“I will also take some minutes to consider a peculiar dissonance, which I often find Calvinists making (not all the time perhaps but often); which Steve has made before (as Gene points out in his own commentary to the discussion between Steve and I a few years ago on DangIdea) and which I happened to notice him making again (before he convinced me to give up reasoning with him, etc.; see complaint a few comments above.”
Before I respond to Jason, I’ll respond to Gene. I assume Jason is alluding to something which “Auggy” posted. And I assume this is what he’s referring to:
It seems we universalists do have an appeal because we see everyone as being guilty. WAIT A SECOND....don't calvinists think that too?
I don't think this illustration fares well under scripture. It would seem to me that there is a major flaw in it's parallel.
Here is the problem:
1) The mother does not understand that her daughter is the murderer and the rapist.
2) The mother does not understand that she is the murderer and the rapist.
If under Calvinism God's grace is magnified by showing some mercy when NONE deserved it then ALL DESERVE DAMNATION. I think Calvinists including Hays agrees.
However then the mother has no right to complain that God might love the rapist but not lover her child. Now if the child is not innocent, that is the child was born deserving damnation then God could not love the child and the child is as guilty as the rapist before God.
Is it not the reformed view that the God holds the sole perfect right to love the rapist and hate her daughter. FOR IT IS NOTHING OF THEMSELVES THAT SAVES THEM. So why would the woman complain. It seems Hays could only look to the woman and say, God shows mercy on whom he shows mercy. Thus the rapist can receive mercy while God DAMNS her daughter. in short "Tough Luck!"
I'm not even sure it's fair for a calvinist to use such a illustration.
In clavinism EVERYONES GUILTY.
He's answered nothing of Talbotts argument here. It seems to me that his illustration flys in the face of calvinism.
1.Notice the stark moral equivalence. Imagine if Jason or Auggy were to translate that into pastoral theology. Imagine if they were counseling a rape victim, or the mother of a murder victim–using that argument.
The universalist says to the rape victim: “Yes, you were raped. But, in your own way, you’re a rapist, too! We’re all rapists! So don’t take it so personally. You’re in no position to point fingers at the men who gang-raped you.”
The universalist says to the grieving mother: “Yes, Ted Bundy tortured your daughter to death. But you’re in no position to be so judgmental. You might as well be Ted Bundy. You’re an accomplice. You murdered your own daughter. I mean, we’re all Ted Bundies!”
It’s a good thing that universalism presents a viable alternative the heartless creed of Calvinism, don’t you think?
2.To say that we’re all sinners doesn’t mean we all committed the same sin. It doesn’t mean we all did the same thing to each other.
3.In addition, because Auggy’s either too stupid to get the point, or too blinded by sentimentality to get the point, he misses the point.
I was answering Talbott on his own terms. Auggy’s appeal to Scripture is irrelevant, for Talbott was not invoking Biblical authority. Quite the contrary. Talbott was appealing to his moral intuition as a potential check on the authority of Scripture. If Scripture offends his moral sensibilities, then so much the worse for Scripture!
4.Because Talbott’s parable appealed to moral intuition, I simply constructed a parallel illustration in which our moral intuitions cut against the grain of universalism.
Continuing with Auggy:
I think to simply say it's easy to compose tearjerkers that illustrate opposing positions is not correct. Is there a bright side to Hitler cooking families in ovens? Is there a spin on the holocaust that I'm missing? Perhaps I'm not as creative as our brother calvinists. I'm not able to reach into a bag of tricks and pull out the humor of the nazis commiting genocide upon families. Universalism is the ONLY paradigm I know of that can see a bright side to things. It is the only way I know one can rejoice in the wrath of God and in his salvation of the wicked. If it's not then I want to see Steve or Manata put a spin on the holocaust. After all, all one needs to do is change the illustration, right?
Surely this is Talbott's point. What bright side can be illustrated in a God who makes a person to hate him and demands that person love him and torments that person for hating him? I'll wait patiently for the "bright side" (to coin Monty Python)......It's gonna be a long long eternal wait.
He begins by posing a rhetorical question: “Is there a bright side to Hitler cooking families in ovens?”
Presumably he’d answer his own question in the negative. To answer the question in the affirmative would be to put a “spin” on the Holocaust.
But then, a few sentences later, he says universalism is the only position which can see the bright side to things. Presumably, that would include the Holocaust.
So we have a point blank contradiction within the space of a few sentences.
He’s the one who ends up finding the “bright side” to the Holocaust. What is more, he defines the “bright side” as finding the humor in a situation. So, for Auggy the universalist, the Holocaust is a just a Monty Python flick.
How appealing! Doesn’t that make you want to become a universalist? Doesn’t that make you want to enlist at the nearest recruiting office of universalism? Where can the survivors of the concentration camps sign up?
Since Jason approves of Auggy’s analysis, I think Jason ought to take out some front-page ads in The Jerusalem Post or Haaretz to spread the good news of hopeful universalism.
BTW, the idea of “humor” or the “bright side” was no part of my reply to Talbott. That’s something which Auggy introduces into the discussion.
Turning to Jason:
“Which was, insofar as I have understood from listening to Calvinists (including Steve): The non-elect never have a real choice to do good, yet they are commanded (at least preceptively if not decretively) to do good by the One who also chooses, by His own sole sovereign authoritative choice, to ensure that they shall never even possibly have a choice themselves to do good.”
Due to common grace, the reprobate are capable of doing good. God has preserved a remnant of common decency in the reprobate.
Their inability is more specific. They’re incapable of actual righteousness (in the Pauline sense of the word). That’s also true of the elect–whose righteousness is vicarious rather than personal.
Likewise, the reprobate are unable to believe the Gospel.
“I will note in passing, in Steve’s favor, that his agreement about ‘prevention’ here is consonant enough with his complaints about my use of the term elsewhere. Either way (and in fact more obviously here, having agreed to its use in this case), it depends on a notion of the sinners going their own way without interference from God, which is blatantly false to the theology of supernaturalistic theism (and even blatantly false to other precepts of Calvinism per se)--a notion I immediately and constantly denied ever meaning myself, once Steve brought up the topic.”
i) This is another caricature of Reformed theology. To begin with, it’s not a choice between sinners either going their own way or God “interfering.”
“Interference” is never an accurate description of God’s relation to the world–be it ordinary providence, miracles, or saving grace.
God is not a house-burglar. Rather, he’s the homeowner. God can’t “interfere” in his own world!
ii) In Calvinism, God decreed the fate of the reprobate. That’s not the same thing as passively letting them go their own way. God decreed that outcome. And that outcome occurrs because he decreed it.
iii) Conversely, predestination is not the same thing as prevention. It’s not as if God is holding them back, against their will, from doing what they would otherwise do.
iv) He could prevent them from going to hell. That doesn’t mean he prevents them from going to heaven. These are not synonymous concepts.
v) There is also a difference between a possible person and an actual person. Just by being actual, an actual person does have a destination. A direction in life.
By making a possible person an actual person, God actualizes one particular course of action.
An actual person is going the way God set for him when he instantiated that possibility–to the exclusion of other possibilities.
“But then Steve allows that, if human beings should have any say in the sentencing phase, ‘it’s the victims who should have a say--not some human third party who is not, himself, the injured party.’ I entirely agree--it is one of the points on which Jesus’ own claims of divinity is argued: He forgives people as though He was the one Who is the injured party.”
Notice how Jason twists this into something very different than what I said. And Jason’s agreement does not, in fact follow from what I said.
Jesus is not in a position to forgive people because Jesus is a human third party. Rather, Jesus is in a position to forgive people because he’s the divine Judge.
“And I note that what Steve is talking about, is precisely what we’re told in scripture: that when we are victimized, while we may ask for and expect punishment of the sinner, we are strenuously exhorted to forgive and show mercy, too: or else God will not forgive and show mercy to us for our transgression.”
No, that’s not what I’m talking about. And that’s a popular misinterpretation of Scripture. It’s on a par with quoting verses which say God will give you whatever you ask for. Pratt is operating at the same level as the health-and-wealth preachers.
What we have, rather, are passages in Scripture which state the conditions, and other, blanket passages which are silent on the conditions. The proper way to proceed is to qualify the blanket passages according to the conditional passages. The blanket passages take the conditions for granted.
So, for example, there are passages that state the conditions under which forgiveness is obligatory.
Let’s take Lk 17:3: “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”
Notice that in this verse, forgiveness is conditional rather than unconditional. In fact, three conditions must be met:
i) The offender is a fellow Christian or professing believer (“brother”).
ii) The offender is contrite.
iii) The offended party extends forgiveness to the offending party.
Who or what does that exclude? (i) excludes automatic forgiveness for unbelievers. (ii) excludes automatic forgiveness for impenitent offenders. (iii) excludes third-party forgiveness.
It’s still permissible for a Christian to forgive an unbeliever who wronged him, or forgive an impenitent offender, but it’s not obligatory.
Moreover, a Christian has no authorization to forgive an offender who wronged someone other than himself. If John wrongs Jane, then James has no right to forgive John on behalf of Jane. That’s up to Jane.
“Mercy and forgiveness of sinners, both of which involve seeking and hoping for the salvation of the sinner from sin, is our business.”
Jason is being deceitful–as usual. What was the context of my statement? It had reference to the damned.
It’s assuredly not our business to forgive the damned. It’s not our business to extend forgiveness to those from whom God has chosen to withhold his forgiveness.
Such an action would be mutinous and treacherous. It would be siding with God’s enemies in defiance of God’s just judgment. But, of course, that’s exactly what a universalist does.
I said: “There’s a point beyond which compassion is a vice rather than a virtue. It’s decadent and effete. Indeed, there's a point beyond which it's downright evil to empathize with the plight of the wicked.”
To which Pratt replied:
“Yes, and that point is when we stop seeking the salvation of the sinner from sin, one way or another.”
i) Pratt’s view leads to the moral paralysis which is endemic to universalism. We mustn’t be too judgmental because everyone is a sinner. Therefore, we must be equally merciful to the child and the child rapist.
But, as I’ve often remarked, one of the problem with trying to be equally merciful to everyone is that you end up being merciful to the merciless, and merciless to the victims of the merciless. To be merciful to the child rapist is merciless to the child. The child is entitled to justice. Entitled to see retribution exacted on his abuser.
ii) The Bible itself exercises moral discrimination. To take one example of many:
The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
the Lord is avenging and wrathful;
the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries
and keeps wrath for his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
Who can stand before his indignation?
Who can endure the heat of his anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire,
and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.
with an overflowing flood
he will make a complete end of the adversaries,
and will pursue his enemies into darkness.
Woe to the bloody city,
all full of lies and plunder—
no end to the prey!
The crack of the whip, and rumble of the wheel,
galloping horse and bounding chariot!
flashing sword and glittering spear,
hosts of slain,
heaps of corpses,
dead bodies without end—
they stumble over the bodies!
And all for the countless whorings of the prostitute,
graceful and of deadly charms,
who betrays nations with her whorings,
and peoples with her charms.
Behold, I am against you,
declares the Lord of hosts,
all who look at you will shrink from you and say,Wasted is Nineveh; who will grieve for her?
Where shall I seek comforters for you?
(Nahum 1:2-3,6,8; 3:1-5,7)
“Even more importantly, Steve’s reply to Victor, if accepted as a principle rebuttal, would instantly argue against the salvation of anyone by God. For all sinners stand before God equally guilty as sinners and deserving (as sinners) of death. I do not hear Steve complaining, though, when it comes to saving him, that God's gracious choice to do so is ‘a vice rather than a virtue; decadent and effete.’ I do not hear him complaining that in the Incarnation and especially in the Crucifixion God is ‘downright evil to emphathize with the plight of the wicked’ --when the wicked one, the assailant of the victim, is him.”
i) If I wanted to be cynical about this, then I’d note in passing it’s quite possible for a wicked man to be thankful for the fact that he got off light while his comrades suffer. A wicked man may sell out his comrades to get special treatment. A wicked man may bribe the captain to reserve a seat on the lifeboat at the expense of another passenger–say a woman or child. Not every survivor suffers from survivor’s guilt. Some survivors can be quite ruthless. That’s how they survive.
And, from the standpoint of universalism, why not? I ultimately have nothing to lose.
ii) In his sociopathic amorality, Pratt fails to distinguish between social duties and religious duties. The fact that everyone is a sinner before God doesn’t mean that everyone wrongs everyone else, much less equally wrongs everyone else. The fact that David is a sinner before God doesn’t mean that David sinned against me. The fact that David wronged Uriah doesn’t mean that David wronged me.
So there’s a principled basis to distinguish between the offending party and the offended party. It’s not all one and the same.
iii) Likewise, Jason, in his sociopathic amorality, fails to distinguish between divine rights and human rights. Even if you think I’m too morally compromised to judge anyone else, that hardly applies to God.
The fact that everyone is a sinner is scarcely an argument for universalism. Quite the opposite: God could justly consign everyone to everlasting hell.
By the same token, since God is under no obligation to be merciful to anyone, much less everyone, God is at liberty to be selectively gracious and merciful.
iv) Remember, too, the context of my remarks. It is evil to feel sorry for the damned. Once God has passed sentence, we should acknowledge his wisdom and justice. Not mumble under our breath or question the verdict.
“That point beyond which God does not go, when still graciously saving Steve’s naturally impenitent hide, is the same point beyond which God does not go when saving anyone else’s naturally impenitent hide, either. God’s wholesale compassion on Steve, the assailant of the victim, is as a sinner; He has no compassion for Steve’s sins. (Or mine either; usually I put me in this place, but I’m not the one trying to pass off the idea of God’s gracious choice to save sinners deserving of death, as being decadent and effete and downright evil.) Consequently, there is no ‘abdication of moral discrimination’ in God’s wholesale gracious compassion (and disciplining, and chastisment!) of Steve.”
Here’s a prime specimen of Jason’s malice and mendacity. He deliberately rips what I said out of context, transplants it to a setting which I did not intend, then acts as if I said something untoward about God.
This is quite calculated on Jason’s part. He’s a bright guy. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows that he’s quoting me out of context, but he doesn’t it anyway–to win at any cost.
And, of course, that reflects the moral cost of universalism. Because he had to forfeit his moral standards to be a universalist in the first place, it comes as no surprise that he employs the tactics of a demagogue. His amoral tactics are the natural outgrowth of his amoral creed.
And the transposition is false. God does not sympathize with evildoers. God does not think in terms of moral equivalence. Throughout the OT and NT, there is a running distinction between the oppressors and the oppressed.
And a similar distinction is carried over into the afterlife. For God doesn’t save everyone. Indeed, he damns some sinners to undercut the sort of radical chic amorality you find in universalism
Jason is one of those fake humanitarians who views the plight of the criminal class from the balcony of his Fifth Avenue apartment. From the safety of his perch, it’s easy to ooze compassion for muggers who beat up little old ladies and kite their pension check. Did the mugger mug the old lady–or did the lady mug the mugger? It’s all the same. Tout comprendre c'est tout pardoner! Universalism is the plea deal of the psychopath.