“My post in the combox of Steve’s second post suggesting that Arminians were Neo-Manicheans, and that Billy’s response was benign, was supposed to be more funny than anything. Quite frankly, I found Steve’s initial post to be funny, and so I was responding in kind. However, I do think that some of the ‘logical connections’ I drew are just as valid as any Steve drew in his initial post, despite Steve’s protests.”
Here is Ben hedging his bets. On the one hand he issues this disclaimer so that we’ll go easy on the quality of his reasoning, since it was just a “lighthearted parody.”
On the other hand, he sticks to claim that his comparisons were just as valid as mine.
“But Steve never explains why it is bad that in Arminianism, God does not cause evil. He assumes it, but does not explain it.”
Why is Manichean/Zoroastrian dualism bad? Why is it bad to have two autonomous principles: a force for good and a force for evil?
Of course, Arminianism can bite the bullet and admit that it’s not such a bad thing after all. But that would concede the comparison.
“But that evil is not caused by an opposing deity, so the comparison to Manichaeism falls flat.”
An opposing deity by another name. The question, once again, is whether Manichaeism/Zoroastrianism simply takes Arminian assumptions to their logical conclusion.
“And I can just as well state that it is bad that Calvinism shares in common with Manichaeism the doctrine of exhaustive determinism, since in both cases God is caused to be the author of all sin and evil (which I think is a bad thing, but maybe Steve would just say that it isn’t a bad thing to him).”
i) Actually, he hasn’t shown that Manichaeism teaches a doctrine of “exhaustive determinism.”
ii) And he hasn’t show what form of determinism it takes. Determinism comes in many different forms.
iii) And he also hasn’t specified the respective role of evil in both systems. For example, is it a means to a greater good in both systems?
iv) And he hasn’t defined “author of sin.”
If Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the author of Prof. Moriarty, is that a bad thing? Moriarty is a villain. Does that make Doyle a villain as well?
v) Does this mean Ben has no objection to “exhaustive determinism,” per se, but only to exhaustive determinism in connection with evil? Would he be okay with exhaustive determinism in a sinless world?
“Why should I need to do this when Steve is not willing to explain the differences between dualism in Mane’s theology and what he imagines to be dualism in Arminianism? At the very least he must admit that it is a different ‘type’ of dualism, so his comparison falls flat by his own standards.”
I specified the level at which I was comparing them. Ben needs to do the same thing.
“Again, why should I need to show this? Why can’t I just assert it like Steve asserts so many things concerning the ‘logical connections’ between Manichaeism and Arminianism, with no documentation? Why can’t I just assert it like Steve asserts that, ‘All the various religions and philosophies past and present are variants on three basic worldviews: Calvinism, atheism, and Manichaeism’ with no documentation? (BTW, I find it ironic that so many Calvinists on this thread are complaining about documentation when Steve continually evaded the need to show documentation when challenged in the combox of his initial thread, though he did eventually mention some books he read on the subject of different Gnostic views, hardly the type of documentation one would expect to back up such assertions).”
No one has challenged the accuracy of my characterization vis-à-vis Manichaeism/Zoroastrianism.
Likewise, no one has challenged my contention that Arminians have a habit of assigning the good things to God and the bad things to finite agents. That dichotomy is a key feature of their case against Calvinism.
To the extent that they soften that distinction, they lose the polemical point of contrast.
Look at how they frame the issue in terms of “authorship.” Now authorship is a creative metaphor. So where does that lead?
While Zoroastrians have two opposing gods, Arminians have two opposing authors. Zoroastrians have a God of good along with a God of evil while Arminians have an author of good along with an author of evil. (Indeed, several authors of evil, e.g. Satan, Adam, sinners.)
For the Zoroastrians and the Manicheans, two different Gods cocreate the world. For the Arminians, two different authors coauthor the world.
Different authors, different books. God authors the heroes while Satan authors the villains. God authors the chapter on creation while Satan authors the chapter on the fall. God authors the Incarnation while Satan authors the Crucifixion. (You can add other authors of sin, but the underlying principle remains the same.)
Arminians supply the documentation by the way they position themselves in relation to Calvinism. They supply the documentation for me–on a regular basis.
“Still, Piper, a leading Calvinist apologist and scholar, advocates the two wills view.”
And you’re welcome to critique his position, if you like. But don’t act as if that’s isometric with the Reformed tradition.
“More than that I explained why the contradictory wills view is a necessary implication in my comments with regards to panentheism.”
Even if, for the sake of argument, Calvinism were panentheistic, this would hardly show that God’s will is contradictory.
“No need to, since Calvinists believe that any such insights are given by God alone unconditionally and irresistibly.”
The fact that God unconditionally elects some people to salvation doesn’t mean belief in election is unconditionally given. We are saved by election, not by believing in election–although we have a moral obligation to believe that revealed truth.
“Otherwise, Calvinists might boast in the fact that they were smart enough to discover these doctrines on their own, while others were not.”
Arminians don’t reject the doctrines of grace because they aren’t smart enough. They reject the doctrines of grace because predestination offends their delicate moral sensibilities. They tell us that all the time.
“Furthermore, even Calvinists generally admit that all Christians start out with an Arminian view point until they are privileged enough to discover (by way of irresistible divine illumination) the ‘doctrines of grace’. Here is a quote from Calvin to that effect...”
i) Was Calvin talking about how all Christians start out? Or about how all unbelievers start out–some of whom become Christians?
ii) Do you want us to say that Arminians are damned?
iii) You also have a habit of using “irresistible” out of context. In TULIP, “irresistible” stands for regeneration. Regeneration is monergistic. This doesn’t mean that everything in Calvinism is monergistic. For example, Calvinism doesn’t define sanctification in monergistic terms.
“But before he can draw that comparison, he first needs to strip away everything that’s distinctive to Manichean dualism.’ (and everything that is distinctive to Arminianism as well).”
Once again, I was quite specific about the level at which I compared the two–unlike you.
“Oh, and as far as some other similarities between Calvinism and Hinduism (though they may be ‘dissimilar’ in other ways), Bob, in the combox of the initial post astutely observes, ‘For example, I could suggest that since Steve has suggested that God sources all things, suggesting that ‘evil’ is ultimately ‘good’, then we could correlated his view to Hinduism, which proposes that the Brahman is the final source of all that exists.”
Hinduism is a highly syncretistic and pluralistic tradition. There’s no one Hindu view of anything. It’s the very antithesis of a monolithic outlook.
“Yes, I do know the difference between literary forms of comedy. I thought it was obvious that I was being less than serious here.”
Yes, it’s so humorous to impute to Calvinists the view that hell is “funny.”
“However, the point still stands regardless of which view of comedy we take.”
Since you merely asserted a “spiritual caste system,” you’re point has nothing to stand on.
“Which misses the point entirely since there never was any ‘real danger’ to be shielded from, since they were chosen only for salvation from before the creation of the universe, remember? How then were they ever in any ‘real danger’ of damnation? Quite the red-herring here.”
You’re arguing in circles. Does the fact that guardrails prevent some cars from going over the cliff mean there was no real danger in the first place?
i) You’re equivocating over what makes something dangerous. Something can be inherently dangerous, but not be dangerous to me if something else shields me from the danger. The fact that I’m not in danger doesn’t mean there is no real danger.
ii) And you have yet to explain why you seem to think it’s a bad thing that some people were never in danger of hell. Do you think God would be wronging us unless everyone were in peril of going to hell? If, say, a five-year-old who dies of cancer was never at risk of damnation, do you think that reflects poorly on God’s character?
“The better question would be: why do Calvinists continue to use such lame counter arguments and expect Arminians to concede to them?”
A better question would be: why do Arminians ask question-begging questions?
“Really, the elect are not a 'chosen race' (1 Peter 2:9)?…The same is true here. The elect are a chosen race favored above all else in Calvinism, even if the basis for that favor is different (i.e. not based on skin color, etc.).”
i) Peter is using genos as a metaphor. The fact that the chosen “race” includes gentile believers should make that clear. He’s taking an OT reference to the Jewish people, and deliberately extending it to those who do not share a common lineage with Abraham.
ii) In that case, they’re not literally a chosen “race.” So if the basis is different, then what does Ben’s comparison amount to? What do they have in common?
iii) Ben said Calvinists reflect a “master race” mentality. That, of course, alludes to the “Aryan” outlook of the Nazis. So what does Calvinism share in common with Nazi racism? Having eliminated the racial component of racism, explain what is left?
“As Steve points out in his initial post, ‘And life in a fallen world is a place in which some of us are also favored to learn what it feels like to be redeemed. Delivered. Forgiven.’ (but most are not uncomditionally favored in such a way).”
i) Once again, how is that comparable to Nazi racism?
Racism isn’t based on unconditional favoritism. Rather, it has very decided conditions. It’s predicated on theories of racial superiority and racial purity. You must meet the conditions to be so favored.
ii) Or is Ben saying that any form of favoritism is morally equivalent to racism?
So if a man does something for his wife or son that he wouldn’t do for Osama bin Laden, does Ben think that makes him a quasi-racist?
“I think some do, but regardless…”
No, not “regardless.” You don’t get to indulge in drive-by smears. Quote some representative Reformed theologians who equate all and only Calvinists with the elect.
“Calvinists do see themselves as the unconditionally elect of God, favored above all else from all eternity.”
They don’t consider themselves to be elect to the exclusion of Lutherans or Moravians or Anabaptists, &c. They don’t think God has favored them above everyone else. That’s just another scurrilous attack.