A Challenge – Part 1

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I originally was not going to do any of the following, but when questioned about a challenge I gave, and the respondent indicated plainly that he didn’t understand; I presented it to my editor. The reply I got back was that I was not being at all clear, and was being somewhat difficult. I protested. I was then told that I could not expect other people to “read my mind” and should be more clear about what I am after.

What I am after here, is this:

I seek to make people think about what the LORD actually states, and consider the ramifications of all He has stated; that they may come to know the LORD and honor Him in a deeper way than what they currently do.

After all, whether we realize it or not, it is a form of honor to think upon the things others say. To disregard or ignore someone is the most insulting form of dishonor. It is not necessarily the worst form of dishonor, but it is terribly insulting to someone to ignore them as if they don’t exist. And, as we can see, the LORD God made His views on being ignored abundantly plain to Jeremiah and Judah:

Because the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them; but this people hath not hearkened unto me: Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered. (Jeremiah 35:16-17)

With that, let’s look at the challenge and what the end of it is.

Paul,

You said:

Now, pertaining to the false doctrine of Calvinism, perhaps those holding the doctrine could explain the wording and construction of the following passage, particularly the use of personal pronouns? Oh, and don’t shortcut and divert and say that I do not understand the sovereignty of God. I certainly do, and you can find the evidence in the article “God’s Box.”

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

You know, for Calvinism to be true, the pronoun “his” would have to be changed and the wording of the passage changed significantly, would it not?

_____, I’m not following you here. Why would the pronoun “his” have to be changed for Calvinism to be true? If my theology is true or not true because of one scripture, obviously my theology would be wrong. Please explain yourself.

To begin looking at this passage, we must note couple of things immediately. First, that verses 9 and 10 go together and form a challenge/response arrangement. This is more than merely question/answer as the tone clearly indicates a challenge. The statement is given “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:” and the challenge is rhetorical “who can know it?” meaning the unspoken response is a given “No one.”

It is not the unstated, obvious response we will focus on here, as that is not part of my challenge to those holding a Augustinian/Calvinist/Reformed/Sovereign Grace/Primitive Baptist view of God’s sovereignty and predestination. Rather, it is the actual stated response of the LORD and what His use of the pronouns plainly demonstrate.

Now, every method we must use here is going to involve grammar. If you don’t like that, yet you want to understand what the LORD God is stating in His word, then you need to get over your aversion to grammar. The English grammar book (older ones are better) and a good unabridged dictionary are your friends, and will remain your friends for life. Please accept this and go on. Here is where we ditch the commentaries and learn to walk/run/swim with only the LORD guiding us.

One of the methods for determining what sentences state is the use of equivalent replacement of words. So long as we ensure the words are in their correct tense, form, and meaning, we can determine with certainty what a sentence states by substitution of words. This is a method that used to be common in English and Grammar classes in both Elementary and High School and is quite effective for teaching about our language, and learning what a sentence is all about. So then, in determining the doctrine put forth in passages of Scripture, we can use the equivalent words, or definitions of words to see if it confirms what we think we are reading.

In the above passage from Jeremiah, verse 10, we see that the LORD speaks here as first person and those the LORD speaks of are second person. Thus, for the LORD to be truthful (which He is) he cannot speak or apply any second person pronouns to Himself, but must remain in the first person. Hence, only the pronouns I, me, my, myself, we, ours, and us would apply to the LORD.

In the passage from Jeremiah, there is a construction that plainly indicates how the LORD God works in the lives of individuals. The LORD states here that He searches the heart, He tries the reins (mind); He then uses the word “even” which means “moreover”as it is the adverb usage of the word in this context, which is synonymously, “moreover to give.” We then read the phrase “every man” and going on, find the word “according” which means “in conformity with” which also synonymously is “in conformity with his ways”

Which sentence would now read:

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, moreover to give every man in conformity with his ways, in conformity with the fruit of his doings.

Now, in turning to the pronouns particularly, we see the use of “I” given as a possessive of “search the heart,” “try the reins,” and “give every man in conformity with his ways, in conformity with the fruit of his doings.” Thus the possessor or doer of these actions is the LORD God.

Contained within the last action of the LORD “give every man in conformity with his ways, in conformity with the fruit of his doings.” is the personal pronoun “his.” At this point, we turn our attention to this word and its usage in this context.

The word “his” is a second person, personal possessive pronoun, and used in this verse, is possessive of “ways” and “doings.” Here we find that “man” is the noun and “his” is the pronoun that applies to “man.” The noun “man” is modified by the adjective “every” meaning “all” singularly or individually. The word “man” as used here does not apply to only the male of the species, but to the race of man. Hence, in long form the sentence would read thus:

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, moreover to give each individual person of the race of man, in conformity with that person’s ways, in conformity with the fruit of that person’s doings.

In supporting the rewritten verse, the following definitions are given. For the sake of time and space, they are copied from the Online Free Dictionary, and are consistent with the longer definitions given in the Oxford Unabridged.

e·ven 1 (vn) adj.
1.
a. Having a horizontal surface; flat: an even floor.
b. Having no irregularities, roughness, or indentations; smooth. See Synonyms at level.
c. Being in the same plane or line; parallel: The picture is even with the window.
2.
a. Having no variations or fluctuations; uniform: the even rhythm of his breathing.
b. Of uniform distribution: an even application of varnish.
c. Placid; calm: an even temperament.
3.
a. Equal or identical in degree, extent, or amount: Use even amounts of butter and sugar.
b. Equally matched or balanced: an even fight.
c. Just; fair: an even bargain.
d. Having nothing due on either side; square: If we each take half, then we’ll be even.
e. Having exacted full revenge.
4. Having equal probability; as likely as not: an even chance of winning.
5. Sports
a. Having an equal score: The teams are even at halftime.
b. Being equal for each opponent. Used of a score.
6. Mathematics
a. Exactly divisible by 2.
b. Characterized or indicated by a number exactly divisible by 2.
7.
a. Having an even number in a sequence.
b. Having an even number of members.
8. Having an exact amount, extent, or number; precise: an even pound; an even foot.
adv.
1.

a. To a greater degree or extent. Used as an intensive with comparative adjectives and adverbs: Looked sick and felt even worse.
b. Indeed; moreover. Used as an intensive: He was depressed, even suicidal. Even a child knows better.
c. Used as an intensive to indicate something that is unexpected: declined even to consider the idea.
2. At the same time as; already; just: Even as we watched, the building collapsed.
3. To a degree that extends; fully: loyal even unto death.
4. Exactly; precisely: It was even as he said: the jewel was gone.
tr. & intr.v. e·vened, e·ven·ing, e·vens
To make or become even.
Idiom:
on an even keel
In a stable or unimpaired state: “There was good reason to keep relations with Washington on an even keel” Helen Kitchen.
[Middle English, from Old English efen.]
even·er n.
even·ly adv.
even·ness n.
e·ven 2 (vn)
n. Archaic
Evening.

[Middle English, from Old English fen.]1

even 1, Adjective
1. level and regular; flat
2. on the same level: make sure the surfaces are even with one another
3. regular and unvarying: an even pace
4. equally balanced between two sides
5. equal in number, quantity, etc.
6. (of a number) divisible by two
7. denoting alternatives, events, etc., that have an equal probability: they have a more than even chance of winning the next election
8. having scored the same number of points
9. even money or evens a bet in which the winnings are exactly the same as the amount staked
10. get even with Informal to exact revenge on; settle accounts with

Adverb
1. used to suggest that the content of a statement is unexpected or paradoxical: it’s chilly in Nova Scotia, even in August
2. used to intensify a comparative adjective or adverb: an even greater demand
3. used to introduce a word that is stronger and more accurate than one already used: a normal, even inevitable aspect of ageing
4. used preceding a hypothesis to emphasize that whether or not the condition is fulfilled, the statement remains valid: the remark didn’t call for an answer even if he could have thought of one
5. even so in spite of any assertion to the contrary; nevertheless
6. even though despite the fact that
See also even out, even up [Old English efen]
evenly adv
evenness n
even 2
Noun
Poetic or old-fashioned
1. eve

2. evening [Old English fen]2

even (vn)

Divisible by 2 with a remainder of 0, such as 12 or 876.3

his (hz) adj. The possessive form of he

1.
Used as a modifier before a noun: his boots; his plans.
pron. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
Used to indicate the one or ones belonging to him: If you can’t find your hat, take his.

[Middle English, from Old English; see ko- in Indo-European roots.]4

To be continued . . .


  1. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid
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5 Responses to “A Challenge – Part 1”

  • Aaron says:

    Paul- I know your one of the busiest men in the world, but I have been waiting over a month for  scriptural support of your foreknowledge/predestination view. Either cite direct scriptures that prove your view correct or acknowledge your view to be wrong. I know you like to focus the attention away from your false view of foreknowledge/predestination and write commentaries that have nothing to do with your view,  and I know it must be frustrating not to find scripture support of  a view that is not in the bible, but this is getting ridiculous.

    • Paul says:

      All I can tell you Aaron, is you must not have any responsibilities beyond sitting in front of the computer, or reading religious commentaries.

  • Aaron says:

    If you feel I have set up a straw man in my portrayal of your theology you should be able to answer a few easy questions on what it takes to receive Christ. If you can answer these questions and show that you still believe in salvation by grace alone, apart from any merit (or sheer chance) then I shall admit defeat. (“I don’t know” doesn’t count) Here are the questions:

    Why is it that one unregenerate person believes the gospel and not another?
    Was he able to generate a right thought, produce a right affection, create right belief, while at the same time man #2 did not have the natural wherewithal to come up with the faith to be saved?
    If they both made use of the same grace, did one make better use of it than the other?
    If prevenient grace places us in a neutral state, then what motivates one man to believe and not another?
    What principle in him made him choose what he did?
    If all men are neutral in prevenient grace was it by chance that one believed and not another?
    Is it the grace of God that makes you differ from unbelievers or is it your faith?

  • Aaron says:

    Oops, I forgot, you don’t believe in preveient grace. Just take the preveient out and substitute” God’s “grace to answer the questions above.

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    1. Aaron Says:

      Paul,
       
      The point was made that since the arminian or non-reformed position argues election is based upon God’s knowledge of man’s future choice to believe, it should follow then that God also has knowlege of man’s future non-choice or failure to believe, which then brings up an interesting question. If God has knowledge of those who won’t believe, why, according to the arminian or non-reformed position, would He still be making efforts to save them and be unwilling that they be lost? It seems that, if this is true, God must be in some sort of battle against Himself since He is making efforts to go against what He already knows to be. I thought this was an interesting point to consider. Although, you have no scripture support that God elects to your foreknowledge view, again, If God has knowledge of those who won’t believe, why, according to the arminian or non-reformed position, would He still be making efforts to save them and be unwilling that they be lost?
       
       

    2. Aaron Says:

      Paul- I know your one of the busiest men in the world, but I have been waiting over a month for  scriptural support of your foreknowledge/predestination view. Either cite direct scriptures that prove your view correct or acknowledge your view to be wrong. I know you like to focus the attention away from your false view of foreknowledge/predestination and write commentaries that have nothing to do with your view,  and I know it must be frustrating not to find scripture support of  a view that is not in the bible, but this is getting ridiculous.

    3. Paul Says:

      All I can tell you Aaron, is you must not have any responsibilities beyond sitting in front of the computer, or reading religious commentaries.

    4. Aaron Says:

      If you feel I have set up a straw man in my portrayal of your theology you should be able to answer a few easy questions on what it takes to receive Christ. If you can answer these questions and show that you still believe in salvation by grace alone, apart from any merit (or sheer chance) then I shall admit defeat. (“I don’t know” doesn’t count) Here are the questions:

      Why is it that one unregenerate person believes the gospel and not another?
      Was he able to generate a right thought, produce a right affection, create right belief, while at the same time man #2 did not have the natural wherewithal to come up with the faith to be saved?
      If they both made use of the same grace, did one make better use of it than the other?
      If prevenient grace places us in a neutral state, then what motivates one man to believe and not another?
      What principle in him made him choose what he did?
      If all men are neutral in prevenient grace was it by chance that one believed and not another?
      Is it the grace of God that makes you differ from unbelievers or is it your faith?

    5. Aaron Says:

      Oops, I forgot, you don’t believe in preveient grace. Just take the preveient out and substitute” God’s “grace to answer the questions above.

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