BEL scores interview with Dr. Leighton Flowers!

* So Where Did God's Freedom Go? Bob Enyart interviews seminary professor and former Calvinist Dr. Leighton Flowers, known for debating theologians like James White and Matt Slick. Bob and Dr. Flowers develop some of the key principles involved in this centuries-long predestination debate and the two make the case that Calvinists not only deny that men have freedom, but in the same way they also deny that God has freedom.

* See Also: Dr. Flowers podcast Soteriology101 and the shocking aftermath from Bob Enyart's debate with James White involving him and R.C. Sproul Jr. in this 2-minute video with excerpts from The Battle at the Palace:

* On Conflating Will and Ability and Doing What You Most Desire: Bob had a brief email interaction that we decided to post on this Dr. Flowers page assuming he wouldn't mind. :)

Forwarded Conversation
Subject: Do you always do your greatest desire?
------------------------

From: Friend 1
Date: Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 3:38 AM
To: Bob Enyart <bob@kgov.com>, Friend 2, Friend 3

Calvinists like to say that you always do your greatest desire. Friend 2 and I are uncomfortable with this. What if my strongest desire is to run from point A to point B as fast as I can. In the process of running from point A to point B, I trip and fall. (This happens to everyone.) Could it be argued that what happened (tripping and falling) was not our greatest desire?

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From: Friend 3
Date: Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 6:11 AM
To: Friend 1
Cc: Bob Enyart <Bob@kgov.com>, Friend 2

I think you're conflating will and ability. Your will was to run from A to B. Your attempt was to run from A to B. But your ability limited how well you could perform your desire.

My greatest desire could be to go to McDonald's. [I hope that doesn't give away Friend 3's identity.] But then I could die on my way.

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From: Friend 1
Date: Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 6:54 AM
To: Friend 3
Cc: Bob Enyart <bob@kgov.com>, Friend 2

If you agree that everything you do is your greatest desire, is that falsifiable?

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From: Bob Enyart <bobenyart@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 8:15 AM
To: Friend 1
Cc: Friend 3, Friend 2

I think Friend 3 is correct that the running example conflates the concept of ability with the concept of will (which is not the ability to do, but the ability to decide). Calvinists make this conflation always. So I don't think that example falsifies the claim.

This is also something that Ludwig von Mises wrote about in Human Action, but the way he put it is that everything we do is to minimize discomfort. There's something incredibly insightful in his claim. It sounds like we're making an idol out of "comfort", turning our own comfort into a deity. Yet we can also see that a Christian can recognize sin as something very uncomfortable (which is then avoided) whereas loving and obeying God (as with Noah's name, meaning comfort, sigh, repent even) is the most comfortable thing possible, to rest in His arms. And then there's Ray Comfort...

:)

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From: Friend 1
Date: Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 8:40 AM
To: Bob Enyart <bobenyart@gmail.com>
Cc: Friend 3, Friend 2

Tripping and falling, can you say a bit more about that? Also, is the idea that we always do our greatest desire falsifiable?

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From: Bob Enyart <bobenyart@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 8:54 AM
To: Friend 1
Cc: Friend 3, Friend 2

To falsify the claim that you always do your desire, you can't use something that you didn't desire, like falling. Your will was not to run, but to run from A to B, and that's what (by your falling) you didn't have the ability to do.

It should be pretty simple to falsify that (if it were wrong). Just present a single example of someone willingly doing something they don't will to do. (That is, something they don't desire to do, or, doing something they desire but not what they desired to do even more. Or, to word it as Mises has, doing something not intended to increase their comfort.)

Back when I was a computer programmer, we would test code by putting it through extreme circumstances, that is, if a function added two numbers, we would test it with enormously large and almost infinitesimally small, numbers. If it sorted words, we would include Aardvark and Zzyzx.) Here too, let's test this observation with the most extreme examples we can think of. For example, consider gang members turning on their boss, saying, shoot your son or we'll kill your two daughters. If he does it, he's doing it because he wills to and because that is what he most desires doing at that moment and to minimize his discomfort. He judged, though wrongly, that he would be better off if he killed his son and that having his daughters survive would increase his comfort. So if the claim that we always do what we prefer to do holds even in the most extreme cases then it'll probably hold in all cases. Here's another example. It's a vacation day and you plan to go to the beach with your wife but instead you head off to work at the grimiest, sweatiest, hardest, hottest job ever because if you don't fill in for your co-worker, who's out sick, they'll fire him, and you don't want that to happen because your son is engaged to the guy's daughter, and you don't want their situation to be upended. So on your day off, you go to the worst job ever, to minimize discomfort because it's what you desire to do.

Yes?

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From: Friend 1
Date: Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 9:00 AM
To: Bob Enyart <bobenyart@gmail.com>
Cc: Friend 3, Friend 2

"Willing to do something you don't will to do" is a contradiction, no?

And, ha, I like the Ray Comfort joke!
 

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From: Bob Enyart <bobenyart@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 9:05 AM
To: Friend 1
Cc: Friend 3, Friend 2

Ha! And yes, exactly, that would be a contradiction, which observation is powerful evidence that it is true that we only do the things that we most desire to do. As has been said, even regarding a Christian's sin, "We sin because we love it." Sad, but true, and... unavoidably true I think.