Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Recommendations For Unbelievers And Less Mature Christians

I'm interested in recommendations from any of the readers, including other members of the Triablogue staff. There are a few books I'm currently giving people, such as Charles Spurgeon's All Of Grace, John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2003), and Reinventing Jesus (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2006) by J. Ed Komoszewski, et al. I sometimes change the books or add some to the list, and I'm looking for recommendations. Which books have you used, or which ones most influenced you, and why?

Friday, May 30, 2008

The race against time

John Loftus and Gerry Matatics are both men on a mission. Two middle-aged men in a hurry. Loftus is an apostate pastor turned militant atheist while Matatics is an apostate pastor turned sedevacantist. Both men are out to save the world—and the clock is ticking.

One wonders if they were separated at birth. In some ways they’re the mirror image of each other. Loftus is trying to save humanity from 2 billion deluded Christians while Matatics is trying to save a billion deluded Catholics from the anti-Pope. Seems like a tall order on either count. Who will get there first?

In the interests of time, not to mention the escalating price of gasoline, wouldn’t it be more cost-effective to divvy up the globe? Let Loftus work the Northern Hemispheric side of the street while Matatics is working the Southern Hemispheric side of the street.

That would also lessen the risk that of their bumping into each other at the same Best Western in Deadwater Wyoming or thereabouts. One shudders to contemplate the outcome if they every came into contact. Would Loftus emerge from that confrontation reciting the Rosary? Would Matatics emerge from that confrontation reciting the Humanist Manifesto? Or would both men emerge in body bags?

“Since leaving home early Easter Monday morning to embark on my current nine-state (MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, MS, LA, TX), 35-city spring 2008 segment of my six-year, 350-city mega tour, I've already driven nearly 7000 miles. And I still have seven cities and another 1000 miles to go… It's been a physically grueling but spiritually gratifying trip so far, thanks be to God. Once I'm back home at the end of this week I'll be telling you about the responses I've been getting on this trip to my talk, ‘Counterfeit Catholicism: How Faithful Catholics Come to Realize That Vatican II, The New Mass, and Benedict XVI (like his four immediate predecessors) Are Not What They Claim to Be’."

“If you or any of your family, friends, or loved ones live near any of these cities, I urge you to come and hear this vital talk, the most important talk I've ever given in my entire 22-year career as a full-time Catholic apologist. As with all segments of my megatour, this is absolutely the last time I plan on ever speaking in these cities.”

“Please keep my safety on this trip in your prayers. And as I said in my previous post, any donation, large or small, you might wish to send via check or money order, Visa or MasterCard, to help put gas in my car or pay for a meal or a motel room, would be greatly appreciated. Though we pinch every penny, select the least expensive locations, and eat groceries in the car to avoid the costs of restaurants as much as possible, when one adds together the cost of renting even inexpensive meeting space, mimimal advertising, a budget hotel or motel sleeping room, gas, and groceries, every stop on this megatour easily costs a minimum of $250 - $300 a night. AS always, we remember every donor and all his or her loved ones, living and deceased, in our daily rosaries and other prayers.”

In Christ our King and Mary Our Queen Mother,

Gerry Matatics

“I just returned a few days ago from yet another whirlwind speaking tour (November 5-16), this time throughout central and southern Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of northern Alabama and southern Virginia.”

“On this huge, hectic, high-speed trip I put over 3,300 miles on my car - which (thanks be to God) was fortunately (and amazingly) still drivable throughout the entire trip after hitting a large deer at 55 mph only three hours into my trip at 2:30 am in western PA. The impact not only caused everything in my car to come flying forward and completely cover myself and my 16-year-old son Peter, it crumpled and jammed shut the hood, smashed the front grill and both front fenders, but mercifully didn't disable the headlights.”

“Undaunted - and with no time to spare to get the car fixed anyway: I had left home in just enough time to drive the 14 hours straight to get to St. Louis, Missouri in time to give my first talk.”

“These talks energetically make the case that, according to Catholic theology and canon law, John XXIII through Benedict XVI could not have been validly elected to the papacy, due to their disqualifying character as manifest heretics before their election. (In addition, all these men can be shown to be promoters of one or more of the following: Talmudic Judaism, Communism, and Freemasonry - which further disqualifies them from both membership and office in the Catholic Church.)”

“This being so, John XXIII could not have validly called, and Paul VI could not have validly concluded, a true council of the Church, which explains why Vatican II teaches doctrines (such as a novel ecclesiology, religious liberty, ecumenism, the salvific efficacy of false religions, etc.) previously condemned by the Church's Magisterium.”

“Vatican II was convened to ‘baptize’ these heresies, to call the Catholic bishops of the world to Rome to put their signatures to these heresies, and to send these men back home to their various dioceses, no longer as bishops of Christ's one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, but as bishops of a new church which had thus taken over the infrastructure ‘formerly owned and operated’ by the Catholic Church.”

“As a result, the new, Vatican II church teaches new doctrines (e.g., in its new Catechism), offers a New Mass and sacraments, and enshrines a new morality in its New Code of Canon Law, all of which clearly demonstrate it to be another church than the Catholic Church, which is always (as Pius XII reminds us in paragraph 66 of his 1943 encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi) ‘spotless’ in the doctrines it perennially and immutably teaches, in the worship it offers God and the sacraments it dispenses among men, and in its universal legislation.”

“Anyone who is fearful of coming to my conclusions, but who admits that the Rome-approved abominations of the past fifty years – ‘papal’ Masses incorporating diabolical pagan rites, inter-faith worship, altar girls, modern communion in the hand, the dispensing of sacraments to non-Catholics, Masses which fatally misrepresent Our Lord as saying ‘for you and for ALL’ in consecrating the chalice, modernist Biblical scholarship which indicts the Sacred Scriptures with error and myth, heresies regarding the fate of Jews, Muslims, pagans, and unbaptized infants, etc., etc. -- are all less than ‘spotless,’ has already lost the argument: such a ‘church’ CANNOT be the Catholic Church!”

“And I show that the ‘pontificate’ and recent motu proprio of Benedict XVI, far from betokening that long-promised ‘new springtime of the Church, actually are frauds that exacerbate the current crisis and deepensthe diabolical disorientation and deception pervasive among contemporary ‘Catholics,’ even as they seduce traditionalists to return to the leprous embrace of the whorish (Apocalypse 17) Vatican II church in the mistaken belief that she is really Holy Mother Church.”

“This recorded seminar shows that the principled and utter rejection of Vatican II and its counterfeit doctrines, counterfeit Mass and sacraments, counterfeit canon law, and counterfeit popes, is not only compatible with Catholic teaching - it is the ONLY position that is compatible with Catholic teaching. To embrace any other explanation of the current crisis, as I show by example after example, is to REJECT Catholic teaching, and thus to endanger your immortal soul.”

“In these talks I show how Sacred Scripture (in both type and prophecy), extra-Biblical prophecy, and previous crises of Church history all clearly foretell the very thing that has come to pass in our day. I show that the teaching of popes, Fathers and Doctors of the Church, saints, and canon law all agree that it can happen and will happen before the Second Coming of Christ. That it now, in our lifetime, has happened is undeniable.”

Yours in Christ our King and Mary Our Queen Mother,
Gerry Matatics

“This coming Wednesday, May 14th, at 7 PM, I'll be doing a presentation on my book for the budding Ft. Wayne Freethought Association at the Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza.”

By John W. Loftus
at 5/09/2008

“Here's a review of my talk in Ft. Wayne...It was a joy being there for a group that numbered a total of 18 people to begin with.”

“I have decided to make myself available for speaking engagements… I'm available to come and give a talk to your freethought organization, or college group… I'm also available for public debates if a church group or campus organization would like to set one up with me, especially on the problem of evil.”

“I no longer feel guilty for what I think about, whereas Christians always seem to struggle with thoughts of hate, greed, lust, and the like. I don't have to anymore, for the most part. I only have to be concerned with what I actually do, not what I think about. I no longer have to give of my hard earned money to fund a church building in hopes God will multiply it back to me, I don’t have to worry about what Ms. Peabody thinks if I go play pool at the bars, and I no longer have to waste so much of my time attending church, reading the Bible, praying, and evangelizing, and the overwhelming guilt that used to come when I failed in these things. If I see a pretty girl I can imagine what she looks like naked if I want to, and comment on her looks to the guys, so long as I do nothing about it, since I’m a very happily married man. I can drink and get buzzed if I want to.”

“I also believe there are inherent dangers with religious beliefs. They don’t always materialize, but they do have their impact in various ways. There are political reasons, which I don’t touch on here much at all. There is a large voting block of evangelical Christians in America that help elect our local and state and national governmental officials. This large block of evangelical Christians also participate in letter campaigns to change public policy in ways I don’t approve of.”

“Christians have a false and irrational hope, but just don’t know it. They are simply deluded into thinking their lives have some grand ultimate purpose. So who’s better off? Someone who lives a life of delusion, doing things because they think it will matter for eternity, along with the daily guilt for not having lived up to those standards, or someone who lives with his or her feet planted squarely on the ground with the only reality that is to be had?”

“But it's precisely because of people like you, Steve, and Paul Manata, and JP Holding, and Frank Walton, that I am so motivated to destroy the delusional faith you have (even if Holding isn't a Calvinist). 30 years from now there will be many people who will have rejected the Christian faith from reading my book, and it will partially be your fault since neither you nor Paul, nor Holding nor Walton ever treated me like a human being. I have other major motivations for what I do, of course, but what you and your ilk have done is to pouring gas on the flames of my passion. Switching metaphors it makes me want to go for the jugular vein of your faith like nothing else. It's one thing for me to argue what I do because I think Christianity is a delusion, which it is. It's quite another thing for it to be made into a personal vendetta with me. You and your ilk have done just that. So, I should partially thank you for helping my book be as forceful as it is. I put my all into it. It should be out at the end of July. I just don't think you understand.”

Why Faith Alone?

Suppose you were exploring an unknown glacier in the north of Greenland in the dead of winter. Just as you reach a sheer cliff with a spectacular view of miles and miles of jagged ice and mountains of snow, a terrible storm breaks in. The wind is so strong that the fear rises in your heart that it might blow you over the cliff. But in the midst of the storm you discover a cleft in the ice where you can hide....

As a sinner with no righteousness of my own, standing before a self-sufficient and holy God, what command would I rather hear than this: "Hope in my love!" If we only knew it, every one of us is stranded on an ice face in Greenland, and the wind is blowing fiercely. Our position is so precarious that even if we inhale too deeply our weight will shift and we will plunge to our destruction. God comes to us and says in that moment, "I will save you, and protect you in the storm. But there is a condition." Your heart sinks. You know you can't meet conditions. Your face is flat against the ice. Your fingernails are dug in. You can feel yourself giving way. You know that if all you do is move your lips you're going to fall. You know there is nothing you can do for God!

Then he speaks the gospel command: "My requirement," he says, "is that you hope in me." Now I ask, Is this not good news? What could be easier than to hope in God when all else is giving way? And that is all he requires. That is the gospel.

But it is not only good news for sinners. It is also the glory of God to make only this demand upon us. Why? Because when you hope in God you show that he is strong and you are weak; that he is rich and you are poor; that he is full and you are empty. When you hope in God you show that you are the one who has needs, not God (Psalm 50:10-15; 71:4-6, 14)....

The beauty of the gospel is that in one simple demand ("Put your hope in God!") we hear good news and God gets the glory. That is why God takes pleasure in those who hope in his love - because in this simple act of hope his grace is glorified and sinners are saved. This is the command of the gospel that keeps God at the center - the center of his affections and ours....

It is a precious thing beyond all words - especially in the hour of death - that we have a God whose nature is such that what pleases him is not our work for him but our need of him. (John Piper, The Pleasures Of God [Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2000], pp. 198-200, 215-216)


faith is chosen by God to be the receiver of salvation, because it does not pretend to create salvation, nor to help in it, but it is content humbly to receive it. "Faith is the tongue that begs pardon, the hand which receives it, and the eye which sees it; but it is not the price which buys it." Faith never makes herself her own plea, she rests all her argument upon the blood of Christ. She becomes a good servant to bring the riches of the Lord Jesus to the soul, because she acknowledges whence she drew them, and owns that grace alone entrusted her with them. (Charles Spurgeon, The C.H. Spurgeon Collection [Albany, Oregon: AGES Software, 1998], All Of Grace, p. 42)


IGNORANCE: Do you think that I am such a fool as to think that God can see no further than I; or that I would come to God in the best of my performances?

CHRISTIAN: Why, how dost thou think in this matter?

IGNORANCE: Why, to be short, I think I must believe in Christ for justification.

CHRISTIAN: How! think thou must believe in Christ, when thou seest not thy need of him! Thou neither seest thy original nor actual infirmities; but hast such an opinion of thyself, and of what thou doest, as plainly renders thee to be one that did never see the necessity of Christ's personal righteousness to justify thee before God. How, then, dost thou say, I believe in Christ?

IGNORANCE: I believe well enough, for all that.

CHRISTIAN: How dost thou believe?

IGNORANCE: I believe that Christ died for sinners; and that I shall be justified before God from the curse, through his gracious acceptance of my obedience to his laws. Or thus, Christ makes my duties, that are religious, acceptable to his Father by virtue of his merits, and so shall I be justified.

CHRISTIAN: Let me give an answer to this confession of thy faith.

1. Thou believest with a fantastical faith; for this faith is nowhere described in the word.

2. Thou believest with a false faith; because it taketh justification from the personal righteousness of Christ, and applies it to thy own.

3. This faith maketh not Christ a justifier of thy person, but of thy actions; and of thy person for thy action's sake, which is false.

4. Therefore this faith is deceitful, even such as will leave thee under wrath in the day of God Almighty: for true justifying faith puts the soul, as sensible of its lost condition by the law, upon flying for refuge unto Christ's righteousness; (which righteousness of his is not an act of grace by which he maketh, for justification, thy obedience accepted with God, but his personal obedience to the law, in doing and suffering for us what that required at our hands;) this righteousness, I say, true faith accepteth; under the skirt of which the soul being shrouded, and by it presented as spotless before God, it is accepted, and acquitted from condemnation.

IGNORANCE: What! would you have us trust to what Christ in his own person has done without us? This conceit would loosen the reins of our lust, and tolerate us to live as we list: for what matter how we live, if we may be justified by Christ's personal righteousness from all, when we believe it?

CHRISTIAN: Ignorance is thy name, and as thy name is, so art thou: even this thy answer demonstrateth what I say. Ignorant thou art of what justifying righteousness is, and as ignorant how to secure thy soul, through the faith of it, from the heavy wrath of God. Yea, thou also art ignorant of the true effects of saving faith in this righteousness of Christ, which is to bow and win over the heart to God in Christ, to love his name, his word, ways, and people, and not as thou ignorantly imaginest....

Now, while I was gazing upon all these things, I turned my head to look back, and saw Ignorance come up to the river side; but he soon got over, and that without half the difficulty which the other two men met with. For it happened that there was then in that place one Vain-Hope, a ferryman, that with his boat helped him over; so he, as the other I saw, did ascend the hill, to come up to the gate; only he came alone, neither did any man meet him with the least encouragement. When he was come up to the gate, he looked up to the writing that was above, and then began to knock, supposing that entrance should have been quickly administered to him; but he was asked by the men that looked over the top of the gate, Whence come you? and what would you have? He answered, I have ate and drank in the presence of the King, and he has taught in our streets. Then they asked him for his certificate, that they might go in and show it to the King: so he fumbled in his bosom for one, and found none. Then said they, Have you none? but the man answered never a word. So they told the King, but he would not come down to see him, but commanded the two shining ones, that conducted Christian and Hopeful to the city, to go out and take Ignorance, and bind him hand and foot, and have him away. Then they took him up, and carried him through the air to the door that I saw in the side of the hill, and put him in there. Then I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gate of heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction. (John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress)


As long then as the former time endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors! Having therefore convinced us in the former time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Saviour who is able to save even those things which it was formerly impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counsellor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honour, Glory, Power, and Life (Mathetes, The Epistle To Diognetus, 9)


But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. (Paul, Romans 3:21-27)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Dictionary of Arminian Terms

Some Arminians were kind enough to help the world out by giving them a dictionary of Calvinist terms. In the spirit of brotherly love, we do the same:


All (1): All always means all. Yup, Jesus died for every single human, including those already dead and in hell, and even including himself.

All (2): (as to sin) If its related to sin, "all" doesn't include babies.

Amazing Grace: Horrible song composed by a Calvinist. Teaches wretched "doctrines of grace."

Argument (1): The mean things Calvinists do, means: a group of propositions wherein the truth of one is asserted on the basis of the evidence furnished by the others.

Argument (2): An unfortunate term for how Arminians lovingly discuss the glorious truth of Scripture, means: if it feels good, it probably is.

Arminius, Jacob: The first church father.

Assurance: Keep trying, hopefully you'll make it, but since you have libertarian free will, you could just flip sides one day. Never can tell.

Barney: Purple dinosaur currently being sued by Arminians over rights to the “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy fam-il-ly” song.

Bible: Cool book with stories that can be used as springboards into inspiring sermons about nothing to do with the text whatsoever. (See exegesis.)

Big Meany: Use this term when losing a debate with a Calvinist.

Brach Davidians: A Christian cult that believes in libertarian free will.

Calvinism: We love everyone, because God is love. Calvinists are devil worshipers, their God is the devil, and Calvinism is a devil worshiping doctrine. We love them.

Calvin, John: Satan incarnated.

Caner, Ergun: You don’t mess with.

Clause, Sanata: Cool story about a nice old man who loves all the children of the world and gives them what they want. Great way to teach Children about God. (See: Jesus loves the little children.)

Christian: Someone with fish bumper sticker on car who repeated a prayer after a pastor with a head-mic on.

Context: Another text that I can put together with the text at hand to render the meaning satisfactory to my philosophical preconceptions. Example: John 6:44 and John 12:32 (no surrounding verses allowed, please).

Dead (1): (as to Christ) Really, complete dead. Unable to see, hear, or respond to stimuli.

Dead (2): (as to Adam's posterity) Somewhat sick. It's hard to see, hear, or respond to the Gospel.

Determinism: False Calvinist teaching that God makes sure that his plan will come about.

Devil Worship: What Calvinism leads to. (Really.)

Drawing: Wooing. Usage example: "Drawing doesn't mean God will surely bring men to himself, he (now, pooch lips out, making a small opening, and, in a low voice say) woooos them."

Dude: Term used in sermon at least 15 times, makes us interesting to non-Christians (See missions.)

Edwards, Jonathan (1): A devil.

Edwards, Jonathan (2): He's some kind of TV celebrity, right?

Effectual call: Unbiblical Calvinist doctrine. Just as Calvinists try to make unwarranted leaps from physical death to spiritual death, they also make unwarranted leaps from earthly careers like "Shepherding," viz., "My sheep hear my voice, I know them, they follow me," to how God brings in his people in the flock, er fold, er, group.

Election: God's "choosing" of people who chose him first. Kind of like me "voting" for the president after November 4th, 2008.

Esau: A nation, that‘s it.

Evil: Something God cannot decree (except in the case of Jesus since God decreed his death at the purposeful hands of humans, and the only way an innocent man could be purposefully put to death is by murder. Hence, God decreed murder. Murder is evil. God decreed evil.).

Exegesis: What?

Exegesis: What?

Exegesis: How dare you X out Jesus. First they Xed out Christmas, now they want to X out Jesus. What's this world coming to.

Fall: An unintended accident. A hiccup in God's plan. (See redemption.)

Fatalist: Something Calvinists are, no matter what they say. (See synergist.)

Faux Pas (1): Going to church without: Sandals, Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and Starbucks coffee in hand; bible optional.

Faux Pas (2): No "Prayer of Jabez" on your bookshelf.

Faux Pas (3): Only a term Arminians use.

Federalism: Something to do with the U.S. government?

Foreknow: God's infallible knowledge of what a creature will do . . . even though he might do otherwise.

Fruit Smoothie: Drink Arminian men drink, more loving than beer.

Geisler, Norman: A "moderate" Calvinist.

Gospel of John: Anything by John Wesley.

Grace: God's being nice.

Heaven: Place we will be unable to do otherwise than love God, but we will freely love him anyway. This is only a problem if you are a Calvinist. Because we said so. It is debatable if we will have wings in heaven. It is probably more loving that we did.

Hebrews, book of: Too bad it made it into the canon, teaches Jesus’ sacrifice was that of a high priest for his people. Teaches that if Jesus is your high priest he intercedes for you. Teaches that Jesus does not intercede for everyone. Teaches that he didn’t die for everyone. Note: Cling to the warning passages to win perseverance of the saints debate, this way Hebrews becomes a wash.

Hell: A place more horrible than anything you could imagine, made by a wuving God, and filled with people God knew, before he created them, would go there. Tell Calvinists their view is evil. (See libertarian free will (4). See supralapsarianism.)

Hermeneutics: Whose menu ticks?

Hodge, Charles: A devil.

Hypostatic Union: God can do this but it can’t make it that he decrees all things yet man is responsible.

Inerrancy: The only time God determined and controlled free actions of men in order to produce exactly the propositions he wanted to convey to humans. That the dictation theory is false and the concursive theory is true remains a mystery.

Instigate: The fights Calvinists try to start with Arminians. (See teach.)

Intelligence: Something I had extra of such that I would believe and not my neighbor, who had the same grace and the same wooing. (See also: spiritual insight, moral superiority, and third eye).

International Churches of Christ: Christian cult that believes in libertarian free will.

Irresistible Grace: Calvinist wishful thinking that God actually could make sure that those he wanted to save would be saved.

Jacob: A nation, that’s it.

Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Christian cult that believes in libertarian free will.

Jesus: My homeboy.

Jesus Loves the Little Children: Theological version of "Santa Clause is coming to town." Usually sung with great gusto, forgetting the covenantal context in which Jesus said the words that inspired Herbert Woolston to write this song. (See Clause, Santa.)

John 3:16: Great verse to be read in isolation from others, especially John 10:22-30. Possibly God's biggest mistake was including all that stuff around John 3:16 (like Genesis 1:1 - John 3:15 and John 3:17 – Revelation). Man at football game had it right.

Kitty cat: More loving pet than a dog.

Knowledge: Don’t think, feeeeeel.

Knox, John: A devil.

Libertarian Free Will (1): Our choices and actions just randomly "pop" into existence. Rewind the tape and, given all the exact same reasons, causal history, etc., a different choice could have been made. What explains that? Must be luck that we went one way rather than another.

Libertarian Free Will (2): That great gift, so great it justifies the rape, torture, and mutilation of millions of children throughout our world's history.

Libertarian Free Will (3): An a priori philosophical speculation, not found in Scripture, but imposed on Scripture as a valid hermeneutical tool.

Libertarian Free Will (4): Magic word that gets God off the hook for making people he knew would go to hell. Usually faster to say: abracadabra, though.

Love (1): Something that you set free, if it returns it is yours forever, if not, it was never meant to be.

Love (2): Swinging. Since God doesn't show special love or make distinctions, neither should we with our spouses. Showing a different kind of love to your spouse than the general love shown to neighbor is unbiblical.

Love (3): Wuv.

Love (4): That warm feeling in your tummy accompanied by the feeling of butterflies darting about in your tummy (technically, "the flutters").

Luther, Martin: A devil.

Machen, John Gresham: A devil.

Missions (1): Abroad: Whipping thousands of people of in third-world countries into an emotional frenzy in order to get them to say, "I believe." They become "saved," for now. The rest is up to them.

Missions (2): At home: Packing out massive stadiums, whipping people up into an emotional frenzy, having them come down to the stage, say they believe, write their name down, and report the thousands of converts you have made while suppressing the fact that almost all of them have done this rodeo the past 3 times you came to town.

Missions (3): Spin zone: Hid the fact the "the majority of missionaries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have been Calvinists" (Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, Baker, 2,000, p. 156) from fellow Arminians; tell them that Calvinists think it is "a waste of time."

Moonies: A Christian cult that believes in libertarian free will.

Moral Responsibility: All men must have been able to actually do otherwise in order to be held morally accountable for their actions, except Judas, Peter, the men who killed Jesus, and God too since he cannot not be loving.

Moral Superiority: Something I had extra of such that I would believe and not my neighbor, who had the same grace and the same wooing. (See also: intelligence, spiritual insight, and third eye).

Mormonism: A Christian cult that believes in libertarian free will.

Mystery (1): A contradiction, if used by Calvinists.

Mystery (2): Pious, humble, contrite way to answer the Calvinist, brilliantly employed by Wesley: "Whatever that Scripture proves, it never proved this; whatever its true meaning be. This cannot be its true meaning. Do you ask, "What is its true meaning then?" If I say, " I know not," you have gained nothing; for there are many scriptures the true sense whereof neither you nor I shall know till death is swallowed up in victory. But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense, than to say it had such a sense as this."

Mystery (3): Libertarian Free Will

Mystery (4): God's foreknowledge of the libertarian free choices an agent makes (see, foreknowledge).

Mystery (5): See Inerrancy.

Nation: (See Jacob, Esau, stuff like that.)

Nee ner nee ner, you don’t have a weener: Probably our best argument.

Offer (1): (as to unfair) To present something for acceptance or rejection.

Offer (2): (as to fair) To present something for acceptance or rejection while making sure every single person can meet any conditions of the offer. Example: The grocery store made an unfair offer to "buy 1 pizza get one free" since they didn't provide the appropriate transportation for old man Whithers, crippled from the war, to get to the store. Food-4-Not-Much should have sent the company car to his house.

Open Theism: A heretical movement that some Calvinists try to say we are logically committed to. Here’s what we say: “As a classical Arminian, I find much more common ground between my theology and Sanders’s than between mine and Helm’s or Ware’s. And I agree with nineteenth century Arminian theologian John Miley who said that dynamic omniscience (John’s term for open theism’s view of God’s foreknowledge) would not undermine any vital Arminian doctrine. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I cannot see how it undermines any Christian doctrine” (Roger Olsen, response to John Sanders’s Divine Providence and the Openness of God, in Perspectives on the Doctrine of God (4 Views), Broadman & Holman, 2008, p248).

Osteen, Joel: Preach it, brother!

Owen, John: A devil.

Paul (aka Saul of Tarsus): Like anyone who studied under Gamaliel can be trusted.

Pelagius: Misunderstood opponent of that evil Augustine.

People’s Temple: Christian cult started by Jim Jones, held to libertarian free will.

Pharaoh: "It says he hardened his heart first!"

Philosophy: The queen of the sciences.

Piper, John: A devil.

Preaching the Gospel: Something that is done with a power point presentation, sound effects, cool, contemporary music, and all delivered by a dapper salesman. Remember, loads of tears and emotion to entice the hearer, since God can't guarantee that those he wants saved will be saved.

Prevenient Grace: Substance similar to Pixie dust that is sprinkled through the air, if you believe hard enough, then you can fly.

Pride: Something Calvinists think they don't have, and we are humble enough and discerning enough to point out to them that they have it coming out their ears . . . this is best said in the middle of a debate with them, 'cause it's so relevant to the actual argument.

Quiche: Food Arminian men eat, more loving than steak.

Redemption: Whew! God's quick thinking to get as many men back on track as possible. Brilliant chess move. (See fall.)

Regeneration: Coming to spiritual life after you came to spiritual life.

Reprobate: Those who God knew would never choose him and instead spend eternity in hell, but he created them anyway. Tell people that this is better than the Calvinist position.

Robot (1): How we lovingly represent our Calvinist brother's position. It's always them who are mean and nasty, not us.

Robot (2): Forbidden dance. (See sanctification.)

Salvation: Something God starts but can't finish.

Sanctification: Don’t drink, smoke, chew, or go out with girls who do.

Sovereignty: God's control over laws of nature.

Spiritual Insight: Something I had extra of such that I would believe and not my neighbor, who had the same grace and the same wooing. (See also: intelligence, moral superiority, and third eye).

Stryper: Best band ever. If Calvinists would only listen to “Free” on the album “To Hell with the Devil,” then they’d see:

Free to turn away - say goodbye

Free to walk away - and deny

The gift waiting for you

Whispers a still small voice

It's your choice - you're..


Free - Free to do what you want to

Choose your own destiny

Free to do what you want to

Free to open up - and believe

Free to simply ask - and receive

There's no better time than now

You've got the right to choose

You can't lose - you're...

Repeat Chorus

Supralapsarian: Pure evil (unless fellow Arminian and libertarian free willist, Alvin Plantinga, espouses it).

Synergist: Something we are not, no matter what Calvinists say (see Fatalist).

Teach: What we try to do to help out Calvinist, until they instigate a fight with us. (See instigate.)

TBN: Broadcasting the truth around the world, 24 hours a day.

Theodicy: If your little girl gets murdered, say: But God gave us libertarian freedom, that makes it all better.

Theology: Word of unsure origin. Examples: Rick Warren: "Purpose Driven Life." T.D. Jakes: "Woman, Though Art Loosed!". Joel Osteen: "Your Best Life Now."

The Way International: Christian cult that believes in libertarian free will.

Third Eye: Something I had extra of such that I would believe and not my neighbor, who had the same grace and the same wooing. (See also: intelligence, spiritual insight, and moral superiority).

Turretin, Francis: A devil.

Unitarian Universalists: A Christain cult that believes in libertarian free will.

Universalism: Why didn’t we think of that? Wait, some of us did.

Ursinus, Zacharias: A devil.

Venom: What Calvinists spew.

Vermigli, Pietro Martire: A devil.

Virgin Birth: God can do this, but he can’t make it that he decrees all things yet man is responsible.

Warfield, Benjamin Breckenridge: A devil.

Warning Passages (1): Proves the ability to lose salvation. If a warning deterred everyone it was given to, it wouldn’t be a good warning. It must have a failure rate of at least 10% to be a true warning.

Warning Passages (2): Calvinists say they can be meaningful since hypothetical statements have truth values, and telling the truth is meaningful. This we deny. We still have yet to figure out what truth grounds the counterfactual actions of men appealed to in our theory of free will. This is a mystery, but that is okay (see mystery 2).

White, James: Greek speaking devil.

Wine: Grape juice.

Witsius, Herman: A devil.

World: Every single person whoever, except when the same author says not to love the world or the things in it, or when he says the whole world is under the control of the evil one, or when it says that the gospel had been preached throughout the whole world, or when it says . . .

X-rated: The Institutes, Triablogue, etc.

Zwingli, Huldrych: A devil.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let's See Them Address The Biblical Evidence

I think the homosexual movement is winning the argument over homosexual marriage, as well as homosexuality in general, in the United States. I expect acceptance of both homosexuality and homosexual marriage to increase in the coming years.

I just saw Don Schweitzer, a lawyer who opposes homosexual marriage, interviewed on "The O'Reilly Factor". Schweitzer's poor performance is typical for opponents of homosexuality. Bill O'Reilly began the interview by dismissing religious arguments as irrelevant. Schweitzer didn't object, and he went on to attempt, ineffectively, to make a non-religious case against homosexual marriage.

The best arguments against homosexuality and homosexual marriage are Biblical. Instead of accepting the ridiculous non-religious framing of the argument (God owns and is relevant to all of life, not just some portions of it), opponents of homosexuality should keep the Biblical argument against homosexuality at the forefront and expose the fact that their opponents are incompetent to address it. There's some merit in also pointing out some of the other problems with the pro-homosexual movement, but the Biblical argument should be at the forefront, not left aside as irrelevant. Have you noticed that the more opponents of homosexuality accept the dismissal of religious arguments as irrelevant, the more irrelevant the opponents of homosexuality become?

Death Wish 2008

john w. loftus said...

“But it's precisely because of people like you, Steve, and Paul Manata, and JP Holding, and Frank Walton, that I am so motivated to destroy the delusional faith you have (even if Holding isn't a Calvinist). 30 years from now there will be many people who will have rejected the Christian faith from reading my book, and it will partially be your fault since neither you nor Paul, nor Holding nor Walton ever treated me like a human being. I have other major motivations for what I do, of course, but what you and your ilk have done is to pouring gas on the flames of my passion. Switching metaphors it makes me want to go for the jugular vein of your faith like nothing else. It's one thing for me to argue what I do because I think Christianity is a delusion, which it is. It's quite another thing for it to be made into a personal vendetta with me. You and your ilk have done just that. So, I should partially thank you for helping my book be as forceful as it is. I put my all into it. It should be out at the end of July. I just don't think you understand.”

That would explain why Loftus is so irrational. Logically speaking, why bother promoting atheism? Even if you think it’s true, is that a cause to live for? You might as well become a Televangelist for Ebola.

But, you see, Loftus views himself as a nullifidian version of Charles Bronson. He’s a brave, lone, vigilante who’s gonna single-handedly disinfest the Hood of Christian scum like Walton, Manata, and me. Cuz it’s personal, dude! A grudge match for the ages, baby!

Coming soon to movie theaters near you. Rated R for pervasive language, graphic violence, and drug references.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Out of the Closet

This is probably the most difficult post I’ve ever had to write. Not because the words are hard, but because I’ve had to come to grips with something about my nature. About who I am.

I remember when I was a young boy, I played a game of chess against another boy about my age. After his opening move (Pawn to A4), I felt the beginnings of…well, something inside me. I knew that there was something “wrong” with this feeling, but as the game progressed it only got stronger. Seven moves later, after I checkmated him, I told him exactly how I felt.

He punched me in the nose and called me a slur. Since then, I’ve lived a double life, afraid to come out and be who I really am.

It appears that the truth has a way of coming out anyway. Despite my best efforts at hiding it, several bloggers have discovered the truth. And while I tried to laugh off their attempts to ridicule me and pretend it wasn’t true, I realize now that this has only harmed my self-image. I must come out of the closet. And so, publicly, I now reveal to everyone my deepest secret.

I am smarter than you.

I cannot help it. It is partly in my genes: both my parents are intellectuals. But I also know that my lifestyle has contributed to my inability to overcome this weakness. I am addicted to internet arguments. It began simply, and it began before the internet was widespread even. I saw a book and I read it. Then I needed to read more books. And soon, I began to act out on what I had read. I am ashamed to admit it, but I began to do math. It got so bad that some days I would do math as many as six times a day. I started with simple math. And it progressed (oh, how does it progress!). Soon not even algebra was enough for me. No, I had to progress into the realm of calculus.

After I got online, I discovered a whole new world of argumentation. When I read many arguments (especially if they were on BHT), I couldn’t help but think: “The guy who wrote this is just plain stupid!” It was the same feeling I felt playing chess against my stupid friend so long ago.

But I didn’t say it out loud. I tried to respond in a way that would subtly deliver my point, but still they accused me of being an intellectual elitist. They accused me of being a smart ass and wise guy, as if there was something wrong with being smart and wise.

I’ve been called many things in my life. I’ve been called a nerd, a geek, a braniac. All of these slurs have hurt. And I want to know…just what is so wrong with being smart anyway? It hurts no one but me! Is my intellectual superiority so hard for you to stomach that my mere existence causes you pain? If you are dumb enough to write stupid things, then why should I be the one who has to suffer? If you run with scissors, put your own eye out, not mine.

I say enough is enough! No longer will I stand in the shadows content to draw geometrical figures in the dark! I say it’s okay to be smart! I challenge all my dumber brethren to cut me some slack. Just because I’m smarter than you doesn’t mean you have to be offended when I demonstrate your arguments are as pointless as a water buffalo in Cleveland! I say it is YOU who should change! It is YOU who should start to be smart!

Say it with me now:


Yes, yearn to learn my brothers and sisters! Don’t succumb to being dumb. Open your eyes and choose to be wise!

The Miracle of Seed Faith

john w. loftus said...

“Why is it that when trying to have a discussion of the ideas that separate us that the Calvinist doesn't even try to deal with my arguments and instead offers a bunch of red herrings?”

Arguments? What arguments? This was your “argument”:

"Oh, and just to get in a dig, Calvinism is morally bankrupt."

You call that an argument? That’s your idea of an argument?

Why do you even bother, Loftus? Suppose, for the sake of “argument,” that you’re right and I’m wrong. What difference does that make? None. Absolutely none.

If atheism is true, then your existence is no more important than slug on hot pavement. The sun doesn’t care if you live or die. You’ll just melt away in a puddle of goo. No one will notice. Except the vermin.

If atheism is true, it doesn’t matter if atheism is true. Atheism and Christianity aren’t symmetrical propositions. The world is indifferent to one, while the other makes all the difference in the world.

If you’re right and I’m wrong, it doesn’t make a dime’s worth of difference. But if I’m right and your wrong, it makes an eternity of difference.

30 years from now, brown copies of Why I Rejected Christianity will take their place alongside 5¢ copies of The Celestine Prophecy, The Miracle of Seed Faith, and 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988 at country flea markets—while you’re drooling in a nursing home.

Has it cost you to follow Christ?

From D.A. Carson:
In one church I know, a medical doctor, formerly a missionary, was appointed to the board of elders. Some time later he had an affair, divorced his wife, abandoned his children, and separated himself from any form of biblical Christianity. Countless attempts were made to rehabilitate him; doubtless some of these attempts were wise, and some were unwise.

But the most thoughtful assessment of the mess came three years later, from one of the leaders in the church. He suggested that this doctor, who came from a Christian home and had done all the "right" things, had never had to make a decision that cost him anything. Everything was too easy; at every point he had been supported and praised. Even his missionary career was bound up with his own specialty interests in medicine. Then, when some troubles opened up in his marriage (as they open up in most marriages at one time or another), and an attractive alternative presented herself, this doctor had no moral center on which to depend. He had never, for the sake of Christ, made a decision that cost him something; and he wasn't about to start now. In hindsight, it is not even clear that his profession of faith was real, for real professions of faith manifest themselves in a principal death to self-interest, in a principal commitment to the cause of Christ and his gospel.

I am far from suggesting that every divorce proves a person is a non-Christian. Christians sin; those who claim they do not are self-deceived, and make God out to be a liar (1 John 1:4ff.). But in this case (and it is not unique), it is hard to find even one area of this man's life, one major incident in his life (so far as his life is known), where professed allegiance cost him anything.

That is not normal. It may be common (as spurious believers are regrettably common); but it is not normal. What is normal is taking up one's cross and following Jesus; it is recognizing that in this fallen world, "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." That is inevitable; decisions are made; the cost is cheerfully borne; and iron is bred into the soul.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Evading Sola Fide

Some of you may be interested in following the comments section of a previous thread here. A Roman Catholic poster, Nick, is trying to reconcile passages like Mark 2:5, Luke 7:50, and Acts 10:44-48 with Roman Catholic soteriology. Notice what sort of argumentation he has to resort to in an attempt to reconcile these passages with Roman Catholicism.

Should We Look For One Denomination To Which Everybody Must Submit?

Nick wrote:

"One of the first and easiest questions to ask is does the group you are looking into simply make the claim of being the one and only Church Jesus established and must be obeyed. You would be surprised how many Protestant denominations wont make such a claim, this isnt even about proving the claim but simply making the claim. But if the group wont make even the claim then I can count them out off the bat."

You're making some dubious assumptions. A person can believe that Jesus established a church that's existed since the time of the apostles without believing that the church in question must always exist in the form of one denomination. If denominations A, B, and C exist in one century, and denominations X, Y, and Z exist in another century, a person can believe that all six denominations qualify as part of the church Jesus founded, even though some or all of those denominations are wrong on some issues. If they're all correct on the issues that are essential, then they don't have to be correct on every other issue in order to qualify as part of the church Jesus established. Or a person could maintain that the church that's always existed consists of regenerate individuals, regardless of their denomination or lack of denomination. Or a person could maintain that the Biblical evidence for a continually existing church is sufficient grounds for believing in such a church, even if he isn't aware of documentation of that church's existence for every part of church history. Etc. It's not as if belief in a church that exists from the time of the apostles onward requires belief in one denomination that's always existed. You're making some dubious assumptions that don't follow from the premises.

And what does "must be obeyed" mean? Some authorities are fallible. One authority can be subordinate to another. Parents and government officials have authority, but it can be acceptable to disobey them at times, when what they command conflicts with what a higher authority commands (a parent commands a child to follow Islam, a government official commands a woman to have an abortion, etc.). A Christian church can have authority without being infallible.

It's not as if the Biblical passages about the nature of the church are the only criteria we have to go by. Scripture also tells us some things about the identity of Jesus, justification, and other issues. Even if Roman Catholicism were the only denomination claiming a continuous existence since the time of the apostles, we would still have other apostolic standards by which to judge Roman Catholicism: what it teaches about the deity of Christ, the resurrection, justification, etc. If Catholicism seems to be wrong about justification, and scripture defines that error on justification as an error of a foundational nature (as in Galatians), why should we follow Catholicism on the basis of its status as the only denomination claiming continuous existence since the time of the apostles? If you're suggesting that the need for a denomination that's continually existed since the time of the apostles should cause us to question our judgment about justification, then why couldn't we reverse the two? Why not take Catholicism's erroneous view of justification as an indication that we must be wrong about the need for a continuously existing denomination?

But the idea that there must be one denomination in continuous existence is dubious. Nothing Jesus and the apostles taught suggests that there must be one denomination that exists throughout church history. Roman Catholicism's claim of continuous existence is dubious, and Catholicism is disqualified on other grounds anyway, namely its false view of justification.

As an illustration of Nick's oversimplified view of the nature of the church, here's something he wrote in response to Steve Hays in the same thread linked above:

"A divine institution does not mean invisible, as the Church in Acts was clearly visible and the only Christian institution there was. Unless there was a 'Christian institution' that has remained orthodox from the start the Church (of Acts) had to have apostatized."

Nobody denies that there were physically visible entities involved in the book of Acts, such as bishops and congregational meetings. Does it therefore follow that the same physical manifestations must exist at all times? No. (And many of the physical manifestations in Acts, such as the apostolic office and miracles, haven't existed at all times in the Roman Catholic denomination.) Does it therefore follow that the church in Acts existed only where such physical manifestations were present? No. Many individuals were added to the church in a sense, by means of faith, before they ever attended any congregational meetings or identified and submitted to any local bishop (Acts 2:41, 4:4, 8:1-7, 19:1-6). In another sense, though, it could be said that they didn't become part of the church until they joined some local congregation.

The term "church" is defined in different ways in different contexts. If Nick wants to argue that some particular definition of the church must be manifested throughout church history, then he needs to demonstrate that that definition of the church must continually exist. It's not enough to cite one Biblical passage about some sort of church, then cite another passage about some sort of church, then combine the two under the assumption that every passage mentioning some sort of church must be addressing the same entity. To go from the visible manifestations of Christianity in the book of Acts to the conclusion that there must be one denomination that exists throughout church history, in a manner like what Roman Catholicism claims for itself, is quite a leap.

Nick also wrote the following in response to Steve:

"But two denominations can never be as good as one another and yet have both be true. Thus if there is one true Gospel then only one denomination can be holding it, and that denomination is the one true Church by definition."

Again, notice how much Nick oversimplifies the issues he's discussing. Two Baptist groups can be classified as two different denominations, because they're governmentally independent of one another, even if they teach the same gospel. The existence of two denominations doesn't require the existence of two gospels. Groups can be governmentally independent of one another because they believe that churches don't need to be governmentally united, even if they agree with each other on essential issues. Baptists and Presbyterians will often meet together and consider each other brothers and sisters in Christ, even though they're governmentally independent of one another and disagree on some issues. What if two denominations were founded by two men who lived hundreds of miles apart from each other and never met? It doesn't follow that one of those two denominations was ever meant to oppose or replace the other. And even if there was some sort of sin involved in the founding of a denomination, people joining that denomination a few generations later aren't necessarily endorsing that sin, nor are they necessarily even aware of it.

If a person is born into a world with thousands of churches and denominations, then the importance and plausibility of sorting through all of the issues involved in the founding of each denomination are diminished. While avoiding unwarranted divisiveness is important, so are other issues in life. If a local Anglican church claims a succession from the apostles, but is unfaithful to much of what the apostles taught, while a local Baptist church is more faithful to apostolic teaching and claims no such succession, why are we supposed to think that the Anglican church would be preferable?

Nick tells us "if there is one true Gospel then only one denomination can be holding it". Does it therefore follow that Eastern Orthodoxy, for example, has a false gospel? What about the church fathers who were out of fellowship with the Roman church of their day? Were they following a church with a false gospel, since their church wasn't governmentally united with the Roman church?

Prince Caspian

Except for the trailers, I haven’t seen Prince Caspian. In the case of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I waited for it to come out on DVD.

In this case, I don’t know that I’ll bother. To judge by the reviews, it may actually be a better film than LWW, but I have certain reservations:

1. Although it may be a better film than LWW, yet, to judge by the trailers and the reviews, it looks a lot like a typical sword & sandal epic. I don’t say that as a put down. But it makes Prince Caspian less distinctively Narnian than LWW. More like a typical action feature. And as far as sword & sandal epics go, there’s a lot of competition. How many battle scenes and exotic locations have I seen over the years?

2. Another problem is that some things work in a book that don’t work on screen. In a book, it’s left to the imagination of the reader. But in film we’re used to a certain level of realism. It may be illusory, but it’s supposed to seem realistic.

Taking something from a fantasy book and putting it up on the big screen may make something which seemed plausible enough on the printed page implausible when you see it in action.

For example, the actor who plays Edmund is currently 16 years old. And he would have been younger during production. Not only is he young, but he has the slight build of an average teenage boy.

He doesn’t have what it takes for hand-to-hand combatant. You win or lose based on brute strength. Every boy may entertain the private fantasy of being able to win a sword fight with a towering, muscular opponent, but as soon as we actually depict these fantasies, we expose how silly they are.

It isn’t just that the actor is too young. In another sense, he’s too old. There are fantasy novels with heroic young boys. Preteens. Yet they best the villain, not through brute power, but through magical power or by simply outwitting the villain.

3.On a related note, there’s apparently a romantic subplot in the movie version of Prince Caspian. But when you have actors who look like high school students, this is clearly targeting the teenybopper demographic. Nothing wrong with that. But at that point it ceases to be a film for either children or grown-ups. Dawson’s Creek set in Narnia. Speaking for myself, if I want to see a romantic movie, I prefer actors and actresses who look like puberty is more than two years behind them.

Now I want to turn to something more serious:


As an adaptation of the novel, however, I was in fact grossly disappointed in the film altogether. I feel that the war, which at best is a background element in Lewis' novel (getting very little "airtime," so to speak), becomes completely foregrounded in the film, to its very great detriment. Prince
Caspian should not be about the battle for Narnia; it is first and foremost the story of the Lion of Judah preserving for himself a remnant (Caspian and the "Old Narnians") among those in exile.

Indeed, the Caspian of the film is but a pale shade of the character in the
novel; because the Caspian in the film had not been brought up by Professor Cornelius (whose inconsequentiality in this movie I found most disappointing) to long for the days of the High King Peter and the lordship of Aslan, I found I could not realistically believe in him as the "heir" to the throne of Cair Paravel. Caspian in Lewis' novels is a good king precisely because he recognizes from the onset his subordination to the High King Peter and to Aslan, the Highest of all Kings. (He is at his worst in The Dawn Treader, for example, when he forgets these, first at the isle of Deathwater and again at the Eastern End of the World.)

Next, I find that what was done to Peter's character bordered on the
criminal--perhaps even the obscene. The Peter in this movie is more of a
petulant child in the beginning than Edmund was in the first of the series,
allowing himself to be goaded into a fistfight because of an act of
impoliteness. He who was High King Peter the Magnificent would not eschew the aid of his brother; he would not view Caspian as an interloper, oppressor, and rival; and he would NEVER for one moment even COUNTENANCE the thought of allying himself with the White Witch. The mark of Peter's greatness in the novel is the moment when he first meets Caspian and welcomes and encourages him, saying, "I have not come to take your place, you know, but to put you in it." At no point in the film does Peter do anything to demonstrate himself as the true High King of Narnia, ruling by the decree and consent of Aslan.

Most regrettably of all the film's failures as an adaptation, however, is the gross minimalization of Aslan. Aslan is central in the novel, but little more than a cameo guest star in the film (his airtime is scarcely more than that of the White Witch herself!); your argument, Joe, has its merits, and I'd actually have no problem with Aslan's paucity of airtime, were it not for the simple fact that even his sparse appearances in the film are crassly and carelessly reductive. It's not only that Aslan doesn't appear as frequently in the film; it's that when he does appear, he's an Aslan who has been minimized almost to the point of inconsequentiality. (And, by the way, the idea that Aslan is the creator and sustainer of all Narnia is only tenable for those of us who have actually read the whole novel series--there's nothing IN THE FILM to suggest that he is the creator at all!)

I was deeply saddened to see the devaluing of the most deeply moving part in all the novel: Lucy's meeting with Aslan while the others are sleeping. It matters INFINITELY that the reason Aslan seems bigger to Lucy is not that he has grown in the long years of her absence of Narnia; it matters because the whole point of the novel as I read it is that the Covenant Lord of Narnia, the Son of the Emperor Over the Sea, is One in Whom "there is no variation, neither any shadow of turning." The Great Lion has not grown bigger over the years, for the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, and the more we come to know Him, the more great and glorious and majestic He seems to us whose eyes and minds and hearts are addled and fettered by the limits of our fallen race.

I was also profoundly disappointed in the scene where Aslan restores Reepicheep's tail; one of the great moments in the novel is where Aslan does this not because of Reepicheep's valor or honor, but for the love between he and his people, but MORE STILL for the love that his ancestors showed Aslan, biting away the cords that bound him to the Stone Table. This was a needless deletion from the film!


There are two basic problems with Scheidler’s analysis:

1.Even on literary grounds, it’s clear that he takes C. S. Lewis far too seriously. Lewis wrote some very enjoyable fiction. But he wasn’t one of the all-time-great fiction writers. Some readers have a textual command of Lewis which you should reserve for a truly great writer.

Lewis does some things very well, but there are mountains and valleys and plains and deserts of human experience which he either skims over gingerly or leaves entirely untouched. He was a man of books and ideas rather than people and places. He lacks the expansive humanity—or inhumanity—to be a great novelist.

2.There are Christians who get their creed straight from C. S. Lewis. Lewis is their Bible. And not just his expository writing. But the fiction. The fantasy novels. They quote this stuff as if it’s divine revelation. There is only one God, and Lewis is his prophet.

For them, the Bible is an inconvenience—especially when it’s full of nasty tales about a nasty, judgmental God. The Space Trilogy, The Great Divorce, the Chronicles of Narnia—this is their functional canon. Their Holy Writ.

They’re so immersed in this parallel universe that it no longer occurs to them that none of this is real. But this is not an alternative route to heaven. None of this exists—at all. It’s the imaginary world of a dead man. You can enjoy it at the same level you enjoy The Martian Chronicles. Nothing more or less.