Saturday, January 07, 2012

Does America Imprison Too Many People?

http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2011/12/does-america-imprison-too-many-people-becker.html

Jobless numbers

http://news.investors.com/ArticlePrint.aspx?id=596995&p=1&ibdbot=1

Academentia

http://keithburgess-jackson.typepad.com/blog/2012/01/academentia.html

Did Christ die for anyone?


Debates over the scope of the atonement are typically cast in the following terms:

Calvinists say Christ only died for some (the elect) whereas Arminians say Christ died for all.

This, in turn, raises stock objections to Calvinism. For instance, the Arminian will say, “How does a Calvinist know that Christ died for him?”

Or, “A Reformed evangelist can’t tell a sinner that Christ died for him.”

In this formulation, both sides seem to share a qualitatively similar view of the atonement: vicarious atonement. Where they differ is on the quantitative extent of the atonement.

Mind you, the apparent similarity is quite superficial. In Calvinism, the atonement of Christ actually secures the salvation of the redeemed.

But there’s another issue. The framework is deceptive inasmuch as it fosters the impression that both sides are talking about the same thing.  But consider the following statement:

randal says:
Friday, January 6, 2012 at 9:13pm

Historically the governmental view of atonement (Grotius’ theory) has been much more influential, and for good reason since Arminians historically have rejected both limited atonment and universalism.
 
And we should confess and sing it even if we believe (as most Arminians historically have) that Jesus did not literally suffer for specific sins committed by human beings.
 
*Sort of* in the sense that God’s moral governance requires there be a repercussion for sinful indiscretions. But governance theory surrenders the one conceptually problematic piece of penal substitution (the one that I raised with you), namely the notion of guilt for specific sins being such that it can be transferred from one agent to another like a debt.


Arminians like Rauser have a fundamentally different view of the atonement. It isn’t just the extent of the atonement, but what kind of atonement is being extended.

If you operate with Rauser’s view, then the point of contrast doesn’t lie between Christ dying for some over against Christ dying for all.

Rather, the point contrast lies between Christ dying for some over against Christ dying for none. Rauser doesn’t believe Christ died for anyone, in the penal substitutionary sense.

He may still use vicarious or substitutionary verbiage, but that’s code language for something very different.

Put another way, there are two different ways of asking the question:

i) Did Christ die for you?

ii) Did Christ die for you?

Arminians typically accentuate the pronoun (“you”). Yet the preposition (“for”) does the heavy lifting.

When we say that Christ died for someone, we typically take that as shorthand for saying Christ took their place.

We could also ask the question this way:

iii) Did Christ die for you?

This throws emphasis on the death of Christ. Why did he have to die? What’s the redemptive significance or redemptive necessity of his dying?

If the preposition (“for”) accentuates the vicarious character of the atonement, the verb (“died)” accentuates the penal character of the atonement.

Incidentally, Calvinists don’t object to telling people that Christ died for them. They just object to telling unbelievers that Christ died for them. But they don’t object to telling believers that Christ died for them.

This could also be expressed conditionally: if you believe in Christ, then Christ died for you.

Rauser thinks that penal substitution is consistent with Calvinism and universalism, but inconsistent with Arminianism. So why do contemporary Arminians generally subscribe to penal substitution? For two reasons:

i) It’s more preachable. Very direct. Many people intuitively appreciate the principle. For many, it has great emotional appeal.

ii) In modern times, most Arminians are fundamentalists, dispensationalists, or Pentecostals. They come out of theological traditions that affirm penal substitution. They may have broken with the parent tradition in other respects, but penal substitution is a carryover which they stoutly maintain.  It’s only recently that this residual Calvinism has come under scrutiny from Arminians who wish to purify their theology of these vestigial debts to Calvinism.

Finally, it would be possible to preach a 5-point sermon on each word in this brief question:

Did Christ die for you?

Did Christ die for you?

Did Christ die for you?

Did Christ die for you?

Did Christ die for you?

Friday, January 06, 2012

The real danger in Washington: defense cuts

http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/07/25/the_real_danger_in_washington_defense_cuts

Two faces to terrorism

http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/12/27/showing_two_faces_to_terrorism

A budget strategy that courts disaster

Dov Zakheim served as the undersecretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the Department of Defense (DOD) from 2001-2004. As comptroller, he was the secretary of defense's principal advisor on financial and budgetary matters.


http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/01/05/a_budget_strategy_that_courts_disaster

Mourning in America: Pro-abortion extremism lies behind the "weird" attack on Rick Santorum

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203471004577144783800003116.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion

Appeals to “The Folks’” Intuition: A Call for Restraint, if not a Moratorium

http://analytictheologye4c5.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/appeals-to-intuition-a-call-for-restraint-if-not-a-moritorium/

"I spit on your grave"

Randal Rauser constantly attacks both Calvinism and the Bible because it offends his liberal sensibilities. He tries to canonize his liberal sensibilities as "moral intuitions." He also lodges a faux populist appeal, in which he imagines that what he’s pleased to call his “moral intuitions” mesh with what most folks believe or feel.

It’s kind of amusing to observe the massive disconnect between his sweeping, populist appeals and his highly selective, provincial outlook. He seriously acts as though his radical chic pacifism, bolshevism, Veganism, and deep Green environmentalism is the default position of the masses. Like a hippy whose world geography begins and ends at the outskirts of Haight-Ashbury. The summer of love.

But let’s take a few obvious counterexamples. Before it was watered down by political correctness, 24 was a very popular TV show. Now the first few seasons represent the antithesis of what Rauser allegedly stands for. Now doubt he’d be appalled by the “Islamaphobia,” militarism, torture, bloodlust, and so on.

But that makes my point. What he finds repellent is what many viewers found appealing.

Take another example. Revenge movies are a stock cinematic genre. Some revenge movies are better than others, but there’s always an audience for revenge movies, which is why this genre never goes out of fashion.

Sometimes the plot involves the protagonist reducing his enemy to financial ruin. But oftentimes it’s a good deal gorier.

One standard plot involves a woman who survives a horrific assault. Maybe the psycho mistakenly leaves her for dead, or maybe she escapes before he can finish her off.

She goes to the authorities, but they are bleeding-heart liberals like Randal Rauser who don’t do anything. So she takes matters into her own hands. She goes from being the victim to being the avenger.

Another standard plot involves a man whose wife and kids are brutally murdered by a psychopath. That’s the set-up or provocation for the rest of the movie, in which he plots his revenge and takes his revenge.

A revenge movie is unashamedly vindictive. The avenger doesn’t just kill the psycho. That would let him off too easy. Instead, the avenger taunts the psycho, like a cat toying with a bird. Little nicks and cuts. Terrorizing the psycho. Making him suffer. Dragging it out.

My point is not to assess the morality of revenge films. My point is that revenge films have a popular following despite the fact that they offend Rauser’s moral sensitivities. The audience for revenge movies doesn’t share his “intuitive” revulsion. Just the opposite.

The popular appeal of a revenge film is vicarious. The moviegoer gets to indulge his own vindictive impulses through a fictional character. Rauser may think that’s appalling, but he can’t condemn it on populist grounds. He can’t plausibly say that offends our universal moral intuitions.

Finally, let’s take a more refined example. C. S. Lewis was an Oxford Don. Very civilized.

Yet in Perelandra he stages a fistfight between the Un-Man and Ransom. Ransom pounds the Un-Man to a bloody pulp. And Lewis uses this scene as a pretext to justify revenge. He’s saying there are situations in which revenge is admirable. And not just abstract moral satisfaction, but something very physical, brutal, and gory. The bloodier the better.
BTW, I wonder if Lewis was bullied as a child, at those all-male boarding schools he hated. I wonder if this scene doesn’t reflect the helpless rage he felt. Just a thought.

Once more, my point is not to evaluate his perspective, but just to document his perspective. Lewis is going out of his way, in the most in-your-face manner that an understated Englishman could command, to quash the very attitude which Rauser epitomizes.

And this is fiction. Consider the reality. Consider all those warrior cultures, from little bands of hunter-gathers to Assyrians, Aztecs, Mongols, and so on.

At best, Rauser might claim that people who enjoy this fare are suppressing their moral intuitions. If so, how does he know that?

Where his empirical evidence for these innate, universal moral intuitions he imputes to humanity? If he already knew that to be true, then he could chalk up the apparent counterevidence to suppression, but if he’s just going by the prima facie evidence of how people act or what they enjoy, then his operating premise is grossly underdetermined by the available evidence.

The Bible Is the Word of God Debate - Opening Statements

Here is my opening statement.

And here is the opening statement/rebuttal from my opponent, Saaib Ahmed.


Could Propositions Exist Contingently?

http://www.proginosko.com/2012/01/could-propositions-exist-contingently-a-response-to-ben-wallis/

HT: Patrick Chan

There's a reason why Santorum is still standing at this point

And that reason is, he's a smart, hard-working politician. He knows the system, and he knows how to use the system to his advantage, and he knows how to "get things done" within it.

You may or may not like what he "gets done", but he's been the #3 Republican in the Senate, and for all of those who are inclined to call him a RINO, I'd suggest that Santorum is the genuine article. That is, he has been in power -- he has dealt with genuine political power in the United States [as has Newt Gingrich] -- has made things happened, has influenced the real government that makes laws and regulations. And that those who call him a "RINO" are really out of touch with the real world.

* * *

Rick Santorum stepped onto the political scene in 1990 with a textbook campaign. As an unknown, 32-year-old lawyer (I believe), he gave up his job, and spent about eight months doing nothing but walking door-to-door, handing out brochures and meeting people, in a suburban western PA district. And thanks to his unusual campaign style, he was able to defeat a popular and entrenched seven-term Democratic congressman. I think that by 1990, the Democrats had controlled the House of Representatives for something like 40 years (including during the Reagan years), before young Republicans like Santorum started doing their thing in the early 1990's.

He's doing that same thing this year, on a much larger scale. He's spent the last year walking door-to-door and seemingly visiting every Republican in Iowa, precisely with the intention of making a showing there and, as Charles Krauthammer says today, generating "millions of dollars’ worth of free media to make up for his lack of money."

Some may say that's too little too late against a well-organized, well-financed Romney campaign. And that's perfectly understandable. But as I said yesterday, Romney seems to have a ceiling of 20-25%, and that other 60% is a pretty big pool of votes he can draw from, with virtually no other "conservative" competition.

Krauthammer continues: Santorum has "got the stage to make his case, plus the luck of a scheduling quirk: If he can make it through the next three harrowing primaries, the (relative) February lull would allow him to build a national campaign structure before Super Tuesday on March 6.

* * *

In response to my post on George Will on Rick Santorum, one commenter named Craig said this:

If your conscience tells you to vote for Santorum, then you should follow your conscience.

At the end of his comments, he said further:

When I said I will not vote for Santorum, that is my decision. I'm choosing to vote for a candidate based on principle rather than on the "lesser of two evils" philosophy. I am choosing to vote FOR something rather than AGAINST something.

I don't want to comment on his dislike for Santorum. I can understand why people wouldn't like Rick Santorum. But I think this type of attitude is very short-sighted, and I think this presents an opportunity to talk about "what America is" and "how things work in America." Rick Santorum may win or lose, but I believe he's playing very smart and effective politics in what is a highly difficult, "settled", and otherwise lackluster environment. He knows what America *really* is, compared with what some people imagine it to be, or wish it to be.

To Craig's first point, I think we should have other reasons for voting, other than conscience. I am not sure that a "concience" vote is all that politically expedient. It can make you a perennial loser. And I think that is one reason why someone like Ron Paul can gain a very small but enthusiastic following. Ron Paul is articulating some very fine principles, but I don't know that he's a smart politician.

But further, I think vast swatches of "conservativism" are subjected to this insular line of thinking that stands on "principle" and yet avoids "realpolitik". You need both in the world as it is today. To paraphrase Steve, "they're not playing tiddly-winks out there".

* * *

Craig then posted the following video of Judge Napolitano and David Boaz of the Cato Institute. It opens with a quote from Santorum from a recent radio interview:



Here's the quote that appeared at the beginning of the video. In criticizing "the libertarianish right," Santorum says:
They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues. That is not how traditional conservatives view the world. There is no such society that I am aware of, where we've had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.
Napolitano then says, "There is such a society, it's called the United States of America". He goes on to call Santorum "No friend to those who believe in the constitution. No friend to those who believe in fiscal conservativism. No friend to those who believe in small government."

Boaz then goes on to say that "Rick Santorum dislikes the fundamental idea of America".

We can all discuss "the fundamental idea of America" until we're blue in the face, but it won't win an election. And the kind of kind of over-the-top criticism in this video may be good TV for "libertarians and tea partiers and constitutionalists", but it is not going to win a Presidential election in a country that has two highly-populated left coasts.

First, this kind of language is just hyperbole. It is hurtful. It's impossible to say that Santorum is "no friend" to any of these groups. I doubt that any of these groups, "those who believe in the constitution, those who believe in fiscal conservativism, those who believe in small government" will not, in the real world, find a politician in power who's more sympathetic to their concerns than is someone like Santorum.

He is certainly more of a friend than Obama would be, and probably much more of a friend than Romney.

But Santorum adds a dimension that individuals like Napolitano and Boaz don't have: he is in this to win. He knows what it takes to get elected, and once elected, he knows what it takes to get things done. He is engaging in politics at the highest political level.

A president isn't elected in a vacuum. He's got to jostle with the other "powers that be" both in Washington and in the broader world.

I think it's fair to say that, especially among readers of this blog, we all want to limit the role of government, to lower taxes, and to have a secure national defense. How you actually accomplish those things is another story. Santorum is not necessarily going to echo your concerns precisely in this area. I'd venture to say that, as similar as readers of this blog may be in their sentiments, no two of them will agree precisely in everything.

But if you want to move in a particular direction, having a sympathetic President in power will do more for these causes than having either Obama in power, or a Ron Paul figure out of power.

* * *

Craig then went on to say:
Santorum has voted in favor of gun control legislation, he has voted to increase taxes, he has voted to expand the government (in favor of establishing the Department of Homeland Security, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D), he has voted numerous times in favor of foreign aid, and of course, he voted for the Iraq war.
This is evidence of a person who knows how to work within the Washington system and to get things done.
President Santorum would not address the debt crisis and would continue to spend us into oblivion, and he will take us into war with Iran. I don't see how this will help our country, and personally, I will stay home on election night before casting my vote for Rick Santorum if he is the Republican nominee.
Politics, it has been said, is "the art of what's possible". Look at some of what Santorum is campaigning for:
As he campaigned in New Hampshire, which holds its GOP primary Tuesday, Mr. Santorum spoke of plans to revive blue-collar communities. His speeches were peppered with memories of his coal-miner grandfather, along with details about his plans to revive U.S. manufacturing. For many voters, it added a new dimension to a candidate known as an opponent of abortion and gay marriage.

"A lot of blue collar workers have been left behind in America," Mr. Santorum said Thursday in Manchester. Later, at a campaign event in Tilton, he said his family and his friends' families had worked in factories. To a man who asked about manufacturing workers "sitting at home,'' Mr. Santorum replied: "My plan is 'Made in America.'"

To spur job growth, he would not only cut corporate tax rates in half but eliminate the tax entirely for manufacturers, as well as for corporations that use overseas profits to buy manufacturing equipment. At a diner in Tilton, N.H., Mr. Santorum said Thursday his goal was to resuscitate Rust Belt communities like the one where he was raised in Western Pennsylvania.

"People say, 'Well, you are just doing it for political purposes.' But no, I'm doing it because that's where I grew up," he said.

Mr. Santorum's economic message was aimed at the type of Republican voters who were Democrats until former President Ronald Reagan drew them into the GOP. And his proposals resonated with some voters.
That's not a program that's going to please everybody. But it's one that would move things in the right direction. And unlike some of Ron Paul's vague economic proposals, at least we know that Santorum would know how to work to implement these sorts of things.


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.

Reformed ophthalmology

http://analytictheologye4c5.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/cornea-and-intuition-arguments-against-calvinism-or-a-mean-god/

George Will on Rick Santorum

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/suddenly-a-fun-candidate/2012/01/04/gIQAnn0jaP_story.html
He can, of course, be tenaciously serious. On Sept. 26, 1996, the Senate was debating whether to ban partial-birth abortion, the procedure whereby the baby to be killed is almost delivered, feet first, until only a few inches of its skull remain in the birth canal, and then the skull is punctured, emptied and collapsed. Santorum asked two pro-choice senators opposed to the ban, Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), this: Suppose the baby slips out of the birth canal before it can be killed. Should killing it even then be a permissible choice? Neither senator would say no.

On Oct. 20, 1999, during another such debate, Santorum had a colloquy with pro-choice Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.):

Santorum: “You agree that, once the child is born, separated from the mother, that that child is protected by the Constitution and cannot be killed. Do you agree with that?”

Boxer: “I think that when you bring your baby home . . . .”
This is one of the reasons why liberals demonized him in 2006. Yes, he raises other questions. No, he is not known outside of Iowa (but he will now get both intrigue and notice in national news outlets); No, he is not flush with cash (but there is a possibility that he will become largely the focus of donors who would otherwise have given to other "anti-Romney" candidates); Yes, he lost an election in 2006 (because he was targeted by liberal groups who made him their #1 enemy in a Republican party whose "public face" was George W. Bush), and yes, I think he can win the nomination (I see Romney and Paul with "ceilings" of 20%-25% among Republicans, whereas Santorum can become a rallying point for the other 60%). Would that make him a shoe-in vs Obama? No, national elections are never easy. But in an otherwise un-inspiring Republican race, Santorum is the sole "conservative" choice. As Will says,
If the Republicans’ binary choice has arrived, and if new technologies of communication and fundraising are repealing some traditional impediments to fluidity in political competition, Santorum can hope to win the nomination. Yes, in 2006, a ghastly year for Republicans (who lost 30 seats and control of the House, and six Senate seats), Santorum lost by 17 points in his bid for a third term. But, then, Richard Nixon was defeated for governor of California six years before being elected president, carrying California.
By the way, Karl Rove thinks Romney will win the nomination. We shall see.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Faith & forgiveness

This post is a continuation of two others:



Arminians say the Arminian God is more loving than the Calvinist God. Yet the Arminian God makes faith an obstacle to forgiveness. This is despite the fact that the Arminian God has redeemed everyone.

Given universal atonement, would it not be just for God to simply forgive unbelievers outright?

However, some Arminians (e.g. Grotius, Randal Rauser, Joel Green) reject penal substitution. So they don’t even think redemption (in penal substitutionary sense) is a necessary precondition to justly forgive sinners. But in that event, why in the world is faith precondition to be forgiven?

No strings attached


Dan Chapa has taken issue with my post, but he seems incapable of formulating a counterargument. So let’s walk him through my argument one more time:

Arminians say the Arminian God is more loving than the Calvinist God. Let’s define love as acting in the best interests of another. That’s a neutral definition. It doesn’t list towards Calvinism or Arminianism. But if Dan has a better definition, he’s welcome to defend it.

According to Arminian theology, God loves everyone. He wants to save everyone. And he shows his love by redeeming everyone.

Yet there’s a catch: to avoid damnation, there’s a condition you must meet: you must repent of your sins and put your faith in Christ. Those who don’t are damned.

But how is that the most loving thing to do for unbelievers? Even if they remain unbelievers, why punish them in hell? Why make faith an obstacle to forgiveness?

It would be one thing to forgive them without atoning for their sin. That’s arguably unjust.

But since, according to Arminianism, God has redeemed everyone, he can justly forgive everyone. So why make faith a condition of forgiveness? How is that the most loving thing to do?

Arminians like to quote the sermon on the mount about loving our enemies. And they think that command mirrors the heart of God.

But in the nature of the case, loving your enemy is a type of disinterested love. You don’t love your enemy on condition that he loves you back. You don’t do him a good turn on condition that he return the favor. Rather, you act in his best interests in spite of how he treats you or feels about you. No strings attached.

Calvinism doesn’t generate the same internal tension. On the one hand, there’s no pretense that God was ever acting in the best interests of the reprobate. On the other hand, although God demands faith from the elect, God gives what he demands. 

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?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

IMAGINE! Canada invades America!




Imagine for a moment that there were RCAF officers stationed somewhere in Alaska or Florida. Imagine that RCAF officers were routinely dating our women, using our restrooms, and drinking from our water coolers. Imagine they were here under the auspices of detecting, intercepting, or engaging any air-breathing threat to North America whether by aircraft, ballistic missiles, or space vehicles. Imagine that they took orders from a Canadian Prime Minister or Canadian Lt. General. Imagine that every now and then they used British spelling or terrorized innocent Americans by beating us at ice hockey? Imagine if Paulestinians were so angry about them being here that they actually joined together to fight them off (Operation Canadian Bacon), in defense of our womenfolk, restrooms, and water coolers, because the leadership in D.C. refused to oust the foreign occupiers. Imagine that Paulestinians were labeled Loonytarians for their actions, and routinely lampooned by Canadian comedians like Dan Aykroyd or Jim Carrey. Imagine if Paulestinians elected a leader who promised to put an end to this national humiliation. The reality is that our military presence on foreign soil is as offensive to the people that live there as RCAF officers would be if they were stationed at Tyndall AFB, Florida or Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. We would not stand for it.


Is Yahweh worse than the devil?

Every notice how Arminians who can't stand Calvin's God are bedfellows with misotheists who can't stand Yahweh?



drwayman says:
Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 7:59pm
I was thinking of an average visitor to the psalm singing church when the first time s/he visits is during an imprecatory psalm. I’m glad that DH’s story turns out so positive but I think it’s probably an exception.
I can imagine a person coming in and thinking “…will they not say that you are out of your mind?” as Paul states in I Cor 14 regarding a visitation during uninterpreted tongues.
So, as a visitor, I say “God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life” and I am told quite the opposite, “God’s wrath is resting upon me and I will feel the full weight of God’s anger…” Remember this is just after I had heard sung that God’s people dance in the blood of the unrighteous.
So, as a visitor, I am faced with a choice, 1) you guys are looney and going for a Christian jihad, I’m gonna get out of here, or 2) I better pretend to join these guys before they end up dancing in my blood and then I will get away from these as soon as I leave or 3) possibly I really truly want to repent.

But, #3 may be a sham perpetuated by God as Calvin states,
“Sometimes, however, He communicates it [the special call of God] also to those whom He enlightens only for a time, and whom afterward, in just punishment for their ingratitude, He abandons and smites with greater blindness.” Institutes, 3:24.8.



http://randalrauser.com/2011/12/singing-the-praises-of-the-imprecatory-psalms/#comments-wrap

28 Days Later


Atheists are particularly keen on the idea of religions as meme complexes, and think of them as like viruses infecting other people’s brains. They regard themselves as immune. But materialism must itself be a virus-like meme complex that infects materialists’ brains. When the materialist memeplex is particularly virulent, it turns its victims into proselytising atheists so that it can jump from their brains to as many other people’s brains as possible.

R. Sheldrake, The Science Delusion (Cornet 2012), 183.

An "act of war"

http://www.blackfive.net/main/2011/12/an-act-of-war-against-ron-paul.html

The Paulestinians

I'm reposting some comments I left over at Justin Taylor's blog:



steve hays December 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm
One of the issues is whether Ron Paul’s explanation was “evolved” over time:


REPLY
steve hays December 26, 2011 at 1:31 pm
Joe P.

“These smears have been around since at least 2008. The National Review is hardly an unbiased news source concerning Ron Paul. They (National Review) have had an ax to grind with Rothbard, Rockwell, et al. for a long time.”

It’s not as if NRO singles out Ron Paul for special treatment. True, NRO doesn’t care for Ron Paul, but most of the contributors to NRO are equally critical of Bachmann, Cain, Perry, and Gingrich.


steve hays December 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm
Justin McKay

“Moreover, evangelicals should embrace Paul more, relative to his position on the issues they care the most about (i.e abortion and same-sex marriage). Paul’s position on these issue should have them salivating.”

Really? Isn’t his position that individual states have a right to legalize abortion and sodomite marriage? How is that something evangelicals ought to embrace?


steve hays December 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm
ndefalco

“After all, if I didn’t want to give my tax money to a state that legalized either one, it wouldn’t be too difficult to move to another state.”

Actually it would, since it only takes a Federal judge to turn a red state into a blue state. Unless RP opposes judicial review, his solution is illusory.

When the issue of judicial review came up in the Sioux City debate, Gingrich was the candidate with ideas on how to curtail judicial review, and RP opposed Gingrich on that issue.

steve hays December 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm
ndefalco

“In Paul’s defense, he is FOR reversing Roe V. Wade.”

Which would give Congress an opportunity to pass a national ban on abortion. But RP opposes that.

“He believes abortion is murder.”

Which he’d leave up to the discretion of individual states.

“He believes life begins at conception. He believes the definition of marriage is one man one woman.”

What matters is not what he believes, but what he’d do. What are his policy initiatives? Are they effective? That’s the question.


steve hays December 27, 2011 at 3:07 pm
ndefalco

“The problem is the power you give to the federal government to outlaw abortion is the SAME TYPE of power that progressives used to pass Roe V. Wade.”

i) You’re confusing the judicial branch with the legislative branch. Try to keep those two things straight in your mind.

ii) To say I’m “giving” Congress that power begs the question. What makes you think Congress lacks that power in the first place?

“Take ‘No Child Left Behind’. Seems like a good thing to offer vouchers to families who want to put their kid in private school.”

That’s the democratic process at work. Congress can pass good laws and bad laws. Same thing with state legislatures. There’s no failsafe. Laws are only as good as lawmakers, and lawmakers are only as good as the voters who elect them.


steve hays December 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm
ndefalco

“So, I guess it’s okay to have unnecessary programs, powers, spending, etc at the federal level that will give way to bad laws being written in the future?”

i) You reflect a persistent inability to respond to what your interlocuter actually said. Do you filter everything through your Ron Paul spectacles, is that it?

I’ve pointed out that you’re simply shifting the same problems to state and local gov’t. Look at California, for instance.

ii) Ultimately, a democratic process is only as good (or bad) as the electorate. Unless you plan to foment a violent revolution to overthrow our republican democracy and then install a benign dictator, you’re stuck with the limitations of the democratic process.

“As long as we get a federal marriage amendment and an anti-abortion amendment? Is it pointless to even talk about being a ‘Constitutional Candidate’”?

Claiming to be the “Constitutional candidate” no more makes a candidate Constitutional than a man claiming to be an elephant makes him a pachyderm.


steve hays December 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm
Steven Hunter

“So true. Christians never seem to have an issue with militarism, but they want to strain at the gnat on this issue that has been answered at length.”

Perhaps because many Christians have a more discriminating position on national security.