Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bush, the rightwing, and the GOP

Victor Reppert acts as though a vote for a Republican candidate is a blanket endorsement of everything he does in office. Should we chalk this up to self-reinforcing ignorance? Did Reppert arrive at his view because his information about the rightwing is filtered through leftwing sources? Or is it just a bit of demagoguery on his part? Certainly he has a habit of resorting to deliberate sophistries when dealing with his political opponents.

Whatever his reasons, anyone who gets his information about the rightwing from the rightwing would be aware of the fact that the rightwing never took the position that the Bush administration can do no wrong.

To take a few examples, conservatives were always critical of Bush’s deficit spending. Critical of McCain-Feingold, which he signed into law. Many so-called neocons called for Rumsfeld’s resignation when they felt he was felt he was bungling the conduct of the war. Conservatives shot down the nomination of Harriet Miers because they felt she was a lightweight. And they shot down his “comprehensive immigration reform" plan.

These are just a few examples. Conservatives have never rubberstamped the Bush administration the way Democrats used to rubberstamp the Clinton administration.

When we vote for a candidate, we don’t issue him a blank check. Our vote expresses provisional support for some of his policies—in contrast to the policies of his opponent.


  1. Wow. Loftus and Reppert on back-to-back posts.

    Off the top of my head, I can think of 4 things that Loftus and Reppert have in common:

    (1) Both have Arminian backgrounds.

    (2) Both are liberals.

    (3) Both of them have had their reasoning exposed on Triablogue. (They should actually be thankful, rather than resentful.)

    (4) Both of them have been too prideful to humbly admit their errors here on Triablogue.

    (At least none that I recall).

  2. I've made some significant adjustments to my case against Calvinism as I have gone along, such that I think the semantic objection to Calvinism goes more to the heart of what a Calvinist accepts, as opposed to the moral objection, which while persuasive to me, kind of "talks past" the Calvinist position.

    I also made a correction to a statement I made which was generating a considerable amount of misundertanding with respect to my position on Christian charity and government assistance. The retraction may have seemed paltry to you guys, but I don't think I've ever seen anything retracted or corrected on Triablogue.

    The tone of Triabloggers' responses to me and to other opponents strikes me as unduly inflammatory.

  3. I'm going to vote for Obama in spite of a number of disagreements with his stated views. So in fairness, I should not accuse Steve or other conservatives of fully supporting everything Bush does because he votes for him, and ditto for his vote for McCain. I am sure, in the latter case, in spite of Sarah Palin, Hays will vote for McCain, but may well hold his nose while doing so.

  4. Victor,

    Can you provide links to the corrections you've made in your admittedly faulty arguments?

    Thanks in advance.

  5. Truth Unites... and Divides said...


    Can you provide links to the corrections you've made in your admittedly faulty arguments?

    Thanks in advance.

    9/30/2008 7:41 PM

    Victor hasn't given a better argument against Calvinism. All he's done is offer objections that we already answered but he was too lazy to read what we wrote and respond.

    Victor was shown this most painfully here:


    In that combox I demonstrated that Victor doesn't care about reading what we write in response to him. I offered numerous links where we have answered specific objections he claimed we never answrred, proving either his memory is terrible, or he doesn't bother reading our responses. Because he treats his interlocutors that way, I told him I wouldn't be posting at his blog anymore.

    But, he did offer a response to my last comment there, so I may as well continue with the mop up operation.


    VR: I do see that I had missed something there, the claim that I had not provide any compelling reason to think God should have saved everyone if it was in God's power.

    PM: Okay, now let's see what Victor takes to be a "compelling argument."

    VR: The compelling argument would have to be that Scripture clearly teaches that God loves all persons,

    PM: Does he? In the same way? In the same sense? Where's the exegesis. Ignorant conjectures are not compelling. Asserting premises that Calvinists reject isn't a good way to offer a "compelling" argument.

    VR: that God wants them to be saved,

    PM: Which texts does Reppert have in mind?

    VR: and that he sent Christ to save all persons.

    PM: What texts does he have in mind? Where's the exegesis?

    VR: The typical Calvinist move is to artificially restrict the scope of "all" in those cases to the elect

    PM: In SOME cases that may be, but not in ALL. Indeed, I did not do so with John 3:16. Reppert should know this based on my comments on his own blog for Pete's sake!!

    See here:


    So Reppert continues to ignore the claims of the other side.

    VR: (which even someone like Carson says is implausible given the strength of the biblical evidence)

    PM: That's right, Carson does say that. He reads world *qualitatively*, though. Reppert is arguing fro *quantity*. But Carson says John's use of world refers more to "badness" as opposed to "bigness." So Reppert's use of Carson is duplicitous.

    BTW, here's Carson:


    "…God so loved the world that he gave his Son (John 3:16). I know that some try to take kosmos ("world") here to refer to the elect. But that really will not do. All the evidence of the usage of the word in John's Gospel is against the suggestion. True, world in John does not so much refer to bigness as to badness. In John's vocabulary, world is primarily the moral order in willful and culpable rebellion against God. In John 3:16 God's love in sending the Lord Jesus is to be admired not because it is extended to so big a thing as the world, but to so bad a thing; not to so many people, as to such wicked people. Nevertheless elsewhere John can speak of "the whole world" (1 John 2:2), thus bringing bigness and badness together.


    VR: but to affirm that God can love those people and want them to be saved while deciding before the foundation of the world not to save them.

    PM: Again, what verses is he talking about. Does he think God "wants" to save all people but doesn't? What, he can't? Or is he a failure?

    VR: And my objection is that the attempt to do this is to undermine the meanings of those basic terms.

    PM: This isn't a "compelling argument." It's called flapping your gums. You make all sorts of *claims* about supposed problems and then just *announce* that Calvinists have a problem, all the while you don't have to do any serious *arguing*.

    VR: Calvinist theology attempts to resolve this kind of problem by appealing to "two wills,"

    PM: But we don't know what the "problem" is. Reppert just jumbles a bunch of claims together and makes sweeping generalizations.

    VR: but I maintain that these distinctions break down and are incoherent.

    PM: But who cares what you "maintain?" Does Reppert think that he can get to a "compelling argument" all because he "maintains" something? If so, I "maintain" he's wrong.

    VR: Appeals to propositional revelation collapse if semantic integrity is not maintained,

    PM: But Victor's not *demonstrated* anything here.

    And I'm unsure what he means about propositional revelation breaking down if semantic integrity is not maintained.

    Has he read this:


    VR: and that, I submit, is what is going on with Calvinist analyses of important text of Scripture (not just John 3:16, BTW).

    PM: But I showed that neither I, nor Steve, nor a lot of Calvinists take John 3:16 in the way Reppert said we do. And I have no idea what he means by the "other" verses.

    Besides that, Reppert has never offered a response to this objection to his reading of kosmos in John:

    What about 1 John 5:19?? If you are going to be consistent, must you not take that to mean *all* people?

    VR: If the Calvinist can set up a situation in which the weight of biblical authority is on their side, and what is on the other side is Reppert's intuitions (even if many others share them), then this creates an uncomfortable situation for people in my position. My claim is you can't possibly get that far, because you attempts to explicate contrary passages are contrary to the meanings of basic terms.

    PM: Of course Reppert does *show* any of this. This is his "stick his fingers in his ears and stick his tongue out and say, nee ner nee ner nee ner, I aint gonna roll up my sleeves and get dirty and do the hard work of exegesis and looking at which arguments are better, I'm just gonna pooch out my lips and say, 'I just don't have that intuition.'"

    VR: YOU are making the biblical authority claim, therefore the burden of proof is on YOU to show how these passages can be understood with semantic integrity consistent with Calvinism.

    PM: And we've done so, on many occasions. So now it's up to YOU to show how our exegesis doesn't work.

    VR: The Calvinist theological moves that I have seen are just inconsistent with the ordinary usage of the relevant terms.

    PM: Specific examples? Analysis backing up your claim? Anything more than your say-so? Or do you think that just because you have a PhD you can assert while us peons have to offer actual arguments?

    VR: Note that my argument doesn't appeal to my moral intuitions that a good God wouldn't do what the Calvinist God does. It's all about using terms consistently.

    PM: But you haven't GIVEN and ARGUMENT. You made a bunch of bare, butt neked assertions.

  6. Victor's "semantic objection" is so childish and sophomoric, it's hard to take him seriously.

    He objects that we don't take all universally. Or we do sometimes and we don't others. Not only is his objections ignorant philosophically, it impales him on his own horn. For example...

    There is such a thing, which philosophers of language recognize, as restricted quantification. Philosopher of language William Lycan, speaking on restricted quantification, writes that, "What logicians call the domains over which quantifiers range need not be universal, but are often particular cases roughly presupposed in context" (Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction, p.24).

    The "semantic arguments" runs aground real quick.

    We are told that "ALL things are possible" (Mt. 19:26). Really, "ALL" things? God's non-existence? The falsity of fundamental laws of logic? That it turn out false that I am identical to myself? If all means all here, then we have some problems for Victor to answer. Or, would he resort to "semantic games" to answer this argument?

    Next, take his "semantic argument" from love. Victor ignorantly reasons: if God loves Smith and God loves Jones, then he must love Jones and Smith in the same way, otherwise it's a semantic game.


    Some Different Ways the Bible Speaks of God's Love:

    (i) The peculiar love the Father has for the Son and vice versa.

    (ii) God's providential love over all that he has made.

    (iii) God's salvific stance toward his fallen world.

    (iv) God's particular, effective, selecting love toward his elect.

    (v) God's love toward his redeemed people conditioned on obedience.

    What if Smith is saved? (v) only applies to those Saved. So God would love Jones in sense (v).

    DO we even reason this way with ourselves?

    Christians are to love their neighbor and their wife. So should I have sexual relations with my neighbor? When I use the word "love" is it the same in both senses?

    Even in the English word "love" we can see differences in meaning depending on context: intercourse, platonic, emotional, etc.

    And that's the English word. Has Victor looked at the Greek?

    Carson, in his book _The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God_, looks at those who have tried to figure out this doctrine by word studies and have landed on the αγαπώ word group as higher, more noble, or less emotional. Something close to willed altruism. Carson has discussed the problems with this method in his Exegetical Fallacies. He notes 7 problems with this approach:

    (i) Careful diachronic work has been done on the Greek words for love. Greek philology can explain the rise of certain word groups without having to rush to a theological explanation.

    (ii) In the OT when Amnon rapes his sister we are told, in the LXX, that he loves her. αγαπώ is used here. It's not clear then that the word is higher, more noble, or less emotional.

    (iii) In the Gospel of John we are told that the Father loves the Son (αγαπώ) in 3:35 and that the Father loves the Son (φιλεῖ) in 5:20, there's no detectable difference in meaning.

    (iv) This method may be valid to figure out the lexical meaning of words, but it has no bearing on any concrete passage.

    (v) Even in the English word "love" we can see differences in meaning depending on context: intercourse, platonic, emotional, etc.

    (vi) Willed altruism isn't enough for love because 1 Cor. 13 says one can exhibit that yet still not "have love."

    (vii) Probably an improper view of the impassibility of God has played into our accepting the αγαπώ word group.

    So on what basis does Reppert makes his "semantic argument" from "love?"

    See, Reppert has no objective, considered reasons to reject Calvinism. He rejects it because of the apologetic value he thinks he has by rejecting it. He walks the tightrope most Arminian thinkers walk. He tries to come off as loving, accepting, tolerant, and secular as the non-Christian, as much as he can get away with without having to deny any major, universal Christian doctrine such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, salvation by grace, hell...well, that last one is being rejected now to so that all the non-Christians can see how "wuving" Christianity is.