Saturday, October 03, 2009

An Exegesis of 1 Timothy 4:10 "...who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Tim 4:10).
In 1 Timothy 4, Paul is exhorting Timothy that sound doctrine and persistent godliness should be the thrust of our life because of the hope of the living God — in this age and the one to come. We should be confident in our creeds and ethics because of the certainty of salvation. Paul introduces verse 10 with the inferential indicator eis touto gar (For to this end), followed by the grounding conjunction hoti (because), which highlights his main point: "we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe." His main point is corroborated by his use of the perfect tense ēlpikamen (we have our hope set), which marks out this action. Interestingly, the only other instance of a perfect tense in this immediate section is found in verse 6:

“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed (parēkolouthēkas)” (1 Tim 4:5–6).

This is an uncommon term in the New Testament, only used four times (Mark 16:17; Luke 1:3; 1 Tim 4:6; 2 Tim 3:10). In the context of following a belief or practice, this term means "paying special attention, follow faithfully." In other words, for Paul, following sound doctrine is not about a static affirmation of creedal statements on paper — it is an active, conscious, engaged conforming. (Paul would not have anything to do with an ambiguous Church "Statement of Faith"!)

Back to verse 10. In the next statement, and our focus of this article, what is meant by, "who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe"?

Many modern believers read this with the assumption that Christ came to earth with the intention to die for every single individual who has ever lived; hence, "who is the Savior of all people." But only those who believe will have his atonement applied to their sin; hence, "especially of those who believe." Therefore, many modern readers, particularly Arminians, believe this verse undercuts any notion of particular redemption and election, which is affirmed in Reformed theology.

However, we should probe more than a prima facie reading of this verse and ask ourselves certain questions. Is there a theological connection between "the living God" and its qualifier "who is the Savior of all people"? What does "all people" mean here for Paul? Does it mean all people without exception or distinction? And most importantly, how can God be the Savior of those who do not believe? Or is there some other element that has escaped our notice?

A universalist reading should be ruled out since that would contradict Paul's unambiguous teaching in his corpus that many will indeed perish eternally.

Next, the Arminian interpretation reads too much into the statement, "Savior of all people," with two assumptions: (1) that the term "Savior" here must mean "possible Savior" and (2) it denotes "every single person."

But if Christ died for all sins, then there is no legal basis for him to punish or condemn any sinner to perdition; thereby making the Arminian an inconsistent universalist. What basis is there to punish the same sin twice: on the cross and on the sinner. There is none.

In addition, the context here does not state what Paul means by "all people." He could refer to every single person, or he could refer to all kinds of people. Earlier in this same epistle, in the similar context of salvation and all people, Paul makes it clear that he is referring to "all sorts of people," not every single person who has ever lived on planet earth. (See my exegesis on 1 Timothy 2:4 here).

Some interpreters have suggested that God is "Savior of all people" in a physical-preserving sense — if you will, a "common grace Savior." And then he is a spiritual Savior, especially of those who believe.

This is an unlikely interpretation since there is nothing in this context where Paul defines "Savior" in these two different ways. Further, v. 8b provides a soteriological context, "the present life and also for the life to come." And in v. 10, the natural reading is that Paul uses the same meaning for "Savior" for humanity in general, and believers in particular.

The most plausible interpretation of this verse is what I call the Monotheistic-Exclusivism Interpretation. What Paul is saying is that God (and by extension Christ as Redeemer) is the only true Savior in the world, therefore humanity cannot find any other competing Savior outside of the living God. They have no other Savior to turn to.

It is not by mistake that the phrase "living God," a term that suggests monotheism, is connected with this verse. This phrase is often found in the context of polytheism (e.g. Acts 14:15; 1 Thess 1:9; Josh 3:10; 1 Sam 17:26, 36; 2 Kgs 19:4). Since there is only one God who is alive, there is only one Savior for humanity to embrace.

Also, earlier in this same epistle Paul makes a similar exclusive statement that there is one medium of salvation for humanity: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim 2:5). Here Paul connects this with the truth of "one God" with only one mediator, anticipating what he says two chapters later.

In addition, this is similar to Jesus' exclusive statement:

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

And in the same vein, Peter proclaims:

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

For all humanity, there is only one way, truth, life, Father, name, mediator, and Savior — especially of those who believe.

Finally, I want to conclude with another interpretation that is compelling. The term for "especially" is malista. George W. Knight III argues that this term here should be rendered, "that is," thereby functioning as an explanation or further clarification of the preceding statement. The translation would be as follows: "who is the Savior of all people, that is, of those who believe." So this interpretation does not view "those who believe" as a subset of "all people"; instead, "those who believe" identifies who the "all people" are. He writes:
The phrase [malista pistōn, "especially of believers"] contains the one qualification that Paul and NT always posit for receiving God's salvation, i.e., "trust" in God as the only Savior. Absolute [pistōn], as used here and elsewhere in the NT, refers to those who believe in Christ, i.e., Christian believers…[malista] has usually been rendered "especially" and regarded as in some way distinguishing that which follows it from that which goes before it. Skeat ("Especially the Parchments") argues persuasively that [malista] in some cases (2 Tim. 4:13; Tit. 1:10, 11; and here) should be understood as providing a further definition or identification of that which precedes it and thus renders it by such words as "that is." He cites several examples from papyrus letters that would seem to require this sense and that would in their particular cases rule out the otherwise legitimate alternative sense. If his proposal is correct here, which seems most likely, then the phrase [malista pistōn] should be rendered "that is, believers." This understanding is also in line with Paul's assertion that all sorts and conditions of people are in Christ (even at times using [pantes] ) and with his insistence in those contexts that all such are in Christ and have salvation by faith (cf., e.g., Gal. 3:26–28). NIGTC, The Pastoral Epistles, 203–4.

by Alan Kurschner

Ingrown morality

Spectators often lament theological infighting on the internet. All that internecine warfare is so unedifying. By the same token, Catholics deplore schismatics. And, of course, ecumenicists view ecclesiastical unity as both a Christian ideal and a Christian imperative.

Like anything else that sinners do, blogging can put human iniquity on display. However, there are problems with the ecumenical ideal.

Because men are social creatures, we naturally retreat into fairly insular communities. We come in packages. Families. Extended families.

The same applies to theological communities. In the past, this was reinforced by geographical isolation and national churches. And we now have virtual communities. It’s like living in a company town.

There is, however, moral and spiritual dangers which come of taking refuge in self-affirming, self-reinforcing communities. A good example is the priestly abuse scandal in Catholicism. As long as this was perpetrated by one set of insiders on another set of insiders, it went unchecked. It took the scrutiny of outsiders to finally expose it and bring about some measure of reform.

Surrounding ourselves with sympathetic ears is morally and spiritual hazardous. We can become coconspirators in our own moral or spiritual demise. We defend each other. Excuse each other. The in-group can do no wrong. We inoculate ourselves against self-examination–behind the impregnable walls of our fortified city.

So there are benefits to having a clash between one theological community and another. It shakes up the insidious complacency to which we’re prone if we spend too much time in the circular groove of our like-minded fellowship.

The sin unto death

“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death” (1 Jn 5:16-17).

I’ve been asked to comment on this passage. The passage is controversial and widely discussed, in part because John’s language is rather enigmatic, and in part because the passage is rather disturbing or unnerving.

1.John’s language may be enigmatic because his audience already knew what he was alluding to, or because the “sin” in question was not entirely clear-cut. He may also be a bit ambiguous because, in situations like this, there is no one right answer in every case. Indeed, these are not mutually exclusive explanations.

2.One preliminary question is whether this “mortal” sin denotes physical or spiritual death.

i) In favor of the literal interpretation, there is some evidence, albeit slight, that God occasionally uses terminal illness as either remedial punishment or retributive punishment in dealing with errant church-members (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor 5:3-5; 11:30).

There are, however, some problems with that identification.

ii) In 1 John, life and death are consistently used as metaphors to signify a spiritual condition rather than a physical condition.

iii) Apropos (ii), it’s best, where possible, to interpret a writer’s usage on his own terms rather than in reference to extraneous material. We have no way of knowing that he had that extraneous material in mind. So stick with his own linguistic habits.

iv) If it refers to physical death, then how would John’s audience be in a position to know who committed this mortal sin? Short of death, how could they tell if someone was dying? And the issue would be moot after they died.

v) In the ancient world, before the advent of modern medical science, death was common–even for those in the prime of life. Surely John wouldn’t suggest that we refrain from praying for someone who’s deathly ill. If someone is apparently on his deathbed, it could certainly be for reasons other than sinning unto death. And, of course, prayers for healing sometimes make a difference.

vi) It seems more likely, then, that John is using “death” in a figurative sense to denote a spiritual condition (i.e. damnation).

3.So what is this mortal sin, and what are its symptoms? I think the best way to approach the answer is to consider the historical context of 1 John.

He was writing to members of his church or churches (in Asia Minor). They had gone through a traumatic schism after some false teachers and their followers seceded from John’s church.

So the immediate referent for the “sin unto death” would single out the kind of sin which John’s opponents exemplified.

To judge by what we can reconstruct from the letter, they were guilty of the following misdeeds:

i) Their views on the person and work of Christ were grossly deficient.

ii) They subscribed to a form of perfectionism, which was probably interchangeable with antinomianism. After all, if you think you’re sinless, than you can act with impunity.

iii) In their opposition to John, they defied apostolic authority.

iv) By shunning or disfellowshipping the members of John’s congregation, as well as trying to undermine their faith, they displayed their hatred for the brethren.

v) They may have also had pretensions to superior spiritual enlightenment.

Assuming that this is the right way to go about defining the “sin unto death,” then it’s not a discrete, self-contained, one-time event.

Rather, it involves a persistent pattern of thought and deed with certain specific, roughly identifiable features.

4.John doesn’t prohibit his audience for praying for individuals who commit this sin. Rather, he indicates that they’re under no obligation to do so. He apparently leaves that up to the discretion of the Christian.

5.We might ask why that’s the case? Two possibilities come to mind:

i) If someone is sufficiently hardened in a state of spiritual rebellion, then this may indicate that God has hardened him. Prayer is futile if it goes against the will of God (e.g. Jer 7:16; 11:14; 14:11).

ii) It may also have something to do with spiritual priorities. After all, when you are praying for one person, you’re not praying for another. Although you can pray for a number of different people over time, you can only pray for one at a time–and there are more people in need of prayer than you have hours in the day. So you have to make choices.

Once again, this isn’t a prohibition. John isn’t forbidding his audience to intercede for the individual who commits this sin. Rather, he treats it as something discretionary.

Whether or not they do so might depend on their relationship with the individual or individuals in question. Our social obligations vary.

6.This passage is sometimes cited to challenge the perseverance of the saints. However, the Johannine corpus distinguishes between true believers and nominal believers (e.g. Jn 6:66ff.; 1 Jn 2:19f.). So this phenomenon is consistent with God’s preservation of his own.

7.Finally, it’s important to keep this in perspective. When John talks about the assurance of salvation, he’s not saying that Christians should ordinarily doubt their salvation. Radical self-doubt is not their default position. That is not a presumption which they must overcome.

Rather, he talks about the assurance of salvation in the context of false teachers and their schismatic followers. They were actively undermining the faith of the faithful.

That’s why John administers a spiritual exam. To restore the shattered confidence of the faithful.

The Barker/White Debate On Jesus And Mythology

I just got done watching James White's debate with Dan Barker on the subject "Was Jesus A Myth?". White won the debate by a wide margin, and he made many good points along the way. I recommend watching it, though there isn't much merit to Barker's side of the debate. Though Barker isn't the best representative of his position, he does make many claims that are popular in skeptical circles, and White's responses are worth hearing.

For those interested in more information on some of the topics that came up during the debate, I want to make some recommendations, mostly from our material at Triablogue. Steve Hays addresses issues of alleged borrowing from pagan mythology in his e-book on the resurrection, This Joyful Eastertide. Justin Martyr was discussed during the debate, and the e-book just linked has an appendix on the subject that Gene Bridges and I wrote. Regarding the census of Luke 2, see here. On issues of probability, see here and Timothy and Lydia McGrew's article here. Concerning the genre of the gospels, see here. And here on the virgin birth. Here on the argument from martyrdom.

Friday, October 02, 2009

"Can, not will"

Again, read the verse. It says ”And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

It says can, not will. There is a way of escape and they can take it. But not every believer successfully resists temptation. It looks like libertarian free will is the only explanation that can reconcile this passage with the facts. (Calvinists keep asking for a biblical text for LFW, I think I've got one). If Calvinism is true, then given God’s plan before the foundation of the world, Ted Haggard could not have avoided committing the sins he committed. There was no way of escape, and it was more than he could bear.

To unpack this a bit more, what does sufficient grace amount to? Remember, sufficient grace is resistible grace.

Such grace is sufficient inasmuch as you can resist temptation if you want to. As long as you want to resist temptation, you can.

Sufficient grace doesn’t mean you won’t wish to resist temptation. Just that if you want to, you’ll be able to overcome the temptation.

But isn’t that utterly vacuous? Why do sinners, Christian or otherwise, give into temptation in the first place?

Because they want to. They want to go all the way. Because the temptation to sin is more tempting than the urge (if there is any) to resist.

Even if there’s a part of them that doesn’t want to, that hates doing it, or hates the foreseeable consequences, that is overpowered by a stronger desire.

So isn’t sufficient grace otiose? It’s a conditional grace. If you want to resist, you can–but that doesn’t stop you from wanting to succumb. From wanting it so badly that you do succumb. So what difference does it make?

Grace unlimited!

Wesley: Howdy, there, stranger. Don’t believe I’ve seen you before.

Asbury: The missus and I just moved to Aldersgate.

Wesley: Where from?

Ausbury: Geneva!

Wesley: Ugh! Glad you were able to escape that sinkhole of deviltry.

Ausbury: So am I!

Wesley: So what brings you to Wesley Bros. Feed & Grain Store?

Asbury: I was told that this is where I could stock up on some of that unlimited grace.

Wesley: Well, friend, you’ve come to the right place!

Asbury: How much am I allowed to take?

Wesley: As much as you want. That’s the nice thing about unlimited grace. Not like that miserly ol' Calvinism.

Asbury: What size does it come in?

Wesley: All shapes and sizes. We have grace by the bushel, barrel, dry gallon, liquid gallon, cubic foot, cubic yard. Liter. Deciliter. Hectoliter. And Kiloliter.

Asbury: I’m not sure how much I can fit into the trunk of my car.

Wesley: No problem. You can always come back for more. Or rent a van or trailer or pick-up truck.

Asbury: How much should I get?

Wesley: Depends on how much storage space you have. Whether you have an apartment, house, attic, basement, 3-car garage, barn, tool shed, and so on.

Asbury: How much do you recommend? Is a kiloliter better than a liter?

Wesley: Depends on what you mean. Technically speaking, a kiloliter of resistible grace is just as resistible as a liter of resistible grace.

Asbury: So what’s the advantage of unlimited grace? What’s the point of having all that grace?

Wesley: Cuz it’s so darn tootin' generous! Why, Farmer John over there was a whole barn full of resistible grace. Barrows of resistible grace. Rows of resistible grace. Stacked from floor to ceiling.

Asbury: Why?

Wesley: It’s so nice to look at. He spends hours a day just gazing at all that prodigious, resistible grace. Admiring the sheer munificence of it all.

Spends hours a day counting and labeling all his neatly stacked barrows of ineffectual grace.

Asbury: Does it keep him from sinning or losing his salvation?

Wesley: Heck no! But it’s just so doggone magnanimous. So awesome to sit there and contemplate all that fathomless, ineffectual grace.

An inexhaustible supply of it. As much grace as you could ever hope to resist. No matter how often you resist it, there’s always more to resist. You never run out of grace to resist. I mean, ain’t that just too wonderful for words?

"Poorly-argued garbage"

Victor Reppert has been touting a series of blog posts by Ben Henshaw, responding to me, on 1 Cor 10:13.

I’ve already commenting on Ben’s prior installments–so I’ll now comment on his final installment. I should add that there have been some subsequent developments since Ben did his final installment. He’s been plugging his interpretation in the combox of Reppert’s blog–which I’ve answered there. An anonymous commenter has also quoted some supplementary material which supports my interpretation.

Ben’s final installment is typical. Ben is very repetitious. Likes to repeat oft-refuted arguments.

He’s also one of those morally blinkered individuals who makes derogatory comments about his opponent, but then takes personal offence at any perceived slight to the purity of his own motives, and spends lots of time defending his outraged honor.

So there’s a lot of dead wood. I’ll try to cut the dead wood as best I can to focus on the essentials. I’ll also add some material from the thread over at Reppert’s blog, to bring the debate up to date.

Fitzmyer first offers what he considers two possible interpretations. One interpretation would look at this verse as specific reference to an eschatological trial (probably based on an erroneous understanding of what Paul intended by the phrase “end of the ages” in verse 11,) Fitzmyer rightly rejects the “eschatological” interpretation and concludes that “Christians may also rely on God for the ekbasis of lesser struggles throughout the course of life.”

How does Ben get from Fitzmyer’s use of “also” to Fitzmyer’s “rejection” of the eschatological referent? “Also” is an adverb which means “in addition to.”

So Fitzmyer is not opposing the two interpretations at this point, as if you have to choose one or the other. He might or might not exclude the eschatological referent on other grounds, but you certainly can’t get that from the sentence which Ben just quoted.

This supports my understanding that “No temptation” has reference to “No temptation” (i.e., no [not any] temptation to sin that a Christian may face in life), rather than to the sole temptation to deny the faith in apostasy.

Except that it doesn’t, given Ben’s disregard for Fitzmyer’s syntactical construction.

Fitzmyer’s further comments concerning the specific context having to do with idol meat and seduction to idolatry does nothing to contradict my view. Such trials would certainly be included among any and every temptation that a believer may face in life.

i) The question at issue is whether God has promised to protect his people from sins resulting in apostasy–and not every temptation under the sun.

ii) Incidentally, has Ben really had that much personal experience facing down the temptation to eat meat sacrificed to idols? Or is that a fairly culturebound situation? As one scholar explains:

“The right which some Corinthian Christians exercise was to recline at a dinner in a pagan temple (8:10)…This right related to the special privilege open to a limited number of the inhabitants to dine during the Games at nearby Isthmia on a number of occasions and came under the jurisdiction of Corinth. These were the Roman citizens of Corinth…Just as there were perils in reclining at a private banquet (6:12-20), so too there were not dissimilar dangers open to those Christians who accepted the invitation to recline at the civic banquets associated with the games. ‘Some ate, drank and rose up to play’ (10:7), which was the way that the LXX describes the banquet associated with idolatry and the ‘after-dinner’ behaviour in Exodus 32:6…The nexus between reclining in the temple and idolatry becomes clearer as Paul commanded Christians to fleet from it, i.e., the sinners because, as he explains later, it was not possible for them to sit at ‘the table of daemons’ and drink of ‘the cup of daemons’ and to sit also at the table of the Lord and drink his cup (10:14,21), B. Winter, After Paul Left Corinth (Eerdmans 2001), 93-94.

Back to Ben:

This is probably the reason that Fitzmyer does not draw the same conclusions as Steve and thereby try to limit “No temptation” in 10:13 exclusively to the specific temptation to finally deny the faith.

Ben can only deny that conclusion by driving a wedge between idolatry and apostasy–a dichotomy which is contrary to the entire witness of Scripture. Moreover, Fitzmyer himself documents that linkage in the verses leading up to v13.

In fact, we can find further support for my position on page 388 where Fitzmyer concludes his discussion on what “ends” means in verse 11,
“No matter which interpretation of “ends” is preferred, Paul’s implication is that such events about our “ancestors” have been recorded in the OT for the instruction of Christians, to admonish them in every age about God’s reaction to human complaints, rebellion, testing, and probing.” (388 emphasis mine)
We see here that Fitzmyer understands that Paul is addressing each of these specific sins to the Corinthians (just as I argued in my last post), rather than applying a general principle of apostasy. If Steve’s understanding of Fitzmyer is correct, then he is essentially saying that every instance of “human” complaining, rebellion, testing, and probing, constitutes a final denial of the Christian faith.

This disregards the way in which Paul, as well as Fitzmyer, define the key terms in relation to the OT background material.

The “tight spot” is the burden of proof that rests on him to show that 1 Cor. 10:13 cannot possibly have reference to every temptation a believer may face in life (my interp.), while proving that “No temptation” must have specific and exclusive reference to the temptation to finally deny the faith (his interp.). Steve put himself in that position and put the burden of proof upon himself with his arguments and his use of rhetoric in his initial response (he actually needs to show that my interpretation is impossible, considering his claim that my “warehouse” was entirely “empty”).

This is special pleading. In exegetical theology, there is no burden of proof to show that any and every alternative interpretation is “impossible.” You only have to show that your interpretation is the best available interpretation.

And Steve accuses me of avoidance? You will search in vain for any specific interaction, on Steve’s part, with any of the exegetical points I made in both my posts. All you will find is Steve quoting commentaries that he imagines agree with him, and making passing remarks on those quotes.

In a debate over the meaning of a Biblical prooftext, it’s perfectly legitimately to quote the exegetical arguments of scholars whose interpretation supports your position, and briefly explain, if need be, how their interpretations support your position.

None needed. All that is needed is the documentation concerning their interpretation of I Cor. 10:13 which agrees with me against Steve (we are not talking about the five points of TULIP, but about a proper understanding of 1 Cor. 10:13). That documentation has already been provided. If he means to insist that these commentaries were not written by Calvinists, then he can take that up with Calvinists Leon Morris and FF Bruce, for starters (and I am pretty sure John Calvin was a Calvinist).

If Ben claims to have some Calvinist commentators who agree with him, then he needs to document that the commentators in question are, indeed, Calvinists. To say that Calvin was a Calvinist is cute, but evades the question regarding the theological identity of the other commentators he so designates.

He needs to explain why Paul applies each specific temptation to sin (including such sins as complaining and craving evil things) to the Corinthians, if he were really just trying to apply a principle of apostasy by using those OT references.

Except that Ben reduces “craving” and “complaining” to generic sins in defiance of their contextual connotations in this literary setting.

He needs to show that my view is totally unreasonable, based on his claims that my interpretation amounts to “empty…gesticulating”, etc.

Notice how Ben tries to stack the deck. That’s a sign of weakness. All I have to show is that his interpretation is probably wrong.

He also needs to show that the passage teaches that the believer will always take the way of escape, (assuming the correctness of his interpretation).

From the nature of the divine promise. For if the believer did succumb to apostasy, then God allowed him to be tested beyond his limits. The believer was unable to resist the fatal temptation.

I then quoted the following observation by an Arminian commentator:

“I’m convinced that the ‘fall’ mentioned in 1 Cor. 10:12 is referring to apostasy from Christ and the Christian faith that can occur if the believers in Corinth persist in idolatry and the attending immorality that is common place at these social events/banquets. In my research I have found several commentators and academic works on 1 Cor 8:1-11:1 that hold to this view as well. The work that I have found the most impressive is . . ._Paul and Apostasy: Eschatology, Perseverance, and Falling Away in the Corinthian Congregation (Paperback)_by B. J. Oropeza.”

This proved to be embarrassing, both to Ben and to his Arminian cohort.

Steve just isn’t getting it. First, the idea that “fall” can have reference to apostasy does not establish his interpretation.

The divine promise is indexed to apostasy.

The commenter in my meta does not agree with Steve, and has since left a comment verifying that Steve was wrong to draw those implications from his comments (just as Steve was wrong to draw similar implications from the two commentators who supposedly agreed with him).

It’s irrelevant whether or not the Arminian commenter agrees with me. What is relevant is the material he cited by other scholars.

Since Steve spent no time personally interacting with the passage or context, his sources were his argument, rather than illustrating his argument.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Citing the arguments of other scholars who agree with you is a perfectly valid move.

Not at all. I think anything written by Puritans is nothing but poorly argued garbage. This would, of course, include anything by Owen or Edwards.

Let’s be clear on this. In support of his interpretation, Ben now admits that he quoted some commentators who, in his own estimation, wrote “poorly argued garbage.” That’s how he defends his interpretation?

And I wonder if Steve would ask the same question if this old, worthless Puritan work had happened to agree with his extremely marginal interpretation?

Well, it’s easy for Ben to test that hypothesis. He can perform a search of my blog inputting the names of various Puritans, and see where, if at all, I have ever cited a Puritan commentator to support my interpretation.

BTW, I think Puritans can be very useful writers in other respects. I just don’t turn to them for exegesis.

Idolatry and apostasy provides some of the background, but certainly not all of it, since the context does not have sole reference to either (nor do Steve’s sources take such a narrow view of the context, and they certainly don’t agree with any of Steve’s conclusions concerning 1 Cor. 10:13).

The scholars I cite tie the various forms of behavior in view to idolatrous apostasy.

In fact, any mention of apostasy is mostly indirect even in his quoted sources (and only one quote directly mentions “apostasy” at all). For example, Garland references Ps. 106 as the best place to gain background on the “litany of Israel’s sins”. If one reads Psalm 106, he will discover that far more is mentioned besides idolatry or apostasy. For example, they “craved intensely” in the wilderness (cf. 1 Cor. 10:6 which sets up the entire discussion of Israel’s sins and resultant judgment in 1 Cor. 10: 6-12). This “craving”, in Psalm 106, is the result of “forgetting [God’s] works” and not waiting for God’s counsel (hardly what we would call acts of apostasy).

i) To begin with, the question at issue is the use that Paul made of his sources, and not the way in which Ben chooses to take them.

i) And even on its own terms, this is how a recent commentator sums it up: “Israel’s faithlessness expresses itself in different ways. There is their disbelief in Yhwh’s (proven) ability to deliver, their unwillingness to follow Yhwh’s plan, their internal jealous and strife, and their making of an image, their lack of confidence in Yhwh’s promise, their worship of other deities, their submission to the influences of culture, and their acceptance of its abhorrent forms of worship,” J. Goldingay, Psalm 90-150 (Baker 2008), 239.

Ben must have an extremely lenient view of what constitutes apostate behavior. Unfortunately for him, Bible writers are far less indulgent.

Notice how Fitzmyer does not equate grumbling and craving with idolatry, but instead said such grumbling and craving “led” to “such idolatry” (notice also that he refers to them as “grumbling Israelites” prior to their initial act of idolatry, i.e. “the grumbling Israelites became idolaters”). Furthermore, Fitzmyer tells us that Paul’s OT quotes are meant to underscore “the seriousness of such craving”. So instead of supporting Steve’s claim that the passage is only concerned with idolatrous apostasy, Fitzmyer sees Paul’s allusions as going beyond just idolatry, but including those sinful things that may simply lead to idolatry (even such grave idolatry as that committed by Israel in the golden calf episode). This is far more in line with my interpretation than Steve’s.

i) It dovetails perfectly with my position. If God has promised to protect his own from apostasy, then, needless to say, that protection must extend to sins which eventuate in that damnable outcome. Protection against the end-result includes the precipitating causes. Isn’t that obvious?

ii) And notice Fitzmyer doesn’t say that “they may lead to idolatry”–as if they may or may not result in idolatry.

Garland also speaks of “grumbling” in a similar way, a way that does not necessarily constitute idolatry or apostasy,
[Garland] The image of grumbling characterizes the whole wilderness experience of Israel (Num. 14:36; 16:41, 49; 17:5, 10) but is particularly associated with putting God to the test (Exod. 17:2-3). Their grumbling about food kindled God’s anger against them (Num. 11:1; 14:2-4). (463).
“Paul perhaps singles out ‘grumbling’ because the Corinthians have been guilty of murmuring against him (so Robertson and Plummer 1914: 206; Moffatt 1938: 132; Oster 1995: 235), particularly because of his hard-line stance against their participation in idol feasts (Fee 1987: 457). As Moses protested the people’s idolatry, so Paul has protested the Corinthians’ participation in sacrificial meals. As the people of Israel grumbled against the leader appointed by God, so also Paul insinuates that the Corinthians are no less guilty of rebelliously grumbling against him and refusing to listen to his counsel.” (464).
[Ben] Notice that, just like Fitzmyer, Garland sees the “grumbling” as starting prior to any acts of idolatry on Israel’s part.

Irrelevant. It terminates in idolatry. Cause and effect. Crossing a line of no-return.

It is also very important to ask why Paul is writing this to the Corinthians. Was he just trying to safeguard them from getting involved with idolatry, or was he addressing a problem that was already present (there involvement in idolatrous practices, cf. verses 14-29)?

That’s irrelevant to the specific promise in 10:13.

Paul is both warning the Corinthians to avoid idolatry as well as calling on those who may already be involved in such idolatry to repent, take the way of escape provided by God, and flee from idolatry in the future.

Really? 10:13 has reference to those who have already succumbed to the temptation in question? But in that case, God did allow them to be tempted beyond their powers of resistance. In that case, God broke his promise.

Is that what Arminian theology entails? God makes promises that God can’t keep?

If he was addressing their present involvement in idolatry at all (and surely he was), then are we to conclude that Paul saw them as a bunch of apostates without hope?

i) The Corinthians are a mixed multitude. We can’t very well talk about the spiritual status of the Corinthians in general. That varies from one individual to the next. Likewise, not as if OT Jews were all of a kind.

ii) Apropos (i), remember that 1 Corthinians is a public letter, addressed to the whole congregation–which is, itself, a someone fluid body, having a certain amount of turnover from one time to another.

In the nature of the case, what Paul says is applicable to some, but not to others.

There simply is no necessary correlation between idolatry and apostasy in the context of 1 Cor. 10:13, despite Steve’s claims. The context has to do with various degrees of rebellion against God which can take many forms (and one could consider just about any sin as a type of rebellion). It can be the rebellion of craving things beyond what God has provided. It can be the rebellion of complaining about present situations, or grumbling against God in doubts or frustration (or against those God has called us to serve and obey). It can also be the rebellion of idolatrous acts of various degrees, even to the degree of apostasy. But nothing in the context forces us to limit any and all of these types of rebellion to the exclusive rebellion of finally denying the faith.

Paul doesn’t rank these sins on a scale of culpability. Ben is superimposing that on the text.

Since Steve sees Garland as a credible source, it might serve us well to see what he has to say on the matter…
A few important things to notice here: First, the significant point of the uniform Pauline usage of apollysthai as a reference to “eternal final destruction”. That presents a considerable challenge to any interpreter who wants to try to soften the use of the word here. Generally, the only ones who are willing to soften the word here do so in an effort to uphold their Calvinist doctrine (i.e. the argument for suggesting the word is being used in a way that is contrary to uniform Pauline usage, is based not on context, but on the belief in inevitable perseverance).

Since Garland is Arminian, it comes as no surprise that he rejects the perseverance of the saints. So what?

Did I ever indicate that Garland agrees with Calvinism? No. In fact, I even said he’s a non-Calvinist when I cited him.

Second, Garland clearly sees this as a genuine act of idolatry (rather than an imagined or unintentional act as Steve is trying to argue for), which can culminate in “rejoin[ing] the ranks of the perishing”.

i) Ben suffers from a lack of basic reading skills. Did I ever suggest that idolatry issues from an unintentional action? No. Just the opposite. Ben is the one who was trying to dichotomize the act from the intention, not me.

ii) Moreover, if Garland thinks that idolatry is spiritually fatal, then how is that at odds with my position? Wouldn’t that support the link between idolatry and apostasy?

Unless the probability of violating the warning is zero (i.e. impossible). In that case there is no reason to give the warning in the first place since the consequences cannot possibly be realized.

That’s a silly objection since the warning is, itself, a deterrent.

To suggest that the warnings are a means by which God guarantees the perseverance of the saints (i.e. God makes sure that the “elect” will always heed the warnings), is not a conclusion based on exegesis (since the Bible nowhere makes such a claim), but an assumption that is read into such warnings for the sake of preserving the P in TULIP.

i) Of course, that’s raw assertion.

ii) Moreover, there are classical Arminians (in contrast to Wesleyan Arminians) who also affirm the perseverance of the saints. So Ben will have to argue, not only against Calvinists, but also against some fellow Arminians (like Dan Chapa).

[Hays] The Reformed doctrine of the atonement isn’t based on verses which simply state that Christ died for X. Rather, it involves verses which describe penal substitution.
[Ben] Which, if true, only serves to further illustrate how problematic Reformed doctrine is, since one is then forced to see Christ dying for the non-elect for a purpose other than their salvation (something the Bible nowhere suggests).

How does that even begin to follow from what I actually said? How does Ben infer from my statement that Christ died for the reprobate?

Furthermore, this illustrates that Calvinists, unlike Arminians, do not formulate their views on the extent of the atonement based on those passages which speak directly to the scope of atonement (e.g. the universal language of John 3:16-18, 36; 1 Tim. 2:1-6; 4:10; Hebrews 2:9, etc.).

i) I can quote non-Calvinist scholars who interpret these verses consistent with Calvinism.

ii) For that matter, it’s not as if Arminians have a prima facie claim on those verses. They’re in a tug-of-war with the universalists.

[Hays] False dilemma. Idolatry involves idolatrous intent. Not simply eating meat which happens to be dedicated to an idol–by someone else. But eating such meat with the express intention of honoring the deity to whom it was dedicated.
Paul, himself, goes out of his way to accentuate the importance of intent to distinguish true idolatry from incidental appearances.
[Ben] This is an interesting claim, but without any “supporting argument”. Nowhere in the passage does Paul say the weak believer’s actions are unintentional.

Once again, how does that even begin to follow from what I actually wrote? How does he infer from my statement that the actions of the weaker brethren are unintentional? You have to wonder how Ben’s mind works–or doesn’t,

Before I wrap up this segment, I want to quote some material which an anonymous commenter introduced into the record over at Reppert’s blog:

As Ciampa and Rosner point out in New Testament Commentary on the Old (ed. Beale and Carson) points out, 1 Cor. 10 is rife with allusion to OT APOSTASY from the covenant. These people were FOREVER CUT OFF, EXPELLED from the covenant.

Also, as Ciampa and Rosner point out, in the *scholarly* commentary, that, based on Paul’s HEAVY reliance and allusions to the OT in this passage (i.e., 10:1-13), it makes sense to place the "common to man" referent back in the OT as well, i.e., Numb. 5:6. They cite Josephus Ant 1.22 as in agreement (same with garland: 2003). This "common to man" should be "understood in the context of the warning examples [Paul] has just enumerated and the exhortation to flee idolatry that immediately follows" (Note: in the OT idolatry got you forever EXPELLED from the covenant. No coming back from stoning.)

They point out that the "Evidence suggests that the OT and early Judaism considered idolatry the most human of all temptations" cf. Rosner's Greed and Idolatry and Beale's We Become what we Worship).

Continuing, Rosner and Ciampa agree with Thiselton (can't get better than that) that another basic point of the passage is to shoot down the idea that the **temptation** is what necessitates a sin. "That God does not allow us to be exposed to irresistible temptations is a reflection of his faithfulness." This is what happened with those OT covenant members who did not bend the knee and commit idolatry. God was faithful.

These are some of THE BEST exegetes working today. Not only that, they showed that the historical evidence and interpretation is opposed to what Robert et al claim for this passage.

Oropeza also takes this passage to teach on apostasy, not just any ole garden-variety temptation.

The passage is consistent with Calvinism (and I'd argue demands it), and the 'common to man' argument has been answered.

I take it that he disagrees with Rosner I a brilliant exegete, I might add), when Rosner says, "In the Bible there is no more serious charge than that of idolatry. Idolatry called fir the strictest punishment, elicited the most disdainful polemic, prompted the most extreme measures of avoidance, and was regarded as the chief identifying characteristic of those who were the very antithesis of the people of God, namely, the Gentiles. Fundamental to Israel's life and faith were the first commandment and its exposition in the Shema, which from early in the nation's history were thought to touch every aspect of its life. The early church likewise treated idol worship with the utmost seriousness.

Idolatry is the ultimate expression of unfaithfulness to God and is for that reason the occasion for severe divine punishment.


It is not just that idolatry was one vice among many of which the heathen were guilty; rather, idolatry is a defining feature of the heathen, whose life is characterized inevitably by this sin. ... These sins are the only vices in the Pauline letters that are considered to be such a threat that they must be 'shunned' or 'fled' (I Cor. 6:18; 10:14). Opposition to idolatry was in effect a drawing of group boundaries for the people of God, set within the wider framework of their identity and self-definition. In making clear what they stood for, they emphasized what they stood against. (Rosner. _Idolatry_, "New Dictionary of Biblical Theology" (eds. Alexander, Rosner, Carson, Goldsworthy, IVP, 2000, reprint, 2006, p.570, 571).

Back to Ben:

It needs to be mentioned that if Steve’s claims are accepted, then he has essentially robbed us of one of the most precious promises that Scripture offers. His claims concerning 1 Cor. 10:13 would lead to the conclusion that no Christian can rely on God’s faithfulness in providing a way of escape whenever they are tempted to sin. Rather, the believer can only rest in the reality that temptation may often overcome us in such a way that we were entirely powerless to resist…This is a terrible price to pay, in revoking such an important promise of God to believers, for the sake of preserving exhaustive determinism.

i) What does the Arminian version of the promise amount to, anyway? God has given us resistible grace so that, when we find ourselves tempted to sin, we have all this resistible grace which, in the face of temptation, we can always counteract or forgo--– and thereby succumb to temptation. That’s the “precious promise” that I’ve revoked.

To be “robbed” of resistible grace–which, being resistible, is functionally indistinguishable from the total absence of grace. Yes, that’s quite a loss.

ii) Ben also commits a logical fallacy. To say that God will protect his own from falling into apostasy is not to say that God will never protect his own from any other sin at any other time and place–much less that we are powerless to resist in every other situation. His inference is clearly invalid.

To say that God will do X for you in this case doesn’t mean that God will never do X for you in some other case. It merely means that, in one type of case, there’s a general policy in place.

steve said...
arminianperspectives said...

Actually, this is exactly what Fitzmyer does in the provided quote, and the best interpretation he ‘arrives at is the one that contradicts Steve's claims and demonstrates his misuse of the quote (the very point I have repeatedly made that Steve continues to deny, even in the face of such plain evidence).

Here is Fitzmyer’s verbatim conclusion: “In this context, Paul seems to be thinking primarily of trials involving idol meat or seduction to idolatry.”

Since, in Scripture, the sin of idolatry is a paradigm-case of apostasy–as Fitzmyer himself documents in the run-up to this verse)–Fitzmyer’s conclusion confirms rather than contradicts my position.

But Christians may also rely on God for the ekbasis of lesser struggles throughout the course of life [and here he states a conlusion, which flatly contradicts Hays' view.

i) That is not how he concludes his interpretation of 10:13. I just quoted his actual conclusion.

ii) Moreover, that statement doesn’t “flatly contradict” my position. The fact that God provides a way out in case of apostasy doesn’t imply that God never provides away out in lesser cases. Rather, we have a general promise in the special case of apostasy. Ben’s inference is logically fallacious.

Notice he sets this against the eshcatological trial view.

He compares the two, but he doesn’t reject the eschatological referent.

…trials involving idol meat are simply a specific example of the ‘lesser struggles throughout the course of life.’

Idolatry is hardly a case of “lesser struggles.” Rather, as Fitzmyer documents in the verses leading up to 13, idolatry is a grave sin. Indeed, a paradigm-case of apostasy.

[So what we see is Fitzmyer reviewing some options and concluding with a view that contradicts Hays'.]

Ben isn’t getting that from Fitzmyer. Rather, Ben is filtering a statement by Fitzmyer through Ben’s mitigating position that idolatry is a “lesser struggle”–rather than a paradigm-case of apostasy.

BTW, it’s striking to see how Ben has to trivialize the sin of idolatry to justify his Arminian precommitments. To be Arminian, you must be a closet antinomian.

Steve, let me ask you a simple question or two. Is Paul saying that we can rely on God for the way of escape when facing any sin or is he saying that we can only rely on God for a way of escape for the specific sin of apostasy.

As per 1 Cor 10:13, what’s in view is the specific sin of apostasy (or sins which terminate in apostasy).

I ask this because you seem to now concede that God provides a way of escape for both, but maybe I am misunderstanding.

What I said is that God’s promise applies in the case of apostasy. The verse is silent on other cases.

The verse doesn’t preclude the possibility that God restrains Christians in other tempting situations. It doesn’t address that question one way or the other. It’s neutral on particular issue.

We’d have to look elsewhere in Scripture to see if there’s an answer to that question. I’d add that, in principle, God could restrain some Christians some of the time–depending on his overall purpose.

Also, do you think that the Corinthians that Paul was writing to were already engaged in idolatry? Or was Paul just warning them about something that none of them had engaged in? And if Paul was warning them about something they had already engaged in, then was Paul warning those he believed to have already committed apostasy.

It isn’t possible to give a general answer to that question since the Corinthian congregation included different individuals in different situations.

Oh, so Fitzmyer meant that grumbling and complaining always and inevitably leads to idolatry?

You accuse me of misreading Fitzmyer. You then interpolate a caveat which he never stated or implied–a caveat which is crucial to your own argument. You’re not getting that from Fitzmyer.

Oh, and since you are such an influential guy, why don't you contact Fitzmyer and put an end to this debate over what his intentions were in writing what he wrote?

I’ll contact Fitzmyer as soon as you contact Calvin and Matthew Henry to clarify their intentions.

Bible reading habits

From J.I. Packer:
Reading the Bible

Let us read the Bible then — if we can. But can we? The truth is that many of us have lost the ability to read the Bible. When we open our Bibles, we do so in a frame of mind which forms an insuperable barrier to our ever reading it at all. This may sound startling, but it is not hard to show that it is true.

When you sit down to any other book, you treat it as a unit. You look for the plot, or the main thread of the argument, and follow it through to the end. You let the author's mind lead yours. Whether or not you allow yourself to "dip" before settling down to the book properly, you know that you will not have understood it till you have been through it from start to finish, and if it is a book that you want to understand you set aside time to read it in full. But when we come to Holy Scripture, our behaviour is different. In the first place, we are in the habit of not treating it as a book — a unit — at all, but simply as a collection of separate stories and sayings. We take it for granted before we look at the text that the burden of them — or, at least, of as many of them as affect us — is either moral advice or comfort for those in trouble. So we read them (when we do) in small doses, a few verses at a time. We do not go through individual books, let alone the two complete Testaments, as a single whole. We browse through the rich old Jacobean periods of the Authorised Version, waiting for something to strike us. When the words bring to our minds a soothing thought or a pleasant picture, we feel that the Bible has done its job for us. It seems that the Bible is for us not a book, but a collection of beautiful and suggestive snippets, and it is as such that we use it. The result is that we never read the Bible at all. We take it for granted that we are handling Holy Writ in the truly religious way; but in truth, our use of it is more than a little superstitious. It is the way of natural religiosity, perhaps, but not of true religion.

For God does not mean Bible-reading to function simply as a drug for fretful minds. The reading of Scripture is intended to awaken our minds, not to send them to sleep. God asks us to approach Scripture as His Word — a message addressed to rational creatures, men with minds; a message which we cannot expect to understand without thinking about it. "Come now, and let us reason together," said God to Judah through Isaiah (Isa. 1:18), and He says the same to us every time we take up His book. He has, indeed, taught us to pray for divine enlightenment as we read — "open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Ps. 119:18); but this is a prayer that God will enable us to think about His Word with insight, and we effectively prevent its being answered if after offering it we make our minds a blank and stop thinking as we read. Again, God asks us to read the Bible as a book — a single story with a single theme. We are to read it as a whole, and as we read, we are to ask ourselves: what is the plot of this book? What is its real subject? What is it really about? Unless we ask these questions, we shall never reach the point from which we can see what it is saying to us about our own individual lives.

When we do reach this point, we shall find that God's real message to us is more drastic, and at the same time more heartening, than anything that human religiosity could conceive.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"Far worse than Hitler"


“The God of Calvinism is not Hitlerian. He is the very same God of Arminianism. But the logical implications of distinctive Calvinist doctrine make him (the God we both worship) out to be Hitlerian and far worse.”

I’m gratified to see that “Arminian” and I are making progress. Instead of saying the God of Calvinism is logically "worse than Hitler,” “Arminian” now says the God of Calvinism is logically “far worse than Hitler.”

I can’t tell you what a relief that is. For a moment, there, I was worried that the object of my worship was merely worse than Hitler. I can’t begin to express what a load that takes of off my mind to learn the object of my worship is, in fact, far worse than Hitler.

I do wish to thank “Arminian” for his clarification.

“It makes all the difference in the world.”


“You conveniently left out the more accurate example I gave, which illustrates the differnce.”

No, I dealt with your example.

“Secondly, I would not approve of blanketly saying that Calvinists are like Nazis.”

So as long as the blanket doesn’t cover the outer extremities, you’d approve?

“I would have to look at Robert's argument again to detemrine if there is anything to his comparison, but granting that there is for the sake of argument, I think it would be acceptable to say that Calvinist beliefs are like Nazi beliefs in certain respects.”

Fine. I just want to make sure that everyone is clear on the real standards of Arminian discourse.

“Because it would not be claiming God is such and such, but that the Calvinist view logically implies him to be such and such. It is pointing out a problem with Calvinist theology, and that should be perfectly fine, just as it is perfectly fine for Calvinists to point out what they believe to be problems with Arminian theology. This seems very obvious and basic. Are you really suggesting that Calvinists and Arminians should not point out problems with one another's theology? That would condemn much of what you write. Are you suggesting that it is unloving or uncivil for an Arminian or Calvinist to point out what he believes to be problematic logical implications with the other theology? That would condemn much of what you write as unloving and uncivil.”

What’s you’re problem, exactly? Are you just playing dumb now? Arminians like Billy Birch and Robert constantly complain about the tone of Triablogue.

If, however, any comparison, however onerous, can be justified by the claiming the accuser is simply drawing out the logical conclusions of the opposing position, then a Calvinist can help himself to the identical justification. Yet I don’t see Robert or Billy or other Arminians who harp and hype on matters of tone accord Reformed bloggers the same out.

The fact that you can’t see any inconsistency in this regard is damning evidence that you’re just another Arminian chauvinist who can only see the faults of the other team, but never of his own team. And, unfortunately, that’s endemic in the Arminian blogosphere.

“I have explained the big difference above as well as in the previous post. And you specifically say that I say what I have argued against saying. I have specifcally said that any such implications are not to be attributed to the God of Calvinism, for the God of Calvinism and the God of Arminianism are the same God. Arminians and Calvinists worship the same God, but have different beliefs about some of the things he does and the logical implications of what they believe he does. This is a huge problem for much of your response. I don't attribute anything bad to the God of Calvinism, though I think the distinctive Calvinistic conception of God has horrible logical implications.”

i) Your explanation is nonsensical. You’re trying to drive a wedge between a concept and what a concept entails. But whatever a concept entails is part of the concept. That’s the point of logical entailment. A concept is inclusive of whatever it entails. A logical unit.

ii) Perhaps what you’re attempting to do, in your muddled way, is to differentiate between logic and psychology. It is possible to distinguish between what people consciously believe, and what their beliefs logically commit them to.

That’s valid up to a point, but there’s a point at which it breaks down–as we shall see.

“There's that equivocation of yours of the distinctive Calvinst conception of God and the Calvimist God. I would not say that the Calvinist God is Hitlerian. He is my God too. But the distinctive Calvinist conception of God logically implies him to be Hitlerian and worse. Thankfully, Calvinists do not believe what their theology implies (just as Arminians do not believe what Calvinists think their theology implies).”

That alibi might work for simple, unsophisticated believers. But it won’t fly when dealing with highly sophisticated Chrisitan philosophers and theologians. And there are many degrees in-between.

It won’t do for you to say that astute Reformed thinkers just haven’t thought through the ramifications of their belief-system.

“You are sounding like a hyper-Calvinist who thinks Calvinists and Arminians do not worship the same God and that Arminians are not saved?”

And you are redefining “hyper-Calvinist” in a polemical, eccentric sense of the word.

“And that is a big problem. And frankly, it would blow any credibility you have.”

i) You must be pretty egotistical to think you set the standards of credibility.

ii) For that matter, I don’t happen think that somebody who compares Calvinists and Calvinism to Nazis and Klansmen, even in your backhanded fashion, rates very high on the credibility meter.

iii) In addition, credibility is irrelevant in this context. Credibility is pertinent in evaluating testimonial evidence–where we depend eyewitnesses or expert witnesses for things we can’t verify on our own.

But when it comes to the pros and cons of Calvinism and Arminianism, credibility is beside the point. All that matters is the quality of the argumentation, which any competent individual can assess for himself.

“So are you a hyperCalvinist who thinks Calvinists and Arminains worship different Gods or that Arminians are not saved?”

Why do you think I’d have a general opinion on the salvation of Arminian individuals? Arminians range along a spectrum. At one end are Arminians who don’t know any better. Arminians who are saved by the God of Calvinism–despite what they believe to the contrary.

At the other end are Arminians who have a take-no-prisoners view of Reformed theology. Then you have a lot of folks in-between.

One issue is how seriously you expect me to take Arminians who say the God of Calvinism is worse than Moloch, worse than Satan, worse than Hitler.

If you expect me to take them at their word, then why should I cut them any slack when they have gone out of their way to polarize the two positions, with no middle ground?

I could try to make excuses for them. Say they’re saved in spite of what they believe about the one true God. I could say there are degrees of error. That it’s not an all-or-nothing affair.

Yet, since you don’t think they’re wrong, you don’t think that God will save them despite what they think of him. If I’m excusing Arminians on grounds which Arminians reject, then your question generates a dilemma. And if I stick with your framework, then I can give two different answers to your question:

i)Arminians commit a forgivable sin because the poor schmucks are too thick-headed to grasp the consequences of their own position.

ii)Arminians commit an unforgivable sin because they do grasp the consequences of their own position–thereby sinning against the light.

Which answer do you prefer?

“Indeed, I assume I am wrong about some things about him that I am not aware of. That doesn't mean I worship a false God. This seems very basic and obvious”

What is very basic and obvious is that your distinction ranges along a continuum. Even a Baal-worshiper may believe some true things about God.

“Of course not. You seem to be begging the question again. You posit 2 different gods here and ask about how it works if one thinks he worships one when actually worshipping the other. That's bizarre. The case with Arminians and Calvinists is that they both worship the same God yet one or both are worng about some things about him. It is self-evident that someone can be wrong about something about someone yet still be thinking about the same person and relating to the same person.”

Comparisons with Hitler, Satan, the Imperial Wizard, and so on don’t leave much leeway. Rather, it’s a way of depicting the God of Calvinism as the utter antithesis of all that’s right and true.

“But on your (erroneous) logic, if the Arminians are right, doesn't that make you blasphemers?”

I’m prepared to accept that hypothetical.

“More than that, if the Arminians are right, how do you think he will feel about the Triablogue post calling him a stupid pansy? That really is uncivil and blasphemous since it is a direct attack on the true and living God, the God worshipped by both Calvinists and Arminians.”

Why would you say such a thing? What if Pike is simply explicating the logical implications of Arminian theism?

“Well, I am not here to speak for Robert, but . . . because Robert should not be the standard of your behavior.”

That’s an evasion. The question is whether or not other Arminians agree with him. If not, then they should disown his statements.

If they don’t disown his statements, then either they agree with him, or else they disagree–but can’t bring themselves to violate the Arminian Omertà.

“Well, I have said that Robert may have gone over the line.”

What you’ve done is to hedge your bets with these noncommittal, throwaway disclaimers.

“I am more interested in a broader principle you seem to be denying, that it is perfectly civil to draw out what one thinks to be the objectionable logical implications of certain doctrine.”

So Pike’s comparison was perfectly loving.

“Moreover, I have actually identified an example of what would go over the line. Lots would go over the line. Saying the Calvinist God is Hitler or Hitelerian would count.”

Except that when we read the fine print, you have a way of glossing that to excuse and justify his statement.

“Calling the Arminian God a stupid pansy would count.”

Why? Suppose that’s what Arminianism logically entails? Or do do object to Pike’s statement merely because he didn’t tack on a little escape clause about “logical implications”?

“Or insulting the person you are discussing with would count, something you seem to do a lot.”

Does comparing Calvinists to Nazis and Klansmen count?

“It seems strange that you would ask me what would go over the line when I have already identified something that would while also saying what would not.”

That’s because you want to change the subject and substitute hypothetical examples in lieu of Robert’s concrete example.

Favorite hymns

A friend asked me to recommend some classic hymns. Off the top of my head, here are some of my personal favorites:

Amazing Grace

Be thou my vision

Come, thou Fount of every blessing

God moves in a mysterious way

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah

I look from afar

I need thee every hour

I'll praise my Maker while I've breath

Now thank we all our God

O come, O come Emmanuel

O God, our help in ages past

On Jordan's stormy banks I stand

Sometimes a light surprises

A theology of thanksgiving

Before I delve into the specifics, I want to make a general point. What is Calvinism? Calvinism is a theology of thanksgiving. It’s also a theology of hope.

God wrote the whole story of the world. Brought all his wisdom and goodness to bear in writing the story.

God didn’t outsource the story of the world to hack writers and script doctors. God doesn’t rely on an essay mill for his material.

I don’t trust the devil to write any part of the story. We don’t trust sinners to write any part of the story.

Do you really want Genghis Khan to have a hand in writing part of the story? What if you’re one of his victims? Do you want to be the victim of his authorship? Do you want to be a character in his twisted narrative, where he decides your fate? Where his values dictate the shape of the narrative?

However you cut it, we live in a fallen world. A world with evil men and evil events. Whose values do you want shaping that story?

A Calvinist thanks God even for the villains because we trust God to know what he’s doing. Either way we have evil. It’s not as if the world of the Arminian or open theist or universalist is a painless world.

Now, it’s easy to thank God for the nice things, the pleasant things. It takes an act of faith to thank God for the hard providences.

Still, Calvinism cultivates a spirit of thanksgiving. It fosters an expectation in which we seek, and hope to find, in this life or the next, the good in whatever God has purposed. Sometimes his wisdom is evident, at other times–inevident.

His wisdom is inevident to the degree that you can’t fully appreciate a story until you know the end of the story. And we haven’t read the ending yet. You and I are not at that point in the story. We don’t know how it all comes out.

We know that God wins. And we know that his people win. His win is their win. We know the bad guys lose.

But why any particular thing happens the way it does can only be seen with the benefit of hindsight. The emerging pattern can only be perceived in retrospect.

Like reading a good book. You don’t know, as you read the story, where it’s going. The story raises many questions. It’s only when the novelist ties up all the loose ends that you can look back and appreciate all the preceding events.

So we live in hope. For a theology of thanksgiving is also a theology of hope. They’re two different perspectives on our position in time. Hope looks forward while thanksgiving looks backward.

The alternative to a theology of hope and thanksgiving is a theology of suspicions and recrimination. Someone who’s consistent with this outlook views God the way a juvenile delinquent views his old man. On the one hand, he wants dad to get off his back. Stop meddling in his life. Itches for the freedom to do his own thing.

On the other hand, he likes having dad around just in case he gets in trouble with the law and lands in the paddy wagon. Dad is generally a nuisance, but you should keep him on speed-dial just in case you need him to drive down to the pokey and bail you out.

The delinquent doesn’t love his father. Rather, he loves his freedom. But he loves to have his father available in a pinch.

Moving along:

Robert said...

“I posted this before but received no response from Steve Hays then, so I repost it here to make sure that he sees it:Hays is making reference to Romans 2:5 here. That verse is talking about nonbelievers (‘because of your stubborn and unrepentant heart’) who by their continual sinning are ‘storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath’. In Hays’ theology that verse is referring to reprobates.”

Really? Both Tom Schreiner and John Murray wrote full-length commentaries on Romans, yet I don’t see them construe the verse in quite those terms.

Rather, the verse is a warning to impudent, impenitent sinners. A warning against spiritual presumption, and the consequences thereof.

“Steve Hays direct question for you: Are you claiming that I am a reprobate?”

I’m claiming that when you throw around invidious comparisons with Satan, Klansman, and Nazis, that you’re stacking firewood which will be used against you on the day of judgment unless you repent.

“Drwayman one of the things you have to keep in mind when dealing with a theological determinist like Steve Hays is that they deny the common and ordinary understanding of foreknowledge that most Christians have held throughout church history and even today.”

Most Christians throughout history never read the NT. Most of them were illiterate. Most of them had no Bibles. And most of them didn’t read the Hebrew OT or the Greek NT. Robert’s claim is utterly fatuous.

“The normal understanding of foreknowledge is simply that God foreknows the future event and so that even will occur with certainty.”

i) Arminian Ben Witherington denies that “normal understanding” in his commentary on Romans. Arminian Robert Hamilton denies that “normal understanding” in his exposition of Rom 9. Jesuit Joseph Fitzmyer denies that “normal understanding” in his commentary on Rom 9. Likewise, N. T. Wright (no Calvinist) denies that “normal understanding” in his commentary on Romans. Non-Calvinists who construe the verb the same way a Calvinist does.

ii) Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that Robert’s statement is correct, then if foreknowledge renders the outcome certain (notice that this is something Robert volunteers), it cannot go either way.

“But you need to know and keep in mind that a person like Hays denies this understanding of foreknowledge. For them, God **cannot** foreknow a future event if libertarian free will is involved.”

And many non-Calvinist philosophers agree.

“Furthermore, according to their understanding of foreknowledge, they believe that GOD ONLY FOREKNOWS WHAT HE ORDAINS. So God only foreknows a future event as occurring because he preplanned for it to occur as part of his secret all encompassing total plan, his ‘sovereign will,’ and he then ensures that it takes place by controlling all things and making things happen in line with the total plan.”

Just like Isaiah grounds God’s knowledge of the future in his plan for the future (Isa 46:10-11).

I’d add that Arminian John Oswalt, in his commentary on Isaiah, confirms that linkage.

“Now the reason I bring these things up is because if God only foreknows what he ordains, then when it comes to perpetual nonbelievers, what they call ‘reprobates’. God does not foreknow in the ordinary understanding that these people will repeatedly reject God and so end up as nonbelievers. Hays cannot borrow from our view and claim that God foreknows what these people will do (i.e. that they will sin) and then deals with them in response to what they have freely chosen to do (in his view free will as ordinarily understood does not exist, cannot exist as God has predecided everything and no one can do other than what God chose for them to do).”

Why would God merely be responding to what they do? Is God a first-responder who can foresee a catastrophe, do nothing to avert it, but only send the ambulance after it happens?

“No, instead, the god of determinism makes people into whatever they are, makes them do whatever they do, whatever they are whether elect or reprobate, whatever they do, is completely dependent upon what God makes them to be and do.”

Imagine saying that every creature is completely dependent on God!

“It is as if the whole creation and human persons are tinker toys that God first decides what they will be, then goes ahead and constructs them to be what he had already decided for them to be.”

It is as if the whole creation is clay that the potter first decides how to shape, then carries out his plan.

You see that Robert’s outlook represents the theology of suspicion and recrimination. Note his instinctual distrust and seething animosity towards the very notion of a Creator and Lord–on whom he’s totally dependent. Robert can’t stand the idea that he’s merely a creature. God can’t stand the idea that God rules over him. Robert wants to be, at the very least, a demigod. Here is Robert’s gospel:

You said in your heart,
'I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.'

If you listen to the way so many internet Arminians talk, you’d think the best God is the least God. We want just enough God to make “provision of salvation” in case we screw up, but we want God out of our hair the rest of the time.

“And in this fantasy land of the determinist imagination, God chose them to be the lucky ones who get to at some time become believers. The so-called ‘reprobates’ on the other hand, are not so lucky because God decided to damn them before they did anything (not foreknowing that they would sin and then condemning them, remember according to the determinist God can’t do that, he can’t foreknow some future event unless he predetermined it). So God damns them first in his plan and THEN CARRIES OUT THIS PLAN as world history.”

i) Unless Robert supposes that God made the world without any forethought regarding what world he would make, then, in the nature of the case, God’s intentions are prior to the world he intends to make. Naturally they hadn’t done anything as of yet–since they didn’t even exist as of yet. Their very existence is the result of a divine decision–a decision which is, as it must be, prior to the result.

And, yes, a plan is prior to the implementation of a plan. Or is Robert an open theist? Does he think God is improvising? Trial-and-error, like Dawkins’ blind watchmaker?

ii) As to foreknowing what they would do, if what they do could go either way (the freedom to do otherwise), then there’s no one thing they would do, is there? The future is open. Forking paths. Alternate timelines.

“In eternity according to the theological determinist, when no human persons existed and when no actions had been done by any human persons, God conceives of the total plan including how many human persons there would be…”

Once again, does Robert think that God has no idea how the story will turn out? Does he think creation is a shot in the dark? A blind experiment? God sets something in motion, then sits back to see what will happen?

“It is like entrapment on a universal scale, where the ‘criminal’ is set up to do the ‘crime’ that the police want him to do so they can convict him of a crime and then condemn him and execute him for doing the very crime he was **set up to commit**. And then the police say: ‘but he had it commin since he did the crime so his execution is deserved!’”

i) Is “entrapment” always a bad thing? For example, is it a bad thing to smoke out pedophiles before they have a chance to molest actual kids?

ii) Moreover, there’s no one thing that a merely possible person could possibly do. Different hypothetical outcomes are logically possible.

When God instantiates one possible outcome, he’s not making that person do something contrary to what he was going to do all along, absent God’s selection. Rather, God is selecting one possible course of action from several alternatives. Hypothetically speaking, the possible person could possibly do either A or B. If God instantiates A instead of B, or B instead of A, he isn’t “trapping” the individual, as if the individual had other plans.

“And if I am a saved person then my sins are forgiven and I am in no danger of making statements that ‘imperil’ my ‘immortal soul’.

Of course, that confuses the Reformed doctrine of perseverance with an antinomian version of eternity security–popular in Dispensational circles.

“In that case, why is Hays warning me about imperiling my immortal soul (because according to his theology if I am elect whether calvinist or not, my salvation is assured and there is nothing that I can do to imperil my immortal soul). So if I am a reprobate, then the warning is useless and inapplicable as it won’t change anything and if I am elect, then the warning is also useless and inapplicable because as an elect person there is nothing that I can do to imperil my immortal soul.”

Once again, that confuses the Reformed doctrine of perseverance with an antinomian version of eternal security.

“First of all, this ASSUMES that Calvinism is true. But what if CALVINISM IS NOT TRUE? I have no qualms or hesitancy in saying that I attack Calvinism and believe it to be a false theology. If I am correct, then my attacks against this false theology are justified, whether Hays appreciates them or not. I am involved in protecting the church from a false theology that has divided the church and dishonored God and his character.”

i) Calvinism is no more “divisive” than any other “ism” in the history of the church. You don’t see Robert attacking other “isms” like, say, Dispensationalism.

ii) Out of curiosity, I ran Robert’s Nazi/Klansman comparisons by I. H. Marshall. His response: “This kind of emotional venom is best ignored, but its authors need our prayers, and we need to speak the truth in love” (private email, 9/29/09).

Back to Robert:

“Second, Hays is aghast at my analogy which he cites here and I will be glad to further explain it soon.”

Where did I ever indicate that I was “aghast”? Not at all. It’s useful to see Robert reveal the true character of his belief-system. Robert is a great evangelist for Calvinism.

“And yet Hays engages in ‘incendiary’ and what I would see as inappropriate analogies of Arminian beliefs, Catholic beliefs, Eastern Orthodox beliefs, etc. etc.”

To set the historical record straight: consider all the choice language, not to mention the coercive penalties, which Leo X resorts to in his bull excommunicating Martin Luther.

Consider the fact that the Orthodox church regards evangelicals as heretics and persecutes evangelical missionaries.

Consider the fact that Arminius calls the pope a “pimp,” “pander,” adulterer,” and “false prophet”–as well as the “Antichrist.” He also accuses the pope of using “satanic” instruments” to achieve his aims.

Consider that John and Charles Wesley use terms like “blasphemy,” “worse than Moloch,” and “worse than Satan” in their characterization of Calvinism.

My own rhetoric is quite tame compared to the traditions I critique.

“And his attacks are OK and justified, while mine/and others, are not. If mine/and others are not OK neither are his. But he wants to operate according to a double standard where he can attack other person’s beliefs while others are not allowed to attack his own false Calvinistic beliefs.”

i) Deliberately and demonstrably false. I’ve never taken the position that harsh, judgmental language is ipso facto wrong. In fact, I’ve often explained in some detail why that’s sometimes justifiable. Robert is imputing to me a standard he knows perfectly well I reject.

ii) Conversely, Robert is the one who is constantly harping on genteel standards of Christian discourse (“kind,” “gentle,” “respectful.”).

He holds me to a standard which I reject while he refuses to hold himself to his very own standard!

“On the other hand, if I am a genuine Christian then Hays’ attacks are completely out of line and he is making serious charges that are false about one of God’s own, and God is watching all of this.”

That doesn’t stop Robert from venting his scurrilous charges against Reformed believers. What if he’s making false charges, not only about God’s own, but about God himself?

“Third in response to his comment here my question then becomes: How so? If I am a Christian (and I have years of personal experience as a Christian…”

Robert’s self-testimony as his own character witness. Very convincing!

“And a solid testimony among those who know me personally)”

Robert claiming to have others who will vouch for him. Notice that all this is filtered through Robert as the only news outlet. Why aren’t they actually speaking up for him? Why don’t they come forward. Let’s see some verifiable names. Let’s cross-examine them.

“Then why would God give me this great Christian life and experience for years, a ministry that has been involved in the conversion and discipleship of many people, a great marriage and family life, satisfying local church involvement.”

Since Robert conceals his true identity, Robert’s evidence boils down to this: “I’m trustworthy! If you don’t believe it, just ask me!”

“Fourth Hays forgets his own false and misguided theology here. If I am a reprobate as Hays claims…”

He imputes to me a claim I never made, then accuses me of inconsistency! Robert writes the play and plays all the parts. Does he perform in his attic before an audience of Barbie dolls and stuffed animals?

“Fifth there is a problem about Hays claiming that I am a reprobate.”

Which I haven’t. It is, however, rather telling when somebody is so defensive about an indictment that was never made. People who feel the need to constantly assure you that they didn’t commit of the crime, when no one accused them, act exactly the way you’d expect nervous people to act who are on the lam and perpetually afraid of being apprehended. Unless Robert is fearful of being found out, why does he keep denying a charge I never made? Why does he keep peering through the blinds of the motel room window to see if the cops are pulling into the parking lot?

“Unless Hays has some inside information from God himself there is no way that he could know that I was a reprobate.”

Actually, the motel clerk tipped me off to Robert’s suspicious behavior. Little things–like seeing him pull a heavy, lumpy, blanketed something from the trunk of his car, drag it off into the bushes under cover of darkness–then go back to the car for a shovel. Nothing conclusive, mind you. Just a bit suggestive, that’s all.

“In that case how could Hays claim that I was a reprobate and know for sure?”

Once again, he spends an awful lot of time protesting his innocence in the teeth of a nonexistent charge. He’s making himself a suspect. If you didn’t suspect him before, his unprovoked denials suddenly make him, at the very least, a “person of interest.”

“The fact is that Hays is extremely arrogant to claim that I am a reprobate when he is not in the position to know that.”

Once again, Robert is like a red-faced, fist-shaking man who barges into the police station shouting, “I didn’t kill her! I didn’t! I didn’t! How dare you accuse me of murder!”–when, in fact, the startled desk officer and quizzical homicide detective have never seen him before.

“This goes back to something that I frequently observe with Steve Hays: he is an extremely arrogant and hateful person… In this case God is the ultimate racist and Hays is a good follower of this racist, displaying the same racism as his father toward the preselected ‘reprobates’.”

Can’t you just feel wave upon wave of warm, sudsy Arminian love washing up against you from Robert’s large-hearted Arminian theology?

“(If he really believed his Calvinism that all events are predetermined by God and that in each and every case people never have a choice but only and always do what they were predetermined to do, what God already chose for them to do, then why is he so harsh and angry and frustrated and hostile to people who are only doing what they have to do?”

Of course, Robert is projecting. Angry? Frustrated? Seems to me that Robert is the one hurling the emotive rhetoric, not me.

“If I believed that people espousing error or attacking the truth cannot help themselves but are only doing what God predetermined and ensures that they do, I would feel sorry for them and I would have no hostility or hatred towards them at all because they cannot help themselves.”

Well, that’s a very revealing admission, is it not? If Robert thought Calvinism were true, then he wouldn’t hate Calvinists.

But since Robert denies Calvinism is false, that mitigating factor does not apply. Therefore, by Robert’s own logic, he hates Calvinists! And his rhetoric bears that out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mother God or Father God?

I recently asked a church historian the following question:

I had a question about John and Charles Wesley. As you know, both men had a deep emotional revulsion towards the Reformed doctrine of reprobation, using epithets like “blasphemy!” “Worse that Moloch!” “Worse than Satan!” and so on.

So it was more than just a doctrinal disagreement. It really got under their skin.

This is what I was wondering. It’s a psychological truism that a man’s view of God is sometimes a projection, for better or worse, of his childhood experience with his own father. Paul Vitz did a whole book on the subject (Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism).

From what I’ve read, Samuel Wesley was a real tyrant. He was as dreadful a father as Susanna Wesley was wonderful.

I wonder if John and Charles didn’t unconsciously superimpose their unpleasant memories of Samuel Wesley onto Calvin’s God, while their own view of God was more like their beloved mother, Susannah. Do you think those emotional, subliminal associations may account for the vehemence of their reaction to Calvinism?


To which I received the following (partial) reply:

To the degree that emotional impressions may affect one’s biblical exposition and theological reflections, one would be safe to see something of the Wesleys' father as a possible suspect in the Wesleyan understanding of the decretal will of God. The Father seemed much more interested in politics than in shepherding and his arbitrariness with his daughters wrought some devastating effects in their lives, quite talented and clever in their own right.

Such absolutism perhaps seemed, cruel, unthinking, and unjust in their minds and they could not imagine that a heavenly father, infinitely perfect and loving would determine to conduct himself in the same way toward his rational creatures.

The explanations that Wesley's mother gave of certain theological ideas stayed with Wesley all his life and seemed always adequate to any occasion in polemical discussions.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Moral Blindness of the Left

WARNING: This post contains graphic quotes from court testimony and is not meant to be read by children.


It is impossible for the Left to get their priorities straight. This has been seen often in the court system where leftists victimize the perpetrator of crimes while accusing the victim of promoting the crime. Most recently, we can see this displayed in the hysterics leftist raise regarding the arrest of admitted pedophile Roman Polanski.

When Polanski was arrested in Switzerland on a 31-year-old warrant, Hollywood elitists went ballistic. A petition has been passed around the Zurich film festival stating, in part, that “Film-makers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision.”

Dismayed that an admitted pedophile is arrested?

“It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary film-makers, is used by police to apprehend him.”

And I find it inadmissible that a party in Jack Nicholson’s home, paying homage to massive Hollywood egos, is used by a pervert to rape and sodomize a 13-year-old girl. Somehow, one of these “inadmissible” behaviors is not like the other.

Producer Henning Molfenter told The Hollywood Reporter:

There is no way I'd go to Switzerland now. You can't watch films knowing Roman Polanski is sitting in a cell 5 km away.
Yes, poor Roman! He’s going through what some Polish film-makers have called a “judicial lynching” all because of something that happened back in the 70s. He’s the victim here. Not the 13-year-old Californian girl.

I mean, really, if you read the testimony of the 13-year-old, it is obvious that Roman Polanski was the true victim.

Q. What did you do then?

A. I went into the bathroom and started drying off.

Q. Did you see Mr. Polanski then?

A. Yes, he came into the bathroom.

Q. What happened at that time?

A. He asked me if I was all right, if my asthma was bad.

Q. What did you say?

A. I said that I wanted to go home because I needed to take my medicine.

Q. What did Mr. Polanski say?

A. He said, “Yeah, I’ll take you home soon.”

Q. What did you do?

A. I told him – I said that I wanted to get – I wanted to go home. I said, “No, I have to go home now.”

Q. What did Mr. Polanski say?

A. He told me to go into the other room and lie down.

Q. What did you do when he said, “Let’s go in the other room”?

A. I was going, “No, I think I better go home,” because I was afraid. So I just went and I sat down on the couch.

Q. What were you afraid of?

A. Him.

Q. What happened when you sat down on the couch?

A. He sat down beside me and asked if I was okay.

Q. What did you say, if anything?

A. I said, “No.”

Q. What did he say?

A. He goes, “Well, you’ll be better.” And I go, “No, I won’t. I have to go home.”

Q. What happened then?

A. He reached over and he kissed me. And I was telling him, “No,” you know, “keep away.” But I was kind of afraid of him because there was no one else there.

Q. After he kissed you did he say anything?

A. No.

Q. Did you say anything?

A. No, besides I was just going, “No. Come on, let’s go home.”

Q. What was said after you indicated that you wanted to go home when you were sitting on the couch?

A. He said, “I’ll take you home soon.”

Q. Then what happened?

A. And then he went down and he started performing cuddliness.

Q. What does that mean?

A. It means he went down on me or he placed his mouth on my vagina.

Q. What did he do when he placed his mouth on your vagina?

A. He was just like licking and I don’t know. I was ready to cry. I was kind of – I was going, “No. Come on. Stop it.” But I was afraid.

Q. And what did he say, if anything?

A. He wasn’t saying anything that I can remember. He was – sometimes he was saying stuff, but I was just blocking him out, you know.

Q. How long did Mr. Polanski have his mouth on your vagina?

A. A few minutes.

Q. What happened after that?

A. He started to have intercourse with me.

Q. What do you mean by intercourse?

A. He placed his penis in my vagina.

Q. What did you say, if anything, before he did that?

A. I was mostly just on and off saying, “No, stop.” But I wasn’t fighting really because I, you know, there was no one else there and I had no place to go.

Q. At any time did he ask you when your period was?

A. Yes.

Q. When was that?

A. While he was having intercourse with me.

Q. Did he ask you about being on the pill?

A. Yes.

Q. When did he say that?

A. At the same time.

Q. What did he say?

A. He asked, he goes, “Are you on the pill?” And I went, “No.” And he goes, “When did you have your period?” And I said, “I don’t know. A week or two. I’m not sure.”

Q. And what did he say?

A. He goes, “Come on. You have to remember.” And I told him I didn’t.

Q. Did he say anything after that?

A. Yes. He goes, ‘Would you want me to go in through your back?” And I went, “No.”

Q. What happened after he says, “Do you want me to – “ was it go through the back?

A. Yes.

Q. What happened then?

A. I think he said something like right after I said I was not on the pill, right before he said, “Oh, I won’t come inside of you then.” And I just went – and he goes – and then he put me – wait. Then he lifted up my legs farther and he went in through my anus.

Q. When you say he went in your anus, what do you mean by that?

A. He put his penis in my butt.

Q. Did he say anything at that time?

A. No.

Q. Did you resist at that time?

A. A little bit, but not really because – (pause)

Q. Because what?

A. Because I was afraid of him.

It must be pointed out that Roman Polanski pleaded guilty to statutory rape. In the above, we see that his victim told him “No” and to stop at every step of the way. And as we all know, “No means no.”

Unless you’re a famous Hollywood director.

Of course, that could move into a “he said, she said” type of event. Perhaps she did come on to him. But that ignores an important fact.

She was thirteen.

Some Polanski defenders have said she looked old for her age. At the time, the age of consent in California was 16 (it’s now 18). Suppose that his victim actually did look like she was 16. Polanski was 44 years old at the time. If you’re 44 years old and you’re having to wonder if the person you’re having sex with might be underage, that ought to be giving you warning bells.

In any case, since this unfortunate “event” occurred, Polanski has been forced to live in “exile” in France. And while that generally would be considered cruel and unusual punishment, his exile included multi-million dollar homes, a wife, children, an Oscar award, fame, and recognition for making slightly better crappy movies than the other crappy movies out there. The only real tragedy is that Polanski couldn’t pick up his Oscar in LA...


At root, this simple fact cannot be lost: Roman Polanski raped a 13-year-old girl. This is not in doubt—he admitted it. I don’t care if he found the cure for cancer instead of just making more money for Hollywood schlubs, he ought to be punished for his crime.

The fact that Leftists are making him into a victim shows just how morally incompetent they are.