“VR: I hope that we can avoid interpreting the Bible as saying something that absurd.”
So, according to Reppert, we don’t actually need to exegete the Bible. To employ the grammatico-historical method.
Instead, our interpretation is dictated by what we think is absurd or not.
Notice that Reppert isn’t asking whether a given interpretation is absurd to the author. He isn’t asking if this interpretation is absurd from Paul’s point of view.
No. For Reppert, all that counts is what is absurd or not to a reader. Absurd from Reppert’s viewpoint.
How is it possible to even have a rational dialogue with someone who has such a childish outlook on hermeneutics?
If that’s his standard, then how is his interpretation of Scripture any better than Mary Baker Eddy’s? Or Sun Myung Moon’s?
“Are we being told that Almighty God, in dealing with those who have voluntarily submitted their wills to Him, has to have damned souls in existence so that the blessed can appreciate the graciousness of their salvation?”
Why not? To take a mundane example, you have somebody who takes life for granted. One day he’s running late to catch a plane. Because he’s late, he misses his flight. Then, as he’s walking back to the parking garage, he sees the plane burst into flames in mid-air.
In light of this narrow escape, he reevaluates his life. He suddenly comes to appreciate the preciousness of every day on earth.
“If such a claim were biblical, it would be a case against inerrancy.”
When you reject the inerrancy of Scripture, it’s not as if that move merely undercuts Calvinism. It also undercuts any theological tradition which claims to derive its theology from divine revelation.
Absent divine revelation, what basis is there for Reppert to believe in a loving God? What basis is there for Reppert to believe in universalism?
"You were like a firebrand snatched from the flames" (Amos 4:11).