Make your own free website on Tripod.com

First Rebuttal - Peter Pike



I, too, am pleased to partake in this debate! May it glorify God greatly.



For this rebuttal, I shall focus on the Scriptural aspect, and later look at the purely logical realm of the matter (if need be). In his opening statement, Guthrie said: "The only way to avoid the problem…is to either acknowledge determinism at the expense of free will or to acknowledge free will at the expense of determinism. Either way, [it] makes determinism hopelessly incompatible with creaturely freedom." This, however, is only true if we view freedom in terms of autonomy. That God is sovereign, we both agree. However, it must also be established that God is not only sovereign over His world, but also over everyone's individual decisions:



Proverbs 20:24 says, "A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Of course, these are just proverbs; consider, therefore, what Jeremiah said: "I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). These verses show explicitly that God is sovereign even over our very choices we make in life. He determines our steps and directs them.



Guthrie does make a good point, however. We must believe in order to be saved. The question is, how are we able to believe? For we know "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Cor. 1:18). How do we get from thinking the cross is foolishness to having faith? The answer is found in John 6.



Christ tells us "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:37-40). Christ's will is to save all that the Father gives (and those who are given will believe), but does the Father give everyone? Christ immediately states: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day" (verse 44). We now know that no one can come to Christ, unless the Father draws him--and those who are drawn are raised up at the last day. This is linked back to the previous passage when Christ said, "my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son…shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Therefore, unless the Father draws all, not all are saved.



But now a very important thing happens. John 6:64-65 says, "'Yet there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, 'This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." Here, the unbelief is clearly linked to the fact that the Father has not drawn people. Take only Christ's words, without John's commentary (although it, too, is important), and you have, "Yet there are some of you who do not believe. This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."



Now what of 2 Peter 3:9, which Mr. Guthrie brought up against the determinist viewpoint? In order to understand that passage, which says in part that God "is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" we must understand who the audience of the passage is--who "you" is referring to. Verse 8 establishes the context, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends." Peter is writing to "dear friends" who are believers already. Naturally, God would not want any of His Elect to perish. These words were meant to encourage believers and to strengthen their faith, and they do so indeed.