Monday, March 31, 2008

Son of Sockpuppet

“Still no straight answer from Triablogue yet as to whether they've been using sockpuppets”

Well, just between you and me, I’m a sockpuppet of Paul Manata, who’s a sockpuppet of Peter Pike, who’s a sockpuppet of Gene Bridges, who’s a sockpuppet of Alvin Plantinga, who’s a sockpuppet of Richard Dawkins, who’s a sockpuppet of Maria Callas, who’s a sockpuppet of Ethel Merman, who’s a sockpuppet of Jascha Heifetz, who’s a sockpuppet of Buckminster Fuller, who’s a sockpuppet of Mary Pickford, who’s a sockpuppet of Alexander Dumas, who’s a sockpuppet of the Marquis de Carabas, who’s a sockpuppet of Punch and Judy—on her mother’s side.

I’m still waiting for a callback from a nice lady old at the LDS church regarding any Neolithic or Paleolithic sockpuppets in my family tree.

I’m wish I could go into more detail but I’m pressed for time since Manata has me scheduled to perform at a children’s birthday party today, and I can’t afford to quit my day job. Unfortunately, sockpuppets haven’t been unionized.

“In the meantime, we'll amuse ourselves a bit more with some tail-chasing from Hays about how if someone ignores a clear warning intended to deter him, it's because the warning isn't effective enough.”

If the warning is intended to deter, and someone ignores it, then the warning was an ineffective deterrent.

“A rather glaring error in Hays' logic, God can give a warning that is able to deter people even if He knows they will not heed it.”

If they don’t heed it, then the warning was obviously unable to deter them.

“Just because some don't obey Him doesn't mean that God never intended that it deter them from doing evil, it simply means that they displease God (Genesis 38:10, Numbers 11:1, 2 Samuel 11:27).”

If God intended for the warning to serve as a deterrent, and if it failed to deter them, then it failed to accomplish the purpose that God intended for it. And that, in turn, reflects poorly on God’s competence.

“God can offer a thing with the intent of providing a genuine possibility for our good, regardless of whether it will be heeded or not.”

i) A *possible* deterrent is not the same thing as an *effective* deterrent.

ii) And in what sense would God intend to “possibly” deter someone? If he knows the future, then he knows whether or not his warning will have its intended effect.

“So His warnings can contingently serve as either a means to stop someone from doing a thing, or as condemnation if they do it, depending on whether it is obeyed or not.”

In fact I’ve already discussed both of those interpretations, and the problems which both of them pose for Arminian theology.

“Herein lies the crux of Hays' faulty reasoning, as was pointed out last time: he equates 'effectiveness' with 'irresistibility’.”

If a warning can be resisted, then it was ineffective in restraining the individual.

“So we as Christians are given by God a way to escape every temptation and not fall into sin, yet many times saints succumb to temptation nonetheless.”

If it is God’s intention that a Christian not succumb to temptation, and a Christian does succumb to temptation, then God’s intention was thwarted. He did not effect the outcome which he intended.

“Does this render God's provision 'ineffective,' since we don't always resist? Not at all.”

It’s ineffective if God intended one thing, and another thing transpires in its place.

Going back to the original point, the question at issue is whether or not God intends his warnings to have a deterrent effect. Remember that, in Arminian theology, God foreknows the outcome.

The Arminian alleges that Calvinism renders the warnings “meaningless.”

But if a warning successfully deters someone, then how does the efficacy of the warning subvert its purpose—when it’s purpose was to act as a deterrent?

J.C. then says that a warning is still meaningful if the miscreant suffers the consequences of his disobedience. But how does that interpretation distinguish Arminianism from Calvinism? A Calvinist would also say that a warning is true or meaningful in that conditional sense.

“Likewise, God's warnings by virtue of being able to turn us from evil are effective as preventatives, even if not everyone obeys them.”

So a warning is “effective” as a “preventative” even if it fails to prevent someone from doing what he was forewarned to avoid. If it prevents him from doing it, it’s effective—and if it doesn’t prevent him from doing it, it’s effective.

J.C. must be a used car salesman. Keep that in mind when he offers you a “lifetime warranty” for that beater in the backlot.

“God's foreknowledge of disobedience to His warnings does not mean that He never intended them as restraint to those who disobey.”

If someone disobeys the warning, then the warning failed to restrain him. And if God intended for the warning to retrain him, even though it didn’t have that effect, then God is incompetent.

How does God intend for something to have a particular effect, as a means to an end, when he foreknows that it will prove to be ineffective?

“But officer, it's not my fault -- the speed limit sign in that school zone wasn't an effective means of making me travel the speed limit."

As a matter of fact, man-made warnings are often ineffectual. Does J.C. think that God is an impotent, shortsighted agent?

“We get back to Revelation 22:19 again…The damnation in this context being worded in terms of losing one's part in the holy city and the tree of life, things only possessed by the redeemed (Revelation 22:14).”

The language of apportionment (meros) is an allusion to OT land-promises and the allotment of land to the respective tribes of Israel. That supplies the background for John's figurative usage.

So this involves an analogy between OT Israel and the NT church. How then do we unpack the metaphor?

Members of the OT covenant community were apportioned certain parcels of the promised land according to their clan. But the land-promises were conditional (i.e., the curse sanctions). A Jewish apostate could lose his inheritance.

Likewise, a member of the visible church (=NT covenant community) can lose his conditional share in the new Eden or the New Jerusalem. Although election is unconditional, the offer of the gospel is conditional (repentance and faith).

Yet that’s not the same thing as losing one's salvation. It says nothing about one's prior state of grace. An OT Jew could inherit land even though he wasn't a true believer. And he could also be cut off from the community of faith if he became a public and impenitent covenant-breaker.

By the same token, one can be a member of the visible church and then be excommunicated. You may have been a member merely because you were the child of a member, or the spouse of a member. You went through the motions.

“And once again, Hays can tender no actual reasons as to why the infinitely omniscient God cannot foreknow future libertarian choices.”

To the contrary, I’ve given him very specific reasons for why Arminian theology cannot square divine foreknowledge with libertarian freedom.

J.C’s only response is to say that God is timeless. But that’s a non sequitur.

1 comment:

  1. Would it be safe to say that your opponent on this says that ‘God is omniscient and we have LFW, but I can not explain it so I chalk it up to mystery?’ loosely paraphrased of course.

    Yet you can not appeal to mystery?

    What a novel idea, claim mystery but stipulate that only you can use or appeal to it. I need to remember this tactic, perhaps it will come in handy one day:)