Monday, May 19, 2008

No clue?

I had asked: "Could it not be rational for a person to say that they have more reason to believe that a predestinating God would not be good than to believe that Scritpure teaches predestination even if, upon the study of the Scripture, they discover that, so far as the biblical evidence is concerned, it is more likely than not that Scripture teaches predestination."

Now here you have to notice that I couched the question by saying that if it is more likely than not that Scripture teaches predestination. I did not say "beyond reasonable doubt," to use a Chisholmian expression.

Steve Hays replied: Victor Reppert really has no clue about what it means to be a Christian. A Christian is a follower. He doesn’t call the shots. God takes him by the hand and leads him.

Now I think God sometimes takes us by the hand, I think in some cases God expects us to take intiative. The Triabloggers are claiming that an adequate sense of what it is to be Christ's disciple means that I must believe what I think is most likely to be Scripture's teaching based on biblical evidence alone, regardless of what any other sources of knowledge might provide. What is in my way, they suggest, is my arrogant refusal to humble myself. They haven't quite said that I am not a Christian, but they have suggested that my devotion to Christ is massively deficient.

Well, if you want to make that charge against me, there are a couple of other defendants who must be put in the dock with me. How about C. S. Lewis.

"... believing in a God whom we cannot but regard as evil, and then, in
mere terrified flattery calling Him 'good' and worshipping him is a still
greater danger... The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the
goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of scripture is to prevail when
they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more
certain of the two. Indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of
Him obligatory or even permissible."
[C. S. Lewis, in letter to John Beversluis]

I wonder what Jack would have said if the he had received the same lecture that I received. A few years back, when I linked to a Calvinist who had argued that Lewis wasn't really a Christian, and quoted Van Til to the same effect, they backed away from those Calvinists post haste. I don't even have to say that Lewis has things right here, all I am trying to show is that if I am an inadequate Christian for refusing to write biblical exegesis a blank check, then so is C. S. Lewis. Do you want to say that C. S. Lewis has no clue about what it means to be a Christian. Be my guest.

Or how about this from John Wesley;

This is the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination! And here I fix my foot. On this I join issue with every assertor of it. You represent God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust. But you say you will prove it by scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it never proved this; whatever its true meaning be. This cannot be its true meaning. Do you ask, "What is its true meaning then?" If I say, " I know not," you have gained nothing; for there are many scriptures the true sense whereof neither you nor I shall know till death is swallowed up in victory. But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense, than to say it had such a sense as this. It cannot mean, whatever it mean besides, that the God of truth is a liar. Let it mean what it will, it cannot mean that the Judge of all the world is unjust. No scripture can mean that God is not love, or that his mercy is not over all his works; that is, whatever it prove beside, no scripture can prove predestination.

OK. Want to say that John Wesley has no clue about what it means to be a Christian? I know you think he's wrong, but does he have no clue about what it means to be a Christian? Go ahead. Make my day.


Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

For what it's worth, I don't hesitate to affirm that neither Lewis nor Wesley had a clue what Christianity was, in this regard. I haven't read Wesley, but Lewis was simply a terrible theologian. He did much for the faith, but whether or not he was a Christian by any measure of doctrine (and that is what defines Christianity, Victor), I simply would not be willing to wager.


havoc said...

I don't get these people. I consider my self a "mostly" Calvinist. I mean, he immersed himself in scripture, loved God, sought truth, and did great work. The same can be said of Lewis, Wesley, Luther, ad. infinitum!

I mean, I'm pretty sure I've got some things wrong. I'm pretty sure those mentioned above got some things wrong. I'm pretty sure that my brother Victor Reppert has some things wrong.

I'm willing to listen/read what Victor has to say and consider that the disagreements we have indicate that there are some things that I really need to struggle and deal with. When we disagree, it doesn't mean that I'm wrong. It doesn't mean that you're right. It's doesn't mean that either one of us is necessarily even in the ball park!

I'm going to keep working on my salvation. I'm going to keep reading the work of good, serious, clear thinkers like VR. I'm going to keep testing the things he challenges in my always-developing theology. It's not the people I disagree with that make me worry about their salvation, it's the ones who are the quickest to throw stones that worry me.

Anonymous said...

Triablogue can make good arguments, and so can you. Personally, I don't think the "but these guys said this and they are Christians" argument holds much weight, but I think this debate has run its course anyways.

Maybe both sites should get back to what you do best...critiquing atheism and offering and refining arguments for God.

Error said...

philip m said...

Have you guys ever wondered when we are resurrected in the new earth whether we will even know whose theology was right.

Anonymous said...

Vic, as one human being to another it pains me to see you wallow in the mire with the disrespecting people over at Triablogue.

Victor Reppert said...

The statement I am talking about is "Reppert has no clue what it means to be a Christian." The kind of statement that aroused this response is precisely the kinds of claims made in the two passages above, one from Lewis and one from Wesley. Hence, if you make that charge against my, you have to make it against those two illustrious forbears of mine. The statement goes beyond attributing a theological error. It says I have no idea what it is to be a Christian.

In fairness to Paul, he is right in supposing that I shouldn't lump the Triabloggers together. He didn't say it, Steve did.