Thursday, January 05, 2012

Village idiot


Rauser is venting again:

I have been arguing that there is something morally problematic about the imprecation which expresses hatred of one’s enemy and relishes the coming destruction of one’s enemy.

There’s no reason to take it that personally. I don’t have to have a personal hit list to sing the imprecatory psalms. I don’t have to hate anyone.

Moral satisfaction can be quite disinterested. Say I read about some atrocity in the news. I don’t know the perpetrator or his victim(s). But part of genuine compassion for the injured party is to share their sense of outrage, to take vicarious moral satisfaction when the perpetrator is caught and punished. He may mean nothing to me personally. But you can’t truly care for the injured party unless you care that justice be done.

I hope the Calvinists who pray the imprecatory psalms can appreciate why other Christians do not.

I appreciate the fact that they are subdermal unbelievers like Rauser.

I suspect that most people will agree that the picture of people dancing while a rapist writhes in agony on the gallows looks ugly, even immoral.

Bracketing Rauser’s hyperbole, this illustrates his sociopathic lack of empathy for the injured party. Reveals the fact that Rauser is a pampered, bratty, spoiled little limousine liberal.

You have to wonder how many rape victims he’s interviewed. Did he ever bother to ask them if they’d find that picture “immoral”?

But I don’t understand at all delighting in the agony inflicted on those evildoers for their sin. In fact that looks absolutely contrary to what I think a moral person conformed to the image of God should look like. So to say that this is exactly what a moral person conformed to the image of God should look like suggests that my most basic moral intuitions (intuitions shared by most people thankfully) are fundamentally mistaken.

Yes, I think Rauser is morally warped.

If the imprecatory Calvinist has no such grief then he or she must deny that there was any such goodness in their relationships with the reprobate. There was nothing lost. There is nothing to grieve or lament.

i) Again, you don’t have to sing the imprecatory psalms with a personal enemy in mind. Rather, you can think about those who brutally persecute the faithful throughout history, as well as now.

ii) Moreover, the “enemy” in the imprecatory psalm needn’t be a former friend. It needn’t be someone who used to be close to you before he betrayed you. He may always have been your sworn enemy.

iii) The imprecatory psalms don’t represent everything we may feel about the lost. It’s quite possible to have mixed emotions or conflicted feelings.

Finally, let’s put this in personal terms. On that final day a father who is saved discovers that his daughter, his beloved daughter, is reprobated for eternity. The Calvinist wants us to view that father, now perfectly sanctified, laughing in anticipation at his daughter’s impending damnation as he delights in God’s swift justice. As I said, if this is really true, if this is what a perfectly sanctified individual looks like, then the intuitions most of us have about love are fundamentally mistaken. And the love that that father shares now with his daughter really is chimerical. There is nothing to lament, there is no loss at all. There is only a growing chorus of praise as the father watches his daughter being cast into the flames forever.

i) This emotionally manipulative objection isn’t unique to reprobation. If we deleted reprobation from the paragraph and just had eternal damnation, Rauser would level the same objection.

ii) For that matter, there are parents who repudiate the Christian faith when their child dies from a terminal illness or tragic accident.

iii) Rauser is an annihilationist. But we could easily recast his objection in those terms:

Finally, let’s put this in personal terms. On that final day a father who is saved discovers that God zapped his daughter, his beloved daughter, out of existence. The annihilationist wants us to view that father, now perfectly sanctified, laughing in anticipation at his daughter’s oblivion as he delights in God’s swift justice. As I said, if this is really true, if this is what a perfectly sanctified individual looks like, then the intuitions most of us have about love are fundamentally mistaken. And the love that that father shares now with his daughter really is chimerical. There is nothing to lament, there is no loss at all. There is only a growing chorus of praise as the father watches God obliterate his daughter.

iv) The imprecatory psalms, as well as taunt-songs in Revelation, don’t address (one way or the other) the fate of lost friends and relatives. Rather, they’re dealing with those who persecute the faithful. Those who oppress the righteous.

v) It’s often hard to tell if Rauser just likes to demagogue an issue or if he really operates with this fundy backwoodsy paradigm.

But there’s no reason to think that we actually see the damned “cast into the flames.”

a) To begin with, the imagery is figurative.

b) In addition, taunt-songs belong to a stock genre.  This is not a photographically realistic preview (“Coming attractions”) of the final judgment, but a literary convention. There’s no good reason to think we will actually witness the fate of the damned.

3 comments:

  1. "It’s often hard to tell if Rauser just likes to demagogue an issue or if he really operates with this fundy backwoodsy paradigm."

    I think he often likes to demagogue an issue.

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  2. I am having a hard time seeing what the problem is, it seems to me that human beings have a moral intuition that justice be done. I don't find it morally objectionable when evil doers are punished.

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  3. That's because you're not a morally twisted nancy-boy like Rauser, who pathologically sides with the victim.

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