Saturday, March 10, 2012

Theodore Beale's murderous God

Piper’s Jesus is a serial killer. He is a murderer, a slayer of children...if Piper worships the god that he believes is responsible for committing such havoc throughout history for its own mysterious reasons, how can one possibly conclude that the man is anything other than a grievously deceived Satan worshipper?

i) One basic problem with this outburst is that Theodore Beale completely ignores the prima facie evidence from Scripture which Piper cited to warrant Piper’s conclusions. Now, in principle, Beale could try to challenge Piper on three grounds:

a) Argue that Piper misinterpreted his prooftexts.

b) Argue that Piper misapplied his prooftexts.

c) Argue that Scripture is simply wrong when it attributes natural disasters to God.

But all Beale does is to emote.

ii) To my knowledge, Beale is an open theist (or neotheist). But how does that exonerate his own God from complicity in deadly natural disasters? 

i) If, according to open theism, God initiates a stochastic natural process that takes on a life of its own, God is still responsible for exposing humans to harm. Even if any particular casualty is unpredictable, it’s predictable that there will be casualties. Odds are, men, women, and children will killed sometime, somewhere–by autonomous natural forces.

ii) Moreover, many natural disasters are even humanly predictable. Surely the neotheist God can forecast where a hurricane will make landfall at least as well as the National Weather Service. Since he can see it coming, he can take countermeasures. Even if the neotheist God didn’t know ten days in advance what was going to happen, yet as the weather event approaches, it becomes more predictable.

Why didn’t the neotheist God at least forewarn victims before the age of meteorology? Or miraculously evacuate potential victims from the kill zone? 

Even if some natural disasters are harder to predict than others, why doesn’t the neotheist God do something in the case of fairly foreseeable catastrophes? Why not err on the side of safety? An early warning system doesn’t interfere with nature.

iii) Likewise, if I slap a parachute on an unarmed man, and drop him into the middle of the Serengeti, there are many different ways he might die. He might die from thirst. Or snakebite. He might be killed by leopards or lions, hyenas or Cape Hunting dogs. He might be killed by a crocodile if he goes down to the watering hole to drink.

I didn’t personally kill him. And I couldn’t predict how he’d die. Does that let me off the hook? How does Theodore Beale’s neotheist alternative improve on what he finds so diabolical in Calvinism?


  1. Your error is in thinking that God has to follow your standards. He makes the rules.

    If God exists, he can do whatever he wants.

    Don't like it?

    Too bad.

    For you.

  2. You're confusing Calvinism with voluntarism. Try again.

  3. Emanuel's argument also disembowels Vox Day's argument.

  4. God exists and can do whatever he wants...according to his character, which is perfect in righteousness, holiness, goodness, justice, and love (just to make an abbreviated list). He cannot and will not deny himself. Which is both "too bad" for sinners and of great benefit for his people.