Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Of god and Men

Recently Reppert pointed out that he wouldn't make a good Calvinist. I suspect that if he reads the Old Testament he'd find that he wouldn't have made a good Israelite either. I can just image Reppert plugging his ears shouting "lalalalalalala" while running out of temple after the priest read that part about singing and cheering the destruction of enemies, as well as happiness resulting from smashing little ones against the rocks.

Though Reppert showed he couldn't hit Calvinism with his pea shooter--due to his odd belief that Calvinists think we will tour hell and gaze at the hellions as one would gaze at animals on a zoo tour, perhaps even taking pictures--he did show that he doesn't like much of the OT. In fact, God doesn't seem very "wuving" in the OT. Indeed, if that word has any faint meaning at all (I speak as a Reppertian now), then what God did and said to do in the Old Testament makes a mockery of that word. Thus, Reppert's argument from "language" commits him to presuppositional tension, or, more consistently, a denial of inerrancy.

But he still has to put on airs. He has yet to come clean and deny inerrancy, omniscience, and hell. Those beliefs just cause him so much trouble for his made-over god, though. It's doggone hard to do PR for the God of traditional Christianity. However, give God a make-over, and it will be possible to get a few people to give in and admit that god's not that bad of a guy after all; what, after you remove all things that offend us humans. Sartre couldn't bear the thought of an omniscient God. So to make God more palatable to Sartre, apologize up and down about those "fundies" who claimed God was omniscient. Then perhaps Sartre will throw god a nod. And that will make god happy. And god just wants to be happy. He's okay, I'm okay, we're all okay.

As an example of the trouble Reppert gets into by not coming clean and showing people where you have to go to really beat Calvinism, let's look at some of his beliefs on hell along with some conjunctions.

Hell, for Reppert, is embarrassing. However, when putting on airs, you have to make do with what you've got. So, hell is rehabilitative for Reppert. It has that good purpose. God still desires those "poor unfortunate souls" to come to him. He engages in an action to a specific end. His action of putting people in hell is a means to an end: their rehabilitation. He hopes the fires of hell will set them aright and that they will just admit that god's way is better, then we'll have at-one-ment. Both parties will be . . . happy. Unfortunately, some may never come. But it's their own choice. Hell is locked from the inside, you see. God is willing, at any moment, to receive the residents of hell into his loving arms. They only need to answer, "You", to the question, "Who's yer daddy." Then we can have a hugfest. It all brings a tear to the eye and warms the cockles of the heart; heck, perhaps even the subcockles.

Now, Reppert also puts on airs about traditional omniscience. So, we have a God who knows the future libertarian free actions of his creatures. This means he knows those sinners who will never repent in hell.

Now, let's briefly look at means-end rationality. This applies to actions. One does an action that he thinks, or has reason to believe, will achieve a certain end. Saving money for retirement is means-end rational. Doing leg squats and injecting steroids into your quads so that you can do a standing broad jump to the moon, is not. You know it will never happen. It's an end you can't achieve. One can't do a means-end rational action when he believes, let alone knows, his actions will not meet that end.

So, putting this all together, Reppert gives us a god who is means-end irrational. His belief in a hell that is rehabilitative, together with omniscience and plausible assumptions about means-end rationality, produces a god who is means-end irrational. He's engaged in an action that he knows his means won't achieve his ends. But hey, at least he's nice. So was Lenny from Of Mice and Men. "Tell meh about hell, George. Tell meh about how I's get to tend dem sinners so we all kin live off da fatta the lan. Tell meh, George. I wanna pet 'em and hug 'em and wuv 'em."

Or, a more nefarious conclusion might be, Reppert's conception of god would make god an insane being. Some definitions of insanity say that insainity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results. The up-shot is that if this god is not insane then he does expects different results. The downside that remains is that if this god is omniscient, then he's means end irrational.


  1. Could Reppert, like William Lane Craig believe that while God knew that some would end up in hell, it was nevertheless still worth creating the world becauses God knows that at least some people (the maximal number?) will go to heaven? I don't know of Reppert appeals to middle knowledge like Craig does.

  2. I don't believe Reppert holds to molinism (I actually think he's a closet open theist universalist and errantist); however, even if he did, that's still irrelevant to my post given his view of hell, coupled with omniscience and means-end rationality.

  3. A person can, at the same time, desire the punishment of the wicked, but at the same time not want that punishment to be the last word. The OT God punishes, but is that the last word for these people? For the most part, the OT doesn't have a whole lot to say about the afterlife. Do we want the oppressors of Israel punished and defeated? Sure. Do we want that punishment and defeat to go on forever, if repentance is possible? No. A desire or hope that God should do something, even for a Mengele, is compatible with a desire for Mengele's just punishment.

  4. Victor,

    I have no idea what your comment has to do with the main idea of my post. You seem to have, again, only read the first paragraph and the react instead of interact.

    However, be that as it may, the God of the OT doesn't do what a "wuving" human would do. If telling people to kill not only the woman and children, but kitties and puppies too, is "wuving," then that term has lost any faint meaning it had. That's just my strongly held intuition and seems to be a fairly strong lingustic point. Or, does that kind of argument only work when you make it?

    As far as the OT on the after life, what have you read? For instance, have you read OT scholar Daniel Block's paper on the subject? Or his comments on hell and the after life in his commentary on Ezekiel?

    Oh, btw, you've lost any right to appeal to yes Jesus loves me songs, and ideas you think have traditionally held when you flirt with universalism. If you can agree with a position that goes against well over 90% of the Churches teaching on the matter, as well as the way virtually everyone has interpreted certain texts, then you've given up the right to use your argument from language. If all the teaching on an eternal hell can mean that no one will go there and all will go to heaven and be forgiven (even sins unforgivable), then you don't really get to complain about what we do to the word "love."