Nevertheless, I felt the prick of the rapier when Craig referred to 1 Cor 10:13. I have often cited the text as evidence that God knows counterfactuals. He knows in what circumstances we would be unable to resist temptation, and he does not allow us to get into such situations. But I am unsure how best to respond to Craig’s proposal that 1 Cor 10:13 also indicates that we have the power of contrary choice. The text does sound, on a natural reading, to indicate that when we yield to temptation, we could have done otherwise, all things being equal.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
That's good, because the election has just become about Ryan's economic policy proposals.
Here's what I said:
Reagan had lost an election to Gerald Ford, but meanwhile, he was hard at work. A “Goldwater” Republican during the late 60’s and early 70’s, Reagan was a person who took the time to think through how conservative ideas and principles ought to play out in the real world. It was his thought and his policies that led very quickly (within 10 years) to the demise of the Soviet satellite of nations and eventually the Soviet system of government. And it was his economic attitude and policies that enabled the US economy to recover from the stagnation of the 1970’s to become the growth engine that it had become through the 1980’s and 1990’s and beyond.
From this perspective, it’s very hopeful for Republicans to have names like Christie and Ryan and Rubio and Jindal in some high-profile places. Ron Paul has, and articulates, some good ideas, but the weaknesses of his libertarianism (and his personal weaknesses) are very evident. Sarah Palin may have been a pretty candidate who espoused conservative principles, but she was just a “stopper” and a window dressing. The real heavy lifting of the Republican party will need to be accomplished not by someone who merely claims the mantle of Reagan, but by someone who can genuinely do what Reagan did, and that is, to think through the problems of the day, and understand how best to solve these problems with the best of conservative principles.
The American System not only allows for that, but indeed, it encourages it.
Memo to coal miners: your union bosses are leaving you out to dry.
1) It would spend $40.135 trillion over 10 years, compared with the $46.959 trillion the White House said its budget would spend over 10 years.
2) It would bring in $37.008 trillion in tax revenue over 10 years, compared with $40.274 trillion in the White House plan.
3) Lowers tax rates and cuts tax breaks. But the report doesn’t say which tax breaks would be targeted for new limits or elimination.
4) Overturns the White House’s health care law and replaces it with changes. New Medicare rules would not go into effect for those already using the program or about to qualify for benefits. They would be able to use the existing program.
5) On Medicare, it would give Americans a choice to enroll in a Medicare-type plan. The government would subsidize part of the payments for private-run insurance plans. Mr. Ryan believes this competition between firms “will help ensure guaranteed affordability.” For the poor or those with more health risks, Medicare would offer additional assistance.
6) The Medicare piece is perhaps the biggest flashpoint in the entire plan. The White House and Democrats have said it would gut benefits for seniors, and even former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has kept some distance from it.
7) On Medicaid, the budget would turn it into a federal block grant program, “thus freeing states to tailor their Medicaid programs to the unique needs of their own populations.”
8) The plan offers no details for changes to Social Security, other than calling on Congress and the White House to pursue modifications to it.
9) On taxes, the plan calls for two individual income tax rates – 10% and 25%. It also proposes “clearing out the burdensome tangle of loopholes that distort economic activity,” but it doesn’t identify which ones should be cut.
10) It calls for overhauling the corporate tax code by gutting exemptions and lowering the top corporate rate from 35% to 25%.
11) The Ryan budget would reduce the deficit to just 3% of gross domestic product by fiscal year 2014, three years faster than the White House estimated its plan would reach that level. For comparison, the deficit is expected to be $1.2 trillion this year, 7.8% of GDP.
12) The Ryan budget would not, at least according to its 10-year window, balance the budget, as tax revenue would always lag behind spending.
With his selection of Wisconsin Rep Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has very much set the tone of the coming Presidential election. Ryan is the author of the Republican budget (which passed the House but not the Senate each of the last couple of years). (A subscription is required at this link, but here are some selections):
Mitt Romney's pick of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate ensured a very different kind of fall.
The Ryan pick wasn't the safest one Mr. Romney could have made—not by a long shot. But as the author of the budget plan that most clearly delineates the view of limited government that most Republicans hold, and with more specificity and crystalline explanation than most can muster, Mr. Ryan best guarantees the country will get the kind of philosophical debate worthy of a presidential campaign....
With Mr. Ryan, Mr. Romney is getting one of his party's fastest-rising stars, and the heir to the late Jack Kemp's brand of sunny and optimistic conservatism. He has added a dash of youth and opened a clear play for Mr. Ryan's state of Wisconsin, which hasn't gone Republican in a presidential race since the days of Ronald Reagan....
In picking Mr. Ryan, though, Mr. Romney has chosen, quite consciously, to take some risks:
He and his party will absorb regular attacks on Medicare for the duration of the campaign. The Ryan budget envisions the transition of Medicare, over time, into a premium-support plan in which the government helps to finance rather than provide health coverage for senior citizens. The pressure now is on Mr. Romney to declare whether he embraces that vision, something he hasn't until now. Politically, the risk is that the Medicare debate erodes Mr. Romney's advantage with seniors, who have been one of his strongest demographics. Given his problems with young voters and Hispanics, those older voters are mighty important to him....
He has decided to gamble that, in an election dominated by the economy, he didn't need to pick a running mate with foreign-policy or national-security experience to offset his own shortages in that area.
He has decided to risk that the pure and genuine excitement the Ryan pick will generate among conservatives will offset the portrayal of the Republican party veering far right that now will commence.
One of the surprises of the election so far is that Mr. Romney has defied the conventional wisdom that said he would move to the center after clinching the GOP nomination. No chance to do that now.
One of the things I like about Ryan is that he is a genuine thinker, who, much like Ronald Reagan in the 1970's, has thought through his own policy proposals.
Plenty of folks were lauding Chick-Fil-A and denouncing the pro-gay community when I checked my Facebook news feed on Friday. While I agreed with those who support Chick-Fil-A’s freedom of speech and view of marriage, I thought it might be helpful to add a complementary perspective into the mix. So I posted the following remark, “I’m not a prophet, but I suspect that it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for many who patronized Chick-Fil-A on August 1st.”
Hence, it’s not enough to be “straight” and support heterosexual marriage. Standing up for the First Amendment and morality is good and well. But what’s ultimately important is not where you stood (or stand) on “Chick-Fil-A Day” but where you’ll stand in relation to Jesus on Judgment Day.
But sometimes I wonder if our opposition to homosexuality and advocacy of Christian values doesn’t come across primarily as a misguided attempt to create a “Christian nation” rather than a humble endeavor to win our fellow non-Christian Americans to the kingdom that is “not of this world.” In the words of Joel Rainey, who actually went to Chick-Fil-A on August 3rd in an effort to reach out to gays,
When I read about Jesus’ words and actions in Scripture, I see a Savior who aggressively pursues relationships with people who are far from God, and who simultaneously displays a strong reticence toward fighting over the control of temporary kingdoms. His mission was, and is, much larger!4
I just wanted to remind folks–whether believers or non-believers–that the ultimate issue isn’t what one does with the First Amendment or marriage but what one does with Jesus and the gospel. And in doing so, I hoped to prod my fellow believers to think not only in terms of preserving the moral fiber of our country but also (and more importantly) of promoting the gospel by means of declaring the fact that, as one of my good friends puts it, “we’re all in this sinful mess together.”6
I’m not convinced that buying a sandwich from CFA on August 1st was the only way Christians could show their support for the CFA’s First Amendment rights and views on marriage. And while it may help to preserve our American liberties, I’m not sure how much it will serve to advance the cause of the gospel. In the words of the hymnwriter:
For not with swords loud clashingNor roll of stirring drumBut deeds of love and mercyThe heavenly kingdom comes.
Unreasonable Faith: Failing as a ParentPosted by Jeffery Jay Lowder . . at 8/08/2012 07:14:00 AM
So much for "love the sinner but hate the sin," eh?
As the father of two young children myself, I cannot even imagine ever writing a letter like that to either of my children.
Friday, August 10, 2012
What’s tripping you up here is thinking that venial sins are violations of God’s law. So you’re not yet seeing the basis for the difference between mortal and venial sins. Venial sins are not violations of the law; they are not violations of love. They are deficiencies or defects in carrying out the love that is the spirit and principle of the law. So to view venial sins as merely more rule violations is to approach the whole question through the list-paradigm, rather than through the agape paradigm, which gets ‘behind’ the list to the spirit or principle (i.e. agape) of the law, thus allowing for a distinction between actions that violate this spirit, and those that are still ordered by this principle but fall short of its perfect expression.
Bryan explains further.
Venial sin in relation to God is very much like doing something minor or unintentional that troubles one’s spouse but does not break the friendship with one’s spouse (say, failing to remember to readjust the seat in the car, so that it is easier for the other person to get in). It is not a violation of the law of love. When you get into the car and find the seat not readjusted, you don’t justifiably turn to your spouse and say, “You violated the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.” That would obviously be way over the top, because the failure was not purposely chosen out of spite or apathy; the spouse loved and loves you, and the inaction did not destroy that love or indicate its absence. But neither is failing to readjust the seat, if one’s spouse has requested that one do so, a perfect conformity to love for one’s spouse. And in our friendship with God there is a similar kind of distinction between two types of sins: mortal and venial.
This is fudging. It's also merely a "venial sin" to tell your little sister that you hate her; this is not merely not re-adjusting the car seat. And yet it will net you simply a couple of Hail Mary's in the confessional.
And yet it is thoroughly a sin according to Matt 5:21-22. This is a clear example of Bryan's "Tradition" negating the Word of God.
Why did some Reformed Protestants take the reductionistic path? Scripture does not call for theological reductionism. Paul could exhort the Corinthians “to agree on everything.”
What the Catholic Church promises, then, is not an answer to every question, but a principled way, established by divine authority, to differentiate dogma from mere opinion, and to do so in a way that allows for certainty in our act of faith.
Thursday, August 09, 2012
"Ugly black babies."
Leftists also say:
"Gay is the new black in terms of civil rights."
Leftists also say:
"Many people are born homosexual."
How long before leftists are in full support of targeting homosexual babies for genocide through abortion?
We most certainly applaud the good brethren at Operation Save America for their gutsy willingness to take a camera crew to the front door of this serial child murderer and knock. Such men (for they are virtually always men) deserve to be exposed for what they do.
Abortionists are those who “lie in wait for blood” (Proverbs 12:6), “make the fatherless their prey” (Isaiah 10: 2), and profits exceedingly from the extermination of innocent human life. They live in our towns and walk freely in our world, yet murder the innocent in their hidden places (Pslam 10:8-9).
Christians who have embraced their calling to walk in the light and expose the deeds of darkness in our present age while they work to bring about their lawful abolition must confront these vicious men of lawlessness with both truth and love.
Scripture plainly instructs Christians to refuse to "participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light." (Ephesians 5:11-13). Yet Scripture also commands us to "Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God" (1 Peter 2:13-16).
Granted, it is only a 38-second video clip until Virmani rudely closes the door, but notice who is emotional, angry, and hostile, and who is peaceable, laid-back, and calm.
In my personal experience, in these kinds of encounters it is virtually always the experienced follower of Jesus who is calm and collected in those kinds of face-to-face exchanges, whereas the non-Christian very often (certainly not always, but far more often than otherwise) is belligerent, raises his voice in anger, and fails to retain coherent thought due to his rage. The stereotypical view that Christians' hackles are easily raised in offense and anger is, in my view, probably a product of experiences that some people have had with immature Christians and even false professors of Christianity, who lack confidence in what they are saying. Very rarely will an experienced believer in Jesus get all bent out of shape (again, in my experience), whereas I have seen numerous instances of unbelievers, atheists, pro-aborts, etc of a roughly equivalent level of experience and training become very easily provoked and offended.
The OSA brethren ask an excellent question: "What does that have to do with the babies?"
The correct answer is, obviously, that it has nothing to do with them. Virmani, of course, has no desire to admit the obvious.
The lady with OSA asks Virmani: "You would rather profit off of those children?"
Virmani responds: "No no no, I am not profiting."
This is a lie. I wonder if Virmani really thinks that anyone believed him?
It certainly seems like he's doing OK financially to me.
Virmani continues with a bizarre tangent: "I as a taxpayer do not wish to pay for those babies to be brought up to be born and kill those people in Colorado."
Apparently Virmani believes that the children he is dismembering in the womb will grow up to be serial killers, so he is doing us all a favor by killing them before they can do that.
The answer to this twisted thinking is obvious - nobody knows what any of these now-dead children would have grown up to become. Perhaps one or more of them would have discovered a way to prevent all further gun massacres in the world. Perhaps one would have cured cancer and AIDS and perhaps another would have become a great philanthropist and composer of music. Virmani can't see the future. We don't know and neither does he.
Since we don't know and since life and death are not given into our hands in that way, we must not impose ourselves into what God has said is His business, His alone.
Virmani: "Let me see you adopt one of those ugly black babies."
He would, obviously, do well to either avoid all confrontation with anyone in the future or get some serious PR and debate training, and I mean immediately. A semi-public figure like him has no excuse to let slip his racist ideology like that.
Notice, by the way, that these three OSA folks pictured on camera are Caucasian, while Virmani appears to be of Indian origin. Aren't Caucasian Southern Christians supposed to hate black people, according to the stereotype? Yet we are the ones offering to adopt them and thus intentionally create a mixed-ethnicity family and we are the ones who want the African-American population to increase instead of decrease because of mass abortion. Ironically, however, pro-aborts want to paint us as the ones who are full of hate.
He goes on to further challenge the OSA folks to adopt. We have addressed this low-quality objection at great length already. I have to say, it is sort of pathetic that this career abortician has not bothered to familiarise himself with even the most basic of pro-life argumentation. Perhaps he finds it too emotionally bothersome to read because it convicts him of his sin, but it seems to be a breach of professionalism not to know the justification for why one does what one does.
Virmani finishes: "Take them off the taxpayers' money."
Apparently he is not a fan of President Obama, who wants more people to be on the government welfare payroll. Or perhaps he is merely extremely inconsistent and a fool (Foolishness, Godlessness, and shedding the blood of innocent human beings goes hand in hand. See the Psalms. In particular Chapters 10 and 14).
Virmani's poor thinking and weird argumentation are merely evidence of a depraved man trying to justify himself while his conscience, while seared and nearly dead, is still kicking and wiggling inside his soul. Unfortunately for him, continuing in obstinate, unrepentant sin just tightens the screws on that conscience and lessens any chance he will have for forgiveness and eternal life. He has his reward in full.
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
A National Dialogue between Lutheran and Roman Catholic theologians began in July 1965 under the sponsorship of the U.S.A. National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation and the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops…. In their 1971 meetings [these groups] began to discuss one of the thorniest problems arising from the Reformation: the problem of ministry in the universal church, with special emphasis on papal primacy…. In order that the work of the National Dialogue not become impossibly long, it was decided that smaller task forces of specialists be appointed to work on two particularly sensitive historical periods, namely the New Testament and the Patristic periods (pgs 1-2).
So two works have been produced by this commission. I’ve had the first for some time now, and have referred to it on occasion. The second, Papal Primacy and the Universal Church, just arrived in my mailbox. It has taken me a while to locate it, because it was not referred to directly in the first work. The footnote in the first work refers to the second only in terms of function (I suppose the essays had not been collected at that point):
The Patristics task force, co-chaired by the Rev. Dr. A.C. Piepkorn of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, and by Professor J. McCue [a Roman Catholic] of the School of Religion at the State University of Iowa (Iowa City), will make a separate report on the evidence pertaining to the first five centuries (fn 4, pg 2).
From the Roman Catholic side, T.Austin Murphy, Bishop’s Committee for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs served as a co-editor. Murphy was an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore at the time.
I’m working through McCue’s essay, “The Beginnings Through Nicaea”, and I hope to talk about this a bit more, but for now, I’ve found the following, which I find quite interesting:
When Origen is commenting directly on Matthew 16:18f. he carefully puts aside any interpretation of the passage that would make of Peter anything other than what every Christian is to be.
… And if we too have said like Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”, not as if flesh and blood had revealed it to us, but because light from the Father in heaven had shone in our hearts, we become a Peter, and to us also he who was the Word might say, “Thou Art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church”. For every imitator of Christ is a rock, of Christ, that is, who is the spiritual rock that followed them that drank of him. And upon every such rock is built every word of the Church, and the whole order of life based thereon; for whosoever is perfect, having the sum of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the state of blessedness, in him is the Church that God is building.
But if you suppose that God builds the entire Church upon Peter and on him alone, what would you say about John, the son of thunder, or any particular apostle? In other words, are we so bold as to say that it is against Peter in particular that the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other apostles and the perfect? Does not the above saying “The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” hold in regard to all, and in the case of each of them? And likewise with regard to the words “Upon this rock I will build my Church”? Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only, and will no other of the blessed receive them? For in the passage before us, the words “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” and what follows do appear to be addressed to Peter individually; but in the Gospel of John, the Saviour, having given the Holy Spirit to the disciples by breathing on them, says “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” and what follows. For all the imitators of Christ are surnamed “rocks” from him, the spiritual rock which follows those who are being saved; … but from the very fact that they are members of Christ, they are called Christians by a name derived from him. And those called after the rock are called Peter. (In Matt. 12:10-11; ANF translation, extensively revised by E. Giles, Documents Illustrating Papal Authority 1952, pp. 45-46).
This is the earliest extant detailed commentary on Matthew 16:18f. and interestingly sees the event describe as a lesson about the life to be lived by every Christian, and not information about office or hierarchy or authority in the church.
The Brown, Donfried, and Reumann work concludes by saying, “it has become clear to us that an investigation of the historical career does not necessarily settle the question of Peter’s importance for the subsequent church” (168).
Origen is the first commentator from the Eastern church (Alexandria) on the importance of Peter. According to this passage, Peter’s importance as an apostle is not denied, but it is very much put on par with that of the smallest of believers.
There is no acknowledgement here of any “primacy”. This speaks also to the issue that Christ founded a visible church and specifically, what this “visible church” is – very much reminiscent of Calvin and the WCF, “The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”
Here Origen’s understanding deals with the ontological aspects of what is visible, and that is, “every imitator of Christ is a rock”, a reflection of Peter’s own statement, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house”.
Both of these together support the notion that there was nothing special about the “ontologicalness” of being Peter. In terms of being “first”, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Peter had the privilege of being the first one to preach the Gospel, “first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles” (Acts 10), but in the context of historical “tradition”, Origen contradicts the notion that the early third-century church in the East thought that there was anything particularly special about him, or where he happened to be located.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.
O Israel, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
The puritans have taught me to see and feel the transitoriness of this life, to think of it with all its richness, as essentially the gymnasium and dressing-room where we are prepared for heaven, and to regard readiness to die as the first step in learning to live. Here again it is an historic Christian emphasis—Patristic, Medieval, Reformational, Puritan, Evangelical—with which the Protestantism that I know has already lost touch. The Puritans experienced systematic persecution for their faith; what we today think of as the comforts of home were unknown to them; their medicine and surgery were rudimentary; they had no aspirins, tranquillisers, sleeping tablets or anti-depressant pills, just as they had no social security or insurance; in a world in which more than half the adult population died young and more than half the children born died in infancy, disease, distress, discomfort, pain and death were their constant companions.
They would have been lost had they not kept their eyes on heaven and known themselves as pilgrims travelling home to the Celestial City. Dr. Johnson is credited with the remark that when a man knows he is going to be hanged in a fortnight it concentrates his mind wonderfully, and in the same way the Puritans’ awareness that in the midst of life we are in death, just one step away from eternity, gave them a deep seriousness, calm yet passionate, with regard to the business of living that Christians in today’s opulent, mollycoddled, earthbound Western world rarely manage to match.
Few of us, I think, live daily on the edge of eternity in the conscious way that the Puritans did, and we lose out as a result. For extraordinary vivacity, even hilarity (yes, hilarity; you will find it in the sources), with which the Puritans lived stemmed directly, I believe, from the unflinching, matter-of-fact realism with which they prepared themselves, so as always to be found, as it were, packed up and ready to go (pg 14).
While it is true that I’m commenting on his article, The Audacity of Pope, (itself a take-off on Obama’s work “The Audacity of Hope”), I’m not calling Neal a dope. In fact, that would be silly of me, in the face of his own statement of his credentials. He says, “After all, I am a super-duper educated philosopher”. So no, it would be very naïve of me to say that Neal Judisch is not a super-duper educated philosopher. He has proven that in so many ways, I am sure.
What I’m saying, though, is that his apologetic method, the typical Roman Catholic apologetic against Protestants these days, is a narcotic. It is a kind of dope to which they must rely, over and over again. And this is precisely the kind of “dope” to which I am referring.
Neal begins appropriately. Yes, we both agree that man is fallen. Neal kind of gives us a brief introduction to the doctrine of fallen man.
The fundamental conviction here is really quite straightforward: Catholics think that we’d better not be left to our own devices, or else we’ll probably screw things up. When you get right down to the core of the thing, it isn’t that Catholics are misanthropes; they don’t think that human beings are just absolutely idiotic or irredeemably horrible. But they do have a lot of skepticism about man’s inherent capacity to get things right on his own; to see things straight for himself; to understand things clearly and objectively, apart from the potentially adverse influence of the cultural categories and presuppositions, the inherited traditions, through which he sees the world and understands the Bible – but which themselves usually remain unseen. They believe that owing to these inherent and historical limitations to which all men are subject, an individual person, even if he is a Christian indeed, cannot always rely upon himself – that his own internal “feelings” of certitude, or the inward confidence he has in his own views and in those of his tradition, do not necessarily come straight from the Holy Ghost and do not automatically mean he is right.
But even here, especially here, at the beginning, things diverge. It is where Roman Catholics say that man is “wounded”, whereas Protestants say man is “dead in sin”. Roman Catholics say that man was “ok” in Eden, but not “perfect” so God gave man this donum superadditum, this “superadded gift” of grace, which he lost in the fall. Protestants believe that man was “very good”, “in the image of God”, and that when he fell, he did not simply lose some “superadded gift”, but he became “dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body”.
So, we don’t even agree here (though Neal has fluffed up his definition of “the fall” so as to be unrecognizable to most people.
But here’s where the narcotic comes in. The rest of Neal’s (5000+ word) article takes the following form:
P1. He caricatures the Protestant understanding of canon.
P2. He caricatures the Protestant notion of tradition.
P3. He makes fun of the Protestant notion of the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
And then he concludes: Therefore, the bold claims of the papacy are true.
This, of course, is the ever-present narcotic for the Roman Catholic, now who needs a shot of “feel-good” when they have been so sorely challenged on utter, abject inability of “actually sustaining a historical, biblical, and theological argument that proves the proposition that Christ established an office of the papacy?”
It is the “audacity of dope” to sustain Roman Catholic in the face of what Carl Trueman says is “once again what historians take for granted: the rise, consolidation and definition of papal power is an historically very complex issue; and, indeed, as scholarship advances, the story becomes more, not less, convoluted and subversive of papal claims.”
Monday, August 06, 2012
Arminian author and theologian Roger Olson has hosted a guest post by Bev Michell:
Olson presumably agrees with the content of the post. Here are some of the highlights (or lowlights):
This universe came into existence in the face of a spiritual rebellion against God’s will.
It did? This suggests a preexistent insurrection, prior to the creation of the universe. Who was rebelling against God’s will before God made the world?
Our creator is waging a cosmic battle against rebellion, chaos, disorder and confusion – a physicist would say, a battle against entropy.
This demotes God from Creator to demiurge. God reshapes preexistent chaos into order. God is not the Creator, but the cosmic reorganizer.
Maximum entropy equals maximum disorder. There is a spiritual battle, a rebellion against God, that comes from a great deceiver who wants only chaos and darkness (Rev 12:7-9). In the first verses of the Bible we see God’s response to chaos, darkness and emptiness – he simply and powerfully says “Let there be light.”
So sin is equivalent to entropy? Is Satan a metaphor for entropy? Redemption saves us from the three laws of thermodynamics?
The living world that biologists explore is constantly changing, and it has been changing for more than 3.5 billion years, with no end in sight…The evolving cosmos and the evolving bios to which we belong are clearly works in progress; not independently either, but part of a huge, long-term, unfolding masterpiece. And amazingly, all of the participants are part of the process. All are unfolding in relation to everything else in an unimaginable, magnificent symphony.
Of course, many people look at the evolutionary narrative and see a meat grinder rather than a symphony. How natural selection grinds up biological organisms, including human beings, then spits them out in bleeding chunks.
In fact, from a Christian perspective, the singularity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, the God-man, is the very heart of creation as well as the essential beginning of the Gospel. He is the apex of creation while also being the one through whom creation flows.
But he’s not the apex of creation. For Bev just told us that the bios is a work in progress, constantly changing and evolving with no end in sight. A million years from now, Jesus will be an evolutionary throwback, belonging to a primitive species.
This resurrected Lord now takes up residence with the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and looses the Spirit, the very Spirit of Creation, upon the earth for our edification, guidance and empowerment.
Notice the apposition: she juxtaposes Jesus over against the Trinity, including the Son–as if the Son is a different entity from Jesus. Jesus is taken up into the Trinity, in distinction to the persons of the Godhead.
The whole post reads like warmed over Teilhard de Chardin.
I would remind Job that it was “the Accuser’s” doing, not God’s. Now, please answer this for me: What would you say to comfort a father and mother whose four year old daughter was kidnapped, brutally raped and murdered and thrown in a river (a real incident)?
So, nothing you wrote there (in answer to my question about how you would comfort the parents of a child who was murdered) stands in contradiction to what I (or any good Arminian) would say. But the difference, I suspect, would appear in what we would say in response to parents who asked “Where was God when the murderer kidnapped, raped and killed my child?” and they MEAN “What was God’s role in bringing it about–if any?” I teach that pastors ought to preach and teach their doctrine of divine providence so that when such things happen the congregants don’t for the first time cry out “Where was God?” because they will already know what God’s role was.
In short, the Calvinist account of God’s sovereignty given earlier in this chapter inevitably makes God the author of sin, evil, and innocent suffering (such as the children of the Holocaust) and thereby impugns the integrity of God’s character as good and loving. The God of this Calvinism (as opposed to, say, revisionist Reformed theology) is at best morally ambiguous and at worst a moral monster hardly distinguishable from the devil. R. Olson, Against Calvinism (Zondervan 2011), 84.
I’ve talked about this quite a bit in the past. No Arminian I know denies that God ever interferes with free will. The Bible is full of it. The point is that in matters pertaining to salvation God does not decide for people. If he did, he’d save everyone. The issue is personal relationship. God cannot and will not override a person’s free will when what is at stake is his or her personal relationship with God of love. But God certainly can and does knock people off their horses (as with Saul). I think you are over interpreting Arminianism’s view of freewill. Free will, as I have often said, is not the central issue. The central issue (and only reason we believe in free will) is the character of God including the nature of responsible relationality.
The difference lies in the character of God. I don’t have a problem with God manipulating people’s wills so long as it doesn’t coerce them to do evil or force them to enter into a relationship with him. If God causes a person to turn one way at a corner rather than the other way, so that the person sees a sign that brings attention to his or her need of God, I don’t have any problem with that. You seem to be laboring under the misconception that Arminians believe in free will above everything. We don’t. That’s never been the point of Arminian theology as I have shown in Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities.
But I thought I'd put my two cents in:
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Trebor135, I too am interested in seeing the folks here address the issues you brought up in comment #2. (This can also serve as a response to Garrison’s comment in #8).
You may be aware that Archbishop Roland Minerath, who was a contributor to the Vatican’s 1989 Historical and Theological Symposium, which was directed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, at the request of the then Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the theme: “The Primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the First Millennium: Research and Evidence,” has made the admission that the Eastern Orthodox churches “never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West.”
This was not merely “the manner in which the primacy is exercised”. Minnerath clearly is talking about the developments of Roman theological and doctrinal proposals. Here is how he puts it:
“The Eastern church has never taken into account the developments about the Roman bishop as vicar, successor or heir of the Apostle Peter” [which he had just outlined in detail]. …
In the first millennium there was no question of the Roman bishops governing the church in distant solitude. They used to take their decisions together with their synod, held once or twice a year. When matters of universal concern arose, they resorted to the ecumenical council. Even [Pope] Leo [I], who struggled for the apostolic principle over the political one, acknowledged that only the emperor would have the power to convoke an ecumenical council and protect the church.
At the heart of the estrangement that progressively arose between East and West, there may be a historical misunderstanding. The East never shared the Petrine theology as elaborated in the West. It never accepted that the protos in the universal church could claim to be the unique successor or vicar of Peter. So the East assumed that the synodal constitution of the church would be jeopardized by the very existence of a Petrine office with potentially universal competencies in the government of the church (in How Can the Petrine Ministry Be a Service to the Unity of the Universal Church? James F. Puglisi, Editor, Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, ©2010, pgs. 34-48).
Not all of the pages of the Minnerath essay are available either through Google Books or through Amazon’s “Search Inside” feature; but I’ve scanned the pages not available at the Google Books link, and made them available here, so that the interested reader can read the entire essay.
The reason I bring this up is because some of the folks here are reluctant to admit that they have “the burden of proof” to explain precisely why they don’t have to make an actual argument for the papacy. That was one of the reasons why this Green Baggins comments thread is so long. The thread here, with all the articles, is their attempt to fulfill their “burden of proof” requirement with respect to the Eastern churches, who cannot be said to have “separated themselves from” “the Church that Christ founded”.
However, if anyone within the Roman Catholic hierarchy is in a position to say with authority that “The Eastern church has never taken into account the developments about the Roman bishop as vicar, successor or heir of the Apostle Peter”, it is Archbishop Roland Minnerath.
Thus, given the philosophical backgrounds that these individuals have, they ought to recognize that Archbishop Minnerath is not “begging the question” in any way, and that the burden of proof now lies squarely within their court to “prove” somehow that the Eastern churches really did at one time accept “the successor of Peter” (and thereby show Archbishop Minnerath to be incorrect). And as you say, Vatican I will be a difficult set of pronouncements for them to have to deal with.
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Should be interesting.
My question is exactly, “What is God saying?” Furthermore, I want to know “Where has he said it?” and “What does it mean?” I also want to know “What is God doing, and where, and through whom, and in what ways?” I cannot begin my inquiry into these question by exegesis, because I need first to know that there are sacred texts, which texts they are, where they come from, and where to find them. Otherwise, there will be nothing to interpret
Even if we say, for the sake of argument, that the church precedes the Bible (or the New Testament), we’re not living in the first century. We don't have direct access to the 1C church. Our access to the New Testament church is mediated by the New Testament itself. Even if the church were prior in the order of being, the New Testament is prior in the order of knowing.
I know this is where where you guys say you begin:
ideally an adult would come to seek full communion with the Catholic Church only after a careful study of Church history, the Church Fathers, and Scripture. He would start with the Church in the first century at the time of the Apostles, and then trace the Church forward.
But my question to you is, when you say “start with the church in the first century”, how do you get there? Do you ride some magical telephone booth back to the first century? You talk about “a careful study of church history”, but your response shows very clearly the presuppositions you take with you back there:
It would be foolish to pluck and bite into the fruit without considering the tree that produced it (the visible, human side of Scripture). In this case, it is a very old tree, and much grown from its seed-like origin. And of course the same God who breathed out the Bible gives life to the tree. The Word of God, being alive and powerful, gives us all things in their place, in union with him, with his Body, and because he is alive and powerful, his written word lives. Sacred Scripture is not a dead letter, but to know and appreciate this, we have to take it, to feed upon it, in context.
You realize this paragraph is chock-full of assumptions that need to be examined.
How do you get to the first century, New Testament church?
And when you get there, what do you find there? What do you suppose (imagine, etc.) you find regarding the church's leadership, authority structure, etc.
Otherwise, we are left with the option of willy-nilly deciding the God must have produced a book, and then just selecting whatever we like from the shelf, and digging in with exegesis of the text.
This too is attributing things to me that I don’t accept. I don’t “willy nilly decide that God must have produced a book”. This is a horrible assumption for you to make.
Sunday, August 05, 2012
I didn’t say that my reading, in any any aspect, was “self-evident.” I did say that the biblical basis for the papacy was “quite clear.” I’ll clarify what I meant: I meant that if one were confronted with the papacy, in its claims and contemporary and historical manifestations, and were to wonder “is there anything in the Bible that could provide any support for this sort of thing?” then he would naturally find Matthew 16, along with that passage’s resonance with Isaiah 22, as fitting the bill. The resonance with Isaiah 22 is undeniable (just compare for similarity), and is but an exercise of literary judgment to discern a typological connection between the passages. If you deny the connection, having compared the texts, then I can only conclude that you have poor literary judgment, or else that something is clouding your judgment in this case.
Your hermeneutic is not to try to learn, “what did Christ intend to say when he said …?”
Your hermeneutic is an “after-the-fact” hermeneutic. “Confronted with the papacy, in its claims and contemporary and historical manifestations”, you look for some kind of “proof-text” that can provide some sort of “after-the-fact” support. For Roman Catholics, I’ve found, “what the text actually says” is far less important than what it came to mean.
I’ve written about this phenomenon extensively, in a series of posts I’ve tagged The Roman Catholic Hermeneutic. Here is the difference:
For Protestants, understanding begins with exegesis, and exegesis begins with a patient and humble listening to the text, with the willingness to hear an alien word. We are all prone to read our own conceptions into the text. Thus our first task is simply to see what the text actually says. The Protestant seeks to understand what God is genuinely saying, through his Revelation in Scripture, from start to finish.
As I’ve said above, and I don’t by any stretch mean it flippantly, but here is how the Roman Catholic approaches the Bible. And with your comment here, you’ve given confirmation to what I’ve written.
Pius IX’s, “Gravissimas inter,” Dec. 11, 1862, reiterated by Pius XII cited in Humani Generis: “theologians must always return to the sources of divine revelation: for it belongs to them to point out how the doctrine of the living Teaching Authority is to be found either explicitly or implicitly in the Scriptures and in Tradition.” Another theologian wrote, “We think first of developed forms for which we need to find historical justification. The developed forms come first and the historical justification comes second.” (“Ways of Validating Ministry,” Kilian McDonnell, Journal of Ecumenical Studies (7), pg. 213)
Aiden Nichols, “The Shape of Catholic Theology” (253) notes that for the last several hundred years, “the theologian’s highest task lies in proving the present teachings of the magisterium from the evidence of the ancient sources.” One internet writer called this method “Dogma Appreciation 101” (related in a discussion of his studies in a Catholic seminary.) Nichols calls this, “the so-called regressive method,” and notes that Walter Kasper (now a Cardinal) has traced the origins of this method to the 18th century.
I’m not sure if you see it, but this is historical revisionism of the most blatant form, and I’m surprised that you Called to Communion guys, especially with scholarly backgrounds, don’t find this to be just an absolutely illicit way of going about doing things.
You all talk about “evidence”, but what if a murder suspect could pick and choose just what counts as evidence in a trial, and what doesn’t? With this method, Rome has stacked the deck in its own favor.
Your question should rather be, “What is God saying?” After all, how else can we know about God, other than what He reveals about Himself?
My favorite version of the argument from evil is Paul Draper's evidential argument from evil, which focuses on the biological role of pain and pleasure. The naturalistic explanation for this is obvious. If animals are the products of evolution by natural selection, we would expect physical pain to aid survival. But not all physical pain and pleasure aids survival. For example, think of the horrible pain that inflicts many people with terminal illnesses. If the hypothesis of indifference is true, this is what we would expect: evolution by natural selection is not an intelligent process; there seems to be no way for creatures to have evolved so that they only feel pain when it will aid survival. In contrast, if theism were true, God could "fine tune" humans so that they experience pain only when it is necessary for some greater good. If God did exist, what possible reason could he have for allowing people with terminal illnesses have to endure such agonizing pain until they finally die? The chances that such a reason would intersect with the biological goal of survival is pretty slim. Thus, the biological role of pain and pleasure is more likely on the hypothesis of indifference than on theism.