Saturday, July 11, 2009

Under the Boardwalk

Congrats, Steve: an entire post about something I wrote without rank personal insults! I confess that I wouldn't-a-thunk it possible. But there it is . . .

Once Bridges starts commenting, this will no longer be the case, of course LOL But, give credit where it is due . . .

"Burn all" Bridges wouldn't let me, even if I wanted to reply and attempt intelligent discussion. You see how he deleted all my words in another recent thread.

1. Notice, two threads below here, that the first one to throw an insult was not me. It was Dave.
Good job, Dave.

2. For the record, I'm not an admin here.

a. That means I only have control over the threads that I post myself. So, Dave is free to engage Steve if he wishes.

Besides, isn't this the same Dave who was challenging anti-Catholics to debate not so long ago?

Here's the rub...Dave feels free to post when he wishes when it comes to his "honor," what little of it there is. On the other, he doesn't wish to defend his theological work when he's publicly challenged. However, when we refuse to debate him, for whatever reason we cite," it is we, who are running from debate, not Dave. No, Dave hides behind his "I don't have time to debate anti-Catholics" line. He'll lie about them and insult them, but he won't debate them. Good show, Dave.

b. What Dave fails to mention is that Dave was warned...I said "One more word" and you'll be deleted. Apparently, in Dave's mind that means "2 more posts."

c. As I stated clearly, that's what got all of Dave's comments deleted. In other words, just to spell it out for Dave..."One more word" means "one more word." The fact that Dave took advantage of that earned him the full deletion because the second comment was an insult to Turretinfan. Why? Because like the other low brow opponents to whom Pike, Jason, Steve, Manata, and I have had to reign in, when he continues to post after such a warning, he's sending the signal that he doesn't consider his posts to be worth keeping...and instead of engaging TF, he insults TF. Once more: Good show, Dave.

Remind us again why you keep your word and it is we who lie...?

As to any "clarification" of facts...that's a real hoot, Dave. You took my words out of context and you have the gall to act like you're the honest person? Indeed, you and I wouldn't be having this little "chat" if you hadn't opened your big mouth in the first place and invoked my name to start with. Just remember that, Dave. You, not I, initiated this discussion. If you don't like that, then here's a clue...keep your mouth shut. Your posts have all the integrity of a teenage schoolgirl caught gossiping about somebody who, when caught, gets angry at the person who caught her and doesn't realize what she's done herself.

Back, back under the boardwalk, Troll. The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you!

Purgatory and prayer

Traditionally, Catholicism tries to prooftext the dogma of Purgatory by citing certain passages which are taken to involve prayers for the dead (cf. 2 Mac 12:43-46; 2 Tim 1:16-18).

There are a number of problems with this appeal, but for now I’ll focus on just one in particular. Many different religions have prayers for the dead, whether Catholic or pagan or Hindu or Buddhist or Shinto, &c. Yet different religions have different eschatologies. What it means for a pagan or Buddhist to pray for the dead is not what it means for a Catholic to pray for the dead. For example, Buddhist might pray that his departed loved one enter Nirvana, not heaven. Be delivered from the wheel of reincarnation, not the pangs of Purgatory.

As such, you can’t infer Purgatory from prayers for the dead. For divergent conceptions of the afterlife are equally convergent with prayers for the dead.

Scripture-twisting for Catholicism

I see that Dave Armstrong is using 2 Tim 1:16-18 as a prooftext to justify prayers for the dead. I’ll just touch on a few problems with his use of this text:

1.If Paul shared the Catholic view of Purgatory, then why would he merely offer a prayer in passing for the departed soul of Onesiphorous? Wouldn’t we expect Paul to celebrate a requiem mass on behalf of Onesiphorus?

2.Likewise, why doesn’t Paul pray to Mary, Queen of Heaven, to intercede on behalf of Onesiphorus?

3.It’s striking to see the way in which Armstrong misquotes Guthrie, to plant the false impression that Guthrie supports his interpretation. To the contrary, Guthrie is summarizing an interpretation he disagrees with as a preliminary step to then present his contrary interpretation.

4.Armstrong also passes over in silence the various commentators who take issue with his interpretation (e.g. Knight, Liefeld, Marshall, Mounce, Towner).

5.Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this is a prayer for the dead, how are the specifics of this prayer consistent with Catholic dogma? Paul is praying that Onesiphorus will find mercy on the Day of Judgment. But if Onesiphorus went to Purgatory when he died, then it’s a sure thing that he will find mercy on the Day of Judgment. By definition, Purgatory is reserved for heaven-bound decedents (in Catholic dogma).

Praying for the dead in Purgatory is a prayer to hasten their progress in Purgatory. To expedite their entrance into heaven. It’s not a prayer for postmortem salvation–as if their eternal fate still hangs in the balance.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Things God Causes

When dealing with Arminians, it is helpful to demonstrate the passages of Scripture detailing God's sovereignty. It is not enough to simply say, "God is sovereign" for Arminians will agree with that statement; one must also show what it means for God to be sovereign, for it is plain that Arminians do not agree that God is sovereign in the same scope that Calvinists believe God is sovereign.

So allow me to just post some of the myriad number of verses detailing just what things God causes. As a result, these are just passages that use the English word "cause." (As these passages are all (save one) from the Old Testament, you should bear in mind that one cannot do a search for the Hebrew word for "cause" since Hebrew verbs indicate causality by inflection, and such verbs are known as hiphil verbs, which means there will be many more hiphil verbs than are represented by the verses below since translators can use a different word than "cause" if the context warrants.) Many of these verses actually fit more than one of the categories that I've got them listed in. Furthermore, some of the selections may be disputed, and I will draw special attention to those (and to why I believe the dispute is moot) after the list.

Weather/natural processes:
Genesis 2:5-7
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Exodus 9:18
Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.

Job 37:10-15
By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen. Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?

Job 38:12
Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place;

Psalm 78:16
He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

Psalm 78:26
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind;

Psalm 104:14
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth

Psalm 105:29
He turned their waters into blood and caused their fish to die.

Isaiah 66:9
"Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the Lord; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God.

Genesis 2:21
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

Genesis 20:13
And when God caused me to wander from my father's house, I said to her, "This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother."

2 Kings 21:8
And I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander anymore out of the land that I gave to their fathers, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the Law that my servant Moses commanded them.

Genesis 39:3
His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.

Isaiah 63:11-13
Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths?

Victory in War:
Deuteronomy 28:7
The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

Defeat in War:
Deuteronomy 28:25
The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.

Jeremiah 19:7
And in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth.

Jeremiah 49:2
Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will cause the battle cry to be heard against Rabbah of the Ammonites; it shall become a desolate mound, and its villages shall be burned with fire; then Israel shall dispossess those who dispossessed him, says the Lord.

Lamentations 2:8
The Lord determined to lay in ruins the wall of the daughter of Zion; he stretched out the measuring line; he did not restrain his hand from destroying; he caused rampart and wall to lament; they languished together.

Ezekiel 32:12
I will cause your multitude to fall by the swords of mighty ones, all of them most ruthless of nations. “They shall bring to ruin the pride of Egypt, and all its multitude shall perish."

Zechariah 11:6
For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, declares the Lord. Behold, I will cause each of them to fall into the hand of his neighbor, and each into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the land, and I will deliver none from their hand.

2 Samuel 23:5
For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?

Psalm 106:46
He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive.

Ezekiel 32:14
Then I will make their waters clear, and cause their rivers to run like oil, declares the Lord God.

Ezekiel 36:11
And I will multiply on you man and beast, and they shall multiply and be fruitful. And I will cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and will do more good to you than ever before. Then you will know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 36:33
Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt.

Zechariah 8:12
For there shall be a sowing of peace. The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

Psalm 88:8
You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape;

Psalm 88:18
You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness

Isaiah 30:30
And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstones.

Lamentations 1:14
My transgressions were bound into a yoke; by his hand they were fastened together; they were set upon my neck; he caused my strength to fail; the Lord gave me into the hands of those whom I cannot withstand.

Lamentations 3:32
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

Ezekiel 31:15
Thus says the Lord God: On the day the cedar went down to Sheol I caused mourning; I closed the deep over it, and restrained its rivers, and many waters were stopped. I clothed Lebanon in gloom for it, and all the trees of the field fainted because of it.

Ezekiel 32:4
And I will cast you on the ground; on the open field I will fling you, and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you, and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you.

His name to be remembered:
Exodus 20:24
In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.

Ezra 6:12
May the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem.

Psalm 111:4
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.

Isaiah 61:11
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

Jeremiah 33:15
In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Ezekiel 29:21
On that day I will cause a horn to spring up for the house of Israel, and I will open your lips among them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 36:27
And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Ezekiel 37:5-6
Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.

1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

The first possible objection to the above list that I can foresee is the inclusion of Job 37:10-15. This passage was not spoken by Job, and therefore one could think it was spoken by one of his detractors, whom we all know were just a bunch of scumbags who wouldn't have gotten anything right if their lives depended on it, etc. etc. etc. In reality, however, this was said by Elihu, the one who gave good advice to Job. Furthermore, the sentiment is confirmed by other passages showing God's control over the weather, and indeed by God Himself in the very next chapter. That verse, too, may be "challenged" because God is asking Job if Job causes the dawn; but the nature of the question includes the obvious "like me" assumed by God.

The next thing that might be disputable is the inclusion of Deuteronomy 28. Here, God promises that He will cause both victory in battle and defeat in battle. But Deuteronomy 28 is actually showing the difference between what will happen to Israel if they keep His commands or if they disobey His commands. Therefore, one could say that obviously God cannot cause both victory and defeat because Israel will only be either righteous or unrighteous at any one point in time. However, should this sentiment be given, it is enough to affirm that God claims the ability to instantiate either of the two options, which means that He can indeed cause either victory or defeat in battle.

Finally, some may object to my putting Ezekiel 37:5-6 in, since it is the vision of dry bones that Ezekiel had. Of course, when one realizes that I have this put under "regeneration" instead of, say, a category like "resurrection" then you'll see that I've already taken the "vision" aspect into account. Ezekiel 37 identifies the bones: "Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off’" (verse 11); and it also identifies what God has done: "And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord" (verse 14). Thus, this putting in of the Spirit seems to be equivalent to regeneration and new life.

Regardless, even with the removal of these "questionable" passages, it is clear that God causes, or at least can cause if He so desires, the weather and other natural events (including sleep and birth), success, prosperity, calamity, the outcome of warfare, His continual worship, righteousness, and regeneration. Furthermore, some of what God causes is done in such a manner that Libertarian Free Willers would insist is nothing short of coercion. For example, why did God cause the largest hail storm ever to appear in Egypt? It was part of His continual plan to destroy Egypt so that they would release the Israelites and know that He was God. Note that God did not simply allow Pharaoh to exercise his free will; He forced Pharaoh to conform to His will.

Furthermore, it is difficult to see how God could cause the outcome of battles to be determined without violating Libertarian concepts. Battles are determined mainly by who lives and who dies, and thus when God determines the outcome, He must ensure who lives and who dies, and death would be a fairly radical violation of free will!

More important, however, this means that the commander God didn't pick could not possibly make a choice that would enable his victory; nor could the chosen commander make a choice that would cause his own defeat. To picture why this would be difficult to allow in Libertarian terms, think of what would happen if God said, "I am going to cause black to win this chess game." If this is true, then it is impossible for white to play a winning game, and it is impossible for black to play a losing game. But assuming both are competent players, such an outcome cannot be guaranteed unless God "disables" white from picking a winning strategy and "disables" black from picking a losing strategy. This means not just that all options are no longer available, but in fact that the only options that are left inevitably lead to the same end result! Besides this, even if we say that black is just a superior player, then that doesn't get us off the hook—for if black wins simply because he is the superior player, God cannot in any way claim He caused the outcome.

Is Lateran IV anti-Semitic?

Paul Hoffer said...

Hmmm.....I am sorry Steve, I don’t see all of the blatant anti-Semitism there that you see. I made an appointment to get my eyes checked though. I will let you know after I get my new prescription glass on Fri. to see if I see things any differently.

Interesting question. The attitude of medieval Christians toward Jews was certainly nothing to be proud of. The indignities and annoyances inflicted by the canons you quote were pretty mild compared top some things you could find. The prevailing attitude was that these folks ought to have known the true religion when they saw it because it could be proved out of their own scriptures. The medievals had trouble understanding that a person with the wrong religion could be in good faith. Also, Jews were allowed to lend money at interest and Christians (at least theoretically) were not. So lots of Christians owed money to Jews and resented the fact. Hence Canon 67.

The anti-Semitism of more recent times seems to me more racial and social, less religious than the medieval Christian attitude toward Jews. There's a lot to be ashamed of in both.

RER [Robert E. Rodes]

The very short answer to your question is “yes,” the sections of the 4th Lateran Council that you cite are generally taken by historians to represent the anti-Jewish stance of the medieval Church.

The slightly more long-winded, though not full, response is as follows:

The 3rd and 4th Lateran Councils represent the high-water mark of the power and energy of the medieval Papacy. This was the time that a series of dynamic and capable popes sought to standardize and centralize Catholic religious practice and, more generally, enhance papal authority throughout the Latin West. Part of this effort included a renewed dedication to the implementation of a number of rules and policies that had been part of ecclesiastical doctrine for centuries but that had not been regularly (or, in some cases, even minimally) enforced by local bishops, kings, or town councils. The canons you cite need to be read against this general backdrop of centralization and reform.

The idea of separating Jews (and Muslims) from the body of Catholic society has its roots in Roman legislation. One can argue that the antiquity of such “separate and unequal” laws does not erase their underlying anti-Jewishness. The decision to enforce them with vigor, and to reproach those Christians that had heretofore ignored them does seem to signal a change in outlook of the medieval Church. Whether this was a much-needed reform instituted by hardliners, or a destabilizing attack on a society that had built bridges connecting religious communities depends on your stance.

Clearly, the language and the accusations (do they represent fact?) of Jewish “treachery” and “mocking” of Christians are touched with a certain measure of anger and malice. Moreover, the canons give credence to “reports” of Jewish wrongdoing such as anti-Christian taunts during Easter that were non-existent. On the contrary, medieval Jews typically shut themselves securely within their walled Jewish Quarters during Easter week to try and avoid the nearly perennial anti-Jewish violence that the holiday provoked among the Christian masses.

The canons also hint at the underlying and ongoing struggle for power between the Papacy and the various secular lords of medieval Europe. Popes were forever threatening kings and other lords (including bishops) to toe the line or risk retribution. Most kings saw these as empty threats, and refused to bow to papal pressure. England, Portugal Castile and Catalonia-Aragon were notorious in this regard. The Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, also locked horns with Pope Innocent IV not long after the promulgation of these canons. The kings were not necessarily friends of the Jews, but they refused to allow the Church to tell them how to govern their subjects. Ironically, nearly all the popes of this era followed royal practice in appointing Jews to positions of power, despite their own prohibitions in this regard.

If you are interested, I deal with the subject in greater depth with regard to Spain in my book The Sephardic Frontier.

Hope this helps.

All best,

Jonathan Ray
Samuel Eig Assist. Professor of Jewish Studies
Georgetown University

[Jonathan Ray is the Samuel Eig Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department. Professor Ray specializes in medieval and early modern Jewish history, focusing on the Sephardic world. His research explores the "convivencia" or coexistence between Christian, Muslim and Jewish societies in Iberia and throughout the broader Mediterranean world. His courses include: Under Crescent and Cross: Jewish Middle Ages; Jews of Spain in the Middle Ages; and Jews and Judaism in the world of Islam.]

Blomberg at DC

I see that John Loftus successfully lured Craig Blomberg to do a guest post at DC. From Loftus’ perspective, the purpose of this exercise was to gain some vicarious respectability. Not being a serious thinker or scholar in his own right, Loftus craves the attention and validation of men who are.

Blomberg later admits that he should have studied DC a bit more thoroughly before accepting the invitation. Perhaps Loftus’ invitation was deceptive. The whole transaction reminds one of Hansel & Gretel–if you know what I mean.

Blomberg is a sophisticated proponent for the historicity and inerrancy of the NT. On a related note, he’s also been defending the historical Jesus for many years now.

In that regard he’s rendered a great service to the church over the years. We salute him for his service to the cause.

Given his field of specialization, Blomberg’s post and subsequent replies are strong where you’d expect them to be strong, and weak where you’d expect them to be weak. There's some useful material, but it also suffers from some predictable limitations.

We can get different things from different thinkers and scholars. The wisest course of action is to mix and match the best that each has to offer in relation to the others.

Red herrings on sale

"The Frankfort example has numerous problems, such as 1) there is no 'sign' beforehand indicating what the choice will be"

Irrelevant to a thought-experiment. It’s not designed to illustrate how the action can be foreknown. A thought-experiment needn’t be consistent or realistic in every respect to achieve its purpose.

"2) there's no such thing as a 'forced choice' so no device could trigger a choice"

i) That simply begs the question. Consider William James on forced options.

ii) Moreover, it's implausible. Even a choice made at gunpoint is still a choice. You could choose to be shot.

Forced choices, because they’re forced, may mitigate the responsibility of the agent, but it’s still a genuine choice.

"3) the will is part of our immaterial soul, so no physical device could monitor and manipulate it."

Once again, irrelevant to a thought-experiment. It’s not designed to illustrate dualistic interactionism. Whether or not it's consistent with dualistic interactionism is beside the point.

Dan is hawking red herrings. I prefer crab and lobster.

“For me, it's enough to choose A or not - I don't need to extend things to the ability to choose A or B."

i) A distinction without a difference. Either choosing A or not choosing A is the same as choosing between A or non-A. Which is equivalent to choosing between A or B.

ii) Moreover, if the only choice at your disposal is to choose A or not, then that can often be a classic case of a forced option. I can either give the bank robber the combination of the safe or I can refuse to give him the combination–on pain of being shot in the head.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Dan's Wrong . . . Again

Dan the Arminian still refuses to deal with my citations of numerous dictionaries which define "choose" without containing the "essential element" he says "the" dictionary contains. Again, his argument is kaput and since he doesn't want to deal with the obvious refutations, might there be another Arminian who lauded Dan's argument that wants to try? Anyway, he's still responding to a post I did a while back, and in the meantime I've responded to all of his responses. In his latest post he again shows his unfamiliarity with his own side of the debate as he speculates about PAP, AP, W.L. Craig, and Frankfurt, all from his armchair. For those who are familiar with the literature, his post is simply something of a train wreck. I don't really have much to say, but will comment on just a few things that demonstrate my above claim:

1. Dan thinks there's a problem with Frankfurt counter examples and immaterial souls (but then grudgingly admits that Molinism can deal with this). Well, not just Molinism. That's not the relevant point. God is. But besides this, it is far from obvious that a Frankfurt mechanism could not affect an immaterial soul. Christians (those who believe in souls, and it is indeed ironic that many libertarians are resorting and turning to anthropological physicalism these days) believe in a tight unity between body and soul. A deep interaction. Why does heavy drinking, drug use, and blows to the head affect our "personality"? Affect things that are supposed to aspects of the "immaterial soul"? So it is far from obvious that Molinism or God is needed to deal with the immaterial nature of man and Frankfurt controllers. In fact, my point seems sufficiently strong enough to rebut Dan's repeated claims that mysterious souls somehow rule out Frankfurtian neurological-manipulating mechanisms.

2. Dan writes, "Thus, rejecting PAP harmonizes with my choose arguments." Besides the small defect that his "choose argument" has been shown to be obviously false, Dan seems to think there's some big difference between PAP and AP (alternative possibilities). But it's time to bring in an expert, again. Thus Kane, "Frankfurt-style cases (FSCs) were introduced to undermine 'the principle of alternative possibilities' or PAP. They were designed to show that a person could be morally responsible even though the person had no alternative possibilities (APs) or could not have done otherwise." (Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibility: Essays on the Importance of Alternative Possibilities, eds. Widerker & Mckenna, Ashgate, 2006, Kane, p. 91, emphasis mine).

3. Dan writes, "Further, PAP seems to be interpreted too specifically for my taste. You must be able to vote Democrat or Republican. You must be able to do good or evil. You must be able to eat chocolate or vanilla...For me, it's enough to choose A or not - I don't need to extend things to the ability to choose A or B" (emphasis mine).

So, Dan claims that PAP is set up as, say, needing to be able to choose P or Q or R, but not P or ~P. He says P or ~P is his position, which is not PAP, he says. This is getting old, but time to bring in some more libertarian experts:

"PAP: An agent is morally responsible for performing a given action A only if he could have avoided performing it" (ibid, Widerker, p.53).

"PAP: An agent S is morally responsible for its being the case that p only if S could have made it not the case that p." (ibid, Ginet, 75).

Notice that there's no talk of P or Q or R or n. It's just P or ~P. In other words, what Dan says is the reason he rejects PAP: "because it's enough [for his libertarianism] to choose A or ~A", looks just like he's citing the definition of PAP!

So far in our debate I've got layman Dan to disagree with leading libertarian action theorists: R. Kane, W. L. Craig, C. Ginet, D. Widerker, D. Hunt, A. Plantinga, W. Hasker, Kevin Timpe, &c! What hubris. Dan, an everyman theologian/blogger, who reads a few internet sources on libertarian action theory now and then, knows more about libertarian action theory than all the experts. Forgive me if I find this hard to swallow.

Not to be mean, but Dan just seems ignorant of much of the relevant literature. But I'm sorry to report that this isn't what's bad. Dan is ignorant that he's even ignorant. A dangerous combination indeed.

(P.S. I'd also suggest Dan read Timpe's book Free Will: Sourcehood and its Alternatives, for an argument that libertarianism demands acceptance of the PAP maxim, here's the abstract. It also seems like ought implies can demands acceptance of PAP, and Dan holds to ought implies can).

Troll Feeding Time

Dave "Troll" Armstrong must need his ego stroked, because he's gone back on his word, yet again, with respect to engaging "anti-Catholics," calling people names and so on and so on.

Over at Beggars All, he says of Jason Engwer:

I engaged apologist Jason Engwer in a huge, CARM-sponsored debate on SS and the fathers, but alas, he decided to leave the debate less than halfway through:

I've been in many debates about the fathers' views. My experience has been -- almost universally --, that the Protestant (even the many who weren't anti-Catholics, that I have debated) offers no further argumentation, once the Catholic side is presented. That's a shame, because for me, the best part of every debate or dialogue is in the second round, where things get very interesting. It's so rare to find anyone who is even willing to get that far into a discussion. 'Tis a pity. But if one has a weak case, this is altogether to be expected.
He writes of me:

The ones who turned down the chat debate made it very clear at the time, why they did so. For example, Gene Bridges, writing on TAO's blog on 10-25-07:

". . . you are a chronic liar . . . I'd rather not waste an over an hour of my already brief life on talking to you. It would be poor stewardship of my time. I follow the same policy with you that Steve Hays follows, and since the greater luminaries of the debate world aren't debating you, why should I? You're the one that refuses to debate them in public, . . . And here's another reason Dave: Titus 3 says to reject the factious man. You are the epitome of that man. You've demonstrated that several times. Further, this isn't about the truth for you Dave, however defined, it's about stroking your own overbloated ego. Frankly, after observing your past behavior as well, such as particular artwork that gets posted from time to time, I'm not willing to debate with a person of such obviously low character either."

There you go! I am a wicked, wascally scoundrel,and so ole Gene has no time to debate me!

Jason can speak for himself...

With respect to me...By way of reply:

Thank you, Dave for proving my words about you being a chronic liar are 100 percent true.

Here's what Uncle Dave didn't include, namely the full quote:

Dave, I don't keep up with your blog or comments that you hide in the comments of other blogs. I come by you when I stumble across you.

I have not received a proper request from you for a debate, so don't go running about telling people I have "refused" to debate you about anything. Notice that this is, what, all of one or two days, and already, according to you I've "refused."

In fact, let's put this in context, the only reason I am aware of your request now is that I saw it here.
It's announcement was not in an email to me (that would be too easy and logical, since my mail is public) but in a link to your blog that you posted one or two days ago, near the end of a comment thread on a prayer request for rain! Since it is presently raining here, I wasn't aware I needed to check it for debate challenges on Catholicism. Sorry,but that tactic earns you an automatic "No," since you lacked the integrity to simply email. You had your chance, and you blew it.
This reply is also here, and not on my blog to make that point. I've placed it where I found the challenge, and it's not in my email box.

Further, you are a chronic liar who says that we want monologues with you. As I recall, you are not banned from posting commentary in any article I have written on Catholicism on Tblog, and, since I've written on you recently, as I look around, I've seen my name show up once on your blog. Again, you had your chance then,and you blew it.

Oh - and since the infallibility of the Pope had not yet been made a de fide object of faith in Rome until the 19th century, what Steve and I have said stands, and, as usual, what you say doesn't begin to touch what we have stated. It suffers from anachronistic reading of texts.

If you would write something less than the long, incoherent, and rambling posts you write - posts that an English professor would grade "C" at best, I might be willing to do a blog debate. I prefer to respond to other articles or, in your case, to you shoddy, incompetent,and anachronistic exegetical work.

I don't use a chat function on my computer-not even for AOL - all chatrooms are blocked-, and I'm not a member of Paltalk, and don't intend to be. I don't even use a soundcard. I also have a real life in the real world, and that includes working as a freelance writer who will be chronically several conferences beginning in November. I also live with terminal illness. I'd rather not waste an over an hour of my already brief life on talking to you. It would be poor stewardship of my time.

I follow the same policy with you that Steve Hays follows, and since the greater luminaries of the debate world aren't debating you, why should I? You're the one that refuses to debate them in public, and then you have all the courage to issue a debate challenge to me near the end of a comment stream on praying for rain. I learned about it here, and then I had to Google that by first Googling for a debate challenge from you to me, going to your blog, which I don't read already, and then finding the thread on my blog, not in a thread on the topic of Catholicism, but on a prayer request for rain. Why should I honor that, Dave?

And here's another reason Dave: Titus 3 says to reject the factious man. You are the epitome of that man. You've demonstrated that several times. Further, this isn't about the truth for you Dave, however defined, it's about stroking your own overbloated ego. Frankly, after observing your past behavior as well, such as particular artwork that gets posted from time to time, I'm not willing to debate with a person of such obviously low character either. You've also taken an oath to stop interacting with "anti-Catholics", and yet here you are wanting us to interact with you. I, for one, take the Law on making vows seriously, and I am not going to contribute to you sin before God in violating your word.

But here is something you can do Dave. You can renounce Rome and all her merits. You can cast yourself on Christ and Christ alone, and you can trust in Him and Him onlyfor your eternal salvation.

I'll remind, you, Dave:

you are the very definition of the factious man about whom Paul warned Titus, as well as a chronic liar. Indeed, let's not forget, Dave, the way you "challenged" me to a "debate," and let's not forget that you were the one dictating the terms of the debate.

Let's put it this really are a second rate adversary. Debating you is about feeding your own overbloated ego. You sir, need to repent and turn to Christ, not engage in debates. That's one reason people refuse to debate you. It's not worth our time. TF is being extremely generous. If you really wanted a debate, you'd take him up on his terms. Debate his way on his terms...but, as always, it's all about Dave. It always has been and it always will.

Further, on the one hand, you constantly oscillate between not engaging anti-Catholics and then calling people whom you label anti-Catholic, such as yours truly and Jason, to debate. These two propositions pull in logically opposing directions. Pick a position and stick with it, Dave. It's just that simple. But the fact that you can't be bothered to keep you own word, much less tell the truth signals to us that you are dishonest opponent. Why should anybody on your side of the aisle or ours debate dishonest opponents?

You're a troll, Dave. Normally, I don't feed them. Now go back under your bridge. Away with you. Go pester somebody else.

And before you get the completely illogical idea that I am either up for debate now or are somehow "afraid" to debate you. No, Dave, not at all, on either count. Why? Well, I've had some very serious family issues going on for the past few months, some of which has cleared up, some of which has not. That is a large part of the reason I don't post on Tblog very much at all. I've not had much to say, and I've not had the time to say much. Simply put, my real world responsibilities are taking my priority right now. It's that simple.

Singers on singing

While we're on the subject of vocalism, Jerome Hines has some revealing comments about a shift in vocal standards in opera:


Hines: Let me put it this way. We are facing a generation of young singers who are much more diminutive in their approach to singing. I will sing King Mark with a Tristan who I feel should be doing Almaviva.

Shore: Jerry, a few years ago a major regional opera company did DON CARLO and hired you to do the Grand Inquisitor. A young international bass of the current generation, who I will simply call Mr. X, was the Philip. The Chorus Master is a friend of mine and he relayed this account of the show. He said, "We all thought Mr. X was sounding just fine as Philip until out walked Jerome Hines as the Grand Inquisitor, and he made Mr. X sound like a teenager. WE HAD ALL FORGOTTEN WHAT A REAL BASS SOUNDS LIKE."

Hines: I have a tape of that performance and Mr. X sounds like my little boy!

(Shore: While Jerry was alive I never revealed who "Mr. X" was but now that Jerry is gone I don't mind revealing that Mr. X was Sam Ramey and the opera company was Tulsa where Ramey was singing Philip and Hines was the Inquisitor.)

Shore: Can you describe the differences in the way singers sounded when you were coming into the business 50 years ago and how they sound now?

Hines: Yes, when I came to the Met, Robert Merrill and Leonard Warren sounded more like basses than most of the basses you hear today. Take Lawrence Tibbett. He had a big, world-class sound. It was a richer, heavier sound by far than what you hear from baritones today.

Shore: Jerry do you think that we in the universities should hold up the professional singer's voice as a model for our young students?

Hines: Oh, absolutely. I'll give you an example. I went to a major university to do a series of master classes. They had a recital the first thing when I got there. The worst singer on the program was a tenor. He was just a disaster. But he had a couple of notes that really got my attention. I heard buried in there another Mario Del Monaco. I took him aside and told him to come for a voice lesson within the next day or two. He came in with "Nessun dorma," and "Ch'ella mi creda." I started working with him. I said, "Don't be afraid of it. Sing with some real guts," and I started showing how to do it, how to correct the high voice. Within an hour he was just knocking the socks off of it. So I spoke to the chairman of the department and said, "Come to this guy's next lesson. I want to get your opinion." So she did, and he just sang up a storm. At the end of the lesson she said to me, 'I WOULD NEVER HAVE GUESSED THAT HE HAD THAT VOICE IN HIM, AND IF I HAD SUSPECTED IT, I WOULD HAVE BEEN AFRAID TO HAVE LET HIM SING THAT WAY FOR FEAR HE WOULD HAVE HURT HIS VOICE AND I WOULD HAVE LOST MY JOB." Then she said, "YOU KNOW, I THINK I HAVE A CONFESSION TO MAKE. I THINK THAT WE VOICE TEACHERS IN ACADEMIA ARE DESTROYING A WHOLE GENERATION OF SINGERS. WE ARE AFRAID TO LET THEM SOUND LIKE OPERA SINGERS FOR FEAR THAT THEY MIGHT HURT THEIR VOICES AND WE MIGHT LOSE OUR JOBS.' And that was her confession to me."



Michael Jackson's condition remains stable and unchanged this week.

Police state football genius Steve McNair was murdered by the woman he was cheating with over fears that he was cheating on her.

Good news! Unemployment not as bad as feared, despite hitting record high since the Labor Department began keeping statistics in 1967! Huzzah!

Protests chanting in weird foreign language get murdered in Iran over something inconsequential and hardly worth mentioning.
New poll confirms: Michael Jackson cool!

Stay tuned to Triablogue for more on these important events.

Peter Pan forever

Since I was never a teenage girl, it’s hard for me to identify with the mindset of a teenage girl. But there’s apparently a phase during which otherwise sane and sober members of the opposite sex swoon and scream and pine for boys of a particular type. Soft and sweet–like a stuffed animal.

In the nature of the case, the professional lifespan of teenybopper heartthrob rivals the Mayfly.

Over the years I’ve had a succession of forgettable, replaceable, interchangeable specimens inflicted on me as a captive member of the audience while I stood in line for the cashier. Once upon a time it was David Cassidy. Then his brother Shaun upstaged him. Justin Timberlake came and went. So did Ryan Philippe.

I take it that Zac Efron is the current teenage heartthrob du jour, although he's dangerously close to being over the ill. Maybe the Jonas brothers are easing him out.

Besides the checkout stand, you also stumble across this sort of thing when you're channel surfing. It’s a strange, parallel universe.

Normally, these performers fade from the scene when they can’t pass for junior high or high school students any more. However, the Sixties locked in the youth culture.

In this respect we might compare Frank Sinatra with Michael Jackson. Sinata started out as a teenage heartthrob.

But he grew up. And when he grew up, he outgrew that image. He became a grown man. He didn't try to look or act like he was a high school student all his life.

But I think the Sixties created a market niche for a permanent teenybopper pop star.

Michael Jackson never grew up. Made a virtue of immaturity. Precious.

And there’s a teenybopper subculture for whom arrested adolescence is the new ideal. Boyhood over manhood. Indeed, androgyny over masculinity. Jackson–with his little girl speaking voice. His little girl singing voice. His girlish hair and dainty complexion.

Doomed to repeat the past

We’ve all heard Santayana’s popular aphorism, variously paraphrased, that those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. But is it true?

To take an obvious example, many kids refuse to learn from the mistakes of their parents. And that’s not out of ignorance. Their parents have regaled them on their own youthful indiscretions, in hopes of deterring their kids from repeating the same mistakes.

Liberal academicians assure us that history is written by the winners. But that’s not true. Losers, precisely because they lost, are equally motivated to rewrite history to their advantage. They either recast themselves as the winners or else recast themselves as the victims. The injured party–even if they were the aggressors.

There’s a sense in which historical knowledge can enslave a people. They identify with the plight of their forebears. Historical grudges are handed down from one generation to the next. Who did what to whom.

One can imagine a science fiction story, set in post-apocalyptic future, in which a totalitarian regime forbids the teaching of history. It does so on the grounds that historical knowledge is divisive and dangerous. Historical knowledge perpetuates ancient animosities. Real or imagined wrongs are never forgotten. Never laid to rest.

As a result, the regime has banned historical textbooks. Existing copies are confiscated and destroyed.

But there’s an underground movement of insurgent historians who, in the name of freedom, foment a revolt. They recruit the younger generation. Together, they successfully topple the regime.

But once the new regime begins teaching history, the social fabric starts to unravel as various racial and ethic groups which had been living in a state of peaceful coexistence are suddenly given a long list of reasons to resent and distrust one another.

This leads to street gangs. Urban warfare. Civil war. The cycle repeats itself.

My point is not that we should stop teaching history, although a lot of what passes for history is historical revisionism and pure propaganda.

My point is simply that Santayana’s prescription is naïve. We will not find our salvation in the annals of history. Historical knowledge cannot deliver us from the bondage of sin.

People can become enslaved to the past. Fatal camaraderie with the dead. They keep fighting the last battle. Living in the past–sometimes a past that never existed. Defending the honor of the dead.


Michael Jackson fans frequently cite Thriller as the peak of his artistic career. This is the showcase of his artistic “genius.” It was downhill from there. Thriller was made before Jackson started getting “weird.”

Now, I admit that I’ve never seen Thriller from start to finish. It’s not my cup of tea. But I have seen the usual clips that are replayed ad nauseum.

From what I can tell, Thriller is a campy take-off of some horror film clichés. Night of the Living Dead. A terrified babe who’s desperately fleeing a psychopathic killer. That sort of thing.

How that adds up to musical genius isn’t transparently clear to me.

In addition, it seems to me that there’s already something a little bit “weird” about dancing zombies.

I really don’t see how this rises above the level of a popcorn movie. Indeed, the whole thing seems cornier than Kansas in August.

When Jackson fans defend his musical “genius,” they talk about the “complete package.” It isn’t any one thing–but the sum of the parts.

Okay, but aside from the fact that he seems to have been a pretty good hoofer in his prime, the sum of the parts is only as good as the parts.

It’s not as if he invented the musical. Remember Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly?

I can see how Thriller might be appealing to teenagers at a drive-in movie theater–alongside other camp classics, like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Responding to Dan

Dan asked:
Peter: re: Regeneration prior to faith
Titus 3:5 5(A)He saved us, (B)not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but (C)according to His mercy, by the (D)washing of regeneration and (E)renewing by the Holy Spirit.." We are saved by the washing of regeneration. That, in my opinion, occurs when we receive Christ as articulated in JN. 1:12 "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become (A)children of God, even (B)to those who believe in His name..." I don't see regeneration as occuring prior to faith. I understand why Calvinism believes this; I just don't think the Bible teaches it. Can you point me to some explicit texts that clearly teach it? Thanks.
First, you could start by dealing with what's already been mentioned about 1 John 5:1. ;-) Never mind, I'll deal with it again below.

As for your quote of Titus 3:5, you are committing a category error. Paul is mentioning specific steps toward a general outcome.

If it helps you to think about it, suppose you have a computer that will transport a signal to launch a rocket when it receives a command to do so. Further suppose that you have a button that instructs the computer to send such a message when it is pressed.

At time (t), you press the button. This causes the computer to send a signal to the rocket. That signal causes the rocket to launch. Which of these following statements is true:

1) The rocket launched because the button was pressed.
2) The rocket launched because the computer sent a signal to launch.
3) The rocket launched because the button sent a signal to a computer.
4) The rocket launched because Dan implemented the launch sequence.

The answer, of course, is that all of them are true. Yet none of them give the same information. However, if we stipulate all of the above four statements are true (and if we further restrict it by saying that there are safeguards in place to guarantee there can be no accidental launches), we can reconstruct the logical order of events. Namely: The rocket launched because Dan pushed a button that sent a signal to a computer that sent a signal to launch. Indeed, using logic like this, you can easily answer the following (assume all statements are true, and that the end result is always produced the same way so you can't have more than one possible path):

1) All Lumin is an effect of Beezles.
2) All Pilter cause Lumin.
3) All Lumin cause Refrax.
4) All Beezles is an effect of Pilter.

What is the logical order of the above?

Obviously we know from the first two points that both Beezles and Pilter precede Lumin. From the third point, we know that Refrax goes after Lumin, so it must also go after Beezles and Pilter. Finally, the fourth row tells us that Beezles comes after Pilter. Thus, the order is Pilter -> Beezles -> Lumin -> Refrax.

You can verify this easily enough.

1) Is Lumin an effect of Beezles in the above chain? Yes.
2) Does Pilter cause Lumin in the above chain? Yes.
3) Does Lumin cause Refrax in the above chain? Yes.
4) Is Beezles an effect of Pilter in the above chain? Yes.

So we know this chain is right.

Now, given that we all agree that the Bible contains true statements about salvation, let us examine them. Obviously, the roughest sketch of salvation would be:

Sinners -> some salvation process -> Christians

But what are the ingredients in that salvation process? Let's toss in all the passages I used in my previous post (which included Titus 3:5 too):

1) He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:5-7).

2) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God (1 John 5:1)

3) No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5)

4) If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9)

5) No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

6) The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

These are merely the passages I quoted before. There are more passages that deal with salvation, but most of them will repeat the above. If Dan thinks there's another relevant passage, he is certainly free to post it and we can examine it too.

Now let's try to summarize them a bit to make it easier to compare the concepts. I assume that Dan agrees that regeneration = new birth/rebirth = renewal by the Holy Spirit. So we have:

1) Salvation comes through regeneration.
2) Those who have faith have been regenerated.
3) No one can be saved unless he is regenerated.
4) You must confess Christ as Lord and have faith to be saved.
5) No one can say Christ is Lord except if he has the Spirit.
6) The man without the Spirit thinks spiritual things are foolish.

Now given all these statements are true, what must the logical order be? I will show you without even using the 1 John 1:5 passage (# 2 above)!

We see that 1 and 3 say pretty much the same thing; salvation requires regeneration. So we know that regeneration precedes salvation.

Regeneration -> Salvation

4 tells us that we must confess Christ is Lord and also have faith before we can be saved. So confession and faith precede salvation.

Confession/Faith/Regeneration -> Salvation

5 Tells us that one must have the Spirit before one can confess Christ is lord, so having the Spirit precedes the confession of Christ.

Faith/Regeneration -> Confession -> Salvation

6 Tells us that the man without the Spirit thinks spiritual things are foolish. If one accepts that faith is a spiritual activity, then the man without the Spirit cannot engage in faith. (And really, how can one believe in what one considers foolishness?)

Regeneration -> Faith -> Confession -> Salvation

So now we apply the method back. If Regeneration -> Faith -> Confession -> Salvation is true, let us evaluate the 6 expressions and see if the 6 expression remain true:

1) Salvation comes through regeneration.

This is true in the above. Salvation comes through Regeneration because as soon as Regeneration occurs, the rest inevitably follow.

2) Those who have faith have been regenerated.


3) No one can be saved unless he is regenerated.


4) You must confess Christ as Lord and have faith to be saved.


5) No one can say Christ is Lord except if he has the Spirit.


6) The man without the Spirit thinks spiritual things are foolish.


So Regeneration precedes Faith. But just for fun, what happens if we flip Regeneration and Faith?

Faith -> Regeneration -> Confession -> Salvation

1) Salvation comes through regeneration.


2) Those who have faith have been regenerated.

Potentially False! One has faith first, so one can potentially believe without having been regenerated, which means that it would be FALSE that "Those who have faith have been regenerated." The only way to try to "save" this chain is to say that faith and regeneration coincide temporally. Thus, the instant one has faith, one is regenerated. If there is any time delay at all, 2 is false and that means the Arminian chain is false.

3) No one can be saved unless he is regenerated.


4) You must confess Christ as Lord and have faith to be saved.


5) No one can say Christ is Lord except if he has the Spirit.

True (because the confession comes after regeneration even in the above).

6) The man without the Spirit thinks spiritual things are foolish.

False. The man without the Spirit somehow believes in spiritual truth because faith causes regeneration in the above chain.

So we see that the Arminian is required to hold that faith and regeneration are simultaneous events (something that is not too controversial to hold in and of itself...yet danger lurks!); but also that someone who is without the Spirit can still have faith. 6 is a major weakness to the Arminian position, and unfortunately for the Arminian, we can pile on more proof texts that would agree with 6:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:5-8).

We see that non-believers cannot please God, nor can they submit to His law. Since it certainly pleases God for someone to exercise faith, then we see once again that faith cannot come before regeneration. It is only the mind already set on the Spirit who can discern spiritual things.

Naturally, with all the texts such as the above, point 6 is a really tempting point to emphasize for the Calvinist. And really, it is sufficient. But more important than that, the Arminian position on point 2 is also in danger. We've already seen that it is potentially false as is; and when we examine the implications of 1 John further, we see that the Arminian position that faith can be temporally simultaneous with regeneration such that faith can logically precede regeneration is fatally flawed.

Though I already pointed this out in my previous post, I will run the following three passages through the logic:

1) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God (1 John 1:5).

2) If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him (1 John 2:29).

3) No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9).

Now again, we see the construct of these passages as follows. Each uses the perfect tense of "born". Each also has an active verb dealing with a present action. The Arminian claim MUST BE that when Paul uses this construct, the active, on-going verb must begin simultaneous to the perfect verb, and also be the cause of that completed verb. So we have the following:

1) Those who have faith have been regenerated.
2) Those who practice righteousness have been regenerated.
3) Those who avoid sin have been regenerated.

For the Arminian, all of these must take place simultaneously with faith. Just as regeneration must be simultaneous (temporally) with faith or else the Arminian has errors, so too must righteousness and avoidance of sin be simultaneous with faith. But not only that, if faith logically causes regeneration, then so too must righteousness and avoidance of sin logically cause regeneration. For faith, righteousness, and avoidance of sin are all treated identically by John in those statements. If something is true for one, it is true for all three.

Raising the bar

(Posted on behalf of Steve Hays.)

I don't normally discuss matters of musical taste. I think musical taste is...well...a question of taste. Adiaphorous.

But the Michael Jackson phenomenon introduces aesthetic standards into the debate. I often run across an argument that goes something like this: "Sure, Jackson was weird, but he was also a great song-and-dance man. So, to be fair, you have to balance the good with the bad."

My major problem with this argument concerns the moral priorities. Even if he was a great "artist," that hardly offsets his moral deficits.

However, another problem I have with this argument is that I don't accept either premise.

A lot of folks only listen to pop vocalism. As a result, their standards of vocalism are set by pop vocalism. What they consider great singing is great by the standards of pop vocalism. And they’re entitled to listen to whomever they please.

But by the same token, when I'm told by others that Jackson was a great vocalist, I'm entitled to disagree.

Singing, especially great singing, is a form of athleticism. To be a great athlete, you need a great natural endowment. You also need the skill to properly exploit your natural endowment.

And, to be frank, if you want to hear great singing, opera is the place to go. Notice I didn't say you should listen to opera. By and large, opera is a fairly decadent art form. But the opera stage sets the standard of great vocalism (not that all opera singers are great singers.)

Pop vocalism is to opera what badminton is to Wimbledon, put-put golf is to Augusta, or a pick-up game of football is to the Super Bowl.

Finally, classical vocalism, like many sports, develops the distinctive resources of the male and female body. In that respect it's a projection of masculinity or femininity. And that raises it above mere aesthetics.

It wouldn't hurt some folks who extol Jackson's musical "genius" to expose themselves to some genuine standards of vocal excellence.

Here are three examples of great male vocalism, representing tenor, baritone, and basso ranges respectively:
And here are some examples of great female vocalism:

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Empire Strikes Back

James Anderson responds to TurretinFan.

The apotheosis of Michael Jackson

It was impossible to find any real news on TV yesterday afternoon. Regularly scheduled programming was preempted by live, wall-to-wall coverage of the Jackson memorial. And then, of course, we were treated to a repeat performance–just in case we suffered the inconsolable loss of having missed the live coverage.

I try my best to avoid this, but, to some extent, it’s unavoidable, so I’ll make a few comments.

1.Part of the hype is market-driven. Supposedly, this is good for business. A ratings boost. It plays to a market niche.

Up to a point that’s true. There’s a demographic that can never have enough celebrity coverage. However, there is another demographic which finds that saturation coverage a major turn-off. So the media is pandering to one market niche while alienating another market niche. What causes some viewers to turn in causes others to tune out.

2.Another function of these public tributes is for washed-up entertainers and other has-beens to briefly reclaim the limelight.

3.I’m also a bit amused by how the act of dying can suddenly rehabilitate one’s image. Before the body was cold, the media immediately began to canonize Michael Jackson.

Yet, for many years prior to his death, the same media which has suddenly sainted him was busy shredding his reputation.

4.Apropos (3), I seem to remember a time when some prominent members of the black community turned against him. For one thing, they were offended by the way in which he mutated into a white man.

But, at a later date, it seems as if the black community rallied around him.

That’s unfortunate. One the one hand, the black community rightly resents the popular stereotype of blacks as pimps and gang-bangers and dope dealers. On the other hand, some segments of the black community never miss a chance to reinforce negative stereotypes by reflexively defending the worst possible representatives of black ethnicity and culture.

5.Jackson has also been praised for his success as a crossover artist. For his mass appeal to white audiences.

I don’t see how his popularity on that score indicates evolving social acceptance. At the risk of stating the obvious, Michael Jackson was a sorry excuse for a black man. You only have to put him up against Dennis Haysbert or Laurence Fishburne to see what’s missing. If the only black man that white music consumers can go for is a self-loathing eunuch like Jackson, then I don’t think that says very much about racial progress.

6.Finally, there’s a defiant amorality about the coverage. The studied refusal to consider the disturbing evidence of pedophilia. Turning an icon of evil into a great humanitarian.

Taking liberties with civil liberties

I largely agree with Posner’s critique of liberal fanaticism (see below). It brings the notion of civil liberties into disrepute when self-appointed civil libertarians stake out such willfully suicidal positions.

Having said that, I also think Posner presents us with a false dichotomy. The question at issue is not whether Americans need to curtail their preexisting civil rights to be safer. The issue, rather, is whether we should extend civil rights to groups which never had that protection before, to groups which are our sworn enemies, and will use the civil rights we extend to them to as another weapon to use against us.

What imperils our safety is not the preservation of our civil rights, but the unprecedented extension of civil rights to our mortal enemies (i.e. treating unlawful combatants as POWs).


I said in an earlier post that “religion” should be confined to the theistic religions. That is sensible when the issue is the role of faith-based morality in public policy. But in other contexts a broader sense of the word, to denote the embrace of a system of thought that is not responsive to scientific or pragmatic argu ment and hence is dogmatic, and that occupies a central place in the ideology of its adherents, can be illuminating. I am in creasingly struck by the aptness of the term to the type of civil libertarian who will have no truck with tradeoffs between secu rity and liberty. The choicest recent example of this outlook happens to be found in the opinion by an English judge, Lord Hoffman of the House of Lords, in a decision invalidat ing a post-9/11 British law allowing indefinite detention, with out a hearing, of aliens suspected of terrorism who can't be deported, either because no nation will accept them or only a nation in which they would be exposed to torture or other seri ous harms.

The case is A v. Secretary of State, [2004] UKHL 36, [2004] All ER(D) 271 (Dec. 26, 2004). I am not interested in whether it was decided correctly—one would have to know more about English and international human rights law than I do to opine responsibly on that question—but only in the mind set illustrated by Lord Hoffman’s opinion. Noting that “the power which the Home Secretary seeks to uphold is a power to detain people indefinitely without charge or trial,” he says that “nothing could be more antithetical to the instincts and traditions of the people of the United Kingdom.” This is a pious fraud, ignoring a long history of abuses of civil liberty by British police and security agencies, documented by the English legal historian A. W. Brian Simpson in his book In the Highest Degree Odious and by others. And Hoffman quickly retrenches by adding that the draconian laws enacted to curb the Irish Republican Army, laws similar to those challenged successfully by “A,” were justifiable because “it was reasonable to say that terrorism in Northern Ireland threatened the life of that part of the nation and the territorial integrity of the United King dom as a whole.” He acknowledges that “the threat of...atrocities" similar to the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. “in the United Kingdom is a real one.” But he denies that it is “a threat to the life of the nation….Whether we would survive Hitler hung in the balance, but there is no doubt that we shall survive Al-Qaeda.” Actuallly, there is more doubt that the United Kingdom will survive Islamist terrorism than there was that it would survive the Irish Republican Army, the aims of which were modest compared to those of Osama bin Laden and his associates and which did not aspire to the possession of weapons of mass destruction. Hoffman adds that “terrorist violence, serious as it is, does not threaten our institutions of government.” But considering how fiercely the British authori ties responded to the 9/11 attacks one imagines that their response to a similar or worse attack on Britain would leave little of the institutional framework of civil liberties standing; and Hoffman surely regards that framework as an important part of “our institutions of government.”

He concludes with what has become the first article in the civil liberties common book of prayer: “The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accor dance with its traditional laws and political values, come not from terrorism but from laws such as these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve. It is for Parliament to decide whether to give the terrorists such a victory.” What he is saying is that terrorism is not a “real threat,” but the enactments of a democratic legislature (“laws such as these”) are. Terrorism that kills thousands of people (in time, it could be millions) is less menacing than laws that cut back on “traditional laws and politi cal values,” even if the “traditions” are only a few years old. An ordinary sensible person would think that terrorism on the scale enabled by modern technology and inflamed by religio-political fanaticism can do more harm to a nation than a law authorizing the in definite detention of nondeportable aliens suspected of being terrorists. To think otherwise is to be in the grip of a dogma that flaunts its defiance of common sense. Credo quia absudum est.

Civil liberties have real benefits that are entitled to considerable weight whenever measures to increase public safety are proposed. But in Lord Hoffman's opinion, as in similar pronouncements by American civil libertarians, the effort is to place the existing level of civil liberties beyond pragmatic assessment by according them transcendent value compared to which considerations of physical survival are made to seem petty.

I do not, contrary to some of the comments, either embrace pragmatism as a dogma or (what would be quite inconsistent) consider human life to have absolute value. Remember the old slogan, "Better dead than Red?" If people would prefer to be killed by terrorists than to give up even a tiny smidgeon of their civil liberties (one comment reminds that the grand total of detainees in Lord Hoffman's case was 17 out of an English population of 60 million), I have no argument contra. I just think that almost all Americans would consider that turning back the civil liberties clock to, say, 1960 would be worthwhile if as a result some horrendous terrorist attack was prevented. I am of the same mind. I find it hard to understand the contrary position, but I would not argue against it. I would point out, however, the self-defeating character of civil liberties absolutism. If as a result of such absolutism another major terorrist attacks occurs, civil liberties are pretty sure to go out the window.

I would also argue against those who say that history shows that the threat of terrorism is much less than other threats that we have overcome. That is a misuse of history. History does not contain nuclear bombs the size of oranges, genetically engineered smallpox virus that is vaccine-proof, and an Islamist terrorist (Bin Laden) who visited a cleric in Saudi Arabia to obtain--successfully--the cleric's approval to wage nuclear war against the West.

It is one thing to set civil liberties above life in one's personal utility function; it is another to adopt an ostrich's stance with regard to the present and future threat posed by a technologically sophisticated terrorism.

I was explicit, by the way, in not criticizing the outcome of Lord Hoffman's case. I criticized only his disparagement of the terrorist threat and his astonishing contention that the continued detention of those 17 terrorist suspects has done greater harm to England than the 9/11 attacks did to the United States. He offered this contention as self-evident, citing no evidence that would support it. That kind of dogmatism justifies my speaking of a "religion" of civil liberties.

God, godlessness, and animal pain

The argument from evil, with special reference to animal pain, is an increasingly fashionable objection to the existence of God. Since this is typically deployed against Christian theism, that way of framing the debate creates the misimpression that secular thinkers have a monolithic view of animal rights and–what is more–that this is the default view of animal rights which everyone would normally share, but Christians, are forced by their theological precommitments to deny the obvious.

This is the view of animal pain and animal rights popularized by atheists like William Rowe and Peter Singer. I’m relating the concepts of animal pain and animal rights since, unless you think animals have a right not to suffer pain, animal pain is not a moral issue.

For now I’m not discussing my own position on animal rights. I’m simply wish to draw attention to a tendentious presupposition of the argument. I wish to make the point that secular thinkers do not have a monolithic view of animal rights.

And to that extent, an atheist can’t presume a certain view of animal rights when he is mounting the argument from evil. For this isn’t simply a point of disagreement between believers and unbelievers. Rather, there are deep-seated differences of opinion within the secular camp on this key presupposition.

Take the debate between Peter Singer and Richard Posner. Both men are secularists. But they don’t share the same view of animal rights. Here is some of what Posner has to say:

I do not agree that we have a duty to (the other) animals that arises from their being the equal members of a community composed of all those creatures in the universe that can feel pain, and that it is merely "prejudice" in a disreputable sense akin to racial prejudice or sexism that makes us "discriminate" in favor of our own species. You assume the existence of the universe-wide community of pain and demand reasons why the boundary of our concern should be drawn any more narrowly. I start from the bottom up, with the brute fact that we, like other animals, prefer our own—our own family, the "pack" that we happen to run with (being a social animal), and the larger sodalities constructed on the model of the smaller ones, of which the largest for most of us is our nation. Americans have distinctly less feeling for the pains and pleasures of foreigners than of other Americans and even less for most of the nonhuman animals that we share the world with.

Now you may reply that these are just facts about human nature; that they have no normative significance. But they do. Suppose a dog menaced a human infant and the only way to prevent the dog from biting the infant was to inflict severe pain on the dog—more pain, in fact, than the bite would inflict on the infant. You would have to say, let the dog bite (for "if an animal feels pain, the pain matters as much as it does when a human feels pain," provided the pain is as great). But any normal person (and not merely the infant's parents!), including a philosopher when he is not self-consciously engaged in philosophizing, would say that it would be monstrous to spare the dog, even though to do so would minimize the sum of pain in the world.

I do not feel obliged to defend this reaction; it is a moral intuition deeper than any reason that could be given for it and impervious to any reason that you or anyone could give against it. Membership in the human species is not a "morally irrelevant fact," as the race and sex of human beings has come to seem. If the moral irrelevance of humanity is what philosophy teaches, and so we have to choose between philosophy and the intuition that says that membership in the human species is morally relevant, then it is philosophy that will have to go.

Toward the end of your statement you distinguish between pain and death and you acknowledge that the mental abilities of human beings may make their lives more valuable than those of animals. But this argument too is at war with our deepest intuitions. It implies that the life of a chimpanzee is more valuable than the life of a human being who, because he is profoundly retarded (though not comatose), has less mental ability than the chimpanzee. There are undoubtedly such cases. Indeed, there are people in the last stages of Alzheimer's disease who, though conscious, have less mentation than a dog. But killing such a person would be murder, while it is no crime at all to have a veterinarian kill one's pet dog because it has become incontinent with age. The logic of your position would require treating these killings alike. And if, for example, we could agree that although a normal human being's life is more valuable than a normal chimpanzee's life, it is only 100 times more valuable, you would have to concede than if a person had to choose between killing one human being and 101 chimpanzees, he should kill the human being. Against the deep revulsion that such results engender the concept of a transhuman community of sufferers beats its tinsel wings ineffectually.

You say that some readers of Animal Liberation have been persuaded by the ethical arguments in the book, and not just by the facts and the pictures. But if so, it is probably so only because these readers do not realize the radicalism of the ethical vision that powers your view on animals, an ethical vision that finds greater value in a healthy pig than in a profoundly retarded child, that commands inflicting a lesser pain on a human being to avert a greater pain to a dog, and that, provided only that a chimpanzee has 1 percent of the mental ability of a normal human being, would require the sacrifice of the human being to save 101 chimpanzees. If Animal Liberation had emphasized these implications of your utilitarian philosophy, it would have had many fewer persuaded readers; and likewise if it had sought merely to persuade our rational faculty, and not to stir our empathetic regard for animals.


Brennan Hartshorn (affectionately known as BSman) has attempted a response to my post about how resistible grace logically leads Arminians to a position where they must give up resistible grace. Unfortunately, he managed to miss the heart of the argument completely and, to remain complete, seeks to change the subject completely.

So let me put him back on track to the main point yet again, which is this:

If grace is resistible, then we must ask what kind of person would resist it? This question is all the more important given Brennan's strong statement:
The reason we call the grace of God resistible is because it must be actively resisted to not be effectual.

(Bold in original)
So again I ask: What kind of person would reject the grace of God? What kind of person resists the Holy Spirit? Brennan avoids this by changing the question to:
Why do some repent and others not?
But I'm not asking why some repent and others do not. I'm asking, What kind of person would reject the grace of God?

It's a simple answer (one I gave already). But let us look at some examples of other behavior to draw some conclusions:

Suppose that we came upon an individual who is presented with an option. He can either have a bottle of vodka, or a million dollars with the stipulation that if he takes the money he can never have alcohol again in his life. What kind of man would take the bottle of vodka instead of the money? An alcoholic, that's who.

Suppose that we came upon an individual who is presented with a different option. He can either have a free membership to an internet porn site for the rest of his life, or he can have the same million dollars the alcoholic turned down, provided he never visits a porn website for the rest of his life. What kind of man would take the free membership to the porn site? A porn addict, that's who.

So when we come upon the person who is given the best possible gift whatsoever, the grace of God, and he is given an option to either go with the flow or to actively resist that grace, what kind of man would actively resist that grace? Only the most depraved sinner would rather resist that grace than submit to it.

Here's the problem. Brennan agrees that we are all born depraved. He even goes so far as to say that Christians remain depraved (for some reason I don't think he read Romans 6 when I cited it). So the problem that Brennan must address is why depraved people would ever NOT resist the grace of God.

The simple fact of the matter is that for all of Brennan's confession that he believes in depravity, he has not once actually thought through what that depravity entails. His version of depravity is a strange one indeed.

Now since Brennan believes that only some individuals are saved, then if we stipulate that the grace is the same for all men, we must say that some men are simply more depraved than others. But if we are all depraved to begin with, why couldn't God bring us all to the point where we would not make those depraved decisions—especially since He obviously does do just that for those who do believe? The Christian was once depraved, but reached the point where he chose not to resist God. Why can't God do the same for the sinner who is so depraved that he would actively resist God?

I'll let him chew on that. In any case, since Brennan doesn't believe that the grace of God actually changes people, I will provide a few proof texts for that position, along with how the irresistible grace of regeneration most certainly precedes faith.

First, grace was promised to be effective in the new covenant that Jeremiah mentions. We read:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jeremiah 31:33).
Note that God is active here, ensuring that His law is on the hearts of His people. Indeed, the next verse shows that this comes from God, not from other people, for: "no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me." God actively writes the law on the hearts of His people, and it is for that reason that they will be His people.

This is echoed in Ezekiel 36:24-27:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Note the emphasized portion. God will cause His people to walk in His statutes.

Furthermore, we see it emphasized in the New Testament. In my previous post, I mentioned how Christ said that by our fruits we evidence what our nature is. Good fruit cannot be produced by bad trees. In addition to that, we also read:
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:17).
Note that this obedience is "from the heart", which is exactly where God promised He would write His law. And the result is that we "become slaves of righteousness" because God does, indeed, "cause [us] to walk in [His] statutes."

Indeed, our entire salvation is caused by God, as Peter says:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5).
God caused us to be born again. Further, we see that this being born of God occurs prior to regeneration faith [updated typo]:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God (1 John 5:1).
Note that the tense of the word "born" is past tense (perfect), which denotes a completed action, contrasting that with the "believes" which is an ongoing present action. Thus, it is not too far of a stretch to suggest the verse implies "Everyone who currently believes that Jesus is the Christ has already been born of God." (More on this in a bit.)

About this second birth John tells us (John 3:5-7):
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'"
Further, we read:
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:5-7).
Paul obviously links the "rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" to "washing," a reference to John 3's statement that one must be "born of water and the Spirit", which is itself a reference to the previously quoted Ezekiel 36 "I will sprinkle clean water on you" etc.

Thus, the regeneration of the Holy Spirit is a past action that precedes the ongoing present action of faith.

Lest someone think I'm hanging too much of the tenses of 1 John 5:1, consider a few other times the word "born" is used in the perfect tense. Namely:
“If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him” (1 John 2:29). “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).
Since Brennan is not a Roman Catholic, I can be confident that he would agree that we do not have to cease practicing sin before we can be saved, nor that we must do righteous acts before we can be saved, for that would be to say our salvation is by works. Yet if you look at this construct, it is exactly the same as 1 John 5:1! Namely, "born" is in the perfect tense, and the rest of the actions are present and on-going. 1 John 2:29 has the present practices righteousness; 1 John 3:9 has the present keep on sinning. These are ongoing actions, exactly equivalent to the structure of "believes" in 1 John 5:1. So Brennan should accept that 1 John 5:1 explicitly teaches regeneration precedes faith, or else convert to Roman Catholicism.

A few further passages should suffice. 1 Corinthians 12:3 states "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit." Yet this same Paul also wrote: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). That means that the Holy Spirit must enable one to say "Jesus is Lord" before salvation occurs; yet the Holy Spirit only comes at regeneration. "That which is born of Spirit is spirit."

Indeed, it is impossible for someone to come to God without the Spirit because:
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).
More could be said, but it is late and I have work in the morning.

"Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts!" Psalm 65:4

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Obligatory "Triablogue is Full of Big Meanies" Post

Given the amazingly poor lack of comprehension displayed by many a commenter, it has become apparent that there are a lot of people who are reading Triablogue for the first time, and some of them just happen to have the same names as people who’ve been here for a long time. How else can we explain the fact that we’ve repeatedly made arguments in the past against positions they continue to hold as if said position has never been refuted?

Be that as it may, I feel it but my public duty this time to write the obligatory “Triablogue Is Full of Big Meanies” post for the new initiates to this blog. If there is one thing that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, New Agers, 9/11 Truthers, agnostics, Wiccans, atheists, and Arminians agree upon, it is that T-Bloggers are nothing but a bunch of Big Meanies.

This must be true, because every interaction that we’ve ever had with anyone holding those various heretic positions has eventually come down to “You don’t show the love of Christ” claims. While it is well known that the reason for this is because there remain no actual arguments against our positions on these matters, it is apparently believed by some that screaming like a harpy or crying in the corner that your opponent is a Big Meanie will somehow shame those who’ve behaved justly and correctly into some kind of compassionate, tender hearted pat on the shoulder and a “there, there, the sun will come up in the morning” round of self-help blather. I am here to break the unfortunate news that all such behavior gets is a run-on sentence describing it.

I remain dumbstruck, however, that people who come into the T-blog arena like a cocky junior high hockey team facing the satanic Red Wings are somehow shocked to discover that they’re involved in a full contact sport. It does little good to complain that T-bloggers are a bunch of Big Meanies when you’ve spent the past week offering brilliant arguments like “Only a delusion could cause someone to think that” and responding with the nuclear “Nope, actually it's not. So sorry” defense. Nor does it help you plead your case when your wit consists of: “How many logical fallacies can we count in these responses? Let's see, one, two, three........” And: “Wah wah waaaaah.”

And when you label someone’s statement as “dumbness” and then are aghast to be told “the only reason I'm not deleting [your post] now is so that all can see how stupid you are and that I did not invent your idiotic quotation” one really must question why your parents ever let you out of their basement.

Ironically, however, it is not these people who generally take up the Whining Like A Sissy Girl Mantle. No, it is their enablers. Some of whom will even claim to be on the side of the T-Bloggers. “I believe what you do,” they say, “but I think you’re a Big Meanie.” This is done to score them cred points with the opposition. I imagine the behind-the-scenes commentary goes something like this: “You called them stupid and said their mama’s dressed ‘em funny, and they said if you kept it up they’d delete your posts?! HOW DARE THOSE EVIL T-BLOGGERS PICK ON INNOCENT PEOPLE SUCH AS YOU! I mean, I asked John Calvin in my heart, just like they did, BUT THIS IS TOO FAR!”

They then ask The Question™. The Question that can only ever be asked of the T-Bloggers. “How does this show the love of Christ?” Some even go so far as to say, “Why, I’ve never seen Christians behave in this manner toward each other!”

This shows a dangerous level of naivety, one that proves said person has never been to AWANA. Nor, apparently, have they ever read the term Filioque.


Yes. It is true. We are all a bunch of Big Meanies. If you tread into these dangerous Triablogian waters, you are at least now forewarned. Here there be Big Meanies. Big Brained Big Meanies, but Big Meanines nevertheless.

Now give me a lawn so I can yell at you to get off it.