Sunday, August 16, 2009

Troll doll

steve said...
Robert said...

“So Hays is proof texting and his verse says nothing in response to Victor’s challenge.”

i) I deal with challenges as they arise. Since the interpretation of that passage was subsequently challenged by Reppert, I posted some exegesis of that passage by Schreiner and Moo, as well as asking Evan to post a link to two sections from Piper’s monograph on 9:22.

Therefore, Reppert’s challenge has been met.

ii) Let’s also keep in mind that Reppert didn’t challenge my interpretation on exegetical grounds, but a priori grounds. And I’ve also addressed his a priori objection.

Therefore, Reppert’s challenge has been met on both fronts.

“Not only does it say nothing it ought to be seen for **what it is**, an attempt at proof texting from scripture in support of his preconceived notion (i.e., the calvinist opinion that one of the purposes of the reprobates is so that the saints will better appreciate their salvation).

Of course, Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s attempt to circumvent the text is driven by his perceived notion of what God ought to be like.

“For example, a major decision and choice for the interpreter to make is whether or not the initial phrase ought to be taken as causal or concessive.”

Which, of course, Piper, Schreiner, and Moo address.

“Another decision concerns the phrase ‘vessels of wrath fitted for destruction’.”

Which, of course, Piper, Schreiner, and Moo address. Robert keeps dishing out stale objections as if no one has ever dealt with these before.

“It should be immediately obvious that these kinds of decisions will greatly impact your interpretation of these texts.”

It should be immediately obvious that Robert makes no effort to engage the counterargument.

“Finally, I would mention one of my own pet peeves about Calvinistic interpretations of texts in Romans 9. Calvinists go to Romans 9 seeking to proof text in support of their mistaken belief in unconditional election. But the passages in Romans 9 function within the unit of Romans 9-11. In order to properly interpret individual passages in Romans 9 one must interpret them in the context of the entire unit of Romans 9-11.”

Another silly statement. It’s not as if Reformed exegetes lack a unified interpretation of Rom 9-11. Not as if they interpret Rom 9 one way and Rom 11 another way.

“But you will **never even see this possibility** if you isolate individual verses such as 9:22 away from and interpret them completely independently of other texts in the Romans 9-11 unit.”

Either Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is ignorant or else he's lying. Needless to say, Reformed exegetes review and assess rival interpretations of Rom 9 or Rom 11.

This is what Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet originally said:

“An example of where this becomes important is that calvinists seeking to ‘prove’ or even find evidence of their doctrine of unconditional election select out individual verses of Romans 9 (such as 9:22) and even phrases such as “vessels of wrath” while ignoring the context which is Romans 9-11 as a unit… But you will **never even see this possibility** if you isolate individual verses such as 9:22 away from and interpret them completely independently of other texts in the Romans 9-11 unit.”

But when I challenge him, Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet treats us to this impressive exercise in the art of backpedaling:

“I was speaking of the calvinists penchant for proof texting from Romans 9. I was not discussing the reviews of Reformed exegetes of rival interpretations.”

Of course, he drew no such distinction. Then he proceeds to backpeddle even further:

“And if anyone wants to see for themselves how they do so, again look at Moo or Schreiner or any of them on the Romans 9:18 passage about God mercying whomever He desires to mercy and then look up what they say on Romans 11:32. In their ‘interpretation’ of 11:32 you will see the same exegetical gymnastics as they try to avoid the word ‘all’ in 11:32 as they do for instance when dealing with John 3:16 or 1 John 2:2. You may have to see it for yourself to believe it. I have seen what Schreiner and Moo do in 11:32 seeking to evade the plain meaning of the text and it is not very persuasive at all.”

Notice that he’s done a 180. He originally accused Calvinists of interpreting Rom 9 in isolation to Rom 11. Now, he reverses himself. Now the accusation is that Calvinists are consistent to a fault in their interpretation of Rom 9-11. They construe Rom 11 the very same way the construe Rom 9.

That’s one of the occupational hazards of backpedaling. Since Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet can’t see where he’s going, he rides his bike right over the cliff.

Reminds me of the old said: a good liar has to have a good memory. It’s hard to coordinate all those cumulative falsehoods.

“Steve Hays continues to engage in personal attacks that are not necessary to a rational and civil discussion of the issues. Apparently He cannot simply discuss issues without attacking other persons with whom he disagrees.”

Considering the fact that Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet repeatedly refers to Calvinists as “jerks,” I’d say his protestations of civility lack the ring of credibility.

“Now let’s get back to the issues and focus on them without the personal attacks.”

He makes sure to get in a personal attack before stating that we should get back tot he issues and avoid personal attacks.

Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is like a jewel thief who wants to swipe all the gems, then pass a retroactive statute of limitations once he has the loot safely stashed away. What does it say about a man’s character who is this consistently and shamelessly backstabbing and double-dealing?

“Anyone who looks at either text, Romans 9:22 or Romans 9:23 will be unable to find any words about appreciation, about saints in heaven considering and contrasting their fate with the fate of unbelievers. ***None*** of it is there. And yet Steve Hays said it is right there in the text. Hays is mistaken and not just slightly mistaken about these texts. He was proof texting from these texts and his proof texts completely fail to even refer to his belief that one of God’s purposes for the reprobates is to use them to cause saints to better appreciate their salvation.”

The vessels of mercy are heavenbound (“prepared for glory”) while the vessels of wrath are hellbound (“prepared for destruction”). Paul says that what God did in v22 concerning the fate of the damned (i.e. vessels of wrath) serves to make the riches of his glory known to the saints (vessels of mercy) in v23. So he did it for their benefit.

We could go into more detail, but Piper, Schreiner, and Moo have already done into great detail.

“Anyone familiar with calvinist tactics for **reinterpreting** bible texts is aware that when a bible text presents what explicitly and plainly and clearly suggests that God loves ALL people or that God desires the salvation of ALL people or that Jesus was given for the WORLD/ALL people, that calvinists reinterpret these passages…Non-calvinists see these maneuvers as evasive maneuvers to get away from, get around the plain meaning of biblical texts.”

This is one of the problems with being a single-issue troll like Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet. He’s posting this comment at Dangerous Idea. Yet Reppert clearly regards universalism as a viable option or fallback position. And Jason Pratt, who is part of this debate, is a universalist.

But Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s doesn’t believe in universal salvation. So if anyone has a prima facie claim on the “plain” and “clear” meaning of these passages, it’s not the Arminian, but the universalist.

A universalist would regard Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s attempt to “reinterpret” these passages so that they fall short of universal salvation as an evasive maneuver on his part. But Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet is too preoccupied with Calvinism to see the irony of his situation.

And this is more of a problem for Arminians than Calvinists. Calvinists have a consistent approach to cosmic/universalistic terms in Scripture. Arminians, by contrast, affirm unlimited atonement, but deny unlimited salvation. Therefore, they have to oscillate in their treatment of cosmic/universalistic terminology.

“Easy, just look at the rest of the Romans 9-11 unit (and after that just look at the rest of the New Testament, look at Jesus’ statements about hell, statements that led Bertrand Russell to declare that Jesus was not a moral person because he believed in hell) where Paul makes it clear that in order to be saved one must put their faith in Christ (whether Jew or Gentile) and if one does not one is not saved. Paul and the other New Testament writers are agreed: no individual faith in Christ for salvation = no salvation.”

i) As a counter to universalism, this is both impotent and incompetent. Universalism subscribes to postmortem conversion. Therefore, a univeralist can easily harmonize the precondition of faith with universal salvation. For a universalist has no deadline on when a sinner must exercise faith in Christ. Death is not the expiration date.

ii) And this is more of a problem for Arminianism than Calvinism. If God really wants to save everyone, then why would he foreclose the opportunity at death? On the face of it, that’s an arbitrary deadline.

“Recall that Romans 11:32 says that God shut up ALL in disobedience in order that he might have mercy on ALL. Note there are two ‘alls’ there. There is not much doubt about the first ‘all’ (call that all(A)). Everybody, both calvinist and noncalvinist sees that first ‘all’ as referring to everybody, all people. And non-calvinists see the second ‘all’ (call that all(B)) as also referring to all people. That seems clear and simple, that seems to fit precisely what Paul intended by this text.”

i) The problem with this contention is that the referent of a universal quantifier is not a fixed variable.

Take 1 Cor 15, where Paul is talking about the resurrection of the just. Paul draws a parallel between those who are dead in Adam and those who are alive in Christ. And he uses the universal quantifier (“all”) for both groups. Yet it’s not Paul’s contention in 1 Cor 15 that everyone will be raised in Christ. Rather, that is limited to Christians. Those who are dead in Adam are not conterminous with those who are alive in Christ.

ii) Moreover, in his various responses to me, notice how often Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet alternates between the “meaning” of all and the “referent” of all, as if these were interchangeable concepts. But they’re not. The meaning of “all” can be invariable even though the reference is variable. Basic lexical semantics. Yet Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet’s semantic fallacy runs throughout his response to me, Moo, and Schreiner.

“We know that calvinists believe that God only wants to save some (the elect) while he really does not want to save the others (the non-elect, nonbelievers, ‘reprobates’).”

Calvinists believe that God saves those he wants to save. Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet believes that God fails to save many he wants to save. For him, God’s universal love is ineffectual.

“We also know that calvinists come upon the verses in Romans 9 about God having mercy upon whomever he wants to have mercy upon and hardening whomever he wants to harden, believing that mercying refers to saving and hardening refers to damning. So they take that understanding and then when they come to Romans 11:32…”

There’s more to it than that. There’s also Rom 5:18. If all he had to deal with is 11:32, Robert/Henry/Sockpuppet could try to weasel out of universalism by claiming that, although God is merciful to everyone, everyone is free to resist his mercy. However, 5:18 is stronger. It describes, not merely an opportunity, but an outcome. The end-result.

If we begin with the Arminian interpretation of universal quantifiers, and plug that into a text like 5:18, we end up with universal salvation.

Arminianism is a dinosaur. In the survival of the fittest, Armininism has been squeezed out by univeralism. The Arminian/Calvinist debate has been superseded by the universalist/Calvinist debate.

“Now allow me to make a simple point here that I believe gets largely ignored in the interpretation of Romans 11:32 (by calvinists and also by universalists). I have already said that you have to interpret Romans 9-11 as a unit.”

Largely ignored by which Calvinists? Piper? Schreiner? O. P. Robertson? I think not!

As long as we’re making simple points, I’ll make a simple point as well. Paul talks about divine hardening in Rom 9:18. He revisits this theme in 11:7ff.

The only way to avoid the principle of reprobation is to equate the “hardened” with the vessels of wrath,” and also claim that hardening is temporary. But there are two or three impenetrable obstacles to that move:

i) Since the vessels of mercy were “prepared for destruction” their fate is irreversible.

ii) O. P. Roberson has argued that the hardening is not a temporary condition. Cf. The Israel of God, chap. 6.

iii) I'd also note that N. T. Wright, in his commentary on Romans (New Interpreter's Bible, 10:676-77) argues against the notion of a merely temporary hardening (of Israel) in 11:7ff. And Wright is no Calvinist.

iv) Even if you think the hardening is temporary, to be lifted at some future point–like a premil/postmill revival of messianic Judaism–the fact remains that, for 2000 years and counting, the vast majority of Jews have repudiated the messiahship of Jesus.

Therefore, God’s hardening, even if temporary, isn’t temporary for each individual or each generation. To the contrary, it has deliberately and successfully hindered most Jews for the last 2000 years from coming to Christ.

1 comment:

  1. I'd note that Grant Osborne, in his commentary on Romans, treats the terms such as 'world' and 'all' in the same way Calvinists do.