understand. But then, they would have to resort to mechanistic language wherein we would have to take great pains to avoid words like "puppet" and "robot" which, while derided by Calvinists far and wide, continue to provide an apt description of the epistemic bankruptcy of Reformed epistemology.

          Consequently, this equivocation or redefining of words is one of the reasons that it is so hard to have a productive discussion with Calvinists. Then again, for a system of doctrine that ended up burning many men at the stake merely for disagreeing with it, I suppose being intellectually dishonest is but a small price to pay.

          • The reason its so hard to have a productive discussion with Calvinists is because you can't face them without telling them what they believe. Instead of engaging Reformed theology you engage what-Wes-thinks-of-Reformed-theology–a great deal easier than facing reality, so, I understand. But it doesn't reflect well on you. If Calvinism is so incredibly wrong, it should be very easy to defeat in an honest way, rather than using the bizarre technique of beating up on what no one believes, and calling it an argument. After all, I could skip chunks of your system and say that since you believe in LFW, you must be an open-theist.

            Of course this is beating a dead horse: you're committed to a wrong view or reality, and if anyone says so, you can just say, "you've planned to tell me I'm wrong about everything a priori." Your bizarre commitment to falsehood in this matter may very well be demonstrated by using, yet again, the intellectually vacuous line, "I was predestined to have this disagreement."

            In reality, to defeat any of your arguments, a Calvinist has to say, "I don't believe that." No defense is necessary since, as long as you've lived, you've never given an argument against actual Calvinism.

            Good luck finding someone who believes the weirdness you like set up as a target. I'm sure great discussions will ensue when he turns up.

          • "The reason its so hard to have a productive discussion with Calvinists is because you can't face them without telling them what they believe. "

            And I cannot tell what anyone who considers themselves to be a Calvinist believes because there are simply so many different variations on Calvinism out there. What I tend to argue against is the Edswardian brand of hyper-Calvinism that seems to be quite popular here in the US for some reason.

            "Instead of engaging Reformed theology you engage what-Wes-thinks-of-Reformed-theology–a great deal easier than facing reality, so, I understand."

            What Wes thinks is informed by what Calvinists like yourself have said. Seems to be pretty valid and logical to me, though I invite you to correct me where I am wrong. Well, correct with something objective as opposed to an argument that amounts to "I don't like you or your conclusions so I'm going to pout about it".

            "If Calvinism is so incredibly wrong, it should be very easy to defeat in an honest way"

            And it is. However, just because some like yourself refuse to understand or accept the logical conclusions of such an illogical system it does not follow that such a system has withstood the assaults against it.

            "In reality, to defeat any of your arguments, a Calvinist has to say, "I don't believe that.""

            You can say that until you are blue in the face, and yet it does not change the fact that such is where your beliefs logically lead.

          • "And I cannot tell what anyone who considers th…"
            But that's the easiest part! Reformed people write down that stuff in confessions so you don't have to embarrass yourself like this.

            "What Wes thinks is informed by what Calvinists like yourself have said. "

            No it isn't. If it was, you wouldn't be in a world of your own (or Hunt's, or Keathley's, or Craig's, or whoever you're following) fabrication on the matter. I'd walk away from one of your posts thinking, "Hmm, I have to think about that," instead of thinking, "Hmm, I wonder who he's arguing against."

            "just because some like yourself refuse to understand or accept the logical conclusions…"

            But these are the logical conclusions of your imagination. That's why they're soooo unconvincing. Since you can take individual parts of a system in isolation, import foreign presuppositions, and call it an argument, I can do the same. Let's try it!

            For example: "If LFW is true, then God doesn't know the future. Mr Widner thinks LFW is true, therefore Mr Widner thinks God doesn't know the future." Awww… you don't like the "logical implications" of your system?

            Or, how about another one: "If God knows the future, then the universe is causally determined. Mr Widner thinks God knows the future, therefore Mr Widner thinks the universe is causally determined." Don't pout! It's the "logical implications" of your system!

          • "But that's the easiest part! Reformed people write down that stuff in confessions so you don't have to embarrass yourself like this. "

            Yes, and what I say lines up squarely with those confessions. You are more than welcome to show me where I'm wrong in an objective sense, but merely asserting my error is a far cry from substantiating your claims. You aren't an adherent of the word of faith movement, you can't simply speak things into existence.

            "But that's the easiest part! Reformed people write down that stuff in confessions so you don't have to embarrass yourself like this. "

            Oh, so you are now the standard of truth? Nice to know…

            Let me break down your statement above: If what you said were true then I would change my mind. However since I haven't changed my mind what you say is obviously not true.

            Its circular, not to mention woefully intellectually dishonest.

            "Since you can take individual parts of a system in isolation, import foreign presuppositions, and call it an argument, I can do the same."

            Here is the part where you throw out a red herring to try and dodge your responsibility to substantiate your earlier claims by an appeal to something absurd. Let's see how you do:

            "For example: "If LFW is true, then God doesn't know the future. Mr Widner thinks LFW is true, therefore Mr Widner thinks God doesn't know the future." Awww… you don't like the "logical implications" of your system? "

            So here's my strategy: I'm going to deliberately misrepresent my opponent's position by redefining key words that otherwise have an objective definition (that I don't like because they don't jive with my groovy man-made theological system) then I'm going to whale on the straw man I created until I tear it to peaces. I'll refuse to read or listen to any of the evidence or material my opponent suggests for me to gain a real (as opposed to characterized position) and, instead, project my own ignorance onto them even though I know they have studied my own position far more than I have decided to study theirs. No matter, I'll press on spewing out my hollow sound bytes because my precious man-made theological system is under attack and I can't think of anything more worth while than defending it with every fiber of my being.

            Meanwhile, I'll choose to ignore the substantial and historical arguments my opponent keeps bringing up. Like the fact that my Calvinistic redefinition of words like will and faith render such words incoherent everywhere else.

            "Or, how about another one: "If God knows the future, then the universe is causally determined. Mr Widner thinks God knows the future, therefore Mr Widner thinks the universe is causally determined." Don't pout! It's the "logical implications" of your system!"

            I will comment seriously on this because it actually shows your lack of study. You see mere foreknowledge alone is not a sufficient condition for causal determinism. The elimination of any possibility of even a limited free will is (as you repeatedly affirm). So even in your mocking here you show yourself to be unlearned and ill equipped to have a fruitful conversation on the subject.

            I believe my new policy with you will be to ask you whether you've read any works on the subject you are attempting to refute. So if you want to dialog with me in the future you'll need to preface your comment with "I read recently in this reputable and notable work…"

          • "Yes, and what I say lines up squarely with those confessions."

            To which I replied, with standard confessional Reformed doctrine, that Sproul believes that man is dead such that he can only sin; or more technically, that men are dead in sin. Or, as the WCF has it, "By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body." I don't know how you can substantiate your assertion that Sproul, or any other Reformed person, doesn't believe that.

            "So here's my strategy: I'm going to deliberately misrepresent my opponent's position by redefining key words that otherwise have an objective definition (that I don't like because they don't jive with my groovy man-made theological system) then I'm going to whale on the straw man I created until I tear it to peaces…"

            Exactly. That exactly, precisely, and accurately states your method of which I disapprove.

            "Calvinistic redefinition of words like will and faith…"

            See? You're doing it again.

            "I will comment seriously on this because it actually shows your lack of study."

            No need. These were both parody arguments showcasing your methods oversimplification, misrepresentation, and foreign presupposition, in your arguments against Reformed theology. If I wished to undertake a pure invention like middle knowledge, I'd *have* to read books strictly about it because the Bible offers no information concerning it. Although it does have some fatal problems on the face, I'd definitely not use these arguments I've produced after your fashion. But, having read them, you surely know the sentiments of the Reformed believers when you make such an argument.

            "I believe my new policy with you…"
            I've been thinking about new policies for you too. I'm still considering whether grossly fabulous information is worth addressing at all. If it's a lie Bill Craig holds to, I'll probably never persuade you of the truth, but perhaps other things…no solid decisions yet.

          • And I post that having "read recently in this reputable and notable work," the Westminster Confession of Faith.

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