This is a sequel to my previous post:
This blog recently received a reply which I would like to address specifically. It comes from a blogger called Triablogue.
Actually, it comes from a blog called Triablogue. At the bottom it is states that it was posted by Steve.
The blogger (aremonstrant) took umbrage at my post:
I would just like to say, I’m surprised it took this long for an unsympathetic Calvinist to turn up and gloat at this post.
He's overreacting to something I didn't say or imply.
I was expecting it a lot earlier to be honest.
Actually, I learned about it from SEA::
A blogger from A Remonstrant’s Ramblings (whose abandonment from traditional Christian faith is regretful) presents a devastating critique of Calvinist Derek Rishmawy’s comments regarding why God would unconditionally elect some and not others in the former’s post: “To Tu Quoque or Not to Tu Quoque?“
Back to aremonstrant:
Regarding i) it’s a real shame such “compelling” evidence appears to be so uncompelling even to very sincere truth-seekers! But then the typical Calvinist reply to this is to suggest such people are not really sincere in their searching for God which is, of course, a classic ad hominem.
He's overreacting to something I didn't say or imply. He stereotypes Calvinists. He imputes to me something I didn't suggest, then accuses me of ad hominem based entirely on his own imputation.
This blogger may feel there is compelling evidence for such activity but I wonder what he/she would list? Patterns in toast, funny feelings, weird dreams, that one person survived a plane crash when the other 244 passengers died, things which could be mere coincidence, or appeals to what we cannot yet explain?
i) There's a range of well-attested phenomenon, viz. miracles, answered prayer, premonitions, crisis apparitions, terminal lucidity, possession/exorcism.
ii) In the nature of the case, this is underreported because most examples happen to people who aren't famous. Their experience never makes it into the history books. There are, however, examples throughout church history. Consider patristic testimony to contemporary miracles:
Consider firsthand testimony to the miracles of St. Bernard, cf. Benedicta Ward, "Miracles in the Middle Ages," Graham H. Twelftree (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Miracles. Cambridge Up 149 (2011).
Consider evidence of historic Protestant miracles:
Consider evidence of "Catholic" miracles:
Consider evidence of contemporary miracles in collections like:
Craig Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, 2 vols.
Rex Gardner, Healing Miracles: A Doctor Investigates
That's just scratching the surface.
I think the confession that such activity is “perplexing” is an admission that the case is maybe not as compelling as he/she first thought!
That confounds two distinct issues: the fact that the pattern is perplexing doesn't mean it's random in a naturalistic sense. Even if the general pattern seems to be somewhat haphazard, that doesn't mean specific examples are random. They often have very opportune relevance and significance to the parties concerned.
I would have thought that any careful reader of my post would have noticed, my concern was not with the character of God as described in classic Christian theism. It was not about whether God is ‘nice’ or not in human terms. That had nothing whatsoever to do with my deconversion. My only expectations were for a relationship with God the kind of which the New Testament describes and Calvinists and Arminians see that pretty much the same I’d say. But of course I can see why this blogger has chosen to distort it this way.
Let's compare what he said in his deconversion post to something he said in another post:
There was no sense of companionship, friendship, or experience of the one called “the comforter” in the New Testament. And if there is to be absolutely no relational value in being a Christian then I seriously question the value of believing it...The companionship which the New Testament appears to talk about was simply not there. So what is the point of all this noetic belief if that’s all my Christianity is (was)? What kind of God has no relational component to offer in this life?
Christians love to use the father analogy for God. But what father would do that to his child especially if he has all the means to be alongside them at that moment? Certainly no decent father would distance himself at such a time. I cannot bring myself to believe in a God who is so clearly absent at the moment I needed him most.
Compare that to how he contrasted Arminian theism with Reformed theism:
I am sometimes asked why I am not a Calvinist. I thought about writing my own blog on this issue but two factors made it seem unnecessary to do so. One is because I have previously given some reasons why I reject Calvinism back in my previous blog called ‘Coherent Calvinism? A response to Mike Ovey’. Second is because, in recent months, I have both begun reading, and saw this lecture by, the Arminian philosopher and theologian Jerry Walls. Since Walls explains why he is not a Calvinist so well in this lecture, in my opinion, there is really no need for me to do a worse job explaining it. Therefore, if this is a question you like to think about I here recommend both his lecture and the notes I made whilst watching it underneath. The notes summarize his main points and I have also recorded all quotations made by him in his power point.
1. God truly loves all persons.
2. Truly to love someone is to desire their well being and to promote their true flourishing as much as you can.
3. The well being and true flourishing of all persons is to be found in a right relationship with God, a saving relationship in which we love and obey him.
When love is subordinated to will, then the fatherhood of God, which is emphasized in the Trinity… takes a back seat to the image of God as King or Ruler.
Before God was King, he was Father, and his fatherhood is more ultimate than his kingship. Kingship speaks of his relationship to his creation. He reigns and will reign over it all. But fatherhood speaks of a relationship within the very nature of God that was there before he spoke anything into existence. In the bosom of eternity, before there was time or space or humanity, the second person of the triune Godhead called the first person of the Trinity not Lord, but Father.”
Observe how he frames Arminian theism in contrast to Reformed theism. Notice how that parallels the description of his disillusionment when his theological expectations were disappointed.
This blogger must also think there cannot be evangelical Arminians since the God of evangelical Arminianism is far from “softhearted” as they usually adhere to the doctrine of punishment after death and they hold to the judgement described as being done by God in the Bible. But this oft-used parody of the God of Arminianism is just that.
That's another example of his overreacting to something I didn't say or imply. Yes, there are evangelical Arminians like John and Charles Wesley, Craig Keener, John Oswalt, Douglas Stuart, &c.
This Calvinist almost wants to boast of the seemingly horrid kind of God he/she believes in! It’s almost as if the more horrible God appears to us the better he must be!
I'm just saying it's more realistic. If there is a God, then frankly he's fairly hard-nosed. Just look at the kind of world we live in. And it hasn't changed from OT times.
My thanks to the person blogging for pointing out that the world is a harsh place. That is a very welcome reminder. Having been in daily chronic pain for almost two years I needed to be reminded of that just in case I had forgotten.
He's the one who indicated that his experience was at odds with his theology.
This kind of response from a Calvinist reveals, I think, their very fatalistic approach to apologetics and relationships. This blogger must think that his/her total lack of empathy can have no adverse affect whatsoever. After all, should I change my mind it will have everything to do with God and nothing to do with him or her.
One last observation I would make is that the responses from Arminians has always been one of sympathy but responses from Calvinists have been mixed. A few have been sympathetic but there have been a few who have either completely ignored me or been really very cold in their response (both online and in person). I suppose those are the ones who are being more consistent in displaying what the Calvinist God is like? The love of the Christ they believe in is shining through. Well done to them!
i) Naturally Arminians are concerned with an Arminian blogger goes off the reservation. That's simply theological partisanship.
ii) For all he knows, I might be very sympathetic to much of what he said. I didn't go into that because I don't care to make public statements about my personal experience, including the experience of some close relatives. In their private life, many Christians suffer.
But he chose to go public about his experience, and how that led him away from the Christian faith. So that does invite public scrutiny.