“Gregory MacDonald” has done a 4-part response to something I wrote. I already replied to part 1. This is just a mopping up operation.
I waited for him to complete his miniseries, as well as waiting for commenters to weigh in.
MacDonald said that I had leveled an exceptionally serious charge against him.
I pointed out that “there are no exceptionally serious charges in universalism. Universalism trivializes every evil. If universalism is true, I could flay you alive with a penknife, say three Hail Marys after I die, or do 1000 hours of postmortem community service, then head for heaven. In universalism, all is forgiven since all are forgiven.”
MacDonald’s comeback is to say:
“My view is that there is no forgiveness except through the atoning death of Christ and heart-felt repentance and faith on the part of the sinner. This forgiveness comes at the cost of Christ's death on the cross. There is no trivializing of evil in that. The sinner is ashamed at what they have done and repudiates it. There is no sense in which their evil ‘doesn't really matter’."
But, of course, that misses the point. If no matter what I say or do in this life, I’m heavenbound, then there are no serious charges. There’s no danger in my saying or doing anything whatsoever. Hence, universalism trivializes evil.
MacDonald’s comeback is irrelevant since it fails to address the question of what would constitute an “exceptionally serious charge” given the outcome.
“What I am getting from his arugement here is that forgiveness pre-mortem is called ‘grace’ and forgiveness post-portem is called ‘trivializing evil’."
You can always count on Rachel to pipe in with some clueless comment. Rachel doesn’t follow the logic of the argument or pay attention what people mean. She simply reacts.
The point at issue is what would qualify as an “exceptionally serious charge” given the outcome. Invoking universal postmortem salvation underscores my point, not hers.
I also don’t have any considered position on “post-portem” forgiveness. Is that a tertiary type of forgiveness in-between postmortem forgiveness and postpartum forgiveness?
“I think the bigger problem here, though, is that he seems to be in fact trivializing Christ's work on the cross. If there is some subset of people that absolutely have to suffer for their sins, then does he think Christ's sacrifice wasn't enough to take away the sins of the world?”
Once again, Rachel is incapable of accurately representing the opposing position. Is Hell predicated on the assumption that some people “absolutely have to” suffer for their sins? No.
Rather, it’s predicated on the fact that every sinner deserves damnation, and God gives some people what they deserve to illustrate the gratuity of grace.
And, of course, it would be asking too much of Rachel to actually study the connotations of “kosmos” in Johannine usage.
Back to MacDonald:
“I must confess to being somewhat surprised that Steve, who does not know me at all, feels so confident in his analysis of my inner life as to be able to make such claims.”
My observation wasn’t based on his inner life, but on his public statements.
“The revelation of God as triune - Father, Son and Spirit - is far more fundamental to my faith than universalism was, is, or ever will be. It is the heart of my Christianity and I would surrender universalist theology any day before surrendering trinitarian theology…I hope that helps.”
No, it doesn’t help. As MacDonald made clear in the first chapter of his book, if God consigned any sinners to everlasting judgment, such a God would be unworthy of worship. Therefore, if the Trinity were to consign some sinners to everlasting judgment, then MacDonald would deem the Trinity to be unworthy of his worship.
Jason Pratt said...
“Ah; I see that Steve has upgraded to calling you (in effect) an intentional murderer who by accident fails to murder.”
One can count on Jason Pratt to misrepresents his opponents. Pratt is a philanthropic universalist on paper, but in real life he resorts to underhanded tactics when dealing with his opponents. Abstract love for everyone combined allied with selective love in action.
What I did was to present an argument from analogy. Pratt pretends that analogy is identity. Pratt knows better, but he says it anyway.
Pratt espouses his back-patting brand of universalism because that’s so much nicer than the “Satanic” doctrine of everlasting punishment, but, in practice, Pratt’s commitment to nicety is purely theoretical—to be suspended whenever he must deal with somebody who doesn’t endorse universalism.
“I'm beginning to wonder if a Christian Universalist beat up Steve on the playground in grade school.”
I take it that Josh is still on the playground in grade school since he can’t muster an actual argument for his position.
“Bobby. While I probably stand somewhere between your position and Gregory´s on the trinity, I think Steve are nonetheless wrong to assume that universalism always or logically comes with other heresies (like anti-trinitarianism), and I understand why Gregory can be orthodox on some points and "heretical" on others.”
Of course, I never took the position that Lundström imputes to me. Apparently, Lundström relies on the filtered version of my position he sees on MacDonald’s blog it rather than mousing over to Tblog to see what I actually wrote.
Back to MacDonald:
“A doctrine of the unity/integrity of God's attributes: God is a unity in perfect harmony with himself. Consequently God's justice must be compatible with his love. All God's actions are loving and just. His love is a just love. His justice is a loving justice. So I claim that all God's acts of just punishment of sinners - including Hell - must be compatible with his love. And God's merciful treatment of his people - inclusing forgiveness and salvation - must be compatible with his justice.”
Of course, I already addressed this argument in my initial review of his book. MacDonald doesn’t believe in the unity of God’s attributes. Rather, he ranks them. He treats them as asymmetrical. He begins with his definition of love, then subordinates the other attributes to the priority of love.
“I suspect that this is where Steve and I disagree. It seems to me that any doctrine of Hell that is incompatible with God's love for the ones punished falls foul of the theology of divine integrity. I imagine that Steve solves that problem by arguing that God does not love those in Hell (except in the weaker sense of having shown them common grace in this life). But my problem with this move is that it is, to my mind, fundamentally problematic (see my post on ‘Calvinism, the Trinity, and God's Universal Love’).”
To begin with, there’s such a thing as exclusive love. The monogamous ideal of marital love is a paradigm-case. And that analogy is used in Scripture for God’s redemptive love.
Moreover, to love good is to hate evil. Therefore, God’s love for sinners, any sinners, is unexpected. It’s not something we can simply infer or deduce from the attribute of love.
Furthermore, love is not the only consideration. Justice is a divine attribute as well. Indeed, the exercise of justice is necessary in a way that the exercise of mercy is not.
(Yes, MacDonald tries to get around that, but I’ve addressed that move in my review.)
“It would be very interesting to hear Steve himself answer your argument about God´s unity. To me, this is one of the strongest arguments for universalism.”
I already did—in my initial review. Once again, Lundstöm acts as if MacDonald’s blog is the only source of information about my position.