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BEYOND THE DUSTY CONFLICT
LOOKING AT MAN AND HIS LIBERTY
Here we consider the antinomies which develop at once when you really press for freedom on the monistic basis, since it is impossible there; and for determinism likewise, since this is just as reductionist as the other delusive. Neither can live with all the features, functions and foci of man, in such a system.
Although in the main, this is Section I of another work, it is changed as best suits our present purpose, at times by abbreviation of what followed later in the book, at times by considerable expansion of what was there, or addition of points to foster our present work.
from Predestination and Freewill Section I
THE PROBLEM IN VIEW
A. The Freedom
of Man in Prospect
What is freedom? it is not merely the absence of obstacles to attainment. That is an external consideration. Nor for that matter is it simply the ability or the presence of conditions allowing the exercise of the ability to seek selfassigned purposes; though this does pay respect to the internal consideration. A man who is under the control of some drug, for example or, more subtly, under some psychological stimulus which he may later find to have been an intrusion into his personality: this man is not going to be said to be free, either.
Secondly, we need not rush to the opposite conclusion. Freedom is not in essence mere combat with circumstances. The presence of obstacles does not guarantee freedom when we are able to strive with these as we saw in our internal point. The question is For what reason, in what context is one so striving? Moreover, a man may happen to regale his moral, aesthetic and cognitive appetite. With resolve he may define his determination in terms of what is. In his case, freedom is not merely compatible with contented affirmation, but forbids striving against circumstance. We must be careful not to define freedom then in terms of seeking change on the inadequate ground that freedom frequently perishes in degree when men are prohibited from seeking their desires which in turn frequently do not accord with what is.
Let us however assume that there are obstacles. He must ask that these shall not be so effective that they not merely baulk the attempt at designed action, but actually invade the desire and annul it: for where circumstances overwhelm the purposes and plans of a man; obstacles defying the will, break it; or environment should enervate perspicacity, freedom is to that extent defunct. External considerations acting more or less indirectly upon the person of man have, in this case, obliterated its distinctiveness, individuality and nature. To this extent, he' is not operative in order that he might be free, or anything else with the actuality of his stature.
Here then is challenge to find the nature of freedom. but at once it has become clear that a purpose, application and comprehension are necessary before freedom can be said to be present for the lack of the first leaves a mere reactive system; a lack of the second, leaves an illdefined subject, and a lack of the third, an illdefined object.
Now it is in the essence of freedom that these three components should operate in a subject whom they do not define; while it is equally true that their relationship to the subject will help to define freedom. A robot could quite well entertain a purpose, engage in application and manifest comprehension of something without in any sense being free. A man under instruction at Gunpoint could have all of these three things and yet in no sense be free. It is, we say, the relationship of these things to the subject which will lead us to the area of actual human freedom.
On the topic of comprehension, it may be observed that where some affirmation or for that matter, negation grows so constant that the considerations which led to it cease to be formulated and perhaps even formulable (by that agent) in the passage of time, such a case may readily become one of restricted freedom. There comprehension is reduced and so also the participation by the agent with the totality of his person in the matter.
It is true that he may retain a contemplative continuity thick may sufficiently transmit to him an awareness of the situation adequate for endorsement without a renewed act of comprehension and formulation; but in practice, change can readily prove too strong for such limited application to express the intention of the agent. Freedom, other things equal, is most certain when comprehension is most complete. comprehension without application, a knowledge of the principles and even the character of a situation, a person or a system which is limited to cognitive abstraction; in which the person does not apply himself to a consideration of what he should wish to do if anything: this has at most potential freedom; for it provides something which freedom needs, but which pro tanto does not actualise it in that it has stopped short of a consideration of what in freedom, the agent might do.
An absence of purpose, whether through inchoation in the character*1
or other cause, a lack of comprehension, or a lack of application will leave the agent to be led by impulses and appearances as they may from time to time come, with varying vitality and viridity. He will, to this extent not be free in that he is not acting as an regent he is acting as a reactor. Of course, if he makes this his purpose so to act, it is no longer true that he has no purpose.
With these components of freedom which, as we have said, nevertheless fail to constitute freedom clear in our minds, we may now consider the point that freedom may be observed in degrees, with respect to obstacles: that is, in its external aspect.
First, we can be free from obstacles altogether; although, as indicated, this does not guarantee the existence or persistence of freedom. Second, we can be free from those which baulk our efforts and tire our will whether to quiescence or mere formulation without movement towards a suitable implementation; or, from obstacles which baulk our efforts and deform our intentions, marring or nullifying any aspect of our willing through an environmental impact of suffering.
It is of course possible to visualise perhaps a condition as sad as it is significant the will broken by some one great obstacle, or series possessing equal impact. Then no desire involving that whole area of reality originally the focus of intelligent life, is displayed. Willing has become incompatible at that level with the continuance of the personality. At the voluntary level, the agent has undergone dereliction. Such may be the case, indeed temporarily; it may be the case permanently. He may summon his resources: he may obtain fresh resources; he may be stimulated so to obtain fresh resources that he may continue in his capacity as agent to seek to implement his desire, to obtain his purpose or to formulate, to comprehend. to apply and enact.
These considerations, then, bring us nearer to the heart.of our problem. We are being forced, ultimately to consider the agent whose will it is. There is a relationship which the will many have to its environment. but this should not blind us to the relationship which it has to its agent. Indeed, we may start to consider the phenomenon of willing far off from this consideration of the agent: but little may be done before we are brought back to it: for it is his/her freedom with which we are concerned. We must specify the entity and in the case of a human being, that is the entity.
Let us bring together then the freedom in these two aspects: we may be free from obstructing, or indeed inactivating misfortunes, and free from willcorrosive conflicts; but free for willendowed sorties, conflicts and attainments. Yet having said this, we must revert to the relationship of this 'freedom from' and 'freedom for' to the person so delivered and so bent. The person is free but at what instance? Free, but with respect to what? Free, but in what system? Free to be? But to be what? To be what he is?
Then there is merely freedom from external and internal willannulling obstacles. Any definition of will merely with respect to what can be done and what cannot be done, is avoiding in its interesting, and ramifying perplexities what could not well be avoided as we ponder it. It is avoiding the definition of will with respect to the agent: for if his willing is merely the necessary expression of his being, or nature or character, how does it differ from law. from determinism, from inanimate properties? Of these the freedom is not thought to express any clear criteria ... ; as, at least to the point of this disputation it is for man. Strictly, to say that I have freedom to be what I am, when freedom is outside the disposition of my agency, is merely to assert that I exist; and to assert that so long as this condition obtains, I will as far as external environment is concerned be expected to continue to exist. But the category of existence is susceptible to the characteristics of necessity and freedom. As such. it does not specify which.
We have been in danger then. in terms of this contemplation of freedom, of ignoring this most elemental and fundamental consideration of the relation of will to the agent. Let us then return to the agent. Seeking, striving, willing, weakening, reviving, reacting or responding, the agent has self-assigned aims, But we did not define this further, misled by the proponents of 'freedom from' and 'freedom for', whose formulation is here found inadequate to the subject matter. At this juncture therefore, to our previous components of purpose, applicationand comprehension, we add that of disposability of the will.
It may be helpful if we now illustrate this concept in a contemporary manner which may stir our ideas. Consider therefore a computer, one with the now almost compulsive title, 'electronic brain machine'. It has preset purposes; ours are liquid. That is why it has in our present field no relevant experiences. Ours cover the issue.
It can not decide: only determine on the basis of facts, not one of which is autoderivative all are exteriorly imposed. It cannot evoke original bases of conceptualisation. It is like a dead man with his brain still working, and his purposes fixed. along with the bases of conceptualisation. It is true that a purpose may be set; but if it is not set in some sense by oneself, how is it free?
Let application be infinite and comprehension vast, let purpose be implacable; but if the initiation of purpose is extraneous to the self in every sense, this still voids freedom as we saw. Moreover the self, if not alert to considerations or processes other than itself its present nature. and powers and resilience is bound to itself; and if bound to itself, how is it free?
Often the pursuit of freedom is forsaken at this stage. Any antisupernaturalistic presuppositions lead to the quite appropriate conclusion that the above condition which is one of no freedom, is necessarily all that there is in the sphere of freedom. Now at once the determinism of self makes an enigma of guilt, blame and shame. If I were indeed bound to my self, by what insanity could I blame myself? If it is to be psychological mechanics*2, where is the guilt in a machinery that goes wrong; and in any case, how could this psychological machinery or series of contrivances be said to go wrong except as an expression, in this Analogy, of a failure to fulfil a preset design or purpose to which it is to minister and which it must fulfil; and who set that?*3
In mere autonomy, we obtain an infinite regress. The intellect, tree to rove over territories extraenvironmental and ultra-hereditary, is no less undetermined than the will: for we are aware even of competing standards of value which we assess. Deeper and deeper goes the need for criteria by which to assess the competing criteria of assessment.
We may elect one which conforms to a material need and its ready attainment, one which caters for an affection, one which appears to conform to a theory; we may even make some effort at electing a type of personality which is susceptible in turn to certain standards: but in itself, where then can the intellect end or begin? Is it to be a matter of a mere predilection? In that case, how can these facts of shame, blame and guilt, these analytical awarenesses of the simple fact that I am what I am cohere? Do I create a universe and me ... such that the very texture of my spirit, cast of my mind and ingredients of my being are my responsibility? Am I, then, not in a system; or do I not have a system at least, dispositions and limits; but if I do, where then is a source of a freedom for a self that is not ultimate and infinite and underivative?
Sartre with some existentialists feels this need to account for his awareness of such things as those just noted, so acutely that he appears to become illogical. "Man". he says, ''is all the time outside himself: it is in projecting and losing himself beyond himself that he makes man exist ... Man is selfsurpassing."*4
At once we must ask: How may man supersede himself when he is systematically taken as the summit in himself?
We need not follow this antisupernaturalistic presupposition in its perplexities *5and contradictions as our plan is precisely to expound what is to be shown as a consistent supernaturalistic system accountings for the phenomena. It is nevertheless interesting to observe that so great is the Pressure of fact regarding this area. that even an atheist is forced into needless selfcontradiction in a desire to be fair to facts. Small wonder in a generation succeeding mechanistic materialism and embracive, and consigning evolutionism that a persistent group of existentialists seek to find a place for the rejected elements of will, of what we shall call disposability of the will: a concept which in our own prospective terminological and conceptual environment, we shall seek to show consistent.
For long such claims as Character controls will, were accepted "fact": Character is subtly inbred, as it were, by the plash of virile circumstance on the erosive shores of craggy heredity. For such theorists, consistently there is no freedom but that to effect an aim. 'Freedom from' and 'freedom to' remain their inadequately analysed master concepts somewhat cavalierly dispensing with areas of fact. Without their limitations or Sartre's inconsistency, however, we must now move into defined premises that promise better things.
Here no inconsistencies are disported; sometimes indeed they are imported in that syncretistic mode of thought which often obtains from alien systems, areas of philosophy; and part of our duty will then be, in this exercise, to export them and to expand our Christiantheistic concepts in their indigenous purity *6.
Accordingly, let us proceed to a more impressive system or coordination which will account for every aspect of fact in this area.
B. THE FREEDOM OF GOD.
First, God. Is He free? We shall omit the question of 'freedom from' and 'freedom to' in this instance. It would be entirely profitless unless we defined what we mean as to being, by the term God, in any case.
But what freedom is inherent in the Supreme Being? Some say he is bound by necessity, kismet. One wonders how He would then even reach the height of freedom which differentiates man's mind from matter's behaviour. Obligated by supernal laws and impassible system, He would present us with the question: Who prescribed for Him; what or what supermachinetoolwielding supremer artisan so donated to Him a delimited existence?
How would you confine the Supreme Being? Is it chance? That unsystematic irregularity cannot create systematic regularity: far less legislate for the lawgiver who is its source. We need the dice box and the dice, the preliminary order before we can even inspect the subsequent contingencies of the thrower; or before they can even indeed be inspectable: but these 'contingencies fare not arbitrary. We work in order with order; but we do not comprehend all order; and where we do not, we say 'chance' . This is the best compliment to order' as it indicates an awareness of "objective" considerations not comprehended or controlled by what is sometimes called the "fortunate" subjective agency.
Is it then not by chance that law rules? Does law then rule by something not chance and not God? Is it system that contains and coordinates law? But what is 'system' but a name for such, and a name is not an effectual cause. To describe it is not to create it or to find effectual grounds for its existence; and to ignore the question is not to answer it.
But apologetics is not here our domain. We merely seek to reach our premises without that sense of shock which is often associated with rapid movement. God we think, but also principally assert, is the background to both law and system, to both percipient and perception, to both self and disposability of will, to freedom and restriction; and He has restricted freedom ultimately in such a way as to give it base, beginning and end, meaning without an infinite ingress which we term derivative freedom. This restriction we shall locate later with some care in the area of relationship with himself. Thus when we reach for the determinant behind the ad infinitum research for criteria of judgment which we noted? we are able to reach God and dynamic disposability with respect to Him *7 , partial or complete, direct or indirect as the case may be: and this as the ultimate rationale of choice and freedom.
Thus the Supreme gives significance to "self". This mortal "self" is not soullesslypredeterminate, is not binding as the ultimate, and does not end freedom. Its actual relationship to freedom must constitute one of the major thrusts of this exercise. lie must seek an answer consistent with itself and the data, and complete.
We speak of God: if for no other cause than clarity, the God of whom we speak must not be confused with various conceptual concoctions. Some say, for example, that all things pulse in and comprise creative personality. We wonder how it coheres; nor would it grant us a basis sufficiently large for our solution. Others say He is free as first and final, but circumscribed by the desires of man. Yet this power of universal legislation on the part of man, in opposition to the Supreme Being would require some support.
Some plausibly pursue the point that God has limited Himself, and only outside those limits is He free. But if He has limited Himself, who or what forced Him? And if' He was not forced then he exercised His will in freedom; and thus is free even in the area where some kind of freedom is donated to others: unless His intelligence is disputed. But how should He be deficient in the area of analytical and essential composition, or not gifted with the power of componential analysis in such substrata areas of the outrush of His power, as observable in that being called man? For it is, let us finally confirm, with the Christian-theistic system that we are concerned: to estimate its contributions to our subject, its solutions and their strength and consistency for this topic of freewill and predestination; and to consider the resolution of any internal problems. Thus far, we have perhaps inter alia related it somewhat to the area and problems about but outside it.
Before we leave this section, we may take occasion to note a further principle of procedure; and this is the more necessary in view of a current theological mode of combining contradictory premises in some type of dialectical composition.
We do not intend to employ such language or to take refuge in the latitude of its provisions, in dealing with our problem. We in fact oppose it, inter alia, on the ground that it becomes unless attenuated and intended as provocative and penetrable paradox linguistic incoherence.
Now if we wish to become incoherent mystics, soaring perhaps beyond or perhaps apart from our unassisted power of thought and language, let us at such times forget reason; but if we wish to reason, let us not be incoherent mystics*8 in so doing. What we have said of relevance of reason to our task and the relationship between reason and revelation*9, fortifies a certain need to exercise our minds coherently; as do the pertinent claims of Scripture*10 .
To proceed to our case: A dialectician may seek to express his feelings of divine fixity and freedom by the words, 'God is entirely free and entirely determined.' If we are allowed to draw coherent meaning from this, and if it therefore may pass as penetrable paradox, it might be restated intelligibly: 'God is free to do as He likes, but not to be as He likes. He does not to use former terms have disposability of will.' This means that His character holds Him and He is witless of the fact. We, His creatures, however, have taken note of the fact. But, we may ask, from what preceding and imposing series of systematic principles would He receive this consignment to legislated or laid down being? Where there is nothing to determine, nothing is determined.
Now it was not by chance that we selected this topic in illustration. Apart altogether from the inadequate disquisitions of dialecticians, it has a direct value for our investigation in its own field of divine character and will which warrants further attention at this stage.
In the Divine, then, neither does a character of almost Parrnenidean solidity command will, nor does a will of almost Heracleitan baselessness fantastically command character. Neither do we lose all qualities in the inertly imrnovable, nor omit the element of identity in pure activity where there is nothing able to be active, so that the motion of that-which-is-not remains as Sphinx-like, not to say illusory as the natural 'is' of Parmenides..
We are forced to reject determinism over divine character as strongly as peremptory variation in speaking of Him who is ultimate, has nothing to learn, nowhere from which to learn it, has analytical comprehension of everything that is, and no confinements or limits imposable on will such as aspiration without realisation.
All is known, realised, understood, foreseen, controlled. No new fact, no yearning or deficiency can induce change. Reason through consistency confirms the wisdom of basic points which revelation attests or seems to imply for the ultimate; though it cannot proceed past the salient features of divine stature to personal qualities. If it could' the creature could command comprehension of One infinitely superior.
Reason is not thwarted; nor is creation unrelated to Creator; but while He is minimally apparent from His works, His Person is not analysable without revelation. It is with these elements of revelation as they affect election that we must later deal more fully.
Our present point is that the earliest aspects of God, both reasonable and revelatory, lead us to a level of freedom which is not for any reason altogether inappropriate for man. and which can serve as a basis for his. The differences as between the image Creator and the imagebearer, will concern us more acutely when we deal finally with the activity of predestination.
C. THE FREEDOM OF MAN - IN RETROSPECT
Part 1: Its Origin
Proceeding, then, with our analysis of the doctrinal data touching our point: we note that God is free to the uttermost, without determinants, infinitely wise, immutable and powerful. Increate, He wills what He is and is what He wills dynamically and simultaneously.
If then we may essay thus to speak of Him from His revelation, it is conceivable in perfect consistency for Him originally to create a definite, but deliberative human being of small power. In this is a. creaturely correlation with a celestial creator and contriver. If God does do this, and if the source of this deputed, defined, and delimited indeterminacy relative in degree and deliberative in kind be called 'spirit', then we begin to approach our area of operations.
Now this spirit is such that one of its primordial characteristics is its capacity to exhibit det ruination through a relative disposability of the will between competing alignments or allegiances. This is seen from the very outset, in Genesis *11. In the event that such a. disposition evince an antagonism of intention or action to the Creator, this must produce consequences contrary to the spiritual realities consistent with His harmony. The creature must be affected. Indeed. there may be disruption, decay, delusion, despair and destruction; and these things may be directed primarily to the spiritual, the mental or the physical: to the biological or inanimate environment according to category and fitness participation and impact.
Moreover, the derived deficiency with respect to the divine in generations of men succeeding that original one, may as we shall see, alter the modus operandi for allegiance alignment: but it must confirm rather than corrode the consequences of misalliance and misalignment *12.
If the divergence, then, though limited to a point in origin be great in kind, then the difference must be great in the status' situation and style of the creatures concerned. If the excellence of apt divine association was exalted, then its dismissal must, to say no more, be quite noticeable. The difference is great. There is great evil in history, defined from God as absolute. So far from this precise fact being a problem, it is a byproduct in terms of the concepts of our system. In terms of that system, it would be difficult to characterise it except as a necessary byproduct.
While God in perfect consistency is well able to forge and sovereignly to formulate history even in these conditions, the numerous aspirant autonomies may be expected to produce or induce deep and sometimes startling anguish, quite contrary to what might be hoped for in an agnostic universe orientated sympathetically towards such assumptions of autonomy.
The question of the manner in which God can control history to such definable and desired specifications as He deems suitable to the case, and predetermine all issuance in His own deliberation in these circumstances and conditions of His creation: this is one of modality, a separate consideration lodged par excellence in the rendering of Section III, with an approach suitable to such a domain.
It will be observed that thus far we have endeavoured to set too from our Scriptural data, the connotation of certain of our environment of intrasystematic terms: of spirit: of that divine correlation with this to the degree it is pertinent to our present purpose to define it - evil; and of the primordial activity of human choice with respect to the divine. We have done this in such initial outline as is adapted to this preliminary phase.
Now we may proceed more specifically to the matter of origin which we have been holding in view. If then choice contrary to truth, justice, to imparted life in its existential vitality, to the divinely formulated character of man one available but not per se determinative if this be called sin, our question is : How could such choice, how could sin arise?
To be fair, we must realise that two questions are implicit in this one. First Why did God who is good prepare a situation comprehensively analysed in advance and foreknown by Him, in which sin was not merely perceived as a possibility but foreseen as an act? Secondly, it may be asked : Is the actual occurrence of sin in the man consistent with and amenable to the schema provided?
Initially we observe that as before it was necessary to affirm the datum that God's freedom is indeterminable by us: so now we must grasp the correlate that His discretion is unpredictable by knowledge outside himself and His divine divulgements. That this must not detract from the full force and integrity of the other revealed components of the total situation, we in turn willingly concede and will proceed to reason.
Now the noticeable intensity of God's hatred of sin may be expected to be commensurate with the extremity of His delight in that which sin spoils. What sin spoils is the nature of what is in some sense a free being: for a fully conditioned matrix cannot secure sin; it merely exhibits its internal ingredients in involvement with the environment in which it is placed.
It follows that God might consistently be said to have (although in His aseity not to need) a keen delight both in the creaturely embodiment of an apt and perceptive derivative able to share the wise joy and experience, the hallowed wonder of apprehending in Him; and in the cooperation with a devout and duly loyal free being. That is the positive side of it. But how could this be present if there were no free being? And how have free beings unless they be created?
There is therefore no available implication of inconsistent willing in the Christiantheistic representation of the approach and actions of God in creating a situation of freedom. Without the creation of such a situation, there is obviously no possibility of sin; but in such a situation the possibility of sin is not merely plausible but implicit: and if possibility is once morally allowed, the addition of its correlative actuality in the prescience of omniscience, does not alter the moral condition of the situation, originatively conceived.
Nor should we allow ourselves to become confused with definable and anthropomorphic error. It must be realistically and distinctly stated that it would be contrary to God's nature to lack*13 ; and therefore to need such fellowship: no motivation for One without needs is derived from need. It has been sufficient for us to establish the appropriateness, the consistency of such an action. Again, for the same reason, that God per se is lacking in nothing, this "delight ... with the sons of men" *14
must be of a gracious and charitable kind; and it was in fact persistent to and through the remedial Cross.
When that is considered in its conceptual and actual setting, it adds historical point to this consistency expectation; it expands and ennobles it: it creates it directly, and without mediation of reasoning from His abhorrence of sin in what is created free as defined.
It is therefore the case that the creation of such a situation involving the noted kind of derivative freedom rests on the decision of God as individual and using discretion; and the appearance of ontological reticence is stringently the result of a system of revelation with which we are concerned: totally distinct from any question of inconsistency. But the second question yet remains: How in terms of the related and revelational components of the created and primordial spirit of man did sin in fact arise?
Now as has long been implicit, the obverse of disposability of will is susceptibility to sin. An adverse disposing of will resulted in the occurrence of sin. As for evil, it is as we say representative of the disruptive consequences of sin in whatever particular way this may be transmitted and have impact. Naturally and systematically it ensued.
As to technique, we might perhaps represent the original adversity in the following manner. As the discernment before spoken of as a component of man's primordial spirit acted, and other agencies availed themselves of its presence, man became aware of actions alternative to those commanded, epistemology to that innately and experientially attested and metaphysics to that previously and dynamically engendered. If this had not been so, the powers provided would merely have been inoperative.
These matters would impress initially as temptations, or possibilities in known contravention of what was accepted as correct and necessarily so. The will would not, as often thought, need to become evil previously to admit of the first sin. In practice, a studious weighing of presentations arriving might be followed by a sense of enquiry concerning their implications.
These might fascinate but yet not captivate; and sin has not yet arrived nor evil invested man: but if the spirit immersed in these things. end the will moving over these events and alternative attitudes, should elect to heed them as authoritative, or investigate them with ostensible "openness" as an outreach of due innate authority, then an attitude of sin is present. Evil is immediately the concomitant.
This attitude of sin moreover has touched the spirit as such. The spirit is not composed of parts, though it has organs of expression; and once the spirit is touched, it is sinful for its composition is changed *15.
It has altered an infinitely exacting relationship to God. It has thus moved from one category to the other. The exercise therefore of spirit and will in one mere attitude, in one mere ostensible contingency apparently a mere nothing had ultimate results. Actually it involved tremendous transactions in trust, allegiance and vitality obvious as such until the spirit was assailed by the consequent dulling of sin.
The exercise of delegated responsibility therefore initiated sin constituted the sinner and occasioned evil. The execution of sin and institution of evil were as simultaneous as unexpected, and to specious feeling, disproportionate.
Some seem to imagine that the flexibility of thought which the freedom of being made in the image of God implies is in itself sin, but the envisagement is not necessarily of this character. There is nothing per se of rebellion in discerning with gifts of such a scope, what are the natures of various matters one meets. It is however in the gratuitous and wilful interest in another system than that of the One who disposed all things without interference or combination, as He would, in fact in the devices of the devil with his especially evil pretence that God was a self-interested power-glutton, or something of such a dimension, and the pursuit of the offers made that the sin comes. At precise moment ? It comes when FREEDOM misuses its FUNCTION of imaginative perception in order to turn it to inordinate assault without justice, contrary to all grounds, and does so by listening to unverified talk from a thing, an animal in format, which was supposed to be ruled over, not used for advice!
How could it come, this sin ? By the misuse of liberty. There is nothing stiff and unyielding in liberty, so that it by nature CANNOT exercise itself. There is no systematic difficulty when it does so, since God Himself has enabled it to be so. The declivity of spirit which moves down the slope greased to assist the slither is merely a use of a function, and the sin is simply the result of the liberty franchise-holder, man, electing to misuse it at the outset.
Part ll : Its Condition
In setting our stage for the consideration of the origin of human freedom we also were forced to notice certain corrolaries and consequences; and to that extent, have already broached this question of the condition of human freedom.
It might be asked in pursuance of what has been said, Why does God not remove the evil? but the production of evil, being as we have indicated, a consequence of sin cosmic and human the presence of evil follows sin as night follows day; indeed with more necessity: for a world in which that happened otherwise might be conceived, but an infinite sovereign systematically flouted contrary to infinite wisdom and benevolence without the application of some suitable and selected species of correction, would never survive the transition from connotation to denotation. He would be acting as if He did not exist.
Such a situation is however scarcely our problem. In fact, it is the considerable and unconquerable expression of God in the very extent of what our system characterises as the fricative and penal consequences of sin which engages attention on the question why God does not remove evil; and it is the presence of evil which constitutes a new dimension for human freedom.
God, indeed, might with more acumen ask us why we do not remove the sin; and in His revelation frequently He does ask, indicating moreover a manner in which it might be done. Thus, God does not tolerate sin, and induces evil as correction. He is unwilling in these circumstances of multiform impenitence to remove the evil. and proceeds with a purpose of orderly conclusion of the sin with a plan and procedure of His own choosing.
This comes at that point where the significance and stage of mortal history in terms of the human spirit, its powers, its ruin and its remedy, is decreed terminated. Then He proceeds duly to direct or dispense with cast, contrivance, correction and corruption. Again, He is good, too good to tolerate what spoils and thus not unable but unwilling meanwhile to remove censure, reminder and salutary if appropriately drastic evils.
The power of His wisdom both in making it necessary for men to return to Him through the specified method into a fellowship which is too intense to endure when there is unpurged disruption, and in requiring a remedy for any corruption before continuing conjunction is accorded is the executive correlate of His specific Person, proceeding from the integrity of the holiness in which He lives; while the backreaches of His discretion in His actual disposition of evil never cease to startle the human race. To that we shall return specifically in Section III; but as necessarily in this realm, as cognitive percipients not mathematical analysts.
It is in such a situation that human freedom in a way yet to be further specified, is operating. Psychologically and spiritually, meanwhile, man is experiencing the point or lack of it of that destabilising infinite regress to which we referred; and the inner tension of a pretentiously unblameworthy guilt (Isaiah 29:15, 28:915, Genesis 3:8 Jeremiah 8:5; Romans 1:1820; Jeremiah 5:3, 2:35, 3:13,Hosea 7:16; Luke 13:3, 14:3133; Jeremiah 2:25,29,32). Without God, there is no basis for such liberty, in ever-contained pseudo-autonomy; nor is there meaning and coverage in determinism, which when asked what is the sum of 2 plus 2, simply says '2', ignoring what it does not cover with all the aplomb of the fanatic, such as Freud, or Marx, endlessly summoning facts to the bar of reason, and then ignoring what they have to say wherever it is inconvenient, or ignoring reason, when what the speaker wants to say, lacks entente with the data.
With Him, determinism fades into systematic impacts, in a world of many realities, of spirit, will, purpose, determination and rigor, all in their dimensions and categories, and becomes merely a discordant vanity, precisely like autonomy if less human, indulging the spirit of man even while he chooses to ignore it, that with which he is so assiduously working. If self-forgetfulness is a virtue, it cannot be so conceived here, where it is merely ignoring of the primary datum of the operator!
At the same time, autonomy meets both its explanation as a divergence from the obvious, in that man is not able to select in advance his personality, talents or parents, time or nature of birth, disease situation or nation, and is limited by drugs, pollutants and uncomprehending passions which distort while he moves, and smile when he dies, if ironically at times. It too has a relationship to reality, but it mere extrapolation, like determinism (on which see further in Repent or Perish Ch. 7).
Let us thus confirmed in our examination of all the evidence, look once more at man in his purposes.
We must at this point, observe that the existence of both sin and evil does not remove the fact of accountability, of responsibility. They help to site this aspect of Godrelatability and indicate the new way in which the agent is placed when he has erred, or his race has placed him in a situation less than congenial to his Maker. The proliferations and implications of this feature also, after development in Section II, we shall reserve for our final Section.
Two further clarificatory points for this topic remain, however. before we may delegate these matters to the more specialist aspects which await us. .
Of accountability in general we must say this: A monistic system is accountable with solidarity at every point as univocal ... or, to be more precise, is it possible to talk of accountability meaningfully at all when the question is thought of as inhering in the object, and the subject's essence as well as activity is takes as part of the hoped for source for the answer? then everything, merely is, and there is nothing else. No standard exists for extrasystematic comparison, no source for outside answer. The system merely is and it does. Let us say then that such a system is always directly responsible for and involved in events. It does not of course allow for its own survey, since it is all, or scope or perspective for assessment of what it is, so that its exponents are exhausted of possibility of truth with their model, which becomes defunct with its invention.
ChristianTheism, however, is not monistic. To use one outline, we would say that Creatorcreaturecreation are not ingredients in one whole : the two latter are the components of a delegated world, a surveyable scheme, from the standpoint of the Creator. Because there is such a standpoint, and hence standard, we observe the reasonable character reattaching prima facie to responsibility. He is there and you are here and your creation renders you assessable, and responsible to what He has done in you and to you, and for what you have done in you and to you, as well as to all others. Guilt is at once explicated, remorse and repentance becomes meaningful, as well as observable in the data bank of reality.
Finally, there is the other common (though less commonly merely implicit presupposition which may through mere habit intrude into this system, creating confusion, and which therefore we must mention. Are not, it is asked, heredity and environment wholly determinative? Do not factors furnish to competent observers the gamut of considerations in accord with which man gyrates? In response, it is indeed readily to be admitted that if heredity and environment were all, we should be hard put to find a place for freedom; in fact we have stressed this type of consideration. Yet not less have we stressed that if heredity and environment (for example) were all, there would be no God, And if there were no God, there would be no constituted, conserved and correlated phenomena such as heredity and environment. We must consider God.
Now factors in this context normally indicate scientifically oriented intimations of the trends of events in so far as these may be construed in specifiable regards: economic, physiological, psychological etc.. These are irrelevant if considered as the determinants of the action of the Creator of all, over whom no constraint may consistently be said to exist. Accordingly, any action of God on the human spirit whether it be unilateral or involve the bilateral or multilateral is not limited to the trend of things conceived in independence of such action. On the other hand, such limitation would exclude such action.
Action indeed by the spirit of a man in direct opposition to the forecast of factorial analysis and whether through derivative and limited reference to God, or that which is direct and special: this is not merely possible, but rather to be expected, when set against the background and outcome of propositions able to be inherently antagonistic to the system it is our task to review. To the extent that and where this is the case, science with its factors may indeed err at the level it may aspire to "cover". People may even delight in proving wrong the presumptuous arrogance of those who, ostensibly surveying reality, make assumptions which so far from explaining the data, ignore it. Hence the statistical surveys encounter the storms of reaction to the action. It is not equal and opposite, but it is open to conception and response.
Where therefore the approach is not thus a priori antagonistic, no claim of inability to act on the part of the Maker can consistently be made, with respect to all or any of the comprehended factors at this human level more directly. Hence uncontained, in an environment including the presence of the Maker, man is answerable according to His own standards. In what way COULD he however respond, that was not conditioned by his state and nature and condition ? In this, that if God acts on the basis of HIS knowledge and desire, then HIS assessment not of value but of the reception a man would make if sinless, becomes a readily designated power. It is then His business to liberate from the controlling, containing invasive force of sinful rebellion, which can anaesthetise to reality and hence make mockery of human choice (as in I Cor. 2:14, indeed).
As all is known to Him then liberty has its culmination in Him, neither denying this His creation by bypassing it, nor relaxing to allow it to determine itself, even when sin is determining the narrow scope of its vision. If GOD CHOOSES, nothing in liberty is lacking, provided He does it relative to His own creation, and so neither abusing it nor suffering its pathological and limited condition to 'determine' its resultant before Him. Again, since HE has power to act in a way wholly unlimited to man, there is a scope for a change in man which is NOT at all dependent on the man himself, and so not at all limited by his nature; while His valuing of His own created gift of liberty ensures that it is neither irrelevant nor operative as defiled.
In passing, one should therefore note that in so far as the very term "factors" is thought to indicate a series of interacting. cumulatively constitutive forces with respect to a human situation in particular, it is alien to the spirit of ChristianTheism even to use the term of the spiritual ultimates as considered above; for all else is conceived to be derivative from and containable by these ultimates.
It is nevertheless true, that to the extent correlation with the divine is not present with appropriate spiritual liaison, or there is a dynamic discursion from the divine in an antagonism, then the sole possibility of freedom becomes more and more remote; the "conditioning factors" become more and more properly socalled; and the residual awareness of origin acts in an increasingly dim fashion.
But again, this far from removing responsibility merely indicates the consequences of irresponsibility. Thus are we brought us to the point where the accessibility of the human will to God, and of God to the human will is becoming a very real, indeed vital question: if this is the will's condition, how may it be recovered; or how may it regain God? It is clear that it must be by divine initiative, to escape its own limitation and distortion as in sin; for what is freely chosen, if a mere exploit of some disturbed nature, is a pathological datum, not a preference reality for the life.
Let us face a further pointer, made by some. If only some regain God, are they then better than others; and where is there equity in this? If some men are superior by nature, and thereby able to obtain this remedy, how may others properly be condemned for failing to be so? We have discursively seen the source of answer to such matters above.
Now we consider these points in our preliminary fashion.
Part 111. Its Quality in Conversion and Correlation with Predestination
How can any sinner want to stop sinning, since what he is, is 'a sinner' as such, dedicated or implicated in contrariety with God? IF the person concerned here, correctly characterised as sinner, were in the relevant respects exclusively so characterisable, the problem would be unanswerable. The premise however is false, and does not follow the tenets of the system under review.
Though there be no virtue resident in the sinner, his exhaustive delineation involves not merely his essence but his relationships; and this may not be doubted when it is realised that the creature concerned is essentially derivative'. As creature the sinner may be challenged, alerted, instructed, arraigned, educated, moved and drawn by the Creator in ways direct or indirect, partial or even peripheral, without destruction of his essence. There may follow a transformation such that the will later is inclined to work in a direction opposite to that implied in former custom - e.g. to 'stop sinning'.
While the method of such transformation will be in focus at another point, there is no antinomy in this:
1. That a creature has a sinful character;
2. That this creature is confronted with objective intelligence of its character from the original Source of character; and though sinful, is prepared to reject that present condition of character.
Perfect selfsatisfaction is not a systematic prerogative of sin; it is only when this 'hidden premise' is unwittingly assumed that serious difficulty arises here.
Thus the power for the effecting of change, as also the ground of comparison, is in God. The will to 'stop sinning' is not per se the work of the unchanged sinner but derivative from a species of involvement with God, the precise character of which so far as it affects our consistency considerations will be one of our most engaging pursuits in reviewing the data. We shall there verify that this can involve, as the Spirit convicts, inter alia, that the unconverted sinner may be confronted (with fact), affronted (by truth), illuminated (with evidence), educated (by interpreted experience), invited (personally), incited (spiritually), drawn (by mercy), warned (by judgment), be given awareness and susceptibility to noetic impression and vital impact: all unilaterally by sole fiat and determination of His Creator. These matters in kind we shall need to examine more fully and to investigate implicit problems with great care at an appropriate point in the development of our case.
The present, question however remains: is merit correctly construable in the sinner's distinctive disjunction from controlling sin when he in compared with that sinner who did not make this disjunction; is this one better than that one, and is it for this reason that he has come: and if so, as we say, where is equity?
Again, we will make a preliminary probe in this direction. Spiritually and Scripturally, it is the Spirit of God who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment*16. It is not skill with fact which makes a convert, from a rebel. The Lord is sharp and the Spirit is searching, and thus there is presented and illuminated, what is fact.
As to attraction it is Christ who draws; as to substantial knowledge concerning a relevant body of facts, it is the Spirit of Truth who is able to be a specialist in teaching; if it is a question of sluggishness. or spiritual inertia, He warns and incites. It is to be observed that in all this, God is the performer; His is the activity; He supplies and purveys for the antecedent deficiencies. This is meritorious: but not of the sinner.
A further consideration must exact our attention. Might it not be said that despite the lack of any effectual contribution from the sinner undergoing conversion in the foregoing proceedings, a hidden contrary implication of merit may still be found in the following way
This sinner came to Christ; the other remained. That is the difference. Is there then perhaps an existential superiority on the part of the potential convert? Perhaps when he 'elects' to come, he shows this running or dynamic superiority; and does not this indicate a correlative deficiency on the part of his reprobate fellow? Furthermore, we then must follow the other consideration: Even if the convert showed no dynamic superiority, he may alternatively have possessed a latent superiority, viewed with decisive pleasure by God in the process of His election.
Let us follow the first thought, and say that prior to conversion the prospective Christian had a distinctive Godrelated and decisive superiority as a man; it may be that this was potential only, but was made manifest experimentally in the dynamics of decision. In that case, it would result that in the very act of admitting a total worthlessness or demerit as is required of him in the nature of the case, the seeking sinner was manifesting merit.
Against this, we must observe that merit indicates worthiness for reward; it designates an achievement related quality in the area of any system cognate to our own. Indeed, it is certainly no achievement in any normal sense, through the efforts of another, to desist from a life of iniquity. We do not think of merit in the case of an habitual thief who decides not to thieve. We may think in such a situation of a return to balance not of merit. It may evoke relief, even rejoicing at the cessation of injury; but we await a contribution to positive virtue before we proceed to the category of merit.
We might indeed construe merit in his unpaid lawyer and provider of profitable pursuits to follow our case more closely, and admire the ingenuity of his contrivances or the integrity of his example.
It might then be said, the attack taking a new form, that this very return to balance which is perceived, suggests outside forces; and that if surrender suggested a return to reality, then the convert must have been more susceptible to a yielding to such a restorative force than his obdurate fellow creature. This, it might be said, if not indeed a merit, was an intrinsic superiority of nature manifested; and here we find of course, what is virtually the second position which we have cited for examination. So then, if it is not a voluntary superiority, is it not an involuntary one? if it is not a matter of superior act, it is one of predisposing fact.
Now it is true that the 'latent superiority' concept is dismissible in the very terms of the activity with which we commenced. If those are true, this cannot be: let us therefore detect the fallacy.
It lies largely in the concept of autonomy*17, which is habitually assumed by many. As a result, it was implicit and improperly so in the foregoing considerations of dynamic and latent superiority. In these, we moved from merit to a susceptibility to restorative force, which was said to exhibit superiority; and indeed, so it might, if the first were admitted. But in moving to the concept of autonomy, albeit illicitly, we have likewise avoided our own required presuppositions: An atom of humanity was not conceived as politely analysing or scrutinising a proffered analysis of God to which he might be pleased to give assent, or from which withhold it. Rather in dynamic involvement and one not necessarily always formulated from moment to moment in the intensity and immensity of the engagement was the sinner so met by God as to be inwardly churned, checked or chastened; yet to such phase of invasion only, as did not violate the actuality of his individuality.
Thus, we might theoretically take a man as sluggish in nature as human kind can be; and let us allow that sluggishness is the very opposite for this purpose, of susceptibility. Yet even from such sluggishness as this, he can appropriately be altered to alertness under the sharp and penetrating stimulus of the Spirit.
Thus another and reciprocal predisposing cause in the fallacy we are investigating, is that we tend by mere habitual thought about our fellows inappropriately to relegate the Spirit to a relative, incidental and restricted status and function, to be exercised within our autocratic autonomies. To the actual and essential stature of the Spirit in this regard, we must however attend.
Nearer than the knowing challenge of a wife, deeper than a kindly and accurate caution of a friend, this moving of the Creator lacks nothing. He can even, in effect, impart with a dexterity properly assignable only to God as agent, anything within the essential limits of the type of construction concerned: in this case, human and incorporating receptivity of the predigested depositions of the Creator.
In addition to this functional aspect, we must note the essential fact that in this case, the creature is an entity initially formed in the Creator's image: not of course in the essentially irrelevant criteria of infinity, omnipotence and omniscience, as considered at this point; but in matters inclusive of justice, alignability to the conceptions of the Other who made him, this receptivity to the ingressions and affinity for the impressions performed or provided by the Spirit.
Before we proceed to a further consideration on this point, let us note that if we are to seek for the actual differentia, or source of differentiation between the convert and the reprobate whom in certain regards we have been pondering, they must be searched for far more deeply than this rather preparatory and restricted style of approach has allowed. In Section III we must, avoiding the threefold pitfalls of systematic presumption, obscurantism and alien presuppositions, seek what Christian-Theism might consistently hold in this question and in so doing, avail ourselves of the special theories developed in that Section.
Our final cognate consideration meanwhile, concerns the fact that merit might be defined as a type of goodness, conceived as apt for reward. Now, in terms of the general tenor of our system, we affirm that the concept of goodness is in the human mind derivatively and ontologically, and that its adequate formulation may necessarily be found only in such terms as 'That which is in harmony, accord, or obedience with respect to the nature and will of God'; and we deduce, indeed, that it is for this reason that there is a chronic ethical unsettlement at this level, outside the scope of such an approach as here espoused; that its inability to be drafted in simpler terms results from our construction as derivative creations for whom the absolute is as natural but at the same time as essentially superior as may be imagined: indeed, so natural and so superior as in itself to provide the source of apposite definitions for 'nature' and 'superiority' in this case.
It is, we hold, therefore mere verification of this sobering metaphysics that we call that 'goodness' which is neither merely conceived as highly recommended by some created authority, nor suitable for a purpose, nor adapted to some end, nor replete with some mere abstract quality. These reductions omit the source, the savour and the appeal of the specific term and conception which has so demanding a place in human consciousness that it drove even Kant into the 'noumenal'.
In all reductions, we ask But why call it 'good', and what is the value of that assignation? This, then, for our system is related. Let us now apply it.
The comparison between the procedure of the convert and the reprobate. and the resulting characterisation, in terms of the goodness of their beings and propensities, is in view. For accurate comparison, we must now assert in order to be consistent, that we should assess both with respect to the absolute standard to which we looks and that is God.
God condemns, and holds abhorrent and worthless, the nature and activities of the reprobate by the standards and in terms of the requirements in question. Intrinsically a rebel and out of control, resistant and refractory the man is free from all commendation ... Yet let us take the new convert in the biblical Christian theistic position which provides all the answers in consistency and harmony, as we find.
How is that nature assessed with which he or she stood endowed? It is asserted that if this converted person is authentic, is Christ's, then multiplied images of vital realities apply, many applications are required, the spiritual case is, then, this:
his old nature must be 'crucified with Christ' *18,
so that his 'body of sin might be destroyed' *19;
that he must be 'delivered' from 'the body of this death' *20,
from his old nature in which is 'no good thing' *21, that he has been 'buried in baptism' *22
and 'planted in the likeness of (Christ's)death' *23, a seed that dies *24,
while he is found to 'die daily'*25 , 'always bearing the dying of the Lord Jesus around',*26:
defunct in righteousness*27, even indeed in uprightness of heart *28:
such a person has neither actual, existential nor hypostatic righteousness.
Indeed righteousness is assigned in its beauty, just because it is wholly conferred*29.
What then, in turn, may be said for the convert in this regard? It would appear that his/her nature is wholly repudiated as to moral calibre also. He is scarcely given retrospective acclaim' There is then no difference.
As to the activity in the area of conversion, in whatever way we shall in Section III assess this, it is not such as to secure any mitigation of the penalty and repudiation of God, thrust upon the sinner's nature; so that it cannot be viewed as a meritorious contribution from his autonomy: rather an index to a condemnation which as a result is effectually performed temporally and immediately rather than in due course and eternally.
To summarise: that which is without merit and goodness may not at all be said in the same respect to be better or superior; for if it is deficient in the first degree, how may it partake of the second; or if it lacks the existence of a quality, how may it have it meanwhile in a heightened degree? Forced for consistency, then, to employ an absolute standard, we find that relative to this, both convert and reprobate are intrinsically totally deficient. A standard allotting nil score to both can allow in that respect superiority to neither.
Now this result is precisely in accord and consistent with our conclusion regarding the unilateral and in the nature of the case unique powers for impressions and ingressions possessed by God's Spirit and exercised upon man; and both findings furnish perfect harmony with the exact requirements in this regard which we observed in freedom itself (cf. endnote 7) conceived as both divinely delegated and disposed, and humanly accountable.
It has been good to ponder these considerations, for they will no doubt assist our minds the more readily to perceive the need of some of those refined details of our system which, in this connection, we shall later consider.
First, however, there is one ultimate point concerning our present subject to which we must attend. In doing so, we must consider the place of the Cross in this directly.
If the extent of motivation that was in God in the historically effected resolution to place His Son upon the Cross is in the best sense a mystery without contradiction, a love sui generis; the fact of that placement is clear past mystery. Immoderately inadmissible in the Christian mind would be any further thought of a hidden, mist-shrouded deity, definitionless as to form and without impartable notations of being. God had on the Cross performed in human form an overt act of ultimate kind reaching to His depths.
There were no conditions about this Incarnation; it worked its way into fact. No conditional crucifixion gave hope of a final illumination. It happened. Nor was He exclusive in some sinister sense. There was a drawing exerted upon all men.
Now it is inconceivable that merit should be attributed to any man whose life made that and that kind of death on his behalf essential in a Person of that stature! Indeed, dereliction, deprivation, destitution, death these are strange penalties to be imposed on Himself by the Creator in order to clear and redeem a being of merit!
Let us then revert to the convert and the reprobate A and B. One perishes; one is delivered; and there is no virtue in being delivered. But first he is delivered from his own nature; and that is condemned.
Thus in the last analysis, not merely are both unmeritorious, but both are actually condemned; nor is it at all by his own power that the one arises from that condemnation. The propriety for God's use of that power was wrought at the resurrection of Jesus the Christ as vicarious victim, selected as a satisfactory substitute in settlement of debts the mere admission of which did nothing to mitigate them.
From the perspective of divine freedom we have now looked at human freedom, in terms of its general nature, its origin, its condition and its quality in conversion. Insistently we have been confronted with the fact of authority in the relationship between these two. In our preliminary manner, we have not yet searched as deeply as might, into all the concepts which are concerned. Indeed, when we do consider authority more deeply we will find that sovereignty in God is so great, as seen in the Scriptural revelation, that not merely does He conduct Himself as He wills, but He accords His creation with His desire. Yet such is the nature of such a Sovereign, that neither imperious will nor frustrated desire are to be found in Him, so that His own qualities are not aborted by the freedom He created, nor are they indulged or distorted, to destroy it. Knowing all, He has perfect access to man, and knowing man can assign the result which neither violates the will of man nor merely conforms to its pathetic condition.
We will note that He does this moreover not within the limits of being a concerned contemporary, but as an ageless sovereign with prescience and predestination conceiving and ensuring the multiform processes, pathways, the destinies and dramas of what we regard as future. It is the predestinative aspect of authority which will engage us increasingly throughout this Thesis; and at once we can see pertinent questions which must in due process and from suitable perspective, all have received answer: questions we shall now proceed to cite*30.
How if at all can man be free beneath such eternal and decisive authority?
But if man is at all free - How might God know what men will do?
But if He does know this - How does He control His predestinated
events, and this to accord with His preference?
But if He does so control them - How are events what they are?
Indeed, if God directs all things - How can He be equitable to
all in sovereignly directing to Himself some only of those made in
His image, as predestinate? or loving to those not so designated
and thus not so directed *30?
As we proceed through the developmental thrust of Section II, in the area of history, alert to the need for increasingly precise definitional accord with our data; and to the final analysis in Section III, with its preliminary presentation of refined propositions, it will be made clear that Christiantheistic standards have the capacity to provide a resolution to these challenging questions.
Briefly however, let us here notice
|that the control of events requires infinite knowledge,|
|that the investment of divine power into areas of the operation of human will is multiple in potential, through any kind of intervention in history, in heart or mind, circumstances or correlations that wisdom discerns neither invalidate the reality of liberty, nor destroy man's meaning;|
|that the evocation of conversion without violence or dependency on human pathology is the work of infinite understanding not only in general, but of the heart and nature of the creation on whom He conferred such areas of liberty of choice.|
If HE knows what man does not, is He not able to cut the knot by His own initiative, whilst liberating man according to the case which He discerns, knows, as it is written indeed, WHOM HE FOREKNEW, HE PREDESTINED (Romans 8:30ff.). Nor is this a mere observation in advance of actions to come, since these without God merely implement what the man is and has become; and indeed this exclusion is specifically found in biblical Christian theism (Romans 9:16, John 1:12); but rather, then is it a knowledge beyond the limitations of man and system, far beyond the discernment of the inspired artist, the sedate thinker and the empirical statistician, placing scope where it belongs and converting not in terms of merit, which lacks, or superiority, which the conception of man as before sin would remove, but of His own will and desire, loving all but selecting those who are His own.
God is in short not limited to perceiving man as within a given estate, but can discern him at any level or in any analytical configuration. If He chooses so to know man, then there is no problem at all in His disposing his destiny without revocation of his liberty, intimidation by his sin, or manipulation for some ulterior purpose. Indeed, in the divine knowledge affirmed in Romans 8:29ff., NOTHING may be excluded for as Romans 11:33 tells us, from Him, through Him and to Him are all things. He is not the recipient of any system who makes all.
There is nothing, literally, to gain from man in the Creator, whose superiority past all need is part of His being, nothing limiting or impelling, since all depends solely and exhaustively on Him.
Thus liberty here has a basis, deterministic
configurations find their come-uppance, which fail but only because their model
is defective, and justice in terms of equity is found; for not only does love
have its outcome within its own bounds of non-violence, since mere force would
destroy its relevance, but the income, here those redeemed, is chaste. It
is obtained not to increase selfish joy, but to fulfil mercy's desire for its
objects. The perfect symmetry of liberty is thus maintained, but as we shall see
it is not without cost.
*1 Immaturity, of course, is not to be confused with inchoation; an immature person may have a character exceedingly well defined.
*2 If we look at the "self" as a series of components systematised in some way, in what is the matter changed? We are merely discriminating (or thinking we discriminate) its procedures. But if this is of a certain kind and proceeds suigeneris, we have not by detail changed the generic fact of the insanity of attributing guilt to this holistically or serially conceived self.
*3. i.e. If self has some innate 'set' or rightness, moreover, who so endowed it; what purpose is thereby realised and from whom has that purpose come? But if it has not, or this has not come, then there is no rightnesss; or wrong.
The enigma remains. That is, we maintain, exactly what we should expect from such presuppositions.
But where there is freedom, there is a disposability of will in some way which in the last analysis must include or incorporate character change itself: or at all events this character change must be realisable. If we are to escape the limits of self in selecting and discerning and setting itself to one change rather than another (admittedly absurd if these mortal selves exhausted disposing reality), we must seek an Ultimate Disposing Self; and He must be free if anything may be; and our freedom must be through Him, and to Him or from Him.
This is, of course, in a general way, the type of position it is our business, having correlated it with the data, to expound.
*4. Jean Paul Sartre's 'Existentialism and Humanism'. Ref. Bibliography33, p.55. (Note: all bibliographical references are found at the end of the Thesis, in alphabetical order, so that hyperlinks to these are to the start of the bibliography in each case.)
*5. We may make application of such points as this and that preceding (*3) in a preliminary manner.
To the unconverted man faced with Christ, there may appear a tension between the desire for explicatory authority rather than a defiantly dissipating constitution for the concept of "freedom", and a reluctance on other grounds to pursue thrust and appeal of this or other sort to their issue. These grounds we shall increasingly ponder as we examine our data in the Sections ahead, more especially (e.g. pp.136ff. infra).
Psychologically and spiritually he may be drawn in two ways and repelled in two. The thought of either repentance or resistance may create apprehension and uncertainty. Freedom may intrigue with the child's attraction to undefined purposes; authority draw with the sobriety of a coherent metaphysics (to say no more), simultaneously threatening at least the feeling of retained personal dominance of the will, the exultation of 'autonomy', and its complacent composure. It does this inter alia through a remorseless dead reckoning on the standing and status of erstwhile autonomous man Milne's "Toad" on a graver canvas of actuality and eternity now deplorably reduced to a "fearful" because apt and appropriate reality. Cf. Mark 10:25; Matthew 7:14; Amos 7:5 9, esp. v.8..
*6. Realising then that doctrine is for us initial data, we are to think concerning Him who is supreme in our considerations; for while we do not here argue for Him as apologists, but basically proceed from Him in disquisition in a system, we do persistently maintain that man's reason is able to be relevant in the investigation of God's revelation.
As an instrument of man made in God's image, reason is by us expected to be relevant to divinely bestowed revelation, itself in turn an impartative expression of God who so made man. No substitute for revelation in securing unrevealed divine fact touching God at the highest and most personal level, and never able to psychoanalyse the infinite Being, its own Creator, by the ingressions of its derivative and dependent capacities, it may nevertheless clarify our thinking if now we explore with it something of the area of our discourse.
Reason can attest the consistency of our concepts and the implausibility of deviations. Moreover, just as our relevant apologetics in the appropriate field insists that no objective consideration can do other than confront man initially with Christiantheistic revelation as truth (cf. II Corinthians 10:5 6, Luke 24: 2527, Isaiah 40: 2123, Matthew 13:1415, Romans 1: 1820, II Peter 3: 57, John 7:17,2425, 9:3, 10:38, Psalm 50: 2123, Isaiah 40:27 and 45: 1921, and consult p.20 supra); so from the perspective of this revelation, reason can the more readily detect the inadequacy of alternatives, either in their internal or their external correlation.
*7. This definition which reflects Biblical instances, must be understood without mitigation. The dynamic disposability cannot be selfconditioned (by constraining character or predisposing susceptibility, potentiality, superiority, etc.) as to decision with respect to the divine; for it is precisely to the exclusion of any such conditioning that the definition with all those impending implications which will be pursued, is presented. Put differently: it is part of the connoted character of man's spirit derivatively vitalised by the divine Spirit, to be endowed with such disposability concerning the divine. Its correlation with the working of that divine sovereign is one specialist area of the Thesis to be developed.
*8. Cf. I Corinthians 14:15.
*9. Pages 17-20, with endnote *6 e.g., supra.
*10. Cf. Proverbs 8:8 the word of God is
devoid of ambivalence;
impervious to the antagonisms of the mind - II Corinthians 10 :4 6;
persistent Matthew 24:35. Isaiah 59:21, Psalm 12: 67;
all to be fulfilled Isaiah 34:16, Matthew 5:1718, I Peter 1:25, Joel 2:11, Isaiah 44: 2526;
true to God and in His sight I Corinthians 2: 916, John 8:26, 4445; 17:7, 7:16, l2:45, 14:24, 16:15;
apparent to understanding Proverbs 8:9;
and as having a prophetically promised fulfilment, it must be coherent Matthew 5: 1718 and Luke 21:33, with Joshua 23: 1415, 1 Kings 8 2324,26, 56; Isaiah 40: 28, 34:16, Joel 2:11, Zechariah 1:6, Amos 3:7, Daniel 9:2,12,13,19, Jeremiah 25:12, 23: 2029, John 5: 4647, Isaiah 48:15, Psalm 138: 2, Jeremiah 33: 2021, Daniel 12:9.
*11. Genesis 2: 1617; 3: 46.
*12. Cf. Exodus 20: 56.
*13. Cf. pp. 9
15 supra, and detailed references from our data, in Section III. "He bath
done whatsoever He hath pleased" (Psalm 115:3); similarly Matthew
5:48, James 1: 17 etc. as listed.
*14. Proverbs 8: 31.
*15. As to the ultimate initiation of evil, where no agencies of antagonism previously existed, the situation is the same essentially: for although we noted these agencies in speaking of man, our disquisition did not depend in the least, for its force upon them. The perception of alternative possible approaches is not in itself sinful, but the exercise of a gift precisely as discussed.
Like a mirage, these approaches are able to be seen, but able to be discounted because of attitude and knowledge. Once these things are seen, the sin with its consequent evil is instantaneously touched, when, in pure freedom of the delimited kind, allegiance is cast elsewhere or in false schemes and designs through the noted disposability of the will.
*16. John 16: 811.
*17. Berkhouwer in his 'Divine Election' (REF.BIBL.10: p.50) gives interesting depth in the area of such concepts when he says this:
"Paradoxical as it may sound, one can truly speak of cooperation only when synergism has been completely denounced. Only then will it be possible to prevent tension between sanctification and justification; and only then will sanctification not lead to ... selfconceit."
Now paradox must always be able to be transcended by truth;. and our purely provisional hypothesis especially in Part III of Section III completes a coordination of being, will, response and responsibility at this level, outside paradox, synergism and merit.
*18. Galatians 2: 2021, Romans 6:6; 7:24, 8:8.
*19. Romans 6:6.
*20. Romans 7:24.
*21. Romans 7:18. Cf. Matthew 16:17 & 23, John 1:13.
*22. Romans 6:24, Colossians 2:1112.
*23. Romans 6:5.
*24. John 11:24; Matthew 10:39.
For Him, it is for our sin; for us, to it (1 Peter 2:22, 24; Matthew 20:28, Galatians 3:13).
*25. 1 Corinthians 15:31.
*26. 11 Corinthians 4:10.
*27. Ephesians 2:13, 5, Romans 7:14, 18; Galatians 6:14; Romans 5:1617, 6:6, 8:3, Galatians 1:89; Isaiah 64:6, James 2:10. See also application in endnote 29 infra.
*28. Deuteronomy 9:5.
*29. Galatians 5:36,
James 2:10, Ephesians 2:3,4,8,9, Romans 9:11, 11:6,
James 1:17, Romans 3:20, 4:45,16,2425, 5:16,17,1819, 6:23,
3:2126, 7:14,18, II Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:1013, 6:14.
Cf. correlatively p.19, endnote 7:
In the six texts italicised above, reference is made to "works". It must be noted that these "works" relate to anything commanded by the Divine Law, be it behavioural, ethical, moral or existential activity on the part of their producer. man; and that the testimony which works bear to faith fails to alter their disjunction from faith here strenuously executed by Paul. when this gift is considered in its function presented as conforming to the very character of truth as modus operandi in the declaration of eternal justification (cf. Romans 5:810, 10:9, 8:2931,3439 etc.).
We might put it that if works in this way must in principle be excluded, so too must be any propensities attributable to the man who produces these works; and it matters not to our purpose whether such propensities be thought of as dynamic or static, causally productive, elicitive or effectually inducive of their imagined justificatory or salvatory consequence upon a divine counsel which is by nature eternal. If moreover it is important to realise that it is 'not of works', it is not for that reason unimportant to observe the positive resolution: 'that it might be of grace'. Thus as soon as you name what 'earned' favour, whatever it be, you must negate it. Cf. pp.51-52, 68-69, 82ff. infra. The biblical depiction excludes all this with a fervour which sustains integrity of liberty (cf. Ephesians 2:1-10, Romans 3:23-27).
*30. In terms of the Parts of Section III Solution these problems would most directly concern respectively: Predestination Itself, Foreknowledge; Predestination and Foreknowledge jointly; System and the World as it is; and The WillinSin with Predestination. The conception of a most intimate mutuality should, however, be grasped. To this, reference both implicit and explicit will be made.