Friday, March 14, 2008

Wesley's junkyard dog

“No, it's a simple expression that God did not desire or decree such an action, as I've stated before.”

That’s no alternative to the anthropomorphic interpretation. Rather, J.C. is attempting to translate an anthropomorphic expression (“It never entered my mind”) into a literal counterpart.

“Additionally, Hays' defense effectively treats anthropomorphisms as some vague, foggy area that is mitigated into nothingness,”

Really? I defined it as “the application of a distinctly human idiom to God.” How is that a “vague, foggy area” which is “mitigated into nothingness?

The only fog is J.C’s foggy grasp of what constitutes anthropomorphic discourse.

“What he misses is that 'anthropomorphisms are still expressing a comparable idea”

A comparable idea to “it never entered my mind” would be “I didn’t see it coming.” So, if J.C. denies the anthropomorphic interpretation, then he’s stuck with the way in which open theism construes a passage like this, amounting to a denial of divine foreknowledge.

[I said] To the contrary, Isaiah's claim moves from the general to the specific. The dependence of foreknowledge on foreordination in this instance is just a special case of a universal principle. Read Oswalt's exegesis for the supporting argument.

[He said] “Thanks, I've read the book itself. It supports no such claim.”

It would be more prudent of J.C. not to make such easily falsifiable claims. This is what Oswalt says:

“There follow in these two verses [Isa 46:10-11] a series of three participles that both substantiate the claim to uniqueness and, at the same time, flow from that claim…Here the three participles make a direct link between predictive prophecy (declaring the outcome at the start) and divine intervention in history (calling from the east a bird of prayer)…As several commentators (e.g., Young) have noted, the three participles move from general to particular to specific. In the first instance, God tells in general what will happen in the future. He can do so because the future is fully shaped by his own plans and wishes. This is the same point that was made in ch. 14 concerning Assyria 9vv24-27). Assyria’s plans for Judah were really of little import. It is the Lord’s plans for Assyria to which that great nation should have paid attention (see also 22:11; 37:26)…The repetition [46:11] serves to emphasize the unshakable connection between promise and the performance, between divine talk and divine action…This parallelism underlines again that the reason God can tell what is going to happen is that what happens is only an outworking of his eternal purposes,” J. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 (Eerdmans 1998), 236-37.

Continuing with J.C.:

“The 'difficulties' he presented don't really carry any weight, as the divine has already entered the temporal in the person of Christ. Christ existed in time with a divine nature, and therefore, it isn't a problem even from a divine perspective to say that He ‘often’ longed to gather the people of Jerusalem.”

i) It’s obvious that J.C. is ignorant of classic Christian formulations of the Incarnation. For example, “The statement, ‘the Word was made flesh,’ does not indicate any change in the Word, but only in the nature newly assumed into the oneness of the divine person. ‘And the word was made flesh’ through a union to flesh. Now a union is a relation. And relations newly said of God with respect to creatures do not imply a change on the side of God, but on the side of the creature relating in a new way to God,” T. Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, Part I (Magi Books 1980), 86-87.

For a more detailed exposition of a classic, eternalist model of the Incarnation, cf. G. Ganssle, ed. God & Time (IVP 2001), 52ff.

ii) J.C’s explanation would also leave God ignorant of time prior to the Incarnation. So he fails to salvage divine foreknowledge.

iii) And even if God knew time via the Incarnation, human beings experience time as present, not future—so tapping into the human experience of time would not suffice for foreknowledge.

“Atemporal constraints on knowledge?”

Yes, as I already explained, an atemporal agent cannot experience time. In Calvinism, though, a timeless God can know time by knowing his plan for the history of the world. But an Arminian has denied himself that option.

“Nor does one have to agree with their analysis.”

He’s free to disagree with Witherington and Fitzmyer if he chooses, yet he mischaracterized the definition of proegno (“to choose beforehand”) as a Calvinistic definition. But it’s not a distinctively Calvinistic definition.

“Proginisko/Prognosis also mean simply to have knowledge beforehand, the strongest argument for which I think comes from 1 Peter 1:2, which employs the noun form Prognosis, and would not likely carry that particular connotation of a Hebrew verb.”

That simply begs the question in favor of the Arminian definition. But one doesn’t have to be a Calvinist to see that Peter is using the word in a predestinarian sense. Cf. L. Goppelt, A Commentary on I Peter (Eerdmans 1993), 72-73.

“They can be, if one is drawn with cords of love (they being a metaphor, as Steve has so kindly pointed out).”

J.C continues to do violence to the imagery. Ropes and cords are not a metaphor for “wooing.” Adding “love” doesn’t make it a metaphor for “wooing.”

Rather, it’s the imagery of an animal trainer. He may be a loving animal trainer. He may be kind to his animals. But he isn’t “wooing” them. Ropes and cords are images of constraint. A way of *making* an animal go where you want it to go—for it’s own good.

“Incorrect, God did woo His people, and they obeyed His voice, and were thus delivered from bondage by Him. Indeed when the good news of God freeing them was proclaimed, ‘And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped’ (Exodus 4:31).”

That verse doesn’t contain the notion of “wooing.”

“God's drawing Israel with His love is not mutually exclusive with His bringing them out of Egypt by His power or afflicting the Egyptians.”

“Drawing” and “wooing” are not synonymous concepts.

“Hays makes a big deal out of me not answering every one of his arguments.”

To the contrary, it’s fine with me if he issues a challenge; I (and others) rise to the challenge; then he can’t measure up to his own challenge.

“For starters, a lot of his 'points' don't really solidify his case, and I won't waste time shooting down all of them when one will suffice.”

He *says* it, but he doesn’t’ *show* it.

“When Hays cited Welty, I linked to my articles for general responses…My articles on foreknowledge deal with the most common objections to the idea of foreknowledge in relation to election being defined as prescience, including the foreordination/forelove interpretations as well as the appeal to Granville-Sharp's rule in Acts 2:23…I never said ALL of my articles were relevant to what exactly what Welty wrote (Since not all of them are -- does Hays think my counter-cult arguments are supposed to be tailored to answering arguments from Welty too?).”

J.C. is the one who, instead of rebutting Welty’s material, referred the reader to his preexisting articles—as if these would suffice to rebut Welty’s material. Either they do or they don’t. By now admitting that they don’t suffice to rebut Welty, J.C’s original reference was an exercise in misdirection.

When I actually take him up on the offer and went through his fallacious articles, subjecting them to rational scrutiny, he then plays the role of the injured party.

“We are playing by different rules entirely, and the rules I live by are incompatible with theirs.”

That’s true. J.C. and Kangaroodort have one set of rules for themselves, and another set of rules for their opponents. They don’t like it when we hold them to their own words.

If I were in their position, I wouldn’t like it either—but since they dealt themselves a losing hand, they’re stuck with the outcome.

1 comment:

  1. “No, it's a simple expression that God did not desire or decree such an action, as I've stated before.”

    What is it with this constant Arminian predilection with the word "decree?"

    1. If something happens, it must be desired *in some sense* by God, or else it would not occur, and that *must* include evil, or else this makes mince meat of Scripture, viz. Acts 2:23, Isa. 10, Jude 4, the list could go on and on.

    This would only be controversial for an Open Theist.

    2. Arminians like JCT need to go back and read *their own theologians.* The term "decree" isn't unique to Calvinism.

    a. Molinist Arminians agree that God decrees all things. At issue with them is the way in which the world is decreed and the grounding of God's knowledge.

    b. Classical Arminianism has it's own order of decrees, the first two of which are identical with Infralapsarianism and Amyraldianism. The difference there is over the term "permission." In Calvinism it is effacious; in Arminianism it is ineffacious, typically expressed as a decree to permit the possibility of evil/sin.

    Remember, JCT is the one who issued public challenges. He should have read up on his own theology first. It appears we understand it better than he does.

    Likewise, it's apparent he's not familiar with his own commentators. When we can quote Arminians agreeing with us over him, that should, one would think, send a strong message to him. Apparently, he's so committed to will worship it doesn't.

    “God's drawing Israel with His love is not mutually exclusive with His bringing them out of Egypt by His power or afflicting the Egyptians.”

    Pardon? The typical Arminian analogy for "wooing" is that of a suitor for a prospective spouse. He "woos" her with dates,flowers, promises, etc. He does not physically pick her up and carry her to the altar and marry her. He does not go get her and drag her through the wilderness and out of bondage.

    God did not "woo" Israel through invitations and promises, when she was in Egypt. He did not send all those plagues and then just leave it up to Israel to leave. He sent plagues *on Egypt* and he efficaciously moved Pharaoh through a process of hardening his heart until He sent the Angel of Death - and *that* motivated Pharaoh at last. His father had murdered little Hebrew boys, so in the end God judges Egypt with the same thing - the deaths of their own firstborn children. You'd have to a supreme biblical illiterate not to see that.

    And what does this say about LFW? Why did the Egyptians release the Hebrew slaves? Answer: Because their children had all died. They realized that the people were a curse upon them.

    Now, what does LFW teach exactly? In LFW, our motives and desires cannot be attributed as sufficient causes behind our choices/decisions. That, JCT, is right out of the standard construal of LFW. Go look it up.

    29Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.

    30Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead.

    31Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, "Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the LORD, as you have said.

    32"Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also."
    Exodus of Israel
    33The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, "We will all be dead."

    34So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders.

    35Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing;

    36and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

    1. The Egyptians are clearly sufficiently motivated by their desires, namely sorrow and fear generated by the curse on the firstborn.

    2. God is said to have made them favorably disposed to the people.

    This isn't LFW, not a single line of it supports LFW.

    31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me."

    33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. "For otherwise," they said, "we will all die!" 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.