Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bowing out, sort of

I think it should be pretty clear to most people that debating Calvinism is pretty much a full-time job. I am not exactly pleased with the extent to which Calvinism has been prevalent in these discussions here, nor am I very happy with the tone of much of the debate. I may touch on these issues from here on, but I want to discuss other things here for the most part.
On a certain website it was said that what Richard Dawkins is to Christianity, Victor Reppert is to Calvinism. Dawkins, if I understand him correctly, thinks Christianity is completely bad and wants it destroyed. I would never say that about Calvinism. Its advocates are motivated by a desire to believe God's word in Scripture and exercise intellectual obedience. They start from an unconditional belief in biblical authority and on that basis maintain that exegetical arguments must rule the day. This is an argument they believe they can win.
What underlies all of this is a "good soldier" view of faith, that faith, on the side of the intellect, involves analyzing Scripture and believing what is thought to be Scripture's teaching. A lot of Christians find it difficult to be good soldiers, but I really don't think that makes them bad Christians. However, a desire to listen to Scripture is a good thing.
Second, I think another thing that motivates Calvinism is to protect the graciousness of salvation, "lest any man should boast." That's also good. Calvinists, or at least some of them here, come across to me as arrogant about their analyses of Scripture, but the humility concerning one's salvation is, I think, perfectly laudable.
At the same time, Calvinists are sometimes disrespectful towards the motivations that lead one away from Calvinism. I still find Calvinism morally repugnant. The motivation starts from our love for other people and the desire for their salvation as well as our own. It is a profound desire that, one would have thought, was shared by the best Christians and by God Himself. But, it is not God's will, or, if it is God's will, God has another will that at the end of the day, gets things done. We are constantly enjoined not to put limits on our love (that's what the Good Samaritan is all about) but we are to believe in a God who puts limits on his love. That the issue in John 3: 16. You either have to say God's love for the world is limited, or say that God's love is universal but somehow doesn't include saving grace. The first seems to have no basis in the text, the second strikes me as absurd. Eternal damnation strikes me as a strange way of showing love.
The exegetical debates on this issue are endless. If I have avoided exegetical issues, it is because I think other people are better at it than I am. On both sides.
My initial claim back three years ago was that Calvinists can't solve the problem of evil. That's probably a bad way of putting it. I don't think I can make the logical problem of evil go through. I do think that you end up relying on mystery and Skeptical Theist responses if you are a Calvinist that make you more vulnerable to the argument from evil than anti-Calvinists are.
Again, although these issues interest me, I think for the most part my talents are best used on other matters. I don't think I'm wrong, I just don't want this site to become Arminian Perspectives.

67 comments:

Paul Manata said...

"I do think that you end up relying on mystery and Skeptical Theist responses if you are a Calvinist that make you more vulnerable to the argument from evil than anti-Calvinists are."

My use of skeptical theist arguments is not needed at all given my position on the Bible - greater good.

I only use it when someone says: "I can't see the good, therefore there is (probably) no good."

The funny thing, Victor, is that I took a page out of the play book of Alston, Bergmann, Geivett, Plantinga, Rea, Wykstra and others. Rank Arminians.

NONE of these are Calvinist, and most speak out against Calvinism. Apparently they feel one must appeal to this as a defeater to one version of the evidential argument from evil.

There's a reason. Appeal to "free will" doesn't defeat the *evidentialist* argument from evil (if it defeats *any* argument from evil, at all!).

I also asked you to explain about 20 evils that "free will" couldn't have answered.

I asked you this 4 or 5 times.

So, I fail to see how your non-answer is better than my skeptical theist answer.

Anyway, I'm glad you're "bowing out, sort of." I have other things to get to as well! :-)

Anonymous said...

Not all Calvinists are as rude as this lot. That bears remembering.

Victor Reppert said...

On any view there are limits on what a theodicy can explain. I never said that it is as always wrong to appeal to mystery even with respect to the argument from evil.

Combining free will with the idea that there have to be certain circumstances in place in order to make free will meaningful (it cannot be perfectly obvious to everyone that vice will be punished and virtue rewarded, otherwise even those with bad character will choose good acts out of self-interest) makes a range of evils understandable that would not otherwise be. It allows you to limit the range of the skeptical response. If it's available, it seems to me to strengthen your position.

Calvinism not only appeals to a hidden good, (it's so hidden that it's wicked for us critters to even look for it), it limits the range of places where the hidden good might be hiding.

Here's what I mean. A lot of times it is possible to imagine that, in the case of a devastating evil, that the eternal result of that evil will constitute the greater good. Someone might be saved who otherwise might not have been saved if this horrible catastrophe had not happened. Take the example of a doctor who pokes native children in the arm. It looks like he is doing harm,, but he's really doing good, because the long-term effects are good. The fact that, if Calvinism is true, the "fix" is in concerning everyone's destiny makes it harder to employ long-term benefits to explain evils.

Let's think a little about noseeum arguments for a moment. If I walk into a well-lit office, and I see no cats, I can probably safely conclude that there are no cats in the office if I see none. If I walk into a warehouse with many obstacles to my vision, then if I say "noseeum", then that doesn't amount to much. Calvinism cuts the range of places where the "cat" (the explanation) might be hiding.

When you say that the outcome of every soul's life is fixed before the foundation of the world, and you say that for many, that outcome is an unmitigated disaster, I still think you're paying a price. It becomes easier for a Loftus to come along and say "It looks wrong because it is wrong." It looks to me as if the only place where the explanation for the evil could be hiding is in my concept of the good as applied to God. It looks like I'm being told I can't apply any humanly understandable concept of goodness to God.

It also strikes me as extremely paradoxical that Calvinists think that we can know exactly what "all" refers to in various contexts in text written and translated from a language no longer spoken, but we are hopelessly inept if we try to apply our concept of goodness to a God who predestines many to everlasting suffering. Perhaps, in the name of biblical authority, this is a price that has to be paid.

The main thing I would like people to take from this whole discussion is a realization that what resistance to Calvinism is born out of a genuine desire that people have for the salvation of others and what would seem on the face of things to be a reasonable expectation that God have that same concern. Maybe that must be set aside, but it is not to be set aside cheaply. Nor is that concern to be denigrated as "intuition" gut feeling" or sentimentalism. It can't just be explained in terms of the autonomous man's desire to call the shots. I expect Calvinists to be respectful of the underlying motives of their opponents, even where then they reject their views.

Also, I have never said that moral intuitions are infallible or that they are a trump card in all cases.
If I study a Scripture passage and find that it conflicts with my understanding of God's goodness, I might revise my concept of goodness, I might question my understanding of the passage, or I might decide I don't know which is wrong. So I think you're wrong to accuse me of trump card theology.

All this is by way of clarification of my own position. I'm a philosopher not a Bible scholar (although some people are both), and I hope I have made some contribution to the discussion.

D.J. Lower / KKairos said...

Partly because I just love saying "Plantinga" I'm almost 100% sure that Plantinga is a Calvinist, not an Arminian, but he's still an awesome philosopher. The Free Will Defense was Plantinga's but it was against (in my understanding) Mackie's purely logical argument, with the notion that one counterexample--or one possible way that a pure logical argument can be wrong--defeats the whole thing.

mattghg said...

I think you picked a good time to call it a day for the moment, Dr. Reppert. The tone of the discussion in the comments on the last few posts had gone through the floor. As a Christian as yet undecided between Arminian and Calvinist soteriologies I have been given enough to go away and chew on.

Paul Manata said...

d.j. lower,

Plantinga is not a Calvinist. It is true that his FWD need not *commit* one to libertarianism, but he does indeed hold to libertarian free will. Something no Calvinist could.

Rob Grano said...

Victor, have you read David B. Hart's "The Doors of the Sea"? Even though it is only a sort of prolegomenon to the larger discussion of the problem of evil, I have yet to find anything that makes more sense Scripturally, logically, and yes, emotionally/psychologically, than Hart's thesis.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Not all Calvinists are as rude as this lot. That bears remembering.

12:45 PM

**********

Examples?

Same with the Arminian peanut gallery, I'm assuming?

Same with calling the Calvinist God the devil, if Calvinism were true?

Paul Manata said...

Victor,

"It allows you to limit the range of the skeptical response. If it's available, it seems to me to strengthen your position."

If the FWD is even cogent. Even a proper theodicy. In fact, from my perspective, I don't see how it works, at all. In fact, you have the *exact same problem* as you say we do. If you're going to deny universalism (for now) then you have a God who knowingly creates people who will go to hell no matter what he does to try to save them. They're going there. That's it. They cannot not go there since his knowledge of their destiny is *infallible*. Yet, he *proceeds to instantiate this world anyway*. Why not only create those people he knew would choose heaven? In effect, by creating them, he damned them.

To tell a 4 yr. old rape victim that the "good reason" for her rape was that this was the price of "free will" strikes me as absurd. Contrary to my moral intuitions.

Victor, you're in the same boat as I am. You just pretend that the starboard view is "better" and "less problematic" than my view.

"Calvinism not only appeals to a hidden good, (it's so hidden that it's wicked for us critters to even look for it), it limits the range of places where the hidden good might be hiding."

Of course this point is only made because you conceal the full context of the argument and hope to score points by appeals to emotion and gut reaction. We have told you many answers. God's justice. His glorification of the elect. All the claims of Scripture which say that part of our praise on heaven will be due to the flames of the damned that "go up forever and ever." The more you press, that's when I go to ST arguments. Just like anyone would have to.

"Here's what I mean. A lot of times it is possible to imagine that, in the case of a devastating evil, that the eternal result of that evil will constitute the greater good."

And the good that comes out of the creation of people God knew would never choose him, effectively sealing their fate?

"Someone might be saved who otherwise might not have been saved if this horrible catastrophe had not happened. Take the example of a doctor who pokes native children in the arm. It looks like he is doing harm,, but he's really doing good, because the long-term effects are good."

But the good of reprobation isn't for the good of the sinner.

Displaying God's justice is good.

Punishing sin is good.

Your problem is that you look at things from the standpoint of the criminal.

Ask those in jail if they like their punishment. Ask the victims.

"The fact that, if Calvinism is true, the "fix" is in concerning everyone's destiny makes it harder to employ long-term benefits to explain evils."

God's settled opposition to sin, punishing of sin, etc., goes on forever. Those things are prima facie good. Indeed, to say that punishment of sin is not prima facie good doesn't need an argument, it needs help.

"Let's think a little about noseeum arguments for a moment. If I walk into a well-lit office, and I see no cats, I can probably safely conclude that there are no cats in the office if I see none. If I walk into a warehouse with many obstacles to my vision, then if I say "noseeum", then that doesn't amount to much. Calvinism cuts the range of places where the "cat" (the explanation) might be hiding. "

Huh? God's *infinite* plan? Are you serious?

"When you say that the outcome of every soul's life is fixed before the foundation of the world,"

If you deny universalism, you say this too. God knows X number of people will be in hell, so it cannot be X-1 that will be in hell.

At 1:00 p.m. on the first day of creation, it is true that God knew that X number of people would be in hell at 1:00 p.m on the (say) 100,000,000,000 day of creation. Therefore, X number (not more no less) will be in hell on the 100,000,000,000 day of creation.

"and you say that for many, that outcome is an unmitigated disaster, I still think you're paying a price."

Et tu. See above.

"It becomes easier for a Loftus to come along and say "It looks wrong because it is wrong."

That's an *assertion* not an argument. Let him spell it out. And, btw, I'm not bothered by anything "a Loftus" has to say. Isn't he the guy who argues that God should have made us bird-men?

" It looks like I'm being told I can't apply any humanly understandable concept of goodness to God."

A good human, if he knew a hurricane was about to hit the coast of Louisiana, would warn people. Why didn't God?

A good human, if he could stop an evil act through no loss of his own, would. Why doesn't God?

A good human would, if he had the power, turn all the bullets and nuclear bombs into marshmallows, why doesn't God?

A good human would not put someone to death for stabling an object, lying, or skipping/forgetting some details in a ceremony.

A good human wouldn't tell an army to kill all the men, women, children, and livestock of an opposing nation.

"It also strikes me as extremely paradoxical that Calvinists think that we can know exactly what "all" refers to in various contexts in text written and translated from a language no longer spoken, but we are hopelessly inept if we try to apply our concept of goodness to a God who predestines many to everlasting suffering."

i) I deny that you have anything other than an *assertion* that what God does isn't good. A *feeling* isn't an argument.

ii) Since you claim to know what "all" means, and you also have a concept of a God who creates people who he *knew* (infallibly) would go to hell at the end of their life, then you must believe that your own position is paradoxical.

"The main thing I would like people to take from this whole discussion is a realization that what resistance to Calvinism is born out of a genuine desire that people have for the salvation of others and what would seem on the face of things to be a reasonable expectation that God have that same concern."

i) Really, 'cause that's not how you started off or argued for the most part. This is your gracious way of admitting that the *arguments* you put forward were defeated.

ii) God desires all people to go to heaven and yet creates a world where he known not all will? Maybe God has two wills? ;-)

iii) Depending on how things are defined, the Calvinist can claim that God does not desire the death of the wicked.

"Maybe that must be set aside, but it is not to be set aside cheaply. Nor is that concern to be denigrated as "intuition" gut feeling" or sentimentalism."

Fact of the matter is that Scripture teaches that God chose who would believe in him.

Fact of the matter is that NO ONE can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them.

So, the fact of the matter is, that you should put your concern aside because it is not Scriptural.

To this you just say: "I don't know what those verses mean, but they can't mean that!"

Pretty hard to have an exegetical debate with someone who will, every time it gets rough, resort to mystery.

"Also, I have never said that moral intuitions are infallible or that they are a trump card in all cases."

I never said you said they were infallible. You did functionally treat them as a trump, though.

"If I study a Scripture passage and find that it conflicts with my understanding of God's goodness, I might revise my concept of goodness, I might question my understanding of the passage, or I might decide I don't know which is wrong. So I think you're wrong to accuse me of trump card theology."

Oh yeah, well then instead of my Skeptical Theist argument, my response to all the (so-called) "problem passages" is to say, "I don't know how to interpret that text."

There, is that better than my ST arguments?

Rob Grano said...

"Pretty hard to have an exegetical debate with someone who will, every time it gets rough, resort to mystery."

Hah! This from a man whose whole system defaults to an appeal to "God's mysterious will."

Saint and Sinner said...

Hi Victor,

If you were referring to me as one of the arrogant and nasty ones, then I guess I should apologize. Sorry, please forgive me.

However, when you call our God "mean," "nasty," "the devil," "a divine rapist," etc., then you can see why we might get a bit defensive for such blasphemy. Please don't try to say you were just calling our "conception" of God that. That "conception" of God is exactly what we believe God to be. That is exactly the God we so love and adore.

Anyway, it wasn't my intention to be mean or arrogant. I guess I just got a bit defensive. Sorry.

normajean said...

SS, that is refreshing. Good word.

Victor Reppert said...

I should note that the Calvinist God does things that I (and I think most people) would in any parallel human context consider to be reprehenisble, but He does so, ex hypothesi, for a reason that makes it nonetheless good. While I have no idea what sort of reason that could possibly be, the claim is that God does have a reason. Some truth of which we are ignorant makes these actions good.

I suppose my faith needs a little more understanding than that.

I did say that I though the Calvinist God would not be good, I did not actually call the God of Calvinism an omnipotent fiend.

Victor Reppert said...

Calvinists can't believe in libertarian free will. Where is that written in the five points of Calvinism? Looks like Calvinists can allow all the LFW they want, but leave the door closed to saving grace unless the person receives irresistible grace. But then, I have no problem with Calvinists restricting their own options beyond necessity.

Darek Barefoot said...

Paul

>>Punishing sin is good.<<

True, but Ezek 33:11 certainly seems to say that repentance that obviates the need for punishment is better in God's eyes (more pleasing) than his having to punish.

To say that only decretively is it the greater good sure seems to rob the scripture of its force.

Since I do believe in God's total foreknowledge, it has not always been easy for me to parse the differences between my view and yours. But our exchange on Mark 10:21-22 was revealing. Maybe the young man eventually repented. I can't claim to know for sure, obviously. But if you are representative of five point Calvinists, it is at least very difficult for you to think that the situation could have stayed as the text leaves it if Jesus really did love the young man. To you that would be a "failure" of Jesus' love; to me the love needs no such validation.

By the same reasoning at work in your view of Mark 10, the feeling of loving concern that God seems to express for wayward Israel in Ezek 18:31-32 and 33:11 cannot actually lie behind the words--not given the failure of Israel to repent. From what I've been reading the last few days, Calvinism would say that God gave the impression of loving concern only to increase the guilt of Israel when they ignored his pleas. If I'm wrong, I take this back immediately. I'm not trying to caricature Calvinism. That's just what I gather as the Calvinist explanation of God pleading with someone who in fact fails to repent.

Now, it's very hard to prove to someone that the feeling God seems to express really does motivate the words in those verses. To me it is the intelligible reading. But if it is not self-evident to you or anyone else, then we just see it differently and there is probably nowhere else to go with it.

Darek Barefoot said...

Above

"To say that only decretively . . ."

should have been

"To say that only preceptively . . ."

Sorry, I'll get the hang of it eventually.

Rob Grano said...

"From what I've been reading the last few days, Calvinism would say that God gave the impression of loving concern only to increase the guilt of Israel when they ignored his pleas. If I'm wrong, I take this back immediately. I'm not trying to caricature Calvinism. That's just what I gather as the Calvinist explanation of God pleading with someone who in fact fails to repent."

I don't believe this is a caricature, Darek. If memory serves, Calvin himself even said that God gives some unelect people the illusion that they're of the elect, in order to manifest his glory by his judgment of them later. This makes God a cosmic manipulator and games-player.

concerned said...

Dr. Reppert,

I wonder if one can escape moral repugnance by rejecting the Calvinist God and accepting the Arminian one. Isn't it true that both views hold that God's anger can only be appeased by the blood and death of an innocent? If so, why isn't this belief morally repugnant?

Paul Manata said...

Rob Grano said...
"Pretty hard to have an exegetical debate with someone who will, every time it gets rough, resort to mystery."

Hah! This from a man whose whole system defaults to an appeal to "God's mysterious will."

4:02 PM

**********

I ghave an *argument* for the validity of the appeal to mystery where I placed it, showing that it was, in fact, *necessitated* by the Christian worldview.

Victor has done no such thing. And, in fact, he has no basis for an appeal to mystery being that the texts are *revelation* which means an *unveiling*. The "revealed" things are not the "mystery." Many times Scripture tells us "x was a mystery, now it is being revealed."

So, you're comment is simply an ignorant one seeing as you've obviously not read my side of the debate - but hey, you don't need to because Calvinism is so *obviously* wrong.

Paul Manata said...

Victor Reppert said...
I should note that the Calvinist God does things that I (and I think most people) would in any parallel human context consider to be reprehenisble, but He does so, ex hypothesi, for a reason that makes it nonetheless good. While I have no idea what sort of reason that could possibly be, the claim is that God does have a reason. Some truth of which we are ignorant makes these actions good.

I suppose my faith needs a little more understanding than that.

I did say that I though the Calvinist God would not be good, I did not actually call the God of Calvinism an omnipotent fiend.

5:21 PM

**************

i) Victor, I quoted you saying that the Calvinist God would be an Omnipotent Fiend (actualy, an Omnipotent Fred, what's the difference).

ii) I just gave you all sorts of counters to your claims about what a "good human" would do.

Paul Manata said...

Darek,

Please see the acclaimed commentary by Block for Eze.

I have no problem with the text of Mark 10. I bet *you* do when you try to think of it as *I* do but leave out all sorts of *other* views of mine.

See also D.A. Carson's "The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God."

At any rate, you're making an argument from silence. And, if things stayed as they were, I see no problem, whatsoever.

See also Block on Eze 18. Note also the *covenantal* context. There's a whole lot of of other stuff that comes to play here such as the role of OT Israel in redemptive history.

You say your read is more "intelligent," I can see that from a naive perspective. The same perspective that spawns (not historic) premillennialism and much of their weird takes on the text.

It is also *obvious* and *clear* that *God* is the one who cast off Israel and God is the one who spoke in parables so they wouldn't understand and *God* is the one who determined every move they made. That is at least clear and obvious to me. Looking at things from the vantage point of the cross and the NT, the picture is very clear. But this involves a lot of reading and studying to obtain a more sophisticated picture on the whole thing. Much to long to get into a debate about it here.

Ilíon said...

Concerned: "I wonder if one can escape moral repugnance by rejecting the Calvinist God and accepting the Arminian one. Isn't it true that both views hold that God's anger can only be appeased by the blood and death of an innocent? If so, why isn't this belief morally repugnant?"

Whether or not he means it *quite* as he sometimes comes across, Mr Reppert does often appear to set himself up as God's Judge ... which is a bit amusing, considerning that he's a scholar of CS Lewis (I'm thinking specifically of 'God in the Dock'). In this, these 'Calvinists' are not too far off in some of their criticisms.

But, at the same time, when one *really* looks at things, one sees that we *all* do set ourselves up as God's Judge. It's a real oddity.


Concerned: "Isn't it true that both views hold that God's anger can only be appeased by the blood and death of an innocent? If so, why isn't this belief morally repugnant?"

*ALL* discussion of God and God's acts is done by means of metaphor and analogy; it cannot be otherwise, for we are finite, limited and time-bound, and God is not. Therefore, being metaphor or analogy, *all* the things we say about God and his acts can be misleading when taken "too far."

The tricky point, of course, is determining just when you've taken the metaphor or analogy "too far."


So, keeping in mind that this is all (including the question you asked) metaphor and/or analogy, allow me to ask you: "Just whose "innocent" blood was it that was required to "appease" the "anger" of God?"

Why, it was his own blood! Christ, who knowingly set it all in motion, he who created/sustains the Cosmos for his own purposes -- for, according to the New Testiment, it is in the Person of Christ that God created and sustains the Creation -- paid the price for the result.

God is not 'innocent' -- the word actually means 'ignorant' -- and if one wishes to continue this legal analogy (while hoping to not take it "too far"), God is culpable or liable for the state of the world.

Yes, *we* freely sin, we choose to do what we do, we are morally guilty, rather than morally blameless; but God created us knowing full well that we will sin -- while he is morally blameless, he is "legally" responsible for his creation.

If someone builds a swimming pool and does not enclose it to keep small children out, is he not culpable or liable for the small child who ignorantly drowns himself? Why is this? It is because he knows or ought to know that small, ignorant children frequently get themselves in over their heads.


The thing about sin is that the "innocent" (in the incorrect useage of 'blameless') *always* pay at least part of the price for it. That is one of the things which makes all sin so morally repugnant: it always involves injustice.

Robert said...

Hello Rob,

You wrote:

“I don't believe this is a caricature, Darek. If memory serves, Calvin himself even said that God gives some unelect people the illusion that they're of the elect, in order to manifest his glory by his judgment of them later. This makes God a cosmic manipulator and games-player.”

So let me get this right, this makes God a manipulator and game player, sort of like a cardsharp who cheats at cards? If you doubt that this is where the calvinist conception of God leads to, consider again, Steve Hays’ words about his conception of God, where God is indeed like a cardsharp cheating the nonbelievers. And Hays enjoys this cheating of the nonbeliever by God, here it is again:

[[“Suppose we compare predestination to a game of seven-card stud. God is the dealer. One of the players is a believer, the other an unbeliever who tries to cheat the believer at every turn. However, God has stacked the deck so that his chosen people will win over the long haul.

Now, God is securing the outcome by securing the deal. Yet he isn’t forcing the hand of a crooked player. Since a crooked player doesn’t know that the dealer is a cardsharp, he bets and bluffs just the same as if the deck were randomly shuffled. He can only play the hand he’s dealt, but that’s true in any poker game, and he enjoys the very same choices he’d have if the cards just happened to play out in that order.

God allows the unbeliever to cheat the believer, but feeds the believer enough winning cards to keep him in the game God then lets the crooked player become overconfident and bet the whole jackpot on a weak hand, at which point the Christian calls his bluff and rakes in all the chips.

To me, there’s a delicious irony in this arrangement, for a crooked player constantly tries to cheat his fellow player, but all the while he’s being cheated by the dealer.”]]

Robert

Rob Grano said...

**Victor has done no such thing. And, in fact, he has no basis for an appeal to mystery being that the texts are *revelation* which means an *unveiling*. The "revealed" things are not the "mystery." Many times Scripture tells us "x was a mystery, now it is being revealed."**

This presumes that all Scripture is equally clear, and that all passages have only one level of meaning, which will be readily apparent to the honest exegete. This is obviously not the case -- if it were there wouldn't be 500 commentaries available for every book of the Bible.

In addition, some things are revealed precisely AS mystery, i.e., the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. It is both a revelation and a mystery; the two concepts are obviously not mutually exclusive.

Robert: I agree with you. If Christ is the full revelation of God, then the Calvinists' God's got a problem: namely, he looks nothing like Christ.

Paul Manata said...

Rob,

It *does not* assume that "all Scripture is equally clear." In fact, I have been on record here pointing out the verses where Paul's writings, for instance, are noted as "hard to understand, and the wicked distort them to their destruction."

It *does not* follow that revelation is for us to *understand* that all revelation is "equally clear." I simply pointed out what *the Bible* tells us and what the Greek meaning behind the term "revelation" means. It means an unveiling.

These were letters written to people. Not secret cereal box decoder messages.

So, you're simply continuiong on your crusade against what I write rather than trying to understand my position. The fact is, I gave specific arguments for placing the things I did inside the hidden council of God - in fact, I appealed to many of the same reasons as Alston, Bergmann, Geivett, Plantinga, Rea, Wykstra and others. Rank Arminians.

And, yes, I agree that the trinity is a mystery, but Scripture is *clear* that there is a trinity. Here you confuse *ontology* with *epistemology*. It is not the *texts* about the trinity that are mysterious (we know what it says), it is the *metaphysical affirmations* taken from the texts that produce the mystery. We have a hard time seeing how the trinity can *be*. We do not have a hard time finding out: There is one God. Father is God. Jesus is God. Spirit is God.

So you have, again, simply brushed off my argument and showed no serious desire to interact.

My original point still stands.

And, my second point does so as well. One of Victor's major arguments against my theodicy was to point out the impropriety of apeal to mystery (I've quoted him here). So, you you guys are going to back off, then you allow my theodicy full passage through.

Anyway, take note that in this post Victor conceeded that he can't raise the problem of evil against us.

It took us roughly 50 posts, but the original argument: Calvinists Can't Solve the Problem of Evil was rebutted, as even Reppert now must admit.

As I said from day one, you guys are free to reject Calvinism, but not for the reasons that were positied here.

Paul Manata said...

Hi Darek,

I would also point out that your Mark 10 reading is strained if we "leave things as they were." For in Mark 10 we read Jesus say that he came to give his life as a ransom for many (if Calvinsts get flak for saying that "all" doesn't always mean "all", then surely the Arminian must take flak for saying that "many" means "all"! (j/k)). which is, of course, an allusion to Isa 53:11-12, where the "suffering servant" redeems the covenant community.

And since this passage speaks of Jesus' death, then it must be read in light of its OT presupposition: the high priest only sheds the blood of the lamb for *those in the community*. The priest never sheds the blood of the lamb for those *outside* Israel. It is always and everywhere, shed only for the "chosen people." To make the atonement universal is to simply introduce an idea totally foreign to 1st century hearers. So, when you read Hebrews, you'll note that Jesus is the high priest, and the lamb, and his death is only for *the community*.

Thus with this background, and with the clear refernces to it in Mark 10, if we leave things as they were, then it cannot mean what you say on pain of contradiction.

At least that's how us reformed see it.

Paul Manata said...

IOW: If Jesus died for you, then he is your high priest. If he is your high priest, then he makes intercession for you. Therefore if Jesus died for you, he makes intercession for you. Jesus will not interceed for all people. Therefore, Jesus did not die for all people. QED.

Rob Grano said...

"And, yes, I agree that the trinity is a mystery, but Scripture is *clear* that there is a trinity. Here you confuse *ontology* with *epistemology*."

I beg to differ. If Scripture was really all that 'clear' about the Trinity, it wouldn't have taken the early Christians 400+ years to hammer it out. It looks clear to us now, but that's only because we're looking back on the thing with the work that they did already in consideration.

"So you have, again, simply brushed off my argument and showed no serious desire to interact."

The arguments are not being brushed off; I'm purposely not interacting with them, because they require an acceptance of certain presuppositions that I do not hold. In every single discussion with a Calvinist that I've ever had, they've been unable to put aside their template, and furthermore, they seem to expect their opponents to adopt it. I will not do that, no more than I would debate a Mormon who insists that I accept the Book of Mormon as authoritative as a term of the debate.

Rob Grano said...

"If Jesus died for you, then he is your high priest. If he is your high priest, then he makes intercession for you. Therefore if Jesus died for you, he makes intercession for you. Jesus will not interceed for all people. Therefore, Jesus did not die for all people."

Was Jesus raised for all people? If not, why/how are the nonelect dead raised, if not in Christ?

Ilíon said...

I want to point out something concerning Mr Manata's most recent post ... and, well, of most of the Internet Calvinists "arguing" against Mr Reppert and the rest of us mistaken Arminians.

Notice that Mr Manata is attempting a logical syllogism ... or, to put it in super-dooper-Calvinist terms, he's trying to rely upon "human reason," one of the things he tries to fault Mr Reppert about (I use these quote marks because there is no such thing as "human reason;" there is reason and humans do or do not properly conform to it).

Paul Manata said...

Hi Rob,

"I beg to differ. If Scripture was really all that 'clear' about the Trinity, it wouldn't have taken the early Christians 400+ years to hammer it out. It looks clear to us now, but that's only because we're looking back on the thing with the work that they did already in consideration."

I beg to differ on many scores.

First, Scripture could have been really that clear *and* it took that many years to "hammer it out." The two are not inconsistent.

Second, I'd read up on my historical theology. It wasn't the *Scriptures* that were the cause of the debates, it was the *inferences* people *drew* from those clear Scriptures. Thus, you had:

(*) One God. Jesus God. Father God. Spirit God.

*Therefore*, "they" must be *modes* of the same person.

Note well, the *therefore* portion is *not* in Scripture.

So, you'd note that I admitted that the *inferences* are where we get into trouble. the trouble starts when we try to "make sense" of how (*) could *be*.

"The arguments are not being brushed off; I'm purposely not interacting with them, because they require an acceptance of certain presuppositions that I do not hold."

Apparently you're having trouble following. I was *specifically* referring to your snide comment that5 I was somehow inconsistent in my appeal to mystery and my complaint of Reppert's

I've been attemtping to show that your comment was based on an oversimplication of things. Of letting the *term* "mystery" determine all the subtleness of the debate. As if one appeals to it in once domain, one should just allow it in *any* domain. IOW, I've been trying to show you why I thought you made a hasty generalization.

" In every single discussion with a Calvinist that I've ever had, they've been unable to put aside their template, and furthermore, they seem to expect their opponents to adopt it."

But I'm not even discussing *Calvinism* with you now! I mean, it seems like you haven't even been paying attention to the conversation I've been trying to have with you.

Paul Manata said...

Rob Grano said...
"If Jesus died for you, then he is your high priest. If he is your high priest, then he makes intercession for you. Therefore if Jesus died for you, he makes intercession for you. Jesus will not interceed for all people. Therefore, Jesus did not die for all people."

Was Jesus raised for all people? If not, why/how are the nonelect dead raised, if not in Christ?

11:06 AM

************

The non-elect dead people are raised by God's power.

The concept of resurrection for the Christain entails more than the resurrection of the dead. One is a resurrection unto glory, the other unto damnation.

At any rate, I fail to see how this even *remotely* addresses my argument.

Paul Manata said...

Ilíon said...
I want to point out something concerning Mr Manata's most recent post ... and, well, of most of the Internet Calvinists "arguing" against Mr Reppert and the rest of us mistaken Arminians.

Notice that Mr Manata is attempting a logical syllogism ... or, to put it in super-dooper-Calvinist terms, he's trying to rely upon "human reason," one of the things he tries to fault Mr Reppert about (I use these quote marks because there is no such thing as "human reason;" there is reason and humans do or do not properly conform to it).

11:16 AM

**************

Funny how the Calvinists are said to be so mean and nasty when the Arminians, like ilion, can just lie about them and slander the facts as they please.

At any rate:

i) I didn't "attempt" a logical syllogism, I *succeeded* in offering one.

ii) ilion is equivocating on what Calvinists mean by "rely" on human reason.

iii) ilion is equivocating on what Calvinists have meant by "human reason."

iv) Apparently he thinks going through a syllogism is "reasoning." But since God doesn't "reason" discursively "through" syllogisms, is ilion saying God doesn't reason?

v) I never mentioned "human reason" in my post. Ilion is attempting to side track the discussion.

vi) Ilion engages in circumstantial ad hominem argumentation. *Even if* I were against "human reason" or "reason" as ilion dishonestly suggests, and then I appealed to what I was "against," as ilion clearly wants to dishonestly intimate, that would have *nothing* to do with the validity or soundness of the argument.

vii) Note: I have *never* see a serious comment by ilion. He simply curses from the cheap seats. Just like at a ball game. He sits up there with his fat, beer swilling buddies, and mocks the ball players, refusing to ever get on the field and play ball, of course.

Rob Grano said...

"Second, I'd read up on my historical theology. It wasn't the *Scriptures* that were the cause of the debates, it was the *inferences* people *drew* from those clear Scriptures."

Uh, afraid not. Read Irenaeus -- heresies arise because people misinterpret Scripture. Why do people misinterpret Scripture? Because they attempt to read it by their own lights, outside the mind of the Church. If Scripture is so crystal clear, how is it possible that so many false inferences can be drawn from it? That's a Yogi Berra argument: "It's not that Dostoevsky is hard to understand, it's just that everyone misinterprets him!"

But I don't want to open the sola scriptura can of worms, as it's been done to death.

"Of letting the *term* "mystery" determine all the subtleness of the debate. As if one appeals to it in once domain, one should just allow it in *any* domain. IOW, I've been trying to show you why I thought you made a hasty generalization."

But see, this is precisely my point. Why should you be the one, by your template, who gets to decide where 'mystery' should and should not be applied?

"At any rate, I fail to see how this even *remotely* addresses my argument."

The teaching of the early church was that all of humanity died in Christ, and all was raised with him. (see Chrysostom's Paschal Homily, for instance). If all humanity did not die with him, then all humanity will not rise. Yet all will rise; therefore all humanity died with him.

Darek Barefoot said...

Paul

>>You say your read is more "intelligent,"<<

A minor correction. I said "intelligible" not intelligent--meaning understandable. Most readers would think from God's language in the verse it was motivated by a genuine desire for Israel to repent. Readers of the blog can judge for themselves the verses in question. But, sure, the issue as a whole is bigger than a couple of verses.

Paul Manata said...

Hi Rob,

"Uh, afraid not. Read Irenaeus -- heresies arise because people misinterpret Scripture. Why do people misinterpret Scripture? Because they attempt to read it by their own lights, outside the mind of the Church. If Scripture is so crystal clear, how is it possible that so many false inferences can be drawn from it? That's a Yogi Berra argument: "It's not that Dostoevsky is hard to understand, it's just that everyone misinterprets him!"

Uh, 'fraid so.

It was the *inferences* that they drew from the texts in order to make what the text taught intelligible. I guess at this point we're at a standstill.

"But see, this is precisely my point. Why should you be the one, by your template, who gets to decide where 'mystery' should and should not be applied?"

Who said I did? I simply pointed out that I gave an *argument* that justified my appeal to mystery according to some biblically based criteria.

You can disagree with my argument. Fine.

But, my point was that I tried to justify my use of mystery and it was uncharitable to act as if I must say that *all* appeal to mystery is fine because I argued for one area where it was acceptable. Your response to me *did not take into account* all of my arguments.

It would be like if you laid out necessary and sufficient criteria for doing X at A, and then you critique someone for doing X at B, and then someone comes along and says, "Hey, you dummy, that's funny. You did X and so he can do X."

"The teaching of the early church was that all of humanity died in Christ, and all was raised with him. (see Chrysostom's Paschal Homily, for instance). If all humanity did not die with him, then all humanity will not rise. Yet all will rise; therefore all humanity died with him."

I made an argument from the Bible.

I fail to see how you point remotely addresses my argument.

Paul Manata said...

Darek Barefoot said...
Paul

>>You say your read is more "intelligent,"<<

A minor correction. I said "intelligible" not intelligent--meaning understandable. Most readers would think from God's language in the verse it was motivated by a genuine desire for Israel to repent. Readers of the blog can judge for themselves the verses in question. But, sure, the issue as a whole is bigger than a couple of verses.

12:03 PM

************

Sorry 'bout that misread. Thanks for the correction.

And, yes, I agree with you and invite the reader to look into it for himself.

Peace,
Paul

Rob Grano said...

"You can disagree with my argument. Fine.

But, my point was that I tried to justify my use of mystery and it was uncharitable to act as if I must say that *all* appeal to mystery is fine because I argued for one area where it was acceptable."

OK, that objection I understand, and I hereby apologize for the snark!

"I made an argument from the Bible."

Yes, and I'm sure Chrysostom did too!

Robert said...

Hello Rob,

“Robert: I agree with you. If Christ is the full revelation of God, then the Calvinists' God's got a problem: namely, he looks nothing like Christ.”

Good another Christian sees the problem with the false calvinistic conception of God. Their conception does not match the God revealed in scripture or the character and words of Jesus when he came in the flesh.

You also wrote:

“The arguments are not being brushed off; I'm purposely not interacting with them, because they require an acceptance of certain presuppositions that I do not hold. In every single discussion with a Calvinist that I've ever had, they've been unable to put aside their template, and furthermore, they seem to expect their opponents to adopt it. I will not do that, no more than I would debate a Mormon who insists that I accept the Book of Mormon as authoritative as a term of the debate.”

Well stated, the problem with having discussions with some people (and Manata is a perfect example) is that they construct their points and arguments from a certain frame of reference and if you get on the same track as they want you to go, the train won’t be heading for the truth, it will be heading towards their man-made system of theology. Calvinism makes perfect sense if you grant the main assumption: that God predetermines all events (and so libertarian free will cannot exist). However if you hold to the reality of libertarian free will (both through scripture and experience) you are on another track heading towards the truth. With some you can see how their “innocent” questions are not really asked because they want the truth but because they want to get you onto their false track. Cults do this as well and Jehovah’s Witnesses are a particular clear example of this (everything they say or write is dictated by the Watchtower organization because the controlling presupposition for them, their main track is that the Watchtower organization is the ultimate and infallible source of truth. Similarly, for the calvinist, the ultimate source of truth is their system of theology).

You refer to it as their “template” but the concept is the same. And state your reservation about getting on his track well:

“The arguments are not being brushed off; I'm purposely not interacting with them, because they require an acceptance of certain presuppositions that I do not hold.”

It is similar to when someone commits the fallacy of complex question with the infamous example of “have you stopped beating your wife.” Lawyers and sophists and people who love to argue, who are interested not in truth but in supporting some kind of agenda (e.g., the Pharisees in the New Testament) become quite adept at this kind of thing. Glad to see you are seeing through it Rob. Don’t let em get you on their track/template! :-)

Robert

steve said...

robert said...

“Well stated, the problem with having discussions with some people (and Manata is a perfect example) is that they construct their points and arguments from a certain frame of reference.”

Yes, there’s a name for that…sola Scriptura. Grano rejects it because he’s Eastern Orthodox. By agreeing with Grano, Robert signals his own repudiation of the Protestant Reformation. That’s his prerogative, of course. But Robert likes to feign solidarity with positions he doesn’t really subscribe to. He’s not Eastern Orthodox, is he?

Rob Grano said...

"Yes, there’s a name for that…sola Scriptura. Grano rejects it because he’s Eastern Orthodox."

No, I reject it because it's untenable. As I said on the other thread, I rejected it several years before I became Orthodox. Rejection of sola scriptura eventually led me to Orthodoxy, not the other way around.

And no, the Calvinist "track" Robert mentions or my "template" is not simply sola scriptura, but the whole package of assumptions that Calvinists claim to acquire from exegesis of Scripture alone. The problem is, Calvinists expect non-Calvinists to disprove their system from within their own template, which of course can't be done.

If exegesis of Scripture alone (supposedly) determines the template, and exegesis of Scripture alone is both the only valid methodology used within the template, and the only methodology allowed to critique it from without, then attempting to debate a Calvinist via exegesis alone is a lost cause. This is not because non-Calvinists cannot do exegesis, but because to do so on Calvinist terms is buy into that particular template.

Non-Calvinists, in effect, have to accept that template for the sake of argument, then prove it wrong from within. It obviously can't be done, for how can one prove that a proposition is wrong, while simultaneously for the sake of the argument assuming it to be true?

This whole dynamic is what makes debating Calvinists difficult, if not impossible. They cannot take off the lens, so to speak, because the lens really is the same as the vision itself.

steve said...

rob grano said...

“It obviously can't be done, for how can one prove that a proposition is wrong, while simultaneously for the sake of the argument assuming it to be true?”

Because you’re only assuming it to be true *for the sake of argument* That’s called critical detachment or critical sympathy. An internal critique of the opposing position. It’s done all the time. Standard philosophical argumentation.

“They cannot take off the lens, so to speak, because the lens really is the same as the vision itself.”

And is your lens glued to your face too?

If you can’t see without your lens on, how do you compare reality with what you see through your lens?

steve said...

rob grano said...

“No, I reject it because it's untenable. As I said on the other thread, I rejected it several years before I became Orthodox. Rejection of sola scriptura eventually led me to Orthodoxy, not the other way around.

This is what you originally said to Manata:

“Uh, afraid not. Read Irenaeus -- heresies arise because people misinterpret Scripture. Why do people misinterpret Scripture? Because they attempt to read it by their own lights, outside the mind of the Church.

So you were opposing sola Scriptura to your belief in the mind of the Church, which you, as an Orthodox churchman, would identify with the Orthodox Church.

You’re welcome to claim that it took you several years to draw that logical connection, (as you deem it) but you’re repudiation of sola scriptura is, according to your own previous statement, logically grounded in the priority of the church.

Paul Manata said...

Robert said . . .

Well stated, the problem with having discussions with some people (and Manata is a perfect example) is that they construct their points and arguments from a certain frame of reference and if you get on the same track as they want you to go, the train won’t be heading for the truth, it will be heading towards their man-made system of theology.

*************

This depends, Robert.

Reppert didn't want to debate in the exegetical arena, so I debated him in the philosophical one.

But with you, you claim to be a Christian who submits to sound exegesis of Scripture. So I take that track with you. With you, I assume the frame of reference we share is "commitment to the Christ speaking in the Scriptures." I present an *argument* for what I think that he has spoken. Rather than interact with me on *that* level, you dishonestly claim that I have dishonest intentions and do not try to argue fro what I think the Bible teaches. Lying and misrepresenting your brothers is not charitable, Robert.

With Rob, I debated him on strictly logical grounds regarding my ability to claim mystery while casting a suspicious eye towards Reppert's *unargued* appeal to the same. Rob even granted that I made my point. Is that because I tricked him into following my script?

Robert makes his debate living on lying about people and casting their position and person in as bad a light as possible. To make matters worse, he then cries foul and "sin!" when his Christian interlocutor rightly takes umbrage with his specious and dishonest method of argumentation. As if a person should just sit there and smile while someone slanders the facts and offers a butchered understanding of your arguments.

Also notice that Robert cannot have an honest debate since he claims, a priori, that my system is "man made." This colors his trying to understand and properly deal with my argument. After all, why deal with something "man-made." So Robert tacitly admits that he's not a good debate opponent since he goes into the debate thinking my position is man made. This allows him get the discussion on the train track he wants it on!

Robert can't have an honest discussion with a Calvinist, honestly evaluate our position in light of Scripture, because our position is "man made." Any claim that tries to say the opposite isn't on Robert's choo choo train track, and thus obviously not headed toward truth.

Robert is the same as I left him. He's his own worst enemy. He refutes himself better than anyone. His sanctimonious attitude, coupled with his 95% to %% ratio of substance to rhetoric, coupled with his dishonesty, coupled with his self-excepting fallacies and self-refuting comments, make it not only a chore, but a bore, to try to have a rational discussion with him.

Of course Robert will never admit any of this. In his eyes he can do no wrong. He sets the bar for the standard of conduct right at his own height. Rather than asking what part he plays in the problems he has with Calvinists - who seem to get along with many other people just fine - he writes emails to prominent figures in the Reformed world, tattle tailing on us. It is never his fault. He's Arminian. That means he has a true conception of God and love. This makes him better and more loving than Calvinists.

As I've said before Robert, any time you're ready to re-engage in the objective issues instead of every single one of your posts being a complain and a rant and a woe-is-me tirade, let me know. I'll be there. But as long as your "shtick" is to be known as the guy who points out the moral failing of Calvinists, then why don't we just agree to disagree? These kinds of comments and discussions are boring. You may be into emotional moaning and groaning, I'm not. I'd rather stick to the issues.

Paul Manata said...

Rob Grano said: "This whole dynamic is what makes debating Calvinists difficult, if not impossible. They cannot take off the lens, so to speak, because the lens really is the same as the vision itself."

Rob Grano said (sarcastically): More like, "A Calvinist will conform his thoughts and emotions to his own reading of Scripture, which, of course, has nothing to do with his own thoughts and emotions, since he, as a completely objective interpreter, brings absolutely nothing to the text, but simply allows it to speak for itself."

Paul says: Which is it, Rob? Who is the real Rob? The ex-postmillennialist Calvinist? The ex catholic? The Eastern Orthodox? Round and Round Rob goes, where he stops no one knows. One day he says everyone has lenses which color their reading of the text, the next day he ridicules those who have a lense by which he interprets the text.

Rob = Gollum

Saint and Sinner said...

I have responses to common high-church/anti-sola scriptura arguments here:

http://contra-gentes.blogspot.com/2008/04/common-high-church-arguments.html

Ilíon said...

Rob Grano: "[the post as a whole and similar posts]"

Well, I'm going to have to make the time to comment on *your* statements and general attitude ... you are thinking and arguing in exactly the way you criticise "the Calvinists" for doing. You're claiming that "the Calvinists" insist you adopt their point-of-view before that will even discuss these matters with you, but you are doint the very same thing to them.

To put to bluntly, you're bitching because "the Calvinists" won't roll over and play dead.

To give you an analogy: You're like the prosecutor who tells the jury that the defendant deserves to be found guilty -- and given an even harsher sentence -- because he is daring to maintain his innocence of the accusation. You're like the judge, after the jury has found the defendant guilty (never mind the prosecutorial misconduct), actually giving him a harsher sentence because he does not "show remorse," but instead continues to maintain that he is innocent of the crime.


Rob Grano: "Non-Calvinists, in effect, have to accept that template for the sake of argument, then prove it wrong from within. It obviously can't be done, for how can one prove that a proposition is wrong, while simultaneously for the sake of the argument assuming it to be true?"

But you're very wrong even on this.

One of the *easiest* and most commonly used of ways to prove a system false is to *assume* it is not false ... and then generate a contradiction or other absurdity from within the system.


For instance, with Calvinism, one weak point is the denial of "libertarian free will." What do you think I've been doing with these Calvinists recently, if not helping them publically demonstrate to all and sundry that they themselves don't even believe their (necessary to the system) denials of "free will?"

Haven't you noticed that in making their arguments these Internet Calvinists must *constantly* assume some of the key things they deny? (Similar to how 'atheists' must and do behave.) Haven't you yet grasped the point that even the very effort to present arguments in support of Calvinism refutes Calvinism? These arguments are intended to convince others to choose to believe that Calvinism is true ... but only free agents can possibly be convinced to this or that view.

If Calvinism states the truth about human beings, then it is utterly impossible for any human being to be convinced that Calvinism is true. How absurd is this: a belief-system which logically cannot be believed? See? We easily see that Calvinism is absurd -- necessarily false -- without even breaking a sweat.

[Let's all watch to see how long it takes Mr Manata to now make the very move for my mentioning of which he earlier today called me a liar.]

We, each and every one of us human beings, *know* that we are free moral agents. This is basic knowledge, this is one of the starting points upon which we build any other knowledge we can ever attain. And, because we know that we are free moral agents, we know that any system which denies this is necessarily false -- the ways and why-fores of the errors of such a system may be of middling interest to some, but it isn't necessary to detail them, because we know that the system denies a thing which cannot rationally be denied.


For instance, with Mormonism, one weak point is the conception of God. "Heavenly Father" (I understand that phrase to be used by Mormons as the name of their God) simply cannot be the real God, for he is as much an effect of The Cosmos -- he is as contingent -- as you and I are. Or as Zeus is.


For instance, with atheism, a weak point is ... well, just about everything. Atheism is a Perpetual Absurdity Machine.

steve said...

Paul Manata said...

“He refutes himself better than anyone. His sanctimonious attitude, coupled with his 95% to %% ratio of substance to rhetoric, coupled with his dishonesty, coupled with his self-excepting fallacies and self-refuting comments, make it not only a chore, but a bore, to try to have a rational discussion with him.”

Another one of Robert’s little ploys is to use other commenters as a human shield. He will hide behind their comments to voice his own so that you have to fire through them to reach him. He can then rush to their defense, as if you were attacking them—when he set it up (a “trap”) so that this was the only way of responding to him. A coward’s tactic. Robert is a dirty debater who uses every dirty trick in the book.

Ilíon said...

Steve: "... Robert is a dirty debater who uses every dirty trick in the book."

But Steve, you're intellectually dishonest: you're a liar. As of the post I linked to, it isn't even an issue anymore that you are a liar.

It really pains me to have to say that of you. Until yesterday I had thought better of you; but, perhaps I just hadn't been paying attention to the content of your posts.


I don't seeing enjoy the ... apparently long-running ... interpersonal war between Robert on the one hand and you and Paul Manata on the other. But, I gotta tell ya, if I simply have to choose sides, you two ain't it.

Rob Grano said...

"Because you’re only assuming it to be true *for the sake of argument* That’s called critical detachment or critical sympathy. An internal critique of the opposing position. It’s done all the time. Standard philosophical argumentation."

I understand that. I'm not talking about critical detachment. I'm talking about being called on to accept Calvinist assumptions in order to enter the debate at all. Like trying to prove Mormon doctrine wrong by first accepting that the Book of Mormon is true.

"You’re welcome to claim that it took you several years to draw that logical connection, (as you deem it) but you’re repudiation of sola scriptura is, according to your own previous statement, logically grounded in the priority of the church."

At the time I began to question sola scriptura I was a conservative Episcopalian who was reading a lot of Calvinist literature, but was getting my B.A. at a fairly liberal Catholic college. At that time I didn't even know what Orthodoxy was -- I thought it was just the Greek branch of the Catholic church. I felt like I was being pulled in different directions, finding aspects of Calvinism compelling, but seeing traditional Protestant difficulties respecting theological liberalism. What I decided to do was to study the early church to see how they handled Scripture, trying to stick to non-apologetic, non-polemical modern works on the subject, as well as original sources. That's how I ended up rejecting sola scriptura. I was fortunate during this time to have two older friends, both with Masters' degrees in theology, one a Calvinist and one an Arminian, that I could bounce this stuff off of.

"Who is the real Rob? The ex-postmillennialist Calvinist? The ex catholic? The Eastern Orthodox?"

Please see above. I've never been either a Calvinist or a Catholic, and have no idea where you would have gotten either notion.

"Rob Grano said (sarcastically)"

Yes, and I apologized for the sarcasm yesterday.

Ilion, basically all I'm saying is that it's impossible to rebut Calvinism by exegesis alone, not because non-Calvinists are lacking in exegetical skills, but because to attempt to do so is playing into their hands. By doing so, the debater is granting them up front one of their basic assumptions, hence their dismissal of Robert's appeal to the Wesleyan quadrilateral, etc.

Paul Manata said...

hwagIlíon said...

But, I gotta tell ya, if I simply have to choose sides, you two ain't it.

6:20 AM

***************

Steve, make sure to bring the bon bons, I'll rent the chick flick. We can stay up all night doing our nails and consoling eachother about ilion's decision to go to prom with Robert instead of us.

steve said...

Paul Manata said...

"Steve, make sure to bring the bon bons, I'll rent the chick flick. We can stay up all night doing our nails and consoling eachother about ilion's decision to go to prom with Robert instead of us."

I'd recommend "Carrie" as a timely film under the circumstances.

steve said...

You might also add "The Craft," along with "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," while your down at Blockbuster Video.

Robert said...

Hello Rob,

You wrote:

“Ilion, basically all I'm saying is that it's impossible to rebut Calvinism by exegesis alone, not because non-Calvinists are lacking in exegetical skills, but because to attempt to do so is playing into their hands. By doing so, the debater is granting them up front one of their basic assumptions, hence their dismissal of Robert's appeal to the Wesleyan quadrilateral, etc.”

I believe that you understand my point in bringing in the Wesleyan quadrilateral, truth will be supported from different sides. If something is true, it/they need not fear being scrutinized either by means of scripture, reason, experience or tradition. All four of these areas strongly support the noncalvinist understandings of things. The calvinist wants to restrict the discussion to merely the biblical texts so that they can then further restrict it to their favorite proof texts and control the “discussion”. Cults do the same thing. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses desire to keep the discussion focused on the “bible alone” (but “bible alone” does not mean: let’s seek the proper interpretation of bible verses, NO, it means let’s restrict ourselves to the already held by the person Watchtower teachings on particular bible passages, let’s restrict the discussion to **their interpretations** of the bible verses).

By the way, Rob, you mentioned David B. Hart and his book THE DOORS OF THE SEA. I was curious and so have read some of his articles that prefigured the book and they were very good. So I have the book on order and look forward to reading it soon. Thanks for the recommendation.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello Ilion,

You made some good comments on arguing against a system by showing its absurdity. You wrote:

“One of the *easiest* and most commonly used of ways to prove a system false is to *assume* it is not false ... and then generate a contradiction or other absurdity from within the system.”

Or, if the system produces or logically entails (not-X) and reality is (X) then you know not only is the system false but also absurd.

“For instance, with Calvinism, one weak point is the denial of "libertarian free will." What do you think I've been doing with these Calvinists recently, if not helping them publically demonstrate to all and sundry that they themselves don't even believe their (necessary to the system) denials of "free will?"”

This is a great point, and you did this very well with Saint & Sinner’s comment about Arminians having “autonomous thoughts and emotions.” According to the calvinist system where every thing is predetermined and under the direct control of God, it is impossible for there to be any “autonomous thoughts and emotions” (if calvinism is true), that would be (not-X). But in reality people do sometimes have thoughts and emotions autonomously (X), so the claim by a calvinist that Arminians have “autonomous thoughts and emotions” is both false and absurd.

“Haven't you noticed that in making their arguments these Internet Calvinists must *constantly* assume some of the key things they deny? (Similar to how 'atheists' must and do behave.) Haven't you yet grasped the point that even the very effort to present arguments in support of Calvinism refutes Calvinism? These arguments are intended to convince others to choose to believe that Calvinism is true ... but only free agents can possibly be convinced to this or that view.”

Ilion what you refer to here is what I personally call “inescapeables”. “Inescapeables” because they are realities that some foolishly try to attack or argue against, and yet since these inescapable realities are the truth, are reality, even when you argue against them you NECESSARILY INVOLVE YOURSELF IN THEM. Someone argues for the non-reality of the mind, what are they using in making their argument against the reality of the mind? Their mind. Someone else argues that they do not exist. The sound waves coming from their mouth as they eloquently argue that they do not exist, come from an imaginary mouth? The calvinist who argues against the reality of choices/free will, when he makes his arguments he uses language. Any time you use language you make myriads of choices. So in making the argument that we do not have choices, they necessarily involve themselves in the making of lots of choices as they use ordinary language. Etc. Etc. Etc.

“If Calvinism states the truth about human beings, then it is utterly impossible for any human being to be convinced that Calvinism is true. How absurd is this: a belief-system which logically cannot be believed? See? We easily see that Calvinism is absurd -- necessarily false -- without even breaking a sweat.”

Ilion one of the inescapeables that you repeatedly make reference to is that determinists will seek to convince you to adopt or embrace their determinism after they provide their arguments. But rational argument and consideration of arguments and accepting and rejecting of arguments, that presupposes that you make choices about what you consider rational and what you consider irrational. So rationality presupposes the reality of us having choices/free will. John Searle the philosopher makes this same point in his excellent book RATIONALITY IN ACTION. Flew makes the same point in the essay that I previously suggested that you check out.

“We, each and every one of us human beings, *know* that we are free moral agents. This is basic knowledge, this is one of the starting points upon which we build any other knowledge we can ever attain. And, because we know that we are free moral agents, we know that any system which denies this is necessarily false -- the ways and why-fores of the errors of such a system may be of middling interest to some, but it isn't necessary to detail them, because we know that the system denies a thing which cannot rationally be denied.”

We live in the world that God created where certain inescapables are present. You can either go with the flow, the design plan, or fight against inescapables a fight you cannot win and always will lose. As one of my mentors puts it: you don’t break God’s laws they break you.

“For instance, with Mormonism, one weak point is the conception of God. "Heavenly Father" (I understand that phrase to be used by Mormons as the name of their God) simply cannot be the real God, for he is as much an effect of The Cosmos -- he is as contingent -- as you and I are. Or as Zeus is.”

Cults have some really bizarre beliefs and at times their arguing against reality gets really absurd and bizarre.

“For instance, with atheism, a weak point is ... well, just about everything. Atheism is a Perpetual Absurdity Machine.”

Well if God created the world and us and everything else, then he set up the inescapable realities. So if you argue against him and his rules you will perpetually be running into inescapeables whether it is the reality of non physical realities like minds, or that we are spiritual beings who were made to worship God and so if not him then something, etc. etc.

Do the atheists alone have a monopoly on this device?

Ilion can you buy a few of these contraptions as Christmas gifts, I know exactly who to give them to. Wait, on second thought, my mistake, I don’t have to give them to people who already have them.

Robert

Rob Grano said...

**The calvinist wants to restrict the discussion to merely the biblical texts so that they can then further restrict it to their favorite proof texts and control the “discussion”. Cults do the same thing.**

And so do most heretics. The Arians wanted to limit the debate with Athanasius to the Bible alone. The saint would have none of it. In fact, one of his major challenges to the Arians was, "Where are the fathers for your beliefs?" In other words, if what you're saying is true Christianity, why does it have no pedigree?

Glad you ordered Hart's book. He's an incredibly intelligent guy and really knows his stuff, both theology and philosophy.

steve said...

robert said...

“But in reality people do sometimes have thoughts and emotions autonomously (X), so the claim by a calvinist that Arminians have ‘autonomous thoughts and emotions’ is both false and absurd.”

I already corrected Robert’s blunder, but he continues to blunder on.

“The calvinist who argues against the reality of choices/free will, when he makes his arguments he uses language. Any time you use language you make myriads of choices. So in making the argument that we do not have choices, they necessarily involve themselves in the making of lots of choices as they use ordinary language. Etc. Etc. Etc.”

This is another one of Robert’s simpleminded equivocations. We have experience deliberating. And we have experience acting on our deliberations. But we have absolutely no experience ever having done otherwise. So choice, in the libertarian sense of the word (as Arminians define it in opposition to Calvinism) is completely alien to human experience.

Robert is like a Jack-in-the-box that keeps playing the same Pop-goes-the-weasel tune it was programmed to play. His rigid repertoire of arguments is ironic coming from someone who touts the freedom to do otherwise.

“But rational argument and consideration of arguments and accepting and rejecting of arguments, that presupposes that you make choices about what you consider rational and what you consider irrational. So rationality presupposes the reality of us having choices/free will.”

There’s a word for that: imagination. Contemplating alternative courses of action. That doesn’t presuppose the freedom to do whatever you imagine.

“The calvinist wants to restrict the discussion to merely the biblical texts so that they can then further restrict it to their favorite proof texts and control the ‘discussion’.”

Another one of Robert’s demonstrable lies. I discuss Arminian prooftexts on a regular basis.

normajean said...

Actually, Steve, your responses to Robert haven't really clarified much at all. In fact, this last one about choices hurts my head. It's almost as if you see the difficulty of your position so you keep your article vague enough to custom tailor objections raised against it. I'm unable to follow you.

Robert said...

Hi Rob,

“And so do most heretics. The Arians wanted to limit the debate with Athanasius to the Bible alone. The saint would have none of it. In fact, one of his major challenges to the Arians was, "Where are the fathers for your beliefs?" In other words, if what you're saying is true Christianity, why does it have no pedigree?”

I am leery when someone wants to limit the search for truth to only one aspect, which just happens to be the aspect they are, or believe themselves to be, most prepared to talk about. I use the illustration, that something that rankles me in court trials is when an attorney says something like: “we don’t want that evidence to be admissible”. Or the judge says “the jury will disregard . . .” The reason the lawyer does not want the piece of evidence in, is because it is “prejudicial” to his side and he is all about proving his side to be right. A search for truth is broader than that and so any admissible or relevant evidence ought to be “let in.”

Regarding “if what you’re saying is true Christianity, why does it have no pedigree” that is one of the major, major problems with calvinism. It is not present between the New Testament and Augustine (and I would suggest that it is not present in the New Testament as well unless you interpret certain proof texts a certain way). Augustine then invents certain things which the later reformers then modify and systematize into the system of calvinism we know today. But apart from Augustine and the reformers, if we carefully examine Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism, and Independents, we do not find much evidence for calvinism instead we find overwhelming evidence for noncalvinism. But for calvinists, like lawyers advocating a position rather than pursuing the truth, that is inadmissible evidence or evidence that has to be mitigated and downplayed. So they downplay that available evidence and try to limit it to merely the exegetical area.

Like the Jehovah’s Witness who does the same thing and then appeals to the “bible alone” which is not really a search for biblical truth but an appeal to their interpretations of the biblical truth. Their interpretations and the proper interpretations of biblical truth are quite different. Which is why again across the theological spectrum, whether it be Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, etc. calvinism is rejected and noncalvinism is the majority view. Most Christians have no problem at all understanding the proper meaning of John 3:16 (unless of course they are calvinists and so are forced to evade the proper meaning of the text to seek an interpretation that better fits the calvinist system).

“Glad you ordered Hart's book. He's an incredibly intelligent guy and really knows his stuff, both theology and philosophy.”

Yeh I read some of Hart’s articles this week. It is obvious he is brilliant and knowledgeable and has a prodigious vocabulary. I like to read intelligent people like that. I have really enjoyed his stuff so far and am very much looking forward to reading the book.

Robert

Rob Grano said...

If you study the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian controversies of the early Church, you'll find that Augustianism was not really Calvinist, especially those aspects which were accepted as valid by the Western church at the Synod of Orange. Thus while Calvinism has its root in St Augustine's thought, it is inaccurate for Calvinists to claim the saint as "one of us." I think we need to be careful not to lay more at the feet of Augustine than he is truly responsible for.

Ilíon said...

NormaJean: "Actually, Steve, your responses to Robert haven't really clarified much at all. ... It's almost as if you see the difficulty of your position so you keep your article vague enough to custom tailor objections raised against it. I'm unable to follow you."

Which, as I recall, is one of Robert's claims about the behavior and arguments of the "Triabloggers."

steve said...

robert said...

“I am leery when someone wants to limit the search for truth to only one aspect.”

Like the Bible? I notice that Jesus used to limit his debates over where to find the truth to the Bible, too. I guess Robert is also leery of Jesus.

‘Why does it have no pedigree’ that is one of the major, major problems with Calvinism.”

The NT church began with 120 members. Not much of a pedigree. A teensy-weensy minority group compared to all those pagans. Or Jews who rejected the Messianic claims of Jesus.

“It is not present between the New Testament and Augustine.”

What do you bet that Robert is some sort of Baptist? How many Catholic or Orthodox theologians would find his Baptist theology in the church fathers?

steve said...

normajean said...

"Actually, Steve, your responses to Robert haven't really clarified much at all. In fact, this last one about choices hurts my head. It's almost as if you see the difficulty of your position so you keep your article vague enough to custom tailor objections raised against it. I'm unable to follow you."

When you have something resembling an argument, feel free to drop me a line. All you've given me here is a feeling of an opinion of an impression.

Ilíon said...

Here is the blog (of a Calvinist) which I enjoy reading ... Douglas Wilson: Blog and Mablog

Of course, like him or not, he's still wrong about the "Arminian-Calvinism" question.

Edward T. Babinski said...

VICTOR REPPERT IS THE ARMINIAN KETTLE CALLING THE CALVINIST POT BLACK

VIC: "if Calvinism is true, the 'fix' is in concerning everyone's destiny makes it harder to employ long-term benefits to explain evils."

ED: How is the "fix" not in if you accept Divine Omniscience and eternal punishment? I think you accept both, no? I've never really understood how Arminians accept both and then call the Calvinist pot "black." Is it because Arminians think that God can both know every outcome but a person can still have libertarian free will? That's a questionable belief in the opinion of philosophers. Calvinists probably press the questionable nature of such a distinction between their views and your own just as far as doubting philosophers do, asking "How can you have an omniscient God who created and sustains all of creation solely out of His will and power, and also have libertarian free will which assumes that people's will is a power absolutely unpredictable and a law unto itself whose outcome even God cannot know?

From my perspective the fix is in in both cases, Arminianism and Calvinism, as soon as omniscience and eternal hell are involved.

Robert said...

I am not sure Babinski is really sincerely desiring answers to his questions here. Is he instead simply taking an opportunity to take a shot at Christians and our beliefs? I do believe showing how easily his concerns can be addressed may be useful for some.

“ED: How is the "fix" not in if you accept Divine Omniscience and eternal punishment? I think you accept both, no? I've never really understood how Arminians accept both and then call the Calvinist pot "black."”

I believe that Babinski already knows the answer to that one: we believe that the bible is the actual revelation from God and in it, God says **both** that He has exhaustive knowledge of all events (which also includes future events) and that there is eternal punishment for those who freely reject the gospel. I think it was Bertrand Russell who said that he could not accept Jesus as a moral person because Jesus believed in hell and eternal punishment.

Regarding calling the calvinist pot black. Surely Babinski must also know that the calvinists believe that God predetermines every event. So in their thinking those who end up in hell were predetermined to go there and never had a chance to be saved, it was impossible for them to have done otherwise and been saved. And surely Babinski must know that noncalvinists believe that people are given the genuine opportunity to believe (that God sincerely offers salvation to all people and wants them all to accept His gracious offer) but must repeatedly and continually and freely reject it in order to be eternally separated from God. Can Babinski see that it is very different to believe that a person’s every move is predetermined (including their rejection of God and nonbelief) and so they are predetermined to be hell bound and never have a chance to be saved. Versus being eternally separated from God after you were given genuine opportunities to believe and yet you freely and repeatedly rejected each and every opportunity to believe?

“Is it because Arminians think that God can both know every outcome but a person can still have libertarian free will?”

Yep. God could know what you will in fact do (the actual outcome), as well as what the available alternatives were before the person when they made their choice (the possible outcomes). So he could know not only what you will in fact do, but also what you could have done in that situation. As long as God does not control and manipulate the person (as would be true with calvinism or the claim that God controls and predetermines every event), how would God knowing what choice he will in fact make (the actual outcome) from among the available and accessible possibilities, eliminate libertarian free will? If Babinski and I were having dessert in a restaurant and he told me what desserts he was considering, the reasons for each selection (or even not selecting any dessert at all), and then he made his selection (how would my observing and knowing his possible choices as well as his actual choice) take away from his first having an actual choice and then him actually making the choice? In scientific studies there are some times experiments where the scientist(s) observe phenomena in nature: does the mere fact that they are present and observe what occurs mean that they have controlled, manipulated, or in some other way affected or determined the outcome? [note- and I am not talking about observation at the level of subatomic particles so don’t even go there]

“That's a questionable belief in the opinion of philosophers.”

Actually it is fascinating that those who most fervently argue and believe that libertarian free will and God’s exhaustive foreknowledge of all future events are incompatible are open theists (who deny God’s foreknowledge) calvinists (who deny libertarian free will) and atheists (who deny God exists and try to use the supposed incompatibility of the two as an argument for God’s nonexistence, Alvin Plantinga in his famous little book [GOD,FREEDOM, AND EVIL] dealing with this issue calls this argument an argument from **atheology**, and if Babinski is interested he can see how Plantinga deals with this argument there).

“Calvinists probably press the questionable nature of such a distinction between their views and your own just as far as doubting philosophers do, asking "How can you have an omniscient God who created and sustains all of creation solely out of His will and power, and also have libertarian free will which assumes that people's will is a power absolutely unpredictable and a law unto itself whose outcome even God cannot know?”

Again I find it interesting that calvinists, open theists and atheists are in agreement on this. Each has a different agenda, and yet they appeal to this same argument.

“From my perspective the fix is in in both cases, Arminianism and Calvinism, as soon as omniscience and eternal hell are involved.”

If a person actually accepted the bible’s teaching (which I gather Babinski does not, from comments that he has made) I mean they actually believed what it said. Then why would there be a problem in believing in both God being omniscient and there being an actual hell and eternal punishment? I am not saying that Babinski should believe in these two realities (I understand why he wouldn’t if he were not a Christian). What I don’t fully understand is how he attacks noncalvinists and claims that we cannot believe in these two realities, especially if they are both there, in the book we claim to be a revelation from God?

Robert

Ilíon said...

Robert: "I am not sure Babinski is really sincerely desiring answers to his questions here. Is he instead simply taking an opportunity to take a shot at Christians and our beliefs? I do believe showing how easily his concerns can be addressed may be useful for some."

Mr Babinski's objective doesn't even rise to the level of taking shots at Christian belief ... to rise to that level, there must be the possibility that he will score a hit. The man *knows* his sniping cannot actually hit actual Christian belief ... and thus he sets his sights by first distorting reality (*) and then stroking his lucky rabbit's foot for the "charm" to thereby deceive as many as possible.

Some persons might bebefit reading your post. I do not expect Mr Babinski to be one of them -- nothing you will say is *new,* none of it is unknown or a mystery, none of cannot be worked out by any resonably intelligent person (and Mr Babinski is *not* stupid) who is not willfully deceiving himself about the nature of reality and of logic and logical relationships.

(*) That whole irrational "perspective" (i.e. "charade") that he and his ilk assert is an intentional attempt to distort reality and thereby make their "argument" definitionally true -- the continuous assertion that IF God actually has "exhaustive foreknowledge," THEN logically no human act can ever be explained in terms of "libertarian free will" is not even logical.


E.Babinski: "From my perspective the fix is in in both cases, Arminianism and Calvinism, as soon as omniscience and eternal hell are involved."

Robert: "I am not sure Babinski is really sincerely desiring answers to his questions here. Is he instead simply taking an opportunity to take a shot at Christians and our beliefs? I do believe showing how easily his concerns can be addressed may be useful for some."

What *I* find interesting is that if ... as I do ... one does not even make reference to any Biblical "supernatural" claims, but rather relies upon nothing but "natural" knowledge and reasoning ... you know, the very things these Evangelical Atheists *claim* to be basing their various (and mutable) arguments upon ... and shows that their arguments do not and cannot stand, it still has no substantive effect upon their "belief" or their assertions.

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For an example of the imperviousness to reason of these self-proclaimed Champions Of Reason, see -- this recent post (specifically the last section of the post) and the responses to it:

This post (again, the last section is the critical one) and (somewhat indirectly) this post are the immediate response;

This post is my beginning of an answer, attempting to get into the heart of the matter;

This post is the (so-predictable) response to the above.

Some of the other posts in the sequence may be interesting, but these I've linked are probably key.

Of course, as I knew from the start would be the case, the exchange does not go far: I have no patience for playing games with intellectual dishonesty, and I was pretty sure that Mr Joyce is not yet ready to be honest.


Dig this:

Ilion: (after a *simple* demonstration that reason, logic, and knowledge simply cannot exist if atheism is the truth about reality) "You really can forget about your Goddess, Miss "Science," ever being able to "explain" the human mind ... that poor, senile dear can't even begin to explain the multiplication tables!"

Ravel H. Joyce: "Sure she can. Just because I can't do it very well..."

My point here is that these self-proclaimed Paragons of Reason *always* retreat in this manner when reason/logic blows their (false) beliefs out of the water. They *always* reveal that their position and beliefs are at least as "faith-based" as that of the most hide-bound stereotypical "fundie."
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