Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Is Thibodaux a sockpuppet?

“We still don't have an actual answer from Triablogue about whether they've been sockpuppeting.”


As far as that goes, we have no evidence that Ben and J.C. haven’t been sockpuppeting. They’ve denied it, but they’ve also defined sockpuppeting as a deceptive practice—so if they were sockpuppeting, we’d expect them to deny it. Deceivers lie about their underhanded ways, do they not?

So why should anyone take *their* word for it? That’s like asking a hacker if he makes a living as a hacker. You think he’s going to admit it?

In fact, for someone who says he’s not a sockpuppet, J.C. demonstrates a very detailed understanding of the process. That, combined with his fixation on sockpuppetry, suggests an exercise in misdirection. Deflect attention away from what you’re doing by accusing the other guy of doing the same thing.

“Again, Hays errantly equates 'effectiveness' with 'irresistibility.' which has already been shown to be an untenable view that suddenly makes traffic violations contingent upon the road signs instead of the drivers.”

His comparison does nothing to show that a resistible warning differs from an ineffectual warning. If the efficacy of the warning is contingent on the agent, then the warning itself is ineffectual.

To reassign the differential factor from the warning to the agent does nothing to salvage the efficacy of the warning. Indeed, this is a backdoor admission, on J.C’s part, that in Arminian theology, divine warnings are ineffectual. They lack deterrent value.

So, on J.C’s definition, the warnings in the Book of Hebrews are only meaningful if they are ineffectual.

“In that he allows it to be conditioned upon a free decision. God's foreknowledge of what the decision will be does not negate His intent or its contingency, which I address next. Hays' logic here can be summed up with.”

If his intent is to deter the agent, and he knows that the intended deterrent will not dissuade the agent, then in what sense did he intend to deter the agent?

How does he knowingly intend something which will not have its intended result?

If the success or failure of the deterrent is conditioned by the “free” agent, such that it will fail to deter in one or more cases, then in what sense did God intend to deter the agent in those cases where the condition would thwart the deterrent effect?

“Which is of course silly, as the warning has done all in its scope that is needed to produce effect (and is thus an 'effective' warning).”

If the warning failed to restrain the agent, then it didn’t produce the intended effect—in which case it was an exercise in futility.

“A radio tower that broadcasts a signal isn't suddenly 'ineffective' at getting the station's signal to its listeners if a radio that could be receiving its signal comes unplugged. The fault is not with the transmitter, but the receiver.”

i) J.C. is changing the subject. This is not a question of whether the warning is “at fault.” Rather, it’s simply a question of whether a warning is effective if it fails to discourage the agent.

ii) But if we factor divine intent into the equation, and the human agent defies the warning, then the warning is defective and ineffective (unless God did not intend the warning to be a deterrent.)

iii) Apropos (ii), if the broadcaster’s intent was to reach everyone in his audience, and he fell short of reaching everyone, then he failed to realize his intentions.

“Hays also can't get around the fact that God gives for every temptation a way of escape, which since Christians don't always resist temptation, would render God's provision 'ineffective' by his definition.”

i) Once again, J.C. is trying to change the subject. This is irrelevant to the question of whether an unsuccessful deterrent is effective; if not, then in what sense did God intend that result?

ii) I also prefer Schreiner’s exegesis of 1 Cor 13:12 to J.C’s. Cf. T. Schreiner, The Race Set Before Us, p266.

“Steve also argues that if God intended one thing for us, but we reject it, that it would make God incompetent, but again this view is lacking. God can give genuine opportunity intended for our good, knowing it won't be received.”

Once more, J.C. is attempting to change the subject. Instead of asking about the conditions of an effective warning, he turns to the general question of whether God can intend to provide a possible opportunity. Even if we accept his framework for the sake of argument, and answer his question in the affirmative, that’s irrelevant to the specific question of whether Arminian theology renders divine warnings inutile.

“His foreknowledge of their impenitence does not preclude Him from graciously and genuinely offering His goodness.”

J.C. is trying to change the terms of the debate. If he defines the issue in terms of God intending a certain outcome, even though God foresaw a contrary outcome—then it’s incoherent to say that God intended a particular outcome, and provided a means of achieving that outcome, in the full knowledge that his intentions would be thwarted by an ineffectual method.

“This again is shown in His provision against temptation which I've cited from 1 Corinthians 10:13.”

J.C. continues to press his diversionary tactic. Even if, for the sake of argument, we were to grant his Arminian misinterpretation of 1 Cor 10:13, the conditions of a “provision” are not the same thing as the conditions of a “warning.”

Arminians are the ones who keep harping the warning passages in Hebrews. So why does J.C. constantly run away from that issue?

“Any lapses we suffer then are not because His grace is 'ineffective,' but because we have not walked in it.”

If Christians can and do lose their salvation, then God’s grace is ineffective in preventing their apostasy.

“I don't recall arguing that it did -- assuming a proper definition of 'efficacy’.”

And what’s the proper definition of efficacy? In context, if God meant x to achieve y, and x fails to achieve y, then x is inefficacious.

“And the fact that warnings can be more than just deterrents.”

I’ve said that myself on multiple occasions. And I’ve also explained why that alternative interpretation is equally problematic for Arminian theology.

J.C. has a habit, not only of repeating himself, but repeating what I said as if he said it. What is more, he has a habit of merely repeating his original claims rather than addressing the counterargument.

“The problem comes when one teaches that a saint suffering such a consequence is not a genuine possibility, which makes void any real sense of warning where the saints are concerned, since it turns both the action that it warns against and its consequence into absurdities.”

Case in point. He’s gone back to square one, reiterating the same tendentious claims about what makes a possibility a “genuine” possibility. I’ve already responded to that question-begging assertion.

“Such quaint oversimplification.”

I replied to J.C. on his own terms. If my critique of his statement is an oversimplification, then his statement was an oversimplification. When he operates at a simpleminded level, I may come down to J.C’s level to answer him on his own grounds.

“Going back to the parallel of a radio tower, the tower's job truly is to send signals for the radios to receive…and it's absurd to call it 'ineffective' if a radio is broken or turned off and stops receiving signal.”

This is just a bait-and-switch tactic on J.C’s part. If the *intent* of the radio tower is to accomplish x, and it fails to accomplish x, then the tower failed to achieve it’s intended effect.

“Likewise, the warnings of God are effective deterrents that let us know very clearly what God wants us to avoid.”

That’s a non sequitur. Knowing what to avoid, and effective deterrence, are two very different things. Knowing what to avoid doesn’t deter smokers from smoking.

“Provided those who are warned take heed.”

That proviso doesn’t make a warning effective. To the contrary, that’s a tacit admission that the warning is inherently ineffectual—if it’s contingent on the compliance of agents who are, in fact, heedless of the warning.

“If someone gives no thought to such a warning, it isn't due to deficiency or ineffectiveness in the warning itself… but in the decision of the hearer.”

Quite the opposite: if the warning can be disregarded, then it was ineffective in preventing the agent from undertaking the hazardous activity.

“(Plainly evidenced by the fact that others do heed it)”

That is not evidence to the contrary. Those that heed it do so not because the warning secured or insured their avoidance of the hazard. For, according to libertarianism, even in the case of those who heed the warning, they were equally free to flout the warning. So the warning, itself, is otiose in Arminian theology.

He tries to tap dance around Revelation 22:19 once more…Which explanation is refuted by the fact that those who are not truly saved have no inheritance in God's kingdom (Ephesians 5:5) to be taken away, which I've cited before.”

Yes, he’s cited Eph 5:5 before, which is irrelevant to the interpretation of Rev 22:19. One doesn’t use a statement of Paul’s to exegete a statement of John’s.

Paul wasn’t commenting on John. Paul wasn’t telling us what Rev 22:19 means. John’s usage and imagery and figures of speech need to be construed on their own terms.

“So Hays' logic effectively makes the consequence here strictly into God taking from the violators a share in His kingdom that they never really possessed.”

i) The offer of the gospel is a conditional offer. In fact, that’s stated in the verse (22:17) just previous to the inscriptional curse in vv18-19.

ii) And one can have a share in the inheritance without being an heir. You can be cut out of the will.

“And that He never had any intention of giving them anyway.”

True, that’s an implication of Calvinism. What’s more, that’s also an implication of Arminianism. God can’t very well intend to confer a benefit on those whom he foreknew would never be beneficiaries.

The only difference is that Calvinism is honest about the implications of its theology, whereas the Arminian constantly dithers.

“His analogy also breaks down in that a Jew who was not a 'true believer' could retain his allotted inheritance,”

Or he could be cut off.

“Such a parallel cannot possibly extend to the partakers of the new covenant.”

Members of the new covenant can be excommunicated too.

“And hence such a comparison can't hold, making such eisegesis critically lacking as a defense.”

John’s analogy operates at two levels:

i) He’s alluded to the OT laws and promises of inheritance. In the OT, those were originally literal (although, even in the OT, the concept of inherence could be used in a typological or spiritual sense).

In reapplying this concept to the NT church, John is shifting from a literal to a metaphorical application. So we then need to unpack the meaning of the metaphor. And, by the same token, we must make allowance for the limitations of any metaphor.

ii) His allusion also involves a comparison between OT Jews and NT Christians. And, under *both* Testaments, there was a difference between election and membership in the covenant community. You didn’t have to be regenerate to belong to the covenant community. Circumcision of the heart was always an ideal. But participation in the life of Israel could move on two different planes.

“Let's see, God Himself transcends time.”

This appeal fails on two counts:

i) It’s not an argument for God’s knowledge of the future, simpliciter.

ii) And it’s not an argument for God’s knowledge of an indeterminate future.

J.C. hasn’t made any attempt to even connect divine timelessness to (i), much less to the additional claim of (ii).

All he does is to put certain ideas side by side as if that automatically sets up some sort of mutual entailment between one idea and another. Notice that he doesn’t bother to demonstrate how one follows from the other. So there’s not the semblance of an argument to support his contention. Just blustery assertion.

“And His infinite knowledge likewise transcends time.”

i) Whether Arminian theology can underwrite divine omniscience is the very point at issue. Hence, it begs the question for J.C. to invoke divine omniscience at this juncture in the argument.

ii) Once again, to claim that something “transcends time” says nothing about foreknowledge. The Mandelbrot set transcends time. Does the Mandelbrot set know the future?

“God has wisdom and power great enough to create creatures capable of making libertarian decisions within time.”

Notice how he’s building on a tendentious premise. Whether God can do that is, once again, a disputed issue.

1 comment:

  1. It seems, at least to this reader that the two of you will not see eye to eye on this in this lifetime, I was hoping though to point to one thing. It seems that J.C. is hung-up on the fact that in Rev. 22:19 that the taking away means that they must of had it at one point, otherwise it would make no sense. If we look at our Lord’s word though in the Gospel of Luke 8:18 we see here a clear demonstration of the very thing that Mr. Hays has mentioned. The thing taken away is that which he seemeth to have. We must remember that this is not addressing perseverance, instead it is a warning not to add or subtract from Scripture. So let us who hear take heed and let the Spirit guide us.

    Praise be to God