Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pride goeth before a prattfall

Since Jason Pratt is being incorrigible, I’ll take a little time to reply:

Jason Pratt said...

“What's funnier is that they regularly complain when opponents hold back on doing exegesis due to time constraints. So, one wonders, why not deal with your exegesis?!”

Since Jason is far too clever not to know the answer to this question, I must assume that he’s dissembling. So I’ll have to repeat myself, as well as expand on my original explanation:

i) As I said in my original post, I’ve already reviewed three books on universalism. So I’ve already interacted with standard universalistic prooftexting.

ii) In fact, MacDonald frequently piggybacks on the very writers (Adams, Bonda, Talbott) whom I’ve reviewed—including their exegesis.

iii) As I also said at the time, he rehashes annihilationist arguments to blunt the force of certain prooftexts for everlasting punishment. Once again, I’ve dealt with annihilationism elsewhere.

What is more, there are standard rebuttals to annihilationism which I notice that MacDonald doesn’t bother to engage, e.g. C. Morgan & R. Peterson, eds., Hell Under Fire; W. Fudge & R. Peterson, Two Views of Hell.

iv) The only somewhat original thing about his exegetical case for universalism is that he redeploys NPP arguments in defense of universalism. So he’s using one controversial thesis to prop up another controversial thesis.

In a partial book review, I’m not going to get sidetracked on the NPP. That’s become a very specialized field of study. There are many erudite monographs in print critiquing Sanders, Wright, Dunn et al. on the intricacies of the NPP. That’s a separate argument, and I don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

v) Finally, it isn’t necessary for me to do exegesis to respond to MacDonald on his own grounds, for MacDonald made clear in the first few pages of the few chapter of his book that exegesis is secondary. For, as he made plain at the outset, if he thought the Bible taught everlasting punishment, that wouldn’t convince him to be a Christian who believes in everlasting punishment. No. That would convince him that he could no longer believe in the God of the Bible. So, for him, the witness of scripture isn’t normative. He will only believe the Bible if the Bible rubberstamps his universalistic sentiments.

“As for getting off light--at least he didn't start hurling invective about you being some Satanic-level blasphemer pretending to use orthodox theology to mislead people.”

Let’s set the record straight on how all this got started. Here are a couple of Jason’s zingers:

“That’s why Satan would be wrong to be doing either of those, too; or me, for that matter. (I’m pretty sure it says in the Bible somewhere that God is not a worker of iniquity. {wry s} In effect that means we can expect Him not to pre-damn Esau to hopeless torture and/or annihilation which is the sort of thing we would normally expect Satan or some other sinful tyrant to do, not God, the One Who is Good.)”

“The sin has to go, and reconciliation of the sinner must be achieved. Otherwise there is no justice. (Except the only kind of ‘justice’ Satan could imagine. I think God is a better person than Satan.”

Jason is the one who initiated the satanic comparisons, not me. The only difference is that Jason applied them to God. That’s so much better, don’t you think?

Jason’s immediate target is Reformed theism, but his target isn’t limited to Reformed theism. He happened to be debating a Calvinist. But his satanic comparison is a special case of his general views on everlasting punishment.

For him, any version of everlasting punishment, where there’s no hope of redemption, is literally satanic. A God who punished a sinner without holding out hope of redemption would be morally equivalent to Satan.

But by that very comparison, Jason realigns himself with the archenemy of God and God’s people. When Jason vilifies God by drawing diabolical comparisons, he’s reciting Satan’s version of history. God is the bad guy, the cosmic despot, the Omnipotent Fiend—for damning Satan and his minions to everlasting hell.

Jason is reciting a page from the Satanic Bible. The Satanic Bible rewrites Gen 3, making the Tempter the good guy. Lucifer. The liberator. The hero.

Of course, Jason would never be that candid. He’ll simply say that any God who damns a sinner to everlasting hell isn’t the true God, so it’s no sacrilege to compare a false god to Satan. That’s the pious way of redecorating his impiety.

Jason thinks that he should be treated with utmost reverence while he treats his Maker with utmost irreverence. I don’t share his infernal scale of values.

1 comment:

  1. Universalism is a heresy. End of story.

    That Steve Hays has taken the thankless task to tirelessly refute this heresy is to his great credit. His arms must get tired from slaying Medusa's new serpent heads all the time.