The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Christian life is impossible

According to Benny Hinn:

Well, I personally don’t put much stock - in what Benny Hinn has to say. Why? Everyone in his stadium TV broadcasts was “instantly healed”. Look. I have been around “real” healers. Including a Roman Catholic priest, who has the gift of healing. NOT everyone is “instantly healed”.

In addition, there are considerable questions - regarding his financial dealings. He has allocated several million dollars, for his personal expenses (according to news stories, on the web).

Just look at Wiki at See the Criticism and controversy section. Where they seriously call into question - his “healings” and financial dealings. There have been government investigations and IRS raids - according to news sources, on the web.

Maybe what he says there - on YouTube - might be real. But in my book, he is far from being real.

I believe it is impossible. It is idealism in my opinion. A great target (save for obsession), but not possible to attain. If you water it down to ‘being mostly good’, then, of course, it is attainable. You can water it down even further by saying “It is covered by the blood, so all my sin is masked by Jesus.”

I don’t believe it’s possible either. But I also don’t believe that’s the point. I don’t believe there’s anything whatsoever we can do to live sinless lives. I think that Paul admitted as much; however, we’re enjoined to make the effort. I very strongly suspect that even this, our desire to make an effort is God-given grace, not our own work, and that we respond to His call depending solely upon His will. I’m certainly not a perfected creature. What could be more obvious? But I understand that the Lord will perfect me in His own good time. In the meanwhile, it’s quite possible that my imperfections serve His purpose, as it’s quit possible, even more than likely that the imperfections of this world do also, which makes making too much of these categories a little problematic. I think we’re simply commanded to make the effort, trusting entirely in Lord, and trusting Him to provide the necessary correction as He wills, to endure all things, the shortcomings of others as well as our own, with loving patience, waiting on the perfect fulfillment of His promise. Regardless of present appearances, it’s guaranteed.


I don’t believe it’s possible either. But I also don’t believe that’s the point. I don’t believe there’s anything whatsoever we can do to live sinless lives. I think that Paul admitted as much; however, we’re enjoined to make the effort.

Spot on!

We are to live our lives in Holy living as much as our bodies,minds and hearts can allow us even if we are tainted in sin. Thank God we have a spotless Lamb to help us and cover our sins with his Blood.

That is certainly true if we’re talking about self-effort alone. But how about our efforts in conjunction with the enabling grace of God?

For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and to live sensible, righteous, and pious lives in the present age, expecting the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; encourage and reprove with total command. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15)

Also consider the following:

2 Corinthians 6:1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

Alone through self-effort, we CANNOT become consistently righteous. Alone by God’s power, He WILL NOT make us consistently righteous.
But by coöperating through faith with God’s enabling grace made available through Christ’s supreme sacrifice, consistent righteousness is possible.

I understand, and this is a difficult issue to nail down. I’m a Calvinist in this regard, viewing human free will as impossible, while we’re nonetheless enjoined to make to make an effort. I think the enjoining is the sower sowing His seeds, which grow up nicely or not depending on nothing else but God, however much intermediate cause and effect we might perceive, even in ourselves. I think the sowing is His, the seeds, the soil, the plant, sunlight and rain. I think we have the illusion of volition. That’s my experience, being confronted with apparent choice all the time, but I don’t think that’s reality. I don’t think Jesus expressed His relation to His Father in cooperative terms. That would be the litmus test. Jesus normally used the analogy of master and servant. And suggesting that we have a will to cooperate affirms our self will, which has essentially been the problem from the beginning, likely a necessary problem, but if you give a mouse a cookie…

Revelation 14: 3 says, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” I spent some time traveling in Adventist circles, where you’re very likely to hear that God doesn’t want robots, which at face value sounds very reasonable. But this statement assumes an either/or dichotomy, much like free will vs determinism. But likely that new song has little to say about our usual categories. Nietzsche thought of Christianity as a slave religion, and the modern mind hates that sort of thing. But to be an entirely obedient slave to the most beautiful, loving master imaginable, actually beyond imagining; what would a word like cooperation mean when you can’t imagine wanting to do anything else, when you can no more imagine doing else than you can stop breathing, when you can actually remember what it was like not only imagining it, but acting it out. I’ll bet that new song is really a very different sort of thing entirely. Since God will be all in all, why lay claim to our having even a will to cooperation? Why make such a thing doctrinal? Why stop just so short of giving all glory to Him?

Possessing a free will is simply having the ability to choose. Do you have the ability to choose? Or are all of your choices predetermined?
It IS an either/or proposition. If you possess the ability to choose, you can either choose to have porridge for breakfast tomorrow, or you can choose not to. There is no “in-between.” Or if you do not possess the ability to choose, whatever you do has been predetermined by prior causes.

Either you possess the ability to choose—or you don’t.

God has free will (the ability to choose) and He created man in his image. Thus, man also has the ability to choose. God never forces his will upon man.

Yet the vast majority of mankind do NOT come to repentance during their lifetime. If God forces His will on people, why have many centuries passed and most people have never repented and submitted to Him? Is it not because He is patient toward us (same verse) and is awaiting our decision to repent?

What do you think is meant by the passage I previously quoted?

How can we “work together with Him” unless we coöperate with Him in fulfilling His will? It is crystal clear that He doesn’t FORCE people to do His will, or Jesus wouldn’t have instructed His disciples to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!” If that will were already being done on earth, that prayer would be unnecessary. God is not the cause of all the atrocities that continue, day after day, on earth. Yet He usually does nothing to prevent them. What possible answer is there to “the problem of evil” except to recognize that God respects man’s free will, id est, his ability to choose.

Well, I can see that you employ a certain kind of logic, but I don’t think it works. It’s written that we’re created in God’s image, but you are assuming that this entails our having free will. I’m not sure what we might do with the Biblical potter and clay analogies. I agree that we either possess free will or not, assuming this dichotomy is an accurate formulation, which I’m willing to do. And I know, from my own experience and likely very limited understanding of all things, that I usually seem to have a power of choice. I’m just very doubtful this is else but an illusion, or delusion based on not understanding enough, not seeing enough, not being quite omniscient enough. But I understand that the idea of not having free will is abhorrent to and rejected by many people. I actually hope I don’t have a free will, because if it were left to my resources and ability to cooperate, I think my salvation would be in very serious jeopardy.

Don - I have no quibble with the vast majority of what you are saying - you expressed it well. And as for the POE, yes I am with you on that too.

I do get a little antsy when folks move from - ‘we all have a will’ to ‘we all have Free will’ to 'we all have Libertarian Free Will". I get antsy because I feel like a point is being made, but not necessarily the point about free will; that is, the free-will argument is being made to perform as an underpinning for a doctrinal or moral issue. And I’m never really certain what that larger issue is, or what important ideas hang from that larger issue.

Except, of course, for the Problem of Evil. I do think the FWD is key to answering that problem; a necessary key but perhaps, for a lot of folks, not sufficient.

So you rather be a robot or a puppet?

Even animals have the ability to choose. Yet they don’t have libertarian free will. Everything they do is determined by their (A) environment (which includes demons & angels, etc) & (B) their heredity and © their nature, whether that of a cat, dog, or monkey, etc.

So to answer your questions:

  1. Yes

  2. Probably yes.

We certainly have a will–it is not free in any meaningful sense though, until Christ makes us free. Yes, we make choices (the pie or the cake–the treadmill or the television, etc.), but we have neither the strength nor the understanding to consistently make optimal choices. If we know, we do not always (or sometimes even ever) choose what is best. If we do not know the sweet from the bitter (as is often the case), we may choose something we think is good only to find it is really evil. Until Christ makes us free, we are subject to the dictates of the flesh (our natural human nature). Paul says this better than me of course–in Romans 6.

Re Q1 & Q2. It is probably because He didn’t choose them - yet - for salvation.

John 15:16a You did not choose me, but I chose you…

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

Re Q3. It probably is talking about the elect. Just as this article states: … _by_pa.php

Perhaps those verses would be classified by Martin Zender as relative & absolute viewpoints, as per the following article: … solute.pdf

We work with Him because He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure (cf Phil.2:13).

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (Jn.1:13)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Eph.2:8)

To quote a commentary re 2 Cor.6:1:

“We then, as workers together with him: ministers of the gospel are fellow workers together with Christ; though but as instruments, serving him as the principal Agent, and efficient Cause: he trod the wine press of his Father’s wrath alone, and had no partner in the purchase of man’s salvation; but in the application of the purchased salvation, he admits of fellow workers. Though the internal work be his alone, and the effects of his Spirit upon the souls of those whose hearts are changed”

As for the atrocities on earth, that are like a single drop of water in a universe full of oceans relative to endless heaven, there is no difference between the One Who causes them (directly or indirectly) & the One Who allows them. For a man’s sins of commission are equally evil with sins of omission. Although, of course, God never sins.

If LFW were true, then could beings suffer many ages in hell before finally choosing via LFW to be saved, as Origen believed? If determinism is true, OTOH, God can spare them billions of years of sufferings. If you were God, which would you choose?

If LFW were so important, then will God allow those in heaven to rebel as the angels who followed Lucifer in heaven did?

BTW, I’d recommend the series of 8 audio tapes (#'s 240-247) on “Human Choice & the Deity of God” by UR Determinist James Coram:

Ultimately, if grace is forced upon us…or choices are forced upon us (by our environment and/or heredity)…then we can take no responsibility, for what we are. I watched the TV show Animal Kingdom. Where a ruthless, criminal mother - raises sons to be criminals. Perhaps the boys had little choice, in growing to up lie, steal, kill, etc. And in the end, all are redeemed. See

Do we say the 17 year old is NOT responsible - for adopting the criminal behavioral elements, of his adopted family and new criminal head gangster mother? Well, do we?

A universal determinism wants us to “look at the big picture”. Eventually, justice will be served - in the world to come. Well, all Christian theological traditions (i.e. ETC, universalism, annihilation, etc.), would agree with that: Eventually, justice will be served - in the world to come. They just have different ways, of addressing it. Although we could argue differently, in the case of “ultra-universalism”.

And in all my views of Quantum mechanics discussions on Quota…Nobody seems to think, that determinism rules - in the world of Quantum mechanics. And if that world, makes up the building blocks of our world. Then how can our world be deterministic…but the world of quantum mechanics is NOT? See, for example:

And can a hard core, theological determinism…argue successfully, against a materialistic scientist, who also believes free will is an illusion. But it’s an illusion, produced by brain chemistry? See these Scientific American articles:

But if hard core determinism is the case, then why shouldn’t I use my Nerd talents…to make a lot of money, on the Dark Web? Therefore, I can have my cake and eat it too…both in the here and now, and the world to come. And if you ask me if I have even visited the dark web - here’s my standard CIA answer:

But if the health and prosperity gospel, has ANY element of truth to it (regardless, of how the POPULAR evangelists spin it)… I can have my cake and eat it too…both in the here and now, and the world to come…And still have freedom of choice thrown in.

And even if freedom of choice is an “illusion”, people like to live - by that illusion.

And in the end, the Christian life is impossible without grace. But we need to cooperate with that grace - throughout our lives. And this is reflected in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologians. And if I understand Paidion here correctly - it’s found in his theology.

The LFW position does seem to conflict with the theological position that God knows the future.
The problem is put nicely by an article at the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy:
Fatalism is the thesis that human acts occur by necessity and hence are unfree. Theological fatalism is the thesis that infallible foreknowledge of a human act makes the act necessary and hence unfree. If there is a being who knows the entire future infallibly, then no human act is free.

Fatalism seems to be entailed by infallible foreknowledge…

For any future act you will perform, if some being infallibly believed in the past that the act would occur, there is nothing you can do now about the fact that he believed what he believed since nobody has any control over past events; nor can you make him mistaken in his belief, given that he is infallible. Therefore, there is nothing you can do now about the fact that he believed in a way that cannot be mistaken that you would do what you will do. But if so, you cannot do otherwise than what he believed you would do. And if you cannot do otherwise, you will not perform the act freely.

The same argument can be applied to any infallibly foreknown act of any human being. If there is a being who infallibly knows everything that will happen in the future, no human being has any control over the future.

This theological fatalist argument creates a dilemma because many people have thought it important to maintain both (1) there is a deity who infallibly knows the entire future, and (2) human beings have free will in the strong sense usually called libertarian. But the theological fatalist argument seems to show that (1) and (2) are incompatible; the only way consistently to accept (2) is to deny (1). Those philosophers who think there is a way to consistently maintain both (1) and (2) are called compatibilists about infallible foreknowledge and human free will. Compatibilists must either identify a false premise in the argument for theological fatalism or show that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. Incompatibilists accept the incompatibility of infallible foreknowledge and human free will and deny either infallible foreknowledge or free will in the sense targeted by the argument.
-end of quote-