JD WALTERS SAID:
“In what sense then does Christ deserve the honor and glory which is above every name? After all, his obedience to the father was his obligation as a son.”
i) The Son is under no inherent obligation to die for a crime he didn’t commit. That’s a textbook case of supererogatory merit.
ii) You also seem to be assuming a type of subordination in the immanent Trinity which I’ve argued against.
“And in what sense are the covenant blessings of Deuteronomy contingent on the people keeping the covenant?”
They are contingent on God keeping his promise.
“You seem to hold to a very odd notion of just deserts, in which people can deserve punishment for wrongdoing, but don't deserve reward for doing right.”
You don’t deserve a reward for doing what you were supposed to do. Rather, you deserve punishment for failing to do what you were supposed to do. The asymmetry ought to be self-evident.
“Another very strange notion. Just about every Christian evangelist I have encountered said the all-important factor in one's eternal destiny is how one responds to the Gospel. This includes evangelists of all denominations.”
You lack a rudimentary grasp of Christian theology. A presupposition of the gospel is that sinners are already in a lost and condemnable state apart from the gospel. Scripture teaches that no man can be saved apart from believing in Christ, which you have inverted and perverted into the polar opposite: no man can be damned apart from disbelieving in Christ.
That disregards the prior condition of sinners to whom the gospel is preached (not to mention those who die outside the pale of the gospel).
“No, it means that he's punished for his murders, but rewarded for his donation to the orphanage. Retributive justice is based on compensating discrete deeds.”
i) To begin with, there’s more to good deeds than the deed itself. There is also the underlying motive. Take two of your examples: “caring for the sick and selflessly sacrificing themselves for others.”
That depends in part on who you’re caring for. If you’re nursing an injured Nazi back to health so that he can exterminate more Jews, that’s not commendable. Likewise, if one Gestapo officer dies on the battlefield to save another Gestapo officer, that’s not commendable.
ii) Moreover, people do good because of God’s common grace or special grace. They don’t get any intrinsic credit for their good deeds, for that’s the end-result of God motivating them to do good.
JD WALTERS SAID:
“I agree with ekklhsia here. Servants who do their duty do not deserve any additional praise or reward beyond what is their already established due, and they have no grounds for boasting, but they still deserve their due.”
That’s not an argument. That merely paraphrases the very claim that’s in dispute.
“The concept of just deserts is incoherent without people getting what they deserve both for the good things and the bad things that they do. And if one's eternal destiny is to be strictly retributive (outside of salvation through Christ), one's experience should be proportionately pleasant or unpleasant according to the balance of good and evil deeds (where good deeds are good things done for the right intentions).”
Once again, you’re simply repeating your original contention rather than interacting with my argument to the contrary.
JD WALTERS SAID:
"Steve, careful about throwing around the objection 'assertion in lieu of an argument' too much, because most of your responses to me and others do exactly that. In response to my assertion, you put forward assertions of your own regarding the nature of justice, etc. That's fine in and of itself, but don't be hypocritical in your objections."
JD, careful about throwing around assertions concerning my alleged assertions. You merely assert that I make assertions without documenting your assertions. Don't be hypocritical in your objections.
"This statement is reductionistic. If you're going to frame the issue in terms of having duties and failing to perform those duties, you need to specify the context in which duties are incurred. In all relationships in which it makes sense to speak of duties, performing one's duty earns one privileges and rewards of some kind."
That assumes what you need to prove. Moreover, you're using "earnings" and "rewards" as though they were synonymous.
"A servant who performs his duty is rewarded with food, clothing, shelter and protection. A police officer who performs his duty is rewarded with a salary and the respect of the community."
We normally think of a salary in terms of "earnings" rather than "rewards."
You're also conflating different senses of the word.
A reward can be an incentive to action.
A reward can be a public recognition.
A reward can be payment for service rendered.
None of these entail merit. For instance, a loyal Klansman may be rewarded by a promotion in the hierarchy, but since the KKK is an evil enterprise, you can't very well say he deserves it.
Likewise, the getaway driver may receive a cut of the loot, but you can't very well say he deserves it.
Moreover, even in human situations where one party is entitled to some recompense, you can’t extend that without further ado to our relationship with God, where we owe everything to God, as our Creator and Redeemer, while he owes us nothing in return. God is debtor to no man. Everything we have we receive from his hand.
“When God's people obey his laws in the OT, they earn his blessings.”
Saying so doesn’t make it so, that that’s a travesty of OT theology, viz.
4 "Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, 'It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,' whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. 5 Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 6"Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. (Deut 9:4-6).
“Yes, they do so because God keeps his promises, but it is a promise to fulfill the terms of the covenant. If God's people keep their side of the bargain, they are entitled to God's protection and favor.”
God’s adoption of Israel was an act of God’s gratuitous favor. Israel was wholly unworthy of God’s lovingkindness (e.g. Deut 9). God doesn’t bless Israel because she deserves it, but because she needs it, and God is merciful to Israel. Like the allegory of Hosea.
9/26/2010 7:42 AM
JD WALTERS SAID:
“But in this conception we are moving beyond any sort of 'just deserts' understanding presupposed by classical theories of retributive justice. You appear to be trying to meld a Kantian conception of duty and just deserts with a biblical, covenantal understanding.”
Since I documented my conception of duty from Scripture, I don’t appear to be taking that conception from Kant, now do I?
“The asymmetry you propose is not self-evident.”
Your denial is not an argument. Moreover, I presented an argument for the asymmetry, which you ignore.
“It remains to be shown that giving people their just deserts is compatible with there being just two eternal destinies.”
Saying that it remains to be shown, in the teeth of my argumentation to the contrary, is not a reason to believe it remains to be shown.
You're confusing the notion of rewards with the notion that rewards are awarded to deserving recipients. For that you need a separate argument.
7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Lk 17:7-10).
"For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16).
“That comment about boasting is being taking out of context.”
That’s an assertion in lieu of an argument. In context, Paul gets no credit for preaching the gospel because he does so under moral compulsion. Conversely, he is blameworthy if he fails to preach the gospel.
“There seems to be ambiguity about 'reward' in this disagreement. Reward can be both merited favour and unmerited favour. A faithful servant may not merit 'unmerited favour' (rewards above and beyond wages), but even so, those wages are still treated Biblically as 'reward'.”
You’re burning a straw man. The question at issue was never the existence of Biblical rewards, but the presupposition of Biblical rewards.
“Here, 'he that reaps' is not obtaining unmerited favour, but is obtained merited favour, merited through faithful adherence to duty.”
The text doesn’t say that or imply that. To the contrary, Jesus goes on to say in vv37-38 that they reap the fruit of other men’s labors. What others sow, they reap. Therefore, they receive the paycheck that a second party earned.
“The Ox's reward is merit for its faithfulness, its reward.”
Which, in context, refers to interpersonal human obligations. But the relation of a sinner to a holy God is hardly comparable to the relation of a man to his fellow man.
“But if we differentiate between merited reward and unmerited reward the argument is really only a semantic one.”
That says a lot about your Pelagian theology.
“The Bible absolutely makes clear that God will render to each man according to his works [Job 34:11][Psalm 28:4][Psa 62:12][Pro 24:29][Ecc 8:14][Jer 32:19] etc, and it is not only talking about those who do evil works.”
i) Another straw man, since that is not the question at issue.
ii) You also disregard a fundamental asymmetry between merit and demerit. Sinners can’t merit salvation. But sinners can merit damnation. By definition, sinners are already in a demeritorious condition. Saving grace is not merely unmerited favor, but demerited favor. But by the same token, sinners richly deserve retributive punishment.
Your ignorance of elementary Christian theology is quite appalling.
9/26/2010 7:48 AM
“You realise that this assumption also isn't argument, justified with evidence or relevant?“
You do realize that you yourself supplied the evidence for my conclusion.
“For the sake of argument, lets say I was Pelagian, if the argument above is Biblically sound…”
Which is not the case, for reasons I gave.
“For the record though, I am as much as Pelagian, as I am an Calvinist, as I am an Arminian.”
For the record, you’re a theological chameleon.