Is there a covenant of Works

God’s Covenant with Man From Age to Age

When God created man, he created man in covenant with himself. This can be seen clearly in Hosea 6:7 where it says that Adam transgressed the covenant. On the surface of Genesis chapter one, God gave Adam the mandate to multiply and fill the earth and subdue it by ruling over it. This was characteristic of the covenant between God and Adam. Adam was expressly given charge to “guard” the garden as seen in Gen. 2:15. G.K. Beale argues that “Adam was a primordial priest serving in a primeval temple.” It is also clear that the tree of knowledge represented the status and authority of judgement being given to man to rule in a judiciary sense. For scriptural support of this particular meaning of the phrase “knowledge of good and evil”: 1 Kings 3:9 and 28, 1 Sam. 14:17-20, Hebrews 5:13-14, and many others. To illustrate: “When Laban pursued Jacob God appeared to him and told him not to pass judgement on Jacob, ‘Take heed to yourself that you do not speak to Jacob either good or evil.’ (Gen. 31:24).” Laban was unfit to judge Jacob. This unfitness is put in terms of Laban not being fit to speak ‘good or evil’ about Jacob. Solomon was fit to be king and judge in this way because he requested the wisdom “to discern both good and evil.” The ability to adequately discern both good and evil carries judiciary resonances and responsibilities. Adam was not meant to attain to these until God deemed him ready.
We see then a role being given to Adam in which he will mature and develop into as a priest king, so that, as he matures and develops within the context of the gracious covenant between him and God, Adam will become more and more fit to rule and exercise this judiciary responsibility. This ability to rule and to discern good and evil was a role that was to be given by God, and not selfishly grasped at by Adam himself (contrast with Phil. 2:5-10). We can also contrast “David, who refused steadfastly to seize the crown from Saul, and who repented when he cut off a corner of Saul’s kingly robe; and with Jesus who refused any crown until the Father bestowed it upon him at his ascension.” This authority was to be graciously given in God’s own time when he deemed the recipient fit for such a role. In this, Adam was not called to earn anything from God, but rather, he was called to mature and develop through faithful obedience to God in preparation for what God would call him to next. Fesko, in arguing against Jordan, draws some quite embarrassing inferences. A classic straw man example can be given in two instances: First, Fesko, who has up to this point been interacting primarily with James Jordan, pulls an oblique reference from Ralph Smith who was writing on a totally different subject (that of the Trinity), and sets up a quote form him that says that Smith’s reasons for believing in his view of the economic Trinity are “theological rather than exegetical.” Then Fesko uses that to say that Jordan “denies the primary authority of Scripture in theology” because he is not using the Scriptures to ground all of his theological beliefs. In this, Fesko does not deal with the multitude of verses Jordan gives to ground his statements. Second, Jordan gives an analogy that illustrates the issue of maturity with regard to parenting. He gives an example of Tom, who as a 5 year old is given responsibilities to to keep. A good father would not reward a five year old with keys to a car because the child is not mature enough for this, even though the child was faithful to the commands of the Father. Tom, when he is sixteen, may be given keys as a reward for his faithfulness. Fesko takes this analogy and accuses Jordan of teaching that there was an “ontological deficiency in Adam.” Then he quotes Jordan, “infants, such as Adam and Eve were, do not have the wisdom to know good and evil in this judicial sense.” This judiciary sense is the mature role that Adam was meant to grow into as he matured in the garden within the context of faithful obedience to God. Fesko then asks, “What does this say regarding the creation of man in the imago Dei?” Jordan is simply saying that Adam lacked a judicial maturity that would fit him for the next stage of fulfilling God’s mandate. Jordan never suggests that Adam was ill equipped to fulfill God’s mandate of keeping and guarding the garden, being fruitful and multiplying, etc. This sort of polemical immaturity removes all credibility from Fesko, even though he raises some good points.
So, Adam’s responsibility to fulfill his mandate from God was a mandate that would entail gradual increases of maturity and responsibility, and these responsibilities were prematurely grasped by Adam. However, this did not absolve Adam’s (and man’s) responsibilities after the fall. This can be seen in these passages: Gen. 1:28, 9:1-7, 12:2-3, 17:2, 22:17, Lev. 26:9, Deut. 15:4, 30:16. These passages could be multiplied over and over again. What is clear is that God’s plan for Adam and his subsequent offspring continued after the Fall and was often repeated; unmistakably. This mandate was never meant to be a way of earning back God’s favor. As if God says to man, “if you do what I commanded Adam to do, then I will come and restore you to repay you for what you have earned.” Even Jesus clarifies this in Luke 17 where he says that after we have obeyed in everything, we should then say that we are unworthy servants; an attitude that Jesus himself emulated no doubt. This attitude is not compatible with the covenant of works and the paradigm which suggests that Adam was earning something. This mandate was to be carried out by God’s people, as a continuation of God’s covenant with Adam, because this was who God created man to become. Man would grow into this role, not by earning it, but by becoming more and more aware of his own lack of wisdom, and the need for God’s grace.
The quest of man to become the man that God intended him is a long story. The crucial character in this story, for some time, is Israel. Israel is given the mandate, and is said to be the ones through whom God’s plan for the world will come to fruition. This is the role that Israel failed at miserably. Paul alludes to this in Romans 3:2. N.T. Wright writes,
The key is then 3:2: Israel was entrusted with “the oracles of God.” This does not mean that Israel was given God’s oracles for its own possession; the strange word “oracles” may well reflect what Paul has already said at more length in 2:17-20, that the Torah was designed to enable Israel to be the light of the world. “Entrusted” means “given something in trust, to be used or passed on for someone else’s benefit.
God’s call of Abraham had the dual purpose of carrying forward God’s original mandate given to Adam, but with the twist of also dealing with the antagonist introduced by Adam via the Fall. This is where delineating the role of the Torah within the scope of the Abrahamic covenant is so incredibly vital.
God did not say to Israel in Egypt, “Here is my Torah; if you keep it perfectly for a year or two, then I will liberate you from your slavery,” but “I am liberating you now because I promised Abraham I would do so; when, and only when, I have done so, I will give you the way of life that you will need for when you come into your promised land.
When the story comes to Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, the one who would embody Israel and do all that God required of Israel, God is, to use N.T. Wright’s language, being faithful to the covenant that He made with Abraham. Abraham is to become the Father of many nations. Prior to this coming to fulfillment, God also prophesied of a time of slavery and exile through which God would create the ‘sperma’ of promise. This pattern of exile and deliverance was recapitulated time and again throughout Israel’s history.
Paul, in recounting Israel’s history, delineates several underlying issues that were at work. For starters, the one God of Israel has a plan for the world. This plan is to be enacted through Israel. Israel, like the world, has a problem that is not skin deep, but which penetrates into the very essence of who they are. Israel, like the world, is in Adam. To deal with this “in Adam” problem, God gives Israel the Torah. The Torah was not meant to be a latter by which Israel would climb up and therefore earn acceptance with God. Rather, it was a further expression of the covenantal relationship between Israel and God, that was given by God to move the covenant forward to its intended fulfillment. The Torah had a strange effect on Israel however. Rather than having the purifying effect that Israel expected, it actually exasperated the problem of sin. According to Romans 5:20-21, this was the purpose of the Torah. It was intended to have this sin intensifying effect. The force of the Adam-Christ contrast, as was recounted earlier in the exegesis of Romans 5, grows directly out of the long argument concerning Abraham, since God’s purpose in calling Abraham was to deal with the problem created through Adam.
In terms of Romans 7, Paul envisages the law in terms of a marriage. Wright points out that “the law is not the first husband, but the thing which binds ‘you’ to that first husband (Adam).” The Torah, then, was introduced into the Adam-Christ sequence in order to increase the trespass.
Now, at one of the most profound moments anywhere in his writing, Paul sketches what that purpose was. Israel was called in order to be the place where sin would grow to full height, so that it might at last be fully and properly condemned. If sin was to be defeated, this was how it had to happen.
This is to say, in effect, without the torah, Christ could not have accomplished his God given vocation. No Torah: No Messiah-Victory.
In terms of Roman 6-7, through Baptism, and the union shared with Christ, those in Christ die. Through the death that they share in the Messiah, they are freed from the marriage to Torah and Adam, so that they might live to another. All those who are in Christ make up this promised family (sperma), and are called to carry out the mandate originally given to Adam. We are still called to be fruitful, and multiply, and to fill the earth and subdue it. The power by which we, as Messiah-people are to accomplish this is in the power of the gospel. The good news that God has been faithful to his covenant promise to Abraham and his promised seed, through which he will renew the whole cosmos. Jesus has been shown to be the world’s true Lord through God’s vindication of him by raising him from the dead. The world has been given the summons to surrender to his kingship, and trust in his gospel.
It is within this context that the covenant is best understood; a covenant that extends all the way back to the first man. The gospel is the good news that God, in Christ, has come to set the world, and its image bearers in it, right with himself. There is a deep continuity here with the first and subsequent covenants that God made, to which the Covenant of works is insufficient to account for. In the Messiah, God has moved beyond the Torah and the Jewish temple (early stages of God’s covenant with man and specifically Israel), and into the promised new covenant in which Gentiles are rightful covenant members, conditioned upon faith in Israel’s Messiah. Within this membership, faithfulness to the Messiah is mandatory as a member of Christ’s corporate body, the church, the new covenant temple. It is here that the church is called to anticipate the coming kingdom and reign of Christ by living now, embodying in its thought patterns, attitudes and behavior, the life which will be exemplified in the coming age. We are called this: Living life under the lordship of Christ both because he is Lord, and in a prophetic and more complete sense, one day, he will be.

Review of the Economy of the Covenants (A Defense of the Covenant of Works)

Herman Witsius’s “Economy of the Covenants,” contains a lot of helpful information. It is a very thorough work that covers quite a bit of ground. The book as a whole is great. Theologically it covers the centrality of “covenant” in God’s dealing with man. This is one of the pillars upon which all covenant theology is built.
For now, however, the focus will be on Witsius’s first chapter titled “The Covenant of Works.” Having followed R.C. Sproul for some time and having listened to just about every lecture that he has done, this writer was in basic agreement with the doctrine of the covenant of works for some time. Also being a fan of John Piper, this writer ran into some interesting sermons/teaching series where Piper voiced some of his disagreements with the covenant of works; mentioning obviously his seminary professor Daniel Fuller. Later hearing Douglas Wilson on the subject really brought this writer to a place where he realized his utter ignorance of the doctrine, such that he could not determine who was right and why it mattered (Wilson not agreeing with the covenant of works either). There was also a rigorous exposure to the covenant of works in J.V. Fesko’s “Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine.” Rather than persuade this writer however, he was left thinking that Fesko, though making some good observations, drew conclusions that were not adequately supported by his biblical arguments. It felt like he was drawing five dollar conclusions from one dollar arguments. Coming to Witsius’s work, this writer mainly came with an interest to see how he dealt with the doctrine, and whether or not he could shed light on why it is so dogmatically held. The covenant of works is a fundamental doctrine that supports certain ways of understanding the doctrine of Justification, at least in the writer’s understanding. If such an important doctrine (justification) rests on the doctrine of the covenant of works, then surely the doctrine of the covenant of works should have some considerable support.
What the writer has found, even after reading Witsius, is that the covenant that God made with Adam is not clearly a “covenant of works.” That God was in a covenant with Adam is convincingly supported. The nature of that covenant however seems to be different in many ways that is let on by the advocates of the covenant of works.
One argument that the writer finds decisive in arguing against the covenant of works is with regard to Jesus. The argument could be framed thus: Did Jesus receive grace? Did Jesus live by Grace? Was Jesus dependent on Grace? In this context, were Jesus’s works meritorious? If it can be shown that Jesus received grace, and depended on grace, then it would follow that his works were the product of grace, and therefore not meritorious. If this can be demonstrated, then the covenant of works is consequently called into question. In Luke 2:40 it says that Jesus grew in wisdom and became strong. And the grace of God was upon him.
Now, if grace is seen as something that is exclusively reserved for recipients who have disqualified themselves from God’s favor, demerited if you will, then this verse would not make any sense. Grace assumes the propriety of God not giving favor, in many people’s estimation, because it implies that the recipient has done something to disqualify himself from it. This is not the case with Jesus.
If Jesus lived by the strength provided by God’s grace, then the nature of God’s covenant with him, and concomitantly the covenant he made with Adam, was of a different nature than is supposed by the covenant of works. If this is true then one of Witsius’s pillars is torn asunder.
Consider the position of Witsius with regard to God’s requirements. Dr. Macmahon summarizes Witsius:
1) A promise of eternal life. 2) Prescription of the conditions for obtaining the promise, and 3) the penal sanction against transgressors of the conditions of the Covenant. If Adam persevered, he would have received what we received by faith in Jesus Christ. The law itself was ordained to life (Gal. 3:21). Christ, the second Adam, earned eternal life for us through the law. He did what Adam did not do. Perfect obedience is (still) required by all men. This should help us to see that God does not change just because men fall. God still speaks to people in His Word as if they are not fallen (Do this and live.), for perfect obedience is necessary to obtain eternal life (Galatians 5:3).

Witsius’s argument, with regard to the law, was that the abrogation on the part of God was that man could no longer obtain eternal life by the keeping of the law. As can be seen above, it is not that God no longer requires such obedience, but that God has determined that such obedience will not be accomplished by the men themselves (but rather by their representative.) It is further argued that the law does not change because God does not change; a key to understanding the Covenant of Works. What is required of God does change, however. Unclean animals are declared clean. Circumcision is rescinded as requisite to be full members in the covenant family of God. Sacrifices no longer function the same way as they did under the old covenant. Someone may say, yes, that is true, but it is true because of what Jesus did, not because God has changed. To which the writer would respond, no one has suggested that God has changed. On the contrary, the law is no longer required by God because it has been fulfilled. There are two different ways to view this. First, one could see God having a list of requirements for someone to be accepted (the COW). The COG is where God comes in to do that list for his people, so that it is fulfilled and subsequently some things are no longer necessary. Second, it could be that God intends a threefold mission to be undertaken: 1. to deal with the sin inaugurated by Adam, and 2. to put the original vocation of man back on tract (the cultural mandate), and 3. To lead man to the state of glory that he was destined to ascend. Now, in the second paradigm, the Torah was necessary to deal with sin, and God gave it as an instrument through which he would deal with sin through Israel. The fact that he dealt with sin through the Torah, and therefore fulfilled its purpose, has to do with the historical fulfillment of the Torah, and not a “list” that must be checked off as it were. Here the writer senses that the paradigm for many reformed theologians for fitting the gospel in with the law here is assumed to be the covenant of works, when that is not a necessary assumption. There is not a good reason for supposing that Adam was not in a covenant of grace, and that all of God’s covenants have been essentially the same in nature, but gradually developing and finally climaxing in the new covenant, and thus launching God’s image bearers into a new era.
Granted, there is much to agree with in Witsius. His affirmation of the federal headship of Adam, and the fact that God made man in covenant with Himself. However, there are several things that again are assumed. He argues that Adam was naturally immortal, even though there was a tree of life that Adam was not permitted to eat (for serious reason one would suppose). Had Adam obeyed, Witsius infers that Adam would have been permitted to eat of the Tree of Life, and rightly so. However, to then draw the inference that such obedience is a work in which Adam earns eternal life through his obedience; this is not the only conclusion that one could draw. Within the covenant of Grace, there is a maturing process that Adam could have undergone. Followed by a reward for enduring to the end. In the context of the new covenant, Witsius would fight to defend the fact that any endurance maintained in the new covenant by a believing Christian is the product of Sovereign grace. Why, then, would we argue any differently for Adam’s own obedience, if we talk of the hypothetical world in which Adam obeys, then we should attribute his obedience to the Grace of God and his reward as the further gift of that grace.
Witsius goes on to discuss the sacraments of the Covenant of Works. The Sacrament of Paradise was the Garden itself. The Sacrament of the Tree of Life, and the Sacrament of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and it seems the sacrament of Sabbath. This is an issue that has resurfaced in the writer’s current generation concerning the nature of the sacraments and the fact that the sacraments do more than signify covenantal realities, but are themselves means by which the thing signified is administered to the covenant members. How much evidence there is to support the existence of these so called pre-fall sacraments is uncertain. It is an interesting observation. Certainly there was profound significance invested in these objects.
Witisus in speaking of the fall of Adam, rightly teaches that there is concurrence. He argues that God obviously predetermined that Adam would fall. God is the author of history and ordains whatsoever comes to pass as Ephesians 1:11 clearly teaches. Witsius, as quoted earlier, goes on to say that God continues to give commands to man as if he had not fallen by subsequently citing an example like “do this and live.” This, however, is misguided. When God says to Israel “do this and live,” he says that within the context of the covenant of Grace. What is implied is more consistent with a theology of maturity, than with a theology of merit.
In Conclusion, a different take on God’s covenant with Adam will be given shortly after an exegesis of Romans 5 is explored. Several themes will be drawn together with different considerations that should lead an honest inquirer to a different concept of covenant with the first man. For the most part, this way of understanding the covenant will show a great continuity with Witsius, but also demonstrate some key points of departure. Before jumping straight into an exegesis of Romans 5, a brief excursus of Edwards’s own take on this passage will be demonstrated, followed by a more contemporary analysis.


Essay on Calvinism and the Glory of God in Romans 9

The Biblical Evidence in Romans Chapter 9

The Bible’s emphasis on these matters is of utmost importance. The locations where the Bible speaks directly to man’s freedom in conjunction with God’s Sovereignty is where God’s Sovereignty and Human Freedom are brought into their respective position. The emphasis that the Bible places on such issues should establish one’s beliefs. When the Bible speaks of man’s freedom to choose, in conjunction with God’s sovereignty, the emphasis does not consistently fall on God’s commitment to ensure that every person has the ability to choose, such that no influence would decisively incline the will in one direction instead of another. When reading the Bible, it is clear that God does allow people’s wills to be influenced in such a way that the influence decisively moves people’s decisions one way instead of another (Gen. 20:6; Ex. 12:36; Judges 9:23; Acts 4:28; Prov. 21:1). When people’s wills are similarly inclined in the Scriptures, such an influence does not abrogate a person’s responsibility (Acts 4:28). Now, a brief analysis of Romans chapter 9 will be given to determine what God’s “superior purpose” is in relation to universal salvation, and this will help to biblically establish the grounds of defining human freedom.
In Romans chapter 9, Paul presents a problem. The problem is that the majority of God’s chosen people, Israel, have rejected Christ. Paul addresses the problem of Israel’s rejection in Romans 9:6 by saying “it is not as though the word of God has failed.” Paul then sets out to demonstrate that God has never included all of Abraham’s offspring. God rejected Ishmael, and accepted Isaac. Many of Paul’s critics would have pointed out that Ishmael was a son of the slave Hagar, and that this was the basis of God’s rejection. Therefore Paul moves to another example to delineate the true grounds for the distinction between those who are included into God’s covenant and those who are excluded.
The next example that Paul gives is Jacob and Esau. These two boys were twins and they were both born as sons to Isaac and Rebecca. Romans 9:11 says that God chose to include Jacob and to reject Esau before either of them were born and before either of them had done any good or evil. The next objection is “then why did he choose one over the other?” Paul answers “in order that the purpose of God’s election would stand, not of works but of him who calls.” John Piper writes,

“First, with the use of the preposition ἐξ Paul makes explicit that God’s decision to treat Esau and Jacob differently is not merely prior to their good or evil deeds but is also completely independent of them. God’s electing purpose (Rom 9:11c) and his concrete prediction (9:12c) are in no way based on the distinctives Esau and Jacob have by birth or by action. This rules out the notion of the early Greek and Latin commentators that election is based on God’s foreknowledge of men’s good works.”

God chooses Jacob over Esau with no respect to the distinctives of either party. Paul even builds on this when he writes, “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Rom. 9:15-16). John Piper writes,

“Paul never grounds the “electing purpose of God” in man’s faith. The counterpart to works in conjunction with election (as opposed to justification) is always God’s own call (Rom 9:12b) or his own grace (Rom 11:6). The predestination and call of God precede justification (Rom 8:29f) and have no ground in any human act, not even faith. This is why Paul explicitly says in Rom 9:16 that God’s bestowal of mercy on whomever he wills is based neither on human willing (which would include faith) nor on human running (which would include all activity).”

Many people raise the same objection that Paul anticipates when they ask “Is there injustice on God’s part” (Rom. 9:14)? Paul, in answering this question harkens back to the episode with God and Moses where God reveals his plans for Israel, Egypt, and Pharaoh.
In Exodus 33:18 Moses pleads with God saying “Please show me your glory.” To which God responds “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Ex. 33:19). When Moses asks to see God’s glory, God’s says that He will pass all of his goodness before Moses and that He would proclaim his name ‘The Lord.’ Immediately after this God says “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.” In other words, God is saying that the essence of His glory carries with it the freedom to extend grace and mercy to whomever He wills. God is saying to Moses, “in order for you to rightly see my glory, you must know that I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious; because, all of my gracious activity is motivated by nothing outside of me; I am free!” God is under no obligation to extend mercy to anyone, and it is part and parcel of the glory of God to delegate His grace freely and sovereignly; hence God’s statement subsequent to Moses’s request. Piper writes,
This suggests strongly, then, that in Rom 9:15-18 Paul is defending the righteousness of God in predestination by referring to two Old Testament texts which reveal that God proclaims his name (i.e. his character) and demonstrates his glorious power in the world by exercising his sovereign freedom to show mercy and to harden. The unstated premise of this argument is that when God acts righteously he must use his freedom in this way; or, to put it another way, God’s righteousness consists in his unswerving commitment always to act for the glory of his name—a name which according to Ex 33:19 implies a propensity to show mercy and a freedom apart from all human distinctives in determining its distribution.

Paul answers the next objection that the critics raise. They ask “does God’s choice of Jacob over Esau, the choice that was independent of anything in them or done by them, mean that God is therefore unjust?” Paul refers to two Old Testament texts (Ex. 9; Ex. 33) which reveal that God demonstrates His glorious power in this world by exercising His sovereign freedom to show mercy and to harden. This conclusion is strengthened by asking “why did Paul chose these two texts” among the many that he could have chosen concerning the same topic. If Paul was merely demonstrating that God had the right to harden Pharaoh’s heart, then, why didn’t he simply cite from the passages where it explicitly states that God hardens pharaoh’s heart? Piper asks “Why choose a text in which the very word “hardening” is missing?” Piper answers,
It is no accident that the key word ôνoµα appears also in verse 17. It is no accident because in both Ex 33:19 and Ex 9:16 Paul has found Old Testament texts in which the exercise of God’s sovereign freedom, in mercy and in hardening, is the means by which he preserves and displays the glory of his name.

Romans 9:22-23 says, “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.” God desired the full panorama of His glory to be manifested in its fullness. This was why He created the world. Unconditional election displays the glory of God’s free grace. God, when He extends grace, does not extend grace because of anything in the object of His grace. It is solely on the basis of who God is. Unconditional election displays this reality by making it clear that no one has any claim to grace by virtue of anything that they have done. This is why God doesn’t save all. He seeks to manifest the fullness of his glory, which fullness consists in the display of His free grace that is extended to those whom He wills apart from, and independent of, any distinctives that they possess.


God’s Glory is the emphasis of Romans 9 and it is consistent with God’s chief end in creation; namely, the display of the fullness of His glory in all of its manifold perfections. The fullness of God’s glory, including the glory of God’s justice for the vessels of wrath, exists for the vessels of mercy, and is meant to intensify both their delight in God, and their worship of God. For this reason, God determined not to save all, or to extend to all the unmerited favor that He extended to his vessels of mercy. Consequently, the vessels of wrath were able to follow their own passions and desires freely. They were free from any constraint to act contrary to their wishes, and in as much as they voluntarily did what they wanted to do; they were responsible for their decisions.

Foreknowledge and Human Freedom

Divine Foreknowledge and Libertarianism
Name of Student: Josh Shelton
Date Submitted: 2-27-13

[Many of my footnotes are not footnoted on the blog, but the bibliography is at the end]

Libertarianism is notorious for the assumption that it and it alone proposes the genuine concept of freedom consistent with human accountability and responsibility. Libertarians tend to operate under this assumption of freedom when critiquing Calvinistic formulations of God’s Sovereignty over human choices. Before commencing, a brief definition of terms is necessary.
God’s divine foreknowledge will be used to refer to God’s infallible and exhaustive knowledge of all future choices, thoughts, attitudes, events, etc. Libertarian freedom is: 1. An absolute power to choose contrary,1 2. The power to choose otherwise such that no causal factors determine a person’s choice including the person’s own desires, or 3. To put it more precisely, freedom that maintains that “no causal antecedent nor set of antecedents, laws of nature, or other factors is sufficient to incline the will decisively to choose one option over another.”2
If such freedom is demonstrated in specific instances to not exist, then libertarianism maintains that accountability is absolved. Antagonists to libertarianism, known as determinists, and/or compatibilists, therefore seek to demonstrate that there are in fact instances where such a notion of freedom, and the limited domain of accountability concomitant with such freedom, fails to account for the responsibility of human choices. Furthermore, compatibilists also feel that there are antecedent events and realities that render particular choices certain without absolving responsibility or accountability, and that such cases betray libertarianism. For this reason, compatibilism does not wish to challenge the notion of human accountability or freedom, butsimply the rogue definition of freedom given by libertarianism. So, the compatibilist searches for areas where he can demonstrate the inconsistency of libertarianism. One such a case is God’s foreknowledge. This paper will argue that God’s exhaustive divine foreknowledge contradicts the libertarian conception of freedom such that the two positions are mutually exclusive.

Divine Foreknowledge and the Certainty of the Future
In Pike’s famous essay, he set out an argument that can be summarized: Jones is going to mow his yard (from now on termed P) because God believes P is going to happen.3 Pike argues that an infallible being with divine foreknowledge cannot be mistaken with regard to his beliefs and knowledge, and therefore, the future occurrence of P is fixed. Libertarians have responded to this form of reasoning with an accusation now known as the “fatalism fallacy.”4 When discussing God’s foreknowledge it is crucial to keep in mind that God’s foreknowledge does not make the future unfold in the manner that it does. Libertarians responded to Pike’s reasoning: “God believes P is going to happen, because P is going to happen, not the other way around.” Their response is true.
God’s foreknowledge does not create the nature of the future. However, His foreknowledge is itself an important variable that helps inquirers to make a more accurate assessment of the nature of the future and the free choices it contains. One of the arguments that will be put forward here is that the foreknowledge of God does not make our choices certain, but divine foreknowledge certainly means that they are certain. God’s foreknowledge of future free choices cannot exist unless those choices are fixed. This is the compatibilist’s main point when discussing the issue. This was the point of Jonathan Edwards in his response to Whitby when he wrote:
To all which I would say, that what is said about knowledge, its not having influence on the thing known to make it necessary, is nothing to the purpose, nor does it in the least affect the foregoing reasoning. Whether prescience be the thing that makes the event necessary or no, it alters not the case. Infallible foreknowledge may prove the necessity of the event foreknown, and yet not be the thing which causes the necessity. If the foreknowledge be absolute, this proves the event known to be necessary, or proves that it is impossible but that the event should be, by some means or other.5

The fatalism fallacy argument contains a key phrase; namely, the consequent phrase, “P is going to happen.” This phrase provides the sufficient grounds for God’s belief that P will occur. This phrase, if true, communicates truth that pertains to the certainty of future events and choices.
One very important variable to consider when analyzing the certainty of P is the beliefs of an infallible being with regard to P. An infallible being’s belief that P will occur sheds light on the structure of the future and enables a more accurate assessment of the nature of the future’s certainty. The fatalism fallacy quote also communicates another point. It says that God believes P because P is going to happen. The certainty of P prior to P establishes the proper epistemic foundation sufficient to enable and necessitate the beliefs of an infallible and omniscient being. The only way that God could know and believe that P will occur is if it is certain. The purpose of raising God’s foreknowledge in an argument against libertarianism was to demonstrate the fixedness of the future prior to the choice of Jones. The fatalism fallacy concedes the fixedness of the future and then says that the argument fails, even though what they concede is what the determinist is arguing for in the first place. In light of this, the accusation of the fatalism fallacy should be laid to rest when it is directed toward determinists who affirm compatibilistic freedom.6 For, when it is directed toward such a person, it is misguided, confused, and wholly unsuccessful. John Feinberg voices his own frustration with the appeal to this proposed fallacy allegation:
[The Calvinist/Determinist] agrees that [God’s foreknowledge] does not make anything occur. The Calvinist/determinist point is to ask how God can really know (in the strong epistemological sense) that something will occur if in fact it is not set. Obviously, it is not set or caused by anyone’s knowledge of it, but the fact that one has knowledge of it suggests that it will in fact occur. Herein lies the problem for contra-causal freedom, for God cannot guarantee that something will assuredly occur if contra-causal freedom is correct. And, if he cannot guarantee it, then at best he thinks it will occur but does not know that it will.7

The proposed argument then is that the future is set or fixed, as evidenced by God’s foreknowledge, and that this fixedness poses a serious threat to libertarian notions of freedom. Looking further into this idea of the “fixedness of the future” (from now on FOF), there are two specific areas to consider. The first area to consider deals with the causality of the FOF and whether or not one is warranted in thinking the FOF exerts a causal influence on the present. Second, the agent or thing responsible for fixing the future will also be considered.

Is the fixedness of the future causal?
So, the ground of God’s foreknowledge is the “fixedness of the future.” The subsequent question is “Does the FOF exert any causal influence on the present?” It seems, on the face of it, that the fixedness of the future itself is concomitant with some sort of causal influence or exertion on the present. If the future was fixed, then the course of events were guaranteed prior to their actually taking their course.
Assuming God’s foreknowledge, which requires the fixedness of the future, suppose there have been 500 billion choices. In each and every choice, the course of events (including choice) flowed in perfect harmony with the prior FOF. The fixedness could not have been a result of God’s foreknowledge because the fixedness is itself the basis for such knowledge. So, the FOF exists before the choice occurs, and therefore the choice itself cannot contradict the FOF because it is fixed in the past, evidenced by God’s foreknowledge. Furthermore, it cannot be reduced to mere coincidence that universally all events follow the course preset by the FOF. It must be exerting some influence on the present. Such would be the only justifiable conclusion.
To argue the point, consider a craps table which has 38 different possibilities for each spin. Suppose there are two different scenarios:8 1. John bets on the red 16 slot on the craps table and it hits 100 times in a row while he is near the table, and 2. John bets on the red 16 slot, and it hits it only one time, along with a totally random assortment of hits. Now, the probability is exactly the same in both cases no matter what numbers he hits (1 in 38 per spin; or as a whole, 1 in 38100, and this is regardless of what they hit). However, in the first case, John is kicked out of the casino for tampering with the equipment. It is clear that mere probability does not account for pattern recognition. A person is not required to know the precise mechanism at work, or how John is cheating, to be justified in believing that John is cheating, assuming the first scenario. Transposing this onto the question of FOF, it is already established that the future is set, and that the future cannot change or be altered, evidenced by God’s knowledge and beliefs of the future. So the future is fixed before the future arrives, and it cannot be altered once it arrives without damaging God’s beliefs. God’s beliefs do not cause the future to be as it is in the future, but the future causes God’s beliefs to be as they are in the past; therefore, when the future arrives, the future cannot be otherwise than it was when it caused God’s beliefs to be as they now are.
So, the future is set prior to the choice of Jones, and the course of events always follows the pattern of the FOF in every case. The assertion comes to this: if the future is fixed before the future arrives, and if, when the present arrives it always plays out according to the pattern already fixed, then there is surely justification for believing that the pattern of the FOF is somehow, in some way, at least remotely responsible for the course of events playing out as they do. One is not forced to account for the exact mechanism responsible for the causation, or to adequately explain such. In the same way the guy working at the casino is not forced to identify whether John was using a magnet or some other mechanism at the scraps table to know that he was cheating. If this is true, then the FOF is one factor among a “set of antecedents, laws of nature, or other factors [that is] sufficient to incline the will.”9

What fixes the future?
The next crucial question is “what fixes the future?”10 The libertarian has only one option. The future free choice of Jones is what sets the future. However, on the face of it, if the future is set by the future free choice of Jones, then the future is not set until the future free choice of Jones (that is until the future becomes the present.) If the future is not set until the free choice of Jones occurs, then the future is not set at all.11 If the future is not set, then the proper epistemic foundation for God’s foreknowledge of future choices is destroyed. Libertarianism is contradicting God’s foreknowledge. Many Molinists will respond, “we cannot know the precise mechanism of God’s omniscience, nor do we have to.”12 The reason they cannot know it, in this case, is because they have a defeater for their doctrinal position. Libertarianism is a defeater for God’s foreknowledge because it is a defeater for the fixedness of the future, which is the epistemic basis for God’s foreknowledge.13 In light of this, and the foregoing truths, it is easy to see why Edwards and Pike argued in the manner “God believes P, therefore P is going to happen,” because the only way God could believe P, is if it is already certain to happen. In any case, either libertarianism is contradicting the foreknowledge of God, which is made possible by a fixed future; or, the FOF is contradicting the established belief in libertarian freedom. Either way, one of them must be reassessed if the belief in human freedom and the belief in divine foreknowledge are to continue.
If God’s foreknowledge does not fix the future, and man’s free choices do not fix the future, then what does? To be clear, any system that is built on libertarian conceptions of freedom, including Molinism, will inevitably meet the rebuttal above; namely, that the only thing that can possibly fix the future for them (in their scheme) is the free choices of people. For those who are not committed to libertarianism, God’s foreordination fixes the future and provides the epistemic basis for his foreknowledge. This does not undermine human freedom. The freedom accepted by compatibilists is accurately defined by William Alston when he writes, “It is within S’s power at ‘t’ to do A: if S were to will (choose, decide . . .) at ‘t’ to do A, S would do A.”14 Augustine’s view of freedom was basically the same. He claimed that freedom was the ability to voluntarily choose according to one’s wishes. Soft determinism, which believes that God’s foreordination sets the future, does not suggest that God coerces people to choose one thing over another. In light of the contradiction between libertarianism and the FOF, the most logical remedy for the libertarian would be to accept this specific view of human freedom known as compatibilistic free-will. In spite of this failure of all libertarian systems in accounting for God’s foreknowledge15, there are yet still attempts to harmonize God’s foreknowledge and human freedom on other fronts. Two of these fronts are Molinism, and Ockhamism. These two will be briefly dealt with respectively.
First of all, most Molinists conceive of God as temporal, which is usually concomitant with a belief in the A-series view of time. Wrestling through the difficulties of the A-series and B series theories of time is off subject. For the sake of argumentation, the A-series view of time will be assumed, seeing as it is the most accepted view among Molinists. The A-series affirms not only the reality of “temporal becoming,” but most importantly for this argument it affirms, “the present represents the edge of becoming, and future events do not merely not yet exist, rather they do not exist at all.”16
In this view, God usually does not have a perceptual sort of knowledge (especially of the future) but a conceptual view of knowledge. In the conceptual view, God knows the truth value of propositions eternally. So, the proposition “Jones will do P at t,” was true or false as a proposition in the past, in the sense that God was capable of recognizing something unique about this proposition as a proposition. The same would be true of the false proposition “Jones will not do P at t,” God knew that this proposition, as a proposition, lacked the attribute of truth. God, then, simply innately knows only and all true propositions as true. The problem with this line of reasoning is with the remaining question “what makes the proposition true?” There seems to be only two possibilities: 1. God’s knowing it makes it true (The Molinst rejects this; it’s the fatalism fallacy); or, 2. Jones’s doing P at t makes it true, which brings the issue to where it ended earlier. If Jones does not yet exist, and he has not mowed his lawn, then the proposition is not yet true or false. If libertarianism is true, then, the only sorts of propositions about the future that can be true are those which hold open the actual power to contrary. Such propositions restrict divine foreknowledge. Such propositions are normally conceived of as “might” counterfactuals, contrasted with “would” counterfactuals. One argument concerning each counterfactual will be given against Molinism before turning to Ockhamism.
Might Counterfactuals
Might counterfactuals have the potential of affirming the power to contrary in the exact circumstances in a way that “would” counterfactuals simply cannot. Gregory Boyd writes,
It makes perfect sense to affirm as true the statement that ‘Commander Karl might and might not publicly praise Churchill if given a chance.’ But it is impossible to affirm as true the statement that ‘Commander Karl would and would not publicly praise Churchill if given a chance,’ for this statement is blatantly absurd.17

Furthermore, might counterfactuals are actually negated by “would” counterfactuals.18 Boyd writes, “if it is true that Karl might praise Churchill, then it is false that he would not, and if it is true that Karl might not praise Churchill, then it is false that he would.”19 William Craig, a Molinist, responds, “freedom requires only that in a given set of circumstances one must be in some sense capable of refraining from doing what one would do; it is not required that one might not do what one would do.”20 What should be clear to Craig, but is not, is that a person cannot be truly “capable of refraining” in the libertarian sense if the possibility that an agent “might refrain” is denied.21 Such restraint undermines libertarianism.

Would Counterfactuals
Next, and probably more important to this critique of Molinism, is “would” counterfactuals. William Lane Craig writes, “Since God knows what any free creature would do in any situation, he can, by creating the appropriate situations, bring it about that creatures will achieve his ends and purposes and will do so freely.”22 Craig states that God, in viewing the world, knows which circumstances would yield the free choice “x” or the free choice “y”. Since God knows what we will freely decide to do in every possible set of circumstances, God can simply bring about those circumstances (that situation) in which he knows we will freely choose to do exactly what he wants to be done.23
“Would” counterfactuals assume a deterministic approach that contradicts libertarianism, because if someone says that Jones would do x, given these circumstances, then they are assuming that the circumstances are sufficient to incline Jones’s will to do x instead of y. The addition of the word “freely” hardly delineates libertarian definitions of freedom as opposed to compatibilistic ones. In fact, the entire scenario betrays libertarianism. So, if changing the circumstances leads to a different choice or outcome, then it is assumed that a change in the circumstances (set of causal antecedents) brought about a different choice. Even if the causal laws were constant in both “worlds,” it was the causal factors, in this case the circumstances, that results in a different choice. In short, the belief that God can manipulate the environment to create the “appropriate situation” where his creatures “freely” choose what he wants them to choose is quite frankly not consistent libertarianism.

Ockhamists address the issue of God’s foreknowledge and its threat to dissolve their belief in libertarian freedom from a different vantage than has been discussed so far. Ockhamists claim that all persons intuit an important asymmetry between past and future.24 “This asymmetry consists in part in the fact that the past is outside our control in a way in which the future is not.”25
Ockhamism hinges on the term “necessary.”26 Even though it is conceded that the future is as unalterable as the past, the past is necessarily the way that it is in a way that the future is not.27 Plantinga gives an example: “Although I now have the power to raise my arm, I do not have the power to bring it about that I raised my arm five minutes ago.”28 So, Ockhamists claim that the soft determinists and/or the compatibilists are treating the future as though it is set in the same manner as the past is, when clearly there is an apparent powerlessness over the past that does not extend to the future. This is due to the future being set, they claim, in the form of soft facts; while the past is set as hard facts. There are two arguments against Ockhamism to consider before concluding this entire discussion.
The first argument must establish the “fixity of the past” (from now on FOP) before progressing. Widerker defines the FOP: “If a given event occurs at a time t, then no one has it within his power at a time later than t to bring it about that that event did not occur at t.”29 Another working assumption in this argument is that God intervenes and governs the world with reference to his foreknowledge. In light of this, Widerker develops this argument:
Suppose that God knows at t, that Jack will freely pull the trigger at t5, with the intention of killing Smith. Suppose further that, wanting to save Smith, God reveals this fact to Smith at t3. As a result, Smith by taking appropriate precautions is able to save his life. Now, the Ockhamist concedes that, by having the power to refrain from attempting to kill Smith, Jack also has at t4 the power to make it the case that God did not know at t, that Jack would attempt to kill Smith at t5. On the other hand, God’s knowing that Jack will attempt to kill Smith is a condition that in the circumstances causally contributes to the occurrence of the event of God’s warning Smith at t3, in the sense of being (in the circumstances) a causally necessary condition for it. Surely, if God had not known at t1 that Jack would try to kill Smith, he would not have told Smith that Jack will attempt to kill him. But then it follows that, by having the power to bring about the nonobtaining of that condition, Jack would have it within his power at t4 to bring about the nonoccurrence of past events, such as:
Wt3: God’s warning Smith at t3
Xt3: Smith’s hearing at t3 a voice telling him that Jack will attempt to kill him
Yt3: Smith’s coming to believe at t3 that Jack will attempt to kill him, etc.30

Since God governs the world in light of his foreknowledge, and he intervenes because of the facts of the future, then the past and present are both causally influenced by the specific future decisions of free agents. Drawing from Widerker’s argument, once God warns Smith that Jack will attempt to kill him, the past and present are causally affected by the fact that Jack will in fact attempt to kill Smith in the future. Once God acted on his foreknowledge in behalf of Smith, in order for Jack to have the power to do otherwise in the libertarian sense, Jack would have to possess the power to change the fact of the past; namely, the fact that God warned Smith that Jack will attempt to kill him (because, if true, then God would not have warned him).
Second, the question for the Ockhamist is “how did soft facts become facts to begin with?” If the Ockhamist is a libertarian, then he must answer thus: “the future free choices of free agents are what make ‘soft facts’ facts.” So, the statement, “Jones will mow his lawn in three weeks,” if true, was a soft fact three weeks before Jones actually mowed his lawn. According to libertarians, Jones’s decision to mow his lawn in three weeks is what made the statement a soft fact three weeks before Jones actually decided to mow his lawn. However, this can be reduced to saying that soft facts do not become soft facts until they become hard facts; and once they become hard facts, then, every moment before that decisive moment they can now be considered soft facts. In short, since Jones’s decision is what makes the proposition a soft fact, then it cannot be a soft fact until Jones’s decision takes place (which is totally absurd). Soft facts assume the FOF, and the FOF restricts the sort of freedom necessary to uphold libertarianism.
This discussion really began with the fatalism fallacy. It was noted that God’s foreknowledge did not cause the future to be fixed, but that it required the future to be fixed. For this approach, the fatalism fallacy rebuttal is totally useless. The phrase “If P will happen, P will happen” is not necessarily what the compatibilists point is reduced to. It was argued that the consequent phrase “P is going to happen” actually establishes the epistemic environment sufficient to ground the beliefs of an infallible being, and that for such to be possible the future choices would have to be fixed in a way that is contrary to libertarianism.
Next, the causality of the FOF was considered. Since the present always follows the pattern preset by the FOF, one is totally warranted to think that there exists a causal relationship between the pre-set FOF and the present. Just as someone who witnesses rain many times notices that the ground always gets wet afterward; even without knowing the precise mechanism, one is justified in thinking the rain causes the ground to get wet. From there, the next area of analysis was with regard to the precise agent or mechanism responsible for fixing the future. Libertarians say that it is the future free choices of people that fix the future. However, it is impossible for God to know what is going to happen, before it is actually “going to happen.” Such certainty that P will occur is necessary for God’s foreknowledge, but it undermines libertarian freedom.
After this, Molinism and Ochamism were inspected in light of some of the foregoing arguments. Molinism had problems on two fronts: ‘might’ counterfactuals, and ‘would’ counterfactuals. According to Molinism, it is historically impossible that a person ‘might‘ do otherwise than he does. If this ability is denied, libertarianism is destroyed. Next, the ‘would’ counterfactuals were considered. ‘Would’ counterfactuals assumed a deterministic view of choices; precisely the opposite of what most Molinists claim to hold. The whole system of Molinism is built on compatibilistic assumptions within its ‘would’ counterfactuals and such is what Molinism is usually diametrically opposed to. The last system to consider was Ockhamism. Ockhamism was shown to violate the principle of the FOP since God deals with people according to his foreknowledge of future events. The system also ultimately cannot account for the existence of soft facts without damaging libertarian definitions of freedom.
Affirmatively, God’s decree fixes the future and it establishes the epistemic foundation for God’s foreknowledge. Yes, this does contradict libertarian freedom, which is why such freedom should be abandoned and replaced with a better, more consistent view of freedom and accountability.31 The freedom to follow one’s greatest desires is a real freedom that flows seamlessly with God’s infallible foreknowledge of future free choices (since he perfectly knows the causal antecedents and their effects). Compatibilism also establishes the existence of soft facts, seeing as it does not state that future free choices are what set the future. Instead, it states that the combination of variables in this actualized world are what fix the future. In light of this, God can know the future, and what he knows can be soft facts until the events occur, at which point they become hard facts. It must be asked why a view that is demonstrably more consistent is so avidly rejected to embrace what is plagued with inconsistency. The reason is that compatibilism gives God the power to bring about the choices that He ultimately deems successful in fulfilling His original purpose in creation; also known as Edwardsean Calvinism.32

[Many of my footnotes are not footnoted on the blog, but the bibliography is below]

Alston, William. “Divine Foreknowledge and Alternative Conceptions of Human Freedom.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 18, no. 1/2 (1985): 19-32.
Arminius, Jacobus. A Discussion on the Subject of Predestination. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1956.
Basinger, David. “Divine Control and Human Freedom: Is Middle Knowledge the Answer.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 1993: 55-64.
Carson, D.A. Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2002.
Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig. 1990. (accessed 2 1, 2013).
—. The Only Wise God. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 1999.
Edwards, John Piper and Jonathan. God’s Passion for His Glory. Wheaton: Crossway, 1998.
Edwards, Jonathan. Freedom of the Will. New York: Cosimo Classics, 1845.
Feinberg, John S. No One Like Him. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2001.
John Feinberg, Norman Giesler, Bruce Reichenbach, and Clark Pinnock. Predestination and Free Will. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1986.
Linville, Mark D. “Divine Foreknowledge and the Libertarian Conception of Human Freedom.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 33, no. 3 (June 1993): 165-186.
Meyer, Stephen. Signature in the Cell. New York: Harper Collins, 2009.
Paul Helseth, Willaim Lane Craig, Gregory Boyd, and Ron Highfield. Four Views of Divine Providence. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.
Pike, Nelson. “Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action.” The Philosophical Review 74, no. 1 (January 1965): 27-46.
Widerker, David. “Troubles with Ockhamism.” The Journal of Philosophy, 1990: 462-480.

Why do we choose what we choose

A definition of your joy: This is your subjective disposition and affections for something.

Let us consider serving another person. Ideally, we want to serve others because we have joy in serving others.

So if I said that “if serving others brings you joy, then it is not selfish,” what do I mean? If you serve others because it brings you joy, what you are saying is that seeing other people’s needs met is delightful to you. If you serve others even when you don’t want to and have no concern for the person, then you are serving out of a sense of duty; you want to do the right thing. Your joy is in your accomplishment, and not in the other person.

So if I say, serving myself is what makes me happy; that is selfish. If I say, serving God makes me happy, I’m not selfish. The object of my joy is determinitive.

If I say, I always worry about what I want to do, when I want to do it, because being consumed with my own desires is what makes me happy; I’m selfish. Why? Because my joy revolves around me.

So, what pushes us to serve others? Pride, self-righteousness, sense of duty, or genuine concern for the person? Genuine concern means that you want to bring relief to the person because bringing relief to that person satisfies that longing in your heart to see relief in the person you are concerned about. In other words, it brings you joy to see them relieved. If what motivates you is the fact that serving them brings you joy, then, your joy is not a selfish motivation.

One could argue that every thing a person does is done because it is what they wanted to do. The question is “what did they want to do? What is the object of their joy? That is the question.

The Equation:

If I am the object of my happiness then I am selfish. If God is the object of my happiness then I am not.

Joy is my subjective affections toward an object.

When I do something for the glory of God, the question is “why am I concerned with the glory of God.” How do I feel about the glory of God?

Joy is that pull in whatever object that moves you to do something. When a person sees something that they want to do, then, there is a desire in them that arises and is drawn led into the “pull of the object.” Joy is what makes something attractive.

Here is an equation for Joy.

[x amount of longings, cravings, and desires] + [degree in which these longings are satisfied] = Amount of Joy experienced

In a choice, there is a push and a pull in every alternative. The pull comes from the object of our joy; and it has a supposed amount of satisfaction to offer us.

The push comes from our longing, not only for satisfaction in general, but the craving for a particular object; this particular craving exists because of the belief that it can supply the satisfaction that you crave.

Calvinism vs Arminianism on Free-Will Part 1

Here are a couple of sections from my paper:

These 4 points will demonstrate this (assuming God is all-powerful):
1.) God loves all people.
2.) God wants all to be saved.
3.) All are not saved.
4.) Therefore, there is some superior purpose in God that would be contradicted if #2 was brought to fruition by the decree of God.
Virtually all Arminians who affirm God’s omnipotence and omniscience will affirm these 4 points. I. Howard Marshall, in A Case for Arminianism says:
“to avoid all misconceptions it should be made clear at the outset that the fact that God wishes or wills that all people should be saved does not necessarily imply that all will respond to the gospel and be saved. We must certainly distinguish between what God would like to see happen and what he actually does will to happen, and both of these things can be spoken of as God’s will.

To the surprise of some, many Calvinists will also affirm these 4 points. The disagreement between Arminians and Calvinists is over the issue of what the “superior purpose” is.

One more quote from my paper:

The difference between Calvinists and Arminians lies not in whether there are two wills in God, but in what they say this higher commitment is. What does God will more than saving all? The answer given by Arminians is that human self-determination and the possibility of a resulting love relationship with God are more valuable than saving all people by sovereign, efficacious grace. The answer given by Calvinists is that the greater value is the manifestation of the full range of God’s glory in wrath and mercy (Romans 9:22-23) and the humbling of man so that he enjoys giving all credit to God for his salvation (1 Corinthians 1:29).

It can be concluded at this point that when an Arminian says that God does “all that he can” to save everyone, what they actually mean is this: God does all that He can to save everyone without compromising His superior purpose of maintaining free-will.

It is safe to say that, according to the Bible, God’s glory and God’s name are the most important realities in the universe (Is. 43:6-7). God’s purpose to display the fullness of His glory is the superior priority that governs God’s other desires (1 Sam. 12:22; Ps. 23:3). God’s creation of the world was motivated by God’s desire to display His glory (Ps. 8:1; Is. 43:12). The glory of God emanated onto the canvass of creation because this purpose was God’s chief end in creation. Therefore, any subsequent desires or purposes that came along after creation cannot override or replace the purpose for which the universe, and all that is in it, exists. The display of the fullness of God’s glory is what motivated God to create the universe, including mankind. Therefore, any desire that arises subsequent to the creation of mankind will be subordinate to the chief end that initiated the existence of man in the first place. God’s chief end, this paper is arguing, is the display of the fullness of God’s glory in all of its manifold perfections.

For the entire essay see the link below:

(Copy and Paste into search Box)