Sunday, June 07, 2009

Calvinism and the use of language

The trouble I see for Calvinism is the fact that all over Scripture you find God saying he wants everyone to be saved, that he sent Christ for everyone, that he grieves when people are lost, and that he loves every person. John 3:16 is just one example of this type of verse. Calvinists and Arminians (anti-Calvinists) teach their children to sing the song "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" without knowing whether God has determined that that child is going to be saved or lost. Is the song unbiblical?

But if one of those children in the choir goes to hell, and in the final analysis the only reason that child ended up in hell was because God sovereignly decreed that the child should go to hell, then were all the claims that God loved that child accurate? It strikes me as inconsistent with the proper use of the word "love" to maintain this.

Of course you can dodge these considerations by saying that the passages that say that God loves every person really only mean that God loves every member of the Elect. I think this does violence to the passages. I think you can only have a complete biblical case for Calvinism if you not only provide passages that support sovereignty, but also provide a plausible explanation for passages that imply a universal salvific intent. Otherwise, we should at least admit that the Bible doesn't adjudicate the Calvinist question.

It's a simple question for Calvinists. Does God love those whom he reprobates? The most interesting Calvinists responses here, I believe, are the ones that affirm that God loves those he reprobates. I will be following up and looking at responses later.

Notice that none of this requires an appeal to intuition, but rather concerns the proper use of langauge.

93 comments:

Ilíon said...

I don't think you'll get rational answers any more than I did here

Ilíon said...

That is, I expect that the nearest to a rational response you get will be what I got "I'm afraid you've latched onto a caricature of the Reformed view" -- even if, as in that case, you are merely repeating what the Reformed have themselves just said -- but I expect you will never see that non-charicature alleged to exist.

unkle e said...

I grew up in a Calvinistic church and have many Calvinistic friends. I now think it and Arminianism are oversimplifications caused by people trying to understand and define what we are unable to do (we don't have the mental and spiritual capacity and we don't have enough data).

The killer verse for me is Jesus saying: "Jerusalem, how often I wanted to gather you as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but you wouldn't let me" (rough translation).

The best understanding I can have is that God is indeed sovereign, but he abrogates some of his authority on planet earth and delegates it to us - so God is sovereign and people are responsible at the same time.

Joshua said...

It seems that Calvinists and anti-Calvinists argue over meaningless distinctions regarding "love". Yes, God loves everyone. And yes, there will be a time when God will no longer mourn over the numerous damned, many of whom were told (perhaps honestly) "God loves you".

Calvinists and Arminians would both agree 100% with those statements. Arminians snicker at the contortions of Calvinist evangelicals who are forced to say, "God died for some sinners, and you might be one of them". But if they were absolutely honest, Arminians would say "God died for everyone's sins, but you might end up being damned anyway". I really don't see what the difference is.

Gregory said...

Romans 5 is very difficult to comprehend, given the Calvinist spin.

If we were going to be studious hermeneuticians, then we must consider the "all sinned" (i.e. Romans 5:12) as being indicative of either:

1) Only the "non-elect" have sinned.

2) Only the "elect" have sinned.

3) All, both "elect" and "non-elect", have sinned.

I believe that the Calvinist and non-Calvinist would reject options #1 and #2. The Calvinist, however, does not seem to have the requisite reasons for fiat dismissals of options #1 or #2 considering he/she redefines "all", in many other contexts, as being "some" (i.e. "all kinds"). For instance, the Calvinist will argue for a linguistically exclusive meaning for "all" in Romans 11:32; namely, God has mercy on "all kinds" of men....or, more simply, the "elect". But will argue that Romans 5:12 has an inclusive meaning; namely that "all" (i.e. elect and non-elect) have sinned.

However, these conclusions are derived, primarily, from the philosophical maxims of Systematic Theology, rather than from a historical/linguistic analysis of scripture.

This is especially the case for those Calvinists who deny the reality of "brute, uninterpreted facts" and, instead, believe a system of interpretation (i.e. "world-view") must necessarily mold and inform the "facts" so that the "facts" can make any sense. Significant representatives of this approach are: Kuyper, Van Til, Clark, Shaeffer, Nash, Bahnsen, Frame

But I am going to go further by saying that all Calvinists, a priori, read the Bible with Reformed lenses. The Reformed "confessions" (i.e. Westminster, Heidelberg, etc.) provide their Churches with the proverbial "lenses" by which a person should read and understand the Bible. Otherwise, they wouldn't have framed them to begin with. And without the propositions supplied by these "confessions", a person will naturally fail to derive Calvinism from reading the scriptures alone.

An interesting "Arminian" discussion of this is done by Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongen in their "Why I Am Not A Calvinist", Chapters 1 & 2 (if I remember aright). There they point out that hermeneutics is practiced, primarily and without exception, within a broader community that helps shape and inform the contours of any given piece of literary data. Therefore, a debate cannot simply be over key passages of scripture, isolated from the wider schema that's postulated by each respective community, Calvinist and/or Arminian.

As for me, I will reply with this:

Calvinists want "all" to be exclusive (i.e. "some/all kinds") when it suits their theological system. But will shift into ad hoc mode, by reverting their definitions back to the natural "inclusive" sense of "all", when it doesn't fit in with their structure of belief. I would go so far as to say that Calvinists are, from a practical standpoint, epistemic coherentists; and Calvinism as nothing more than a glaring example of a theoreticians spinning a "web of belief".

Augustine, in the 5th Century, is the first Church Father to advocate a Stoic ontology, which he inadvertently dressed up in Christian garb. The next major religious figure to take this approach was Mohammed. Interestingly, the official Roman Catholic dogma concerning Divine providence, not to mention the Eastern Orthodox, is contrary to Augustine's theoria of sovereignty.

One might argue, from the standpoint of the 7 major Ecumenical Councils of the Church, that Augustine's view of providence is conspicuous by it's very absence!!

I would conclude that Calvinism is a-historical and discontinuous with both the New Testament, and post-New Testament, Church.

Ilíon said...

Joshua: "But if they were absolutely honest, Arminians would say "God died for everyone's sins, but you might end up being damned anyway"."

Not really.

If these "absolutely honest Arminians" knew what they were taking about they'd say something like, "Because God loves you, he allowed you to murder him; because God loves you, he made your murdering of him (and his defeat of that death) to be the means by which you may live with him eternally; because God loves you, he will not *force* you to live with him eternally -- Ergo, it is *precisely* because God loves you that he will give you precisely what you want and freely choose: either eternal life or eternal death."

Jason Pratt said...

Il,

As long as you're clarifying absolutely honest Arminian opinion to Josh: are you saying that God still is acting to fulfill love and justice (between God and their neighbors, continuing to lead them to reconciliation with each other) to those who, sinning, refuse to repent of their sins and so act in reconciliation to fulfill love and justice to God and their neighbors?

Or is God actively choosing (sooner or later) to stop leading sinners to repentance and reconciliation with God and their neighbors?

(Or do the sinners finally defeat God's intentions on this matter?)

Also, are you clarifying that absolutely honest Arminians would say that because God loves unrepentent sinners, therefore He will not *force* them to continue living with Him, and so therefore will choose to cease acting to keep them in existence, or will act to put them out of existence (i.e. *forcing* them out of existence either way), or perhaps will allow them to finally exist independently of Himself without dependence on Him (for example, placing them or allowing them to go somewhere to continue existing where He is not omnipresent)?

I've seen various Arminians go each way with that, but I don't recall offhand which way you roll on that topic. {s}


As to Calvinists, while I have (on rare occasion) heard Arminians affirm that God is still actively loving those hopelessly lost in hell (even if no longer seeking to save them from their sins), I have never yet heard a Calvinist affirm that God is still actively loving those who are hopelessly lost once they are in hell. Before then, yes, in an accidental sort of way--can't help but accidentally 'love' the wheat along with the weeds; the sun and rain descend on the just and the unjust alike, etc. After then, no.

I'll be curious to see where (if?) you've run across educated Calvinistic answers otherwise, Victor!

JRP
www.evangelicaluniversalist.com

Ilíon said...

Jason Pratt: "... are you saying that God ... Or is God actively choosing ... (Or do the sinners finally defeat God's intentions on this matter?)"

Whoa! It's going to take me some careful thought to be sure I understand just what you're asking.


Jason Pratt: "As long as you're clarifying absolutely honest Arminian opinion to Josh ... Also, are you clarifying that absolutely honest Arminians would say that ..."

Please! Rather than trying pointlessly to mock what I said, if you must mock, should you not be mocking what I was clearly echoing?

Blip said...

Isn't this problem easily solved?

God loves all sinners and desires their repentance, but this isn't God's ultimate want. He wants other things too, and these trump his desire to save everyone.

Calvinists have nothing to fear here.

steve said...

Hi Victor,

I'll be blogging in response to your query. For now, however, I mention that there's no received position within Calvinism on this issue. Different Calvinists come down on different sides of the issue. For example:

http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2009/02/language-and-theology-of-free-offer.html

http://www.opc.org/GA/free_offer.html

Victor Reppert said...

That's the response that I find the most interesting. It would take an entire post to explain why I think this response isn't coherent, but the response I am going to give follows Walls and Dongell's replies in "Why I am not a Calvinist."

steve said...

Are you claiming that Helm's explanation, which is one example I gave, is not a coherent explanation?

Joshua said...

@Ilion: Thanks for the response. I think your characterization is much better. We must not forget that the free will to choose is a great dignity.

However, I don't think this makes the Arminian's message anymore palatable than the Calvinists. In fact, the Arminian's message is worse, but just sort of passive-aggressive pretense at being more "loving".

The Calvinist says, "Christ died, that you *might* be saved as a result, and if you aren't, it was God's decree".

The Arminian says, "Christ died, that you *might* be saved as a result, and if you aren't, it is your own damn fault for being an ungrateful and horrible soul."

Seriously, I don't understand why the distinction matters.

Victor Reppert said...

Steve: I was responding to blip, not you.

Gordon Knight said...

So, on Blip's view, God wants to save all, but there are other things that outweigh saving all-- what would that be? Does God get a charge out of seeing people suffer? Is God so impotent that he must produce the eternal suffering of many in order to produce a greater good?

And victor, don't be so defensive! Nothing wrong with reason or intuitions.
I taught at a calvnist college, and despite online discussion, I found that the people there were very cognizant of the problems of the trad. calvinist view (as is Alvin Plantinga)

Jason Pratt said...

Blip,

Actually, I routinely hear Calvinist theologians denying that God has any intention at all to save the non-elect. That’s one of the big theological distinctions between Calvinist and Arminian systems. (Or, put another way, yes there are Calvinists who go with “God loves all sinners and desires their repentance, but this isn't God's ultimate want. He wants other things too, and these trump his desire to save everyone.” In the history of Protestant development, they were called Arminians. {g} After Arminius, who dissented from the doctrine that God had no intention to save the non-elect.)

There’s also a sort-of halfway point taken up by some Calvinist theologians, where they acknowledge God having some kind of static, passive desire to save the non-elect, but that He still never acts to fulfill this want of His. These Calvinists (John Piper comes to mind as an example, if I recall correctly) would still deny that God has any saving love (as they would put it) at all toward the non-elect.

This is not of small importance, because the whole positive point to Calvinistic soteriology (over against Arminianistic soteriology--and the non-Protestant versions of these, of course), is that we can trust God to act infallibly and ever-persistently to fulfill His intentions to save those whom He intends to save.

(To save from what is a hugely important qualifier that, in my experience, tends to be popularly presented as something other than primarily from sin, where not simply glossed over. I think most, I would hope all, Arm and Calv theologians would agree that God intends primarily to save sinners from sin, though. Even if some of them might have to ponder it for a while. {g} But I think at least some on either side would immediately agree with that. Unfortunately, the popular perception, thanks largely to popular preaching, tends to be: salvation from God’s wrath, from punishment, from hell, from death, and/or maybe from those other sinners over there and their sins. Many people in the Gospel accounts can be seen operating on the idea that one or more of these is the the salvation from God that they’re primarily after.)

If they admitted God even intended (much moreso ever acted) toward saving all sinners (from sin--or from death, hell, the devil, punishment, etc.), they would have to admit as a logical corollary that we could expect God to never give up acting toward saving all sinners from sin. And that we could at least hope in His eventual success at this.

Which would be universalism. Not Calvinism nor Arminianism (nor non-Protestant versions thereof).

{g}

Those who reject universalism, though, have to go with one of the other two basic options instead, one way or another: God either eventually gives up trying to save all sinners from sin, or He never even intended (much less acted) to save some sinners from sin.

Or, as Josh put it (a little more informally): either "God died for some sinners, and you might be one of them" or else “"God died for everyone's sins, but you might end up being damned anyway".

(There’s a real difference between them, but they’re alike in one crucial thing: they insist on God’s hopelessness, one way or another--God’s refusal to act in hope, or the failure of God’s hope. God refuses or ceases acting, either way, to fulfilling “fair-togetherness”; i.e., God chooses either way against fulfilling what we translate in English as “righteousness”.

Which, when we do that, is a sin against God.)

Jason Pratt said...

Il,

{{Rather than trying pointlessly to mock what I said, if you must mock, should you not be mocking what I was clearly echoing?}}

Part of my non-pointless point, was that I've seen "absolutely honest Arminians" run up various answers. (And I have no doubt they are being as absolutely honest as they can be. Most theological commentators are, in my experience. {s})

Another non-pointless point, was that your clarification, while certainly welcome as to detail, didn't substantially alter what Joshua was talking about: it did add some whys, and those are certainly not unimportant, but the "absolutely honest" portion remains in effect, too. (But then, in adding the whys, some important points connected to those whys were still left aside. And since I often see Arminians avoiding the logical corollaries to those points, at least by accident if not on purpose, then...)

Anyway, you and Josh agree that "absolutely honest Arminians" end up, one way or another, with "God died for everyone's sins, but you might end up being damned anyway." You went on to provide a typical Arminian way (or the way Arminians "who know what they're talking about" provide, as you put it.) I've seen other Arminian ways to get to that result, but I will suppose you would consider those to be in the category of Arminians who don't know what they're talking about.


That having been said, I don’t mind correcting Josh, either. {g}

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

(Though a quick PS back to Ilíon first--I wasn't correcting you, however, so much as pressing the details further along salient points. Unless you thought adding those details corrected Josh's informally brief statement of Arm soteriology to something substantially other than one or the other of its clauses. I didn't and don't yet think you were meaning thereby to deny either clause; but if you say otherwise, then I may have something to actually correct you about. {g}

Anyway, my "either" was directed to your plaint about why I wasn't correcting Josh. To that now:)


Josh,

I had meant to say earlier (although in an oblique and rather obscure way I may have implied it in my answer to Ilíon), that actually I find Arminians routinely saying what amounts to “God died for everyone’s sins, but you might end up being damned anyway”, and being pretty honest about saying so. It’s a fundamental part of their whole evangelical approach. (Calvs, too, for some reason. {g})

Various Arms would add a good deal more to explain why God eventually hopelessly damns people (or eventually chooses to allow them to hopelessly damn themselves, or whatever), but I don’t see them considering those explanations to mitigate the point. (Possibly Ilíon will be the first Arminian in my own experience to try to claim that his additional details for why it happens, ends up changing the point to something other than “God died for everyone’s sins, but you might end up being damned anyway.” But I doubt that he would deny either clause, strictly speaking.)

Consequently, I would agree that Il has a right to be annoyed at being treated as though he wasn’t saying, or was avoiding trying to say, such a thing all along. (Although I expect that this wasn’t what he was annoyed about; but rather that you omitted to mention his own preferred explanation for it out of the several Arm varieties available. Why exactly you would be expected to do so, in a brief informal summary of the position, I'm not sure, but...)

I do realize that some Arminians go out of their way to avoid the topic altogether, or only to address it half-heartedly and on rare occasion. But some Arminians aren’t all Arminians as a group; and the ones who prefer not to discuss the topic would still probably agree with both clauses (or so I expect. They would be very peculiar Arminians if they didn’t.)

Ilíon said...

Clearly, JP, there is no *point* in further taking you seriously.

Jason Pratt said...

Steve,

Those were some interesting article links! I may set up a discussion thread on them over at EU, presently.

Be sure to let us know when your own reply to Victor's post is up.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Il,

Too bad. I was taking you seriously. {shrug}

JRP

steve said...

Jason,

It's up. And I also added a link to a Roger Nicole article.

Ilíon said...

Joshua: "However, I don't think this makes the Arminian's message anymore palatable than the Calvinists. In fact, the Arminian's message is worse, but just sort of passive-aggressive pretense at being more "loving"."

Joshua,
You are, in effect, demanding that God "prove" his "love" by being a cosmic rapist, or, at best, a wife-beater.

And you are demanding that God give you what you spurn by giving you what you want. This is illogical and irrational; worse, it's anti-logical and anti-rational. God doesn't do magic; there is no magic anywhere.

And, what does "palatable" have to do with anything? Are you a child? Are you able to understand only those truths which are soft and fluffy, which "validate" your "self-esteem?" Does your refusal to grasp an "[un]palatable" truth make it go away?


Joshua: "Seriously, I don't understand why the distinction matters."

Are you claiming to be stupid? And, if you are indeed stupid, how can I explain *anything* to you? *I* don't have what it takes, neither the intelligence nor the patience, to deal with genuinely stupid people.


Nevertheless (because I don't believe that you are stupid), I'd just about bet that you have no difficulty grasping the saying: "If you love a thing, let it go: if it comes back to you, it is yours; if it does not, it never was."

And yet you claim to not understand that the same applies to the relationship between God and men.

It is *precisely* because God does indeed love us that he must allow us to finally reject his love, thereby destroying ourselves, if that is what we choose to do. He did not create us to be pets, but to be persons, to be his children. Love between persons is inseparable from respect each for the other; if God does not *respect* our choice to finally reject his love, then he does not actually love us.

Ilíon said...

What an *odd* way to show seriousness.

Jason Pratt said...

And now some (relatively) quick comments on the (first) two papers linked to by Steve. (The third, and Steve’s own article, will have to wait.)

The one from Paul Helm clearly falls into the category of ‘God never even desires that all may be saved, much less intends it, much much less ever offers salvation to all’. We evangelists in our ignorance might do so, and (if I am understanding him correctly) even should do so, but that is only because we cannot know which persons God has elected to save and which He has not.

Nothing in this article, however, directly addresses the apparent Biblical language stating that God desires/intends/acts/whatever for all sinners to be saved.

The author states that God does command all sinners to be saved and does command all to have faith--which is a very curious thing to state, considering that the author also goes on to emphasize that the sinner has no natural power to follow these commands. And God (per this author’s understanding) never even desires for the non-elect to have the power to follow these commands (much less acts in any remotest way to provide such power to the non-elect.) The result is a picture of God commanding non-elect persons to do something that God prevents them from ever being able to do. They never have a real choice to do good, yet they are commanded to do good by the One who chooses to prevent them from ever having a choice to do good.

God thus is presented as flatly acting against His own commands; not disobeying them, exactly, but staunchly refusing to even desire to bring His own commands to fruition.

How God can be supposed to behave this way and still proceed sinless against Himself, will doubtless be explained (by at least some proponents of the idea) as an intrinsically incomprehensible mystery of God, instead of as a theological mistake on their own part. How this concept is supposed to be any improvement over the notion that God has two utterly opposing wills concerning the “reprobate”, is (fortunately) not my problem. The author clearly thinks the idea is as coherent as the idea that evangelists who really understand the issue can still go on to ‘freely offer’ (in whatever sense that might mean) the Gospel to all men when really they can only at best be preaching, as Josh put it, “God died for some men, and you might be one of them!” Or not! Who knows? No one can, except God; certainly not the evangelist. (The author is quite clear on those points.)


Aside from not addressing the topic of the Biblical language of God (apparently) desiring/intending/acting for the salvation of all men (not merely the elect only)--unless the claim about God commanding all men to be saved is supposed to be the answer to that, i.e. this is what that language really means--the author also does not directly address the topic of whether God loves those whom He hopelessly condemns and never even desires to be anything other than hopelessly condemned by Him. One might suppose from this detail that the answer would, logically, be ‘no, He doesn’t love the non-elect, not even remotely, only at best as an accidental by-product of loving other unworthy men’. But I’ve learned from experience that some Calvinists might answer that God loves the hopelessly condemned anyway, despite strongly affirming the intention of God to never provide the non-elect any power to do good.

So since the author doesn’t say so explicitly, one way or another in this article, I won’t necessarily conclude he would agree that God absolutely doesn’t love the non-elect.

(Incidentally, or perhaps not, the word ‘love’ was not even found on a computer search of the page; which would seem to slightly handicap it in regard to at least one of the questions Victor asked. But no article can have everything, I suppose.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

The second article, which (as an address to the 15th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (1948)) is very much longer, would require much more commentary. (As, indeed, even the first article is quite worthy of more commentary.)

But one of the more interesting statements of the piece, is a place where the authors (there are three of them) profess that Jesus was speaking divinely, not only humanly, in His desire to embrace the unwilling-to-be-saved people of Jerusalem (at least some of whom the authors consider to have been ultimately lost) in His saving grace and covenental love--the point being that this didn’t happen because the people were unwilling.

How this would be distinguished from an Arminian dissent, is not exactly explained in the text, so far as I could find. (Apparently the minority report on the paper agreed: “The standpoint of the report goes beyond the expressions adopted by the Reformed churches in the past, and if it should become the viewpoint of our church, might result in the erection of barriers between our church and certain other Calvinistic groups.” The Arminians are invoked along the way.)


The authors of this paper do inisist a few times, directly in regard to the topic of God’s intentions of salvation of sinners, that “God himself expresses an ardent desire for the fulfilment of certain things which he has not decreed in his inscrutable counsel to come to pass.” And, “[Our Lord] says expressly that he willed the bestowal of his saving and protecting grace upon those whom neither the Father nor he decreed thus to save and protect.” But unless this is supposed to mean that the Divine Will is of two utterly opposed intentions in regard to one object, then the inference must be that God alters His intentions eventually in regard to the salvation of at least some sinners. The latter is Arminianism; the former involves a schism in the intention of God that we would call sin if we were so schisming from God’s intentions. (A concept similar to the idea that God can command one thing in regard to an object and then utterly choose to hopelessly frustrate His own command in regard to that object. For example. {wry g})

The authors note in their conclusion that, “We should not entertain, however, any prejudice against the notion that God desires or has pleasure in the accomplishment of what he does not decretively will.” [my emphases]


In short: Steve has presented us with two articles exemplifying how Calvinists come down in different ways on this matter. In one article, the Calvinist comes down to saying that God actively and finally frustrates His own will in regard to the non-elect. In the other article, the Calvinists come down to saying that God actively desires and has pleasure in the accomplishment of something against what He Himself has decretively willed. (Or maybe the Calvinists become Arminian; although the described move looks like it’s meant to avoid charges of that result.)

If there is some principle distinction between these two results, it so far escapes me.


(Incidental irony, or perhaps not: the minority report inveighs against “Arminians” for their "maketh[ing] the Lord's desires irrational, unwise, and frustraneous", stating that “it cannot be said that there is a logical conflict between the gospel and reprobation (Complaint, p. 13, col. 3), or that the two should be permitted to stand unreconciled alongside each other. It is not in accord with Reformed theology to assert or suggest that the Lord's will is irrational, even to the apprehension of the regenerate man.” The minorty report, in the same paragraph, also admits that when the offer of God’s free offer of salvation to sinners is understood in terms which are acceptable to them, “an amazing and even inscrutable diversity within the Divine will is brought to light.” The minority authors hasten to add that their rebuttal should not be identified “with the adoption of rationalism”. No fear of that, I’d say...)

JRP

Anonymous said...

Pratt,

Isn't there a third option? That God keeps his hope up until the object of that hope becomes, of his own accord, hopeless?

Aren't their libertarian theories under which a person ultimately determines his character by his own choices? Under that theory, each act of rebellion would make an act of repentance increasingly harder, until eventually, for that person, repentance is impossible. At that point, God does not "lose hope". His hope has merely been ultimately, finally thwarted by the free will of the sinner in question.

Joshua said...

@Ilion: As I said, I fully agree with the point that free will is necessary for love; and is a great dignity. I think that the Calvinist viewpoint is somewhat inconsistent on this score.

I was simply pointing out that the accusations of "sneakiness" leveled by anti-Calvinists against Calvinists are rather silly. Both sides, in all honesty, agree that the person being evangelized may end up damned.

I agree 100% with you that the sinner who is damned is the one who is to blame. My point is that this is a very harsh truth, and takes at least as much "subtlety" on the Arminian's part as the Calvinist's explanation takes on his.

This is a common Arminian claim, and is always presented as showing that the Calvinist God is so terrible that he needs to be masked. But the Arminian God is terrifying and jealous, and Arminians who want to show only the "loving" side are equally misrepresenting Him.

Joshua said...

@Jason: Yes, this is specific to Victor's original point. "Love" is a very loaded term. Nearly everyone; Arminians, Calvinists, and Atheists; wants to play the word both ways.

Love implies jealousy. And when it comes to God, "love" can mean, "He gives you enough rope to hang yourself, and there may come a point when you have hung yourself irredeemably". And "he loved you, but will not answer your cries when you are eternally damned".

My point is that the Arminians who make the claims about "sneaky Calvinists", make this comparison as a way to play the hero on the white horse who gives a more "compassionate" God to the evangelized. The only reason that such an argument can even exist is because they count on ambiguity in the listener's mind regarding "love".

Perhaps this semantic sloppiness is accidental or unconscious; I don't know. But it is certainly sloppy. When someone starts saying things like, "does God love the sinner", he or she should be very clear about what kind of "love" we are talking about.

Did Hosea "love" Gomer? That relationship was stereotypical codependence. But we can recognize God's love for us in that story. Did God love Pharaoh? We can certainly recognize a similar love, and more importantly, a warning for ourselves in that story.

Ilíon said...

Joshua: "I was simply pointing out that the accusations of "sneakiness" leveled by anti-Calvinists against Calvinists are rather silly."

Were you now? Is that what it means to say:
"It seems that Calvinists and anti-Calvinists argue over meaningless distinctions regarding "love". Yes, God loves everyone. And yes, there will be a time when God will no longer mourn over the numerous damned, many of whom were told (perhaps honestly) "God loves you".

Calvinists and Arminians would both agree 100% with those statements. Arminians snicker at the contortions of Calvinist evangelicals who are forced to say, "God died for some sinners, and you might be one of them". But if they were absolutely honest, Arminians would say "God died for everyone's sins, but you might end up being damned anyway". I really don't see what the difference is.
"

Goodness! and I here thought I was fully fluent in English.


And, though admittedly my experience is circumscribed, I've *never* seen any anti-Calvinist accuse the Calvinists of being "sneaky." Illogical and/or irrational and/or incoherent ... and perhaps, at minimum, even of verging on intellectual dishonesty ... on certain important points, sure (for instance, *I'll* claim all the preceding), but I've never encountered this "sneaky" accusation. Are you perhaps using "sneaky" as a stand-in for "intellectually dishonest?"


Joshua: "I agree 100% with you that the sinner who is damned is the one who is to blame. My point is that this is a very harsh truth, and takes at least as much "subtlety" on the Arminian's part as the Calvinist's explanation takes on his."

Let's see. The Calvinist subtly argues what looks to everyone else, Christian and non-Christian alike, exactly like "A = not-A." Meanwhile, the "Arminian" subtly argues that "A; therefore B." Hmmm ... I see your point; the two positions are indistinguishable.


Joshua: "This is a common Arminian claim, and is always presented as showing that the Calvinist God is so terrible that he needs to be masked."

Who has ever presented Arminianism as a (needful) mask for the Calvinist conception of God? Who has ever argued that "Arminianism; therefore the Calvinist conception of God is so terrible it must be masked?"

For that matter, who has ever really argued even "Arminianism; therefore Calvinism is false?" It seems to me, circumscribed though my experience surely is, that the argument against Calvinism runs thusly: "These certian specifically Calvinistic doctrines are false, and here is how you may know them to be false."


Joshua: "But the Arminian God is terrifying and jealous, and Arminians who want to show only the "loving" side are equally misrepresenting Him."

Love *is* terrible; it's the most terrible thing of all. And a "love" which is not jealous is not love (as you seem to admit in your post to Mr Pratt). A 'love" which is not jealous is an indifferent "love;" but indifference is the negation both of love and of hate.

Perhaps, among other things, you're mistaking fluffy, self-indulgent and/or self-centered sentimentality for love?

Or, perhaps, you're trying to argue that it is somehow the fault of "Arminians" that *other* people refuse to stop falsely conflating fluffy, self-indulgent and/or self-centered sentimentality for love?

Joshua said...

@Ilion: I very much appreciate your engagement on this subject. And I am sincerely trying to learn. To tell the truth, I feel rather stupid about these topics in particular, since everyone else seems to be so certain, and I still can't figure out why. So I appreciate any patience and kindness shown, since I really want to understand, and am painfully aware of my own inadequacies.

Anyway, I can see that when I accuse certain Arminians, Calvinists, and Atheists of "trying to have love both ways", that clearly doesn't include you. You seem to have the right idea about love. Perhaps I have painted with too broad a brush stroke in reading various "anti-Calvinist" blog posts. Some references include:

http://examiningcalvinism.blogspot.com/2009/05/calvinists-are-sneaky.html

or

http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/doctrine/danger02.htm
which has all too much fun mocking the Calvinists for being sneaky

I will also say that I have just ordered Olson's book, which is supposedly authoritative on what Arminians *really* believe; since I sincerely want to avoid painting all Arminians with some characterization which may be inaccurate and confined to a handful of Internet blogs.

steve said...

A few quick comments in response to Jason:

i) I provided the links for purposes of documentation. This was in response to Reppert's factual inquiry regarding the position of Calvinism on God's intent with respect to the lost.

Since this involves an intramural debate within Calvinism, it doesn't attempt to justify its respective positions for the benefit of those who don't share the same presuppositions.

That's a separate issue. These documents are not an exercise in Reformed apologetics. Their immediate value is expository.

ii) Helm takes the position that God doesn't desire the salvation of the reprobate. With respect to the language of Scripture, Helm has, on various occasions, discussed his theory of divine accommodation, viz. anthropomorphic usage.

So Helm does have an answer to Jason's objection. But that's not the issue he's addressing at the moment.

iii) The other document presents two opposing views. The majority report does think that God entertains an unrealized desire for the salvation of the reprobate.

The minority report denies this by appealing to anthropomorphic usage.

On the face of it, Helm's position, and the position of the minority report, have more internal consistency.

Jason Pratt said...

Anon: {{Isn't there a third option? That God keeps his hope up until the object of that hope becomes, of his own accord, hopeless?}}

That would indeed be one variety (out of several) of the concept that sooner or later God chooses not to save some sinners from sin (i.e., Arminianism); the special distinction being that, in this case, it is tacitly proposed that the hopelessness of some evil entity (the sinner himself perhaps, or some perhaps greater sinner who has succeeded in finally defeating God’s intentions thus being more powerful and/or skilled than God (or at least on a parity with God, so that the result could feasibly go either way)) has defeated the hope of God Almighty Strong To Save. (Or, to put the same thing another way, “God’s hope has merely been ultimately, finally thwarted by the free will of the sinner in question.” How this, and God “keeping His hope up until...”, counts as God not “losing hope”, to be explained later in another comment perhaps. We do appear to have somewhat different concepts of “merely”, though. {g})

I have certainly seen Arminians go this route; I have not seen Calvinists per se go this route (without becoming Arminians anyway.)

How people go this route while still coherently affirming even mere supernaturalistic theism (much moreso trinitarian orthodoxy) is, fortunately, not my problem. (Speaking as an orthodox trinitarian universalist who flatly denies, as an orthodox trinitarian theist, that such a result is even possible. A Mormon or Greek polytheist might be able to coherently propose such a thing, however. Whether the Greek polytheist, after consideration, would allow that the ‘sinner’ is able to thus beat overarching Chaos and/or Fate, on the other hand, seems dubious. But it might be possible for the sinner to thus ultimately and finally thwart Zeus, perhaps. Not least because Zeus is not the ultimate ground of all existence.)

The libertarian sinner, under supernaturalistic theism, though, would not have the possible option of ultimately and finally thwarting the hope of God. The most that could happen is that the sinner keeps choosing never to repent and God keeps on trying forever to lead the sinner to repentence (thus really not losing hope, which involves keeping His hope up and never considering the object of His hope to be hopeless.) Or, that God eventually changes His mind about trying to save the sinner from sin and (in effect) says “the hell with you”. (In which case God is the one having the final say about whether hope for the sinner is abandoned.) Or, that God never intended to save that sinner from sin at all. (In which case God chose never to offer any hope to that sinner in the first place.)

Or, more briefly, Kath, Arm, Calv, respectively. (“Universalism” being abbreviated as “katholicism”; not to be confused with Roman Catholicism.) Most Kaths, myself included, would claim that scripture has revealed that God will be successful in saving all sinners from sin eventually; but I would acknowledge an eternally running stalemate as a technical possibilty (seeing as even God cannot do that which is inherently self-contradictory; in this case, grant derivative freedom for personal choice and also flatly override that freedom for the same object.)

JRP

steve said...

Let’s now touch on some of Jason’s substantive objections:

“The result is a picture of God commanding non-elect persons to do something that God prevents them from ever being able to do.”

It’s not clear what Jason means by God preventing them from ever being able to do so. Inability is not the same thing as prevention.

For example, the state tells you not to drive drunk. And if it catches you, you will be arrested and charged with a crime.

Does this mean the state prevented you from driving sober because the state failed to enable you to drive sober? Does Jason equate the failure to enable someone to do x with preventing someone to do x?

Perhaps Jason has an explanation. My immediate point is that his criticism is quite unclear.

“They never have a real choice to do good, yet they are commanded to do good by the One who chooses to prevent them from ever having a choice to do good.”

i) To say God “prevents” them assumes that, left to their own devices, absent divine contravention, they would do other than what God prevented them from doing. Why does Jason think their default setting is to do good, and if they don’t do good, that’s because they were debarred from doing what they would choose to do if only they had been allowed to act on their own initiative?

ii) Keep in mind that Jason is a universalist. So it’s not as if he thinks that God gives us all a choice to do either x or y, and respects our choice. It’s difficult to construct a purely libertarian version of universalism.

“God thus is presented as flatly acting against His own commands; not disobeying them, exactly, but staunchly refusing to even desire to bring His own commands to fruition.”

An obvious problem with this objection is that we live in a world in which two different things obtain:

a) God issues various commands.

b) His commands are regularly violated.

Presumably, then, there’s a sense in which God intends his commands to be violated. So their violation serves some ulterior purpose beyond the terms of the command itself.

For example, divine law forbids murder, yet men and women commit murder. So God issues a prohibition against murder in the knowledge that his prohibition will be violated. He expects that prohibition to be flouted.

According to Jason, does God desire to bring that prohibition to fruition? Obviously not.

Even if, in Jason’s view of postmortem salvation, the prohibition eventually serves some roundabout purpose of cosmic restoration, the prohibition, in and of itself, did not come to fruition. Someone was murdered. And that cannot be undone–as if it never happened. Even if there are postmortem compensations, that’s not the same thing as bringing the specific prohibition to fruition.

If, therefore, this is supposed to pose a dilemma for Calvinism, then the dilemma is hardly limited to Calvinism. For the point of tension, if there is one, is not, in the first place a theoretical tension, but a factual tension–a tension between what God commands and what actually occurs in the real world.

Jason Pratt said...

Steve,

i.) I agree that the articles are not attempting to justify their respective positions (or position, perhaps), for the benefit of those who don’t share the same concepts (as presuppositions or otherwise).

I do however reserve the right to comment on the coherency of the expository information in each article; especially since all sets of authors (Helm, the three authors of the report including Murray, and the authors of the minority report) make emphatic claims of coherency for their own presentation and of incoherency for their intramural opponents.

ia.) I thought it was interesting that the minority report authors agreed with me that Murray et al were trending in effect into Arminianism. I think Victor would agree that Arminianism might count as an intramural dispute within Calvinism (historically speaking anyway), but that wouldn’t seem to be of much use as an example of one way a Calvinist comes down on the question distinct from an Arminian position (which was part of Victor’s criteria.)

(On the other hand, the majority report authors do seem to be trying to avoid what they consider an Arminian position by referring to God’s final immutable decretive will, etc.)


ii.) I (obviously) agree that Helm is taking the position that God doesn’t (even remotely) desire the salvation of the non-elect.

iia.) I am unsure how a theory of divine accomodation viz. anthropomorphic usage is going to answer my objection concerning Helm’s clear statements regarding two flatly opposed wills of God in regard to the non-elect. But if his theory (which I doubt) involves taking “anthropomorphic usage” more seriously, then he would be pretty quickly running into conflict with the minority report authors in the other link. Whereas, I don’t see how taking anthropomorphic language less seriously is going to mitigate the very strong claims Helm makes in this article regarding (1) the positive command of God to all men, non-elect included, to do something which (2) God flatly refuses for the non-elect to be capable of doing. (One or both claims might, by such a method, be rendered more inscrutable as to meaning, and so ‘mitigate’ them in that fashion, perhaps; but then so much for any attempt at demonstrating or arguing for their coherence per se. Insofar as a coherence is intrinsically inscrutible, it cannot be argued for or even demonstrated by assertion.)

Comments on element iii to follow.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

iii.) I agree that the majority report authors do think that God entertains an unrealized desire for the salvation of the non-elect; and that the minority report authors are quite in disagreement about this (as is Paul Helm, who as I noted spends more time critting Murray than anything else in his article--though possibly not in regard to this particular document.)

iiia.) Strictly speaking, however, the minority objectors are very clearly not criticising the report of the committee on grounds of anthropomorphism. Their discussion of emotion “is oriented not to the committee’s report (which [as they recognize] refrains from assertions concerning desire as emotion)”, but rather to a different (though apparently situationally related) document known as the Complaint. (A doc not reffed as such by the committee report.) The brief minority discussion on the emotive use of the term is apparently provided for the benefit of OPC readers among whom the majority and minorty report texts were to be circulated for earnest study.

Instead, they are critting the report on, first, the ground that the committee fails to distinguish between God’s desire (properly understood etc.) for the salvation of non-elect (which they deny as absurd) and God’s desire for “the connection between the compliance of sinners with the terms of the gospel offer and their salvation.” Again, “To say God desires the salvation of the penitent sinner [not the non-elect], God desires that if any sinner repent, he be saved, is to give expression to the meaning of [the various Biblical passages under examination.]” “The gospel offer, in other words, is conditional or hypothetical and as such it is universal”.

How this presentation avoids what to me looks like the obvious rejoinder that God is thus claimed to seek the salvation only of those who first repent, is fortunately not my problem (nor explained in the admittedly brief minority report.) Ditto for how an offer that is only conditional or hypothetical can in any practical sense be considered universal.

Relatedly, the minority report authors claim that “sinners without distinction or discrimination are invited in the external call of the Word”, right after averring that “nowhere in the invitations, exhortations, commands, expostulations or offers in Scriptures are the reprobate [i.e. the non-elect] singled out and made the objects of special Divine concern.” The authors take this to mean that it is absurd that God desires the salvation of the “reprobate”. How this is to be reconciled without claiming two real but utterly contrary wills of God toward the non-elect is, again, fortunately not my problem.

iiib.) The minority report is very adamant that God cannot have two diverse wills in regard to the non-elect (which is their second actual ground of criticism for the majority report). At least, they are adamant about this when they are not affirming that God’s free offer of salvation to sinners, understood in terms they accept, brings to light an amazing and even inscrutable diversity within the Divine will. (But perhaps they mean that there is inscrutable diversity within the Divine will in regard only to the elect, not to the non-elect.)

iiic.) On the face of it, I find that Paul Helm and the committee authors are both claiming that God has, in effect, two utterly opposed wills in regard to the non-elect; and the balance of the (admittedly brief) information in the minority report seems to point to the same thing (when not denying it).

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Note: I didn't realize Steve was working up a discussion of my substantive objections, when I was composing and posting the previous two remarks. It wasn't my intention to ignore his further efforts, and I will (hopefully) get to them presently. (I certainly much appreciate his further efforts.)

JRP

Shackleman said...

*popcorn*

Just a quick note of appreciation to you all. From the sidelines as a spectator without the expertise, nor knowledge, nor confidence in any of the positions expressed, this is *really* good stuff. I'm learning *so* much from all of you.

Thanks so much, to you all!

I'm not sure where else a person could go to get a taste for this stuff, and to get his or her feet wet with it other than blogs such as these.

(If only I had more time to devote to such things----dammit, life is too short!)

Okay, sorry for the intrusion---carry on.

steve said...

For now I'm make two or three additional points in response to Jason:

i) Calvinism has a concept of "duty-faith." You have a standing moral obligation to obey the moral law.

To say that sinners have moral obligations is distinct from the question of what God "wants" or "desires" them to do.

It's fallacious to equate obligation with intent. These are separate issues.

ii) The relation between God's preceptive will and his decretive will (conventional terminology) involves a part/whole, means/ends relation. God doesn't will the means irrespective of the end in view. The moral law has an instrumental function in furthering God's overarching purpose.

So when you talk about what God wills or wants, you can't isolate the part from the whole, or the means from the end.

iii) The question of divine accommodation and anthropomorphic usage goes to the issue of how we treat emotive language (e.g. expressing unrequited desires) in reference to God. And that is clearly relevant to this debate. At one end of the spectrum is Mormonism.

Ilíon said...

Jason Pratt (to Blip): "[sophistically arriving at universalism]

Those who reject universalism, though, have to go with one of the other two basic options instead, one way or another: God either eventually gives up trying to save all sinners from sin, or He never even intended (much less acted) to save some sinners from sin.

Or, as Josh put it (a little more informally): either "God died for some sinners, and you might be one of them" or else “"God died for everyone's sins, but you might end up being damned anyway".
"

Dawning Realization: Universalism is just one more way of denying the reality of human freedom -- and of denying the statements, both implicit and explicit, throughout the NT, including by Christ himself, that there are some who are utterly lost to God forever.


Jason Pratt (to Blip): "(There’s a real difference between them, but they’re alike in one crucial thing: they insist on God’s hopelessness, one way or another--God’s refusal to act in hope, or the failure of God’s hope. God refuses or ceases acting, either way, to fulfilling “fair-togetherness”; i.e., God chooses either way against fulfilling what we translate in English as “righteousness”.

Which, when we do that, is a sin against God.)
"

Heaven forbid we should think that God really meant that there reallly is a condemnation.

Ilíon said...

Steve: "... At one end of the spectrum is Mormonism.
"

Come now! Mormonism -- the assertion that God is a contingent being, that he is but one element/object in the physical universe -- isn't even on the chart, is it?

Anonymous said...

Pratt,

I don't see the problem with the view of libertarianism that suggests, consistent with experience, that while none of our decisions are determined in the short term, in the long term we do form our characters by the choices we make. And the characters we form do have a causal influence on the choices we make in the future. A person who repeatedly chooses evil will find it easier to choose evil going forward, and harder to choose good. That seems coherent to me and consistent with supernaturalistic theism. And it seems possible to me that there may be a point of no return along these lines. It seems there may be a time when a person, who at one point enjoyed full libertarian freedom, has, as a result of consistently applying that freedom in the direction of evil, lost his ability to choose good. At that point, I do not consider it a case of God "losing hope" to cease to try to save such a person. Hope is not an essential good, it is an instrumental good. It is good in that it helps us not go give up on those for whom there is still the possibility of salvation. But where there is no possibility of salvation, hope is no longer an act of virtue but of insanity. I can pray for my child to get well, and have hope that God will hear her. But once the child has died, it would be folly for me to pray over her grave, year after year, begging for God to return her to full health.

I'm certainly no philosopher or theologian, but I don't see the problem with this view, unless there's some problem with this version of libertarianism.

Joshua said...

Ilion: Heaven forbid we should think that God really meant that there reallly is a condemnation.

I assume you were being sarcastic there. If so, I'm with you.

I think I was misled somewhat about the Arminian viewpoint (if, indeed, you are representative). Especially with regards to the beliefs about eternal condemnation.

For example, I've seen people use the story in C.S. Lewis where the man who worshiped Tash was saved and told "all of your service to Tash was as if it were service to me". Although not mainstream, it seems that the opinions span a whole spectrum, to the point of saying that nobody is every completely lost.

Personally, I think it is dangerous to start throwing around opinions about whether this or that individual will be "saved". For all I know, Christ could show himself to the Tash-worshipper at the last breath, and elicit a valid conversion.

Regardless of the state of other people's souls, I think that the possibility of eternal hell is what proves God's greatness, and qualifies him to be called Love.

Ilíon said...

Joshua: "I assume you were being sarcastic there"

Eh, it's what I do.

Ilíon said...

Is it even meaningful to say that God hopes this or that?

Anonymous said...

Probably not.

Jason Pratt said...

Comments written, but unlikely to be posted before tomorrow morning. Just a note that I've been busily catching up. {s}

(I'll probably be taking the discussion with Steve to the EU forum, with exchanges back and forth from his side on Triablogue (if he wants), in order to get around the new Blogger character-count limit. Comments to some other participants will still be here for now. I'll post a relevant link to EU when I get around to setting up my reply there, of course.)

JRP

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic,

You wrote, "The trouble I see with Calvinism...", then you cited some Bible verses about God loving "everyone." But you didn't cite the verses Calvinists emphasize and around which they build their theology.

So maybe the "trouble" is with the Bible itself? Or with the fact that most Christians don't seem capable of accepting that the Bible is not "systematic?"

a helmet said...

Hello Edward T. B.

But you didn't cite the verses Calvinists emphasize and around which they build their theology.

I like the phrase "around which they build"....Calvinism is surely based on certain scriptural pillars that somehow mutually buttress each other and stand or fall together like dominos. I recently started a blog dedicated to dealing with these famous scriptural pillars that are used to establish the doctrines of grace. I contend that these biblical verses don't serve to establish calvinism at all. (You might check out my blog "combating the doctrines of grace"). Additionally some presuppositions regarding the meaning of certain buzz words (like "boast", "sovereign" etc.) must be established, then the calvinist applies his domino game.

Jason Pratt said...

Whew!

First, a link to the EU forum for my lengthy reply to Steve.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Next, my shortest (and by far the most amusing) comment of the day. {g}

Ed,

Actually, Victor did specifically acknowledge that Calvinists have scriptural citations for their positions (although he didn't bother naming them, perhaps assuming the people he was addressing, namely Calvinists, would be familiar with their own case); after which he did go on to suggest that maybe the problem is that the Bible doesn't allow for a systematic answer pro or con on the topic.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Next, another quick reply...

Josh: {{For [one Arminian] example, I've seen people use the story in C.S. Lewis where the man who worshiped Tash was saved and told "all of your service to Tash was as if it were service to me". Although not mainstream, it seems that the [Arminian] opinions span a whole spectrum, to the point of saying that nobody is every completely lost.}}

Actually, Lewis did teach that at least some people are completely lost. Including in the novel you’re thinking of (The Last Battle). The dwarves might count as completely lost; Susan isn’t completely lost yet, but might end up that way; the Cat may or may not be completely lost, but his situation looks grim and there’s no hope mentioned for him; and the Ape (along with some of his compatriots) is eaten by Tash.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Main event time for today:

Part 1 of 5, in replying to Ilíon...

Il: {{Clearly, JP, there is no *point* in further taking you seriously.}}

So... if you complain that my writing was pointless, and I answer that my writing had points and was not pointless, with attempts to clarify the points for you... then I'm the one not taking you seriously?

When I note that I have no doubt that Arminian theologians who come up with various answers are being as absolutely honest as they can be when they do so... then I'm not taking you seriously?

When I stated that the added details of your clarification to Josh were certainly welcome as to detail, with certainly important rationales... then I wasn't taking you seriously?

When I supposed that you would consider other Arminian explanations about the whys not to fall into the category of "those who know what they're talking about" (your own phrase)... then I wasn't taking you seriously?

When I acceeded to your complaint that I should correct Josh (while trying to make clear that I wasn't exactly trying to correct you on a point); and pointed out to Josh that you had a right to be annoyed for at least one reason relevant to his claim about what "absolutely honest Arminians" should do... then I wasn't taking you seriously?

When I doubt that you would do something rather ridiculous (i.e. that you would suppose that adding details and rationales to the idea that "God died for everyone's sins, but you might end up being damned anyway", would by adding those details and rationales somehow substantially deny either clause of that position), although I mention it for topical completeness anyway... doubting you would do something ridiculous counts as not taking you seriously?

Admittedly, when I opined that I expected you were annoyed at Josh for something other than what I had affirmed you had a right to be annoyed about... that might count a little bit as not taking you seriously. But it was in the midst of taking you seriously in a bunch of other ways in regard to that.


Now, I did put up a few questions for to you to answer as an "absolutely honest Arminian"--which by accepting Josh's term, with your clarification "who knows what he's talking about", I had supposed you to be claiming yourself to be. (Maybe I was mistaken to infer you were claiming this about yourself, although I can hardly see why I would be mistaken to draw that inference.) But when you complained that the grammar was rather knotty, did I ever once diss you on that complaint? No.

If you don't want to answer the questions because you can't parse out the grammar (for whatever reason), that's fine, I can sympathize--I ran across a small composition error in the first paragraph myself! Or if you'd just rather not bother, for time purposes, that's okay, too; I have even more sympathy for that! (Especially considering how long my comments can be.)

But I have been respecting you this whole time. I haven't even disagreed with you, yet, about anything. (The one or two places I hypothesized a possible disagreement I discounted as improbable.) That’s about to change {wry g}), but that doesn’t mean I am not respecting you; even if I engage in some minor humor while disagreeing with you.

Jason Pratt said...

Part 2 of 5

Meanwhile, to work at slotting your answers to Joshua into my questions (so that you won't have to answer them yourself, if you don't care to):

Il: {{It is *precisely* because God does indeed love us that he must allow us to finally reject his love, thereby destroying ourselves, if that is what we choose to do.}}

-- i.e, yes, "because God loves unrepentent sinners, therefore He will not *force* them to continue living with Him, and so therefore will choose to cease acting to keep them in existence, or will act to put them out of existence (i.e. *forcing* them out of existence either way)."

Possibly you don't consider God's choice to cease actively keeping unrepentant sinners in existence (which you seem to be talking about rather than God acting directly with the intention to ‘actionize’ them out of existence, so to speak), to be the same as forcing them out of existence. But, He is certainly either way acting, and choosing to act, such that they result in non-existence.

That may not be a palatable thought, perhaps; but you seem to have indicated that you, at least, are not a child who is only able to understand and accept those truths which are soft and fluffy. So, really, I don't expect you to have any trouble with accepting that if God chooses to stop actively keeping something in existence, He has in all effect just *forced* that thing out of existence.


My next question, though, would be why you would consider to be a necessity of God’s love His refusal to *force* (your emphasis) anyone to live with Him eternally, while also claiming that God’s insistence on *forcing* (my emphasis) someone to cease existing is a necessity of His love. Forcing, in the sense of intentionally acting toward us in a way we cannot resist, is being done either way.

If you answer that you meant that God allows the impenitent to go to some state of continuing existence where they can now exist without God forcing them to exist; then I will apologize for not having understood this from your reply to Josh concerning “eternal death” and “destroying ourselves” (figuring as a first inference that this meant you were proposing annihilation, not the continuing existence of the sinner), and I will go back to a different set of questions, previously asked.

If you answer that you meant that God allows the impenitent to continue existing dependent upon His continual action (just like always), then I’ll have to ask how this counts as not *forcing* the soul to continue existing.

If you answer that there is some special principle difference between God refusing to force us to keep existing within the scope of His omnipresence (which is any existence at all) and God forcing us to stop existing within the scope of His omnipresence (which is any existence at all); then I have to say that I doubt that there can be some special priniciple difference, between God actively refusing to force us to keep existing, and God actively forcing us to stop existing. They seem (to me at least) to be principly the same thing, rather.

And even if they weren’t principly the same thing (per impossibility): would the supposed principle difference have something to do with God respecting the person’s wishes on the topic? For example, respecting her wish to validate her own self-esteem?

But allowing the person to go out of existence cannot respect the wishes of such a person to validate her own self-esteem--since obviously the person must instantly, permanently and irretrievably fail to do so, thanks to God’s choice to stop keeping the person in existence (for her self-esteem to be validated or for any other purpose, such as for God to continue loving the person whom He has thereby ‘set free’ to not exist.)

Jason Pratt said...

Part 3 of 5

As a possibly related aside: while I for one (God knows) have no trouble grasping the saying, “If you love a thing, let it go; if it comes back to you, it is yours; if it does not, it never was”, I do have trouble grasping this saying in regard to God: the One to Whom everything rightly and totally belongs, and from Whom nothing can be ‘let go’ to ‘come back’ (since there is no state of existence for the thing to go away from God except non-existence). A Mormon or some other polytheist might be able to make some application to what they call “God” with that; but I am a supernaturalistic theist.

(Also, this does not seem to be a habit of God in regard to the unrepentant people in the Bible whom He truly loves: He may turn His face, so to speak, away from them for a time, but He doesn’t let them go, and He doesn’t wait for them to return to Him before seeking reconciliation with them. Nor does He consider His claim upon them to be dependent upon their returning to Him. I had thought this was a tenet of Calvinists and Arminians both, at least orthodox ones; their disagreement being not about the fact of it, but over the scope or permanence of application. It is certainly a tenet of orthodox trinitarian universalists. {g} However few we may be.)


As to answers to my other questions, tallied from the elements of your comments to Josh so far: those would seem to be, “[Yes], God [is] actively choosing (sooner or later) to stop leading sinners to repentance and reconciliation with God and their neighbors”. (Duh. Otherwise you’d be affirming universalism of some kind. And if you were saying God never even intended to lead those sinners to repentence, you’d be affirming Calvinism of some kind. This has direct relevance to that most complex paragraph-question, coming up next.)

“[No], God is [not] still acting to fulfill love and justice (between God and the neighbors [of these sinners], continuing to lead [these sinners] to reconciliation with [those they have sinned against]) to those who, sinning, refuse to repent of their sin and so to act in reconciliation to fulfill love and justice to God and their neighbors.” (i.e., yes God is sooner or later doing exactly and entirely in regard to those sinners what God is punishing the sinners for doing as evil. The difference being that because God is God it isn’t evil to do evil when God does it. Or something. I slightly corrected my grammar above, by the way, compared to my original version of that statement; as I noted previously, even I sometimes get a little lost in writing and editing a complex sentence. {s})

“[No], the sinners do [not] finally defeat God’s intentions on this matter.” (i.e. God had intended to finally save them; the sinners demanded otherwise; and God could have kept trying to save them from sin; but eventually He just gave up on it and piffled them off, or will someday piffle them off, instead--but out of love for them, not because they defeated Him.)

And now you don’t have to bother trying to answer. (Unless you actually have categorically different answers that you haven’t reported yet, or maybe have changed your mind on something since commenting to Josh.)

Moving along then to actual dialogue with me (such as it is):

Jason Pratt said...

Part 4 of 5

JP: {{Those who reject universalism, though, have to go with one of the other two basic options instead, one way or another: God either eventually gives up trying to save all sinners from sin, or He never even intended (much less acted) to save some sinners from sin.}}

Il: {{sophistically arriving at universalism [describing the above quote]}}

Odd. I thought I was just describing the three basic soteriological options. (Assuming God exists and intends to save any sinners at all, of course.) I didn’t think I was arriving at universalism thereby; except in the sense of noting that if what the Calvs and the Arms both affirm against each other is true and if what they both deny against each other is false, then the result would logically be X. But that’s descriptive, not an argument that X is true. If you thought I was making an argument for X there (where X = universalism), I can only say I wasn’t. I would have said the same thing if I was an Arminian or Calvinist (or a non-Protestant equivalent thereof.)

Now, I was reasoning, in the paragraphs prior to that quote, that if Calvinists affirmed a particular point affirmed by Arminians, the Calvs would be unversalists instead. This is hardly arguing in favor of universalism, though. I would say (and have certainly seen Calvinists say) much the same thing if I was a Calvinist.


{{Dawning Realization: Universalism is just one more way... of denying the statements, both implicit and explicit, throughout the NT, including by Christ himself, that there are some who are utterly lost to God forever.}}

You just now realized that Christian universalists deny that the scriptures as a coherent theological whole testify that there are some who are utterly lost to God forever? Weird. You thought all this time we were all granting that the scriptures surely testify otherwise? Not entirely sure how you got that idea from me. Hm.

(Obviously there are some scriptures which, taken by themselves out of context--whether out of various levels of immediate context or out of the context of a Biblically whole systematic theology--can seem to testify that there are some who are utterly lost to God forever. But non-universalists routinely say the same thing about putatively universalistic scriptures, so...)

{{Dawning Realization: Universalism is just one more way of denying the reality of human freedom}}

Certainly not an idea you’ve ever gotten from me either.

And I confess to being somewhat dubious that this is really a dawning realization for you either, since you’ve constantly thrown this at me in total disregard to anything I may be actually saying.

There are of course some ostensible “freedoms” I deny, a relevant list of which I have also recently included in my replies to (Calvinist non-Arminian apologist) Steve; but I deny those as an orthodox trinitarian theist. For example, I deny that we can even possibly have the freedom to exist independently of God’s action. Or the freedom to exist dependent on something which is both not-God and also not itself dependent upon God for existence. I would suppose you deny those, too, if you’re an annihilationist. (I’ve certainly seen annis do so, and I quite agree with their rejections thereof.)

On the other hand, I also deny the freedom of a person who ceases existing, since they no longer exist anymore to be “free”; consequently I deny that God is in any way granting such a person their “freedom” by choosing to act in such a way that the person ceases to exist. Similarly, I deny that God can in any way be “respecting” the personhood of a person by ensuring that the person ceases existing as a person. If it happens that you are not an annihilationist, I would suppose you deny such ostensible “freedoms”, too. (I’ve certainly seen non-annis do so, though perhaps not as frequently as annis deny other ostensible “freedoms”, and I quite agree with such non-annihilationist rejections thereof.)

Jason Pratt said...

Part 5 of 5

Y’know, instead of limiting yourself to snarky comments which even you cannot possibly mean (such as your continual disagreements with what you would like me to believe being all of a sudden a “dawning revelation” to you), you might be a better opponent if you bothered to find the places where we actually agree and went from there.

For example:

{{Heaven forbid we should think that God really meant that there really is a condemnation.}}

Actually, I agree that God dose really mean that there really is a condemnation. (i.e. I can easily agree with the sarcastic meaning of such a statement.)

Now, if you had written “Heaven forbid we should think that God really meant that there really is a hopeless condemnation”--I would have to (non-sarcastically) agree with that instead. But only because of one detail.

(Notably, that one detail was pretty important in the paragraph I wrote to which you were replying. So I’m a little surprised you didn’t bother to include it in your retort, for sake of accuracy. Did you not notice the detail in that paragraph?--not think it important to what I was saying?--not want to talk about it?)

{{Is it even meaningful to say that God hopes this or that?}}

I’m pretty sure Calvinists would say ‘no’. God doesn’t hope to save the elect, He just does it. God doesn’t hope to save the non-elect, He just bars them from the outset from salvation.

So, would you say God never has any intention to save the finally condemned? (Like the Calvinists do?)

If He does have such an intention, but fails for this or that reason, then the result may be called a failed hope: a failed intention for something good that God either changed His mind about (and so stopped acting toward) or was robbed of (and so had to stop acting toward).

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Annnnnd the other main event today. (um... besides Il. And Steve. Over there at EU instead of here... {lopsided g})

Part 1 of 5 (reminds me of my old CServe days a decade ago... gosh I feel old... {s})

Starting somewhat out of order:

Anon: {{But once the child has died, it would be folly for me to pray over her grave, year after year, begging for God to return her to full health.}}

Unless the bodily resurrection is true. In which case you wouldn’t have to beg God for this, although you could pray hopefully and gratefully for it.

(Most Christian theologians, myself among them, still believe in the bodily resurrection to come, of the good and evil both, btw. {s} But if this isn’t true, then yes it would be folly for you to pray for it.)


{{At that point [i.e. when a person, who at one point enjoyed full libertarian freedom, has, as a result of consistently applying that freedom in the direction of evil, lost his ability to choose good], I do not consider it a case of God "losing hope" to cease to try to save such a person. Hope is not an essential good, it is an instrumental good.}}

So, God never had any hope of saving the person, and so never had any hope to lose? Or are you saying God still has hope of saving the person despite the condition you’re talking about? (Neither of those positions seems likely from your discussion.)

I notice you continued in the very next sentence with explaining that hope is not an essential good but only an instrumental good. (Really? When all else passes away, these three shall be remaining: faith, some merely instrumental good, and love??)

This would be a totally incidental observation, however, even if true (which I might be convinced about, perhaps), if God never had hope for the sinners to start with or if God wasn’t losing hope of saving those sinners. The explanation looks geared toward explaining why it isn’t a problem for God to stop hoping. (Much as any Christian would agree that there is no problem in God setting aside His wrath toward at least some persons. Wrath isn’t essential to God, but is only instrumental.)

{{But where there is no possibility of salvation, hope is no longer an act of virtue but of insanity.}}

So God loses hope for the salvation of the sinner in order to rationally avoid the insanity of hoping for a hopeless cause. How this counts as not losing hope, I haven’t figured out yet.

Obviously you are not denying that God has no hope any longer for those sinners, but affirming this instead. (According to this theory at least, whether you actually agree with the theory or are discussing it hypothetically, perhaps with an eye toward whether to believe it yourself or not.) By not calling this “losing hope”, you may be trying to say that nothing forced God to abandon hope; He is only setting hope aside. For... no particular reason? Or because...? Apparently because He can no longer sanely hope for the salvation of the lost, and so refuses to do something insane. But He had hope before. So why the change? It looks like, on this theory, something forced God to finally ultimately against His will: LOSE. (And so to lose hope.)

I’ll be getting back to this later.

Jason Pratt said...

Part 2 of 5

{{I don't see the problem with the view of libertarianism that suggests, consistent with experience, that while none of our decisions are determined in the short term, in the long term we do form our characters by the choices we make.}}

Good. Because I’m pretty sure I didn’t deny either italicized clause. {s} (Just looked back through what I wrote, to you or anyone else in the thread... nope, still can’t find where I denied this or even considered it a problem.)

Now, I do deny that in the long term our decisions are ‘determined for us’ by even ‘our character’. I would probably also deny that the determination of our decisions as some automatically necessary response to ‘our character’ would count as any type of coherent ‘libertarianism’ (although on the other hand, I could see most libertarianisms acknowledging that this sort of thing might, or could, or does happen.)

Relatedly, I am not at all the kind of universalist who claims that God just poofs us into being ‘good’ or disciplines us with the goal of making us automatically knee-jerk react into being good. (Despite what some people insist on thinking about me. Possibly because they refuse to take seriously whatever I’m writing, even to dispute it. Not you; I have someone else in mind. {s})

I am however the kind of universalist who claims that God disciplines us with a goal of leading us to be righteous as He is righteous. (As is any non-universalist who takes seriously the testimony of the scriptures to this effect in regard to at least “the elect” “pre-mortem” etc.) Which brings up an important qualifier regarding my “libertarianism”: the most “libertarian” entity is God. Not us. We’re derivatively existent creatures, with no possibility of being anything other than derivatively existent creatures (or else non-existent). Our liberties are real, but they’re necessarily limited by ontological realities.

Which is something I don’t always find “libertarians” keeping in mind, whether they’re theists or atheists, naturalists or supernaturalists. Or other. Or unknown. Y’know, whichever. {g} (Which is one reason I don’t really like to call myself a libertarian. I don’t mind people identifying me as one, because in some sense I must be; but...)

{{And the characters we form do have a causal influence on the choices we make in the future.}}

To some extent that’s true; and will probably always be true to some extent simply because we are derivative creatures. I would deny that it’s to the extent you seem to be aiming for, though. And I don’t believe the freedom God is trying to bring us to, is the “freedom” of having all our behaviors dictated to us as automatic reactions to anything (including our psycho-spiritual ‘character’.)

Not least because this is the very reverse of any freedom I can imagine. {s}

{{A person who repeatedly chooses evil will find it easier to choose evil going forward, and harder to choose good.}}

Other things being equal, that’s generally true. But I don’t believe other things are actually and only equal (so to speak). The liberty God calls us and enlivens us to, is not (I believe) this kind of “liberty”.

{{That seems coherent to me and consistent with supernaturalistic theism.}}

For what it’s worth, I’m willing to agree that the kind of development you’re describing is consistent with mere supernaturalistic theism. I do not believe it is consistent with the liberty that God is leading us to, if orthodox trinitarian theism is true. (Despite the fact that many ortho-trin proponents and defenders have admittedly held to similar notions of ideal character development, fostered and aimed for in us by God. Including Lewis, whom I greatly admire. He does sometimes seem to perceive something better than this, though.)

Jason Pratt said...

Part 3 of 5

Now: I am pretty sure that you are not actually trying to suggest that this kind of totally non-free “freedom” or “liberty” is what God is seeking to lead us to (even accounting for our perennial limitations as derivative entities.) As far as I can tell, you’re presenting this idea as a defense of the notion that maybe sinners just sin enough that...

...that what? They beat God and succeed, against God’s intentions otherwise, in achieving the status of non-persons? I don’t think it takes a very robust faith in God, on my part, to at least have hope in God that this never happens! Shall I put my faith in God for our salvation, or in sinners for their hopeless victory?

God could allow them to get to that stage; but why would He do that? You’re presenting this theory as an explanation for why God would give up trying to save them: namely because they’ve already succeeded in achieving non-person. (Sin has hyperexceeded grace, because not as the grace is the sin. Although I don’t recall St. Paul ever teaching this. {g}) If He didn’t give up already, then sin eventually wins, defeating the righteousness of God. (After which God mercifully pulls the kill switch, or whatever. He doesn’t give up; He is outright defeated. i.e., He loses. As in “loses hope”.) But this is highly contrary to principles of even (mere) supernaturalistic theism.

So God must have given up trying to save them before they got to that stage. And then allows them to go the final distance into non-personhood themselves, after which He either ends their existence or keeps them around forever for no particularly good reason--it could hardly be to ‘punish’ ‘them’, since there is no person left to punish. Or possibly He pulls the fatal trigger before they go the final distance--so that there is someone still left to ‘punish’??

But why would He give up trying to save them in the first place?

Jason Pratt said...

Part 4 of 5 (to Anon, not Ilíon. That was a different part 4. Earlier. {g})

Calvinists would say He never did even intend to save the non-elect in the first place! Arminians and orthodox universalists (‘kaths’, as I like to abbreviate us, not to be confused with Roman Catholics) would disagree with that. (Nor would your explanation matter a whit under Calv soteriology.) Kaths don’t agree that God gives up on those He means to save. (In that, we’re like Calvinists.) Arms therefore have to have a reason for God to give up early before the battle for the soul of the sinners is hopelessly lost to the sinner. (That, or God has to hopelessly lose to the sinner. I’ve seen Arms go either way.)

So: God gives up early because... He loves the sinner? But then He’s allowing the sinner to no longer exist to be loved by God. (Or, according to some Arminians, God just stops loving the sinner first.) Moreover, giving up early in trying to save someone, is hardly consonant with the notion of true love!

Ah, but He loves the sinner so much that He respects the person and choices of the sinner, and so grants the sinner’s wish to... no longer be a person or to have choices. A totally and utterly countervailing “respect” for the “freedom” of the sinner, in other words.

True love would keep going, for love’s sake. Not give up before the battle was lost. True love, loving the personhood of the sinner and respecting the choices of the sinner as a person (insofar as perfect righteousness can respect the choice of sin), would not act in such a way as to result in the extinction of the person as a person (also thus extinguishing the person’s choices, by the way.)

True love would also, admittedly, not simply poof the sinner into being ‘good’. But true love wouldn’t give up trying to lead the sinner into being righteous and into doing justice instead. However long it took. Even if (theoretically) the sinner never repented but kept on always choosing evil, not as an automatic reaction to her psychological character (or never totally this) but by her own continuing choice--true love would not give up.

Respect for the sinner as a person would, at worst, only lead to a stalemate--and not a historically inevitable stalemate either.

Universalism doesn’t really require that a stalemate never occur in the case of some sinners. Universalism only requires that God never gives up trying to save the sinners from sin.

Some universalists (like myself) believe God reveals in various ways to at least some of the scriptural authors (among whom in the NT I would include St. Paul and St. John) that eventually God shall indeed save everyone from sin, whether in the heavens or on the earth or under the earth. Others of us believe the scriptures (in the total analysis) only show that God will never give up. The exegetical issues involved are about as nuanced and complex as the total scriptural case for orthodox trinitarian theism (as it happens.)

Jason Pratt said...

Part 5 of 5 (finishing up replies to Anon).

While I wouldn’t use this comparison to argue for universalism (though probably I shall be accused of sophistically arriving at it anyway thereby {eye roll}), in my experience it has another similarity to ortho-trin, too:

Some Christians throughout history, not keeping track of all the scriptural data and not keeping track of all the metaphysical rationales, consider Christ to be only God and not man (not many of those Christians around right now, but this was once a very popular position); and/or consider God to be only one person (Incarnated as Christ or otherwise).

Other Christians, not keeping track of all the scriptural data and not keeping track of all the metaphysical rationales, consider Christ to be only man and not God (very popular right now); and/or consider the multiple divine Persons to be distinctly multiple Deities (of one or another kind).

Orthodox trinitarianists (though not without some lingering disagreements among us regarding things like the filioque--which I affirm, btw) believe we’re doing the best at including and synthesizing together all the scriptural data and (when we bother to be metaphysicians at all, which personally I wish happened more often {g}) all the metaphysical rationales.


Similarly, when I look at Calvinists and Arminians (and their non-Protestant analogues) making their claims and their arguments, I frequently find myself agreeing with things they positively affirm, but denying various things they deny.

Yes, it can be rightly said in more than one way that sinners are annihilated. Yes, it is true that we are all immortal and shall continue existing ‘into the eons of the eons’. Yes, it is true that we are all conditionally immortal.

Yes, there is such a thing as the wrath of God. Yes, there is punishment in the resurrection of the evil from hades in the day of the Lord to come. Yes, for at least some souls, this punishment will continue on into the eons of the eons.

Yes, there will finally come a time when all shall bow and confess that Christ is Lord of all. Yes, (as annihilationists are often careful to teach) that confession can only be honest and true, praising God for His saving victories, and God in that day shall be all in all.

Yes, God shall respect and foster and protect the derivative freedom of even sinners.

Yes, there is an “elect”. Yes, God intends and shall succeed in saving the “elect”. Yes, the “elect” are chosen not for their own sake but for God’s. Yes, the “elect” are chosen not primarily for their own salvation (although obviously that, too) but to cooperate with God in being the light of the world. Yes, God chooses for some people not to be part of His plan in bringing about salvation.

Yes, salvation is from God by the grace of God, and without God we could never be saved. Yes, salvation is the gracious gift of God which we can never earn. Yes, God expects and requires us to cooperate in our salvation, and without our cooperation we are not saved from sin.

Yes, God truly loves everyone and truly died for everyone and truly offers salvation from sin to everyone. Yes, God will persist in saving everyone whom He intends to save. And yes, we can trust God to succeed in saving everyone whom He persists in saving.

And yes: God really is, essentially, love.

And this makes all the difference.

{s}

JRP

Robert said...

Hello A Helmet,

You wrote:

“I like the phrase "around which they build"....Calvinism is surely based on certain scriptural pillars that somehow mutually buttress each other and stand or fall together like dominos. I recently started a blog dedicated to dealing with these famous scriptural pillars that are used to establish the doctrines of grace. I contend that these biblical verses don't serve to establish calvinism at all. (You might check out my blog "combating the doctrines of grace"). Additionally some presuppositions regarding the meaning of certain buzz words (like "boast", "sovereign" etc.) must be established, then the calvinist applies his domino game.”

I agree with you, the calvinist system is based on some proof texts that are insufficient to prove or support this man-made and unbiblical system. I also checked out your blog today and perused some of your articles: very good stuff, you make some very strong and valid points against calvinism (I hope others check out your site).

I also noticed that a calvinist named Steve Hays who heads a blog site called TRIABLOGUE wrote a post mocking your blog and some of your comments (this is no surprise coming from Hays as he mocks everybody who thinks differently than he does whether they are Christians or nonbelievers, he’s got a lot of hate for everyone who disagrees with him; they say you become like the God you worship so none of it is surprising concerning Hays). I also noticed in a post previous to the one mocking you, Hays wrote about his discussion of reprobation here on Reppert’s site. What is fascinating is that the first comment in response to his comments on reprobation very nicely sums up what **consistent calvinism** leads to. A person naming themselves “Anita B Day” wrote comments that perfectly illustrate what the calvinists really believe about “reprobates” (and her comments are remarkably similar to Calvin’s own comments concerning reprobation). The comments are brief and reproduced here in their entirety:

["[Anita B Day said:
If God loves the reprobate, He has an interesting way of showing it!

There's this nonsense I hear today that goes: "Love the sinner, hate the sin".

Rubbish! Who does God throw into the fire? The sin or the sinner who commits it?

God hates with an eternal hate those whom He has created to bear His hatred and the fire of His Holy Wrath.

"God hates ... " is a profound theological statement. He abhors with all His power and His might the unelect.

Amen.]]”

Most calvinists are not as honest and forthright about what their exhaustive predeterminism of all events/reprobation entails. At least this one, is honest and tells us exactly what they believe. Note that in this system God hates the “reprobates” from eternity (I have often seen calvinists attempt to proof text from Romans 9 and one of their favorite verses is to cite the statement that “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated” with of course Esau representing the nonbelieving/”reprobates according to the calvinists.

The calvinist god hated them in eternity, designed a life of sin and rebellion for their earthy existence, then at the final judgment condemns them for living out the life he necessitated that they live, and to top if off he then eternally punishes them in hell for being and doing the very things he necessitated/predetermined that they be and do.

I recently heard another calvinist, pastor Angus Stewart, talking about how the god of calvinism hates the reprobate in exactly this way. Stewart even went so far as to say: what could be more hateful than a hate such as this? And he is correct that is exactly what the god of calvinism is: the most hateful person that exists. And they wonder why the vast majority of Christians (as well as unbelievers) reject calvinism?

Robert

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: "Clearly, JP, there is no *point* in further taking you seriously."

Jason Pratt: "So... if you complain that my writing was pointless, and I answer that my writing had points and was not pointless, with attempts to clarify the points for you... then I'm the one not taking you seriously? ..."

Who's complaining; I stated. [Admittedly, my eyes glazed over soon after the part I've quoted above.]

Let me give *you* a run-down:

Joshua: "But if they were absolutely honest, Arminians would say "God died for everyone's sins, but you might end up being damned anyway"."

Ilíon: "... If these "absolutely honest Arminians" knew what they were taking about ..."

Jason Pratt: "As long as you're clarifying absolutely honest Arminian opinion to Josh ... Also, are you clarifying that absolutely honest Arminians would say that ..."

Ilíon: "Please! Rather than trying pointlessly to mock what I said, if you must mock, should you not be mocking what I was clearly echoing?"

Jason Pratt: "Part of my non-pointless point, was that I've seen "absolutely honest Arminians" run up various answers. (And I have no doubt they are being as absolutely honest as they can be. Most theological commentators are, in my experience. {s})"
[that from the man who posted this]
Jason Pratt (continuing): "Another non-pointless point, was that your clarification, while certainly welcome as to detail, didn't substantially alter what Joshua was talking about: it did add some whys, and those are certainly not unimportant, but the "absolutely honest" portion remains in effect, too. (But then, in adding the whys, some important points connected to those whys were still left aside. And since I often see Arminians avoiding the logical corollaries to those points, at least by accident if not on purpose, then...)

Anyway, you and Josh agree that "absolutely honest Arminians" end up, one way or another, with "God died for everyone's sins, but you might end up being damned anyway." You went on to provide a typical Arminian way (or the way Arminians "who know what they're talking about" provide, as you put it.) I've seen other Arminian ways to get to that result, but I will suppose you would consider those to be in the category of Arminians who don't know what they're talking about.


That having been said, I don’t mind correcting Josh, either. {g}
"

Clearly, your name was not wholly inappropriately chosen.

Ilíon said...

This happened to catch my eye --

Jason Pratt: "JP: {{Those who reject universalism, though, have to go with one of the other two basic options instead, one way or another: God either eventually gives up trying to save all sinners from sin, or He never even intended (much less acted) to save some sinners from sin.}}

Il: {{sophistically arriving at universalism [describing the above quote]}}
"

*great rolling of the eyes*

In fact, "[sophistically arriving at universalism]" does not describe the direct quote which follows it, but rather describes (and summarizes) the lengthy bit preceding the quote, and which lengthy bit, for reasons of space and for lack of direct interest, was not directly quoted.

Ilíon said...

I am genuinely sorry that that you went to all the time and effort to write that up, Mr Pratt, since I'm not going to go to the time and effort to read it. Rightly or wrongly, I had already decided to give up on you; or, if you prefer to look at it from this direction, I had already decided that you have nothing to teach me ... you know, much like that most of the 'atheists' appear to be entirely incapable of saying something which might lead one to think new or deeper thoughts. What (admittedly) small bits of this five part justification I've read do not lead me to question the decision.

Ilíon said...

Robert, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with mockery. And, trotting out that ol' "he's a hater" meme is demeaning ... to you.


I presume that this is the blog A.Helmet (and you in response) mean: Comba(t)ting The Doctrines Of Grace

Ilíon said...

Robert,
Whether or not you're misrepresenting Calvinism, you seem to be ending up misrepresenting Christianity.

As for the "hate the sin, love the sinner" bit, that is for *us* ... we don't know who ultimately rejects God's salvation; he knows.


As for God hating the reprobate from all eternity and also loving all men, there is no contradiction. If God were indifferent to sin and yet claimed to love all men, that would be a contradiction.


There was king who had a beloved son. This son, as he grew to adulthood, became increasingly rebellious ... even cursing his mother and father; and yet his father loved him and sought always to forgive him. Upon a time, the father found for his son a bride, a woman such as any man ought to love and cherish; yet the son treated his wife with open contempt. The father tried to reason with and admonish his son, yet the son treated his wife worse and worse. And finally, killed her.

And the father, the king, executed his own son, whom he loved ... and hated.

Robert said...

Hello Ilion,

“Robert, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with mockery. And, trotting out that ol' "he's a hater" meme is demeaning ... to you.”

I understand that mockery sometimes has its place (in the bible at times God Himself mocks people and situations). But I am not talking about just mocking per se. The bible is clear about how Christians are to interact with and talk with **both** unbelievers (the key passage in the context of apologetics being 2 Tim. 2:24-26: “And the Lord’s bond servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been captive b him to do his will”/a passage that Hays repeatedly and continuously violates in his interactions with unbelievers) and other believers ( a representative passage being Eph. 4:29-32 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice, And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you”). Hays however ignores these biblical commands and just mocks everyone who disagrees with him showing an obvious hatred for others. The bible is also strong about the love that believers are supposed to have for one another (need I cite any passages on this Ilion?) Jesus said the world would know us by our love for one another not our mocking and ridiculing of one another. If Hays did it once or on occasion that would be one thing, but he does it over and over again. If you mess up once that is a mistake that can be corrected, but if you do the same things over and over again then that is indicative of your character. The bible also talks about exhibiting the fruits of the spirit not the works of the flesh, again he fails here as well (see Galatians 5:16-26, incidentally the section ends with “Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another”).


“I presume that this is the blog A.Helmet (and you in response) mean: Comba(t)ting The Doctrines Of Grace”

Yes that is the blog I was referring to, he has some good points against calvinism there.

Robert

Robert said...

Ilion,

“Whether or not you're misrepresenting Calvinism, you seem to be ending up misrepresenting Christianity.”

How so?

“As for the "hate the sin, love the sinner" bit, that is for *us* ... we don't know who ultimately rejects God's salvation; he knows.”

You say here that that is “for *us*”. You don’t think that principle also applies to God’s dealing with humanity? Take believers for example, we still sin at times, I would say that God continues to love us but hates the sin. He hates sin whenever it occurs as it is the nature of sin to destroy, bring death, bring confusion, bring separation (both people from God and people from each other). On the physical realm it is like hating cancer: we hate what it does to the human body and our hatred of it is fully justified. When God says to love our neighbor and even to love our enemies to us, don’t you think he himself practices the same kind of thing? As nonbelievers we engaged in a lifestyle of sin and yet God still loved us and sent Jesus to die for us.

“As for God hating the reprobate from all eternity and also loving all men, there is no contradiction. If God were indifferent to sin and yet claimed to love all men, that would be a contradiction.”

I do not claim that God is **indifferent** to sin, in fact the crucifixion of Jesus shows just how seriously God takes sin. The fact is that he loves men and hates sin and the crucifixion demonstrates both of these things to be absolutely true.

The bible also says that God loves the world (and the world refers to a group of unbelievers in rebellion to God some of whom end up as believers some whom never become believers, but He loves **that** rebellious and sinful group: you also have the Ezekiel passage where He makes it clear that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked) and desires for all to be saved. So again I do believe that in the case of God it is literally a case of “love the sinner but hate the sin.”

“There was king who had a beloved son. This son, as he grew to adulthood, became increasingly rebellious ... even cursing his mother and father; and yet his father loved him and sought always to forgive him. Upon a time, the father found for his son a bride, a woman such as any man ought to love and cherish; yet the son treated his wife with open contempt. The father tried to reason with and admonish his son, yet the son treated his wife worse and worse. And finally, killed her.

And the father, the king, executed his own son, whom he loved ... and hated.”

Actually I would say that he loved his son but hated the **actions** of his son. Likewise God loves people but hates their actions of sin.

Robert

Jason Pratt said...

Less important comments first.

Il: {{that from the man who posted this}}

Um... well, the link goes to my discussion of Calvinist soteriology with Blip (with some brief comparisons to Arm soteriology); but nowhere there do I accuse Calvinist (or Arminian) theological commentators of being dishonest. (Inept, to various degrees, but not dishonest. And not entirely inept, either! Only on some key points here and there.)

Did you think I was implying dishonesty among Calvinists who “If they admitted God even intended [a major Arminian doctrine which I also agree is correct]” while keeping the rest of their beliefs, would be universalists instead? I don’t know if that’s “dishonesty” so much as an intention on their part to avoid what they consider to be an error (universalism).

Dishonesty in the popular habit of focusing on salvation from something other than from sin? I wouldn’t say that this counts as dishonesty; I expected most (I hoped all) Arm and Calv theologians would agree that God intends primarily to save sinners from sin (even if some of them had to ponder it a while). I suspect the popular habit comes from rhetorical convenience, not from dishonesty by preachers per se.

Could you be more specific of where you thought I was accusing Calv and Arm theologians generally of dishonesty in that comment?

Maybe you meant to link somewhere else and missed? Or were you trying to imply something about where I said “Part of my non-pointless point, was that I’ve seen ‘absolutely honest Arminians’ run up various answers”? (That would be a weird place to link, if so, since the only variation sets I was talking about there were among Calvinists.)


Now: since you hadn’t yet at that time made clear to Josh which particular version of further Arminian justification you accepted, for the belief that ‘God died for all men but you might be damned anyway’ (as Josh put it, and as your expansion still principly affirmed in both clauses), but you had presented yourself as ‘an absolutely honest Arminian’ (in retort to Josh's dig) who ‘knew what he was talking about’ (unless maybe you weren’t claiming this about yourself; although as I noted last time I can’t see how I would have avoided drawing that inference from what you said), I gave out some options which (though not quite in the level of detail I provided) I’ve seen Arminians go with: so would you say the absolutely honest Arminians “who know what they’re talking about” (represented by you) go with... which of those? Or which combination? Something else?

You didn’t feel like answering, so eventually I pieced it together from your replies to Josh. Not very well perhaps, but I tried to find whatever I could work with.


Il: {{In fact, "[sophistically arriving at universalism]" does not describe the direct quote which follows it, but rather describes (and summarizes) the lengthy bit preceding the quote, and which lengthy bit, for reasons of space and for lack of direct interest, was not directly quoted.}}

You mean the lengthy bit I wrote to Blip preceding the quote you referenced, where I was (as I noted) neither arriving at universalism nor even strictly arguing for universalism, but describing and critiquing various kinds of Calvinist soteriology, sometimes in comparison with Arminianism?

In the lengthy bit, I was doing neither. And in the paragraph you quoted, I was doing neither (as your answer indicates in a great eye-rolling tacit agreement. Thus you tried to refer back to the preceding material for explaining the aim of your comment.)

If you want, I can find somewhere in this thread where I am actually claiming for universalism, perhaps even without some argument nearby, so that you can call that a sophistic establishment of it instead.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Exceedingly more important comments next:

Il, replying to Robert: {{If God were indifferent to sin and yet claimed to love all men, that would be a contradiction.}}

Agreed.

{{As for God hating the reprobate from all eternity and also loving all men, there is no contradiction.}}

I might even agree with that, maybe, depending on what is meant by ‘hate’ and ‘love’. I might even agree with that as a universalist, depending on what is meant by ‘hate’ and ‘love’.

That isn’t the issue. The issue is whether God ever seeks the salvation of the reprobate from sin (i.e. seeking to actually re-probating the sinner), and if so whether God ever stops seeking the salvation of the sinner.

If an answer of ‘no’ to the first or ‘yes’ to the second, involves denying doctrines of orthodox trinitarian theism, then I’m going to call foul. Typically (although not always for Arminians, early Lewis being one example), the answer at bottom involves claiming that God refuses to love those sinners or else stops loving those sinners. The moment someone says this, though, they’re denying that God is essentially love--not a problem for various other kinds of theism, but a denial of the truth of orthodox trinitarian theism. As an ortho-trin theist, I am obligated to call ‘no way’--or else someone will have to convince me that ortho-trin is wrong. Whereas if I add up the implications of ortho-trin and they point to God at least never giving up acting toward saving sinners from sin, then I’m going to profess that God at least never gives up acting toward saving sinners from sin. And that’s universalism: God seeks and persists to save all sinners from sin.

Ditto if I add up the scriptural testimony and it comes to this conclusion. But if it happens that I have to read one testimony in light of the other, then once again I’m going to go with the reading that involves me affirming ortho-trin doctrines and not denying them. Or I can back up and reassess if ortho-trin is correct; but if I keep finding it is, then I have definite theological criteria for interpreting other testimony.


Notably, where you wrote “As for God hating the reprobate from all eternity and also loving all men, there is no contradiction”, you didn’t add the emphasis “from all eternity” to “also loving all men”. There could be various reasons for not doing so, but if the underlying reason is because you’re claiming God ceases loving the ‘reprobate’ eventually, then there’s my theological dissent: specifically as an orthodox trinitarian theist (and not some other kind of supernaturalistic theist, or non-supernaturalistic theist, or non theist.)

Which gets right back to Victor’s question: Does God love those He reprobates? I answer yes. I don’t even have to qualify it, much less turn around and deny it later. (It also helps that I can answer yes to ‘re-probate’, instead of meaning something opposite to reprobation by reprobation, or something opposite to retribution by retribution.) I answer yes because I am a robustly hyperorthodox trinitarian theist: God is love, so of course He continues loving the impenitent sinner. He doesn’t poof the sinner out of existence (which is not love to the sinner), and He doesn’t unlovingly keep the sinner in existence, and the sinner cannot ultimately defeat God thus making God give up trying to save the sinner from sin.


Or, to put it another way: unlike some Christians, I don’t think the end of your story is the end of your story. I don’t believe the death of the wife is hopelessly final, and I don’t believe that the execution of the murderous son is hopelessly final either.

Both of these tragedies may be final defeats for the king in the story; but the king in the story isn’t God. And if God is exists and is trinitarian, then neither are those tragedies final defeats for the king, either. He can still have hope, in God, for the beloved son whom he had to execute; and hope for the wife of the son, in God, that she may one day be reconciled with her husband.

JRP

Robert said...

Hello folks,

I just checked Triablogue to see if Steve Hays or any of the other Triablogers would respond to the words of "Anita B. Day" the words that I presented here earlier to show what calvinists really believe about reprobates (words that so perfectly and concisely presented their view of reprobation).

***AND GUESS WHAT?***

The post was taken off and eliminated and is now replaced by an innocuous post by "Mathetes". WOW, "Anita B. Day" got quickly banned and had her comments eliminated. (usually when someone self-edits/ takes out their own comment it says so, but her comments have completely disappeared). I guess since she was actually presenting the truth, presenting the calvinist view of reprobation, they just couldn't ALLOW THAT, just too damaging, too prejudicial for their case. I am glad I made a copy of that post and presented it here before they made it disappear. It serves as a **perfect** illustration of their thinking (an illustration that I and others can make use of in the future as well). The gruesome calvinistic view of "Anita" and her ilk needs to be proclaimed from the house tops so that the hatred of these people can be fully exposed to the light of day. And again so that others will reject this man made and false system of theology.

Robert

Ilíon said...

Robert,
All I know of what this "Anita B. Day" said is what you've duplicated above. And what you duplicated above was clearly not a Calvinist laying out what Calvinists believe. That was an anti-Calvinst (and seems likely to be an 'atheist') doing his or her best to get it wrong.

Maybe you ought to consider staying away from Triablogue?

Robert said...

Hello Ilion,

“All I know of what this "Anita B. Day" said is what you've duplicated above. And what you duplicated above was clearly not a Calvinist laying out what Calvinists believe. That was an anti-Calvinst (and seems likely to be an 'atheist') doing his or her best to get it wrong.”

I disagree, her words represent very well what they believe. You should compare her words with Calvin Himself when he speaks on reprobation (they are eerily similar). Ilion I am also going to demonstrate this another way. My friend Dan over at ARMINIAN CHRONICLES shared an audio by a calvinist pastor named Angus Stewart in which Stewart does a great job of discussing Calvin’s writings and arguments with Pighius concerning reprobation. You will hear “Anita” clearly in everything that Stewart says (to access the audio go to ARMINIAN CHRONICLES, scroll down to “Audio Files Addressed to Moderate Calvinism” then click the link to the audio by Angus Stewart). Stewart has some real gems in that talk including his claim that nothing could be as hateful as reprobation in the way Calvin believed in it. If you don’t believe me, listen to it yourself. Then come back here and tell me that “Anita” does not actually represent the views of Calvin himself and calvinism.

“Maybe you ought to consider staying away from Triablogue?”

You could be right. I just glance at it at times, perhaps I shouldn’t glance at it at all! :-)

Robert

Victor Reppert said...

Anita sounds like a sock puppet.

Joshua said...

@JRP, @Robert -- I am pretty sure that admonition to "sit not in the seat of mockers" in Psalm 1 was not intended as "advice to help you communicate more compassionately with others". It was intended as an aid in character-building. As such, I don't mind harsh communications; especially when they are found to be succinct and correct, and help me to stay humble.

@JRP -- I was aware of C.S. Lewis's other commentary on who is saved. But my point is that the story seemed to imply that someone could be saved even if they worshiped Satan their whole life.

@Ilion - there is something that bothers me a little bit about the seemingly common Arminian obsession with saying "love requires absolutely zero coercion". Yes, it's true that Calvinism could be portrayed as being "cosmic rape", as you said. But equally true is that the opposite extreme is also absurd.

Parents who love their children, discipline those children to guide them in the correct way. A child who experiences absolutely no coercive discipline during his life, is NOT loved.

I think Hosea 4:14 makes this point very crisply:

"I will not punish your daughters
when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
a people without understanding will come to ruin!"

When I hear some Arminians (maybe this is not mainstream?) say things like, "God doesn't punish us when we insult him and distance ourselves from him, because he is so loving and non-controlling", I think of Hosea 4:14. I think that they *might* be right, but it would be stupid to bank on it. Might as well be safe...

Ilíon said...

Joshua,
My comment about God-as-Cosmic-Rapist wasn't about Calvinism; it was about contradictory and irreconcilable demands you appear to be making of God.


And, just for the record, I may not be an Arminian; I certainly reject the Pelagianism that is these days presumed by many to be Arminianism.

Joshua said...

@Ilion: Point taken. Though you will be more correct to say "irreconcilable demands you appearED to be making of God". I was making a very narrowly-scoped statement about a well-documented and verified claim made by Arminians regarding the palatability of their message versus the Calvinist message. I said nothing about my own beliefs, and in fact am quite happy with God, exactly as He is.

When you mistakenly assumed that I was making demands of God, I corrected you very precisely, so in the future you have no reason other than sloppiness or malice to assert "demands you appear to be making of God".

Jason Pratt said...

Just dropping in briefly to agree that "Anita" sounded like a sock-puppet.

That being said, obviously there are Calvinists who do really go this distance.

As I wrote here at the EU forum in a discussion of the degree of Calvin's culpability in the execution of Servetus, however: "Something to fairly consider, pro or con, is the question of improvement. Let us suppose a Calvinist agrees that we ought not to do as Calvin did. What would be the rationale for why not? Merely because circumstances are different at the moment? Or is there a rationale for improvement on Calvinistic principles (per se) compared to what Calvin actually did? (i.e., can he be judged as having not lived up sufficiently to his own standard? If so, then that would be a mitigating factor in favor of the system of belief anyway.)"

JRP

Robert said...

Hello Ilion,

Ilion have you listened to the Angus Stewart audio message yet?

I will repeat what I said earlier:

"My friend Dan over at ARMINIAN CHRONICLES shared an audio by a calvinist pastor named Angus Stewart in which Stewart does a great job of discussing Calvin’s writings and arguments with Pighius concerning reprobation. You will hear “Anita” clearly in everything that Stewart says (to access the audio go to ARMINIAN CHRONICLES, scroll down to “Audio Files Addressed to Moderate Calvinism” then click the link to the audio by Angus Stewart). Stewart has some real gems in that talk including his claim that nothing could be as hateful as reprobation in the way Calvin believed in it. If you don’t believe me, listen to it yourself. Then come back here and tell me that “Anita” does not actually represent the views of Calvin himself and calvinism."

Again, listen to Stewart and then tell me what you think Calvin and "Anita" really believe. Don't believe me on this, check out Stewart's message for yourself.

Robert

steve said...

Jason Pratt said...


As I wrote here at the EU forum in a discussion of the degree of Calvin's culpability in the execution of Servetus, however: "Something to fairly consider, pro or con, is the question of improvement. Let us suppose a Calvinist agrees that we ought not to do as Calvin did. What would be the rationale for why not? Merely because circumstances are different at the moment? Or is there a rationale for improvement on Calvinistic principles (per se) compared to what Calvin actually did? (i.e., can he be judged as having not lived up sufficiently to his own standard? If so, then that would be a mitigating factor in favor of the system of belief anyway.)"

Historically, Arminians are quite capable of persecuting their opponents. It's just a question of whose in power at the time.

Consider the career of Archbishop Laud, a militant Arminian.

steve said...

I'd add that Gregory of Nyssa was a universalist. Yet the Byzantine church has no hesitation to persecute theological opponents. So Pratt is being quite selective here. He should measure Laud and Nyssa by the same yardstick as he applies to Calvin.

Jason Pratt said...

Steve: {{So Pratt is being quite selective here. He should measure Laud and Nyssa by the same yardstick as he applies to Calvin.}}

Did you actually read my comment? Because my point was predicated on not being specially selective about Calvin, but rather on whether Calvin can be sufficiently critiqued on the basis of specifically Calvinistic theology--which I noted would be a point in its favor (i.e. not to use Calvin as an example against Calvinism.)

So, is your answer that you agree with Calvin's persecutions? Disagree but have no idea why on Calvinistic grounds? Disagree and have a clear idea why you should disagree on Calvinistic grounds but didn't think it was important to mention those rationales (despite this being my whole question to consider for fairness' sake to Calvinism?)


Also, the Eastern Orthodox have not always been dedicated universalists, and indeed for a while repudiated universalism quite thoroughly. (Emperor Justinian II anathema'd it; an anathema ratified shortly afterward by the current Pope of the time.) But as long as we're introducing comparisons with the man known as the "Orthodox of the Orthodox": does anyone know of Gregory of Nyssa either persecuting opponents or recommending this? (I honestly have no idea; I've never studied the man, not being a Nyssanist. {g})

JRP

PS: people who bother to actually read the thread I linked to, will find me being lenient to Calvin by what I consider to be a highly important "yardstick". Plus in context of the socio-cultural situation of the time.

steve said...

“Did you actually read my comment? Because my point was predicated on not being specially selective about Calvin.”

In your comment you singled out Calvin. If it’s not your intention to single out Calvin, then you’re welcome to demonstrate your bona fides by citing other examples.

“So, is your answer that you agree with Calvin's persecutions? Disagree but have no idea why on Calvinistic grounds? Disagree and have a clear idea why you should disagree on Calvinistic grounds but didn't think it was important to mention those rationales (despite this being my whole question to consider for fairness' sake to Calvinism?)”

I’ve blogged on that issue in the past. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time.

“But as long as we're introducing comparisons with the man known as the "Orthodox of the Orthodox": does anyone know of Gregory of Nyssa either persecuting opponents or recommending this? (I honestly have no idea; I've never studied the man, not being a Nyssanist.”

He was one of the bishops at the Council of Constantinople. Have you ever read the canons of that council? Try canon #6.

Jason Pratt said...

Back on June 13th, Steve posted up his reply to our larger discussion here on Triablogue. (I'm unsure if there were future replies; as far as I can tell there haven't been, but then I wasn't notified that this reply had been posted either.)

I appreciate the reply, and will have a new reply by Sunday at the latest (I hope).

(Since this thread has now run off the bottom of Victor's main page, it may be more expedient to keep track of reply notices at the EU forum link I gave above, since I post links to Steve's replies there, too.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Steve: {{In your comment you singled out Calvin. If it’s not your intention to single out Calvin, then you’re welcome to demonstrate your bona fides by citing other examples.}}

You really have zero idea why I wrote what I did, then.

To recap: Robert was writing about how hateful Calvin was; I pointed out that even if Calvin was hateful (such as in the Servetus incident) it might be possible to critique him from within principles specific to Calvinism per se.

Calvin had already been "singled out". My reply was predicated on the possibility that it is wrong to single out Calvin for purposes of arguing against Calvinism.

As for citing other examples, I cited myself in the thread I linked to, as a self-critical example: if I am not willing to be fair to Calvin or if I insist on hatefully 'persecuting' him, then I'm the one who God is going to zorch.

So, while we're establishing our bona fides, you may now link to the most recent time when you applied a principle of criticism against yourself in order to protect your opponents from mere opposition on your part.


Meanwhile, in regard to the actual question I had asked, for purposes of mitigating in favor of Calvinism ("Let us suppose a Calvinist agrees that we ought not to do as Calvin did. What would be the rationale for why not?"), your answer after two or three exchanges is...

{{I’ve blogged on that issue in the past. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time.}}

...ooookay. The link I'm sure you meant to provide for actually giving us an answer with any detail at all (where you blogged on that issue in the past), however, didn't get posted.


Incidentally, regarding Ecumenical Council II (aka Constantinople I), the sixth canon (which probably dates to 382, the year after this council) is a paragraph of guidelines intended both to prevent spurious accusations of bishops and also to help ensure that persons with grievances against the bishops would be allowed a way to bring those accusations to court in a regulated manner. Heretics are banned from bringing accusations against orthodox bishops, but mainly on grounds that they aren't considered to be part of the group. (Apparently there had been some problems with dissenters publicly trolling the bishops, as we might say now on the nets. {g})

Whether or not Gregory was directly involved in this canon (which he might not have been)--are you sure you want to present this as being especially an example of how Gregory personally promoted the persecution of opponents in a manner similar to how Calvin brought about the execution of Servetus? Or did you mean to refer to another canon of this Council? Or possibly to another Council? (It's easy to confuse the material.)

JRP

steve said...

“As for citing other examples, I cited myself in the thread I linked to, as a self-critical example: if I am not willing to be fair to Calvin or if I insist on hatefully 'persecuting' him, then I'm the one who God is going to zorch.”

You used yourself as an example of somebody who persecutes his theological opponents? Who have you persecuted, recently?

“Whether or not Gregory was directly involved in this canon (which he might not have been)--are you sure you want to present this as being especially an example of how Gregory personally promoted the persecution of opponents in a manner similar to how Calvin brought about the execution of Servetus?”

Church councils were more than doctrinal statements. They criminalized dissent. Gregory clearly signed onto that principle by participation in church councils.

BTW, I also mentioned Archbishop Laud as another non-Calvinist who persecuted theological opponents.

Robert said...

Normally Jason writes very long posts and as he espouses universalism (which I believe to be a false view) and I do not respond to his comments because he says too much to respond to and I don’t want to argue universalism here. But he is now telling a story that needs a bit of correction.

He wrote:

“To recap: Robert was writing about how hateful Calvin was; I pointed out that even if Calvin was hateful (such as in the Servetus incident) it might be possible to critique him from within principles specific to Calvinism per se.”

This thread started with the issue, or at least I thought the original issue was the calvinist’s view of reprobates (specifically does God love those he damns from eternity or not)? Since I recently heard an audio message by a calvinist, pastor Angus Stewart, in which Stewart argues quite convincingly that Calvin believed that God hated the reprobates from eternity, then “passed over them” in time, and finally judges them and sends them for eternal punishment in hell, it appears that according to Calvin then, God hates reprobates.


“Calvin had already been "singled out". My reply was predicated on the possibility that it is wrong to single out Calvin for purposes of arguing against Calvinism.”

It is not “wrong” to talk about Calvin’s view of reprobation, because he is a **good** representative of calvinism, is he not? It is fair to attack a system of thought by attacking its major proponent or founder, is it not? You want to attack Arminianism, go ahead and attack Arminius. You want to attack universalism, go ahead and attack the views of Thomas Talbott, etc. You want to attack calvinism, go ahead and attack Calvin . . .


“As for citing other examples, I cited myself in the thread I linked to, as a self-critical example: if I am not willing to be fair to Calvin or if I insist on hatefully 'persecuting' him, then I'm the one who God is going to zorch.”

Two things: (1) attacking a view is not njecessarily persecuting the adherents; (2) what meaning does God going to “zorch” have in a system of theology where everybody gets saved?

I mean if you are going to spend eternity with God, then why worry about being “zorched”? Concern about being zorched or being persecuted or being mistreated or whatever means very little if you only have to endure a few years (say even 120 years) here and then automatically get eternity with God. I mean as Dylan sings in the last song of his newest album “It’s all good” if universalism is true and we all get saved. No matter what happens in this life including getting “zorched” by God really doesn’t matter in the long run if we all get saved no matter what. You espouse a form of theological relativism (in relativism if nothing is wrong then everything is right, depending on whom you talk to; in theological relativism, everybody gets saved no matter what they do and no matter what they experience, it’s all relative, what happens here really does not matter cause “It’s all good “ in the end for every one of us). Everything gets swallowed up by our universal salvation, so again why be worried about being **ZORCHED**???

Robert

Jason Pratt said...

Steve: {{You used yourself as an example of somebody who persecutes his theological opponents? Who have you persecuted, recently?}}

For that matter, who have I murdered or committed adultery with recently? Or ever at all, in any exterior fashion? Nevertheless, that kind of attitude in the heart is considered by God to be as condemnable as the external fulfillment of that attitude. A judgment from God upon myself that I take very seriously.

Consequently, I wrote what I did (in the place that I referenced) as a way of self-critically protecting Calvin from any temptation I might feel toward simply hating him for things that I had been instrumental (earlier in that thread) in reporting him doing.

Possibly we consider “good faith” establishments to mean rather different things. When I critically tamp myself in Calvin’s favor, then I consider that to be relatively good public evidence that it is not my intention to “single out Calvin”--I’m acting in good faith. (Nor is this something I just started doing; I mentioned that I had already been doing it.) Are there other universalistic ‘persecutors’ more important than myself for me to point to, to show that I am not being conveniently ‘selective’ about who gets measured by my ‘yardstick’?

But, possibly you do not consider applying principles of criticism against one’s self in order to protect one’s opponents, to have anything at all to do with establishing one’s bona fides. (Which would then explain why you didn’t bother to do so yourself, when given opportunities.)


{{Church councils were more than doctrinal statements. They criminalized dissent. Gregory clearly signed onto that principle by participation in church councils.}}

It is entirely possible to agree that heresies are ‘anathema’ without engaging in ‘persecution’ of the heretics, or agreeing in such a thing--even if other people make use of such an anathematization to persecute theological opponents.

The fact is, you don’t really have any evidence, yet, about Gregory of Nyssa himself. And I find it hard to believe you even read the canon you mentioned. (Despite recommending I read it.)

Supposing for purposes of argument though, that Gregory of Nyssa persecuted theological opponents--which, even without any external evidence, I might be prepared to accept as an internal principle as I already have demonstrated I apply against myself by the way--I can criticize against this from the grounds of my Christian theology, without voiding the universalistic parts and maybe even appealing to them, too. As I have already demonstrated I do proactively vs. myself (since, frankly, I am the main universalist whom I ought to be worried about persecuting heretics. {s})

Bringing us again to the question of how you would critique Calvin’s actions on Calvinistic grounds. Or whether you would, perhaps.

Except, there was the end of your comment. Your attempt at linking to places where you have already invented the wheel on this, didn’t show up again, assuming you had tried to include such a link so that we would actually know what it is that you’ve written about this.

Moving along again, again, then... {g}

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Robert: {{[[Jason] is now telling a story that needs a bit of correction.}}

Which part were you correcting? The part where I very briefly mentioned that you were writing about how hateful Calvin was (i.e. to those he thought were non-elect)? Or the part where I agreed with you that (as I also briefly wrote) “obviously there are Calvinists who do really go this distance”? Perhaps the part where I wrote that Calvin had already been “singled out” by someone other than myself?

{{it appears that according to Calvin then, God hates reprobates.}}

Not that part then. (Although that might have been a good place to correct me that you weren’t claiming Calvin was really that hateful but only the God he believed in.)

{{Since I recently heard an audio message by a calvinist, pastor Angus Stewart}}

Not that part then.

{{You want to attack calvinism, go ahead and attack Calvin . . .}}

Not that part then.

Possibly you meant to correct the part where I wrote that “it might be possible to critique [Calvin] from within principles specific to Calvinism per se”.

You don’t mention, however, that it is impossible in principle to criticize Calvin from within principles specific to Calvinism per se. (Not there then.)

This materially leaves for correction my quote about “the possibility that it is wrong to single out Calvin for purposes of arguing against Calvinism.”

This possibility, though, is contextually linked to my observation that it may be possible to criticize Calvin from within principles specific to Calvinism per se. I wasn’t stating that it is simply wrong to single out Calvin for purposes of arguing against Calvinism. A person’s ideas may be better than what the person himself ever does with those ideas, though. Otherwise a sceptic would be logically correct to draw the inference ‘Christians are sinners, therefore Christianity is false.’

I agree, for what it’s worth, that “You want to attack Arminianism, go ahead and attack Arminius. You want to attack universalism, go ahead and attack the views of Thomas Talbott [or me, for that matter {g}], etc. You want to attack calvinism, go ahead and attack Calvin . . .” My point was only that attacking the messenger may not be the end of the story in assessing the truth and the worth of the message--a point I wasn’t so much making against you, but rather allowing Calvinists room to maneuver. (If they even want to.)


{{attacking a view is not necessarily persecuting the adherents}}

I agree. Nor have I ever said otherwise. (Including where you quoted me.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

On a somewhat different topic next...

Robert: {{what meaning does God going to “zorch” have in a system of theology where everybody gets saved?}}

It means nothing, if the system of theology is one which taught that everyone gets saved from punishment. But that has never been my theology, and isn’t now (including in those long posts you didn’t want to comment on. {g})

It means plenty, if the system of theology is one where everybody gets saved from sin--specifically where God will never stop acting toward saving all sinners from sin. If all shall be salted with the unquenchable fire of Gehenna, so that we shall have salt in ourselves and so be at peace with one another; then insofar as the salting is punishment for at least some people then (tautologically) those people are not being saved from punishment. And so long as they (including possibly I) persist in insisting upon keeping and fostering unrighteousness, God will not be forgiving them--neither now, nor in the age to come. But He will keep on acting, through punishment as necessary, to lead such sinners into being righteous. (This is the theology that I have been talking about, by the way.)

Extra-plenty if the system of theology is one which notices that Jesus has far, far, far more to say about lazy and/or uncharitable servants of His being punished (including in the overall section of the Synoptics which in GosMark ends with the “all shall be salted with fire” revelation), than about those-unbelieving-pagany-people-over-there. (Not that they’re left out in principle. But that isn’t where the condemnation focus is in the Gospels. This is also the theology I have been talking about, by the way.)

Thus, as I wrote: “if I am not willing to be fair to Calvin or if I insist on hatefully ‘persecuting’ him, then I’m the one who God is going to zorch.”

I clearly don’t mean to be talking against opposing wrong beliefs or even against “attacking a view”. (You seem to have noticed I write long posts, yes? right!? {g} More technically, I would be instantly self-refuting if I was only talking against opposing wrong beliefs etc.) I am not even talking necessarily against mortal combat, if it comes to that, or execution of criminals. (Depending on what your blogge settings are, you may have noticed my icon up there to the right. I can be a pretty militaristic guy.)

I mean that if I am being unchivalrous during the fight, then I am the one who is sinning; and even worse, if I am essentially murdering my neighbor in my heart, during the fight. And, fighting should not be my ultimate goal; but peace and fair-togetherness among persons. Including in regard to whomever I may have to fight against.

If I do not show all the mercy I can, then God shall not be merciful to me: the chief of sinners. (It’s too bad Steve doesn’t bother to notice that I apply this principle in charity to Calvin in regard to Servetus. Especially here in the thread that I linked to. But, maybe Steve is doing the best he can as well, under his own limitations. {s} If so, God could well judge Steve to be ahead of me in the kingdom.)


Robert: {{You espouse a form of theological relativism: everybody gets saved [automatically get eternity with God] no matter what they do and no matter what they experience, it’s all relative [etc.]}}

One of the drawbacks to writing long posts with lots of detail, is that sometimes people skip over those posts because they’re so long--and then they imagine the details. Not that I blame you exactly; but you sure haven’t gotten these ideas from anything I’ve actually written, here or elsewhere.

You’re welcome to read what I’ve actually written, though, here and elsewhere. I can provide links if you’d like. Or I can provide more quotes from previously written comments in this thread, if you’d prefer. (I originally included some quotes with this comment, but the blogger character limit kicked in.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Brief note that my (relatively brief) reply to Steve is now up at EU here.

JRP