Thursday, May 08, 2008

Triablogue: Victor Reppert vs. C.S. Lewis

Triablogue: Victor Reppert vs. C.S. Lewis

Uh, I don't think so. In The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment Lewis is talking about the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system, Lewis says, should be retributive. But there are limits on how much retribution each act deserves. Jaywalking gets a fine, disorderly conduct gets a bigger fine, assault and battery a jail term, theft a longer jail term, armed robbery 10-20 years, second degree murder 20 years, murder 1 life or maybe even the death penalty. But there is a degree of punishment each crime deserves. But no crime ever deserves an infinite penalty.

On a retributive view of hell, at least according to most Calvinist theology I have run across, sin, all sin, even the sin of our federal head Adam, deserves an infinite amount of punishment. Lewis never uses deserved retribution as a justification for hell, and he expresses grave doubts about the Anselmian theory of the atonement. While I can see an ongoing sin being punished in an ongoing way by a separation from God, (which is guaranteed by the sinful state of the person), the idea that all sin deserves an infinite amount of punishment is never defending in Lewis, and in my view, for good reason.

26 comments:

Edward T. Babinski said...

3 QUOTATIONS ON HELL RELEVANT TO THE IDEA OF AN "ETERNITY" OF PUNISHMENT

When all has been considered, it seems to me to be the irresistible intuition that infinite punishment for finite sin would be unjust, and therefore wrong. We feel that even weak and erring Man would shrink from such an act. And we cannot conceive of God as acting on a lower standard of right and wrong.

Lewis Carroll (author of Alice in Wonderland), “Eternal Punishment,” Diversions and Digressions of Lewis Carroll
________________

Do I believe in eternal punishment? Hell no. I always believed God could get his revenge in far less time.

Robert Ingersoll
____________________________

God recently remodeled hell. He replaced the flames of eternal damnation with a microwave. Now, instead of taking forever, His revenge is complete in seconds. The only hard part is hanging on while the plate rotates.

Edward T. Babinski

Edward T. Babinski said...
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Edward T. Babinski said...
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Edward T. Babinski said...

VICTOR REPPERT'S DEFENSE OF ETERNAL HELL: "I can see [eternal hell, in the sense of it being] an ongoing sin punished in an ongoing way by a separation from God (which is guaranteed by the sinful state of the person)."

ED'S REPLY: By "ongoing" I assume you mean “forever?” That's a long time in which the character of freewilled beings might change no matter what their original "sinful state" was when they first entered a realm of retributive punishment, especially if you suppose God has genuine concern for people's character.

Or to put it as a Christian universalist might: God and time are the best teachers, and there's time enough in eternity to learn more than enough lessons.

Speaking of C. S. Lewis, he tried arguing that hell was a “loving provision,” a place where non-Christian souls were safe from the pain they would feel if they were exposed to God’s presence. (Did Lewis forget that Jesus mingled with “sinners and wine-bibbers” without any mention of his presence causing them pain? Jesus also allegedly preached to “souls in hell,” so I guess God's presence isn't necessarily such a painful thing, even for sinners. God can even put his “presence” in communion wafers -- if Catholics and Lutherans are right -- without it burning the tongues of sinners, unless the person happens to have a strong allergic reaction to wheat.

Theology even teaches that everything came directly out of God's will and power, so God is everywhere, in everything. Yet people don't suddenly feel pain engulphing them whenever they sin which, according to the doctrine of "original sin." even begins at birth (though the slap on the rear end might count for something).

Some Christians including yourself and C. S. Lewis, have questioned the notion of a firey retributive hell lit by God’s jealousy and anger, and favor instead a lighter” less “tortuous” version of “eternal punishment” (perhaps being cast into a lake of sour jello instead of a lake of fire)?

Why why not take such questioning to the NEXT level and ask why “hell” needs to be any worse than this world? We have pain and sickness here, we suffer here, but there is also room for healing, growth and education. (As I said, what better teachers could there be than God and time, especially if God is most concerned about the development of one’s character thoughout eternity rather than being concerned about vengeance, wrath and retribution?)

As for those who argue that eternal hell should be viewed as “God’s great compliment,” I say, if hell is such a great “compliment,” what does God do when he wants to “insult” someone? (Maybe I should simply respond, “Then please take your gleefully and playfully worded defense of hell with you to hell? There, have I complimented you enough?”)

Lastly, why must Christians assume that this world is the best place in which to develop character? It's not exactly obvious that it is.

This world in many cases seems like a breeding ground for despair, ignorance, fear, misunderstandings, miscommunications, etc. We start out ignorant babes, picking up the ignorance and prejudices of those who raise us. Then once our hormones kick in during adolescence we’re tossed on a sea of emotions. And “communication” itself is a difficult art that can cause the utmost confusion, pain and suffering, or lead to it. While simple stupidity can cripple people's lives, even the lives of entire cities and nations.

Throughout life we also have to concentrate on basic needs first and foremost -- from food and clothing and shelter to basic education to more advanced and continuing education, and even then there’s little time left for most people on earth to compare and contrast religions, philosophies, the sayings of wise teachers, sages and prophets, or even have time enough to self-examine themselves and what they truly do believe, or to retrace and study the courses of their own lifelong journeys of thought and experience (because retracing them adds an extra level of depth in one's mind that can also lead to seeing new thoughts, making new connections).

Certain people also suffer so much in life either psychologically or physically that it doesn’t always build character but can dismantle it, and/or scramble a person’s brain/mind. Even a mere deficiency in a vitamin or mineral can scramble a person’s brain/mind, and/or hinder their ability to think clearly. A tiny lesion in the brain or pressure from a benign tumor can also change a person’s behavior. It turned one happily married man into a porn addict and molester of his own daughter, and then once the tumor was removed, he reverted back to what he was before the tumor, a loving caring father.

All I have to say is this...

Given headaches, backaches, toothaches, strains, scrapes, breaks, cuts, rashes, burns, bruises, PMS, fatigue, hunger, odors, molds, colds, yeast, parasites, viruses, cancers, genetic defects, blindness, deafness, paralysis, mental illness, ugliness, ignorance, miscommunications, embarrassments, unrequited love, dashed hopes, boredom, hard labor, repetitious labor, accidents, old age, senility, fires, floods, earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes and volcanoes, I can not see how anyone, after they are dead, deserves “eternal punishment” as well.

Ed

Edward T. Babinski

P.S., Vic, you've shared some pro-universalist arguments in the past and I wonder whether Trialogue members are familiar with them? Maybe you should keep them handy on a sidebar of your blog?

Ilíon said...

V.Reppert: "... But there is a degree of punishment each crime deserves. But no crime ever deserves an infinite penalty."

1) How do you *know* that no crime ... though, the issue is actually 'sin,' rather than mere 'crime' ..."deserves an infinite penalty?" What is your *basis* for this assertion? Against what ... and once the assertion is properly framed ... do we rationally evaluate the assertion?

2) What do you even mean by "infinite penalty?"

May it not be that you are absolutizing time (i.e. treating 'time' as capital-T 'Time')? Is kvetching about an "infinite penalty" even a *sensible* or rational kvetching by "time-bound" beings, as we are?

Paul Manata said...

Uh, I think so.

Why would Lewis' argument change when you get to hell?

How would you not treat them as a non-person whith rights but, rather, a "case."

You don't have to follow lock-step with Lewis. It's okay to admit differences in opinion.

Btw, we've addressed your "hell charges" on numerous instances. So I just refer you to them until they're answered.

Victor Reppert said...

You are changing the subject again. You attempted to show a conflict between my views and Lewis's, as is obvious from the title of your post. I show that the conflict does not exist, showing that although Lewis is a retributivist about criminal punishment, he does not use the argument from retribution in his defense of hell. Now you tell me that I don't have to stay in lock-step with Lewis on this. I don't of course, but you (and this is not the first time you've done it) have used Lewis to attack me. You claim that if I accept, with Lewis, a retributive view of criminal punishment, I must accept a retributive view of hell. That's false and I have proved it. Can you just admit it?

Your replies to me on this issue (though there maybe others buried) has often been that when I say you can't get an infinite penalty for a finite sin, you say I am assuming the sinner is repentant. But if the sinner is unrepentant then the sinner is compounding fresh sins on top of sins, in which case he is being punished for those, not the original offense.

Second, you mentioned a murderous child molester and you ask if I think it deserves an infinite punishment. The answer is no, it deserves great punishment surely (assuming he's responsible for his actions) but a punishment of infinite duration? That makes no sense. A repentant child molester deserves punishment but not one of infinite duration. An unrepentant molester is compounding his offenses.

Paul Manata said...

Victor,

You're confusing Hays with myself. I didn't make the child molestation remark.

About Lewis, I'm afraid I'm still not clear.

Why do his comments lose their force when transferred to hell?

I simply transferred the logic of the argument.

I'm not mixing anything. Ironic, though, given that you barely respond to anything I write but keep re-posting your same comments over and over again. Even re-posting objections I specifically answer without showing awareness of the answer. You have also failed to engage any of the positive argumentation I've put forward against your view. Simply ignoring them and acting as if your position has no problems and we shoulder all the burden.

You've said God is always trying to save the person in hell. Thus hell is remedial. Using hell to show how bad rejecting God is. So, he's a "case."

You can *say* I've mixed things up all you want, it's the *showing* part that always finds me lost.

Paul Manata said...

"but you (and this is not the first time you've done it) have used Lewis to attack me."

Victor, attacks on your *position* are not attacks on *you*. Perhaps this is why some of the people here are saying we're so mean and nasty. Using this kind of rhetoric poisons the well.

I should say that you've tried to "attack" me with the Apostle Paul, or Calvin.

Really, come on now, Victor.

Victor Reppert said...

Lewis's view is that God leaves those people alone when it becomes impossible that they will repent.

Lewis's claim is that we should considerations of desert should be primary but that other considerations can be considered. He also believed in Purgatory (though not the Romish doctrine of purgatory). Actually, so did Calvin, if I recall correctly.

If all sins deserve a finite degree of punishment, however great, then Lewis's arguments for retributive criminal punishment cannot support an everlasting punishment in hell. So Lewis was not taking an inconsistent position by saying being a retributivist about crime and a non-retributivist about hell. Now it seems that you can say he is wrong and that human sins deserve a punishment infinite in duration. I think the only argument that looks like it has a chance on this score is the claim that sin against an infinite being deserves infinite punishment. That seems dubious to me, but if you buy it, then you have a retributive hell of infinite duration.

But you are claiming I take a position that contradicts Lewis's. On this particular matter, my view is consistent with his and is the view, in fact, that he himself appears to take.

Paul Manata said...

Victor,

You said God is always trying or aiming to save the person in hell.

That treats him as a "case."

"If all sins deserve a finite degree of punishment, however great, then Lewis's arguments for retributive criminal punishment cannot support an everlasting punishment in hell."

An everlasting hell can be finite. Potential infinites are finite at any point.

Furthermore, say that S goes to hell for X amount of sin, which deserves Y amount of time T (even though it is questionable that *time* as much to do with it. I think the time issue is irrelevant, actually. The Bible does use any of those terms. The Bible never says anything about crime = time. You're imposing that on the text.)

During T, S commits more sin. This, to be just, must be punished. So we have X+1 and Y+1 which is T1.

During T1, S commits for sin, which must be punished. So we have X+1+1 which gets Y+1+1, for T2.

Given the biblcial doctrine of sin, how man *is* a sinner, how man *hates* God, how man will curse God in hell, this is fully consistent with orthodox, traditional Christianity.

This even happens in our prison system. A murder may get life. He shanks someone in jail. Then he gets 2 life sentences. If they didn't have the death penalty, and he kept shanking people, punishment would continue to grow.

Thus we can see how *even if* I grant your premises, I can still get an everlasting hell while the sinner is always paying for finite sins.

God doesn't "levae them alone" in hell. Whatever that means. God is *omnipresent*, first off. And, guess what, since they're human, they'll still bear God's image in hell. As Calvin has said, to be conscious of self is to be conscious of God.

Or, does it mean God was poking them with a pitch fork for a while, and then he "leaves them alone?"

Victor, one's theology shouldn't be built on the sinking sands of human opinion.

That's kind of the point God of why gave us a revelation.

We know heaven will be eternal. It says the same about hell. Eternal. Drop the one, drop the other.

Paul Manata said...

P.S.

Let's take the comment I pitted against Lewis:

"Thirdly, while I do understand hell as a possible outcome so long as people continue to disobey and God, out of respect for their freedom, refuses to forcibly convert them, I do not understand hell as deserved retributive punishment for all sin. That is, I understand a "natural consequences" view of hell but not eternal retribution per se."

See, they "continued to disobey."

Now, either you punish this diobedience - enter Lewis' coment.

Or, you do not - enter injustice.

You've still not got around the dilemma.

Victor Reppert said...

Lewis never opposes the idea of rehabilitating criminals. It's just that in order for our criminal justice system to be just, considerations of desert must be give priority considerations of deterrence, rehabilitation, and the protection of society.

On his view pitchforks aren't necessary. A damned person is refusing to live within the framework of a relationship to God, which, as someone in the image of God, is the only way he is going to he happy forever.

Therefore the unrepentant are punishing themselves. We don't need retribution in eternity, it's what's going to happen anyway so long as the rebellion of the soul continues. The creature can't receive fellowship with God, because his self-centered character won't permit it.

Does God punish the sin? The sin punishes itself, because that is the way God set things up. God might use all sorts of horrible images to indicate what happens when a person gets into that condition because the condition is horrible enough to justify the images.

Ilíon said...

V.Reppert: "Lewis never opposes the idea of rehabilitating criminals."

You jest, surely?

Is not the whole point of Lewis' "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment" that considerations of "rehabilitating criminals" are inherently inhumane and unjust and must *necessarily* lead to gross injustice? [And, as we ought surely to have learned by now, ultimately doing nothing to "reduce crime."]

And, on a side note, didn't Chesterton make essentially the same argument against "rehabilitationism" a generation earlier? To wit: that it denies, and must deny, the humanity of those subjected to it.


V.Reppert: "Lewis never opposes the idea of rehabilitating criminals. It's just that in order for our criminal justice system to be just, considerations of desert must be give priority considerations of deterrence, rehabilitation, and the protection of society."

It is one thing to make *freely* available to the convicted criminal any tools with which he might "rehabilitate" himself.

It is quite another thing to *forcibly* "rehabilitate" the criminal ... or to make the scope and duration of his punishment, either to lighten it or to lengthen it, contingent upon his "satisfactorily" jumping through some set of rehabilitation-hoops.


To make anything other than serving and promoting justice a criterion of the "criminal justice system" is to open the door to the possibility of perverting justice. To make anything other than serving and promoting justice the main criterion of the "criminal justice system" is to guarantee gross injustice.

=== turning from 'criminals' to 'sinners' ===
V.Reppert: "On his view pitchforks aren't necessary. A damned person is refusing to live within the framework of a relationship to God, which, as someone in the image of God, is the only way he is going to he happy forever.

Therefore the unrepentant are punishing themselves. We don't need retribution in eternity, it's what's going to happen anyway so long as the rebellion of the soul continues. The creature can't receive fellowship with God, because his self-centered character won't permit it.
"

But of course.

And (I am confident, or at least hopeful that), if you and your "Calvinist" critics would step back (and get your selves out of the picture), I think you'd see that you don't really disagree: you are trying to get at the same truth, but using different words and images.


V.Reppert: "Does God punish the sin? The sin punishes itself, because that is the way God set things up."

But you're saying the very sort of thing you criticise and to which you stringly object (based mostly on intuitional knowledge or belief) when"Calvinists" say it... "because that is the way God set things up."

"The sin punishes itself," ... *NOT* "because that is the way God set things up" (as though God is "arbitrary") ... *BUT* because it cannot logically be otherwise. As you yourself said just a moment before: "The [rebellious] creature can't receive fellowship with God, because his self-centered character won't permit it."

The rebellious creature is rebelling against Truth and Love and Life (i.e. against God): the rebellion, and the punishment for the rebellion, are identical; the rebellion *is* the punishment.


V.Reppert: "Therefore the unrepentant are punishing themselves. We don't need retribution in eternity, it's what's going to happen anyway so long as the rebellion of the soul continues. The creature can't receive fellowship with God, because his self-centered character won't permit it."

When the rebellious soul finds itself "in hell" (whatever exactly hell is), is it even logically possible for it to cease its rebellion? If it did not cease its rebellion when the Spirit of God was "with it," wooing it away from the rebellion, offering to break it out of the spiral it was/is in if only it would will for even an instant to be otherwise, then *how* can the soul which God has "resigned" himself is lost possibly break out of the rebellion-spiral?

Paul Manata said...

Well Victor, if you're going to revise the plain statement of Lewis, then I suppose since his statement is consistent with almost everything (it seems), it's not inconsistent with your claim.

You also said they "continue to disobey." This presupposes one should obey. Obey whom? That presupposes a conscious agent who they obey or disobey.

Apparently, God does *something* if they disobey *him.*??

To not implicate God is to say that they disobey God and he does *nothing about it.*

Sounds like the nerdy teacher the whole class disobeys.

For the teacher to say, "You're not learning and only punishing yourselves!" while doing *nothing* to enforce his *rules* (cause what else would it be that you "disobey") that *he set up* is to make a *mockery* of him.

I'd also point out I answered your argument against retribition and everlasting punishment.

Victor Reppert said...

But Paul, teachers don't create their students. Breaking the rules doesn't punish itself in school, it does if in eternity we can't by our nature be happy out of fellowship with God. So the punishment is built in, not externally imposed.

Ilíon said...

First Things: Tsunami and Theodicy by David B. Hart (an essay written in 2004 in light of the Christmas 2004 tsunami)

Could it be that part of the difficulty between you two is that you're trying to force sin and its effects to make sense?

Robert said...

Paul Manata wrote:

“Victor, attacks on your *position* are not attacks on *you*. Perhaps this is why some of the people here are saying we're so mean and nasty. Using this kind of rhetoric poisons the well.”

That is not true.

The Triablogers, especially Steve Hays, repeatedly attack and ridicule persons, not arguments. We all understand that attacks against an argument are OK, but that is not what the Triablogers repeatedly do. The Triablogers are in fact mean and nasty and repeatedly violate biblical standards of how we are supposed to interact with each other. Manata claims they are not attacking Victor, just his arguments. The examples could be multiplied but here are just a few examples:

“When Reppert raises an objection, one or more of his opponents respond, and he exhumes the same objection the next time around as if nothing was said by way of reply, that reflects poorly on his quest for the truth.” Steve Hays

“It’s that simple if, like Reppert, you operate at the level of a simpleton.” Steve Hays

“You’re acting like an intellectual clown. Adjectives (“Ludicrous!” “Smokescreens!” “Irrelevant!”) are a sorry substitute for arguments. If you’re incapable of constructing a rational case for your position, then why don’t you make it official and join the circus?” Steve Hays

So lets see Victor is not seeking the truth, is a simpleton, and he is an intellectual clown. And none of these statements are personal attacks. Yeh right, any other lies to share with us? Victor’s arguments and postings must be really upsetting the Triablogers judging by the amount of posts they have written attacking Victor, not just his arguments.

Robert

Ilíon said...

Robert,
Of the three examples you gave:

1) the first is an "attack the position" move [whether the claim Hays makes is actually true is a different matter]

2) the second is indeed mere personal ridicule

3) the third is *probably* an "attack the position" move, it depends on the context [and again, whether the claim Hays makes is actually true is a different matter]

Ilíon said...

But then, I gave up some time ago on trying to read Mr Manata's posts, so I never would have seen his claim to which you're objecting (rightly, I think).

Amusingly, when I go back to understand the context, I don't at all understand Mr Reppert to be claiming that Mr Manata is/was making a *personal* attack.

So, apparently, Mr Manata has a spot of difficulty with reading comprehension. What a surprise that was.

Robert said...

Hello Ilion,

I presented **only** three examples and there are many more. My point is simple, Manata claims they are just attacking Victor's arguments, not Victor. But this claim is not true, as their own words show. If you are merely attacking a position, since when do **positions** seek or not seek the truth? Since when is an argument personal enough to designate it as a **simpleton**. When you call someone who is very educated, a published author, a Ph.d., a "simpleton" there is no way you are going to persuade me that is not a personal attack. And that stuff about being an "intellectual clown" that ought to go back to the circus: that is not what you say about an argument, that is what you say about a person.

Now I understand that people sometimes get overly excited in their discussions and disagreements with others. But even then, if you are talking with another Christian brother or sister, you don't attack them as not pursuing the truth because they think differently than you do, or call them a simpleton or "intellectual clown". But Steve Hays and his friends engage in this kind of personal ridicule and attack over and over again.

And it is completely unacceptable and according to biblical standards, sinful speech. People who profess to be Christians, to be following Jesus as his disciples, need to be obeying His Word. And the scripture is very clear on how we are to interact with other believers and unbelievers. I can cite the verses for you, and have done so with the Triablogers in the past, to no avail. They just ignore the scripture, continue to justify themselves and attack others with their verbal poison.

I believe it is a great testimony to Victor that he does attack arguments here from a Christian perspective. And yet he is not engaging in these personal insults and attacks. So even the nonbelievers feel they can post here without being personally attacked. And that is what real dialogue and discussion is all about, you can attack ideas and arguments, but you don't need to attack the people.

ILion my problem is not when people disagree with each other. Disagreement is to be expected, especially when people are intelligent and can and do make different choices. However, the way in which one disagrees, if one professes to be a Christian, that is another matter.

Robert

Paul Manata said...

Ilion,

The quotes in Robert's post are not from me.

Also, my comment was in the context of Victor saying that *I* "attacked" him.

I pointed out that *my* responding to a position is not an "attack" on *him.*

*You* then come in and quote *Hays* as if it bears on the *context* of *my* response to Repperts.

I frnakly find your strategy to implicate me by using evidence from things not said by me, dishonest at best.

(This serves to objectively undermine your response to me and is not intended to be a statement that Hays *was* in fact out of bounds in his comments.)

Ilíon said...

Robert: "I presented **only** three examples and there are many more. ... But Steve Hays and his friends engage in this kind of personal ridicule and attack over and over again."

I offered no defense (nor, really, any opinion) about the Triabloggers' propensity to do or not to do the very thing of which Mr Manata was (incorrectly!) accusing Mr Reppert. *My* point is that not all of the three examples you gave supported your point.

And, in my addendum post, I expressed the opinion that Mr Manata's immediate accusation against Mr Reppert doesn't even hold water -- whether intentionally or not, Mr Manata's accusation depends upon misreading what Mr Reppert had written.


AND, it is not wrong to have "bad" opinions about others ... nor is it necessarily wrong to "share" those opinions: it depends upon the context.

Nor, for that matter, is it *necessarily* wrong even to insult others; it depends upon the context (and the insult). Insult should be avoided, they almost never are helpful; but they're not necessarily wrong/immoral.

Ilíon said...

P.Manata: "The quotes in Robert's post are not from me."
Mr Manata,

Why do you even bother? Due to your own direct actions and words (directed to me), I already have a low opinion of you ... and you constantly lower it, as you do again in this post -- a mere six sentences, much if which is *factually* incorrect, before we even get into the incorrect reasoning of it.

Do you imagine I'm going to waste my time with this incorrectness in your post, when I've already learned that you (personally) have a great immunity to correction?

Robert said...

Hello Ilion,

You wrote:

“Nor, for that matter, is it *necessarily* wrong even to insult others; it depends upon the context (and the insult). Insult should be avoided, they almost never are helpful; but they're not necessarily wrong/immoral.”

You need to check out the calvinist web site Triablogue of Paul Manata and Steve Hays, and look at Steve Hays’ post titled: “Lies, damn lies, and statistics” (May 11th, 2008).

I had written:

“We all understand that attacks against an argument are OK, but that is not what the Triablogers repeatedly do.”

Hays responded:

“The same damnable lie. I repeatedly attack arguments. My replies to Reppert have been far more detailed and substantive that his replies to me. Same thing with Manata.”

Ilion note what he is saying: they only attack arguments, they do not engage in inappropriate and sinful personal attacks and insults. The fact is that while interacting with others they constantly add these insults and put downs that are not themselves arguments but just put downs.

“Robert professes to take the moral high ground while he wallows in the gutter.”

Another example of precisely what I am claiming the Triablogers engage in constantly. This is no attack on an argument, it is simply an insult of me.

I suggested that believers ought to treat each other a certain way, so this should supposedly apply to the Triablogers interaction with Victor. Note Hays response to this:

“This involves a presumption about Reppert’s Christian identity. Given the number of heterodox positions he deploys to attack Calvinism, I wouldn’t presume anything one way or the other on that score.”

So according to Hays rather than treating Victor as another Christian, Hays evades this by saying he is not sure about Victor. And since when is Steve Hays in the place to determine whether or not Victor is saved or not? And for that matter since when is he in the position to judge me as an unbeliever? He did this in the past claiming that I was going to hell, and the other Triablogers rather than challenging him on this said nothing, which I take to be their agreement as well.

“In the past I’ve let a lot of things slide where Reppert’s concerned because he’s useful on other issues. But when he keeps pounding away at Calvinism, I can’t very well ignore him. And, in order to pound away at Calvinism, he must pound away at other evangelical doctrines.”

Note **HE** let Victor slide in the past, because “he’s useful on other issues.” Nice to see that Hays is in control of the situation, where would we be without him? But then Victor made a mistake, the same mistake that I am supposedly making, we attack calvinism as being false. And that last line here that attacking calvinism necessitates pounding away at other evangelical doctrines, is another false statement by Hays. I, and others, hold to all of the essential Christian doctrines while at the same time attacking this unbiblical and false system of theology/calvinism.

I wrote:

“And the scripture is very clear on how we are to interact with other believers and unbelievers. I can cite the verses for you, and have done so with the Triablogers in the past, to no avail. They just ignore the scripture, continue to justify themselves and attack others with their verbal poison.”

Hays responded:

“This is yet another damnable lie. Robert likes to quote Scripture out of context. He uses the Bible the way a Jehovah’s Witness uses the Bible.”

If I quote scripture out of context and use it the way the JW’s use it, then why do I affirm the trinity, the deity of Christ, salvation by faith alone, things JW’s and other cults deny? And how is it that I have been involved in prison ministry, preaching, teaching many who have come to Christ and been saved? Hays’ ministry is in his own imagination and sitting behind a computer screen. Whom has he been involved in leading to Christ? Where is he preaching and teaching?

Now Ilion consider the next particularly illuminating comment by Steve Hays towards me:

“At this rate, Robert will need an asbestos wetsuit to insulate himself from the lake of fire.”

Again, Hays claims that I am not a believer. I am a saved person with a fruitful ministry being consigned to hell not by God but by this disgruntled calvinist. And again, what gives Hays the right to sit in judgment over me and declare me to be hell bound? And will any of the Triablogers correct him on this or challenge him? NO, their tacit agreement shows they believe exactly the same thing.

I said of some open theists that I know:

"These same open theists affirm all of the essentials of the Christian faith including the trinity, the deity of Christ, salvation by faith alone, etc. etc."

Hays responded:

“Meaning that divine omniscience is inessential to the Christian faith, as Robert selectively defines it.”

I make a distinction between the essentials of the Christian faith, things all believers hold in common, and nonessentials that people who are believers can and do disagree about. Can a person have a personal relationship with Jesus, be saved, and yet hold to open theism? I would say Yes, though I would say they are mistaken on the foreknowledge issue. The difference between Hays and I apparently is that I can believe that others are Christians even though they hold some different beliefs than I do, while for Hays unless you hold to his version of calvinism, you must not be saved. And if he were to come back and say that he believes that a non-calvinist can be a believer, then why am I hell bound according to Hays? In Hays mind if you attack calvinism you must not be saved and are hell bound.

I wrote:

"In my old age, :-) I look at people’s character first, beliefs second, especially if they are professing Christians. And if they are not loving people, but seem to hate everybody who thinks differently than them, well . . ."

Hays responded (and keep in mind that I do extensive prison ministry with many inmates who have committed the worst imaginable crimes, and that I have been involved in seeing many of them come to Christ for salvation, so I regularly deal with people that most people want to have nothing to do with, and yet I preach and teach them that Jesus loves them and died for them and that they can be forgiven of whatever they have done and have their lives changed by the grace of God in incredible ways):

“The funny thing about this statement is Robert's blindness to his own intolerance. He only likes people who are like him. His own kind of people. He loves others who happen to meet with his approval. Who fall within certain parameters. Some of his friends are open theists. But he doesn't speak in very friendly terms about Calvinists, now does he? No, they are the enemy. Take no hostages.”

I am the one in the real world doing real ministry seeing the power of God to transform the most hardened sinners, and Hays who sits behind his computer wants to tell me about intolerance and liking only his kind of people? Hays is the one who only likes people who think just like he does. Regarding calvinists being the “enemy”, that is not my view. Calvinists are as far as I can tell, Christians mistaken in their theology because of a commitment to exhaustive predeterminism of all events. And you won’t find me talking about them needing asbestos suits in preparation for the fires of hell if they keep on their current path.

Oh and then there is this “god-like” statement by Steve Hays who apparently enjoys sitting in judgment over others and assigning eternal destinies:

“Moreover, Reppert has now made it clear that he's never submitted his heart, mind, and will to God.”

If Victor has never submitted his heart, mind and will to God, then he is not a Christian. And how does Steve Hays know this? Hays knows Victor’s heart well enough to declare him hell bound as well?

“Suppose I'm ever bit as bad as he says, and then some. What interests me is Robert's unconsciously humanistic outlook. On the one hand, he thinks that every human being should be treated with utmost reverence—unless, of course, he's a Calvinist. That's beyond the pale.

On the other hand, he doesn't hesitate to blaspheme God. Infinite reverence for man combined with infinite irreverence for God.”

I don’t have a humanistic outlook, actually I get ridiculed as someone who actually believes all of the bible to be a revelation from God. I believe we ought to treat others as we would want them to treat us and that includes everybody getting to hear the gospel message (and that includes inmates). And this claim by Hays that “he doesn’t hesitate to blaspheme God” needs some serious clarification. I love the God of the bible and He has been awesome to me and my family and friends. I do not blaspheme him but have utter love and thankfulness for who He is and what He has done.

On the other hand, I will continue to attack the conception of God presented by calvinists. And the fact that this conception of God produces such severe theological and philosophical problems and produces people like Steve Hays tells you all that you need to know about this unbiblical and mistaken conception of God. Jesus said by their fruits you shall know them, just look at the “fruit” of Steve Hays, just look at his own words and his unjustified attacks on both believers and unbelievers. Ask all of those attacked by him, both believers and unbelievers, about his “Christian” testimony.

Robert

Paul Manata said...

Ilion,

I meant the rest of my post as a response to Robert. Other than forgetting to put his name at the top, nothing I said was incorrect. I only meant my first sentence for you.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Sorry that you have a low opinion of me.

But, at the end of the day, all that matters is God's opinion of me as someone who says that only the righteousness of Christ can allow me to withstand the judgment.

So, I'm not that worried about your low opinion of me.

God's not going to ask for your opinion of me.

You'll note here that I have not personally attacked you while you have done it numerous times to me.

I have not attacked or belittled Robert either.

I have also been professional with Reppert.

So, your attitude and behavior, along with Robert's, is quite ironic given the story Robert's trying to spin.

People reading this thread won't come away with the belief that it is the Calvinist who is the big ole meany.

I'll leave it at that because I don't need to defend myself here.

Anyway, I'm done with this side debate which takes the focus off the real issue. I only care to debate the objective merits of the case, not point fingers to try to show everyone that I am better than others. I have no desire to win a popularity contest or give the impression that I'm perfectly loving with no faults. Anyone who thinks they are keeping God's commandment, and pointing fingers at others, is a person who needs to take some personal inventory. Take it or leave it.