Monday, July 03, 2006

A Calvinistic Syllogism

1. You should not trust or believe what a totally depraved person says.
2. If it is true that a Calvinist is totally depraved...
3. You should not trust or believe what a Calvinist says.

If this one point of Calvinism is true (total depravity), then you cannot trust or believe Calvinism. Calvinism is, therefore, self-defeating.

In order to deny this logical syllogism, you have to either 1. believe that you should trust or believe what a totally depraved person says (i.e., go to the local looney bin for advice and information), which is self-evidently absurd, or 2. believe that depravity is not total, which denies one of the key tenants of Calvinism and is therefore self-defeating of Calvinism anyway.


Blogger GeneMBridges said...

Apparently, you have never studied the meaning of the term "total depravity." Do you ever bother to read the literature of that which you seek to critique. It simply means that man can do no spiritual good to contribute toward his salvation.

It does not mean that man is as depraved as he can possibly be. It does not mean he can do no acts of relative good. It does not mean he cannot speak the truth.

It means he cannot come to God without being effectually drawn, understand, apprehend and love the truth. (John 6:37-45, Romans 8:7, 1 Cor.2:14, John 5:23, just for starters).

Here is a representative sample from the LCBF2:

and here:

and here:

“Does total depravity of nature mean that an unsaved person cannot do anything good? No. The unsaved person, by God’s common grace (or restraining power), can do things that are good within the civil or human sphere. For example, an unsaved person may save another from drowning, at the risk of his own life. But the unsaved person can do nothing that is spiritually good, that is, nothing truly good and pleasing in God’s sight. He may do things that are good in themselves, but e never does them with the right motive, namely, to love, serve, and please God; therefore even the ‘good” works of the unsaved person are spoiled and corrupted by sin,” J. Vos, The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary (P&R 2002), 61.

Moving on, 2 is a false conclusion, even if 1 is true. The Calvinist is regenerate. Calvinism includes a doctrine of salvation you know. What are the noetic effects of sin as a result of regeneration?


6:47 PM  
Blogger slaveofone said...

I take it as given that if a man can do no spiritual good, he can do no other good either. The reason for that is simple: because good is defined by whether a person's being is aligned with Yahweh's or not. Yahweh is the only measurement of good because only a universal can define a particular and only Yahweh is a universal.

A person who saves another person from drowning cannot be doing good unless he/she is spiritually conformed to Yahweh. If someone is depraved beyond all hope spiritually, he/she can do nothing good in the human sphere either. To say otherwise is to create a universal out of a particular that is not Yahweh--and that is idolatry.

As for "regeneration", I find the Calvinistic concept of it to be powerless pragmatically and empirically and nonsensical rationally according to the ancient Jewish world-view. Therefore I have no reason to believe any Calvinist is "regenerated". And even if I did, I have no way to know whether their total depravity has been regenerated at any point in time since that regeneration is spiritual, not physical. Thus, all I know about someone who says they're Calvinist is that they believe there is nothing good they can say or do either spiritually or physically and as a consequence their position is self-defeating.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Peter D. Nelson said...

Well that's nice but you haven't defined you personal definition of what is 'good' scripturally.

As for the rest of it you've laid your own definition of the term "total depravity" not what those who hold to the doctrine of grace. So its a nice strawman but all its good for is scaring crows.

8:10 PM  
Blogger slaveofone said...

I haven't defined my view (as you define it "scripturally") because I operate according to a Jewish world-view, not a Pagan Greek system like "proof-texting".

Of course I've laid my definition... why wouldn't I say what I believe? Why would I back up definitions I don't believe? It's no strawman, it's laying bare the facts as I see them--you can't expect me to lay bare the facts that I don't see.

My blog isn't an apologetic blog--I'm not here to argue and debate others or bring long lists of scriptural references which *prove* my point [shakes head in sadness I'm here to state my opinions and views and thoughts and anyone is welcome to see them.

I do appreciate you coming and looking around. Come by often and speak up when you disagree. I give all people that right--even those who want to curse me and God himself.

8:36 PM  
Blogger james said...

I'll concede this is one of the better attempts I've seen as of late. But the syllogism falls flat in that Calvinism acknowledges the power of God to change the state of man's nature and enlighten him with the truth of the gospel, and that He actually does so as a part of His irresistable and effectual grace. Now your syllogism stands in that you probably shouldn't ask Joe Nonbeliever because he won't be trustworthy on such matters.

Good try, keep it up, your bound to drive someone nuts with this...

8:34 AM  
Blogger slaveofone said...

Well, it does indeed fall flat for a Calvinist, but not for someone else--like myself. Which is the whole point of me posting it.

I'm not trying to "drive someone nuts" with it... I hope people are more civil than that...

Come back again.

11:17 AM  
Blogger james said...

I'm not sure you could say it doesn't fall flat for a non-Calvinist either though. You say that you are showing calvinism to be self-defeating but you have not dealt with the affirmation of irresistable grace/effectual calling which provides the means by which otherwise depraved humans are able to be saved and achieve spiritual good and truth.

12:51 PM  
Blogger slaveofone said...

Yes, if I were to argue all the points, I would do so... but I'm obviously not trying to lay out all the different facets of Calvinistic belief. And I'm also not trying to convince any Calvinist of it. I'm stating a part of what influences my perspective because that's what I do here when I'm not doing other things like thinking about historical issues or providing useful links and such... I'm not writing essays or making apologetic arguments in order to convince others. But I guess I can expect people who are totally depraved to easily make the mistake of believing otherwise.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Taliesin said...

A slaveofone syllogism

1. To make a logical argument using a proposition, one must understand what that proposition means

2. slaveofone wants to make a logical argument against Calvinism based on total depravity

3. Therefore slaveofone needs to understand what Calvinism really teaches about total depravity.

If you deny (1) you are making a straw man argument (be sure to check the link before you again object that you haven't presented a straw man argument. That (2) is true is evident from your post. Therefore, if you want to be intellectually honest, you need to comply with (3).

To do this I would recommend either the links from Gene Bridges or this as a good starting point.

10:35 AM  

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