Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Unconditional damnation, promise-breaking, and Flew's gardener

Kyle: I love to ask them how they know God loves them. "I am born again, I have God's promises." But if God has no moral problems with damning many (most?) people unconditionally, then I'm certain He would have no moral problems promising things He doesn't follow up on, or giving you a delusory experience, only to damn you later (Calvin's false hope).

VR: This is an issue I have often thought about. At one point in my lengthy exchange with Triablogue I asked what it would be for God not to be good, and Paul said "For God not to keep his promises." But if we were to discover that God had broken a promise, couldn't they just say that it was just my intuitions that God ought not to do that, and that of course God has a good reason for breaking his promise even though we have no idea what it is.

Flew's gardener lurks in the background.

9 comments:

PM said...

"But if we were to discover that God had broken a promise, couldn't they just say that it was just my intuitions that God ought not to do that, and that of course God has a good reason for breaking his promise even though we have no idea what it is."

Who is "they?" Me? Are you saying I would contradict myself?

Did I say "covenant promise?" If you found an example of that, then God would not exist since he said that if he broke his promise he would kill himself.

The Bible also says that it is impossible for God to lie. I normally don't think impossible things can happen.

Furthermore, in your continued critique you keep forgetting to take into account probably 95% of what we said in response to you.

For starters, we never even granted that what you thought was immoral for God to do *was* immoral. Steve and I gave reasons to think your intuitions *incorrect.* Reasons that didn't rely on "Because the Bible says otherwise."

Secondly, I offered arguments from parity which demonstrated that your line of argument could be used against you with premises that even you agreed on and believe the Bible taught. Thus if my form is the same as yours, and the premises are true, yet the conclusion doesn't follow it must be that the argument (you used) was invalid.

It is also quite unfair to act as if the whole of our position can be summed up by, "Wulp, guess God had a good reason for that." I actually throw up in my mouth a little bit every time I read your uncharitable and slef-serving/excepting "responses" to Calvinism.

Victor Reppert said...

What kind of possibility are you talking about when you say God cannot lie?

Is it a contradiction to say that God can lie? He's supposed to be omnipotent, right, able to do anything that doesn't involve a contradiction. There's no contradiction in saying that God lies. Not even one implied by his being omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good. There are what seem to be good arguments that it is sometimes morally acceptable for humans to lie. If you are sheltering Jews from the Nazis, or sheltering Nicole from OJ, it looks like you might need to utter an untruth in order to do what is right.

Besides, "good" apparently does not mean he has all of his creatures' best interests at heart. He's reprobated most of them.

So why are we sure that God cannot lie? Because the Bible says so? I thought the reason we were supposed to believe the Bible is because God cannot lie. Combine these two, and you have a world-class example of begging the question.

So God said he would kill himself if he broke a covenant promise.
So the reason we can be sure that God will keep his promise is another promise that he has made? So I if you promise to pay someone $1000 back in six months, you can just promise that you'll kill yourself if you don't pay? Don't need contracts, lawyers, or anything? Can you say petitio principii?

"God is good, so God wouldn't do that." I can't see how that argument can possibly work if it can always turn out that what I thought was good really wasn't. The case for inerrancy is based on confidence in God's character. Once that is put into doubt, an appeal to inerrancy inevitably begs the question. Its logical foundations have been shaken.

It is like you to claim to have demonstrated all sorts of things you haven't. I don't recall your ever saying that you could make it comprehensible why, given a compatiblist understanding of free will and predestination, why God would prefer a world with a hell to a universalist one.

There's a greater good? What greater good? Surely not for the lost. So it's got to be for God himself or for the blessed.

Maybe for the blessed. OK, God absolutely has to make a hell with people in it in order for the blessed to know that they were saved by grace and don't deserve the blessing they have. God is omniscient, omnipotent, and absolutely sovereign, but he can't impress upon people who have submitted themselves to Himself that they got there by grace alone except by running an eternal barbecue pit and roasting most of his human creatures in it. He can't do it any other way?? I'm sorry, but if that is so, then God is a pansy.

For Himself, so that he can exercise his attribute of wrath by making sure there are people to pour out his wrath upon? To me that's like my creating an android mate and then causing her to have an affair so that I can be angry with her for being unfaithful. Of course, wrath comes naturally out of love if something comes between lover and beloved that inhibits proper expression of love. But the idea that God make sure He doesn't miss out on exercising his wrath one people? Sorry, that's just perverse.

I distinctly remember you saying that God's reason for having a hell, given the possibility of a universalist world that could have been actualized by God's sovereign choice, is unknowable by us. For a Calvinist, that's the move to make.

I have to appeal to my sense of what it is for God to be good in order to have confidence that God will keep his promises, since appeal to biblical authority in this context would be question-begging.

PM said...

First, regarding covenantal promise breaking:

====

Gen. 15:8 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"

9 So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

[...]

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram

====

Don't know how much covenant theology you've read, but, basically, one who made the covenant will pass through the passage, confirming his covenant, and if he breaks that covenant he will be cut right in the middle of his body like these animals.

In effect, God is saying that if he breaks his covenant he will die. It's a contradiction for a necessary being to not exist.

Moving on to lying in general:

====

Heb. 6:18

18God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.

====

Basically, God is omniscient and infallible. It is a contradiction for an omniscient and infallible being to claim something false. God revealed that it was impossible for him to lie, therefore it is not possible God lie. If it were, an infallible being would be wrong.

Furthermore, since I'm speaking with a Christian who, allegedly, believes the Bible to be the word of God, you can't respond: "But how do you know this is God's word."

VR: Is it a contradiction to say that God can lie? He's supposed to be omnipotent, right, able to do anything that doesn't involve a contradiction.

You should know that this is but *one* view of omnipotence in Phi. of Rel.. I agree that God cannot do something contradictory (and I appealed to that above), but my view of what God can't do is broader than that. He can't act contrary to his nature. He can't deny himself. He can't lie. He can't rape little children for the mere fun of it.

VR: "There's no contradiction in saying that God lies."

Well you say that God can't be unloving since "He IS love." But, he IS *truth* as well. So I'll go with the lying if you go with the unloving. ;-)

VR: "So why are we sure that God cannot lie?"

You answer appropriately:

"Because the Bible says so?"

VR: "I thought the reason we were supposed to believe the Bible is because God cannot lie."

That's certainly one reason.

VR: "Combine these two, and you have a world-class example of begging the question."

As Doug Walton points out in his excellent book on Informal Fallacies, much of these charges arise in a specific context of dialog. I'm not speaking with an atheist, right? I didn’t think I was trying to give you, a professing Christian, a "*reason* to believe the Bible." Given that you, allegedly, *do* believe it, my appeal to it should be enough.

Some of the things you say surprise me quite frankly.

Also. I don't have your view of faith and reason. I thought al views were allowed fair play in the halls of philosophy. I thought dogmatism was a sin?! If God's say-so is the highest authority, to what else can I appeal that is higher?

VR: "So God said he would kill himself if he broke a covenant promise.
So the reason we can be sure that God will keep his promise is another promise that he has made?"

I'm not trying to convince a skeptic, Victor. Really, this is odd. I thought you'd be on the ball here. Furthermore, you asked why *I* could believe what I said. I have certain presuppositions which make these kinds of things entirely intelligible. I'm not trying to show how I would reason from a stance of *disbelief* in God and his claims to one of belief, Victor. Didn't you ask why I, as a Christian, could believe what I do? Well I take it that the Bible is infallible. I take it as God's word. And, yes, I take it on his own authority. Couple this with much of what Plantinga has to say and what's your beef? As a pretended atheist and denier of inerrancy (I guess), you'd be offering de jure objections not independent of the de facto question.

VR: "So I if you promise to pay someone $1000 back in six months, you can just promise that you'll kill yourself if you don't pay? Don't need contracts, lawyers, or anything? Can you say petitio principii?"

Are you (am I) God? Do you even see how you're arguing? I never supposed that you were asking as a non-Christian. As someone who denied the Bible as authoritative.

A covenant is, in parts, a *contract*. It is *legal*. And God is the lawyer/judge/mediator *par excellence*!

Oh, he doesn't count. He's a non-entity in your thinking.

I have no problem following the likes of a Plantinga in his advice to Christian philosophers where he said we can let our worldview inform our answers. That we can and should be autonomous from the secular community in our philosophizing and theologizing. Sorry you don't agree.

And, what should I do to verify God's say-so? Do we both go down to the Supreme Court and have them vouch for Jesus?

VR: ""God is good, so God wouldn't do that." I can't see how that argument can possibly work if it can always turn out that what I thought was good really wasn't."

Who said "it can always turn out that what you thought was good really wasn't?" Not me. Not Steve. Not anyone I'm aware of. I even cited Calvin to the contrary.

VR: "The case for inerrancy is based on confidence in God's character. Once that is put into doubt, an appeal to inerrancy inevitably begs the question. Its logical foundations have been shaken."

Sorry you doubt God's character.

VR: "It is like you to claim to have demonstrated all sorts of things you haven't."

I've seen no reason to think otherwise. Where have you interacted with all the arguments we put up? I am honestly telling you that I believe I have given a lot of arguments that you have simply, to this date, flat out ignored. Show me otherwise. Point me to the links.

VR: "I don't recall your ever saying that you could make it comprehensible why, given a compatibilist understanding of free will and predestination, why God would prefer a world with a hell to a Universalist one."

In fact we answered that NUMEROUS times.

Here's the links:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/06/calvinism-vs-arminianism.html

Oh, and make sure to note the counter arguments why you God would make this kind of world given Arminianism.

And make sure to note my "greater love" argument.

And, I don't suppose I'd make anything "comprehensible" *to you* given that you hate Calvinism and think our God is the devil and a moral monster. Think you're starting with a bias? And you moan about petitios.

VR: "There's a greater good? What greater good? Surely not for the lost. So it's got to be for God himself or for the blessed."

i) We listed some, I'm not going to do your homework and repeat myself.

ii) I already defeated your "noseeum" inference.

VR: "God is omniscient, omnipotent, and absolutely sovereign, but he can't impress upon people who have submitted themselves to Himself that they got there by grace alone except by running an eternal barbecue pit and roasting most of his human creatures in it."

Yep, another one we directly answered numerous time. Search the links. And, it's a little sad to see a professional philosopher resort to the above kind of rhetoric and emotional pleas. Why did I even come back here?

VR: "He can't do it any other way?? I'm sorry, but if that is so, then God is a pansy."

All your arguments, as we demonstrated time and time again, are reversible. Why did God have to create this kind of world with all its evils? So man could love him with his own libertarian free will? He can't do it any other way? Not even ONE less child molestation? Rather than (say) a total earth's history of 1 billion, there couldn't be ONE less? I'm sorry, but if that is so, then God is a pansy and a meany.

VR: "To me that's like my creating an android mate and then causing her to have an affair so that I can be angry with her for being unfaithful."

Hmmmm 2 Sam. 12:11 "This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.' "

Oh, and for all your talk of "begging questions" the question begging epithet "android" is all of a sudden okay. Please, Victor.

Oh yeah, we also addressed the whole "causing" thing. Yep, it's another one of our arguments you totally failed to interact with.

VR: "I distinctly remember you saying that God's reason for having a hell, given the possibility of a Universalist world that could have been actualized by God's sovereign choice, is unknowable by us. For a Calvinist, that's the move to make."

That was *one* answer I gave out of many.

I also pointed out that there are many evils in our world the allowing of which are unknowable to us.

And, if that's "the move to make," what possible *objective* problem do you have as a reason to think God is evil. Looks to me as if I've undercut your inference pattern.

VR: "I have to appeal to my sense of what it is for God to be good in order to have confidence that God will keep his promises, since appeal to biblical authority in this context would be question-begging."

Appeal to a Bible-believing Christian wouldn't be question begging, Victor.

Oh, and I happen to think appeal to your intuitions of right and wrong are question begging against my view. So....

And, again, the very context of your own post undercuts your approach here. Notice what sparked your post. This question:

I love to ask them how they know God loves them.

When we lay out the fullness of our own position how are we begging the question!!!??? I never assumed what I was trying to *prove*, Victor.

You said,

But if we were to discover that God had broken a promise, couldn't they just say that it was just my intuitions that God ought not to do that, and that of course God has a good reason for breaking his promise even though we have no idea what it is.

And so, NO, I couldn't say that! Given that I already believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, am convinced by my exegesis, etc., what you say ISN"T something "they (us) could say."

Victor, I don't think you have a desire to debate this issue with any intellectual honesty. I don’t say that in a mean way, that's my studied opinion based upon months and months of this. It's also a bit disrespectful to ignore 95% of what we have written you and to just reheat and serve up objections we have already discussed. If you disagree, do the scholarly job of analysis and thoroughly going through all of our posts showing that you are familiar with all the arguments and counter-arguments we used on you. From where I'm sitting it, and this is the honest truth, looks as if you maybe skimmed a small percentage of the posts in our entire debate. I see no indication that you are familiar with my position or that you are familiar with those things I said in response to what you still bring up to this very day. Give me a reason to think otherwise.

Victor Reppert said...

Paul: It's interesting that you have latched onto this particular argument to respond to and not one that I developed a couple of posts back, which reflects a restructuring of my anti-Calvinist arguments. In fact I probably would not have bothered to return to this issue had I not discovered a different approach to the whole issue that I had not thought of before.

It's not that I disbelieve my previous lines of argument. I just think that certain patterns of argument do a better job of engaging Calvinist theology than others. I think my new method of arguing shows a better sense of what is going on in Calvinist theology than my previous method. It would be nice if, like Bnonn, you could give some credit for that.

I went through and tried to work through the links on our discussion trying to find one place where you said that it was indeed comprehensible why God would choose a world with reprobated people of a universalist one. In other words, what I want to know is whether you think my noseeum claim is correct. I'm not even trying to get from noseeum to isnun, I just want to see whether Calvinists think this is something they do understand the reason for. If you say this is part of the secret counsel of God, fine. If you try to explain it by saying that it is somehow needed to give the blessed a sense of the graciousness of their salvation, then you've contradicted the previous claim that says that the reason for it is secret, and second this just makes absolutely no sense to me.

PM said...

Victor, to be honest, I didn't see the other one. I have limited my time here for various reasons. I just popped in and saw this one.

VR: "I just think that certain patterns of argument do a better job of engaging Calvinist theology than others."

See the bolded word? I hinted at this in my last post on T-blog. It is precisely your non-interaction with Calvinist theology, and theology oi general, that is one of the main reasons you don't get an ear from the Calvinist.

VR: "I went through and tried to work through the links on our discussion trying to find one place where you said that it was indeed comprehensible why God would choose a world with reprobated people of a universalist one. In other words, what I want to know is whether you think my noseeum claim is correct. I'm not even trying to get from noseeum to isnun, I just want to see whether Calvinists think this is something they do understand the reason for."

I appealed to hidden counsel for why God chose X over Y.

As far as a reprobate world over a universalit one:

I argued two-fold:

a) you have similar problems

b) I agreed with Plantinga that a reprobate world is a better world than a fallen world. I agreed with Jesus that "greatest" love was instantiated by a man dying for his friends. This is impossile (in its context) to happen without a reprobate world.

To claim that God should have worked in everyone to make them turn to Christ, has been an argument of yours that I have seen zero compelling reason to grant it any force whatsoever.

Numerous posts questioned your intuitions on this one.

VR: "I just want to see whether Calvinists think this is something they do understand the reason for. If you say this is part of the secret counsel of God, fine. If you try to explain it by saying that it is somehow needed to give the blessed a sense of the graciousness of their salvation, then you've contradicted the previous claim that says that the reason for it is secret, and second this just makes absolutely no sense to me."

This is all because, Victor, you never take the time to *learn* our theology or to *read* what I wrote to you in the past.

There's a distinction that must be made. As I wrote to you *previously*:

///////////

are you talking about (a) preterition or (b) condemnation? If (a), the reason is unknown. This is a permissive action. Not an efficacious one. God leaves some people in a state of sin. Is Reppert saying that God is *bound* to redeem all men out of the state of sin? That God *has* to? That he *can't* pass by some sinner? Why would you think a thing like *that*? If (b) then the reason is based on his justice. This distinction ((b)) is not based on his good pleasure. He condemns S because S is a sinner.

///////////

Part of the reason you see different answers and you think I may be contradicting myself is because you frequently moved between things like (a) and (b) above. This no doubt due to your lack of knowledge of Reformed categories. I mught understand at first, but this point has been made to you *numerous* times.

In (b) I could say *all sorts of things* and *still* resort to the hidden counsel when the question moves to (a).

If I may make an observation: it "makes no sense to you" because you literally refuse to put in the hard work on this issue like you do on issues pertaining to philosophy of mind, argument from reason, etc. You refuse to be charitable to the Calvinist as you would to atheist materialists.

Victor Reppert said...

Can you really make the distinction between permission and causation in a coherent and consistent way if you are a Calvinist? I suppose in on case God effects a change while in the other case he does not. This would be akin to the familiar moral distinction between killing and letting someone die. I'm not sure this works entirely well when the person we are talking about is omnipotent.

So it looks like you are saying that there is no reason you can think of why there must be a world with actual, (as opposed to merely possible) reprobates. God could have chosen to save everyone, God doesn't have to, and God didn't. But there is no argument that God would have lost glory if he had chosen to save everyone. There's no argument that people in heaven derive some advantage that we can discern from the existence of reprobates.

I mean, it looks to me like it introduces pain into the heavenly kingdom if God refuses to answer the prayers of sincere Christians who yearn more than anything else for the salvation of their nearest and dearest. But, yes, Arminians have that problem as well, as Tom Talbott is fond of reminding them. The difference is that the existence of passed-over souls becomes a matter of divine choice in the case of Calvinism.

Then there is the fact that if glorifying God is a good thing, you'd think the more people doing it the better. Why keep voices out of the heavenly choir?

Then just throw in the utilitarian idea that it promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest number if as many people are happy as possible.

Not that these three considerations are decisive by any stretch. But I do have reasons that I can think of for why God should prefer a universalist world to a reprobate world if the choice is entirely up to him. There could be a hidden reason why this is not the case, but any and all attempts to produce a reason look just plain ridiculous. But if it's hidden counsel, it's hidden counsel.

I don't buy the felix culpa argument at all (read Perelandra in you wonder why), and I see no reason why Jesus could die for everyone and save everyone.

What I said was that the claim that there needs to be an actual hell in order for God to give the blessed a sense of the graciousness of their salvation is what makes no sense to me. It's not just a mere intuition, I argued that if God is omnipotent and sovereign, he is surely able to provide the blessed in heaven with whatever sense He wants to provide them with without burning anyone in hell. So there's an argument here that *you* are ignoring.

Evil becomes more of a mystery when you remove the free will arguments and you keep everlasting punishment. Is there any doubt about that?

PM said...

Victor, this will be my last response. All I'm doing is repeating much of what Steve and I have said to you on numerous occasions.

I didn't bring up "permission" and "causation." I also don't think I ever did. I did, though, bring up *willing* permission, and I discussed the differences, pulling from Helm, in more than a few of my responses to you.

VR: "So it looks like you are saying that there is no reason you can think of why there must be a world with actual, (as opposed to merely possible) reprobates. God could have chosen to save everyone, God doesn't have to, and God didn't. But there is no argument that God would have lost glory if he had chosen to save everyone. There's no argument that people in heaven derive some advantage that we can discern from the existence of reprobates."

God doesn't have to. God is not morally obligated to. There goes any moral arguments against reprobation.

If Jesus had died for all men, all men would have been saved.

Conversely, if Jesus died for none, all would be in hell.

Or, God could have only saved one.

Again, the Reformed, contrary to your approach, like to wonder in amazement that God would even save one sinner. We don't complain that he didn't save enough.

God could have saved all had he so desired.

God doesn't "lose" or "gain" glory, Victor...we've been over this ground with you before too.

The Bible claims that the existence of hell and its inhabitants do serve some purpose regarding the elect.

Revelation 14:11

And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."

Revelation 19:3

And again they shouted:
"Hallelujah!
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever."

(cf. G.K. Beale's, premier Revelation scholar, _The Revelation on Hell_ for exegesis and commentary).

Hell and the sufferings of the damned will serve as a reason for the saints to rejoice in God's justice, though.

So, there is "an argument" that "people in heaven derive some advantage that we can discern from the existence of reprobates." That can be true as well as the proposition that God could have had no people in hell.

I'd agree with Edwards:

//////////

“When they [the saints in heaven] shall see the dreadful miseries of the damned, and consider that they deserved the same misery, and that it was sovereign grace, and nothing else, which made them so much to differ from the damned that, if it had not been for that, they would have been in the same condition; but that God from all eternity was pleased to set his love upon them, that Christ hath laid down his life for them, and hath made them thus gloriously happy forever, O how they will admire that dying love of Christ, which has redeemed them from so great a misery, and purchased for them so great happiness, and has so distinguished them from others of their fellow creatures! How joyfully will they sing to God and the Lamb, when they behold this!”

//////////

Or Sam Storms

//////////

"Often times in Scripture the manifestation of God’s power in judgment is spoken of as glorious. In the Song of Moses in Exodus 15:6 we read, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.” Moses “rejoiced and sang when he saw God glorify his power in the destruction of Pharaoh and his host at the Red Sea. But how much more will the saints in glory rejoice when they shall see God gloriously triumphing over all his enemies in their eternal ruin!”

//////////


The justice would have had to be served out either way, too. People in heaven would look and see the punishment Christ suffered, if none were in hell. Either way there'd have to be some wrath poured out. Either way the saints would glory in displays of God's justice. Seems to me it's arbitrary to accept the one and reject the other. Frankly I don't consider it "better" that Jesus would have borne the wrath for those people who would have been in hell. Why think the Lord of Glory suffering is someone less than the reprobate? You have, as you've always had, your priorities mixed up. You have a man-centered theology and philosophy, plain and simply. I could add your weak view of sin and your deficient view of aseity. I could add more, but what's the point? Frankly, I have no desire to consider your theology and philosophy as a viable alternative to a philosophy which is "after Christ" and not the "traditions of men" (cf. Col. 2).

VR: "I mean, it looks to me like it introduces pain into the heavenly kingdom if God refuses to answer the prayers of sincere Christians who yearn more than anything else for the salvation of their nearest and dearest."

Victor, repeating yourself is getting old. Your frequent "it looks to me", absent as it almost always is from any rigorous argument, is simply unconvincing to me and every other Calvinist I know. Perhaps you're just trying to get your own side to "cheer?" Repeating arguments presupposing Arminian assumptions and having the Arminian congregation scream, "Amen!" Okay, that's uninteresting, and dishonest as you pass yourself off as someone trying to argue with Calvinists. Not only that, we've answered this specific charge of your ad nauseum! Funny how you don't complain about Jesus' suffering. "To hell with Jesus, to heaven with man!" Besides, Christians should pray like Jesus, "Nevertheless not my will be done, but thy will."

VR: "The difference is that the existence of passed-over souls becomes a matter of divine choice in the case of Calvinism. "

Oh yawn. Again with your half-truths and straw men.

VR: "Then there is the fact that if glorifying God is a good thing, you'd think the more people doing it the better. Why keep voices out of the heavenly choir?"

Oh yawn, this one again. If you search the posts in our debate you'll notice that we have offered answers to this one too.

You simply refuse to advance the discussion, Victor, and that's why I'm going to refuse to have it with you.

God's not the beneficiary. God glorifies us. The objective is the effect it has on us as we glory in God's character (his various attributes).

VR: "Then just throw in the utilitarian idea that it promotes the greatest happiness for the greatest number if as many people are happy as possible."

Yup, another repeated argument that has been answered. Victor could at least anticipate the response and make the convo interesting; rather, he just repeats himself.

Oh, and another thing, I'm still at a loss as to why Victor thinks allowing all the child rapists in heaven would make it happier for the victims.

Or, the trade-off between a greater happiness for the few and a lesser happiness for the many.

VR: "Not that these three considerations are decisive by any stretch. But I do have reasons that I can think of for why God should prefer a universalist world to a reprobate world if the choice is entirely up to him."

Well, I've seen no good reason put forth by you. Further, lets deal with the reality. The case is:
Scripture teaches that people will be in hell. Scripture teaches Calvinism. So, by my lights, you either need to reject Scripture, or show my exegesis in error. If you can't do either, then you had better explain why you still profess to be a member of a religion you admit is immoral. Oh, and again, the choice isn’t "entirely up to him." You'll of course forgive me as it is plain to all Calvinists that you have no desire to be charitable in this discussion or to show yourself a workman approved by God. I'd worry about my own backyard before I started judging God. Your uncharitable treatment of Calvinist doctrine and your sloth in your study of it is immoral. For someone hung up on morality, that's strange. Perhaps you're trying to get the spot light off yourself?

VR: "There could be a hidden reason why this is not the case, but any and all attempts to produce a reason look just plain ridiculous. But if it's hidden counsel, it's hidden counsel."
I see you don't even care to make the distinctions I made above in this post but, again, trade between (a) and (b). Sloppy, Vic. Oh, and your repeated dogmatic assertions that it is "just plain ridiculous" is laughable. We've begged and begged for you to give us something other than, "it's my intuition." Not only that, we gave you reasons to suppose your intution false. And if that weren't enough, we showed you were in the same boat. I guess I'll have to wait until hell freezes over before you actually interact with what we've said in any substantive way.

VR: "What I said was that the claim that there needs to be an actual hell in order for God to give the blessed a sense of the graciousness of their salvation is what makes no sense to me."

And I never said, nor has any Calvinist that I know of, "that there NEEDS TO BE an actual hell IN ORDER FOR God to give the blessed a sense of the graciousness of their salvation."

That's NEVER been our claim, Victor.

But you keep refuting your straw man version of Calvinism inside your mind.

I wrote to you in our debate a few months back on this same point of yours:

"that we will praise God is not the main reason for his condemning sinners to hell. That's a by-product."

So tell me why I should keep repeating myself and discussing this with someone who obviously has such little respect for his interlocutor that he refuses to read him and take his responses into consideration?

You're too busy? I understand being a prof 'n all. But then why get involved in the debate in the first place. I'm busy too. It's immoral to pretend as if you care about my responses when you obviously don't.

VR: "It's not just a mere intuition, I argued that if God is omnipotent and sovereign, he is surely able to provide the blessed in heaven with whatever sense He wants to provide them with without burning anyone in hell. So there's an argument here that *you* are ignoring."

You're too funny. You look even funnier that you *emphasized* that we haven't dealt with your comment. In fact, Vic, we have responded to you ON THIS VERY POINT BEFORE!

Yes, God could create illusions in peoples minds. He could also have created an illusory crucifix. That way Christ only appeared to suffer, no need for all the real pain and blood.

Here's a few posts, out of a few others, that ALREADY responded to your claim that you falsely claim I haven't answered:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/05/no-god-you-couldnt-possibly-have-reason.html

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/05/faith-fact-or-fiction.html

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

Given that I've just provided THREE links where we don't "ignore" that "argument" of yours, what do you have to say for your claim here that:

So there's an argument here that *you* are ignoring."

I mean, MAYBE I'd understand if we tucked away a response in ONE obscure post, but I gave THREE out of 5 or 6! Not only that, I just gave you all the links to the debate and told yu to read our stuff this time. You have no excuse. I do not see why I should continue with someone who simply refuses to take into consideration the responses we took our time to write up for you. I could have played catch with my son instead.

By Vic, have fun "refuting" the Calvinism you've conveniently invented in your mind a repeating yourself like a broken record with comments we've rebutted numerous times.

PM said...

P.S.

Vic: "Evil becomes more of a mystery when you remove the free will arguments and you keep everlasting punishment. Is there any doubt about that?"

Yes, there is doubt about that; AGAIN, as we argued against you numerous times.

In fact, I argued that your position is worse off in this depatment.

I argued that Calvinims provides the best response to the PoE, both in its atheological and its psychological forms.

Not only that, your view seems downright immoral to me.

I did give arguments for that too, but who cares if I didn't? Call it an intuition I have. ;-)

Trumped with your own trump.

Victor Reppert said...

Paul: I can start by pointing out that I thought I made it clear that what I was concerned about was what you call preterition. That is, God permits people to persist in sin when he could bring it about that they receive saving grace and be saved.

Now if we concede that people are in rebellion against God and persist unrepentantly in that rebellion, then I can make sense of ongoing retribution for them, based on the idea that God ought not to reward wrongdoing. But if it is up to God whether people repent or not, then I think a benevolent God would have reasons to save everyone. These reasons need not be overriding, but what you said was that I had provided no reason why God would want to save everyone.

I would agree that God has no obligation to save sinners if we mean by this that sinners do not deserve to be saved. However, I can think of various reasons why a benevolent God might choose a universalist world over a reprobate one, if he doesn't have to risk losing people because of libertarian free choice. You said there were not reasons at all. I beg to differ. Maybe they are reasons that can be set aside if we have good evidence based on revelation that, no, some people are lost, and God's sovereign choice is sufficient for their being lost.

The fact that God punishes unrepentant sinners might be something that the blessed in heaven can recognize as a good, and acquire a benefit from that. The fact that leaves people in that damnable condition when he could have saved them is harder to make sense of. Now I think you are saying that we don't know why God did what he did with respect to that.

I do see that I had missed something there, the claim that I had not provide any compelling reason to think God should have saved everyone if it was in God's power.

The compelling argument would have to be that Scripture clearly teaches that God loves all persons, that God wants them to be saved, that he sorrows over their sin and rebellion, and that he sent Christ to save all persons. The typical Calvinist move is not to artifically restrict the scope of "all" in those cases to the elect (which even someone like Carson says is implausible given the strength of the biblical evidence) but to affirm that God can love those people and want them to be saved while deciding before the foundation of the world not to save them. And my objection is that the attempt to do this is to undermine the meanings of those basic terms.

Calvinist theology attempts to resolve this kind of problem by appealing to "two wills," and a kind of love that does not pursue a positive final outcome for the life those claimed to be loved, but I maintain that these distinctions break down and are incoherent. Appeals to propositional revelation collapse if semantic integrity is not maintained, and that, I submit, is what is going on with Calvinist analyses of important text of Scripture (not just John 3:16, BTW).

If the Calvinist can set up a situation in which the weight of biblical authority is on their side, and what is on the other side is Reppert's intuitions (even if many others share them), then this creates an uncomfortable situation for people in my position. My claim is you can't possibly get that far, because you attempts to explicate contrary passages are contrary to the meanings of basic terms.

Note I am not assuming that Scripture fully adjudicates the question of Calvinism one way or another, so a tu quoque about how anti-Calvinists handle Calvinist proof-texts is neither here nor there so far as this argument is concerned. YOU are making the biblical authority claim, therefore the burden of proof is on YOU to show how these passages can be understood with semantic integrity consistent with Calvinism. The Calvinist theological moves that I have seen are just inconsistent with the ordinary usage of the relevant terms.

Note that my argument doesn't appeal to my moral intuitions that a good God wouldn't do what the Calvinist God does. It's all about using terms consistently.