August 30, 2019

Response to "Got Questions: Limited Atonement- Is It Biblical"
Part II

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In the last post I was looking at an article on Limited Atonement. There I talked about how the issue of Limited vs. Unlimited Atonement has less to do with the nature of the atonement and more to do with the relationship between God’s intent and His sovereignty. Most of post was me pointing out that the article in question fails to understand that and spends the meat of its content arguing for points that both sides agree with.

However, he then shifts his attention from the general discussion to specific talking points. I’ll be spending this post addressing those points.

Points of Defense

So first the article makes an attempt to defend Limited Atonement to some objections.
One common misunderstanding about the doctrine of limited atonement is that this view somehow lessens or limits the value of the atonement of Christ.
I won’t spend too much time here because I agree with him. This is a mischaracterization of the LA view, and in my article on the nature of the debate (referenced here), this agreement is a major point in my claim that the atonement debate has nothing to do with the nature of the atonement itself.
Another common misunderstanding about the doctrine of limited atonement is that it somehow lessens or diminishes the love of God for humanity.
This argument is interesting. Here he claims that Limited Atonement makes God more loving since the love that God has for the elect is more productive than the general love that God has for all humanity in Unlimited Atonement. For a very technical argument, he gives very little space to it. Therefore are two problems here. First of all, he doesn’t make his argument well. Second of all, his argument doesn’t actually deal with the objection it is supposed to be countering.

Let’s think about this carefully. Do you really think that a husband is more loving to his wife if he does everything for her? If guarantees she gets everything, he thinks she should have? There is something flawed in the reasoning here. I think there is a way he could make this argument but he doesn’t do it. So let’s see if we can make his argument better.

Let’s define love. Love is to desire what is best for someone. I think this is a good definition, and the one that he is using. Because God, unlike a human husband, actually knows what is best for someone, He would be justified in guaranteeing that end in the person’s life. This is the argument I think that the person wants to make.

However, this fails to wrestle with the actual objection. No one is saying that God’s love for the elect on limited atonement is less than God’s love for the elect on unlimited atonement. I think the argument, even the better argument I made for him, is flawed in thinking that love is measured by what it accomplishes. Rather love is measured by what it is willing to sacrifice for those it loves. In this case, the sacrifice on Jesus. And, once again, this is something both sides share. The strength of God’s love is the same.

What is different is that there exists no love for the reprobate. This is the actual objection: that God’s love for the reprobate is illusory. It’s a deception. After all, love is the pursuit of someone’s good, and there is no sense where God is actually pursuing the reprobates' good in Limited Atonement. Therefore, one cannot properly say that God loves them. Yet the Bible does say that He does (Matthew 18:4, John 3:16, II Peter 3:9, I Tim 2:3-4). Therefore, this isn’t an issue with the strength of God’s love, but the veracity of that love for the lost.
How can God offer salvation to all, including those whom He has not elected or foreordained to be saved?
This is not an objection to the position. This is what the debate is! This is the heart. And his answer here is really frustrating because this is where I sit up and hope for a thorough answer. Yet, all he gives is “1) The call of the gospel is universal in the sense that anybody that hears it and believes in it will be saved. 2) Because everyone is dead in trespasses and sin, no one will believe the gospel and respond in faith unless God first makes those who are dead in their trespasses and sins alive” That’s not an answer. That doesn’t even address the question. It is just a restatement of the Limited Atonement position. It doesn’t explain how such an offer is genuine if God has no intention of following up on it. How can you say that God truly loves the reprobate if He has no intention of saving them? How can you say that an offer to save them is a true offer if He withholds the means of accepting it? He offers a contract with no pen and then proclaims, “Well they didn’t sign.” God is sovereign; He can do what He wants. But how is that honest?
Another argument against limited atonement points to the passages in the Bible that speak of Christ’s atonement in a more general or unlimited sense… However, these verses are easily reconciled with the many other verses that support the doctrine of limited atonement simply by recognizing that often the Bible uses the words “world” or “all” in a limited sense.
This is partly correct. It is true that ‘all’ does not necessarily mean ‘all and sundry’. However, ‘all’ without qualifiers still should mean something universal and general. I also do not think that the Arminian interpretation of these texts have to be understood to mean each and every individual. But 'all' does include those who are lost since the lost are part of the world. And excluding the lost from these texts often does great damage to the context of the passages. But since he doesn’t address any particular texts, there isn’t really much more I can say.
Yet another argument against limited atonement is that it is a hindrance to the preaching of the gospel and to evangelism.
On a practical level, this accusation does seem to be false. Calvinist churches have a long history of being very active evangelists. What I think this article fails to recognize though is that the honest offer of the gospel for the reprobate is such a powerful motivator, that it is difficult for many Arminians to understand why the Calvinist would be motivated to do so at all. I think this is short sighted on their part. Calvinists are generally motivated to evangelize because God commanded them to do so. This is a sufficient motivator. But I do think that the motive given by the doctrine Unlimited Atonement is so powerful, that it does speak to the doctrine’s veracity.

Points of Offense

On the point of evangelism, the article then shifts its attention from criticisms of Limited Atonement to criticisms of Unlimited Atonement.
First of all, if the atonement was truly unlimited, then every person would be saved as all of their sins, including the sin of unbelief, would have been paid for by Christ on the cross.
This assumes Irresistible Grace, which Arminians reject. To overly isolate Unlimited Atonement like this is a straw-man.

Here he also says, “The question, then, is not whether the Bible teaches a limited atonement but how or in what sense the atonement is limited”. Yes! This is exactly true. Arminians are not universalists. Both Arminians and Calvinists agree that we are not born justified, so the atonement needs to be applied. And both Arminians and Calvinists agree that once applied, it completely justifies the person, so it is completely efficacious. We disagree on how God decides who to apply it to, but that is the discussion of election, not the atonement which has to do with God’s intent. And it is right here, this muddled mess of a paragraph that shows how little the article understands what this discussion is actually about.

  1. Is the power of the atonement limited in that it only makes salvation a possibility, or is its power to save unlimited and it actually results in the salvation of those whom God intended to save (the elect, His sheep)? Its power to save is unlimited for all those to whom it is applied for they are justified fully.
  2. Does God do the limiting, or does man? God’s election does the limiting.
  3. Does God’s sovereign grace and purpose dictate the ultimate success or failure of the redemptive work of Christ, or does the will of man decide whether God’s intentions and purposes will be realized? God’s sovereign grace and purpose.

And these are the answers that all Arminians give. These questions are not toward an Arminian, but some straw-man that the Calvinist feels good about knocking down.
A major problem with unlimited atonement is that it makes redemption merely a potential or hypothetical act. An unlimited atonement means that Christ’s sacrifice is not effectual until the sinner does his part in believing.
False. Are you born justified? If you say no, then you are in agreement with me that the sacrifice is not effectual until it is applied by the Holy Spirit to the believer. But it is God that does the applying, not man. I can have all of the faith of Abraham, but if the Holy Spirit does not apply Christ’s atonement to me, then I am condemned. My faith does not justify me. Christ does.

There’s another really bad argument in this paragraph. He says, “ Logically, it makes no sense for God the Father to have Christ atone for the sins of people who were already suffering the wrath of God for their sin.” God is not bound in time. There is no reason to think that temporal considerations have any bearing on the nature of eternal punishment.
Still another problem with an unlimited view of the atonement is that it demeans the righteousness of God and destroys the grounds of a believer’s assurance.
This objection is grounded in something the article says a little early but I saved until now, and this is the issue of double jeopardy, and I’ve been dancing around this issue for awhile. That is, if Jesus died for the reprobate, then for them to suffer their punishment means that both Jesus and them suffer punishment for the same sin. This is an interesting objection. Now, if my point about application is true, then there is something odd about this objection.

Every Calvinist I know agrees with the statement that they are not born justified. However, why is that? Why are we not born justified? And I think the Scripture demands this point, so denying it gets them in different trouble. There is some conceptual block on this issue.

They claim that Christ’s atonement merely makes salvation possible. This is an example of the “merely” fallacy: that the insertion of the word ‘merely’ makes something bad. No, Christ’s atonement is the thing that is actually used to justify a person. But it has to be applied. And in the sense that it has to be applied, before it is applied, our justification is a potential rather than an actual. And this is true in both theologies. And I don’t think it is a problem, as long as, in the end, it is the application that justifies rather than the person’s actions. This makes salvation by faith a gift, and not some accomplishment, (Ephesians 2:8). Especially since time is not a factor, and necessarily so since we hadn’t committed our sins before Christ died on the cross anyway.

So, what causes the double jeopardy? It is that the atonement wasn’t applied to the reprobate. Why wasn’t it? Because God didn’t apply it. That’s His choice. Nothing stopped Him other than His own decision not to apply it to the unbelieving.

But does this mean that’s Christ’s blood was wasted? The power of Christ’s blood is infinite! You can’t waste an infinite resource. And who are you, oh man, to question God’s extravagance? I think all of this is the heart of the common Calvinist critique, and it strikes me as demanding that something is bad that actually isn’t a problem at all, but an inevitability regardless of the system.

Conclusion
Limited atonement, like all of the doctrines of grace, upholds and glorifies the unity of the triune Godhead as Father, Son and Holy Spirit all work in unison for the purpose of salvation. These doctrines build upon one another. The doctrine of total depravity establishes what the Bible teaches about the spiritual condition of unregenerate man and leaves one with the question “Who can be saved?” The doctrine of unconditional election then answers the question by declaring God’s sovereign choice in choosing to save people despite their depravity and based solely on God’s sovereign choice to redeem for Himself people from every tribe, tongue and nation. Next, the doctrine of limited atonement explains how God can be perfectly just and yet redeem those sinful people and reconcile them to Himself. The only solution to the depravity of man was for God to provide a Redeemer who would act as their substitute and suffer the wrath of God for their sins. He did this in the death of Christ, who, having been crucified, completely and totally “canceled out the certificate of debt…having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).
Ironically, I think that Calvinism actually undermines the Trinity by making Christ and the Holy Spirit merely Father’s right and left hands. But I don't have space to actually make that argument here, so I won't. That’s a different post.

I do agree though that TULIP is a full system that builds on itself. But this is ironic since much of the critique of Arminianism here fails to give it the same consideration. In the FACTS, ‘T’ (Total Depravity) is the who needs to be saved and what they need saving from. ‘A’ (Atonement For All) is God’s ardent heart to save those whom He had made. ‘C’ (Conditional Election) is His righteous commitment to save on His terms. ‘F’ (Freed to Believe by Grace) is the means through which He has sovereignly chosen to save. ‘S’ (Security in Christ) is the commitment to acknowledging that it is Christ that grounds assurance and security rather than unknowable decrees. It is a full system. And Calvinists would do well to learn that system before critiquing it.

August 29, 2019

Response to "Got Questions: Limited Atonement- Is It Biblical"
Part I

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An article was recently shared with me that had convinced an Arminian to become a Calvinist. It is an article which describes the doctrine of Limited Atonement. For those who are curious about my thoughts on the matter, I wrote an in-depth article on the issue here. My thoughts haven’t really changed since then. But, for the purpose of this article, I’ll define the two positions as follows:
  • Limited Atonement: The belief that God only intended to save those who are actually saved.
  • Unlimited Atonement: God both desires and acts with the intent to save all of mankind.
Now I have defined it this way because I find the usual definitions of the terms unhelpful, focusing on emphases rather than actual differences. I also don’t think that the debate has anything really to do with the nature of the atonement, but rather with the place the atonement takes within God’s overall plan. Both sides believe that God, on some level, wants to save everybody, that Christ’s death is sufficient to save everyone, is completely efficacious in securing that atonement, and that it accomplishes what it was intended to accomplish. All language to the contrary is simply misrepresentative.

Now with the preliminaries out of the way, let’s get to the article. The article is in two pieces, so I’ll be writing two parts to this response: first to the main article, and then to the counterargument section. I won’t be responding to each and every line, so I encourage you to go and read the article in full. So, let’s get into it:


Now, my basic reaction to this post is that it is very unimpressive. For the most part it relies on being vague about what Limited Atonement teaches and using caricatures of Unlimited Atonement. Though I've seen worse. His comments in the first paragraph about the Scripture mattering more than wording are well taken, but the fact that he is never clear on what he is proving with the Scripture quotes he gives means that I can simply say I affirm every quote he gives and see no reason to accept Limited Atonement. You can't just say a passage confirms your position. You have to show it.

So he doesn’t really get into the meat of the issue until paragraph 2 where he defines Limited Atonement thusly:
The doctrine of limited atonement affirms that the Bible teaches Christ’s atoning work on the cross was done with a definite purpose in mind—to redeem for God people from every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation 5:9).
Now this definition is a real problem. It is because no one disagrees with this sentence. Of course the atonement had a definite purpose in mind; and of course God wants to redeem people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. We all believe this. Since it doesn’t differentiate Limited Atonement, it can’t be a proper definition.

He then goes on to quote several biblical passages which affirm that bit that we all agree with. That’s fine. I affirm these passages too, though I will quibble about the John 6:37-40 passage. This passage is later echoed in John 17, especially verse 12. Here we see that this language is specifically referring to disciples that Jesus had during His earthly ministry, and not every single believer. It is also worth noting that Judas is one that is “given to Him”, and yet he DOES walk away. But since that is more the P than the L in TULIP, I won’t press it too hard here.

He ends the paragraph with:
These verses and many others talk about an atonement that was specific in whom it covered (God’s people), was substitutionary in nature (He actually bore their sins on the cross), and actually accomplished what God intended it to do (justify many). Clearly, here is a picture of an intentional, definite atonement. Christ died not simply to make justification a possibility but to actually justify those He died for. He died to save them, not to make them savable.
So again, he doesn’t say anything here that I technically disagree with, except that I know that he is defining terms differently than me. For instance, he understands “God’s people” to be the list of every individual who will enter into eternal life. I understand “God’s people” as the kingdom Christ, chosen through Christ, made up of whoever has faith in Him. I disagree with what he means, but I agree with the sentence that he utters.

Also, “the atonement accomplishes what it was intended to do”. Yes. It accomplishes our atonement. “Christ died not simply to make justification a possibility but to actually justify those He died for. He died to save them, not to make them savable.” Correct. However, even though I agree with the sentences, I know that he thinks he is denying unlimited atonement. He’s not. I’ve never met any Arminian who says that the atonement makes us “savable”. That’s not a thing.

Let’s think about this carefully. In Calvinism, are the elect born redeemed, or do they become redeemed? I’ve known no Calvinist who thinks that we are born redeemed. Yet Christ’s death was 2000 years ago (±15 years). In both systems our atonement was procured then and is applied now. So, the atonement is not efficacious until it is applied. We also all agree that once the atonement is applied, the person is 100% redeemed. Thus, we agree on efficaciousness. This whole “savable” thing is simply the gap between the point in which the atonement is procured and the point in which it is applied. While there is a difference in God’s choice in applying it, the NATURE of the atonement is the same.

Next we get into substitutionary atonement:
The doctrine of limited atonement also recognizes that the Bible teaches Jesus’ death on the cross was a substitutionary atonement for sins. Many theologians use the word “vicarious” to describe Christ’s atonement. This word means “acting on behalf of” or “representing another” and is used to describe “something performed or suffered by one person with the results accruing to the benefit or advantage of another.” The vicarious atonement of Christ means He was acting as a representative for a specific group of people (the elect) who would receive a direct benefit (salvation) as the result of His death. This concept is clearly seen in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He (God the Father) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Again, we believe in a substitutionary atonement. However, after this, he begins to get interesting.
If Jesus actually stood in my place and bore my sin on the cross as the Bible teaches, then I can never be punished for that sin. In order for Christ’s atonement to truly be a substitutionary or vicarious atonement, then it must actually secure a real salvation for all for whom Christ died. If the atonement only makes salvation a possibility, then it cannot be a vicarious atonement. If Christ acted as a real and true substitute for those for whom He died, then all for whom He died will be saved. To say that Christ died a vicarious death in the place of all sinners but that not all sinners will be saved is a contradiction.
There is an assumption here. That assumption is that in order for a vicarious atonement to work, there must be a direct one to one correlation to the one sacrificed and to each and every beneficiary. I do not see why this has to be the case. People groups in the Bible are understood as true entities, and often are in the law as well. If a company is in debt, does that debt get distributed to each and every member of that company? No, not really. It is the company that is in debt. And if that debt is paid for by some outside donor, does that donor have to pay a distinct check for each and every member of the company? Of course not. And yet there is a very real sense in which the company is in debt, and that the company is redeemed.

And we see this in Israel throughout the OT. When Israel sins, does that mean that each and every Israelite committed the same sin? No. Indeed, we know the prophets didn’t. When Israel is punished though, they are all punished together. And when Judah is restored, does that mean that each and every Jew has an individual restoration? No. I personally see no reason to accept this premise. As such, the conclusion doesn’t follow either.

The next paragraph and the one after talk about how the terms ransom, reconciliation, propitiation and substitute imply a limited atonement. But since he has yet to give a definition of limited atonement that distinguishes it from unlimited atonement, and does not provide an argument as to why these terms imply a limited atonement, there is little for me to say here.

Now let that sink in. We are five paragraphs in, and he has yet to give a clear definition of limited atonement that distinguishes it from unlimited atonement. Now, I know what he means. And there is a good chance you know what he means. But since this supposed to be explaining the basics, we shouldn’t HAVE to know what he means to understand what he is saying.

December 24, 2018

When Does The Day End?

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I’ve been thinking about this question for a little while now, but what actually determines when the day ends? I don’t mean physically, but rhetorically, like when someone says, “At the end of the day…”. Now why exactly is that the end of the day?

Sometimes this is obvious, but I’m not wondering this in a vacuum. I’m really wondering this when it comes to Calvinists. One of the major claims that they make is “At the end of the day, Arminians believe they are responsible for their salvation.” Now, I’ve heard arguments that they’ve made to that effect, but for the life of me I don’t really know what they mean by “At the end of the day” in that sentence. It seems to simply be there to say, “Now I’ve thought about this really really hard,” but it doesn’t tell us anything about their actual thought process.

So how do we determine who is responsible for salvation "at the end of the day"? How do we determine what determines responsibility for something? Well first, why do I think that God is responsible for salvation “at the end of the day”? For me, the answer is that He is not obligated to save us. Even if I have the faith of Abraham, He could still choose to not save me, and He would be completely justified in doing so. I’m confident that He won’t, but this is because He promised. My assurance is therefore grounded in His promises, not my faith.

But Calvinists don’t see it that way. They claim that what makes us responsible for salvation is that our faith is the thing that differentiates us from those that are not saved. Now, as an Arminian, I cannot deny that that is the differentiating factor. After all, that is simply what it means for something to be a condition. However, that factor doesn’t strike me as determinative because, like I said earlier, it isn’t obligatory.

So which of us is right? I could say that its me since Arminianism is my theology that we are talking about. Since the claim is with regarding consistency, then it is what I consider determinative that actually matters, not them. And, yeah, I think that’s right, but it’s also an easy answer and thus lazy. Maybe we can think a little deeper.

Getting a Job

Before we tackle Calvinist/Arminian question head on, let's go more broad and talk about responsibility in general. We can do this with an analogy. Let’s say that there is a manager for a job named Mr. Smith. Smith is hiring for some well-paying position. He has two applicants. One comes in wearing a red tie, and the other comes in wearing a blue tie.

Now Mr. Smith isn’t much of a thinker and he takes Leadership books a little too seriously. One of the things that these books say is that red ties give a better impression in interviews, and so he believes that he ought to judge someone on whether or not they have a red tie. Now neither applicant knows this beforehand, but Smith tells them afterwards that he has chosen the applicant with the red tie for this reason.

So, what do we think? Why did Red Tie get the job? Was it because he wore a red tie when the other applicant didn’t? Or is it because Mr. Smith is a kook? At the end of the day, who determined who got the job?

I think it is rather obvious that this falls on Smith. After all, he set the qualifications, and neither applicant was even aware of that qualification. Indeed, I think this becomes all the more obvious if we change tie color to skin color.

But let’s alter the scenario. Instead of a red tie and a blue tie, the two applicants came in with completely different apparel. The first wore a black suit with a red tie, but the other came in with blue jeans, a Hawaiian shirt, and underneath a torn blue t-shirt with the words “Put Another Dime in the Jukebox, Baby.” Once again, Mr. Smith chooses the man in the red tie.

But do we still completely credit Mr. Smith? Well no. Now we see the guy in blue as a schlub, and as such we know that he should have expected to have gotten a "No", coming dressed like that.

So, it seems that predictability is a major determining factor of the “end of the day”. However, do we really think that Red Tie earned the position? Well, generally not. Rather we think that Blue, well, blew it. While we may think that Blue is responsible for rejection by not wearing a tie, we don’t think that Red Tie earned it simply by wearing a tie. Rather, we just agree with Mr. Smith’s evaluation and recognize that Blue should have known better.

So, What Should Determine Things?

OK, back to the question of the process of salvation. I think when we are talking about a process, we should take seriously the actual language of the phrase "At the end of the day...". What determines the “end of the day” is that which is at the actual end of the process. But I don’t think it is the final event, but it is the final decision made by all parties involved. After all, at the end of the day, Mr. Smith could have rejected both applicants.

I think where Calvinists are coming from is how predictable God is in the process. If we have faith in Christ, then God will save us. Because He will save us, His actions after that don’t really factor in. They aren’t decisions, but just reactions to what our decision was.

But I think this is a fundamental difference between Calvinists and Arminians, because, for personal beings, reactions are decisions. Even though God’s actions are enactments of things that He promised, He still has to make the decision to do what He promised. Therefore, for us Arminians, those decisions do count.

Now I can speculate as to exactly why Calvinists don’t think they count. It might be because they view God’s will as compatibilist, so they don’t see His reactions as real choices. But again, the complaint is a complaint of consistency, and they of course know we hold a libertarian view of God’s will. Perhaps it is because Calvinists are casually-centered in their thinking, as I have argued elsewhere, and simply view predictability as the same as an effect. It simply doesn’t occur to them to view His actions as choices. This is my hypothesis, but it’s only a hypothesis. In either case, I don’t think they’ve really thought through this problem from our perspective, but have merely isolated one bit of our theology, and deemed it inconsistent with their beliefs. Quite frankly, that’s an inconsistency I can live with.

August 9, 2018

William Lane Craig Gets Arminianism A Bit Wrong

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I often listen to Dr. William Lane Craig’s podcasts, both his general podcast and his Defenders class. They are very informative and I highly recommend them. In his most recent Defenders class, as of the date of this response (8/9/2-18), he compares the providential views of Calvinism, Arminianism, and Molinism.1 Now I have no disagreement with his descriptions of Calvinism and Molinism but his description of Arminianism struck me as utterly foreign. I think he simply is confused on this matter.
So, first, let me make some general points, and then I’ll get to his comment.

Some General Points

First of all, I think that it is improper to speak of a strictly Arminian doctrine of providence. Arminianism is a soteriological position, not a providential one. This point will become very relevant as we get into the meat and potatoes.

Now it is true that Arminianism has providential implications. And there are doctrines of providence associated with the Remonstrant and Wesleyan traditions. However, Arminianism isn’t a tradition in that sense, but a theological position. And that position is soteriological.

This brings me to my second point. It is a point of debate within the Arminian camp whether or not Molinism is compatible with Arminianism. Unlike Arminianism, Molinism is a providential position. Therefore, the question isn’t which one is correct, but are they compatible. There are some who believe that Molinism is too deterministic to be compatible, and others who believe that any position which holds to Libertarian Free Will is, in fact, compatible. I am the latter, though I am not a Molinist.

Indeed, let us consider the words of one of the leading modern teachers of Wesleyan and Arminian thought, the late Thomas Oden:
A fine point must be sharpened in this connection: God not only grasps and understand what actually will happen, but also what could happen under varied possible contingencies. If God’s knowing is infinite, God knows even the potential effects of hypothetical but unactualized possibilities, just as well as god knows what has or will become actualized…
This has been called “God’s knowledge of the hypothetical” or Scientia media2
I think it is hard to consider Thomas Oden as not being Arminian in theology, yet the above quote, and others, clearly shows that he held to a Molinist view of providence. Or perhaps consider another prominent Arminian:
He knows all things possible, which may be referred to three general classes (i.) Let the first be of those things to which the capability of God can immediately extend itself, or which may exist by his mere and sole act. (ii.) Let the second consist of those things which, by God’s preservation, motion, aid, concurrence and permission, may have an existence from the creatures, whether these creatures will themselves exist or not, and whether they might be placed in this or in that order, or in infinite orders of things; let it even consist of those things which might have an existence from the creatures, if this or that hypothesis were admitted… (iii) Let the third class be of those things which God can do from the acts of the creatures, in accordance wither with himself or with his acts. 3
For those who don’t check the reference, that is Jacob Arminius. While he clearly taught middle knowledge, I’m not sure if whether or not he taught Molinism. But I’m also not sure whether or not he taught Molinism. It is disputable. Thus, it is hard for me to think that Molinism is outside the tent of Arminianism itself.

So, let us instead refer to the position Craig is describing as SFV (of the Simple Foreknowledge View).

What Craig Says

Now, as of the writing of this, Reasonable Faith does not have the transcript up, so I am transcribing this myself from the audio. So I apologize if I transcribe anything inaccurately.
So how does the Arminian then explain divine sovereignty? Well, the Arminian appeals to God’s simple foreknowledge of the future in order to explain God’s foreordination of everything that happens. That is to say that on the basis of His knowledge of what people will do, God then foreordains that it will happen. And His foreknowing it in no way determines it. He just knows that’s what people will do; He knows what their free choices will be and therefore declares and ordains that that is what is going to happen.
And that no more determines their choices as an infallible barometer determines the weather… The weather will determine the barometer. And similarly, God’s foreknowledge will give you absolute certainty what is going to happen, but it is not as though the foreknowledge determines what will happen. -timestamp 16:33, analogy details cut for space by me.
Now this view definitely does not belong to Jacob Arminius, as we saw. But I am uncertain whether it belongs to any Arminian at all. In accordance to the Joe Schmuck principle, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on whether one exists. However, here it suffices to say that I am unaware of any Arminian who would say that, or more specifically any SFV advocate who says that.

First of all, I think it confuses sovereignty and providence with foreordination. Sovereignty is the state of being king. God is sovereign because He is in charge. This comes with certain rights and privileges, as well as obligations on us as His subjects. But it communicates a kind of relationship with His creation. It doesn’t necessarily say something about causation.

Likewise, providence is simply the working out of God’s governance. While we can talk about God’s providence of the future, and we can talk about God’s relationship to His providence in the present from the past, providence is not a concept which is bound to the topic of time. Indeed, my understanding of sovereignty and providence have a lot more to do with the present than the future.

What Craig seems to be talking about is foreordination 4. Foreordination explicitly deals with how God establishes what is going to happen in the future from the perspective of the past. Foreordination is certainly a part of providence, but providence doesn’t reduce to it.

But, OK, does Craig’s description of how Arminians understand providence accurately describe how SFV describes foreordination?

Well, no

I would stipulate, if not insist that the SFV is necessarily grounded in the B-theory of time. Indeed, the only reason I’ve ever had to question SFV is the doubts I currently have on the B-theory. The problem comes when one sees that Craig’s description of SFV is assuming A-theory categories.

The fundamental mistake that the analysis makes is that it assumes that God’s providential activity is simply in declaring the future. This is false. Rather, God is already in the future, molding and shaping it, as He is also molding and shaping the present.

Imagine a potter whose potter wheel is spinning clockwise. Does it make sense to say that the work of the right hand is merely to declare what the left hand is doing? Or are both hands working simultaneously on the same pot?

Likewise, from the perspective of eternity, God has a hand in both the past and the future, and He is shaping both in reference to each other. God providence is simply the action of His hands, whatever action that may be. I see no reason why God acting eternally throughout history should be understood as merely Him declaring what will happen from the past. Rather, God's foreordination is grounded in Him actively being in the future.
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1: This is Defenders series 3, section 8, part 10.
2: Thomas Oden, The Living God, (Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 1992), pp. 72
3: Jacob Arminius, Disputation 4: On The Nature of God, www.ccel.org/ccel/arminius/works1.v.v.html, section XXXIV
4: Another word I could have used is predestination, but predestination is often more specifically linked to election and reprobation. But I didn’t want to confuse things by adding more and more words like regeneration, glorification, propitiation, expatiation, procrastination, consternation, and other words ending in nation and cation and ration, which are simply suffices to say that stuff happens in theology.

June 28, 2017

The Patronage Theory Of Biblical Inspiration

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What Does "Theory of Biblical Inspiration" Mean?
The inspiration of the Bible is an interesting topic. The precise way God revealed Himself through Scripture isn't quite as clear as in Islam or Mormonism, which simply has an angel showing up, and telling Smith and Muhammad what to write. However, we have no such story when it comes to our Scripture. The closest we have is Moses on Mt Sinai, and even that doesn't translate over to a specific book of the Bible, let alone the entire canon. This makes it difficult to say exactly what is meant by inspiration.
Yet we insist that it is inspired, and rightly so. And we know basically what that means, and what it entails. To say that the Bible is inspired is to say that God has ordained the content of the Bible. The Bible says what it says because it is what God wanted it to say. And this entails certain properties: authority, infallibility, and holiness to name a few.
But that still leaves the question, by what process did God bring the Bible about, and how does the Bible come to possess those attributes. That is what we mean by the "theory of inspiration".
It is important to recognize that the theory of inspiration does not inform us of what attributes the Bible has. Rather, it seeks to explain the origin of the attributes we know to be there. The authority of Scripture is epistemically prior to the theory of inspiration, and if your theory does not justify a particular feature of Scripture, we reject the theory, not the attribute.
Now for those who are interested in what I mean by the "Patronage Theory", skip to the last to sections.
What Properties Does the Bible Have?
Ultimately, when we say that the Bible is inspired, what we really want to say is that the Bible is authoritative because it comes from God. But this also implies that the Bible has certain attributes. So, what a theory of inspiration has to do is fully and naturally account for all of those attributes.
So, what attributes does the Bible have? Well first of all, the Bible is holy. Holy means that something is set apart in an honorable sense. It is established to be for something important. Generally, what we mean by holy is that it is set apart for God. So, the Bible is different from other books. And we understand this difference to be connected to the idea that in some sense it comes from God. So, the holiness of the Scripture describes two attributes: that the Bible is unique, and that the Bible has a divine origin.
Second, we have the scope of the inspiration. We say that every single word of the Bible is part of that inspiration. This means that all of the Bible has these properties, not just some. It isn’t as if Matthew, Mark, and Luke are inspired but John is just a really interesting expansion of their ideas. All of the Bible is included. The word for this is plenary, or complete. But this also goes down to the very word choice.
1.       Holy/unique
2.       Holy/Divine origin
3.       Verbal
4.       Plenary/complete
5.       Confluent
Alternate Theories
Dictation
The dictation theory of inspiration is the view that God has told the authors of Scripture precisely what to write. Now dictation in the most literal sense is clearly inaccurate. The text of Scripture clearly isn’t not always written in the Lord’s voice.
Most who ascribe to a dictation theory usually hold to something called accommodationism. On this view, not only does God directly determine each word that goes into Scripture, He intentionally does so in such a way that we can better understand. So instead of giving us direct statements, like in the prophets, He communicates in a variety of different genres in the authors’ voice so that we could better understand and accept what it is that is being communicated.
Dictation hits most of the checkmarks of our list above. Indeed, it is the most natural theory to explain the properties of verbal and completeness. However, it doesn’t sufficiently account for confluence. While accommodationism does dull that problem a little bit, it is only a little bit. After all, we are not just dealing with the mere simplification of language or selection of genre, but the authors’ personal sentiments and passions being included within the text. You would have to limit your conception of confluence to such a point that it seems a mere charade than an actual property.
Providential
A providential view of inspiration is when one uses the features of one’s general view of providence to explain the properties of scripture. This is popular among determinists and Molinists. Again, this checks most of the boxes. Because providence views everything that happens as planned by God in some regard, it can than say that each word of God is planned by God in the same way. Therefore, God can simply make sure that the words are what they are supposed to be.
Additionally, it explains confluence. After all, if everything we say or do belongs to use, and yet falls under God’s providence, then it follows the text of Scripture can be properly ascribed to the Biblical authors while falling under God’s problem as well.
However, the think the principle problem is that it doesn’t account for the uniqueness of Scripture. At the end of the day, there is no difference, providentially, between the writing of Romans, Pride & Prejudice, and Percy Jackson. In this sense, providence can be a feature in an inspiration theory, and can be used to prop any theory up really, but it is insufficient.
Supervision
The supervision theory is the belief that the human authors are the ones who are writing the text, but God oversees the process. So, God is giving advice, and commanding the person to change something if they get it wrong, etc. Now, this nails both the uniqueness and confluence properties that the formal views failed in. However, there seems to be some difficulty in explaining how exactly inspiration is verbal. How is every word considered to come from God if it is the human that is actually coming up with the words?

Personally, I think this can be overcome just by having God’s supervision be more intimate. It isn’t as if God has to go into the other room, wait until the author is done, and then see how He did. If He is every present, then every word that the author puts into the text is approved of by Him. Also, God would be directly saying, “don’t forget to say this.” Indeed, we can simply combine this theory with a providential theory pretty easily and get the best of both worlds. In the end, I think this view has it pretty close. My view is similar, but it does add some additional components that I believe shore up the verbal component.
The Patronage Theory
So, I think the Patronage Theory is pretty simple, but at its core is the understanding that canonization is not separate from inspiration, but is part of it.
Canonization is the process by which a text is recognized as belonging to the biblical canon. Generally, this is considered separate from inspiration, where inspiration is understood as the God governing the writing of the text, and the canonization is how the Holy Spirit helps the church to recognize which texts are inspired.
But if one thinks about it, our assurance of the Bible is actually more dependent on the canonization process than it is the writing process. Now the writing process is important too, for otherwise we cannot say that it is of divine origin. But in terms of authority, canonization has to be given a great deal more attention. After all, if God inspires a text to be written, but it is not included in the canon, what good is that to us? Likewise, if a text in included in the canon but is not inspired, then our trust in it is misplaced, even if it is properly placed in God’s ability to inspire. So, both need to be included.
So, what is the theory? Let us start with an analogy. Back during the Renaissance, if an artist wanted to make money, they would usually be commissioned by a patron. The patron may come to the painter and say, “I would like a painting on The Last Supper”. The artist would accept the commission and begin to paint for what his patron wanted. Afterwards, if the patron liked the painting, he’d pay for it. A more modern example of the patronage relationship could be the relationship between the producer and the director of a movie. What is especially interesting is that both the producer and the director often get credit for the vision of a movie.
However, a second analogy is a bit closer. Imagine that you are in a class, and the teacher assigns a writing assignment. She tells you what she wants you to write, and sets the parameters within which you are expected to work. You then get to work writing the text. Now occasionally you’ll go to the teacher asking for assistance. Also, the teacher asks to see the rough draft of the paper to make sure that you are on the right track. After you hand in your paper, the teacher comes up to you and says that your paper made absolutely no mistakes, and she’ll like to keep it as an example to show her future students what it is that she is looking for. 
The idea is that there are three steps. First there is the commissioning of the text. God comes to the author of the book and tells them that He wants them to write a text, and what it is He wants them to write about and how. This is done through the internal witness of the Spirit of course, but for the sake of simplicity I won’t keep making this caveat.
The second step is the actual writing process. Here the author is writing what God told him to write. But God is still present, so assuming the author is writing in a state a prayer (a pretty safe assumption I’d say), then God would be consistently correcting any mistakes that He may see. While the author is still the one doing the writing, the Holy Spirit is speaking with him, ensuring that there are no mistakes.
The third step is the acceptance from the patron. This is when God is satisfied enough with the work that He wants to preserve it for generations that follow. Here the Holy Spirit is at work within His people, preserving the text, and inspiring them to recognize His fingerprints upon it.
Stacking It Up with Our Criteria
This theory, in my opinion, holds up to the above criteria better than the other theories we mentioned. Additionally, it is not ad hoc either, but rather a fairly simple understanding based off of seeing how things are done in other contexts. So, let’s look at our criteria and see how well it does
  1. Holy/Unique- Only the Biblical texts can be considered to be both originated from God on this theory, and to have been approved by the Spirit in canonization. Because only the Bible is commissioned in the way described above, and preserved in the way described above, it is distinct from all other forms of writing.
  2. Holy/Divine Origin- It is divine in origin because it is commissioned by God, and God is guiding the writers as they are writing the text.
  3. Verbal- While the exact language is chosen by the human authors, every word is approved of by God, or He would not have excepted it as canon. Therefore, we can be confident that every word choice communicates what God wants communicated.
  4. Plenary- This is applied to the canonization process. Because the canonization is part of the theory, all of the Bible is naturally implied by the theory.
  5. Confluence- And here is where I think the theory really shines. Unlike the dictation theory, confluence would be expected from this theory, since the writers really are writing the books.
So, I would argue that patronage theory of inspiration naturally leads to all the attributes of Scripture rather than just some of them. I would also add that the theory will work with any theory of providence: Determinism, Libertarianism, Molinism, or even open theism. It doesn’t presuppose how providence works, only that the Spirit is guiding those involved in the process. This is something that I also think is a strength of the theory.

So, I want to end with something funny, or clever, but I can’t come up with anything: there. That’s the patronage theory of biblical inspiration and you should all believe it because it’s right. 

April 24, 2017

Understanding Necessity In Arminianism And Calvinism

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The concept of necessity is one that, on the one hand, seems really simple, and yet proves itself to be rather difficult to track. When talking about theology, we usually are referring to the concept of ontological necessity, or what must exist. Another way of thinking about it is that it is impossible for necessary things to not exist.

In Christianity, there exists only one necessary thing: God. Everything else is what we call contingent, that is reliant on something else. The belief that God is the only necessary thing is called aseity, that  God exists a se, or "by Himself". Now the question that I want to ask here is how does this affect Arminianism and Calvinism?

Now I wrote a post a while ago called The Teological Argument For The Existance Of Libertarian Free Will, and the point I'll be making here will cover some common ground. But rather than simply arguing for the existance of LFW, I am instead seeking to explore the effect of compatibilism and necessity.

What In God Is Necessary?

So the first question is, what is it that makes something necessary? The answer is that something is necessary if it must exist. In other words, it is impossible for it not to exist. This would be true of God. This would also need to be true of any of God's essential attributes. After all, it would be nonsense to say that God exists necessarily, but He could be someone and something completely different than He is. Rather, we need to also affirm those aspects of God that make God God. For instance, God is necessarily omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect, incorporeal, and eternal. He is necessarily tri-personal, which grounds His essential goodness. Without these properties, God would simply not be God.

But there are divine attributes that God need not have which He does. Those are any attributes that define God's relationship to something outside of Himself. For instance, God is not necessarily creator, for He could have chosen not to create. God is not necessarily the God of Israel, for Israel need not exist. God is not necessarily just, for God does not need to be in the company of sinners (though He is necessarily righteous/good).1 So even though God is necessary, it does not entail that everything we can say about God is also necessary.

What Will The Will Do?

This brings us to the most important question. Are God's choices necessary? Now the Arminian clearly says no. This is because the Arminian believes that God possesses LFW, and thus His choices are not necessary since that is basically what LFW means.

But what about compatibilism? This is a bit more difficult since I've heard half a dozen different definitions of compatibilism. One basic one is that compatibilism is the belief the free will and determinism are compatible, which isn't particularly helpful. One holding to this definition without any further development could simply say that God's choices are not necessary but couldn't have been anything else. Because they said so. This has always struck me as saying "I believe in A and not A".

However, most Calvinists that I have met generally argue that by compatilibilism they mean that one acts in accordance to one's nature. That is, you chose what you chose because it is in your nature to make that choice, and because it is YOUR nature, it rightly belongs to you. Thus your will is free. To be frank, this actually makes perfect sense to me. This is basically how I understand the operation of the wills of animals.2

So for God, these compatibilists will argue that the choices that God makes He makes because they are the natural result of His nature. So because God is perfect, and good, etc... He inevitably creates the universe. Therefore, if God did other than what He has done, He wouldn't truly be God!

Problems

However there are problems when applying this understanding to God. If God's decisions are the expression of God's nature, and God's nature is necessary, than logically all of God's choices are necessary. God could not have acted other than He has.

However, if all of God's choices are necessary, the effects or those choices are equally necessary. This would collapse the distinction I made in the above section. God would necessarily be Creator, so He would need to create. God would necessarily be the God of Israel, so He would need to commission Israel. God would necessarily just, so He would need to be in the company of sinners to judge them.

The fundamental result is that everything is necessary, and nothing is contingent. This makes God dependent on His creation, since He needs to create it. It is not dependent like I am dependent on my heart, but dependent like I am dependent on eating: I must do it or I cease to be. This strikes me as a challenge to divine aseity, and a diminishing of God's glory.

I find this to be ironic since most compatibilist think that they are bringing God glory through their theology. However, I believe it is quite the opposite. Compatibilism makes God smaller, mechanical, and dependent on His creatures. While the idea of making human actions necessary may sound appealing to the Calvinist, a flat our rejection of libertarian free will makes that extend to God as well, diminishing His glory and  honor.

So to my Calvinist friends, I suggest that you embrace the notion of LFW for God, just as I embrace the notion of CFW for animals. Then we can quibble and argue over the free will of humans.
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1 For more on this, see my post: http://jcfreak73.blogspot.com/2014/06/essential-attributes-verses-relational.html
2 Though, of course, animals are not moral agents.This is why I do not believe it would make sense with humans or angels who are moral agents.

February 14, 2017

What If Spiderman 3 Was Good?

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A couple of years ago I made a post about how I would have done the Green Lantern movie differently. I've thought about the same question when it comes to some other movies, especially comic book movies, and I thought I would share one that I feel was especially disappointing: Spiderman 3.

Spiderman 3 was disappointing for several reasons, but the principle reason was because it didn't have to be. Spiderman 2 left us with a great set-up for the third film, but when the movie came, it felt like they just didn't want to tell the story that the second movie set-up. All of the story around Harry Osburn felt like it was there because it had to be there.

Furthermore, the fundamental flaw of the film is obvious: too much story for too little movie. Your telling the story of Venom (which is already a necessarily complicated story), Harry getting amnisia, Peter and MJ having relationship problems, a reworking of the Uncle Ben story along with Sandman, and the background theme of Peter letting fame get to his head. That is way too much, leaving the movie horribly cluttered and unfocused. But what's worse is that we didn't get the story that we really wanted, a solid conclusion for the relationship arc between Peter and Harry. The most important part of the movie for us seemed to be the least important for the writers and director.

So two things should be at the heart of this correction: #1 the focus of the story should be the restoration of the relationship of Peter and Harry. #2 one villain besides 2nd Green Goblin. However, we want a villain that is going to influence Peter and Harry's relationship. I don't see how that'll be true of Sandman, so Venom makes significantly more sense. Also, with the Venom story, you can have the fascinating reversal of guilt within the relationship.

So what follows is the story I would have told, with 4 main fights:

Plot

Beginning

During the opening credits, we see the symbiote crash land on earth. We then can see it go on various adventures, maybe taking hold of various animals briefly, until it ends up in the sewers.

We can start the movie the same way the original movie starts: with Spiderman being celebrated by the community and Peter trying to talk to Harry but being ignored. It is a pretty good starting point, so why change. However, once all of that is basically established, I would have Peter proposing to MJ, and MJ saying yes. Right after the proposal, Peter hears of a fire somewhere in the city, and goes to investigate.

When he arrives, he discovers that it was an abandoned building, and Harry is there waiting for him. They fight, in a similar way in the movie (that scene was actually pretty good), but the fight ends with Harry being victorious, and Peter having to escape through the sewers. It is in the sewers that the symbiote attaches to him.

Black Spiderman

He returns home, tired, with the symbiote covering him as he sleeps. When he awakes, he has the black suit (which should be smoother IMO). He eventually shows it to MJ, but instead of being impressed by it, she is concerned. So Peter promises to take it to Dr. Connors, and he does so. Connors promises to look into it, and tells Peter stay away from it until he gets a chance. Peter agrees...

And then immediately after we get a montage of him using it to fight crime; and having a lot of fun doing it too. This then leads to Peter bringing in pictures of the new suit to JJ. He has a conniption over it. This leads to the introduction of Eddy Brock, and the reward that JJ offers for evidence of Spiderman breaking the law.

Peter comes home to MJ, and they have a talk about the black suit, and MJ's career, and simply enjoy each others' company. Eventually Harry comes up, and MJ suggests that maybe she'll be able to talk to him. Peter thinks this is a bad idea, and they go to bed. In the morning, MJ gets up, and leaves a note telling Peter that she is off to talk Harry. Harry sees this through a camera that he has apparently been using to spy on them.

Harry then leaves his own note, or gives Pete a message in some manner, that he has taken MJ to some location. Peter goes there to save her, yelling at Harry for involving MJ in their disagreement. They have a second fight. This time, Peter is much more aggressive, due to the suit beginning to have an effect on him. During the fight, Brock shows up to try and take a picture and Spiderman destroys his camera infuriating him.

Eventually Peter wins the fight, and Harry reveals that MJ isn't actually there, and that he never took her to begin with. Peter tells Harry that he's crossed a line. So far he has not wanted to fight Harry because they are friends, but next time Harry attacks him, he will not hold back.

Reversing roles

Harry, downcast, returns home to find MJ waiting for him. He doesn't want to talk to her, but she doesn't take no for an answer. (maybe some explanation of how she got in will be necessary, but that'll be for the director to decide). Harry and MJ have an argument, where MJ challenges Harry to reconsider his devotion for his father. Point out that while it was reasonable to be mad before he knew who his father was, at this point he's just being ridiculous. Harry than yells, "he killed my father", to which MJ replies, "Yeah, 10 minutes after your father threw me from a bridge!" She mentions that he died by his own glider at some point. Then Harry tells her to get out, and she does.

We then cut to Harry looking off his balcony a bit later, when he calls to his butler to get his father's autopsy report. He looks it over, and then looks tired, and we cut away.

We then see MJ returning home to Peter, and they argue about her not listening to him. He doesn't talk to her the way he normally does, and she questions this. Pete backs down and apologizes, saying that he was just really worried. She says she understands, and they move on.

The next day, he goes to the Daily Bugle to find that Brock has won the award with his fake photo. Enraged, Peter goes after Brock, but JJ and Robby pull them apart. Peter storms out, and returns later with evidence that Eddy faked his photo. Eddy is fired.

We then turn to a montage of Peter turning evil. Not emo, but actually wicked. The idea of an emo Peter actually kind of works for me since it would make sense that Peter doesn't really know how to be bad. But still, what we have in the film was executed poorly (especially that very uncomfortable dance scene), but I don't have any better ideas here. Perhaps it simply could have been done better. But the basic idea, with Connors commenting on the symbiote in the background, makes logical sense to me, and I think it could be done well. Be we should see him fighting more violently, flirting with other women, and acting like a jerk.

MJ complains to Peter about his recent behavior, eventually blaming the suit which gets Peter really upset about. Afterwards she runs out. We find that she ends up going to Harry to tell him that Peter is changing and she needs his help. Harry asks how he could help, and she replies that she doesn't know, but she can't reach him anymore. Harry says that he'll try.

Just then Peter shows up, asking what MJ is doing there. Harry attempts to explain, and talk to him, but Peter instead is simply enraged that they are plotting against him. Peter then attacks Harry, and now it is Harry who is trying to stop the fight. However he does defend himself, using some more advanced weapons than he had before. However, Peter decimates him in the end.

He is about to kill him when MJ stops him. Peter than raises a hand to strike her, but then realizes what he is about to do. He takes a few steps back in shock. He then looks down at Harry, and then at his hands, and then back at MJ. He says, "take care of him" and webs away. MJ then begins to take care of Harry.

Return to the Red and Blue

Peter then goes to the church, where we get the famous church scene, complete with Brock getting the symbiote. However, he doesn't smile, ever.

Peter returns home, naked. MJ is packing. MJ looks at him and questions where his suit is. He says he got rid of it, and he is sorry about what happened earlier. She says that a simple apology doesn't make everything better, and Peter agrees. He says, "hopefully time will. I still love you, but there is something in me I have to fix." MJ says she is staying with Harry which Peter clearly doesn't like. But he asks her to apologize for him to Harry as well, and she says that she will.

At this point, Peter takes a sabbatical from being Spiderman, focusing on being Peter Parker and getting his head right. He also stops watching the news and ignores various calls from the Daily Bugle. Meanwhile, Venom has taken over Peter's role as Spiderman and is framing him for various crimes. He is destroying Spiderman's reputation and Peter is completely unaware because of his seclusion.

At some point, Venom attacks Harry , or perhaps just commits a crime near him. When this happens, Harry realizes that Venom is not Peter and something is going on. He quickly calls MJ, but while he is on the phone with her, Venom captures him.

Denouement

Peter tracks down Venom (how doesn't really matter) and brings Harry's gear with him. He rescues Harry and gets Harry his gear. They have a brief period of forgiveness, and then the two of them fight Venom together (which, let's face it, was the only good part of the actual movie). The fight goes public and people see the red and blue Spiderman fighting the black Spiderman, and begins to cheer for Spiderman again.

Harry eventually does some "death-defying" move to get a sonic bomb close to Venom, allowing Peter to defeat him. In the process, Harry is impaled by his own glider. The two of them talk about their past, and what could have been, and laugh. Harry says that he loves Pete, and then dies.

Peter than returns to MJ. She forgives him, as he cries in her arms. The movie ends with MJ giving the final speach, interpreting the events, who Spiderman is, etc...

Role credits