An Ancient Theologian tackles John 6 and Romans 9

st-john-chrysostom-71John Chrysostom, a 4th century theologian, served as Bishop of Constantinople and was known for his preaching and ascetic lifestyle. What made him a noteworthy teacher was his ability and desire to be understood by the lay person and his rejection of allegorical interpretation.

Chrysostom predated the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian debates that dominated the 5th century but was around during the disputes with the Manicheans.

The Manicheans were a heretical group that held to dualism. The founder claimed to be an apostle.

Augustine was a Manichean for nearly a decade before coming to Christ. He spent much of his early Christian experience refuting them in numerous works. At this time Augustine refuted the Manichean deterministic idea that “evils and sins are thereby connected, as by a sort of chain, to God” by arguing that actions that were determined and not performed through a willing agent did not deserve condemnation.

While ministering in Antioch, Chrysostom wrote Homilies (or sermons), which consist of verse by verse expositions of the Scriptures. Chrysostom, did not author major works against the Manicheans as Augustine did, but noted in his sermons those passages which these (and other heretical groups) wrongly interpreted. Continue reading

How Free is Free Will?

Over the last week I have been in a discussion over soteriology, which started with the request to define free will. Free will can be a hard concept to define because there are very different ideas of what it means and how it works.

This discussion was not with Michael Patton. However, he has written an excellent post entitled “A Calvinist’s Understanding of Free Will”, explaining free will from the Determinist/Reformed point of view. The points raised in this post are representative of the problems often cited against libertarian free will .

In this post libertarian freedom is defined as the ability to choose against who you are.

If you ask whether a person can choose against their nature (i.e. libertarian freedom) the answer, I believe, must be “no.” A person’s nature makes up who they are. Who they are determines their choice.

This definition may be how Reformers define and understand libertarian freedom, but this is not how proponents of libertarian free will (Arminians) would define it (noted later in the post). That aside, most proponents would agree with the idea that who a person is determines the choices that they make. Most would also accept the notion that a person can not choose against who they are. Continue reading

Book Review: The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw

“The main argument against the existence of God has always been the ‘argument from evil'”, argues Richard Swinburne, a philosopher who has written numerous works defending the existence of God .

For atheists like Sam Harris:

The problem of vindicating an omnipotent and omniscient God in the face of evil … is insurmountable. [1]

Based on this premise Norman Geisler and Daniel McCoy tackle this problem head on in The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw, published by Baker Books (available at Amazon).

For those familiar with Norman Geisler’s FatalFlawCoverwork, you may be wondering how this book differs from his previous book – Not Enough Faith to be an Atheist? Continue reading