Saturday, April 03, 2010

Go, Stand, and Speak!

Several from our local church engage the lost weekly through open-air preaching and one-on-one evangelism. The following video is a preview for an upcoming documentary supporting the lost art of open-air preaching. Would to God that pastors would get out of their comfortable offices and find a "fishing hole" to preach at!

HT: Lane's Blog

Modern Popes Held In Suspicion By Other Catholics

"[Pope] Pius X soon established a secret society to check for orthodoxy; among those denounced was an obscure church historian named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the future [Pope] John XXIII. [Pope] Benedict XV, Pius's successor, found among the papal papers a secret denunciation of himself....He [the future Pope John XXIII] taught church history at the Bergamo seminary, where he found himself suspect of heresy by the secret society Pius X had established to check on orthodoxy....He [Giovanni Batista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI] served as an assistant to Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the papal secretary of state, and remained close to him after he became Pius XII. A man who liked to see both sides, Montini was not rigorous enough for Pius's other associates. When he defended a suspect French theologian, 'the inevitable happened. The Pope's mind was poisoned against Montini by a whispering campaign, and he was dismissed from his Vatican post and kicked upstairs to be archbishop of Milan. This post invariably carried with it a cardinal's hat, but Pius XII signaled his displeasure by withholding it. In this way, Montini, who was increasingly being seen as the inevitable choice for the next pope, was deliberately excluded from the succession' (Duffy, Saints, 268)." (Joseph Kelly, The Ecumenical Councils Of The Catholic Church [Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2009], pp. 175, 182, 190)

The New Testament Text, Councils, And Conspiracies

At times like the Easter season, apologetic issues receive more attention than they normally do. A couple of common objections to Christianity came up on two radio programs I recently heard.

One came up during an interview with Lee Strobel on a local Christian radio station. The interview was about the evidence for Jesus' resurrection. An agnostic called in, and one of his objections was that there are "hundreds" of years between Jesus and the earliest documents written about Him or the earliest extant copies. Even critics who are more knowledgeable of the subject often object that our copies of the New Testament, even the manuscripts we have from the second century, aren't early enough or are unreliable for some other reason. Last year, I did a three-post series summarizing some of the evidence for the reliability of the textual transmission of the New Testament: here, here, and here.

A caller to Michael Medved's program yesterday raised the common objection that a Christian belief originated at the council of Nicaea. Much of what the caller said was incoherent. She spent a lot of her time arguing that Jesus didn't exist. Apparently, she was suggesting that Christians derived their idea of a historical Jesus from Nicaea. Or maybe she had something else in mind. Other critics claim that the New Testament canon was first delineated at Nicaea, for example. A lot of things get attributed to that council, and other councils are sometimes mentioned. Usually it's a council in the fourth century that supposedly settled the canon, changed the text of the New Testament, etc. Here's a post from last year on the relationship between the New Testament and early councils.

And here's a thread about the implausibility of theories involving widespread corruption among the early Christians (widespread textual changes, widespread suppression of opponents, etc.). Read the comments section of the thread, since there's a lot of relevant material there as well.

Friday, April 02, 2010

All Of Our Hands And Feet Are Nailed

This is Good Friday, and one of the subjects often discussed in this context is the thief on the cross. Because he was justified apart from baptism and is such an example of the gracious nature of justification, he's often dismissed as an exception to the rule. He was nailed to a cross. He couldn't be baptized or do some of the other good works that most people are capable of doing. And we're sometimes told that baptism wasn't required yet, so the thief is unrepresentative of how people are usually justified today.

But Jesus' acceptance of sinners apart from baptism is a common theme in Luke's writings, both before and after Calvary (Luke 5:20, 7:50, 17:19, 18:10-14, 19:9, Acts 10:44-48, 15:7-11, 19:2). Over and over in the gospels, in Acts, in Paul's letters, and elsewhere, we see forgiveness attained, peace pronounced, and Heaven promised upon faith, not upon baptism or some other later addition to faith. There was no inclusion of baptism or other works earlier than Calvary or any later addition of works. Jesus has always justified through faith alone. The thief on the cross isn't an exception, because he was nailed to a cross and therefore was prevented from physically doing works like baptism. Rather, he's normative, because his soul was as prevented from justification through works as everybody else's.

If anybody is interested, I wrote a post about some of the church fathers' comments on the thief on the cross a few years ago.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
(William Cowper, There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Responsibility & foreknowledge

Steven Nemes on responsibility and foreknowledge.

Answering back to God

I'm reposting some comments I left at Victor Reppert's blog:


At March 30, 2010 7:29 PM , steve said...

"[Victor Reppert] Some people see the passage of the health care bill as the end of civilization is we know it. I think the bill, while not perfect, will do more good than harm. Many of my fellow Christians disagree with me on this. Now, if you are a political conservative and an Arminian, like bossmanham, you can explain the passage of the health care bill in terms of the abuse of human free will. If you are a Calvinist, the nultimately, the bill passed because God, before the foundation of the world, chose, in his infinite wisdom, to decree that the bill should pass 219-213, with the exact wording in it that it in fact has. Who are you, o man, to answer back to God?"

Of course, God also decreed our opposition to Obamacare. Therefore, our opposition is not "answering back to God."

And if we successfully repeal Obamacare, or vote the Democrats out of office in November, then God predestined that outcome as well.

Therefore, your feeble attempt to turn predestination against us misfires.

At March 31, 2010 6:07 AM , steve said...

Victor Reppert said...

"I gave the Calvinist rebuttal to any attempt to give this as a refutation. You do maintain that God predestined that the bill would pass, even though you also believe that it was wrong for it to pass."

You're confounding divine and human motives. The fact that God has a praiseworthy reason for ordaining the passage of Obamacare doesn't mean that Democrats have a praiseworthy reason.

God himself can have a praiseworthy motive for ordaining a blameworthy motive on the part of a human agent pursuant to God's overarching agenda.

It's like a novelist who creates a villainous character to make a point for the benefit of the reader.

And something can be wrong in and of itself even though it serves a greater good.

Moreover, opposition to Obamacare can also serve a greater good. That's part of the dialectical process. Bringing good out of evil. A second-order good.

"Still, take it easy on poor old Obama."

If I'm hard on Obama, then I was predestined to be hard on Obama. So my opposition to Obama is not in conflict with predestination.

You're straining to generate a cute little dilemma for Calvinists, but it doesn't work since there is no tension between my actions and divine predestination.

"On your own view, he's just doing what God, before the foundation of the world, predestined that he should do. If you guys are right, he couldn't have done otherwise. I mean, he can't do otherwise, and, I suppose, you can't do otherwise but oppose his policies root and branch. Still, as I said, the poor guy is just a pawn of predestination, just as you and I are."

Which includes reprobate pawns and well as elect pawns. If God didn't go easy on the reprobate pawns, then why should I?

Your argument is muddle-headed. You initially attempted to present an internal critique of Calvinism. However, for reasons I've given, that fell flat.

You then smuggle in your own standard of moral valuation, which is contingent on the freedom to do otherwise. On those grounds, you say I shouldn't be so hard on Obama.

However, that's no longer an internal critique of Calvinism. So your whole exercise backfires. Instead of exposing the (alleged) inconsistencies within Calvinism, you expose the inconsistencies within your argument against Calvinism.

So thanks for unwittingly making a case for Calvinism.

steve said...

normajean said...

"Steve, you're speaking about Divine Sov like a good Arminian. Are you really comfortable with divine permission talk? I thought that ran against popular Calvinist teaching."

i) Quote where I used "divine permission talk" in my response to Reppert.

ii) And if you think that's contrary to Calvinism, try boning up on Helm's analysis of divine permission vis-a-vis Calvinism.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"Yes. This is how my puppet shows often go as well."

Thanks for illustrating, once more, the inability of Arminians to offer intelligent feedback.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"Heh, then nothing at all is answering back to God, since everything is made necessary by God."

I was responding to Reppert on his own terms–which doesn't mean I define "answering back to God" the way he does.

But, of course, I wouldn't expect you to register that distinction since you've never demonstrated any capacity for honest debate.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"This in no way illustrates anything of the sort, Steve. There's no rational justification for you to claim such a thing when someone simply offers a droll quip about what is said in an internet combox debate."

What was the issue as Reppert framed it? One of internal consistency. Is it coherent for a Calvinist to object to Obamacare given his belief in predestination. That was the issue.

You're robotic metaphor is entirely irrelevant to the issue at hand. At best, that reflects your Arminian presuppostions.

But the issue, as Reppert originally framed his objection, wasn't judging Calvinism by somebody else's theological system, but judging Calvinism on its own grounds.

"You don't have a cumulative case at all, which would be required to even attempt to show that there are no Arminians who are able to offer intelligent feedback."

Of course, we have a cumulative case for all of the equally frivolous objections you've raised at other times and venues. And, indeed, Bnonn Tennant, Paul Manata and Steven Nemes have argued circles around you.

You are, of course, welcome to disqualify yourself from the ranks of Arminians who are able to offer intelligent feedback, and nominate a more promising candidate. What nominee did you have in mind?

"Frankly, your comment shows an unwillingness to address the specific criticism I offered and an inability to recognize facetious comments."

Facetious comments are your stock-and-trade. And when you constantly default to the robotic metaphor, you illustrate (once again) your chronic inability to operate at something above a 3rd grade level.

steve said...

drwayman said...

"To me that sounds like God can't make up His mind about how He feels about Obamacare."

If a novelist or screenwriter creates a villain, gives him a measure of initial success, and also create a hero who, in a later scene or chapter, will defeat the villain, does this mean the novelist/screenwriter can't make up his mind about how he feels concerning his characters?

No, it's a way of making a point for the benefit of the reader or moviegoer.

And what about Arminian theology? Does God approve or disapprove of the Holocaust? Assuming that he disapproves of the Holocaust, it lay within his power to prevent the Holocaust.

Does this mean the Arminian God can't make up his mind about the Holocaust? That he's conflicted about the Holocaust?

And spare me the freewill defense. For God allowed Nazis to override the freedom of Jewish victims. So it's not as if God refrains from intervening because he has to respect everybody's freedom.

"So, to fight the God ordained Obamacare ('if we successfully repeal Obamacare') is like answering back to God is it not? Is not the pot ('we' the society) telling the potter how to make society?"

Both you and Reppert fail to distinguish between decree and precept. Try again.

steve said...

drwayman said...

"Steve - Thanks for your response. Your idea of a screenwriter/author is valid if you assume an austere, detached God."

To the contrary, a novelist/screenwriter is exhaustively involved with every single detail of the character's life. That's hardly detached.

"However, I believe that the Bible teaches that God wants to have a personal relationship with us."

Yes, Arminians like to tendentiously redefine what constitutions a "relationship," then co-opt that category. You need to argue for your definition, not take it for granted.

"To improve on your analogy, the author would write the story and as he inserts characters, he would then receive feedback from the characters about how the story goes."

Just like open theism.

"If the author wants, he can override this feedback or he can incorporate this feedback into the plot."

How does a divine novelist solicit feedback from the characters in order to compose the characters? Unless and until he composes them (to continue the metaphor), they don't exist to offer feedback. And if they exist, then that's because he already composed the characters–w/o their preliminary feedback.

"This is much like what God does. He loves us so much that He wants a personal relationship with us and wants to know what we think/feel."

So creation is a learning process for God. He doesn't know in advance what he is making. That can only be the result of his shot in the dark.

BTW, the Arminian God allows many tragedies to befall human beings-tragedies which frequently destroy any trust and good will which a human being had in God. Take the mother who, to her dying day, blames God for allowing a drunk driver to kill her only daughter in a traffic accident.

How does that foster a loving relationship?

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"The key word is 'allow.' He doesn't 'cause' it by executive decree. If God wants people to freely come to Him, then He must also allow people to freely reject Him."

So God must allow a Nazi prison guard to shove a 7-year-old Jewish boy into the incinerator since the 7-year-old chose to be incinerated alive.

Arminianism has such an impressive theodicy.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“That's not all, Dr. W. Steve, in using this analogy, just proves my puppet analogy to be appropriate. An author in writing a book is doing the same thing that a puppeteer does in his puppet show, just in a different medium.”

Not to mention the potter/clay analogy in Scripture.

“The author is causing his characters to act out specific roles that are written down. These characters can't be held responsible for what they do, partly because they aren't real. But if they were real, say the pages of the book literally came to life, then you would have preprogrammed entities performing tasks they were scripted to do. If this is how he thinks God acts, that is somewhat troubling.”

It’s only troubling if you beg the question in favor of libertarian freewill.

It’s also troubling to Arminians like Brennon because Brennon has no faith in God. Brennon doesn’t trust God with his life. Brennon doesn’t trust God to write the story of his life.

In Arminian theology, God can’t be trusted to write the story of the world.

“To quickly add to my last statement; not only are the actions of the author written down, but so are the motives! Everything about these villains in this book has been preprogrammed into them by the author. How can Steven make a distinction between divine and human motives when it is the divine who is creating the human motives?”

Well, that’s not very bright. According to Brennon’s logic, if C. S. Lewis wrote the character of the Unman (in Perelandra), then you can’t distinguish Lewis’s motives for composing the Unman from the Unman’s motives for tempting the Green Lady.

But, in fact, it’s easy to distinguish their motives. Lewis composed the Unman to make a statement about the nature of evil. About the nature of temptation. To expose the vacuity and culpability of evil.

By contrast, that isn’t what motivated the Unman to tempt the Green Lady.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“Well, when you present an argument that shows that even though God has made necessary all events and no creature can do other than what has been foreordained and that seems to be fairly analogous to a puppet show, somehow it's nothing like a puppet show, then maybe you'll stop getting those contentions.”

i) A metaphor is not an argument. Therefore, your metaphor demands no counterargument from me. Your metaphor may be moonlighting as an argument, but it’s not an argument.

ii) Since it’s your metaphor, the onus lines on you to explicate the analogy.

And I don’t have any desire to “stop those contentions.” It’s fine with me if Arminian epologists can do no better than resorting to picture-language about robots and puppets. When that’s the intellectual level at which they operate, that’s hardly a threat to Calvinism.

It’s fine to use metaphors to illustrate an argument, but not to take the place of an argument. And even then, the metaphor needs to be an apt metaphor.

“It's not like I'm the only one who's argued that that's what deterministic Calvinism looks like. There are guys with Ph. D's who argue the same thing. So these issues clearly can't be confined to third graders. Pretty ironic how the person insulting others here is accusing them of acting like a third grader.”

i) You haven’t given an argument. You’ve merely asserted an analogy, minus the argument.

ii) BTW, did Jerry Walls, in lieu of writing a doctoral thesis, put on a performance with glove puppets?

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"It is an improved theodicy, because in Calvinism God has decreed that it should happen and it cannot happen otherwise than He decreed. I believe it could have happened differently and should have and God wanted it to. However, God has allowed people to be evil and will judge people accordingly."

And why does the Arminian God side with the bully? Why does the Arminian God side with the murderer?

Why doesn't he side with the 7-year-old Jewish boy?

After all, both the Nazi and the 7-year-old have freewill, right? Yet the 7-year-old didn't will to be incinerated alive. That wasn't his choice. Rather, the Nazi prison guard violated his freedom to do otherwise.

So, Brennon, why does your God take the side of the perpetrator rather than the victim?

You can't say he's respecting the freedom of the individual, for there is more than one party to this transaction, and the freedom of the stronger is exercised at the expense of the freedom of the weaker.

So why does your God respect the freedom of the Nazi killer rather than the freedom of the child victim?

How is that fair, Brennon? How is that loving, Brennon?

How is hiding behind "God allowed it" any excuse?

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"As misinterpreted by Calvinists maybe. Are you saying the potter/clay analogy proves divine meticulous determinism?"

No, I'm saying the potter/clay metaphor is analogous to the puppet/puppeteer metaphor.

"No, it troubling for anyone who would think God is good."

So Arminians are the only folks who think God is good. Gotcha!

"I will admit that one of my big presuppositions is God doesn't contradict Himself in causing what He forbids. Sorry for that."

How convenient that God doesn't contradict himself by permitting what he forbids, even thought he could prevent it.

Moreover, the Arminian God does, indeed, cause what he forbids by creating a world in which the forbidden deed occurs. Sorry for that.

"Oi, Steve. You've degenerated into accusing me of not being a Christian?"

Let's see. You just said Calvinism is "troubling for anyone who would think God is good."

So you've degenerated into accusing Calvinists of not being Christian–since, according to you, they don't think God is good.

"Everything you've accused me of there is called a straw-man fallacy that employs equivocation."

For which you offer no argument. Are you issuing IOUs?

"And Steve simply shows his debilitating lack of understanding as to what Arminians actually think."

That accusation presumes that Arminians actually think. Thus far the evidence presented by Brennon is less than sanguine.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"Uhm....He doesn't?"

Sure he does. The Arminian God sides with the Nazi prison guard by standing by as the Nazi tosses the 7-year-old kid kicking and screaming into the furnace.

The Nazi is bigger than the 7-year-old, but God is bigger than the Nazi. Just as the Nazi can overpower the boy, the God can overpower the Nazi. But your God doesn't do that, Brennon. So who's side is he on?

"The 7 year old will be avenged."

i) How is punishment better than prevention, Brennon?

Your God lets the prison guard incinerate the little boy, then punishes the guard after the fact. How is that morally preferable to protecting the little boy in the first place?

ii) BTW, your God could both prevent the evil deed and still punish the prison guard. He could punish the guard for his murderous intent.

"I can say He's allowing free actions done by volitional creatures...not sure where you think this is an issue..."

I already explained the issue. Weren't you paying attention?

This isn't an even playing field where every volitional creature is allowed to freely act. Rather, bullies violate the freedom of other free agents. The stronger oppress the weaker.

Both the Nazi prison guard and the 7-year-old victim were volitional agents. But the 7-year-old was no match for the Nazi. One had all the power while the other was powerless.

So how does your God's laissez-faire policy respect the freedom of all parties concerned?

Rather, your Arminian theodicy is like an orphanage in which the big kids beat up the little kids while the adults respect the freedom of the big kids and, at most, punish them after the little kids are beaten to a pulp.

How do you think that's an adequate theodicy, Brennon?

Are you even attempting to present a serious theodicy? Or is your position that anything is better than Calvinism, so as long as your own theodicy isn't "deterministic," you don't have to address the hard questions.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“Ah, except it's not, since Paul didn't envision a God who meticulously controls all things as you do.”

So a sloppy God is better than a meticulous God. Like an automechanic who fixes one brake, but bungles the other brake job.

“Notice I never claimed that, Steve, but they're the only consistent ones on the subject.”

So Arminians are the only folks who consistent think that God is good, whereas other Christians think God is good on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but bad on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. (What about Sundays?)

“Really, Steve, you are one of the most intellectually dishonest people I have ever talked with.”

What a coincidence! That’s been my experience with Arminian epologists. It’s a small world.

“If His purpose is to allow freedom, then it isn't inconsistent at all, especially if He has morally sufficient reasons for allowing independent creatures freedom.”

Freedom for whom? For the 7-year-old whom the Nazi tossed into the furnace? Did the 7-year-old freely choose to be burned alive?

“No, He's only causing the conditions to exist that would allow independent creatures to sin.”

So the Arminian God causes what he forbids by causing the conditions to exist which eventuate in the forbidden deeds. That’s a very impressive distinction, Brennon.

Likewise, if I give a loaded revolver to a child, and he shoots himself, I’m blameless since I didn’t pull the trigger. I only caused the precipitating conditions. Arminianism has such a swell theodicy.

“Oh yeah, that's the exact same thing as accusing me to be a God hater. Nice logic there, Hays.”

Explain the difference.

“I also know you know good and well the Arminian position on God's providence.”

Which goes well beyond God merely “allowing” bad things to happen (even if, ad arguendo, bare permission were exculpatory). So that makes your position harder to defend, not less so.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"The difference is, Steve, that Lewis assumes he's writing to volitional creatures who would come to the conclusion about the moral to the story."

i) That's irrelevant to the distinction between the reason a novelist has for inventing a villainous character, and the reason which the villainous character has for doing what he does.

ii) You're also committing a level confusion between the novelist, the reader, and the characters.

iii) However, if you wish to incorporate the reader into the story, then it's quite possible for one character to learn from the experience of another character. Indeed, that's commonplace in literature.

steve said...

William Watson Birch said...

"God is so confused . . . He exhaustively determines contraries."

According to Birch, God is so confused. First he makes Saul king, then he deposes him.

To paraphrase drwayman, Wouldn't it have been a lot simpler for God to just not to make Saul king in the first place?

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"I love how Steve seems to be arguing against himself today. God deposes Saul because of sins Saul commits. Saul disobeys God."

bossmanham said...

According to Birch, God is so confused. First he makes Saul king, then he deposes him.

I love how Brennon seems to be arguing against himself today. God foreknew that Saul would sin. Therefore, why make him king just to depose him?

Why is God "contradicting" himself (as Billy would put it) by doing one thing only to undo it later.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“How is the criticism that determinism seems to be analogous to a puppet show irrelevant here? Dr. Reppert's critique was not only about the inconsistency of the Calvinist's position internally, but also what implications divine determinism has upon the motives of God.”

It started out as an internal critique. When that fell apart he had to shore up the ruins of his original argument by introducing his own libertarian assumptions regarding responsibility.

“So I'm actually taking your defense of your position and saying what it looks like.”

What it “looks like” to you is an asserted appearance, not an argument.

“Steven and I have discussed freedom as it relates to God's foreknowledge, and I really haven't seen him trump anything I have argued.”

Naturally, since you want to be both the pitcher and the umpire.

“But again, you're not presenting anything in terms of evidence to support your claim that Arminians can't respond intelligently. Even if it were true that you had a lot of stupid statements from me, that doesn't constitute a cumulative case against all Arminians.”

Oh, I have plenty of cumulative evidence from exchanges with other Arminians.

“Inaction does not equal approval. Simple logical fallacy there, Steve.”

I didn’t use the word “approval.” But inaction can often equal complicity. Simple logic, Brennon.

“It's not about whose side He's on, it's about what God's purpose is in allowing human freedom to exist, even to the extent that people abuse it.”

They aren’t abusing “freedom.” They’re abusing people.

Say you’re built like Brock Lesnar. You see the guard about to toss the boy into the furnace. What do you do, Brennon?

Do you refrain from intervening because you must allow the guard to abuse his freedom?

If you do that, you side with the bully. He wins. He wins because you let him win.

“When it includes God's purpose of allowing freedom.”

So it’s better for you to let the 7-year-old burn to death, then punish the Nazi prison guard after the fact.

Who’s that better for, Brennon? Is that better for the murder victim?

“Yet it's a separate act to allow something than to cause it. God allows evil acts, but He doesn't decree that they happen and couldn't not happen. Sorry, but your attempts to paint God as a bad guy if He allows freedom look silly compared to a God that meticulously causes the evil He forbids.”

All you’ve done is to posit a morally significant difference. Where’s the argument?

And the question at issue is the Arminian God. Arminian theism.

Your God meticulously foresees the future. And the future eventuates because he made a world with just that foreseeable future.

Your God is like a man who has advanced knowledge about 9/11, but doesn’t tip off the authorities to prevent the Twin Towers from going down in flames. How is that an adequate theodicy, Brennon?

“God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil. Perhaps two others saw the evil deed and it caused them to cling closer to God as they faced their tortures? Perhaps they saw the young boy act in a courageous way which inspired them to do the same when faced with their death? Or perhaps that 7-year-old boy would have grown to commit even worse atrocities if allowed to live? You, Mr. Fallible Steve Hays, are not in the position to judge what future events certain present ones will influence.”

Sure. You can repair to mystery. The inscrutability of providence. Noseeum arguments.

But I notice that you don’t extend that courtesy to Calvinism.

“Yet all of the issues of the POE seem somewhat shallow compared to a God who is difficult to distinguish from the devil (note that I am only saying this about your apparent view of God, not all Calvinists, since I know many who do not fall back to the theodicy you are).”

As you wave your witness list in front of the jury, inscribed in invisible ink. The nameless “many.”

“Little different, since God's relation to His creation is not perfectly analogous to our relations to others.”

Sure. You can say God has different obligations to man than man has to his fellow man. But I notice that you don’t extent that courtesy to Calvinism.

“Also, God has morally sufficient reasons to allow human freedom. For instance, in this orphanage say there is a child who is picked on and the adults do nothing to stop it. When this child matures he commits to ending this kind of behavior in orphanages and enacts a group that monitors the treatment of children in orphanages, thereby making life much better for future orphans.”

What about making life much better for past orphans?

“Again, it is better because God is not enacting evil. He is not the direct cause of human depravity.”

It’s better if I hand a loaded revolver to a child rather than if I shoot him myself. That’s ever so much better, you see.

“Are you willing to take responsibility for your own depravity, Hays, or do you enjoy pawning it off on God saying you can do it because God ordained it?”

Quote 5 or 6 Reformed theologians of note who disown personal responsibility and shift the blame to God.

“Who said God was sloppy? That's your assertion.”

No, it’s my antonym. You labeled as “meticulous” the position you reject. Therefore, I applied an antonym to the opposing position you accept.

“You paint an inconsistent picture of a God you say is good, yet decrees what He forbids.”

You paint an inconsistent picture of a God you say is good, yet permits preventable forbidden deeds.

“If God causes the actions He says are sinful, then God is sinning.”

In Arminian theology, God causes sinful actions.

E causally depends on c if and only if, if c were not to occur e would not occur.

Hence: Sin causally depends on God if and only if, if creation were not to occur sin would not occur.

“No one stripped the volitional freedom from anyone in this situation.”

The 7-year-old didn’t volunteer to be murdered.

“It's an important distinction, Hays. You cannot charge God with the sins of individual free creatures.”

Now you’re changing the subject. I didn’t say whether or not I charge the Arminian God with the sins of men. Rather, I was answering you on your own terms, regarding divine causality. Using your own phraseology, the Arminian God causes what he forbids by causing the conditions to exist which eventuate in the forbidden deeds.

So you’re the one who’s implicitly charging your own God with the sins of men.

“All you could charge God with is creating the conditions needed for human freedom, but there doesn't seem to be anything sinful about that.”

You’re act as if human beings are discrete units who only wrong themselves.

But creating conditions which lead to foreseeable and avoidable atrocities can certainly be culpable in social ethics. So that’s hardly an adequate theodicy.

“But then you want to charge Him with negligence for not intervening on every act of human evil, but then that would negate His purposes and the greater good that comes from allowing human freedom.”

Well, Brennon, that’s very utilitarian of you. Sacrifice the few for the good of the many.

Good for whom? Good for the Jewish child who perished in the flames, while the Nazi made his escape to the sandy shores of South America?

And how is that consonant with the universal love of God, which Arminian theism so loudly proclaims?

“The child shooting of himself is a different act than your negligence.”

Evil takes many different forms. But you’re the one who makes a big deal about direct action. That’s the point of the illustration.

“You would be guilty of negligence because you have no morally sufficient reason to give the child a gun and stand by as he shoots himself.”

Isn’t freedom a value in itself?

“I never claimed you were a God hater. Can you really no see that, or are you that dishonest?”

“God-hater” was your expression, not mine.

Moreover, you simply take umbrage at my statement. Yet you offer no counterargument. Do you or don’t you trust God to write the story of your life?

Furthermore, you’re the one who just said the God of Calvinism is diabolical. So that makes Reformed believers devil-worshipers. But, hey, you’re the epitome of ecumenical beneficence.

“No Arminian thinks God causes human evil.”

They don’t admit to themselves the logical consequences of their own position.

“Because if he hadn't been made king, he would not have sinned to foreknow that he would freely sin. God foreknows all things that will be freely done and His reactions to all things which are freely done. If He stopped them all, then He would know they wouldn't happen, and therefore He would be acting against His own purposes.”

The question at issue, is whether it’s self-contradictory for the Arminian God to do one thing, then undo what he did.

If you say that’s not inconsistent, then you can’t charge predestination with self-contradiction.

steve said...

drwayman said...

“Your responses indicates to me that the word relationship is difficult for you as this is not the first time that you have asked me to define that term.”

For someone who’s so relational, you have problem relating to someone else who doesn’t share your presuppositions.

The question at issue is your idiosyncratic definition of what constitutes a “relationship.”

You also act as if only Arminians have a prayer-life, not Calvinists.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“Steve, you think God causes all sin.”

If that’s true of Calvinism, then that’s also true of Arminianism–as I’ve argued.

However, “cause” is your chosen word. I’d say that God has a plan for the world, and everything happens according to plan.

“You're not going to win any sympathy points by bringing up the POE.”

You’re bringing up POE in relation to Calvinism. But you don’t like it when I return the favor.

“It's like an abortionist complaining about the abuses in the financial sector.”

I’ll file that for future reference the next time you and other Arminian epologists complain about how uncharitable Calvinists are.

“Plus, God isn't human and has the right to allow His creatures to suffer the consequences of their sins.”

As if a Calvinist couldn’t say the same thing.

“No if I foreknow that the scenario would lead to him actually losing.”

The little Jewish boy is the loser in this transaction, not the prison guard.

“I'm not God.”

Which doesn’t salvage your theodicy. The Arminian God could do far more than Brennon to prevent evil.

“God doesn't cause evil.”

As you yourself admitted, the Arminian God causes the conditions to exist which eventuate in preventable evils.

“A future in which He knows a great good comes from the temporary suffering in incurred upon itself.”

Calvinism also deploys the greater good defense.

“Because that man has no morally sufficient reason to allow the attack to take place unchallenged. God does.”

You merely assert that the Arminian God has a morally sufficient reason. That’s not a theodicy, Brennon. That’s a promissory note with no collateral. Where’s the argument, Brennon?

“Just your extreme brand of Calvinism, because it makes God a breaker of His own laws.”

You haven’t shown that my brand of Calvinism is “extreme.” That’s just another one of your tendentious assertions. You’re presenting a string of question-begging assertions in lieu of supporting arguments.

And if Calvinism makes God a “breaker of his own laws,” then so does Arminianism–for reasons I’ve given.

“Because your Calvinism has God actually perpetuating the act through agents He is causing to act that way. He's the man in between the stick and the rock. He's the car that causes the chain reaction.”

In Arminian theology, God, as the creator and sustainer of the world, triggers the chain-reaction. God is the first cause, and God concurrently sustains the actions of the wicked.

“No one said that, I just acknowledged the distinction between the two acts. I gave you a reason why you wouldn't be off the hook, but I see you conveniently left that important context out.”

You retreat into a distinction between direct and indirect causation as if indirect causation is automatically exculpatory.

“That's true for a lot of things. If no one invented the airplane, then 9/11 wouldn't have occurred. Hence: 9/11 causally depends on the invention of the airplane. Therefore Wilbur and Orville Wright caused 9/11.”

Yes, on a standard philosophical definition of causation, that’s true.

But unlike the Wright brothers, the Arminian God could foresee the outcome if he invented the airplane. For that matter the Arminian God could tip off the authorities a day or two before the planes were slated to hit the Twin Towers.

“The creation of free creatures is only an necessary condition for evil, Steve, not a sufficient condition.”

i) Calvinism also distinguishes between necessary and sufficient conditionality. Are you too ignorant to know that?

ii) You also act as though mere necessary conditionality is ipso facto exculpatory. Where’s your argument, Brennon?

I hand the child a loaded revolver. He shoots himself. My involvement is limited to necessary conditionality. Does that let me off the hook?

“Consider again Aristotle's analogy. The rock is moved by the stick which is moved by the arm which is moved by the man.”

In Arminian theology, God voluntarily creates a world with foreseen evils. These evils are avoidable. No one forces God to make that world. The chain reaction (your metaphor) goes staight back to God’s precipitating fiat.

“Creating necessary conditions is not enough to be responsible for an action.”

If the outcome is both foreseeable and preventable, why not?

“I'm sure the inventor of the automobile foresaw the potential tragedies that could come about from smashing a couple tons of steel into someone, but he thought that the greater good that would come about was worth it.”

i) You keep appealing to the greater good without any supporting argument. That’s not a theodicy, Brennon.

ii) Do you think the Arminian God is unable to prevent traffic accidents? What if the stoplight malfunctions? Does the Arminian God refrain from intervening because he mustn’t infringe on the libertarian freewill of the streetlight?

“God enacts the greatest good for His people only.”

That’s very Calvinistic of you. So much for the universal love of God, touted by Arminianism.

“All deserve hell, Steve. You forget that tonight?”

All deserve reprobation, Brennon. You forget that tonight?

“God still loves those He punishes. He died for them.”

He died for them to what end? If he foreknew that many would reject him, then in what sense did he die to save them?

“The negligence in this case is evil, but it's not analogous to God's action with the world.”

You keep begging the question, Brennon.

“I never said that. It only seems to be valuable in making it possible to cultivate a genuine relationship with God.”

So the Arminian Go can’t have a genuine relationship with people unless he’s at liberty to choose evil.

“’Brennon has no faith in God. Brennon doesn’t trust God with his life. Brennon doesn’t trust God to write the story of his life." Let the reader decide.”

“No, it troubling for anyone who would think God is good…Yet all of the issues of the POE seem somewhat shallow compared to a God who is difficult to distinguish from the devil.” Let the reader decide.

“Again, familiarize yourself with necessary and sufficient conditions.”

Since I’ve repeatedly drawn that very distinction at Triablogue, it would behoove you not to display your ignorance of my familiarity with the difference.

“Given human freedom, no.”

Saul’s freedom hardly compels the Arminian God to make him king, only to depose him at a later date. You’re not being logical, Brennon.

steve said...

drwayman said...

"Could you explain to me where you perceive my definition to be idiosyncratic?"

You need to explain why you think Reformed theism isn't "relational."

"I have Calvinist friends with whom I worship and we share prayer time together quite frequently. I gain a lot of strength and support from my relationships with my Calvinist friends. My apologies if I made it appear that Calvinists are in any way inferior to Arminians. I believe that Calvinists and Arminians are brothers in Christ and neither is superior to the other. We're on the same team."

Well, that's surprising in light of the fact that you defended Robert's comparison between Calvinists and Nazis, Klansmen, &c. Doesn't seem like much common ground for Christian fellowship.

Do your Calvinist friends know what you really think of them, or is that a private, in-house understanding which you only share with your Arminian teammates?

steve said...

Since Brennon likes to retreat into divine permission, it's worth keep in mind what the Arminian doctrine of providence amounts to:

1. With respect to the [Commencement] of sin, I attribute the following acts to the Providence of God:

First. Permission, and that not idle, but which has united in it four positive acts: (1) The Preservation of the creature according to essence, life, and capability. (2) Care lest a greater or an equal power be placed in opposition. (3) The Offering of an object against which sin will be committed. (4) The destined Concession of its Concurrence, which, on account of the dependence of a Second on the First Cause is a necessary Concurrence.

Secondly. The Administration of arguments and occasions, soliciting to the perpetration of sin.

Thirdly. The Determination of place, time, manner, and of similar circumstances.

Fourthly. The immediate Concurrence itself of God with the act of sin.

steve said...

drwayman said...

"You asked me to define relationship and I did so. Then you said my definition is idiosyncratic. Yet, you haven't told me how it is idiosyncratic."

You're treating human social interaction as your implicit template, then extrapolating from that mundane template to God. That fails to make allowance for the significant differences in the way a being who is the timeless, spaceless, omniscient Creator relates to timebound creatures.

In other words, you're implicitly defining a divine/human relationship quite anthropomorphically, as if the God of the Bible were akin to Zeus.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“A plan He meticulously causes. I think God has a plan as well and He guides creation to it, but He does not cause sinful events within it.”

i) So you think God’s plan has gaps in the plan. He has a plan for good things, but evil events are unplanned events.

ii) You’re also confusing what causes a plan with what, if anything, a plan causes. A pretty elementary blunder on your part.

“If God knew a greater moral good would come about from allowing this evil, then He would be morally wrong for stopping it.”

Back to your utilitarian calculus. Sacrifice the Jewish boy for the common good. So much for the Arminian God’s universal love.

“It does because it highlights the inadequacy in our moral judgments about what God allows.”

Of course, Calvinism has a parallel argument.

“As did Wilbur and Orville Wright and their relation to 9/11. What a silly objection.”

What is silly is your intellectual frivolity. This is how it works, Brennon. You keep using the word “cause.”

So I supplied a stock, philosophical definition of causation. See the Stanford Encyclopedia entry on “Counterfactual Theories of Causation.”

I then plugged Arminian theism into the definition. Which ends up making the Arminian God the cause of evil.

If you have a problem when I beat you at your own game by playing by your own rules, you have no one to kick but yourself.

“But it has God causing every sin…”

Same with Arminianism.

“And then condemning those who can't do otherwise, which makes God not good by His own standards.”

That would only make God “not good” in case God’s own standard is the freedom to do otherwise. As usual, you assert rather than argue.

“If He does then your criticisms are invalid. Waving your hand at the issue is childish. I trust God's promises in scripture to properly argue for God's greater purpose.”

The question at issue is not God’s promises, but your Arminian theodicy–which is just a human construct. And since you chronically assume what you need to prove, you’re the one, not me, who’s guilty of hand waiving.

“Steve, hanging on to this tepid and useless objection shows the weakness of your complaint. Your logic would condemn the inventors of Tylenol for those who overdose on it.”

i) You’re the one who used the “chain reaction” metaphor. When I simply apply your own metaphor to Arminian theism, you throw another temper tantrum.

ii) And if the manufacturers of Tylenol could foresee that a particular batch was poisonous, but failed to alert the public, then they would be criminally negligent.

“Surely you can see the distinction. If not, then I'm not sure you merit any more correction. You've clearly lost this point.”

You’re just too indolent to follow through with the consequences of your own examples.

“And you've given no good reason to think otherwise, while I have given good reasons and examples to support mine.”

What you’ve done is to retreat into vague generalities which could either inculpate or exculpate depending on the specific case.

“I bet the Wright brothers knew that if you fell a long way out of the sky that you would die, yet they went on ahead.”

And what if they knew that their plane suffered from a design defect? Or knew that the pilot was a suicidal, but did nothing to alert passengers prior to boarding?

“In Calvinism, God's decree is the sufficient condition.”

Thanks for illustrating your ignorance of Calvinism. The decree doesn’t do anything. Creation, miracle, and providence are what implement the decree.

“It is for independent actions. If God is not the direct cause of an action it is inappropriate to impute responsibility to Him for that action, regardless of what He knows.”

Once again, Brennon, you’re begging the question. Do you even know what a theodicy is, Brennon? You confuse apologetics with preaching. Thus far you’re merely preaching your Arminian postulates.

There are many cases in which a remote agent is both responsible and culpable for the outcome. He may or may not shoulder all the blame, but he can certainly share the blame.

Therefore, an Arminian theodicy needs to show why your God is exempt from ordinary conditions of praise and blame.

“The only thing that God could be accused of is negligence, which becomes null if He has morally sufficient reasons to allow sin.”

Once again, you’re waving a promissory note, minus the collateral.

“Deal with the distinction or bow out, Steve. To argue otherwise is special pleading.”

Special pleading is when Brennon constantly begs the question.

“I already addressed this. You are guilty of one act…”

Which is sufficient to inculpate the Arminian God unless you can start presenting a few real arguments.

“The individual child is guilty of another separate act.”

A five-year-old is guilty of shooting himself. Gotcha.

“But the good that would emerge from allowing those evils is contingent on allowing the evils. You would have to show it is better for God to have not created.”

No, I don’t have to show that. An Arminian theodicy needs to furnish positive reasons to render it plausible or probable–to squeeze out the competition.

“You are a dishonest debater, Steve. You refuse to see the distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions.”

i) Calvinism can draw the same distinctions.

ii) A general distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions is wholly inadequate to settle any specific case. For that will work in some cases, but not others.

“If I were your boss, I would never trust your research.”

Yes, Brennon is the moral arbiter of the universe. We all quake in his Olympian presence.

“Because there is more than just one outcome, and it would have to be shown that not allowing it would be better than allowing it.

More than one hypothetical outcome, or more than one actual outcome? If the former, that is also true of Calvinism. If the latter, that is nonsense.

“You are not in the position to make that call.”

You’re in no position to claim that indeterminate outcomes are better than determinate outcomes.

“You're certainly not employing that knowledge here.”

It’s not incumbent on me to reinvent the wheel for your sake.

“If God has already purposed and decreed to allow free creatures to carry out their freedom, Mr. Hays, then it would be inconsistent, illogical, and dishonest to refrain from allowing those creatures the sustaining power and ability to perform those actions.”

God didn’t merely allow Saul to become king. God made him king. God didn’t merely allow Saul to fall from power. God deposed him. So why, on Arminian grounds, does God do one thing to later undo it?

steve said...

drwayman said...

"So you don't agree with the concept that God wants to share Himself with you and wants you to do the same with Him?"

In Calvinism, God "shares" himself with the elect. And they participate in his beatitude. So Calvinism is also "relational."

Rick Warren: Evangelical Deist

From a 2005 interview of Rick Warren by Good Morning America on Katrina:
Roberts: Rick Warren is the best-selling author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.”[…] In my hometown of Pass Christian, I ran across a woman who came up to me and she said, Robin, it’s, it’s as if God tried to wipe us off the face of the earth. You know there are some people that look and see this destruction and, and say, where, where is whatever it is, or whomever they, they, they look to …

Warren: Right.

Roberts: … for guidance in a higher way?

Warren: Right. Well, first thing we need to understand that not everything that happens in this world is God’s will. I have a will, you have a will, we have a free will. […] And so, we have a lot of things that go bad. […] But what God wants to do is he wants to comfort us. Somebody asked me when I was actually on the floor of the, the, the Houston Astrodome talking to people and praying with people, said, where is God in all of this? And I’ll tell you where God is, he’s in thousands of lives of people who love him and follow him, and they are the hands and feet of God.
Well, there you have it folks. Rick Warren proclaiming a God who is somehow worthy of our worship even though his own creation acts outside of his sovereign will. Not to mention that Warren failed to call for national repentance—the primary purpose for unbelievers and the church.

Did you notice Warren’s response about the woman who thought that God was trying to wipe us off the earth? He said, “Well, first thing we need to understand that not everything that happens in this world is God’s will.” Really? Rick Warren failed to take into account God’s opinion:
• Amos 3:6 …When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?
• Psalm 148:8 Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word
• Psalm 135:6-7 The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
• Lamentations 3:37-38 Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?
Strange when you’re on national television these verses seem to escape the memory. Then Warren makes a leap from a natural disaster to man’s will, “I have a will, you have a will, we have a free will.” I thought we were discussing natural disasters? Does nature have a “free will”? Not once did he mention that God was in control over nature, but suggests that nature has some will on its own outside of God’s active providence.

He also cites a person who came up to him at the Houston Astrodome and asks, “Where is God in all of this.” Warren responds with this platitude (that any world religious leader could have said), “And I’ll tell you where God is, he’s in thousands of lives of people who love him and follow him, and they are the hands and feet of God…” What a lost opportunity to explain to this person the unique God revealed in the Scriptures who is sovereign and works out his purposes through his all-wise, all-just, decrees.

Warren also told more than 8,000 displaced evacuees at the Houston Astrodome shelter on Monday, “The question we need to ask at a time like this is not ‘Why?’ but ‘What do I do now?” Observe how Warren has divorced the decree of God in Katrina with our responses to it. In Biblical times the question of “Why” was paramount; yet now in the 21 Century, Warren thinks he has the authority to jettison this all important question. Let’s put this in perspective: In Biblical times the “Why” was God’s action, and the “What do I do” was repentance. For Rick Warren the “Why” is suggested as simply a natural event, and the “What do I do” is only a physical response not a spiritual one. Warren has simply not given glory to God in his workings and purposes in nature and basically given them a naturalistic interpretation where God picks up the pieces.

Rome's middle man

I and others got into an impromptu debate with da Champ over at Beggars All. All of the Protestant commenters made excellent observations. For now I'm reposting my own comments.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"I think everyone knows who won the debate. I have yet to hear of anyone who thinks you successfully defended your affirmative position."

TFan won the debate. Next question?

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"My blog exists only because of people like you."

In other words, Bellisario is a parasite.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Steve, you really shouldn't talk now should you?"

I simply took you at your own word. To judge my your reaction, does this mean you're going back on your word?

"How many of your posts are dedicated to attacking Catholics and the Catholic Church?"

Not to mention all the other topics I blog on.

"It seems you fit the definition of parasite well."

Since I blog on many topics that have nothing to do with Catholic, the definition doesn't fit.

"Go back to your immoral blog and continue making your bad arguments against the Church."

I've never made an argument against the Church. I've only made arguments against your particular denomination.

BTW, calling someone's argument "bad" is not an argument.

"You are of no use here, unless of course you want to debate the issue at hand."

You seem to forget that both you and I are guests here. You're not the gatekeeper of Beggars All. That's for Swan to decice.

steve said...
Chuck Williams said...

"Steve Hays, shouldn't you be in 'Olympic' practice right now or are you done?"

Chuck Williams, are your priests continuing to sodomize underage minors?

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Can you prove that God replaced all oral transmission of his Divine Revelation by the written Word alone? This is what you need to prove. The burden falls upon you proving that God no longer transmits His Word orally."

Can you prove that Benedict XVI isn't an alien from outer space who's simulating humanoid form (a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers)? This is what you need to prove. The burden falls upon you proving that Benedict isn't a little green mensch (cleverly disguised) with a German accent.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Steve, have you taken any courses on logic? It appears not."

You're very fond of brandishing the word "logic." Unfortunately for you, sprinkling your comments with the word "logic" is a poor substitute for logic. Logic is more than a noun which you insert into every other sentence.

Both the proponent of authoritative, postbiblical oral tradition and the opponent of authoritative, postbiblical oral tradition are making constantive claims. Hence, it's not as if the opponent shoulders the burden of proof while the proponent is absolved of any corresponding burden. At the very least, both sides shoulder a respective burden of proof. But it's actually the proponent who shoulders a higher burden.

One guest says an elephant is in the room while another guest denies an elephant is in the room.

What evidence does the denier require? Simply the absence of a visible, tangible elephant. Of course, through trick mirrors, it's theoretically possible that there really is an elephant in the room, even though no one can make him out.

On the other hand, what evidence does his opponent require? Well, if there's an elephant in the room, then that ought to be observable. The evidence for the presence of an elephant in the room is the manifest presence of an elephant in the room.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"You can come up with all the false analogies you want."

Whether or not that's a false analogy is something you need to argue. Adjectives are poor substitutes for arguments.

"But it does not help your fallacious position."

Calling something "fallacious" doesn't make it fallacious. You're very fond of using logical terms as a shortcut for logical reasoning. You're like a 5-year-old who's very proud of himself because he learned a polysyllabic word.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"In fact His Written Word tells us that the Oral Word is still valid and will still be carried on along with the His Holy Writ."

Oh, I see. You admit the perspicuity of Scripture. You know, without recourse to an infallible interpreter, what the Bible tells us.

"I can prove that God's Oral Word preceded the Written."

I can prove that God spoke to Adam long before the church of Rome was instituted. Therefore, the spoken word trumps all popes and councils.

"...and by the existence of the Oral Word as lived and carried on in the Church."

Before you can even try to take that step, you need to prove "the Church."

"Your empty rhetoric may work on some, but not on me or with those who have half a brain."

Does that mean you have more than half a brain or less than half a brain?

BTW, which half, or quarter, of a brain (as the case may be) do you have?

And is this a congenital condition of yours, or was it due to some unfortunately accident?

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"God and His Oral Word is the infallible interpreter."

No, you don't get off the hook that easily. You said: "In fact His Written Word tells us that the Oral Word is still valid and will still be carried on along with the His Holy Writ."

So you were alluding to one or more passages of Scripture which you take to prove your point. Therefore, you need quote your source(s) for the infallible interpretation of your prooftexts.

"His Oral and Written Word guides the Councils. Nice try here to create two opposing authorities that only exists in your imagination."

You appealed to chronological priority. Very well then. God's word to Adam antedates the institution of Roman church by many centuries. So who needs the church?

"Jesus did that."

Which you also need to prove. What is your source of information?

It can't be what Jesus said about the church in the Gospels inasmuch as you reject sola Scriptura.

It can't be the church fathers inasmuch as their classification as church fathers presupposes "the Church." No church, no church fathers.

It can't be the church itself inasmuch as the very question at issue is the identification of the church.

So this is yet another example in which you flaunt logical rhetoric, but the moment you're challenged you resort to hollow slogans. You need to stop bluffing and start producing real arguments.

steve said...
" I can prove that Jesus proclaimed His Gospel by oral proclamation and the apostles continued to proclaim it orally. God's Word is on my side, not yours."

I can prove that Jesus went barefoot and the apostles continued to go barefoot. The onus lies on you to justify the papal slippers.

steve said...
Let's run through some of Bellisario's silly claims.

"The New Testament attests to God's Oral Word as still being carried on. St. Paul says this, 1 Cor 11:1-2, 2 Thes, 2:14,fora couple of examples."

I notice that you didn't cite any infallible Catholic sources to vouch for your interpretation.

Does this mean think 1 Cor 11:1-2 and 2 Thes 2:14 perspicuously teach what you claim they teach?

"We know that this the proper interpretation because that is what the Church interpreted these passages as meaning by its testimony throughout the ages."

i) Infallible testimony? Or fallible testimony? What's your source? An ex cathedra pronouncement of the pope?

ii) You can't appeal to the church until you first identify the true church.

iii) You're also assuming, without benefit of the argument, that if your denomination interprets a verse a certain way, then that's the proper interpretation.

"Jesus clearly established one Church in the NT, not many. Matt 16."

i) Do you think Mt 16 perspicuously teaches that?

ii) Modern Catholic Bible scholars don't assume that the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels were actually spoken by him.

iii) Mt 16 doesn't say anything about the 21C church of Rome. Or the church of Rome generally.

iv) Protestants like me don't deny that there is one church. What we deny is an equipollent relation between the one true church and one particular denomination.

"Who are you?"

Who is Bellisario? Is he the pope? Is he a cardinal? Is he an archibishop? Is he a bishop? Is he even a priest? Is he a Catholic theologian at the Gregorian? No. He's just a squeaky little wannabe who presumes to speak for his denomination.

"Once again, the Catholic Church and the Church Councils have never proclaimed themselves to be above God's Word."

If they presume to dictate what the Bible means, then that puts them above God's Word.

"By the way, your Adam argument is absurd..."

Naturally, since it was a reductio ad absurdum of your argument from relative chronology.

For somebody who prides himself on logic and rationality, you're not very acute. Perhaps you should spend less time genuflecting before pretty pictures and spend more time learning how to think.

I could discuss some of your other silly statements, but let's hammer a few loose nails at a time.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Read Trent, that is infallible, Next."

No, not next. You have a bad habit of cutting corners at key parts of your argument. You need to acquire some intellectual discipline and intellectual honesty.

i) To begin with, from the Catholic theologians I've read, not everything an ecumenical council says is infallible. For example, the canons maybe infallible, but that doesn't make everything else infallible.

ii) Where does Trent provide the infallible interpretation of 1 Cor 11:1-2 and 2 Thes 2:14?

"Yes, who said otherwise? God's Oral Word tells us what it means."

i) Illogical response. If you admit those verses perspicuously teach what you claim, then we don't need oral tradition to tell us what they mean.

ii) And you have yet to document what infallible oral tradition gives us the correct interpretation of your prooftexts.

"Infallible as taught by the Church."

You need to document the specific source of your claim. Once again, you keep taking shortcuts at key junctures of your argument.

"It doesn't have to be an ex-catherdra statement by the pope."

I never said it did. It's incumbent on you, not me, to specify the source. If it's not an ex cathedra statement, then what is the specific source for the infallible interpretation of 1 Cor 11:1-2 and 2 Thes 2:14?

"Oh really? Then where does that put you? In the same position, above God's Word I am afraid."

I don't dictate the meaning of Scripture. Rather, I use exegetical arguments. Are you too dim to know the difference?

"Just as 2 Thes tells us."

So you admit that 2 Thes is perspicuous. In that event, we don't need oral tradition to tell us what it means. Thanks for your concession to sola Scriptura.

"Until you answer that without using the logical fallacy of begging the question, then I am finished here."

You're bowing out of the debate because you couldn't defend your claims.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Do you deny that Jesus gave His Divine Revelation by Oral proclamation?"

For someone who brags about his mastery of logic, you're oddly deficient in your knowledge of argumentation.

I'm not arguing on my own grounds right now. Do you need to have that explained to you?

Rather, I'm arguing on your grounds. How do you know that Jesus gave his revelation by oral proclamation? Did you get that from the Gospels?

If you're appealing to the Gospels, then your appeal is no better than your private interpretation–unless you can cite infallible interpretations to corroborate your claim.

The alternative is for you to concede the perspicuity of Scripture.

"A fancy way of telling us that you are going to interpret the text for us. You are refuting your own claims."

You seem to lack what it takes to draw rudimentary distinctions. No, I'm not going to interpret the text for you. Rather, I present an exegetical argument for my interpretation. Unlike Catholicism, that is not an appeal to authority. Rather, that's an appeal to reason and evidence. Try to learn the difference.

"Wrong again, God determines what His Word means by what Jesus preached, not by what you think it means. Sorry, you missed the argument completely."

And how do you know what Jesus meant? Are the Gospels perspicuous?

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Yes, like the infallible statements and canons of the Ecumenical church Councils."

In your opinion, which statements of which councils give the infallible interpretation of 1 Cor 11:1-2 and 2 Thes 2:14?

BTW, what is your infallible criterion to distinguish fallible from infallible conciliar statements?

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Steve, again for the 7th time, where did Jesus tell you that the New Testament replaced, and did away with His Oral Word?"

Notice Bellisario's repeated and ironic reliance on *documentary* evidence to make his case for oral tradition. How does he try to prove oral tradition? citing a text.

Even if, for the sake of argument, we granted his interpretation, his appeal is self-defeating since he must reply on the written word to make his case for the spoken word.

Obviously, the spoken word had to be committed to writing for Bellisario to lodge this appeal. Unless the spoken word was written down for posterity, he would have no evidence for oral tradition–even if his fallible interpretation were correct.

And, of course, oral transmission is not equivalent to oral tradition, in the sense of Sacred Tradition. Bellisario is playing a bait-and-switch game.

steve said...
BTW, I think the onus lies on Bellisario to disprove the existence of leprechauns on the sunny side of Mercury. It's begging the question to presume their nonexistence. Every square inch of Mercury must be explored.

P. S. Bring lots of bottled water.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"I am letting Scripture speak for itself."

So Bellisario is now a crypto-Protestant.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"No, I am holding you to your own standards which you are arguing for. You need to stick to your own rules if you are going convince someone else to use them, and win your argument."

i) In other words, you now admit that your Biblical prooftexts for oral tradition don't actually prove your contention. You merely cited them for the sake of argument.

But if even a Catholic epologist like yourself has to concede that they fail to prove Sacred Tradition, then why in the world should a Protestant like me think they prove something which you yourself deny?

If, on the other hand, this isn't merely a tu quoque argument on your part–if, in fact, you think your Biblical prooftexts for oral tradition really prove oral tradition, then your appeal is dependant on the perspicuity of Scripture. So you've backed yourself into a dilemma. Whichever horn you seize, you will be self-impaled.

ii) As far as "my own rules" are concerned, your appeal to "oral tradition" is patently equivocal. To begin with, oral transmission isn't the same thing as oral tradition. In addition, you've done nothing to establish the specific content of Sacred Tradition from your threadbare appeals to the spoken Word. It's just a cipher.

iii) In addition, when, 2000 years down the pike, you must take recourse to written sources to attest the existence of oral sources, that undermines your argument since, absent the written sources, you'd have no evidence for oral sources. So all you've demonstrated is the inadequacy of oral transmission (or oral tradition).

That, of itself, is an argument for sola Scriptura. Thanks for proving my point.

"Using Catholic Tradition to prove your that there is no Tradition, is well, self refuting."

I'm not the one who's been using Catholic Tradition in this thread. So you're becoming discombobulated.

However, your objection is simple-minded. Yes, it's possible to cite tradition to refute tradition. The purpose of the citation is not to refute the bare existence of tradition.

Rather, one could cite tradition to expose inconsistencies between one church father and another (or pope or council). Or inconsistencies between early tradition and late tradition.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"God's Oral Words says that in-vitro fertilization is immoral."

Of course, that technology didn't exist in the 1C. So how could there be an oral tradition going back to the Apostles regarding in-vitro fertilization?

Bellisario is tacitly redefining oral tradition as continuous revelation. He's not appealing to a once-for-all-time deposit of faith. Rather, he acts as though his church is receiving new revelations.

Indeed, his position commits him to a series of theological innovations throughout church history.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Prove there was no singular bishop in Rome Andrew. Were you or Kelly there?"

Prove that every pope is not an antipope. After all, were you present at every conclave? For all you know, money changed hands. The fix was in.

steve said...
Andrew said...

"Steve, I wouldn't mess around with Matthew Bellisario the master logician if I were you. You have been warned."

Thanks for the tip. I'll have to make sure my getaway car is close by and the escape route is unimpeded.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

“How do decide if something is moral or not if Scripture does not address it directly? Or, how do address moral issues if you think Scripture does not address a particular subject, despite what your forefathers like Calvin saw in Scripture such as the sins of impurity or contraception, which you now reject?…Hence Tradition is needed to determine what is moral and what is not, and it is needed to determine the proper understanding of His Word.”

Is that a fact? That’s odd since, by contrast, this is what one Catholic theologian said a few years ago:

“We are in fact constantly confronted with problems where it isn’t possible to find the right answer in a short time. Above all in the case of problems having to do with ethics, particularly medical ethics, but also in the area of social ethics. For example, the situation in American hospitals forced us to deal with whether it is obligatory to continue giving food and water to the very end to patients in an irreversible coma. This is certainly enormously important for those in positions of responsibility, if only because they are really concerned and because it’s necessary to find a common policy for hospitals. We finally had to say, after very long studies, ‘Answer that for now on the local level; we aren’t far enough along to have full certainty about that.’ Again in the area of medical ethics, new possibilities and with them new borderline situations, are constantly arising where it is not immediately evident how to apply principles. We can’t simply conjure up certitude. Then we have to say, ‘Work this through for now among yourselves, so that we gradually mature to certainty from level to level within the context of experience.’ There needn’t always be universal answers. We also have to realize our limits and to forgo answers where they aren’t possible.”

So who should I believe? Bellisario? Or the Catholic theologian I just quoted?

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

“How do decide if something is moral or not if Scripture does not address it directly? Or, how do address moral issues if you think Scripture does not address a particular subject, despite what your forefathers like Calvin saw in Scripture such as the sins of impurity or contraception, which you now reject?…Hence Tradition is needed to determine what is moral and what is not, and it is needed to determine the proper understanding of His Word.”

If that's the case, then why are there so many rival schools of Catholic casuistry?

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Saint Paul says that we must follow God's Word, which he says he is passing on to his followers, whether it is written or spoken. It is up to you to prove that what Saint Paul said was false, or that he meant something entirely different than what his words say taken at face value.

Notice, once more, that Bellisario's appeal takes for granted the perspicuity of Scripture.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

“Actually you should go tell your Protestant brothers and sister this since many of your kind allow abortion under certain circumstances.”

Doesn’t Catholicism allow abortions in double effect situations?

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

“Its Steve Hays vs John Calvin who both say that Scripture is so plain and clear…”

Needless to say, that’s a straw man version of perspicuity. Read the qualified definition of perspicuity in the Westminster Confession, or the qualified definition in Turretin’s Institutes.

“…yet we have these two self professed geniuses who cannot agree on a proper interpretation of the passage.”

I’m a “self-professed genius?” That’s news to me. And if I were a “self-professed” genius, I’d expect to be the first to know.

“I am certain that John Calvin would say that you are wrong.”

Actually, Calvin has had a lot of time refine his understanding of Scripture. Heaven is the best seminary around.

“After all he was a great Scripture scholar.”

Calvin was the greatest exegete of his generation. But there have naturally been advances in Biblical scholarship since the 16C.

“Who are we going to believe, you or him?”

Of course, that’s a dumb way to frame the issue. This isn’t a question of taking somebody’s word for it, as if this were an argument from authority. Rather, we go with whoever offers the best exegetical argument for his interpretation.

“According to you, Calvinists were being mislead by Sacred Scripture for 500 years until you and Steve Hays came along to change the teaching and interpretation for everyone today. Calvinists for 500 years interpreted Gen 38 one way, and now you expect everyone to go along with your interpretation?”

Does Bellisario have polling data for the past 500 years on how all Calvinists have understood Gen 38?

“TF, abuse has nothing to do with the discussion at hand. Just a desperate ad-hominem on your part to distract for the ridiculous statements you have made over the course of this post.”

Needless to say, Onanism has nothing to do with the discussion at hand. But that didn’t prevent Masturbatory Matt from defaulting to his favorite topic of conversation.

“You are really putting yourself up on a pedestal to decry that no Calvinsts looked at this passage for 500 years until you and hays, and some others came along. It is nice to know that you think that you are a greater Scripture scholar than those of your kind that came before you for the past 500 years, but that still does not prove that your interpretation is correct. then I guess.”

Biblical archeology has improved our understanding of Scripture in many respects.

And at the risk of stating the obvious, for a dim bulb like Bellisario, Calvin is not our rule of faith.

steve said...
I'm also waiting for da Champ to respond to the theologian I quoted. Perhaps he's too shellshocked at this point for a rematch.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"No it does not. If you understood anything about moral theology you would not have made that comment. Catholicism condemns abortion for any reason. We won't get into double effect and moral theology, that would be another debate. I think its too hard for Steve to grasp."

We'll see who has a problem grasping the issues:

The Oct. 25-Nov. 7 edition of this paper included a column by the neuroscientist - priest Father Tad Pacholczyk. It addressed the morality of three approaches (two surgical and one pharmaceutical) used to resolve the lifethreatening, often fatal tragedy of pregnancy attachment outside the womb. (extrauterine/ ectopic pregnancy).

He asserted that only one — a surgical approach — is morally acceptable and the other two are morally objectionable.

His opinions do not represent the teaching of the church nor mainstream moral thinking faithful to the magisterium on this topic.

This issue has been reviewed by the cardinal’s Bioethics Committee three times in the past six years. In those reviews, note was taken of the concerns his column raised. But, these concerns were not found to be contrary to church thinking. Some writers like the author do not agree with this. Yet, the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has not addressed the matter — though the topic has been supposedly before it for almost a decade.

Because such pregnancies are not uncommon and their outcome potentially fatal, a fuller discussion in the column should have occurred. A more adequate treatment would have included the following key points consistent with Catholic moral analysis.

First, the two surgical procedures are morally acceptable because the intent behind the surgery is to heal damaged tissue, not directly kill the fetus. Besides the appropriate moral intent, the surgical act is acceptable. In light of the risk of the mother bleeding to death caused by the attachment’s damage and possible rupture of the site, time is of the essence in these circumstances.

The surgical procedure he questions is tolerated because again the purpose is to remove with as little risk as possible to the mother the damaged tissue at the site where tragically the cells have attached. In removing the damaged tissue, the doctor, as is the case with the removal of a cancerous womb in a pregnant woman, foresees but does not intend the demise of the embryonic/fetal person. Thus it is morally acceptable and has been since first advanced over 40 years ago by the conservative Jesuit moralist Father John Connery.

The columnist also argues that the use of methotrexate, a chemical often used with cancer therapy, is not morally acceptable. Its hypothesized outcome is the dissolving of those embryonic or fetal cells which have attached sadly to the wrong and often lethal place within the mother’s body. It is used when medically appropriate as an alternative to surgery to avoid the latter’s risk of infection and other problems.

Morally, it is tolerable because it is not factually clear, as the author notes, as to what exactly is dissolved and also if a moral distinction at that early stage of development should occur between the attaching cells and the other parts of the terminal pregnancy.

Again, the intent is to remove the cells which are attacking the health of the mother, not attack directly the fetal/embryonic person. The moral object/purpose of this intervention is to address damaged tissue and start the healing process. It is not to kill the embryonic person.

In both situations, as well as in the surgical intervention the columnist accepts, other measures to allow the continuation of the pregnancy do not exist. These emergency circumstances then allow for the use of the moral reasoning known as the principle of double effect (or multiple outcomes) to address this type of tragedy. In all three measures, it is always affirmed there are two lives present. No one advances that an abortion is acceptable. These measures do not constitute an abortion.

The church’s wisdom notes the tragedy and sadness the unintended, though foreseen, loss under these limited circumstances presents. It uses its wealth of reflection to reason how the matter can be addressed morally and both lives respected — the mother’s as well as the young fetus/embryo.

While some commentators like this neuroscientist- priest are free to note their reservation on this or any other matter, church teaching supports a broader perspective. Some may not agree with the moral calculus used. However, it has served our magisterium and others within the church well.

Catholic mothers, physicians and nurses are morally free to use the two surgical and pharmaceutical approaches when it appears the pregnancy will not resolve itself naturally. In doing so they witness to the Gospel of life in using their God-given talents to respect life even when it cannot be preserved.

Grogan serves as recording secretary of Cardinal George’s archdiocesan Bioethics Committee. He wrote this column in response to a column by Father Tad Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"No it does not. If you understood anything about moral theology you would not have made that comment. Catholicism condemns abortion for any reason. We won't get into double effect and moral theology, that would be another debate. I think its too hard for Steve to grasp."

Catholic moral theology distinguish between direct and indirect abortion according to the double effect principle, viz.

"First, while the Church opposes all direct abortions, it does not condemn procedures which result, indirectly, in the loss of the unborn child as a 'secondary effect.' For example, if a mother is suffering an ectopic pregnancy (a baby is developing in her fallopian tube, not the womb), a doctor may remove the fallopian tube as therapeutic treatment to prevent the mother’s death. The infant will not survive long after this, but the intention of the procedure and its action is to preserve the mother’s life. It is not a direct abortion."

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

“You pull a quote out of context dealing with a nonspecific issue and then act like that refutes the specific I was talking about.”

The context is bioethics. In-vitro fertilization is one bioethical issue–among many.

“So you have to prove where the Church says that what I presented as being certain, is not certain. Quoting a theologian, that talks in generalities about some things in medical ethics which may as of yet have no certain answers has nothing to do with the specifics that I presented where the Church does teach with certitude…Cardinal Ratzinger never said that we cannot know anything outside of Scripture dealing with morality for certain.”

Now you’re backing down from your initial claim. You originally led with a blanket assertion about how Tradition enables us to determine what is right and wrong–over against sola Scriptura. You said:

“How do decide if something is moral or not if Scripture does not address it directly? Or, how do address moral issues if you think Scripture does not address a particular subject, despite what your forefathers like Calvin saw in Scripture such as the sins of impurity or contraception, which you now reject?…Hence Tradition is needed to determine what is moral and what is not, and it is needed to determine the proper understanding of His Word.”

Now, however, you’re retreating to the far weaker claim that, at best, Tradition only determines what is right or wrong in some cases, while leaving us to grope in the dark in so many other cases.

“First of we all we know with certitude that in-vitro fertilization is immoral. God says so by His oral Word, which comes through His only Church.”

Ratzinger didn’t appeal to oral tradition. Rather, he appealed to the experience of medical practitioners.

steve said...
Your church opposes direct abortions, but supports indirect abortions under certain circumstances. In both cases the life of the unborn child is taken (to save the life of the mother).

steve said...


In direct abortion a living and nonviable fetus is removed from the uterus. The reason for the removal is that the pregnancy, added to some pathological condition from which the mother is suffering, increases her difficulties or even lessens her chances of survival. No condition exists, however, which makes the removal of the uterus itself necessary as a means of saving the mother's life.

The abortion is termed indirect when the pregnant uterus itself is excised because its condition is such that its removal is medically necessary. If the uterus contains a living and nonviable fetus, the fetus will of course inevitably die. There is no direct attack upon the fetus, however, and its death is merely permitted as a secondary effect of an act which needs to be performed and which, as we shall see immediately, it is permissible to perform.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

“It is funny how you two have completely changed the argument from Sacred Tradition and Sola Scriptura into a debate on abortion, and 10 other topics. I guess when you cannot admit that you are wrong on one argument, one way to draw attention from it is to start another one. Yet everyone you start you end up in the same place, on the losing end.”

Funny how you can’t remember your own comments. Did I bring up the issue of abortion? No. That was you, back when you said: “Actually you should go tell your Protestant brothers and sister this since many of your kind allow abortion under certain circumstances.”

So, the fact that you initiated this change of subject must mean, when measured by your own yardstick, that when Bellisario can’t admit he was wrong on one argument, one way to draw attention from his error is for him to start another argument.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"Steve you can backpeddle all you want. But we all know the Catholic Church does not support abortion under any circumstances, period. The law of double effect applies, and the act is not considered to be an abortion by the quote you quoted yourself from the USCCB."

Your church allows for pregnancy termination under certain circumstances. That's the working definition of an abortion. You can't weasel out of the substantive issue by evasively redefining your terms.

And if you try to redefine abortion in such tendentious, idiosyncratic terms that pregnancy termination doesn't fit the definition, then your church has a policy on abortion which is every bit as permissive as NARAL.

steve said...
Matthew Bellisario said...

"It is the same deal with your interpretation of Gen 38, or lack of an interpretation, that allows you to justify the abomination of self abuse."

Coitus interruptus is hardly synonymous with masturbation. Perhaps when you're old enough to take 8th grade sex-ed, you'll learn the difference.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dembski kerfuffle

Tom Ascol, over at the Founders blog, has documented an odd kerfuffle involving Dembski, Nettles, and Patterson. On the face of it, this is rather puzzling.

1. To my knowledge, Dembski has never made a secret about the fact that he subscribes to OEC rather than YEC. Didn't SWBTS know that when they hired him?

2. By the same token, OEC tends to be a package, just like YEC. Just as YEC typically subscribes to a global flood, OEC typically subscribes to a local flood. So why would it come as any surprise that Dembski subscribes to or inclines to a local flood interpretation?

3. After Nettles highlighted this and other issues, Dembski issued a public retraction: “If I were to write The End of Christianity now, I would do several things differently. At the top of the list of things I would change is its problematic treatment of Genesis 4–11. The book’s main focus is Genesis 1–3, and my argument for _the retroactive effects of the Fall_ does not require going beyond these first three chapters. Yet, in a brief section on Genesis 4–11, I weigh in on the Flood, raising questions about its universality, without adequate study or reflection on my part. Before I write on this topic again, I have much exegetical, historical, and theological work to do. In any case, not only Genesis 6–9 but also Jesus in Matthew 24 and Peter in Second Peter seem clearly to teach that the Flood was universal. As a biblical inerrantist, I believe that what the Bible teaches is true and bow to the text, including its teaching about the Flood and its universality."

Well, I suppose that, in the age of specialization, this disclaimer is possible. I must say, though, that it strains credulity. He's pushing 50. He has two earned doctorates (from the Ivy Leagues). He has a degree from Princeton Seminary.

He's been immersed in the natural sciences. And his work in ID-theory has forced him to position himself in relation to creation science. So I find it implausible that someone with his scientific curiosity and theological curiosity, at his point in life, doesn't have a considered position on the extent of the flood.

Seems more likely that he caved under pressure from the administration.

I suspect this is what happened. Patterson made his reputation as a staunch inerrantist who helped wrest the SBC from the liberals. Patterson probably found Nettles' review a personal embarrassment. Here’s a dreaded Calvinist in the SBC who’s taking a position to the right of the position taken by a prof. at the seminary where Patterson presides.

As long as Dembski maintained a low profile about his OEC views, all was well. But when a prof. from a rival SBC seminary drew attention to those views, that put Patterson in a bind–since YEC represents his natural constituency. So he tapped David Allen to write a hit-piece on Nettles to deflect attention away frm his own administration.

4. On a different note, it occurs to me that there's an ironic parallel between Dembski's kairotic/chronological time and Gosse's prochronic/diachronic time. In both cases you have historic effects without the antecedent history.