Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Reformed Defense of Infant Damnation

Well, it does defuse an argument for a woman's right to choose.

29 comments:

Randy Olds said...

I wrote about this subject a few months ago on my blog,although I didn't put anywhere near as much thought into it as this guy obviously did.

You can read my initial thoughts on the subject at http://randyolds.blogspot.com/2009/08/calvinism-sends-babies-to-hell.html

When David's baby died, he stopped mourning because he knew that he would see the child again in Heaven. The author tries to state that David simply believed that when he died he would go back to dust and be with his child "in the grave", so to speak.

It is clear from reading the Davidic Psalms that David believed in some form of an afterlife, so for the author to state that David quit mourning simply because he knew that he would return to the dirt to be with his child in a state of everlasting non-existence is, at least in my mind, ludicrous.

David cleans up, goes to get lunch and then goes and has sex with his wife after his baby dies. Clearly not the actions of a man who believes that his beloved child has simply just returned to the dust. Not those of "a man after God's own heart" anyway. Except, I suppose if you view God's heart the way that some (not all) Calvinists do.

This article does provide an interesting viewpoint into the minds of at least some Calvinist's that is, to say the least, very troubling.

terri said...

The actual text only says the obvious...that the child was dead and cannot return to David, but David will one day die like the child. Nothing more. The words ‘I shall go’ (halak) mean just that – but can bear the meaning of dying or departing. (It is similar to yalak, which can also bear the idea of dying). This is what the whole context is saying – whilst the child is incapable of being alive, David will eventually die and be in a like state. To make it mean the child was taken to heaven is an extrapolation. It is also a denial of the very core of Biblical teaching on salvation.

I actually agree with this interpretation except for what I have put in bold.

The Old Testament does not have really any references to an active, conscious after-life. We don't even get the concept of a future resurrection until we get to Daniel.

Where this person's article goes wrong is in the assumption that souls are perceived as immortal in early Judaism and that "hell" represents eternal conscious torment.

If we put ourselves in the shoes of Jewish thought at the time this was written, those two concepts are theologically absent. This author is reading his dualistic Calvinism into the passage.....and, as usual, it leads to a horrifying portrayal of God.

No surprise there.

steve said...

Victor,

Keep in mind that the rationale for infant baptism throughout most of church history involved the assumption that everyone was born into a state of original sin, and therefore lost unless the application of the sacraments would induce a state of grace. Therefore, baptism should be applied to babies in case they die in infancy. Unbaptized babies go to hell.

That's not my own theology of baptism, but the idea of infant damnation is implicit or explicit many non-Calvinist traditions.

Victor Reppert said...

That is quite correct; this was a position taken by many Catholics historically.

kbrowne said...

Well, the Catholic church wriggled out of the horrible idea that unbaptised babies go to Hell by coming up with Limbo, a place of 'perfect natural happiness' on the edge of Hell.

Perhaps Limbo could solve the problem for Calvinists as well.

Smokering said...

I don't see that the "horribilaty" of the doctrine is relevant. The question is, s it true? Neither the comments on this thread nor the OP debunked the arguments of the article. "Look, how ghastly" isn't an argument.

I tend towards the belief of universal infant damnation myself. Not because I'm a sadistic monster who wants to believe it - I have a 19-month-old baby, so obviously I'd rather believe she'd go to heaven if she died before the age of reason (whenever that is!) - but because that's the conclusion to which Scripture takes me. Salvation is through by grace through faith; babies don't have faith, as far as we can determine; therefore, as far as we can determine, babies don't have salvation. If there's another mechanism for salvation Scripture is silent on it, which means building a case for it is tenuous at best.

As for David, I tend to agree that he was speaking of a generic Sheol as per the somewhat fuzzy OT view of the afterlife. Even if he was speaking of heaven, however, it doesn't follow that he was right. Scripture records, not endorses, David's beliefs about the matter.

Edward T. Babinski said...

The Jews read their Scriptures and see that humans have always been given CHOICES, the O.T. is NOT about being damned from birth.

The apostle Paul's nonsensical misinterpretations to the contrary, you can't prove "original sin" to a Jew. They don't believe in it. The story of Adam and Eve is about an expulsion from the garden, not about some indelible metaphysical stain on the human soul.

Smokering said...

I'm not sure how that's relevant. It begs the question in favour of Judaism to call Paul's writings misinterpretations; but in any case, I'm not trying to prove original sin to a Jew but asking Victor and the other commenters to back up their horror at the idea of universal infant damnation with arguments demonstrating it to be false.

Victor Reppert said...

The question has to do with whether we have an understanding of goodness that allows us to view suffering as a problem. Of course, infants are deemed innocent, then God doesn't have an moral motive to inflict suffering as well as a moral motive to alleviate suffering. However, if federal theory is accepted, along with a Reformed understanding of God's moral motivation to punish sin, then even an infant is under the federal headship of Adam and therefore God has a moral motivation to inflict suffering on the infant based on his justice, just as he has a moral motivation to alleviate suffering based on his mercy, and it's up for grabs whether he is just or merciful. Exactly the same situation obtains with infant reprobation as adult reprobation, and the only difference is that in the case of adult reproations, we have people who are visibly sinful, while in the case of infant reprobations, there is an appearance of the innocence of the victims. However, on the assumption that we can deserve punishment in virtue of our descent from Adam, this appearance is illusory, and there is no relevant difference between the two cases.

In ordinary human contexts, moral goodness/righteousness/holiness is centered around, among other things, the minimization of the suffering of others. On the Reformed conception of goodness, this is a contingent fact about human beings in virtue of the kinds of social relations in which we find outselves. The Calvinistic response to the problem of evil maintains that this requirement for God to minimize suffering, either in the short run or in the long run, is a function of extrapolating the conception of human goodness, which is defined in terms of God's commands to us, to God himself, thus collapsing the creator-creature distinction and requiring God to minimize suffering.

That is why I have been arguing that the Calvinistic claim with respect to the problem of evil is to eliminate it, and this is done by rendering it a pseudoproblem. What the Calvinist claims is that God has a moral reason to inflict suffering as well as to alleviate it, therefore the amount and distribution of suffering does not count against theism one iota.

Smokering said...

OK, I can pretty much get behind your description of Calvinist theodicy; but what of it? Obviously you're not a Calvinist, and it seems you find the idea of universal infant damnation objectionable; but what's *wrong* with the Calvinist theodicy you presented?

Victor Reppert said...

That turns on two lines of thought. One line concerns the proper interpretation of biblical passages, and the exegetical arguments for and against Calvinism. The other issue has to do with natural moral knowledge. The Calvinist has to say not merely that our conduct is sinful, but that our natural understanding of what is right and wrong is so badly tainted by sin that what we would ordinarily think of as bad really good if it is claimed that God has done it. By making the claim that God primary praiseworthy characteristic is holiness rather than goodness, and saying that strongly actualizing a world in which people sin and then punishing them eternally because of those sins is really just great because it satisfies some divine need for "glory" strikes me as irrational. If we can dismiss any idea that there are some actions that would render God bad if (per impossible if God is necessarily morally perfect) God were to do them, then the concept of God's goodness doesn't tell us anything about what we can expect God to do. With this conception of divine goodness, it could turn out that the whole redemption of Christ is a great divine fraud to make it look as if we are going to be saved, when in fact it is part of God's plan to make us more miserable in hell, since we hoped for heaven but didn't get what we hoped for. But, "Who are you, o man, to answer back to God? You deserved to go to hell anyway, so what was wrong with God's making you think you were going to be graciously saved only to be damned at the last judgment?" In short, I don't think the Calvinistic conception of divine goodness holds together. "God is good" just means "God is gronk." Without a continuity between ordinary concepts of goodness and God's goodness, as C. S. Lewis puts it, it effectively sponges God off the slate.

But this is an old debate.

Smokering said...

I disagree. How do Calvinists get their conception of God as good-but-holy-and-wrathful-etc? From Scripture. (You might argue a misinterpretation of Scripture, but that's not relevant for the moment.) If Scripture is the bsseline for what we believe about God's character, it follows we ought to trust what it says. So it in no way follows that a Calvinist must be wary that God made the whole salvation thing up; such a Calvinist would be denying Scripture. A God who does not abide by the moral rules he gives to humans is one thing (any why should He?); He can be deduced from Scripture. A God who makes Scripture a lie is one we can't know about at all, which is quite a different matter.

But in any case, Arminianism still poses the problem of God actualising a world in which people sin and then punishing them for their sins; so what of that? And can you explain an alternative salvation-mechanism by which babies can or must be saved?

I'm also curious to know if your moral sense really functions so that you believe an action is equally wrong whether God or man does it. I find that totally counterintuitive. If God creates a storm that results in people dying, do you view this similarly to how you would view an artificial storm created by scientists for the purposes of killing people? Do you feel God giving a man cancer is as evil as a person deliberately giving another cancer? If God causes a man to lose his crops by fire, is that as bad as me deliberately setting fire to his fields? Or do you not believe that God causes such things? Because my "natural moral knowledge" doesn't have a problem with God doing those things (and I'm fairly sure I'm not a sociopath, for the record...). As you say, I'm a Calvinist, so I believe our natural moral knowledge is fallen - it's possible mine could be wrong and yours right. But in that case, the only way to be sure is to go to Scripture, where we find God taking direct credit for causing all sorts of unpleasant events.

Victor Reppert said...

It's a matter of degree, and the kind of account that we are prepared to give with respect to the differences between God's obligations and ours. We have to track a difference in situation between God and ourselves, and with respect to many evils we can see God bringing them about in order that a better good may come that is at least potentially a good for all.

In order to preserve continuity of meaning between the conception of good as it is applied to humans and that which we apply to God, we have to at least potentially be able to explain the differences when they arise. When we completely disregard the interests of someone, and use them as a means to bring about some purpose of ours, completely at their expense, we call it using them, and we do not approve of it.

But if we have to simply submit to an authority here, there are plenty of them available, even within the Christian community. The Roman Catholic magisterium is out there, or the Patriarchs of the Orthodox tradition.

Smokering said...

I'm not quite sure what you mean - that submitting to a Magisterium-type authority is the only way to correct determine whether our natural moral inclinations/interpretations of Scripture are correct?

I'm not sure it's necessary or even possible that there be complete continuity between goodness-for-God and goodness-for-us. The difference between God and ourselves IS of kind, not just degree, which really makes analogy extremely fraught - we have to start saying things like "Well, IF I were omnipotent and had created the other guy from nothing", which renders the whole thing somewhat meaningless. Now, clearly there is some overlap - a good deal of overlap - between the two definitions of goodness, which is probably what we'd expect. Mercy is good for God and for us; wrath, in the right context, is good for God and for us; love is good for God and for us. But just because some overlap exists need not imply complete overlap must; it's not like the Bible isn't transparent about the semantic range of the word "good".

As for God disregarding the interests of someone, I don't see how that's a problem. Scripture states He has a "higher cause" for doing everything He does, which is not just His own glory (although that would be good enough) but also the good of the elect. And the "someones" whose interests God disregards are culpable. There are circumstances in which it is moral for humans to disregard the interests of culpable parties in order to bring greater good to themselves and others, so there's room for continuity of sorts there. But as I said, ditching Calvinism doesn't solve the problem in any case. Under an Arminian theology God still chose to create those He knew would end up in Hell, thereby dooming them to it; and His reason for creating them was presumably also for His good or the good of the elect (as it would be slightly insane to say He did it for THEIR own good, what with being hellbound and all). So I don't see how an Arminian God is less upsetting to natural moral intuition than the Calvinist version.

terri said...

Smokering,

I disagree. How do Calvinists get their conception of God as good-but-holy-and-wrathful-etc? From Scripture. (You might argue a misinterpretation of Scripture, but that's not relevant for the moment.)

'scuse me?

Please explain to me how a theological concept's truthfulness is not directly tied to the correct interpretation of Scripture. It's totally relevant to the conversation. In fact, it is one of the few things relevant to the conversation.

This is shown in your comment about David:

As for David, I tend to agree that he was speaking of a generic Sheol as per the somewhat fuzzy OT view of the afterlife. Even if he was speaking of heaven, however, it doesn't follow that he was right. Scripture records, not endorses, David's beliefs about the matter.

So in other words...it doesn't really matter what David said or believed, or that it is written without any corrective in the text......what matters is how someone interprets it.

Highly relevant.

Smokering said...

It's not relevant to the point I was making, which is that if Scripture is the basis for beliefs about the nature of God, worrying that God's description of salvation in said Scripture was a lie would be illogical, undermining the very basis for a Calvinist's faith. The point is that Scripture is used as the basis for the Calvinist belief about God - whether or not Calvinist misinterpret the Scripture, as Victor presumably thinks we do, is not germane to that point. If Victor wants us to believe that God may have made the whole salvation thing up, he must therefore appeal to Scripture and not skepticism.

"So in other words...it doesn't really matter what David said or believed, or that it is written without any corrective in the text......what matters is how someone interprets it."
One could argue that the rest of the Bible's teachings on the afterlife were a "corrective". In any case, is it so bizarre to claim that the Bible does not endorse everything it records? Not every evil deed or theological misunderstanding in the Bible is appended with "and this was evil in the sight of the Lord", much less (for obvious reasons) "but Abraham suffered from the Curse of Progressive Revelation and thus did not fully understand the things that had been said to him". The Bible does not make any explicit comment on the morals of Naomi's sons marrying outside their tribe and faith, but we know elsewhere from Scripture that they should not have done so. Theologians believe that Eve's comment about "I have brought forth a man" meant she thought she had given birth to the Messiah; if so, her wrongness is not commented upon in Scripture directly, but simply proven false by following events.

terri said...

The point is that what David said is indicative of what was generally believed.

You are correct that the Bible does not endorse everything it records.....but this is not the recording of an objectionable action....or any action.

It's a window into what David, a man said to be "after God's own heart", believed.....and not only what he believed, but what was commonly believed about death.

Smokering said...

terri: Sure. It was also generally believed in David's time that the Messiah would be a human political figure, not the Son of God. David, a "man after God's own heart", presumably believed this along with the rest of the Jewish race.

That this was incorrect was proven by later Scriptural assertion that Jesus was the Messiah.

Same deal with David's baby. IF you take his statement to refer to the baby being in heaven (and I don't - the general Sheol-concept mentioned in the OP makes more historic sense), the fact that David was a man after God's own heart in no way nullifies later Scriptures that declare that salvation is by grace through faith - something David's baby did not possess. Being "after God's own heart" does not mean "theologically infallible" or "privy to special revelations" - it means that David tried, with some notable exceptions, to follow God and had attributes God cherished.

terri said...

Smokering

I don't disagree that there is a certain amount of progressive revelation. That's not really what I am getting at.

My larger point is that the idea of whether an infant is "saved " or "in heaven" is an anachronism being read into the text.

To even discuss the question with any seriousness requires several presuppositions.....presuppositions which I think are based not so much on what Scripture actually says and expresses and what it was intended to say.....but on what is being read into it.

Presupposition 1---an infant is actually "guilty" before God.

Presupposition 2---There is a conscious, eternal hell which God would send an infant to.

Presupposition 3---Our sense of "good" is radically different from God's....so much so that our shock at the idea of an infant being tortured in hell for billions of years can't be trusted.

Those are just a few.

Smokering said...

Presupposition 1: OK, let's examine that. What do you think is wrong with the assertion that infants are intrinsically guilty before God? Do you dispute federal headship? Whence then do you think sin comes from?

Presupposition 2: Again, OK, let's discuss that. Your Scriptural objections to the idea of hell as conscious and eternal?

Presupposition 3: I disagree with your characterisation here. "Billions of years" is inaccurate for one thing, technically; hell is eternal. But for another, "tortured" isn't a necessary component of hell. Calvinists believe that the degree of punishment in hell is related to the sins committed on earth, just as the degree of reward in heaven is related to works done on earth. So an infant, having (presumably) committed no sins, would endure far less than, say, Hitler.

More fundamentally, you don't speak for all Christians when you speak of "our" horror at God sending infants to hell. As I've already said, I don't have that horror. I figure God has His reasons, doesn't owe babies anything and can do as He pleases. Do I *like* the idea of babies in hell? No, but I don't particularly like the idea of most people being in hell (I confess there are a few I can't summon up much sympathy for - Hitler, anyone?), and I recognise that a) being more upset about cute squishy babies than old warty men being in hell is hardly rational or particularly praiseworthy, and b) God isn't obliged to order His creation to my liking. If I did have a moral problem with it I'd add c) my moral intuitions are to come from Scripture, d) my moral intuitions are fallen and therefore *not* 100% reliable, and e) God is not bound by the rules He gives to humans.

terri said...

But for another, "tortured" isn't a necessary component of hell. Calvinists believe that the degree of punishment in hell is related to the sins committed on earth, just as the degree of reward in heaven is related to works done on earth. So an infant, having (presumably) committed no sins, would endure far less than, say, Hitler.

Really? Catholics considered infants who died unbaptized as living on the edges of hell with no real suffering or knowledge that they had been excluded from God's presence. That's a nice theory....but would such a place really be considered "hell" in its traditional sense?

How much punishment does an infant require to make up for its original sin? To what degree will its suffering be different from an adult?

These are equivocations. You can press the distinctions.....but really all you wind up doing is creating a section of hell which isn't really all that bad anyway. Thus, should it even be called hell?

Or you have to defend the absurdity of infants eternally suffering to appease God's wrath.....which must be really insatiable if it requires the millions upon millions of dead infants that have ever existed to cry out in misery forever.

That's what we're talking about......and what we need to be mindful of. It's so easy to talk about Heaven and Hell in abstract........but let's lay out the bare bones of what is really being described and proposed.

It caves in upon itself from the sheer absurdity of it all.

Ultimately I think most of Calvinism's propositions cave in upon themselves. They are self-defeating propositions.

We can't trust our consciences because we are so screwed up......but we are supposed to trust them enough to know that we can't trust them? How do you trust that anything you know is right...or good...or honorable?

People can have false faith which makes them think they are elect....but they're really not? Then how can anyone know whether their faith is true?

Calvinism is loaded down with these types of circular arguments and mental games.

Smokering said...

What Catholics believe about hell is not something I'd care to defend or discuss. I'm Protestant; my views about the afterlife come from extremely different propositions. But as for the definition of "hell", if Scripture indicates that parts of it are less grisly than popular culture would have us believe, what of it? The definition should then be expanded to cover what hell actually is according to the Bible.

Using the term "absurd" to describe the doctrine of universal infant damnation is a slur, not an argument. Show me the logical absurdity of the position.

"We can't trust our consciences because we are so screwed up......but we are supposed to trust them enough to know that we can't trust them?"
No... we're supposed to trust Scripture enough to know that insofar our consciences are in accord with Scripture they are generally reliable.

"How do you trust that anything you know is right...or good...or honorable?"
By Scripture.

"People can have false faith which makes them think they are elect....but they're really not? Then how can anyone know whether their faith is true?"
By Scripture. You're arguing as if we don't have the Bible. Calvinism is not based on feelings and intuitions and hunches; it's based on Scripture. You seem to be arguing as if Scripture is more airy-fairy and unreliable than your own feelings!

terri said...

OK.....I'm glad we got that out of the way.

So...Scripture is behind the belief of infant damnation, according to you.

Please show me these scriptures. Please refer me to these specific scriptures. Please present an argument from Scripture itself, and not from secondary theories based on attempts to interpret Scripture according to a Calvinist mindset.

You will not find it. You simply won't. You can't. Because it's not there.

Any theology about what happens to dead infants is pure speculation from a Scriptural point of view.

You have already argued that it doesn't matter that what biblical characters, in Scripture, believed. It's irrelevant, you say. That wipes out the Old Testament completely as far as providing any frame of reference or background to the New Testament.

Though you say you have a high regard for Scripture, you have just wiped out more than half of it as being irrelevant to a discussion about life, death, and the afterlife.

Moving on to the New Testament, you would be hard-pressed to find any specific doctrine of hell as a place of conscious, eternal torment.

I don't want to reiterate the things I have already stated on the "Worshipping Mary" thread about the lack of references to conscious eternal torment. If you are interested you can go that thread and read them.

Consider the fact that Paul, the largest single contributor to our New Testament doesn't go into any detail about hell...none.....nada...not a single shred. He'll wax on about resurrection, or family life, or church governance.....but he manages to forget about warning people that they might suffer endlessly in hell? You'd think that even a sentence or two would make into at least one of his letters.

But it doesn't. I am sure there are all sorts of imaginative ways to explain that......but the easiest one is that it simply wasn't a part of his theology.

It

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Please show me these scriptures. Please refer me to these specific scriptures.

As has already been pointed out, Scripture does not explicitly address the question of infant damnation. So we have to rely on the deliverances of reason.

Please present an argument from Scripture itself, and not from secondary theories based on attempts to interpret Scripture according to a Calvinist mindset.

Sure. You know what inherited (aka original) sin is, right? The doctrine that man has a sin nature such that he is inclined to evil rather than good (Rom 5:18). He is thus justly under God's wrath, and condemned as a sinner, even if he has never sinned. This is one of the most orthodox doctrines you could ask for. To deny it would make you a Pelagian or a semi-Pelagian—some of the oldest heretics around. It's certainly not a secondary theory based on attempts to interpret Scripture according to a Calvinistic mindset. So:

P1. From conception, all people are unjustified sinners (from the doctrine of inherited sin).
P2. All unjustified sinners will suffer eternally in hell; therefore
C1. All unjustified infants will suffer eternally in hell.

P3. Faith is a necessary condition for justification (from Rom 5:1).
P4. No infants have faith (by definition); therefore
C2. No infants are justified; therefore
C3. All infants will suffer eternally in hell.

You will not find it. You simply won't. You can't. Because it's not there.

Oh wait, yes it is!

Any theology about what happens to dead infants is pure speculation from a Scriptural point of view.

Sure—if any theology about, I dunno, say the Trinity is pure speculation from a scriptural point of view.

Moving on to the New Testament, you would be hard-pressed to find any specific doctrine of hell as a place of conscious, eternal torment.

Ah yes, you're that conditional immortality nutjob. Fortunately, the doctrine of hell is being presupposed for the purposes of this discussion. Suck it up.

Consider the fact that Paul, the largest single contributor to our New Testament doesn't go into any detail about hell...none.....nada...not a single shred. He'll wax on about resurrection, or family life, or church governance.....but he manages to forget about warning people that they might suffer endlessly in hell?

Lolzcopter, that argument from silence is pretty intimidating!

Smokering said...

Bnonn seems to have covered the basics, but I'll add a few thoughts:

The method of salvation is explicated in Romans 10:10; also Ephesians 2:8. As faith in the Bible is shown to be in part a rational and intellectual act, it follows that babies, who do not have the capacity to exercise reason, cannot have faith. Absent Scriptural evidence for an alternative means of salvation or hitherto unsuspected powers f rationality in infants, it follow that babies simply cannot believe what must be believed in order to be saved. This is a logical deduction from the text. Requiring a higher standard of proof is only justified if you have other strong Scriptural reasons (not personal reasons based on emotion) for believing in the salvation of infants; you have yet to present any. As it is, complaining that the text does not specifically say "babies go to hell" is simply ignoring logic. It's like arguing that Bertrand Russell went to heaven.
"Show me the passage that says Russell went to hell! The Bible doesn't say he does!"
"No, but Bertrand Russell doesn't meet the preconditions of salvation explicitly stated in Scripture."
"But it doesn't SAY he does!"

As for my point about the Bible not endorsing every point of view it records, you have missed it completely. Of course it doesn't mean throwing out the Old Testament - don't be absurd. There are plenty of instances in the Old Testament where a character's actions or beliefs are explicitly approved or condemned by God. Further, there are plenty of instances where a character's beliefs or actions are shown to be correct by later events or theological revelations. And if it comes to that, there are also plenty of cases in the New Testament in which a character's actions and opinions are not directly commented on by God. The authors of the Bible respected their readers enough to assume they could figure out "Jesus was possessed by a devil" was false from the surrounding context, without adding a tag saying "But this wasn't true".

Paul's silence on the subject of hell is a truly bizarre argument. Firstly, Paul was writing to Christians, not evangelising, so there was no reason hell would be the focus of his letters (any more than of the average sermon or study directed to Christians today). Secondly, so what if hell were only mentioned *once* by *one* New Testament author? Would that make it less than inspired by God?

terri said...

Fortunately, the doctrine of hell is being presupposed for the purposes of this discussion.

Presupposed....interesting because you've already conceded that the Old Testament doesn't presuppose it....and the New Testament doesn't address or seem to presuppose it.

So the question is who is doing the presupposing and why?

If you say an argument or presupposition comes from Scripture and then eliminate the fact that Scripture itself, and the figures in Scripture themselves, doesn't/don't presuppose it.....why exactly are we holding onto that presupposition?

"nutjob"...geez...you called me a name. Am I supposed to cry and run away now? Maybe concede to your superior intellect for finding such an intelligent way to discuss things?


I'm just as happy to be an annihilationist as a conditional immortalist....six of one, half-dozen of another.

But who is really the nutjob?...the one arguing for torment forever for the vast majority of people who have ever lived......not just billions upon billions of years.....but trillions...and then more....because God demands it because He is so wrathful, so bloodthirsty, so filled with anger...that it's the only way He'll be happy.

Or the person who notices that God's judgements, even in the Old Testament are limited in scope, only for 3 to 4 generations, while the righteous and their descendants are granted 1,000 generations of blessings?

An argument from silence is a weighty thing when you consider the numerous authors and the long period of time in which their works were written.

Sure. You know what inherited (aka original) sin is, right? The doctrine that man has a sin nature such that he is inclined to evil rather than good (Rom 5:18). He is thus justly under God's wrath, and condemned as a sinner, even if he has never sinned.

And what is the sin that people are sent to hell for? Lack of faith in God....which would imply that there was a choice in either having faith, or not having faith. Do infants have the ability to make a choice like that? What about the mentally retarded? The severely autistic? The severely brain-damaged?

None of these types of people have the ability to make any choice to have faith.

And what of Gentiles who know not the law and yet are a law unto themselves. Paul leaves the door wide open in supposing that people can "know" God outside of the strict confines of Judaism.

Your version of God is not a gracious God.....by any stretch of the imagination.

terri said...

Also...I assumed that Smokering and Bnonn were the same person...because the profiles linked to the same blog.

Am I mistaken? Are you using 2 different usernames to back up your own arguments?

Smokering said...

Nope. Husband and wife.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

But who is really the nutjob?...the one arguing for torment forever for the vast majority of people who have ever lived......not just billions upon billions of years.....but trillions...and then more....because God demands it because He is so wrathful, so bloodthirsty, so filled with anger...that it's the only way He'll be happy.

Since you're unable to even articulate the Christian view of hell, you plainly cannot disagree with it for considered or thoughtful reasons. You're also plainly incompetent to argue against it—so why would I bother responding?

And what is the sin that people are sent to hell for? Lack of faith in God...

So the doctrine of hell isn't the only thing you ineptly misrepresent. People are sent to hell for specific transgressions of God's moral precepts.

which would imply that there was a choice in either having faith, or not having faith.

It doesn't imply any such thing, even if it were accurate. An imperative does not imply an indicative.

And what of Gentiles who know not the law and yet are a law unto themselves. Paul leaves the door wide open in supposing that people can "know" God outside of the strict confines of Judaism.

He leaves the door wide open in supposing that people can know God's law in some sense outside of the strict confines of Judaism. He denies that anyone knows God whatsoever aside from faith.

Your version of God is not a gracious God.....by any stretch of the imagination.

Since you don't have a remotely accurate understanding of "my version of God", you aren't in the least qualified to comment.