Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Loving annilationism

Randal Rauser is on a tirade about my allegation that he's on a tirade.

But then when I make an argument against Calvinism which is considered too extreme (e.g. my recent argument unpacking its pastoral consequences) I am dismissed like a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.

I didn't say his argument was too extreme. Rather, I said his argument is a lousy argument.
This despite the fact that no rebuttal to the argument is offered. What explains the attitude?

I've presented detailed rebuttals to Rauser's argument.

I am in the midst of developing a critique of Calvinism which parallels in certain respects Tinder’s critique of secular accounts of morality. It parallels them in the sense that Calvinism, so I will argue, cannot ground an adequate concept of love of one’s neighbor in a way analogous to the failure of secular atheism to ground morality.
That’s really important to remember in the present case. The point of the argument I’m developing is not that Calvinists don’t love their neighbor. Rather, the argument is that Calvinism provides an inadequate ground for love of neighbor. Indeed, if the implications of the theology are consistently applied then it undermines love of neighbor.

I think Rauser's annihilationism cannot ground an adequate concept of loving one's neighbor. Would you go around zapping your neighbors into oblivion? Is zapping your neighbor a loving thing to do? I doubt your neighbor would appreciate your creative interpretation of neighborliness.

Seems more like what an angry, psychopathic teenager would do if you handed him a phaser. He'd take his phaser to school and zap every student or teacher in sight. Poof! Can't you just feel the love?

Rauser believes that God gives many men and women a tantalizing taste of this life, only to snatch it away from them. Is that loving?


  1. What's the argument going to be? The grounding of love of neighbor is to look at how God treats us? Since on Calvinism it will be argued that God treats many people poorly, then the example for loving neighbors Calvinists have to follow will be one that is not loving toward neighbor? Unfortunately, we're not God's neighbors, and so the analogy will be cut short at the beginning. Aside from that, on Arminianism God stands by while creatures with libertarian free will kill and maim each other. He refuses to step in and do anything about it because he doesn't want to mess with their free will. But humans can't do that. If we did what God does, we'd be bad neighbors. If I knew my neighbor was going to molest his kids and I could stop it but did not, I'd be a bad neighbor.

  2. Doesn't Calvinism ground love of neighbor in God's command to do so and the example of Christ? Seems that is enough grounding. Not sure why Rauser finds that inadequate.

  3. Bill Crawford said...

    Seems that is enough grounding. Not sure why Rauser finds that inadequate.

    Bill, maybe it's because Rauser defines love primarily as a "benevolent *feeling* toward others" rather than it primarily being "beneficent actions toward others". I think he's questioning whether Calvinists can have such benevolent and compassionate *feelings* towards non-Christians who might be reprobates. While Calvinism might lead towards some people having such attitudes and lack of "feeling", it's not a necessary consequence of a high view of predestination. Even the apostle Paul (who was clearly a high and strong predestinarian) had strong benevolent *feelings* toward those who were currently (i.e. his contemporaries) non-Christians and who may have been reprobates (though, he obviously didn't know with certainty that that was the case about anyone in particular).

    I note the following statements by the apostle Paul

    2that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. Rom. 9:2-3

    1Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. Rom. 10:1

    Rauser might say that begs the question to point to the apostle Paul since we might be misinterpreting Paul's statement in concluding he was a strong predestinarian. Or even IF Paul were a proto-Augustinian/Calvinist, Paul could have been wrong (and hence Scripture wrong) since Rauser rejects Biblical infallibility as well as the inerrant inspiration of the Scriptures.

    Further evidence that Rauser's claim is false are the many examples of Calvinists who have had a strong affection and zeal for the salvation of non-Christians. I think of William Carey, Andrew Fuller, Charles Spurgeon, Robert Murray M'Cheyne, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Andrew Bonar, Horatius Bonar, John Bunyan, J. C. Ryle, Samuel Rutherford, George Whitefield, Joseph Alleine.

    Here's a link to Joseph Alleine's
    An Alarm to the Unconverted

    Anyone reading Alleine's "Alarm" and the biography included will have to conclude that he was a Calvinist AND had strong benevolent affections toward non-Christians.

  4. Thanks, Annoyed Pinoy.

    I find that my lack of love towards outsiders - whether in actions or benevolent feelings - is due to my inherent sinfulness and selfishness.

    I have yet to connect it to my Reformed views on predestination.

  5. I find that my lack of love towards outsiders - whether in actions or benevolent feelings - is due to my inherent sinfulness and selfishness.

    That was true in my case before I was a Calvinist.

    I have yet to connect it to my Reformed views on predestination.

    Since becoming a Calvinist (about 16 years ago), it is because of my sinfulness that at times I've misapplied Calvinistic teaching to come to wrong inferences, have wrong attitudes, and do evil things (via sins of commission and omission). I confess that at times (i.e. not always) my Calvinism has lead me to be a bit more apathetic or less compassionate toward non-Christians.