Thursday, March 06, 2008

Dialogue Concerning the 10 Chief Theological Systems (An Allegory in 10 Scenes)

Scene 1 – A coffee shop. SIMPLICIO is ordering a decaf nonfat latte when his friends SALVIATI and SAGREDO arrive.

SIMPLICIO: Salviati, I challenge you on a mathematical point!

SALVIATI: (to SAGREDO) This will be interesting.

SIMPLICIO: The other night I read in the Oxford Annotated Book of Math Theorems that the + sign indicates addition.

SALVIATI: Yes, that is correct.

SIMPLICIO: Therefore, proper exegesis of the OABMT shows us that 1 + 1 = 11 after all.

SALVIATI: (with a sigh) That’s not how you do addition.

SIMPLICIO: You only say that because you’re importing Reformed Mathedology into the text. But if you don’t start with your philosophy, you’ll see that I’m correct.

SAGREDO: Simplicio seems to have a point. I mean, what’s to keep 1 + 1 from being 11? God could certainly make 1 + 1 into 11.

SALVIATI: No He can’t. Addition isn’t the combining of symbols; it’s combining of numbers represented by those symbols.

SIMPLICIO: Aha! See, you import your Reformed Mathedology even now! Eisegesis!

SALVIATI: No, it’s exegesis straight out of the OABMT, chapter 1. It states: “Addition came about from the counting of items. Items in one pile were combined with items of another pile, and the total of both piles was the sum.”

SIMPLICIO: But we’re not talking about addition, we’re talking about the + sign.

SALVIATI: Which you agreed indicates addition.

SIMPLICIO: That’s not true! Besides, 1 + 1 = 11. Just look at it. The common sense reading shows you I’m right.

SAGREDO: Indeed, it does appear that 1 + 1 could form 11. Couldn’t this be an indication of looking at it from the wrong angle? Perhaps you need to read it in binary.

SIMPLICIO: Yes! Binary, exactly right!

SALVIATI: 1 + 1 = 10 in binary.

SIMPLICIO: No, it’s 11.

SALVIATI: Look, there are rules for math and you’re violating them. One and one is two regardless of the base you use. Two is represented by the numeral 2 in base 10, and by the number 10 in binary.

SIMPLICIO: Oh, so now 2 = 10! I told you those Reformed Mathedologies are incoherent!

SALVIATI: You’re not listening to what I’m saying.

SIMPLICIO: Sure I am. You’re spouting a lot of gibberish.

BARISTA: Your coffee is ready, sir.

Scene 10 – Outside the coffee shop ten minutes later.

SAGREDO: Salviati, I must confess that Simplicio has brought up some interesting points. I think he is right.

SIMPLICIO: Thank you, Sagredo. This is how true mathematicians behave, you see. We are unified.

SALVIATI: Whether you’re unified or not, you’re violating the rules of math. You say that 1 + 1 = 11. How is this possible?

SIMPLICIO: I’ve already explained it.

SALVIATI: No, you’ve stated it.

SIMPLICIO: Common sense shows us. I already told you this.

SALVIATI: But you haven’t shown how it works from the rules of math.

SIMPLICIO: Everything is rules to you. Why can’t you just let go and let God?

SALVIATI: That doesn’t even make sense.

SIMPLICIO: You need to understand binary. God is binary.

SALVIATI: I thought he was a Trinity.

SIMPLICIO: That too. But that’s beside the point, because 1 + 1 = 11.

SALVIATI: Repeating yourself is no substitute for proof.

SIMPLICIO: Why are you so demanding of proof? Have faith.

SALVIATI: The OABMT itself gives us the rules. It’s not God-honoring faith to ignore what He has given us. And you’re ignoring the rules here.

SIMPLICIO: Look, would you agree that 2 + 2 = 22?

SALVIATI: No, it equals 4.

SIMPLICIO: In binary, I mean.

SALVIATI: Binary doesn’t have the numeral 2. It’s only 1s and 0s. The binary four is represented by 100.

SIMPLICIO: Sheesh, do you have to correct EVERY LITTLE THING?

SALVIATI: When it’s wrong, yes.

SIMPLICIO: This is why I’ve argued that Reformed Mathedology divides!

SALVIATI: Well, yes that how fractions came about.


SALVIATI: A little joke.

SIMPLICIO: So now you mock me. You’re showing real character there.

SALVIATI: Actually I’ve given up on trying to convince you reality is real. Jokes are all that you deserve now.

SAGREDO: Don’t you think that’s a little harsh, Salviati?

SALVIATI: What’s harsh is his lack of exegetical skills and the inability to reason. There are only 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary, and Simplicio.

SIMPLICIO: What’s that supposed to mean? Here I’ve presented my evidence and all you do is challenge little things. Why can’t I just make simple comments without having to defend every little thing?

SALVIATI: Um, you were the one who challenged me, remember?

SIMPLICIO: No I didn’t! I just made a simple comment and you have to pick it all apart. That’s so loving of you.

SALVIATI: Does your memory extend back further than 11 seconds?

SIMPLICIO: 1 + 1 = 11!

SALVIATI: Never mind.

SAGREDO: Salviati, I must object. You’re being overly mean here. This is completely uncalled for. In fact, I think the only thing you’re good for now is to be a contributor at Triablogue. As for me and Simplicio, farewell you Reformed meanie!


  1. would this argue that you can not disagree on something and seek unity at the same time?

    I realize this is not the point you were making but it was mentioned a couple of times.

    please explain further

  2. You have to realize that I'm spoofing the Arminian view here. I use their own catchphrases against them. And yes, Arminians have complained that Calvinists are too divisive, so that's why that's in there. I do not believe all divisions are bad; nor do I think that disagreements = disunity. But those statements weren't put in there to express my personal view, only to spoof certain other individuals.

    Which brings up the following clarification. If anyone thinks this was making fun of their own was.

  3. why? seriously, what is that about? I just don't get it. I am sorry to be "that guy", but who are you honoring by doing that. Isn't it time we cut all that out?

    disagreements are one thing..."spoofing" is another.

    division for the sake of conviction to what Christ has called you to is one thing, causing division through the act of "spoofing" instead of loving retorts is another.

    sorry, just not sure we are called to "make fun of peoples positions" to much at stake in my eyes

  4. Spoofing doesn't cause division. On top of that, you're not paying attention to the context here. I'm actually doing what the Arminians have asked me to do. They were the ones who were complaining that we T-bloggers were always responding with massive tomes to their every little error. So I gave them a short dialogue instead.

    You should be grateful.

    In any case, sarcasm and spoofs are used multiple times in Scripture. Do you think the Pharisees were glad when Christ spoofed their views and showed how they wouldn't help the man attacked by robbers, but the good Samaritan would? Do you think the prophets of Baal weren't spoofed when Elijah asked them if Baal was too busy taking a dump to hear their prayers? Do you think the Judiaizers were being mocked when Paul said they should go the whole way and emasculate themselves?

    In any case, I take your admonition to avoid satire and spoof as being divisive as your own satirical rebuke. You are being divisive toward me, after all. Surely, you had to be using irony because there's no way you would possibly be inconsistent...

  5. And since Jagis is apparently missing it, I should point out that people such as himself are represented by Sagredo in the allegory already.

  6. The Arminians over at arminianperspectives have a whol page of their saitiring of Calvinists:

    Will the same comments be left there, Jangis? Or must evey one play the 'you're mean' card on the Calvinist because the 'here's where you're wrong and I'll demonstrate it' card can't be played?

    You see, satire is only 'divisive' when the Calvinist does it.

    Mocking a position is only bad when teh Calvinist does it.

    Harsh words are only bad when the Calvinist does it.

    Anyone notice a pattern?

  7. Maybe salviati is using a primitive language like C and simplicio is using C++ and overloaded "+" to be concatenation. salviati needs to move into the 21th century and stop using primitive languages.

    Apart from that - yes pomos are annoying. Why doesn't salviati just say: "look, you would admit there are 2 different concepts: addition and string concatenation. Why do you feel that in this context string concatenation makes more sense? There are no double quotes around the ones." - that should settle the matter.

  8. there was and is no sarcasm in my posts. after sending my last post I worried that I was being too harsh with my rebuke.

    This medium does not lend to emotion well so you will have to take my word for it which I humbly ask you to do so.

    I will have to disagree with your assertion that spoofing does not cause division if your goal is to show the passion that Christ has given you towards His word. My own opinion is that I do not get from your spoof (or your last post) that your goal is to lovingly bring a fellow brother back from what I sincerly understand to be in your opinion an error in theology.

    I appreciate your pointing me to scripture as that is always my hope. Your examples of sarcasm in scripture confuse me though as the use of them in context was towards people who were not willing to submit themselves to Christ or except the good news that faith alone was enough. I do not believe the Arminian is making an argument against that.

    If truly in your heart you saw my post as an attempt to cause division and not to rebuke one towards a more God centered approach in discussing theological disagreements that I apologize. My frustration has shown through and affected the way that I have posted my comments, but I can assure you I was and am not using satire to make my point.

    I truly did not believe that you were coming from stance of one brother trying to lovingly correct another one's errors when you posted your last two posts but if I am incorrect I willingly would except that.

    I certainly am not trying to be inconsistent but acknowledge that in error I could have been although admittedly I did not fully understand you point in the last paragraph

    maybe in a different situation you would be able to see my sencerity and how I am striving to refocus us on what I believe to be how God would more closely desire for us to behave towards one another.

  9. Mr Manata,

    I originally came to your blog to be enriched by the information not to act as a intaganist (sp) or to rebuke your ideas (which please note I have not do so). I hope you don't think I am here for that reason.

    If I am on another blog that is using the same methods I probably will make the same points if so convicted.

    Even if others are doing it, can't we be above it? I am not avoiding making any points because I have not claimed to represent either side. I simply am looing to better understand Christ and to fellowship with brothers and sisters which is why when I read these things it saddens me.

  10. Why do you think one needs to be "above" satire in the first place?

    See the problem I have with your objection is that I don't think satire is inheritely wrong in the first place. Spoofing isn't immoral. It's simply another way of communication.

    In fact, I use it as a teaching tool. Different people get different things. Most Calvinists, for example, understand how to exegete and form valid conclusions. Arminians lack this ability, and therefore I provide them with something they won't have to exegete.

    BTW, when Paul pointed out that the Kangaroo does this too, he wasn't doing it as a "We can be just as bad as they are." He was simply asking if you were consistent. I'm sure Paul agrees that there's nothing wrong with satire at all.

    What would be wrong is if the marsupial and the Daux Daux bird took offense at my satire when they employ satire themselves.

    As it is, I think most of us here are adults and recognize satire is a genre of literature that is perfectly acceptable for reasonable adults to use. Thus, being offended because someone was satirical is itself the deviant position. In other words, I would ask you to demonstrate that satire is inherently wrong because I don't buy your bare assertion that it is.

  11. Thun said:
    Maybe salviati is using a primitive language like C and simplicio is using C++ and overloaded "+" to be concatenation. salviati needs to move into the 21th century and stop using primitive languages.

    Aside from the fact that critiquing an allegory is excessive, Simplicio is the one who said it was a "mathematical point" and therefore had nothing to do with C++. :-P

  12. I would agree that satire is not is inherently wrong unless its intent demean another person.

    If I think about it a little more I think I would be able to see how you could use spoofing as an instructional tool.

    Peter ultimately this issue will be between you and our Lord as to whether or not your heart is pure in your attempt to show the differences in beliefs betweens Calvanists and Arminians.

    My argument at the end of the day is we should be Holy because God is Holy. We should correct some one with the goal to bring the into a proper understanding of who Christ is and if our method gets in the way of our purpose I would argue that yes it is indeed divisive and more importantly ineffective.

    I guess I would ask you if you and Ben were sitting in a room discussing this with Christ would you be willing to say these same things to Ben or me for that matter?

    I don't know Ben but I know me, and I know my heart, and I know that I would love to learn more about your beliefs Peter and how you and Paul get to them.

    I humbly believe that you have gotten side tracked with trying to make people look lesser than you at least when I read your replies back to me that is the impression I get that you are trying to do to me, and I can't believe at the end of the day you would be proud to admit that to me or God.

    I do not believe what I have brought up warrants defensivness, but I feel that is what it has caused.

    I am an adult, I admit that I am a sensitive man in some respect but I know that it is that trait that draws me lovingly to God. I don't think it makes me less of a man by asking for sivility.

  13. Jagis,

    My comment was meant generally and used your comments as a spring board.

    I hope you realize that I have treated you congenially. I have taken you to ask sincere questions. So, the Arminian must answer why I can treat you one way and them another. Their behavior and attitude begets their harsher treatment. Our palpably respectful discussions serve to show we don't treat all Arminians the same.

    Same with atheists, and even some heretics for that matter.

    I fear the above mentioned people get upset because not only do we excel in the reason giving game, when we play their smack-talk game, we ecel there too.

  14. Paul,

    I guess to an extent I can understand that. Maybe my confusion lies in a fundamental misunderstanding.

    I read these posts with the belief that there is sincere attempts on both sides to understand each other for the sake of unity and honoring the same God. I have thought that people were attempting to look at these issues from a biblical stand point in the hopes at better understanding Christ and how we relate with Him.

    If that is not what was happening I can understand why I have misunderstood the posts and I do not mean that sarcastically at all.

    I do hope at some point that a civil discussion could take place with both sides so believers like me would be able to here adequate representations of what both believe and why.

    That is not to say I do not have a view point on this issue but I have been trying to come at it with an open heart.

  15. Jagis asked:
    I guess I would ask you if you and Ben were sitting in a room discussing this with Christ would you be willing to say these same things to Ben or me for that matter?

    Yes, I would. I'm not that complicated of a person. What you see is what you get.

    In any case, I think you may have missed some of the context to why the satire was posted in the first place. We've been dealing with JC & Ben for weeks now. Paul's written a book-length response (well, that's what THEY claim anyway; I think it's just a couple of chapters myself). Gene and Steve have both weighed in a great deal, and I've also put lots of comments forward.

    So it's not like this satire exists in a vacuum as the sole response. It is simply one more response in a list of other responses. I take Arminians as seriously as they take the issues.

    If they want to discuss Scripture, I discuss Scripture. If they want to discuss philosophy, I discuss philosophy. If they want to play games, I play games.

    So if Ben did the same thing in a face-to-face conversation, I'd do the same thing in response.

  16. There's enough substance in our post that the other stuff can be over looked. The other stuff is mainly for them. To keep drawing them back into the fight so we can continue to expose their errors in new ways. All we're doing with them is beating them at their own game. You must remember, they are the ones who issued the challenges. We respond, in force. They complain. Why is that?

    There isn't a sincere attempt on their side. As I said in the combox of my first post to Ben. My posts are maninly for our Calvinist readers, and those who are sincerely looking into the issue. That's why we have had many Arminians come herer and thank us for helping them see the massive errors. Those are the people we post for.

  17. The heading over at Arminian Perspective:

    "Answer all [the Calvinists'] objections, as occasion offers, both in public and private. But take care to do this with all possible sweetness both of look and of accent...Make it a matter of constant and earnest prayer, that God would stop the plague." -- John Wesley"

    Putting this atop your blog, and them complaining when we make fun of Kangaroos, seems a tad bit on the hypocritical side.

  18. yeah,that doesn't paint the best picture does it?