Neutral Zone Infraction

The neutral zone is an area that is no larger than the width of a football. It is the zone that separates the offense and defense before the play starts. When a defensive player enters the neutral zone and causes an offensive player to commit a false start (move before the ball is snapped) they are flagged with a penalty known as a neutral zone infraction.

This is also a penalty that Calvinists are quick to charge Arminians with as well.

In “A Calvinist’s Understanding of Free Will”, C.Michael Patton writes (emphasis added) that

Arminians, […] believe in the doctrine of prevenient grace, which essentially neutralizes the will so that the inclination toward sin—the antagonism toward God—is relieved so that the person can make a true “free will” decision.

Later he writes that a “neutralized will amounts to perpetual indecision”. Patton asserts (emphasis added) the same thing in “Why I Reject the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace”:

Prevenient grace neutralizes the will, making the will completely unbiased toward good or evil. Therefore, this restored “free will” has a fifty-fifty shot of making the right choice. Right? This must be. The scales are completely balanced once God’s Prevenient grace has come upon a person.

Finally,  Randy Seiver (over at Truth Unchanging) echoes the idea of a neutralized will:

 If the will is free to choose other than it has chosen, would that not suggest that it is as inclined to choose what it does not want as it is to choose what it does want? Would that not suggest that, according to this view, the sinner is in a state of absolute neutrality?

Why do Calvinists throw the penalty flag? Continue reading

Young, Restless, & Reprobate?

If we look at the account across the three Synoptic Gospel accounts (Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30) we notice several things about the Rich Young Ruler (RYR) as he approaches Jesus.

  1. He is running up to Jesus.
  2. He falls on his knees, which may be a sign of honor, but in this case is more likely a position of imploring (Matt 17:14-15; Mk 1:40).
  3. He addresses Jesus as “Good Teacher”.
  4. He asks what “good” must he do to gain/inherit eternal life.

The RYR has come with an urgent question and a desire to learn from Jesus, recognizing Him as one who teaches with authority (Matt 7:29). We can assume that he comes without an ill intent (unlike the Pharisees and scribes (Matt 19:3; 22:35; Mark 10:2; 12:13)), but is genuinely seeking to understand how to inherit eternal life (like Nicodemus in John 3).

Jesus’ response (as most commentators note) must have caught the RYR off guard.

Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

What was probably meant as a sign of respect has just become a theological lesson. This was probably Jesus’ way of forcing the young man to wrestle with the question: who do you say that I am? Continue reading

Philosophize with him!

A Calvinist writer, Randy Seiver, with whom I have engaged in discussion from time to time has written a post asking several questions about prevenient grace. Most of the questions center around how enabling grace works and whether it can be resistible.

Plato_School_of_athens_800px-Raffael_067I am not going to tackle these questions in this post. Instead I am going to tackle something he says in part of his opening statement. Before posing questions, Randy lays down two charges against those who reject Calvinism. The first is that they have a system built on philosophy. The second is that their system is not a biblical one.

I would like to pose a few “philosophical” questions about their position … . Since their position is a philosophical and not a biblical one, I should be permitted to ask what they call “philosophical questions.”

It is this set of charges that I want to address.

Before we begin we need to ask and answer two questions.

  • What is philosophy?
  • What does it mean to be Biblical?

Continue reading