Friday, May 02, 2008

Some Further Clarification for Paul M

I haven't confessed anything or conceded anything, except for the sake of argument. My argument is this. On the hypothesis that what God is after is His own glory, then he should save all of us. Why? Because we're only going to praise him forever if he saves us. It isn't unjust for him to save us, since he does save at least some of us. The more people in the heavenly choir, the more laudits of glory (like turps of evil) he gets. If he sends those people to hell, he doesn't get the laudits of glory from those people since those people aren't praising him.

This arguments isn't saying God wouldn't be nice if he damned people, it is saying that God's interests, *as defined by Calvinist theology* are not served by reprobation. In other words, God shouldn't condemn people to hell because it doesn't serve his own professed interests to do so. It's not that I object to the Calvinistic God's actions on moral grounds (I do of course, but I'm not discussing that here), but rather, I am arguing that even after all sorts of Calvinistic theological points are conceded, points that I am in real life not about to concede, you still don't get to Calvinism. A theology that says that God is out to maximize His own glory is a theology that heads straight for universalism more surely than a theology that says that what He is out to do is love his creatures. If love is the goal, then he might have to give them LFW, and then who knows what the hell will happen. If he's just going for glory, he can get more of that my saving everyone than by reprobating anyone. My claim here isn't that God's actions wouldn't be morally acceptable, my claim is that God's actions make no sense even if they were morally permissible.

There is a difference between defense responses to the problem of evil and theodicy responses. Theodicies attempt to provide likley explanations for evils. The general consensus in the problem of evil literature seems to be that you should try to explain what you can, and then minimize the weight of what you can't explain by appealing to an expectation that we don't know all the reasons in play. As I see it, there is an epistemic cost involved in appealing to mystery and unknown or unknowable reasons, and so you want to bring that pitcher in as late in the game as possible. When I read books like Lewis's The Problem of Pain, I get the sense that I can understand why a lot of evils occur, including virtually all of them in my own life, but certainly not all evils. (The suffering of small children is one Lewis doesn't deal with, for example). When I look at it from a Calvinist perspective, it looks to me as if I have no clue why suffering exists, in this life and certainly not in the next life. The proffered explanations fail even on their own terms to make the ways of God intelligible. Is it possible to believe without understanding? Of course. But faith seeks understanding, and prefers theologies that hold out the most hope of providing some explanations.

8 comments:

normajean said...

Well said!

Paul Manata said...

Hi Victor,

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/05/i-dont-get-god.html

Hans said...

What is the simplest disproof of once-saved, always saved Calvinism?

Paul Copan gives it

Paul Copan on the New Atheists

Paul writes 'What then of the children? Death would be a mercy, as they would be ushered into the presence of God and spared the corrupting influences of a morally decadent culture.'

The children were saved.

But if God had allowed them to live, then they would have grown up to be evil Canaanites and so not be saved.

So we have saved children, who would become unsaved adults.

So once-saved, always-saved is false.

steve said...

hans said...
What is the simplest disproof of once-saved, always saved Calvinism?__Paul Copan gives it__Paul Copan on the New Atheists __Paul writes 'What then of the children? Death would be a mercy, as they would be ushered into the presence of God and spared the corrupting influences of a morally decadent culture.'__The children were saved.__But if God had allowed them to live, then they would have grown up to be evil Canaanites and so not be saved.__So we have saved children, who would become unsaved adults.__So once-saved, always-saved is false.

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Wrong on several counts:

1.Calvinism doesn’t have an official position on universal infant salvation. Some Reformed theologians affirm it while others deny it or reserve judgment.

Hence, you’re imputing a position to Calvinism on which Calvinism is noncommittal, then generating an inconsistency that isn’t internal to Calvinism, but only the result of your extraneous and tendentious imputation.

2.Even if we assume universal infant salvation, this doesn’t mean that the same individual who used to be an infant before he grew up used to be saved until he lost his salvation when he achieved adulthood.

Rather, it would only mean that a subset of infants who die in infancy are saved. It’s indexed to infant morality, not infancy, per se. To all and only those infants dying in infancy.

(And some, by not all, adults, are also elect.)

Ilíon said...

"All [Infants] Go To Heaven" -- The wonderful animated comedy(-of-errors) now playing at a theater near you!

I know this is a popular belief (*) amongst "Arminians" (though, perhaps "Pelagians" or at least "semi-Pelagians" is more accurate these days) ... but it's probably false (**) -- and, since we *claim* to ground our belief in the Bible, where is this doctrine to be found? Or where is the Biblical assertion which logically leads to this belief or doctrine?

And, this belief is certainly contrary to the far more fundamental actual doctrine (and which, in contrast, *IS* a Biblical assertion) that we *all* are corrupted by sin.



(*) More and more I consider it to be nothing but irrational wishful thinking, not even worthy of being considered a belief, much less a sound doctrine.

(**) For that matter, I was raised with an odd version of the belief; though, even as a child, I was not totally convinced that infants and children are automatically saved. I would have liked to believe it true, but I never actually did.

Hans said...

If infants are not saved, Paul Copan would not have written that it was a mercy for God to order the Canaanite children to be killed.

steve said...

Hans said...

"If infants are not saved, Paul Copan would not have written that it was a mercy for God to order the Canaanite children to be killed."

i) No, it would simply mean that Copan was wrong.

ii) More to the point, Copan, as an Arminian, can't begin with his personal belief in universal infant salvation, then use that to generate an internal tension in Reformed theology. To show a contradiction within Calvinism, he would have to begin with two or more Reformed dogmas.

Ilíon said...

Hans, I have to agree with Steve ... even if he is one of those "terrible" ;) Calvinists.