Argument of Humility - Refined


[size=150]In the words of Keith Green - Song For Josiah[/size]
[size=150]“He will break you and make you his own”[/size]
[size=85]A song which has inspired me to this day.[/size]

Concerning salvation; It is true that an arrogant man NEVER submits to God.
a) If the arrogant man submits to God then he is actually humble (humble thyself at the side of the Lord and he will lift you up).

Concerning salvation; It is also true that a humble man always submits to God.
a) If the humble does not submit to God he is actually full of pride (he does not need God to save him or to exist).

Concerning salvation; it is always true that when a man calls upon the name of the Lord he is acting out of humility rather than arrogance.
a) All who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved - (the humble whom God lifts up).

I also augment this by stating pride never commits to self destruction. It always seeks it’s own benefit and preservation.


William Lane Craig on the transworld damned?
Timothy Keller
Living up to the Light that we have?

This Argument is primarily focused on Libertarian Free will and especially the doctrine of Prevenient Grace.

If I understand Prevenient Grace correctly than I wish to argue that the argument of humility might expose the doctrine of prevenient grace as being vauge and possibly at fault.

First let me state what I understand Prevening grace to be:
Prevenient grace is the grace by God which prevents the corrupt nature from being so overwhelming that the person cannot respond to the call of God. It preceeds any decision of the persons part and therfore does not require acceptance by that person. It is distributed by God to all.

Now I’d like to clarify that this argument is directed not only those of the LFW (libertarian free will) school of thought but those that embrace Total Depravity in conjunction with prevenient grace.

Total Depravity as I understand it is the depraved state of a person by which every part of the persons being is corrupted by sin. It does not mean that the person is as bad as can possibly be but that every part of that person is bad to some degree of another.

According to my understanding LFW schools of thought embrace prevenient grace as the very grace which enables the man in bondage to act upon his own free choice unto God.


Now I would like to state that it seems to me, LFW absolutely requires preveneint grace when coupled with total depravity. If prevenient grace prevents the sinful nature from being so overwhelming then it implies with force that if there is no prevenient grace then the person is subject (or a slave) to their nature and cannot submit to God.

This sets up the theory that God issues prevenient grace so that the person can break free from the bondage of their sinful nature in order that they can make a free choice decision to either follow or reject God.

Perhaps it’s my lack of education but it seems unclear to me exactly how prevenient grace works. It seems that it might be seen as being black and white. Or perhaps some see it in a yes or no way. However I tend to think it’s not so simple.

The question of what brings a mans pride down seems to be somewhat of a confusing question for proponents of preveneint grace.

If I ask such a question then a PGP (prevenient grace proponent) might wonder, if I am speaking of the pride which enslaves his nature (total depravity) or the pride which is destroyed by “grace” upon the moment of salvation.

But now suppose that the man should reject God upon the moment of choice. Is it because preveneint grace has not done it’s job in bringing the man to ground zero. By ground zero I mean - he is not enlsaved to neither good nor evil but holds equal desire that he might choose.

If he is brought to ground zero that a fair choice might be made then I would argue he simply will not choose either. For he has no cumpulsion to choose good over evil, nor to choose evil over good.

But should the man reject God then it seems he has some desire for evil which out-weighs his desire to do good. And likewise if the man should choose good then his desire to do good is greater than his desire to do evil.

But if the man is brought to ground zero then what gives the man the desire to do either good or bad. If the man should have a greater desire to do good (thus choosing God) then it seems prevenient grace has supressed the sinful nature a bit too much in order to call it a “free will decision”.

It seems also true as well that if a man is brought to ground zero and chooses sin then perhaps prevenient grace has not done it’s job in bringing the man to ground zero. Why should a man find he desires sin so much that he might reject God if his sin nature is supressed? For if he desires sin all that much than it seems he has not been freed from his sin nature. And isn’t that the point? That the man’s desires might be curtailed that he can choose God.

Now if it is argued the man **won’t want **sin all that much then the obvious question must be asked, why then do people reject the saving grace of God or even why do people choose the grace of God. What created in that person some desire to return to the bondage to sin or better said why did that person enjoy sin so much after being freed from it’s bondage?

For if ground zero is release from the bondage of sin so that a man can move toward God then I would wonder how much is the man released?

Thus it seems it’s not an issue if prevenient grace releases a man or not from his slavery but a matter of how much it releases the man from his slavery.


I believe that in all my rambling I’m devoloping this premise.

Prevenient grace must release the man from his evil desire equally with his desire to do good if a “free choice” is to be made.

For if the person should have more desire to do good then the person is not free to choose evil since he has more desire to do good.
If the person should have more desire to do evil then that person is not free to choose good since he has more deisre to do evil.



I’ve been following along with great interest as you’re developing your musings on this topic. But something occurs to me that might help in adjusting your argument.

One of the (many :smiley: ) most influential things I ever learned from C. S. Lewis (and he seemed to be following his own Teacher MacDonald on this, with both of them following a strand of Christian theological tradition on how God judges, going back at least as far as Christ’s parables of the talents/mina, though I would say back into the OT, too), was that God judges us on what we do with the resources we’ve been given, and/or within the handicaps we’ve been saddled with.

While He does act constantly toward cleaning us from sin in our lives, He also looks fairly upon us as we are. As Lewis puts it somewhere, a man who refrains from a bit of cruelty for love’s sake despite being culturally conditioned to regard such pity as risible, or who acts against a crippling phobia for love’s sake, may have done as much in the eyes of God as another man with much better advantages who sacrifices his own life for someone else.

The will of such a man isn’t yet free of these handicaps, but the will of the man is still free to act even a little against such handicaps. It is by grace that the man exists as a man (and so has even a little free will) at all; and it is by grace that the man is led by the Holy Spirit in his conscience, as underdeveloped as that conscience may be; and it is by grace that God accepts what little the man may be able to do at the time. Just as it is by grace that God will not be satisfied with the man being mangled in his soul but will act toward healing and cleaning the man, regardless of whether the man tries to cling to his sin (whether it was a sin he was saddled with by no fault of his own or a sin he has planted in himself of his own free will).

I could go a lot further with this, but I’ll wait for further musings. :slight_smile:


Is this equivelant to saying “living up to the light that you have”?

This is an old saying that Keith Green used to always say; Be careful in asking for more knowledge because the more knoweldge you had the more you were responsible for. Teachers would receive greater punishment for their wrong than the student you might say.

The point of prevenient grace bringing each man to a place where a free choice can be made in the sense that God want’s man to choose him (for a real relationship) OR in the sense that man will fairly choose his destiny (heaven or hell) seems irrelevant to this point.

Thats why in the first thread I posted the idea that some men may need 20 lbs of pressure to break the arrogance while another man requires 40.

Perhaps I’m not fully understanding the relationship of your post and my ideas.



Yep, pretty much!

Quoting St. Paul, if I recall correctly, btw. (But following a principle of Jesus exemplified in all four Gospels.)

This is how the principle I was talking about works, when applied the other way around.

Probably because I presented prevenient grace in a fashion that doesn’t involve God bringing a man to some logically positivistic neutrality where (as you yourself noted, as a problem) the man wouldn’t have any motivation to choose one way or another. God’s behavior in scripture seems rather to be 1.) to judge the man fairly in context of where the man is at the moment, and 2.) to lead the man to freedom from his sins.

Making the sinful man contrite, which is what your argument is talking about, is involved in that second behavior. My point, though, was that God doesn’t do this for the man to be restored to some primal neutrality from which he can then make a choice totally free from all inclination one way or another (as though the man was an Independent Fact like God, which the man can never be anyway.) Nor does God do this in order to then be able to fairly judge us for salvation or for condemnation (based on a positivistic choice of ours at that neutral point). He fairly judges us already as we are, keeping in mind the handicaps we are working under. From those who have fewer handicaps, more is expected; and God intends to heal and to free everyone from those handicaps sooner or later, so that more will be expected from all of us.


Jason well said. Yes you def grasp the point of what I’m trying to argue. Your words…“Nor does God do this in order to then be able to fairly judge us for salvation or for condemnation (based on a positivistic choice of ours at that neutral point).

Is exactly what I see to be problematic with preveneint grace and libertarian free will.

The reason why I raise this argument is because it seems to bring the issue or Pride into the equation. When we speak of “free will” we speak of it in terms as a natural characteristic. Also when we speak of pride we DONT speak of it as in something we’ve chosen. This raises for me issues and thus I felt that humility was that “contrite” spirit God wants in us and only he is able to bring about. Thus the point Pride never comits to self destruction but always seeks it’s own benefit and survival.

To argue in the sense of man chooses to be evil seems to me to be equivelant as saying man chooses to be prideful. I’m not sure he does.



Well, I’m pretty sure I choose to be prideful. :wink: I may not be making that choice in a positivistically Independent state (which is impossible for me to be in anyway), but that cuts both ways; because I might make that choice even given the best of situations.

This is one reason why I do not consider myself to be any better than Satan, even in my penitence. Any sin is sin. At bottom, our petitions to God must either be that of the Pharisee praying toward himself (even though he lifts up his eyes to heaven), or that of the publican who dares not even lift his eyes to heaven but considers himself to be the chief of sinners, begging for God to make room for him beneath His mercy-seat.

(Relatedly, my analysis of sin, especially in regard to myself, can be found in my synthetic metaphysic starting here and continuing onward for several chapters.)

The value of your argument, which is considerable, seems to be expressed in the following syllogism:

P1.) Any sin that requires forgiveness (not merely healing) is a state involving pride. (Establishable from various scriptures.)

P2.) God sooner or later will render the proud man contrite. (Revealed by various scriptures.)

P3.) A contrite heart is acceptable to God. (Promised by various scriptures.)

C1.) God sooner or later will render the proud man’s heart acceptable to God. (from P2, P3.)

C2.) God sooner or later will bring the sinner to a state where there is no more sin that needs forgiveness. (from P1, C1.)


While I do have a bent towards Universalism, the argument I’m actually making is against the idea of Free will under total depravity.

I’m not so much crunching numbers to prove universalism but I do find fault with the free will (molinist, arm, or open view) points of view.

To me the the second worse scenerio (after the discriminating god of calvinism) is the gambling casino mafia god of libertarian free will. That is God has to offer up the objects of his divine love to eternal damnation so he can have a relationship with them.

So under Arm. theology and prevenient grace I find it at fault to say it liberates the man to make a free choice that he might choose between life (God) and death (sin).