Saturday, August 01, 2009

Calvinism, Dirty Laundry and Christian Catfights

I noticed an agnostic in the combox who said he (or she) enjoyed this Christian catfight. Could have been a sock puppet, but I doubt it.

When we discuss doctrinal matters online we are hanging out our dirty laundry where nonbelievers can see it. How we conduct ourselves matters. I wouldn't even say denunciations are always wrong, and the Triabloggers are right in pointing out that denunciatory rhetoric does appear in Scripture. Jude, for example, directs extremely harsh rhetoric toward people he considers to be enemies of the Gospel. The problem I have with Triablogue is that not only anti-Calvinists like myself, but defenders of Orthodoxy, and Catholicism, and people who differ with them politically are treated in the same way. Even if Calvinism is true, isn't it at least possible that people who differ with them theological or politically are merely erring believers who still love Christ, as opposed to enemies of the Gospel.

The Triabloggers are bright guys, but no one who disagrees with them comes out feeling as if they had an interesting, worthwhile exchange of ideas about which they happen to disagree.

I don't always maintain a proper tone myself, but my blog is known as a place where we try to provide open and fair discussion. People taking numerous positions will tell me they disagree with me but they enjoy the dialogue. I never hear anyone say that kind of thing after an exchange with the Triabloggers.

It's not a question of being nice. Harsh rhetoric and cheap shots don't bring out the best in people. They don't sustain the dialogue. There's a time and a place for harsh rhetoric, but I think it is overused on Triablogue.

I think there are features of the Calvinism debate that tend to make it acrimonious. Perhaps in a future post I can lay out what I think the problem is.

But biblically, I think we have to weigh our speech by asking if it builds up the body of Christ. I think it's not enough to find people in Scripture who spoke harshly. Paul can be very harsh, but you know he has the health of the body of Christ at heart at all times. With the Triabloggers, I don't see that same spirit.

And I am not whitewashing their opponents, either. As I said, the Calvinism issue can make people mad, which is the reason we all, starting with me, have to watch it.

61 comments:

unkle e said...

Vic, this is an important topic for me. I have several times quoted the New Testament about "speaking the truth in love" and treating others with "gentleness and respect".

I don't see how we can argue that we should disobey those clear commands. But the manner of doing that will vary with the culture. As far as I can observe from the outside, Jewish culture back then, and even today, is very robust and direct in conversation. Middle eastern culture (to broadly generalise) seems to me to be both more complimentary and more critical (at different times) than our western culture is.

We have a pluralist culture that is very sensitive to language and politeness - for example, we frown on sexist and racist language that would have been acceptable even two generations ago, and we tend to react negatively to people who make exclusivist claims.

Paul said he "became all things to all men in order to win some" (even that sounds sexist today!) and we christians must surely do the same. Therefore, we should not apply behaviour standards of other cultures and times to today. We need to be sensitive to these things just like cross cultural missionaries have to be.

There is a vast difference between speaking an uncomfortable truth in a sensitive manner and being nasty, insensitive or discourteous. If we want to "win some", we will make the effort to be sensitive - only if we forget our goals and our Master will we do the opposite. Occasionally slip ups are no problem (we are human, and can always apologise), but permanent attitudes dishonour God.

Sermon over. Keep up the good work, I think your attitude is almost always exemplary and your blog very worthwhile. Best wishes.

Joshua said...

I've always considered myself a Calvinist, but now that I've gotten to know some, I'm not sure I would want to admit that. Calling some of these people "bright" is far too charitable.

Edward T. Babinski said...

C. S. LEWIS AND JOHN CALVIN [AND TRIABLOGGERS TOO]

Quotation #1 in which C. S. Lewis agrees with Calvin concerning the book of Job

Referring to the notion that "every sentence of the Old Testament has historical or scientific truth," Lewis admitted: "This I do not hold, any more than...Calvin did when he doubted whether the story of Job were history or fiction."

http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2000i/townsend2000e.htm

Edward T. Babinski said...

Quotation #2 from C. S. Lewis' famous work on 16th century literature in which he explained why "cocksure youth" were attracted to Calvinism [but he doesn't explain why youth were also attracted to the counter-Reformation movement of Ignatius Loyola, another hard man of faith, but a Catholic, not a Calvinist]:

"Many surrendered to, all were influenced by, the dazzling figure of Calvin. It ought to be easier for us than for the nineteenth century to understand his attraction.

"He was a man born to be the idol of revolutionary intellectuals; an unhesitating doctrinaire, ruthless and efficient in putting his doctrine into practice. Though bred as a lawyer, he found time before he was thirty to produce the first text of the Institutio (1536) and never made any serious modification of its theory. By 1537 he was already at Geneva and the citizens were being paraded before him in bodies of ten to swear to a system of doctrine. Sumptuary legislation and the banishment of the dissentient Caroli made it plain that here was the man of the new order who really meant business.

"He was driven out of Geneva but returned to new triumphs in 1540, successfully maintaining his theocracy both against civil magistrates who wished to govern a little more, and private citizens who wished to be governed a good deal less, than Calvin would permit.

"The banishment of Bolsec (1551) and the burning of Servetus (1553) were among its achievements. The moral severity of his rule laid the foundations of the meaning which the word 'puritan' has since acquired.

"But this severity did not mean that his theology was, in the last resort, more ascetic than that of Rome. It sprang from his refusal to allow the Roman distinction between the life of 'religion' and the life of the world, between the Counsels and the Commandments. Calvin's picture of the fully Christian life was less hostile to pleasure and to the body than Fisher's; but then Calvin demanded that every man should be made to live the fully Christian life. In academic jargon, he lowered the honours standard and abolished the pass degree.

"Modern parallels are always to some extent misleading. Yet, for a moment only, and to guard against worse misconceptions, it may be useful to compare the influence of Calvin on that age with the influence of Marx on our own; or even of Marx and Lenin in one, for Calvin had both expounded the new system in theory and set it going in practice. This will at least serve to eliminate the absurd idea that Elizabethan Calvinists were somehow grotesque, elderly people, standing outside the main forward current of life. In their own day they were, of course, the very latest thing.

"Unless we can imagine the freshness, the audacity, and (soon) the fashionableness of Calvinism, we shall get our whole picture wrong. It was the creed of progressives, even of revolutionaries. It appealed strongly to those tempers that would have been Marxist in the nineteen-thirties.

"The fierce young don, the learned lady, the courtier with intellectual leanings, were likely to be Calvinists. When hard rocks of Predestination outcrop in the flowery soil of the Arcadia or the Faerie Queene, we are apt to think them anomalous, but we are wrong. The Calvinism is as modish as the shepherds and goddesses.
[Continued below]

Edward T. Babinski said...

[Continued from above]
"The wicked Bishop in Diotrephes complains that at the universities 'puritans start up every day'. Cartwright had got all the fellows of St. John's out of their surplices before he was thirty, Travers wrote his Explicatio when he was twenty-six, Penry and John Udall were twenty-eight when the one brought out his Treatise to the Queen and the other his Diotrephes. Youth is the taunt commonly brought against the puritan leaders by their opponents: youth and cocksureness.

"As we recognize the type we begin, perhaps, to wonder less that such a work as the Institutio should have been so eagerly welcomed. In it Calvin goes on from the original Protestant experience to build a system, to extrapolate, to raise all the dark questions and give without flinching the dark answers.

"It is, however, a masterpiece of literary form; and we may suspect that those who read it with most approval were troubled by the fate of predestined vessels of wrath just about as much as young Marxists in our own age are troubled by the approaching liquidation of the bourgeoisie. Had the word 'sentimentality' been known to them, Elizabethan Calvinists would certainly have used it of any who attacked the Institutio as morally repulsive.

"Of course not all Calvinists were puritans. Nor am I suggesting that the great fighting puritans who risked ruin and torture in their attack on the bishops were merely conforming to a fashion. We must distinguish a hard core of puritans and a much wider circle of those who were, at varying levels, affected by Calvinism. But a certain severity (however seriously we may take it) was diffused even through that wider circle, in the sense that denunciation of vice became part of the stock-in-trade of fashionable and even frivolous writers.

"Perhaps nothing in our period is so surprising to a modern as the readiness with which
a Lyly, a Nashe, or even a Greene, will at any moment launch out into moral diatribe of the most uncompromising ferocity. All our lifetime the current has been setting towards licence. In Elizabeth's reign it was the opposite. Nothing seems to have been more saleable, more comme ilfaut, than the censorious. We are overwhelmed by floods of morality from very young, very ignorant, and not very moral men.

"The glib harshness is to us a little repulsive: but it won applause then as easily as attacks on Victorianism, romanticism, or nostalgia have won it in our own century. The gentleness and candour of Shakespeare's mind has impressed all his readers. But it impresses us still more the more we study the general tone of sixteenth-century literature. He is gloriously anomalous.

"The puritan party, properly so called, insisted on Calvin's system of church government as well as on his general theology. They themselves would not have admitted a distinction between the two. They taught that a system as they called it, a platfourme of church government could be found in the New Testament [I think "Old Testament" was meant] and was binding on all believers till the end of the world. To a modern reader, examining the texts on which they based this theory, it appears one of the strangest mirages which have ever deceived the human mind: only explicable, if at all, by the strong enchantment of the master's exploits at Geneva.

"They demanded that such a 'godly discipline' should be instantly set up in England. In Scotland Knox was prepared to establish it by armed revolution. The English puritans were at first milder: but Udall in his Demonstration (1588) is already saying that, since peaceful methods have failed, 'if it come in by that meanes which wil make all your heartes ake, blame yourselues'.
[Continued below]

Edward T. Babinski said...

[Continued from above]

"The psychology of the puritan proper is not so easily determined as that of the merely Calvinist fringe: just as, in our own age, we know pretty well what sorts of people will be fashionably Leftist, but not who will be real Communists. In all deep conviction there is something that cuts across the ordinary divisions of age, sex, class, and culture. One kind of puritan, drawn by the hostile pen of Lodge in Wifs Misery (1596), is recognizable enough: a 'malecontent', lately returned from abroad, hating his own country and always muttering that 'good Wits' get better Entertainment' on the Continent. But there were many other types: saints, no doubt, and cranks, a rag-tag and bobtail of mere anticlericals, but also 'great friends', wealthy landowners, and even courtiers [and Triabloggers too--E.T.B.]

Walter said...

Victor Reppert:
"I noticed an agnostic in the combox who said he (or she) enjoyed this Christian catfight. Could have been a sock puppet, but I doubt it."

That comment was from me; I was on a computer at work and did not want to log in to my blogger account.

I realize that this blog is about philosophical musings from a Christian viewpoint, and not about hard core apologetic arguments to sway the "lost". Still, I have to say: Every time that you theists sharpen your knives against each other, you reinforce my belief that you have no special relationship with a deity. Arminians and Calvinists sound much like Sunnis and Shiites fighting each other.

Apparently, God's eternal truths are subject to fallible human interpretation.

Anonymous said...

The Triabloggers are bright guys?

I see that these bright guys have now accused you of being a eugenecist. I think that maybe you should rethink the "bright" label. Otherwise, I think that you've accurately descibed these gentlmen.

Anonymous said...

"Still, I have to say: Every time that you theists sharpen your knives against each other, you reinforce my belief that you have no special relationship with a deity."

When you say things like this you reinforce my belief that agnostics have no special relationship with reason.

I mean, without getting into the problem that the Bible says we will sin and so to point out sin is only confirmation of what the Bible teaches. Add to that you have no non-arbitrary basis by which you can condemn "bad" behavior, there's this problem: Assume you have five siblings fighting. Is that proof that they have "no special relationship" with their parents If not, how would you non-arbitrarilly adjudicate between the two situations? Seems to me there's a lot of relevant analogies.

Anonymous said...

"I mean, without getting into the problem that the Bible says we will sin and so to point out sin is only confirmation of what the Bible teaches."

Sounds like circular reasoning to me.

Robert Ingersoll sums up the point I was making:
"Every sect is a certificate that God has not plainly revealed his will to man. To each reader the Bible conveys a different meaning."

-Walter

Victor Reppert said...

The Triabloggers can start by showing anywhere in my recent posts where I have advocated Obamacare. I'm not sure if anyone can tell me what Obamacare is.

At the same time, I don't think the problem is not being very bright. It's a function of polarized thinking. It's beginning any dialogue or discussion with the question "Whose side are you on?," combined with a demonization of the other side.

OK I admit it. I'd like to have access to health care coverage. I can't get it working as adjunct (as I have done for the last 17 years), and I can't afford it individually. But, of course, the devil is in the details.

unkle e said...

Walter said: "Every time that you theists sharpen your knives against each other, you reinforce my belief that you have no special relationship with a deity."

I think that is a reasonable conclusion to draw, on that particular piece of evidence. That is why CS Lewis, in his intro to Mere Christianity, said that he wanted to steer clear of internal argument and concentrate on what christians generally held in common, and try to persuade non-believers.

My conclusion as a christian is that most doctrinal arguments are about things a small group thinks are important but which God has apparently not thought it important enough to make a clear pronouncement. If we were more focused on Jesus' mission to love and serve the world and teach about him in word and deed, we would not have most of these arguments. Romans 14 explains all this quite clearly - unfortunately those who say the loudest that they believe the Bible often seem willing to ignore these teachings.

It's depressing, Walter, to have to agree with you. Fortunately, the reasons to believe, to me, far outweigh these negatives.

Anonymous said...

"Sounds like circular reasoning to me."

That's because you don't know what that fallacy is.

It's simply to point out what we would find if the Bible were true. So, the empirical evidence doesn't support your side since both positions account for the data. The data confirms what Christians say would be the case if Cristianity were the case. So, in fact, you begged the question.

"Robert Ingersoll sums up the point I was making:
"Every sect is a certificate that God has not plainly revealed his will to man. To each reader the Bible conveys a different meaning.
"

Which is just stupid. First, "plainly" is vague and so is the extent to which plainly must be applied. The Bible itself admits that not all things taugt in it are alike plain. Second, the fall can explain a lot of variations. Third, it's a non-sequitur to claim that disagreement means God has not "plainly revealed himself" (whatever that means). By what rule of logic would that follow? I can think of a dozen situations off the top of my head where this assumption would be falsified. Fourth, orthodox Christians do all agree on some "essentials." So is this proof that God has revealed himself? Fifth, say some religious group comes along and says God revealed to them X, Y, and Z. Say none of them disagree with each other, would this then be evidence that God has revealed himself? What if their god was the FSM?

That you aligned yourself with Ingersoll says more about you than you think. I wouldn't be too proud of my "rational" agnosticism if I were you. You seem gullible.

unkle e said...

"Which is just stupid...... I wouldn't be too proud of my "rational" agnosticism if I were you. You seem gullible."

I fear that your attitude here is going a long way to proving Walter's point. There are ways of answering a person without being insulting, and if we want to recommend the faith to non-believers, we need to find them. (Hope you're not offended by this.)

Walter said...

"That you aligned yourself with Ingersoll says more about you than you think. I wouldn't be too proud of my "rational" agnosticism if I were you. You seem gullible."

Anon,

Since this is not an apologetic site out to engage the skeptic, then I will leave you with the last word. I normally have these discussions over at Freeratio.org under the user name of Deus Ex. I would be happy to continue the discussion there.

Uncle e,

Thank you. I do enjoy a polite discussion with those of faith.

Anonymous said...

Unkle E,

How would I be proving the point? I have undermined the very point. You can't very well re-assert points in light of refutations. What I said counted as a refutation whether or not I was what you consider (according to your modern rules of conduct) rude.

I would also turn down the sens-o-tive meter, way down. Simmer down, son, simmer down. I did not insult but made an observation that seemed apropos to me. Walter seems quite gullible. That is, he seems easily duped by tricks of bad reasoning. That's what happens when people argue fallaciously. What's more, the badness of Ingersoll's claim is obviously fallacious. So Walter was taken in by the obviously fallacious. Described objectively, he's gullible.

Lastly, why don't you quite your job as Jesus' moral police and put up or shut up. I don't see moralists having any better "conversion rate" than mean ole Calvinists. In fact, I rarely ever see the moralist defend the faith. I only see them pointing fingers at fellow Christians and constantly apologizing to unbelievers. In fact, moralists such as yourself seem happy to apologize for Christians. It's "your thang." As C.S. Lewis said of the "apologizers" (who he noted had a very easy job):

"[Apologizing] can profitably be discharged by those who discharge it with reluctance." A son rebuking his mother may be necesary and even edifying, "but only if we are quite sure that he has been a good son and that, in his rebuke, spiritual zeal is triumphing. not without agony, over strong natural affection. The moment there is reason to expect that he enjoys rebuking her---that he believes himself to be rising above the natural level while still, in reality, grovling below it in the unnatural---the spectacle becomes merely disgusting."

This is quite how I feel about the number one Arminian strategy of debate against Calvinists. They enjoy pointing out the faults in other believers and the respect (so they ignorantly think) this gets them with unbelievers (who laugh at them behind their back for believing in a sky daddy). So, let's not play this game with me, it doesn't get you very far and is shown to be ugly when light is put on it.

Walter said...

Yes, I do 'align' myself with the views of Robert Ingersoll, Thomas Paine, Bart D. Ehrman, Carl Sagan, and many other notable skeptics.

I consider myself an open minded agnostic who has not ruled out the possibility of a creator. However, I see no compelling reason to accept the dogmas of orthodox, trinitarian Christianity based on someone else's interpretation of a compilation of revered, old books.

In fact, Protestants are supposed to believe in sola scriptura; I should have the right to read and interpret the bible for myself without the need for an ecclesiastical authority telling me how I must believe.

Anonymous said...

"I don't see moralists having any better "conversion rate" than mean ole Calvinists."

I believe that this is incorrect.

Conversions are often the product of the personal interaction of Christians with non-believers. Non-believers are are far more likely to interact with and to listen to those who show kindness and patience than with those who are rude, insulting, arrogant and filled with ugliness. While all are imperfect, when Christians are proud of their failure to live their values, Christianity has little appeal to non-Christians, and this is especially true when Christians savage their co-religionists.

Anonymous said...

Disagreement within the ranks of any belief is not evidence that there is nothing at heart to believe in. People disagree on the causes, morality, effects, scope, and lessons of World War 1, but this hardly means there was no war at all, or that _everyone_ is wrong about the causes and effects and what lessons, if any, should be taken away from it.

Humans are funny creatures, who find reasons to disagree on all but the most glaringly obvious things--and even some of those.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ August 03, 2009 8:36 AM

I didn't say blind faith wasn't a way to rebut my claim.

Conversions also presuppose someone giving the gospel (the real one). I don't see the moralists doing this, they're too busy pointing fingers at fellow religionists.

So, your claim may be right, but quite irrelevant to the claim I made.

Anonymous said...

"Conversions also presuppose someone giving the gospel (the real one). I don't see the moralists doing this."

Perhaps you should watch more closely. Perhaps "moralists" can do more than one thing at a time.

Anonymous said...

Right. As I said, I never meant my complaint to be undefeatable by unargued assertions. All I can say is that your assertions don't match my experience. I stand with Lewis and other against those constantly apologizing for the faults of Christians. It's all rather presumptuous, and unbelievers see through it. But you keep thinking that you'll be a winner of souls so long as unbelievers see you mock and condemn and belittle and point your finger at fellow believers while, ironically, that finger never points towards you. Such is the problems with moralist though. They and their actions always seem to be the standard of what is considered "rude" or "mean." Save me the faux pious B.S.

Anonymous said...

"
I consider myself an open minded agnostic who has not ruled out the possibility of a creator. However, I see no compelling reason to accept the dogmas of orthodox, trinitarian Christianity based on someone else's interpretation of a compilation of revered, old books.

In fact, Protestants are supposed to believe in sola scriptura; I should have the right to read and interpret the bible for myself without the need for an ecclesiastical authority telling me how I must believe"
.

Not only does Walter find it necessary to resort to Dawkinsian bluster, he shows that he has no grasp of the issues he wants to discuss, like sola Scriptura or protestant principles in general.

Walter said...

"Not only does Walter find it necessary to resort to Dawkinsian bluster, he shows that he has no grasp of the issues he wants to discuss, like sola Scriptura or protestant principles in general."

Fred Phelps, is that you? LOL

Put a name with your post and maybe I will give you the time of day.

Joshua said...

However, I see no compelling reason to accept the dogmas

As long as you insist on being compelled, you'll be quite disappointed. In fact, even if you tone it down and demand only that God "seduce" you, you'll be disappointed.

I hope you are open-minded enough to realize that there is a possibility that you could arrive at judgment day and be told that "But, you didn't compel or seduce me!" is no defense.

Walter said...

"I hope you are open-minded enough to realize that there is a possibility that you could arrive at judgment day and be told that "But, you didn't compel or seduce me!" is no defense."

Sounds like a vague threat of hell if I don't toe the party line. Sorry, that form of argument is ineffective on me.

Perhaps Christians will have to face Allah for their stubborn refusal to see the plain truth of Islam? Does Muslim hell scare you?

Anonymous said...

"All I can say is that your assertions don't match my experience."

And your assertions don't match my experiences. I think that makes us even in the assertion department, and so maybe it would be a good idea to not bring up the possibility that someone here is just B.S.-ing.

However, you certainly are consistent in your responses.

Anonymous said...

"And your assertions don't match my experiences."

Unfortunately you only postulated a hypothetical. So perhaps the problem lies in your inability to distingush experience from hypotheticals.

What we can agree on is that it aint you. You're too busy worrying about other's behavior that you don't have time to "convert." And, the numbers do not bear out your assertion. In fact, of all of the thousands upon thousands of "testimonies" I have hearn, NOT ONE has mentioned how "nice" they thought the Christian who was talking to them was. In fact, if Christians are metnioned at all, it's to point out that they didn't like them standing against their sin. Wake up. Evanjellyfishism is dead. It's Christianity with no backbone.

Anonymous said...

And when do you find the time to convert anyone?

I would think that calling people "stupid" or "gullible", telling them to "put up or shut up", accusing others of "faux pious BS" or having "no grasp of the issues", worrying about the differences between "experiences" and "hypotheticals" and declaring "evanjellyfishism" dead would be a full time job. Perhaps you are a better multi-tasker than most.

Victor Reppert said...

Does anybody have a name on here?

Steve said...

Excellent point. I'm Anon 8:36, 10:01, 11:53 and 1:10. And I'm Steve.

Brad said...

Yes, good point. I'm Brad.

Anonymous,

I never tried to brag about my "saved" tally. Yes, you're right, I'm too busy pointing out the bad arguments Christians and agnostics use. I guess you could say I'm kind of a hypocrite. Whereas you apologize about Christians' behavior, I find myself apologizing for their reasoning.

Walter said...

"Does anybody have a name on here?"

I assume that was in reference to my comment to the Anonymous Calvinist.

Sorry, I just like to have at least a pseudonym to address someone by; something besides calling them Anon #1 or Anon #2.

Nevermind. I see his name is Brad.

unkle e said...

I'm still not sure which anonymous I'm addressing, but I guess the real one knows! : )

"Lastly, why don't you quite your job as Jesus' moral police and put up or shut up. I don't see moralists having any better "conversion rate" than mean ole Calvinists."

Vic's topic was "christian catfights", so I can't see how my discussing that warrants being categorised as "moral police"!

And are you seriously claiming that no people convert to christianity because of the kindness of christians??? And that being nasty is more effective???

I have seen stats that indicate that more people are converted by personal evangelism than by any other means. My concern over this matter is exactly because I wish with all my heart to be effective in evangelism, and for the whole church to be.

But in the end, it isn't about effectiveness but following Jesus. The NT urges us to:

"speak the truth in love". Eph 4:15.

defend the faith "with gentleness and respect". 1 Peter 3:16.

"love one another". John 13:34 - because "if you have love for one another, then all will know that you are my disciples" (my emphasis). And note that in the NT, "love is patient and kind .... love is not ill-mannered" (1 Cor 13:4-5).

"we must always aim at those things that bring peace". Romans 14:19, after a long discussion on the evils of arguing with fellow believers about matters of opinion.

"Do not use harmful words in talking. Use only helpful words". Eph 4:29.

There are many more along similar lines. The conclusion is clear. We followers of Jesus are required to be kind and loving to believer and unbeliever alike, and our failure to do so will lessen our impact. (Required doesn't mean some legalistic rule, but a warmly embraced attitude.)

It is strange to me that christians can defend to the death doctrines and practices whose Biblical foundation is nowhere near as clear as these passages, and then ignore these commands.

So my question to you is this. How do you justify your rejection of these clear NT teachings; do you regard Jesus and his apostles as exponents of "Evanjellyfishism"?

Walter said...

I must say that this "blustering Dawkinsian" would much rather dialog with a Christian like Victor or Uncle e, than to try to hold a polite conversation with a Calvinazi that pours vitriol on anyone who does not accept his precious Augustinian theology. I read somewhere that a Calvinist would rather cross the country to debate their theological system than cross the street to witness to someone.

Maybe their bitterness is a reflection of their belief in a mafia boss God who only saves a few selct people through some divine lottery that we despicable humans are not privy to.

Of course, a Calvinist will simply assume me to be reprobate and incapable of understanding true grace due to the noetic effects of the Fall.

With this said I shall take my leave from here so you Christians may continue your infighting without my interruption.

Anonymous said...

Walter,

You resort to calling the Calvinist God names and all sorts of other "mean" comments about Calvinists. Apparently, being an ass is acceptable so long as you pick on the minority. You would have made a fantastic klansman. You've been exposed as a fraud. I'd rather have a conversation with a Calvinazi who is concerned about truth rather than a hypocritical wind bag who can't manage to live according to his mores. Run along and play agnostic, caring more about the conversation than finding truth.

Steve said...

What, another anonymous commenter? I thought that we'd all identified ourselves.

Brad said...

I'm Brad.

Joshua said...

Sounds like a vague threat of hell if I don't toe the party line. Sorry, that form of argument is ineffective on me.

No, it's just making the point that one doesn't necessarily arrive at truth by standing on the tallest rock an shouting to the sky, "I am open-minded; try to compel me! May the best religion win!"

People are incredibly self-centered and simple minded to presume that God and the world are just waiting for the opportunity to seduce/convince you on your own terms.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

I do appreciate your tone in general, Victor. It reminds me to be less opportunistic when Christians polemically war with each other. Even though the Triabloggers come off as rather jaded, I can see plenty of skeptics who are equal and opposite to them in that regard, so it's hard to point confident tribal fingers.

I'm not sure that jadedness is something to shun, rather it seems something to sooth with understanding and forward thinking. Unless of course you want to be jaded about jadedness. haha

Ben

Anonymous said...

Brad,

You have a style that would fit nicely with the Triablogue crew. In fact, you'd be the perfect stand-in for Paul Manata, whose posts over there have become somewhat spotty of late, presumably due to the demands of academia…

Vince

Ilíon said...

VR: "Even if Calvinism is true, isn't it at least possible that people who differ with them theological or politically are merely erring believers who still love Christ, as opposed to enemies of the Gospel."

Even if Calvinism were true, how could it possibly *matter* whether this person believes it true and that person believes it false? If Calvinism were true, than neither one's belief or one's behavior has any bearing on one's salvation.

Ilíon said...

VR: "The Triabloggers can start by showing anywhere in my recent posts where I have advocated Obamacare. I'm not sure if anyone can tell me what Obamacare is."

But you advocated for Obama (and it was clear all along that he does not have America's best interests at heart). And, more importantly, continuously advocate for leftism. And worse, you conflate that leftism with Christianity.

"Hillarycare," "Obamacare," it's all the same ... the *point* it to expand the government and make serfs and subjects of the erstwhile free citizens.

Ilíon said...

Unkle E (to an Anonymous): "I fear that your attitude here is going a long way to proving Walter's point."

But E! Walter appears to be a fool, and you certainly are; though in slightly different ways.

Ilíon said...

Walter: However, I see no compelling reason to accept the dogmas ..."

Joshua: "As long as you insist on being compelled, you'll be quite disappointed. In fact, even if you tone it down and demand only that God "seduce" you, you'll be disappointed."

Self-proclaimed skeptics do always seem to demand to be raped, don't they? "Unless God *force* me, I shall not admit him, much less love him!"

But, of course, their demand is built on the logical impossibility of compelling assent ... and love. I strongly suspect that that is intentional.

Ilíon said...

VR: "Does anybody have a name on here?"

Turn off "anonymous" posting, and then the anonymoi and anonymice will have to pick a name.

In the settings for your blog, on the "Settings" tab, in the "Who Can Comment?" section (the second section), the default radio button was "Anyone - includes Anonymous Users." If you change that to the next option ("Registered Users - includes OpenID"), I think you'll get the desired result.

Anonymous said...

Vince,

And that goes for "Walter" too, right? He could fit in with the Triabloague crew, I assume. Or is it only when Calvinazi's act like jerks that they could fit in at Traiblogue and stand in for Paul Manata? Double standards aren't sexy, in case you didn't know.

I also find it odd that if a Calvinist doesn't take someone's crap, they are a Triabloguer. Since y'all claim that jerkness runs in high numbers on the Calvinist side, why always act as if every single "jerky" Calvinist is a Triabloguer? This would seem to show that even you know your claims against Calvinists are bluster.

Brad

Walter said...

"I've always considered myself a Calvinist, but now that I've gotten to know some, I'm not sure I would want to admit that. Calling some of these people "bright" is far too charitable."

"People are incredibly self-centered and simple minded to presume that God and the world are just waiting for the opportunity to seduce/convince you on your own terms."

"As long as you insist on being compelled, you'll be quite disappointed. In fact, even if you tone it down and demand only that God "seduce" you, you'll be disappointed."

@Joshua

Are you not a Calvinist? Does not Calvinism hold as one of its tenants that God sends irresistible grace to his chosen elect?

IOW, if God has willed Joshua's election then Joshua will be compelled to be saved; you cannot avoid it. Yes or No?

Is not my lack of belief simply evidence of my reprobation?

Are you a Calvinist or are you an Arminian who believes that all have a free choice in matters of salvation?

Steve said...

"Serfs and subjects of the erstwhile free citizen."

I don't know about you, but I'm already a "serf and subject" of my insurance company. And my employer doesn't give me any choices when it comes to choosing my insurer. At least I can vote for my government.

As for the "best interest of the American people", one can argue over what would be best for the American people, but I don't see any evidence that "Obama does not have America's best interests at heart". You can argue that his approach to health care is wrong (although the alternatives don't seem any better), but where is the evidence that he doesn't believe that he's trying to do what he believes is best?

Joshua said...

Is not my lack of belief simply evidence of my reprobation?

Calvinism doesn't prescribe a measuring-stick by which we can measure whether or not someone is "reprobate" or "elect". In fact, the Bible forbids against making such judgments about other people.

Walter said...

Calvinism doesn't prescribe a measuring-stick by which we can measure whether or not someone is "reprobate" or "elect". In fact, the Bible forbids against making such judgments about other people.

Fair enough. How about the other part of my question to you. Does God not compel the elect to be saved?

Can someone resist God's irresistible grace and thus thwart God's election?

Joshua said...

Can someone resist God's irresistible grace and thus thwart God's election?

For sake of clarity, neither Arminians nor Calvinists would phrase things that way. Arminians would speak of thwarting "prevenient grace".

In any case, it is almost entirely a matter of semantic quibbling between the two camps. When a person ends up condemned, the Calvinist would say that he was never really "elect" to begin with, and thus was never extended "irresistable grace". The classical Arminian, on the other hand, would say that the condemned had "thwarted" or "rejected" prevenient grace.

In this specific case, both systems offer up rationalizations for what they both agree happens: some people are saved, and many are condemned.

Steve said...

I see that a very long defense of bad behavior has been posted at Triablogue. What would happen if they took just half of the effort expended to defend and excuse incivility and used that amount of effort in the service of playing nicely with others? They might actually accomplish something.

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: ""Hillarycare," "Obamacare," it's all the same ... the *point* it to expand the government and make serfs and subjects of the erstwhile free citizens."

Steve, not thinking it through: "I don't know about you, but I'm already a "serf and subject" of my insurance company. And my employer doesn't give me any choices when it comes to choosing my insurer. At least I can vote for my government."

Really? Is your insurance company holding a gun to your head? Is your insurance company *forcing* you, upon pain of violence and/or death, to purchase their product? Does your insurance company confiscate your possessions, or your life, if you attempt to “opt out?”

The government *is* holding a gun to your head, and the government *is* forcing you, upon pain of violence and/or death, to purchase their “product” (it's the very nature of government to do these things) ... and the "liberals" intend to increase the “product line,” and force us to pay for it on both ends, and put a bigger gun into the hands of the “muscle” (it's the nature of "liberalism" to increase government as the expense of the citizens).

It seems to me that what you're *really* bitching about ... in a manner quite analogous to Mr Reppert's bitching about *his* taxes even as he applauds additional taxes for other citizens ... is that your insurance company isn’t giving you a free lunch.


Steve: "As for the "best interest of the American people", one can argue over what would be best for the American people, but I don't see any evidence that "Obama does not have America's best interests at heart". You can argue that ..."

"Argue" with someone who can deny what's right in front of his face? I try not to waste my time like that.


Steve: "... but where is the evidence that he doesn't believe that he's trying to do what he believes is best?"

So, you’re saying that Obama is a moron (in contrast to the fool he actually is)?

As the saying goes: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” And we already know to which Hell Obama’s “good intentions” lead. So, are the “liberals” stupid, or are they wicked?

Anonymous said...

There's plenty to criticize about Obamacare, and UHC initiatives in general, but no one is going to shoot you if you don't go along with it. The government does not execute anyone for not paying taxes. Libertarian rhetorical excess only makes libertarians look crazy. No more guns to the head, please.

Steve said...

"Does your insurance company confiscate your possessions, or your life, if you attempt to “opt out?”"

The government is going to kill me if I don't have life insurance? Are you sure about this? And I think we still elect our government, yes?

"It seems to me that what you're *really* bitching about ... in a manner quite analogous to Mr Reppert's bitching about *his* taxes even as he applauds additional taxes for other citizens ... is that your insurance company isn’t giving you a free lunch."

Not at all. I fully expect to pay for my health insurance. The only question is who gets paid. Personally, in absolute dollar terms, I now pay about $1000 per year in premiums, while five years ago, I paid about $300 per year. As a percentage of my income, there has been a 2.5-fold increase in my premiums in just five years (I know 2.5 X 300 doesn't equal 1000 - my salary has also increased over the last five years.) I don't know exactly how much my employer pays, but I'm guessing it's many thousands of dollars, and I'm guessing that the percentage increases have been quite dramatic.

Obviously, I'm going to be paying someone, and regardless of what happens, I expect to pay an increasing percentage of my income in health care premiums or taxes. As with everything else in life, if you want more, you have to pay more. But I don't see much evidence that paying the insurance companies will result in better health care for me and for most Americans than paying the government.

(And for the record, I wish that Bush had raised my taxes to pay for the wars in Iran and Afganistan).

""Argue" with someone who can deny what's right in front of his face?"

I don't get it. What am I denying? Are you saying that Obama doesn't have the best interests of the American people at heart? You think he's doing this because he knows it will hurt the country and/or American citizens? Is there evidence of this?

"So, you’re saying that Obama is a moron?" "So, are the “liberals” stupid, or are they wicked?"

Ah, so now I see why you didn't have any problems with the boys at Triablogue. I understand that you have a different view, but I'm not sure that it's necessarily true that those who disagree with you are morons, stupid or wicked.

Steve said...

One final point...

"Is your insurance company *forcing* you, upon pain of violence and/or death, to purchase their product?"

No, but there is no economically sensible or reasonably priced alternative at this time. And if I tried to go without health insurance, then one could quite accurately describe me as a "moron".

unkle e said...

Anonymous said: "Apparently, being an ass is acceptable so long as you pick on the minority. You would have made a fantastic klansman. You've been exposed as a fraud. I'd rather have a conversation with a Calvinazi who is concerned about truth rather than a hypocritical wind bag who can't manage to live according to his mores. Run along and play agnostic, caring more about the conversation than finding truth."

Are you proud of that invective? Do you think it represents the mind of Jesus? Do you think it did anything to advance thoughtful discussion or to convince your hearers?

Can I plead with you, in the name of Jesus, to think again? Thank you.

unkle e said...

Ilion said: "But E! Walter appears to be a fool, and you certainly are; though in slightly different ways."

Ah, Ilion! We have come back around the circle again.

Twice I have presented to you (and once to anonymous) a summary of NT teaching on our behaviour in conversation with others and asked you to explain how you can justify your behaviour, and twice you have not done so (neither has Anonymous, so far).

I have therefore formed the hypothesis that (1) you are unable to justify your behaviour against the NT commands, and (2) you are unwilling to repent and submit to God on this matter. It is only a provisional hypothesis, and I am still collecting data.

So I invite you again, to explain how you justify insulting behaviour in the light of those NT commands.

As for me, if trying in my own imperfect way to obey those commands makes me a "fool", then I'll willingly choose "foolishness" over nastiness.

I look forward to a reply which explains rather than insults. God bless you.

Victor Reppert said...

Ilion: VR: "The Triabloggers can start by showing anywhere in my recent posts where I have advocated Obamacare. I'm not sure if anyone can tell me what Obamacare is."

But you advocated for Obama (and it was clear all along that he does not have America's best interests at heart). And, more importantly, continuously advocate for leftism. And worse, you conflate that leftism with Christianity.

"Hillarycare," "Obamacare," it's all the same ... the *point* it to expand the government and make serfs and subjects of the erstwhile free citizens.

I supported Obama's election. I don't conflate leftism with Christianity, although some concerns the Left has are concerns that Christians should have. We should be concerned about the poor, the debate is over whether we shoot ourselves in the foot by enlisting the government to be involved, and how involved the government should be. Apparently you don't think the public school system should be dismantled. Or do you? That's a socialistic instituion, in that it distributes education in accordance with need to all, regardless of the ability to pay, and taxes the populace in order to get it done. In fact, that's a single payer program, something not even Obama is advocating when it comes to health care.

My objection to the T-bloggers was that they presumed that I had made an argument for Obamacare when I had made none, and then implied that it was a bad argument that earned me the title of charlatan (their weaseling attempts to deny this are simply absurd-if you put up two pieces, one by me and one by Vallicella attacking health reform, and say one of them is a charlatan, I guarantee you it won't be Vallicella). I may believe that something like health care reform ought to take place, but you can't read my mind and attack me for inadequately arguing for something I didn't argue for. Just as, nowadays, if I make an observation about Calvinism, but I am not arguing against Calvinism, I now have to say this is not an argument against Calvinism or there will be a post on you-know-where refuting my supposed (and failed) attack on Calvinism.

I've seen this elsewhere, and I call it the agenda fallacy. If you think I have a Christian agenda, and I produce an argument for objective moral values, atheists will present arguments against a Bible-based moral code as an argument against what I have said. This in spite of the fact that C. S. Lewis wrote an entire book defending moral objectivity, The Abolition of Man, that made not one single, solitary, theological appeal.

The Agenda Fallacy goes like this.

S has defended something along the lines of P in the past, or we have good reason to suppose that S believes that P.

S makes a statement relevant to P.

Therefore, S's remarks should be treated as an argument for P.

No. Maybe S has something else in mind. Or maybe S is attempting to rebut some misguided efforts to defend not-P. That is different from actually arguing that P is true.

Vince said...

I realize that this blog is about philosophical musings from a Christian viewpoint

___________________
Vince
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