Saturday, May 15, 2010


steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Bryan Cross said,

“We need to back up and answer a prior question. How do we rightly determine the criteria by which a bishop loses his ecclesial authority? Until we answer that question, we cannot determine objectively whether any particular bishop has or has not lost his ecclesial authority, and we thus run the risk of rebelling against a rightful ecclesial authority. That’s a very serious error that we shouldn’t trivialize or take lightly.”

Needless to say, the way Bryan frames the question is just a charade. That’s because Bryan will simply retroengineer the criterion to conform to his preconceived ecclesiology. For Bryan begins with the unfalsifiable presupposition that the church of Rome is indefectible. And he also regards the papal office as a necessary condition of Rome’s indefectibility.

As such, he’s taken off the table, before he even sits down at the table, any possibility that papal office might lose its ecclesial authority. He may grant the possibility that a particular incumbent could lose his ecclesial authority. But the office itself is immune to falsification. For the office itself is an ultimate criterion in his stipulative, aprioristic scheme.

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Andrew Preslar said,

“History gives us the necessary reasons to believe that the bishops of Rome maintained legitmate succession, both in the episcopate (by ordination) and in the Chair of St. Peter (by election). (1) As to the Roman episcopate: The episcopacy in Rome has been objectively maintained through the unbroken laying on of hands from the Apostles, which line of succession has been documented from the 2nd century to the 21st.”

I’ll make two brief comments:

i) Andrew gives a number of reasons in support of his position. However, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So even if most of his reasons were cogent, his argument only had to break down once to vitiate his claim.

Let’s consider the above:

ii) Even if we grant, for the sake of argument, seamless manual succession, this is, at best, a necessary rather than sufficient condition of valid ordination.

Besides the outward ritual there must also be the right intention on the part of the officiate and the ordinand.

However, intent is a private mental state which is inaccessible to historical verification.

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Keep in mind that whenever Bryan quotes the church fathers, he is playing with loaded dice. What distinguishes a church father from a schismatic or heretic? According to Bryan, the Roman Magisterium makes that determination. To be a church father is to be a father of the true church (i.e. the church of Rome). For that matter, the Roman Magisterium is the authentic interpreter of the consensus patrum. Therefore, the church fathers don’t prove the Magisterium; rather, the Magisterium proves the church fathers. As I say, Bryan always plays with loaded dice.

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Andrew Preslar said,

“Again, this is not a description of our position. The sacramental nature of Holy Orders, whereby grace is objectively given, is an essential aspect of Apostolic Succession > ecclesial identity/continuity > ecclesial authority (the subject of this thread) > ecclesial veracity. So anyone who wishes to find the Church that Christ founded must trace the sacramental lines of succession.”

Well, to take just one example, how would an illiterate peasant in 13C Umbria find the church? How would he be in a position to trace valid holy orders for the past 12 centuries?

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Bryan Cross said,

“The Church has understood these promises that the Spirit would be ‘with you forever’ and ‘guide you into all truth’ to be promises that the Spirit of truth would be with the Church to the end of the age, when Christ returns, guiding the Church into all truth.”

And what rescues that statement from vicious circularity?

“However, every Arian in the fourth century could have done the same thing, picking out what beliefs he thinks are essential, and then identifying the Church as those who share those beliefs.”

Not to mention all of the Arian bishops of the Arian episcopate, in apostolic succession, comprising the Arian magisterium.

“One of the ways in which he can determine whether the Church is right and he is wrong, is by examining what Christians have always and everywhere believed about the doctrine or passage or interpretation in question. In other words, he can (and should) turn to the Tradition. If his interpretation is the novelty, then he should humbly submit to the Church, and allow it to correct his interpretation; he shouldn’t presuppose ecclesial deism and some form of restorationism that starts with himself (ala Joseph Smith).”

Can’t you just imagine the Sanhedrin uses the same argument to quash Peter’s interpretation of Messianic prophecies?

And, of course, the comparison with Joseph Smith is inapt since he didn’t confine himself to the Bible. He wrote his own idiosyncratic “translation” of the Bible, and added his own “scriptures” to the Bible.

But what about Mormonism? A Mormon could also use Bryan’s circular arguments. Just imagine what fun a Mormon could have with Bryan’s ecclesiological gloss on Jn 16:13.

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Sean said,

“By all means, please start quoting schismatic ‘church fathers’ to supplement your claims. Why don’t you make a list of ‘real’ church fathers and we will only quote from those?”

I see that you’re slow on the uptake. Nothing new.

I don’t rest my argument on the church fathers. I was responding to Bryan on his own terms.

Try to do better next time.

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Perry Robinson said,

“I am wondering, is there such a thing as presuppositionally neutral dice to play with?”

So, Perry, are you admitting that you cheat at the tables?

If everybody plays with loaded dice, be it the Catholic apologist, Orthodox apologist, Lutheran apologist, Reformed apologist, &c., then is that a tacit concession on your part that all your arguments for Eastern Orthodoxy are viciously circular?

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Perry Robinson has been equivocating in his replies to TFan.

1. Perry is equivocating, as if this is an all-or-nothing issue. Scripture doesn’t have to exhaustively list what beliefs are necessary for salvation over against what beliefs are damnatory–to list some from either or both categories.

2. There’s no antecedent reason to assume there would even be a fixed number. To some extent that might well be person variable, given the Biblical principle that to whom much is given, much is required.

For example, what might be an innocent mistake on the part of a layman might be culpable on the part of a Bible scholar or theologian.

3. Because we subscribe to sola Scriptura, we’re under no obligation to answer questions unless God has answered those questions in his written revelation.

Perry is trying to put Protestants on the defensive, as if the onus lies on us to answer extrascriptural questions. But there’s no reason why we should grant his burden of proof.

That’s his man-made burden of proof. But what matters is what God requires of us, and not what Perry Robinson requires of us. If it wasn’t important to God to answer certain questions, then why should that be important to us?

He acts as if our position leads to unacceptable consequences. But the consequences of sola Scriptura are only unacceptable in case they are unacceptable to God. Just to say that, given our position, it’s up to each individual or group, as if that’s a consequence which should bother us, begs the question.

4. Moreover, in Reformed theology, it’s not just up to the autonomous individual. Sola Scriptura doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For what each individual believes is ultimately up to God, according to his decree, and providential disposition of history.

5. “Most of the critiques by Reformed and non-Reformed writers of Open Theism, divine simplicity comes up fairly often.”

I haven’t seen that myself. Perhaps he’d like to list the Reformed and non-Reformed critics of open theism who bring up divine simplicity “fairly often” in their critique of open theism.

What Perry is really doing is just a polemical ploy. He’s attempting to drag the issue of divine simplicity into the debate by hook and by crook.

6. “So a defense of omniscience, will entail some kind of defense of simplicity.”

Wrong. All we need to defend omniscience is to show that that Scripture teaches omniscience, and also show that open theist prooftexting is erroneous.

But, of course, Perry avoids exegesis. He wants to debate the history of ideas.

steve hays said,
May 15, 2010 at 9:57 am

It’s important to be aware of Perry’s methodology. Notice what is missing from Perry’s argumentation. You don’t see Perry attempting to show that he is right and we are wrong. He doesn’t make a positive case for Eastern Orthodoxy. He doesn’t demonstrate that Calvinism is false.

Taking his handling of sola scriptura. He doesn’t try to show that sola Scriptura is wrong. He only tries to show that Calvinists are inconsistent in their application of sola Scriptura. But he doesn’t show, or even attempt to show, that sola Scriptura itself is mistaken.

Likewise, he doesn’t try to show that TULIP is wrong. Or sola fide.

Instead, Perry tries to win little tactical skirmishes. Proving that what one Calvinist said is inconsistent with what another Calvinist said.

Up to a point, that can be a valid opening move. But there ought to be more to polemical theology than tactics. Tactical maneuvers are not an end in themselves.

At the end of the day the only important question is whether we lead God-honoring lives. Do we worship the true God? Do we conduct our lives in a manner pleasing to God?

That’s the consistency which matters. To live in consistency with God’s revelation for man. That’s how we will be judged.

But Perry doesn’t get around to that. He doesn’t debate truth and falsehood. He reduces the Christian faith to a game of checkers. Did you play by the rules?

Unfortunately, this reflects the outlook of someone who’s lost touch with the reality of God.

For Perry, it’s all about moves and countermoves in a game of checkers. Let’s play checkers on our deathbed while our immortal soul hangs in the balance.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Let the good times roll!

Bryan Cross and Perry Robinson have a predictable pattern. Every now and then they go over to Green Baggins and make their case. They exhume the same two or three decaying arguments they always use.

Perry's ultimate problem is that he doesn't care about the truth. God isn't real to him. God is just an idea. An abstraction. Not the living God. Not a providential presence. But an intellectual construct.

For Perry it's like a game of blackjack, in which you have to play by certain man-made rules. And he's attempting to show that Reformed players are sometimes inconsistent.

But even if they were inconsistent, the question which ought to concern us is whether our beliefs are consistent with revealed truth. It's ultimately irrelevant whether or not what one person says is consistent with what another person says. What good will that do me on my deathbed? What matters is that my beliefs match reality.

Yet Perry is myopically obsessed with scoring tactical points. But that takes us out of the realm of truth and into the realm of games. He's like a gambler in a burning casino who is so absorbed with winning a stack of plastic chips that he's oblivious to the encroaching flames. His chips are melting in the blaze, yet he keeps right on playing. When the firemen arrive and take out the charred corpses, they will find a chip in his clenched fist.

God, compatibilism, and the authorship of sin

From Paul Helm.

Esau have I hated

To piggyback on Peter's post, I'm going to post some comments I found on another blog, which are worth reproducing:




A few points by way of response:

1. The Reformed position is *not* that God arbitrarily elects certain sinners to salvation, or that he even freely does so if by freely is meant a libertarian denotation. God's election is in accordance with his foreknowledge, which is grounded in his decree. That's the Reformed position, not your caricature/allegation of arbitrariness.

2. You mention that the nations of Israel and Edom are introduced in Romans 9 as the apostle discusses the lineage of the Messiah. How does this teaching about the Messiah's lineage advance Paul argument in Romans 9.6b ("For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel")?

3. You say, "It is a very large exegetical stretch to come to the conclusion that Romans 9 is talking about individual salvation since the context is the messiah’s lineage." Yet the context is very clearly about individual salvation. For starters, there is mention of the cursing and cutting off from Christ in Romans 9.3. There is also the intra-national distinction in Romans 9.6b (already quoted). Further, in Romans 9.8 we come across the terms "children of God" and "children of promise". Can you point to a place in the Pauline corpus where these two phrases refer to anything other than individual believers? And what of the calling both from Jews and Gentiles in Romans 9.24? And then, of course, there's the reference in Romans 11.14 where Paul wishes that some of his fellow Jews would be saved. But you say individual salvation is an exegetical stretch here?

4. Your understanding of Hebrews 12.16 amounts to little more than an argument from silence unless I'm reading you wrong. Further, your affirmation of a foreknown choice that is free in a libertarian sense is contradictory. (As you'll recall, I've proved the contradictory nature of libertarian free will elsewhere -

Grace and peace,



Thanks for the response.

1. You say that I have not absolved the Reformed position of arbitrariness. First of all, the point is that no Reformed Christian worth his salt would agree with your description of the doctrine of unconditional election. Secondly, define an arbitrary act for me. Show me why an act (election) that has a ground (foreknowledge and decree) that is logically prior to it is arbitrary. Further, what makes an elective act based on middle knowledge less "arbitrary" (whatever that means) than an elective act based on foreknowledge/decree?

I will again point out that God's knowledge of "future-free creatures" is a logical contradiction, if by free you mean libertarian free will, which I think you do.

2. Your explanation of how Jacob/Esau fits into the argument found in Romans 9.6b contradicts what you said in your original post. There you said that Jacob/Esau have nothing to do with individual salvation since the context is the Messiah's lineage (a non-sequitur I might add). Now you're saying that Jacob/Esau are introduced to show the Jews that they're not automatically saved unless they repent. So are Jacob/Esau about individual salvation or not? Right now, you're both affirming and denying that it is.

3. You say that it's poor exegesis to import a concept into Romans 9 that isn't found anywhere else in the book. Importing a foreign concept into the text is poor exegesis (eisegesis), but whether the concept is found elsewhere in the book is quite irrelevant. Further, originally you said that it was an exegetical leap to find individual salvation in Romans 9, but you've just admitted that the point of Esau/Jacob has to do with salvation and repentance. You appear to be contradicting yourself.

As for Romans 9.3 being parenthetical, based on what? As for Paul talking about the nation in general, based on what? Contrary to your statement, it's not at all turning the passage on its head to think Paul is addressing individual salvation. Romans 9 is saturated with individualism (e.g., cursed from Christ for the sake of my brothers, not all descended from Israel belong to Israel, children of God, children of promise).

Further, the problem in Romans 9 is a very individualistic problem, to wit, why are some Israelites accursed from Christ if they *currently* have the theocratic blessings (Romans 9.4-5)?

The point with Romans 9.8 is that "children of God" and "children of promise" are used in Paul's writings to refer to believers - not nations. In other words, the group of people in view is not a nation, which is against your position.

Wes, it's as plain as day that Romans 9.24 and Romans 11.14 have to do with individuals ("us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles"; "save some of them") and salvation. I find it amazing that you can't see that.


Wes says: Well sure, because if they did then they wouldn't be Reformed any longer.

Joel says: Or, more importantly, because it's a caricature and bald assertion of the Reformed view. As I've already pointed out, Reformed folks teach that God's elective acts are grounded in something logically prior to election.

Wes says: I think this is really a quite spurious complaint since an affirmation of my description being accurate would quite logically lead one to not being reformed any longer.

Joel says: The complaint is legitimate in that you are caricaturing the Reformed position. Of course, I welcome (and have asked you already) your definition of arbitrary and your demonstration of the arbitrary nature of unconditional election. Thus far, you have merely asserted it.

Wes says: This is a bare assertion without evidence. I do mean God's knowledge of future free actions (and creatures), how is any of that a logical contradiction?

Joel says: Do you agree that God's knowledge of future free actions entails that God knowing a future contingent action? Do you agree that God knows that a future contingent action will occur while knowing that it might not occur? If so, you have affirmed a contradiction. If I haven't accurately represented your position, tell me your understanding of God's middle knowledge and I will then show you how it is a contradiction.

Wes says: In an indirect way (through the group), yes. But not in a direct way (as in, "Pikachu I choose YOU!").

Joel: Ah, the goal posts are moving. You're making qualifications as you go along to try and avoid the bind you're in. When you said, "they are not automatically saved by any of these unless they repent," that's individual salvation in view. Now you're positing some sort of through-the-group view of salvation. Despite moving the goal posts, you're still not out of the woods because, in your original post, you made no concession for salvation at all in this context, whether direct or "indirect." Remember?

Wes says: This is only true in cases like Proverbs or Psalms where you have a collection of writings likely by different authors at different times and/or on different subjects. I would submit that neither Romans nor Hebrews fit this bill and are therefore best read as a whole unit.

Joel says: No that's not true at all. If a letter is occasional - as most of Paul's epistles are - then, by definition, issues and concepts will be introduced later that have no precedent earlier on. This also applies to systematic letters like Romans where Paul is dealing with (anticipated or real)
objections and interlocutors as in Romans 9.

Wes says: "As for Romans 9.3 being parenthetical, based on what?" The rest of the book.

Joel says: Insufficient justification. Imagine that I were to make the argument that John 3.16 is parenthetical and you asked me to justify that assertion. Well, Wes, the rest of the book. Period. Clearly, this would be an insufficient justification for my assertion. And so with your assertion. You have yet to adequately justify it.

Wes says: "As for Paul talking about the nation in general, based on what?" The rest of the book.

Joel says: Still insufficient, particularly given the several examples of individualism in Romans 9 that I have already offered.

Wes says: "Contrary to your statement, it's not at all turning the passage on its head to think Paul is addressing individual salvation." Bare assertion that contradicts the textual evidence.

Joel says: Not at all on either count. You conveniently snipped out what immediately followed my assertion, to wit, the justification of the assertion: "Romans 9 is saturated with individualism (e.g., cursed from Christ for the sake of my brothers, not all descended from Israel belong to Israel, children of God, children of promise). Further, the problem in Romans 9 is a very individualistic problem, to wit, why are some Israelites accursed from Christ if they *currently* have the theocratic blessings (Romans 9.4-5)?"

Wes says: "Romans 9 is saturated with individualism" Only if you presuppose it is based on a imported theological system as opposed to the context of the chapter in relationship with the rest of the book. It is true that Romans 9 ultimately contains salvific implications at the individual level, however to start at the individual level at the outset is not only to miss the overarching context of Romans but also to turn Paul's message inside-out.

Joel says: This is not true. I've given you very clear markers of individualism in Romans 9, which you are not addressing at all. You're merely making allegations of eisegesis. And, again, you've contradicted your original remarks by admitting that there are "salvific implications" here.


Wes says: Paul's message is that we are saved by being "in Christ", by being a part of the "elect". How does one become part of the elect? The answer given in Romans is not that we need to have won the cosmic lottery but that we need to surrender to Christ through repentance and place our faith/trust in Him and His work on the cross.

Joel says: Since you can't gain the upperhand in Romans 9, you're now resorting to caricature about "cosmic lottery," etc. Paul is not dealing with how we become a part of the elect in Romans 9. He's dealing with the problem of how Jews can have the theocratic blessings and yet be accursed from Christ at the same time. The problem is resolved when Paul points out that God's purpose in election is intra-national and unconditional.

Wes says: "why are some Israelites accursed from Christ if they *currently* have the theocratic blessings" I don't see how maintaining that the Israelites have all the blessings mentioned in Romans 9:4-5 and yet some are still cut off from "the true vine" on account of their disbelief and rejection of Jesus.

Joel says: I don't know what you mean here.

Wes says: It actually goes further to refuting the Calvinistic view of election irregardless of the faith of men since only a few verses later (6) we are told that "not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel" and, more to the point of Romans 9 being focused on the messianic lineage, we are reminded in verse 7 that "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named."

Joel says: I think you need to study Romans 9, Wes. How *exactly* does Romans 9.6b refute unconditional election. Is there something there that is contrary to unconditional election? If so, let's hear it.

Wes says: "In other words, the group of people in view is not a nation, which is against your position." True, but the fact remains that a group is in view and that the composition of that group is characterized by their reaction to the revelation they have been given and not by some cosmic roll of the dice. Otherwise, all of Abraham's descendants would, in fact, be members of the remnant and thus children of the promise.

Joel says: So you admit that you've contradicted yourself? In your original post, you said the first thing to notice is that Romans 9 is about nations. Now you're giving up that foundational point and admitting that it's not about nations. Wes, you're all over the map, brother. You need to study
this passage and find out what you actually believe before debating it with me. It's very frustrating to debate someone who is changing their position on the fly.

Wes says: "Wes, it's as plain as day that Romans 9.24 and Romans 11.14 have to do with individuals ("us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles"; "save some of them") and salvation. I find it amazing that you can't see that." I find it amazing, too, that you are able to import a concept foreign to the whole context of Romans, claim it is the central focus (individual salvation/particular election), and then berate the vast majority of your brethren like myself...

Joel says: You can't continue to argue with the individualism I've pointed out so, instead, you shift to a different topic and say that I'm asserting that this is the "central focus" and that I'm berating you. Wes, once again, I exhort you to get out of the debating business. You don't represent people properly, you're a moving target, and I don't even think you know what you actually believe half the time.

Wes says: who also find the Reformed insistence of such a narcissistic view of election to, quite frankly, be a bit disturbing.

Joel says: This is about all your left with. You can't defend your (constantly changing) position, so you resort to demagogy, likening unconditional election onto to something pejorative (narcisstic). I come back here thinking I'll be able to have a reasonable debate with you, but that will likely never happen.

Wes says: I have stated it and given evidence several times and I'll not do so again. However I want to point out that this tactic is at the same time both passive aggressive and intellectually dishonest.

Joel says: You're dishonest, Wes, not me. You have nowhere defined what an arbitrary act is. Nowhere. You have simply asserted it. That same old MO that I identified several months ago is back in the forefront, namely, bald assertion after bald assertion.

Wes says: I'm not sure you understand what a counter-factual is. Go back and read up on it as your question is along the lines of "are you still beating your wife?"

Joel says: As in past discussions, it hasn't gone well for you when you've tried to play teacher and tell others what they need to read up on. I'm quite familiar with what a counterfactual of creaturely freedom is and I know why you're hesitant to answer: Because were you to come out of your hole and actually define your position, the contradictions would quickly appear (talk about counterfactuals!). But I don't expect you to show your cards anytime soon. You never do. Ambiguity allows you to move the goal posts whenever you're confronted with a logical bind.

Wes says: Sure, it's in view. That's not the question. The question is whether their individual salvation is the primary focus of the passage. I would contend that since Paul continually uses group phraseology, a myopic view of individual salvation as being the primary focus is not warranted here.

Joel says: LOL. Wes, you're moving the goal posts. In your original post you said, "It is a very large exegetical stretch to come to the conclusion that Romans 9 is talking about individual salvation..." Now you're saying of individual salvation, "Sure, it's in view." You're position is a bundle of contradictions, not to mention an evolutionary process.

Wes says: Asked and answered. You choose not to see what I've written so I'll forgo reiterating it yet again.

Joel says: You haven't answered anything. All you've done in this entire exchange is change your position when put in a corner out of which you can't get.

Wes says: No, I'm carefully showing where eisigesis is taking place by the willful ignoring of the rest of the book and it's context.

Joel says: What have I ignored in the rest of the book? And what particular parts of the rest of the book are we referring to?

Wes says: Not really. But then again, you'll see what you want to I suppose.

Joel says: Yes, really. Check out these two contradictory statements: "It is a very large exegetical stretch to come to the conclusion that Romans 9 is talking about individual salvation..." vs. "Sure, it's in view." You're confused, Wes.

4. You're using an argument from silence in regard to Hebrews 12.16 because the text does not address the things that you want it to address, to wit, the basis of God's hatred of Esau. You say, "I don't see how you can ignore the evidence that Esau's rejection of his birth right (which ties nicely to Paul's argument against the Israelites in Romans) has no bearing." Wes, this doesn't tie in nicely *at all* with Paul's argument. Read Romans 9.11 again, "though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls". The election Paul is talking about is clearly not anchored in any way to the works of Jacob or Esau.

Wes, I would be open to your theological view if you were using a verse that was relevant to the discussion. Hebrews 12.16 just is not addressing what you are trying to make it address.

You say: "I believe this is actually one of the reasons Jews in general have rejected the whole Calvinistic teaching of particular election because it would mean that God chose Israel as his people and then subsequently rejected them as a people and not due to anything they had chosen, because, again, the view of sovereignty expressed in Reformed thought entails a causally deterministic view of events. That is, God decreed Israel to be his people, to follow him and then to reject him later on."

This indicates that you're missing what's going on in Romans 9, Wes. The whole point is that ethnic Israel does not equal true Israel. "For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel..." (Romans 9.6b). The whole point is that God did not decree all ethnic Israel as his people. Therefore, the apparent contradiction of Jews receiving theocratic blessings and yet being accursed from Christ is resolved. John the Baptist himself said as much in Matthew 3.9 when he said, "And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham." Ethnic Jews are not tantamount to true/spiritual Jews.

Wes says: You say it doesn't, I say it does. The fact remains that the author of Hebrews found it to be an important details to add. Since it is in the context of sinful practices, I think it stands to reason that Esau was seen as unholy _because_ of his rejection of his birthright (or rather, he despised his birthright because he found it less important than a bowl of soup).

Joel says: Wes, I know you're better than this. I know you know that Hebrews 12.16 is not saying anything about the basis of God's election. Further, Romans 9.11 couldn't be clearer that God's purpose in election is *not* grounded in anything Jacob or Esau did. Either way, you lose.

Wes says: Further, you parrot the common Reformed refrain that God's rejection of Esau before his sin was actualized is tacit proof that God rejected Esau irregardless of any action on Esau's part whatsoever (ie. God rejected Esau just because he arbitrarily felt like it).

Joel says: This isn't a Reformed refrain. It's the Word of God from Romans 9.11 that I quoted to you.

Wes says: However, we know that God is omniscient, that all facts are known to God, how is it a stretch (especially given the existence of counter-factual statements throughout Scripture) to say that God foreknew what Esau would freely do and that therefore (because we also know God is not arbitrary or unjust) God's rejection of Esau before time began (or, more to the point, before Jacob and Esau were even born) was based on his foreknowledge?

Joel says: It's a stretch, Wes, simply because none of what you suggest (middle knowledge, foresight election) is stated by Paul in Romans 9.11. In fact, just the opposite is stated, to wit, that God's purpose in election is not based on the actions of Jacob or Esau. It really is that simple.

Wes says: You see, if you base God's hatred of Esau on "His sovereign decree" then you are tacitly endorsing an arbitrary view of God. The very thing the author of Hebrews, through his citing Esau's despising of his birthright, is not the case.

Joel says: Not at all. And, again, I ask you to define arbitrary and show me how God electing in accordance with his decree is arbitrary.

Wes says: I highly doubt that since, as I've shown with the Reformed treatment of Romans 9, the common pattern here seems to be to reject anything that causes the presupposed reformed position any difficulties (and this is done a-priori).

Joel says: Wes, the common pattern is for me to dismantle your arguments and then have you whine about a-priori assumptions and intellectual fortresses. Hebrews 12.16 is not dealing with the matter at hand and its patently obvious that this is so. Further, I'm not rejecting your view in an a-priori manner. I'm interacting with your view and I'm also giving you textual reasons for why I interpret Romans 9 as I do.

Wes says: So to say that "if you were using a verse that was relevant to the discussion" is to say that you have now assumed the role of judge and jury of what is and is not relevant to this discussion.

Joel says: Actually, I've assumed the role of debater throughout this exchange and am pointing out to you that Hebrews 12.16 is not talking about the basis of God's reprobation. Or are you going to provide any evidence to support your view that that is what the Hebrew writer is talking about? If so, let's hear it.

Wes says: You may not feel it is relevant, but to claim the high ground at the outset and then argue backwards from that position (by deeming things you disagree with to be "not relevant") you have effectively encased your doctrine in an impenetrable intellectual fortress (which is not a compliment).

Joel says: This is really ridiculous, Wes. I'm calling it irrelevant because there's nothing in the text that makes it relevant. I'm not arguing backwards.

Wes says: "The whole point is that God did not decree all ethnic Israel as his people." You would have a very hard time showing this to be true from the OT. They are still "his people" even though they reject and rebel against him.

Joel says: Wes, I've given you a very clear reason for believing that not all ethnic Israel belong to the people of God - Romans 9.6b. And now you're going to say that I'm going to have a hard time showing this from the OT?!

Wes says: "Ethnic Jews are not tantamount to true/spiritual Jews." True, I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. However what separates the two is not that some of them managed to win a cosmic roll of the dice. Throughout the Bible we are told that what separates the remnant from the whole is that the remnant remains faithful to the promises of God and the teaching of His law.

Joel says: Ah, so you've abandoned Romans 9 and are now looking for greener fields with which to substantiate your case.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I’ve posted on illegal immigration in the past, so I’m not going to repeat everything I’ve said before. However, in light of Arizona’s law, I’ve been reading some commentary by “evangelical leaders” or ministers who oppose the law and support amnesty. For the most part I’m going to pick on Richard Land’s article, which is representative of the current fare. I’ll also say something briefly about Prof. Carroll’s biased review of Hoffmeier’s book.

But before that I’d like to make a general observation. Evangelical “leaders” and ministers often cast themselves in the role of saner heads who must calm the restive masses lest the rabble be swept away by the passion the moment and degenerate into a fearful mobocracy.

I’d just say that this reflects a very patronizing and self-important attitude on the part of evangelical “leaders” and ministers. They seem to view the sheep as a bunch of hotheads and immature children who must be kept in check.

Now for Land’s article.

“It is imperative that we find an acceptable solution to the plight of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in our nation.”

This isn’t the only time that Land uses the “undocumented” euphemism. I have to wonder if that euphemism isn’t counterproductive. I imagine that euphemism antagonizes many Americans, which is the very opposite of its intended effect.

“Attorneys I trust and respect tell me that if the law survives the manifold court challenges it faces and goes into effect, it will be abused by genuinely bad people (like drug dealers and human traffickers) whose unscrupulous lawyers will claim falsely that they were victims of racial profiling and prejudice when they were arrested legitimately.”

i) Because liberals are intellectually vacuous, they resort to rhetorical intimidation. They try to shame us into silence by using scary words. We’re supposed to stop dead in our tracks at the sound of “Homophobia!” or “Racial profiling!”

Christians need to defy this emotional extortion.

ii) If some demographic group breaks the law at a disproportionate rate, who are they to put law-abiding citizens on the defensive? If anybody should be on the defensive, it’s the lawbreakers.

We’ve seen this with Muslims. They scream “racial profiling.” As a result, cringing authorities frisk everyone who is not a Muslim while going out of their way to wave the jihadis through the line–just to prove how tolerant they are.

iii) Suppose there was a law cracking down on the KKK. Should police target white dudes donning bed sheets, or would that be illegal profiling? Should police should be allowed to check the driver's license of any driver who appears to be underage? Would that be agist profiling? Would that unfairly discriminate against older teens who look younger than their true age.

Likewise, should liquor store cashiers should be allowed to demand ID from customers who appear to be underage? Should we abolish statutory rape in case enforcing the age of consent is agist profiling?

“To force those who are here illegally to leave is neither politically viable nor humanitarian…There is neither the political nor economic will in the U.S. population for forcibly rounding up 12 million people—many of them who have children who are American citizens—and shipping them back to their country of origin.”

I’ll have more to say about this momentarily, but for now I’d simply note that when people uses this argument, what this reveals to me is a lack of good faith. The reason illegal immigrants come here is for the benefits. If we put a stop to the gravy train, many or most of them would self-deport. Remove the incentive to come and you remove the incentive to stay.

“I have joined with other Evangelicals in calling for bipartisan immigration reform that: Protects the unity of the immediate family.”

There are several problems with this stock objection:

i) Is it inherently wrong to divide families? Should we never incarcerate a father or mother or son or daughter who commits a serious crime on the grounds that this would divide the family?

What about a man who commits a heinous crime, skips the country, and starts a new life for himself? Should we make no effort to extradite him on the grounds that we might be dividing the family he started while he was out on the lam?

ii) Land himself says that it is proper to deport illegal aliens who spurn the terms of his “path to citizenship.” But wouldn’t that divide families?

iii) This appeal is akin claiming that if a man steals my car, and if he eludes the authorities for enough time, then it becomes his car. And it would be terribly unfair of me to demand my car back.

I don’t see that getting away with breaking the law for a long time is somehow exculpatory. If anything, I view that as an aggravating circumstances rather than a mitigating circumstance. For a long time you got the benefit of something that didn’t belong to you. If one man enjoys a 5-year profit from his ill-gotten gain while another man enjoys a 10-year profit, is the latter less guilty than the former? If anything, wouldn’t that worsen his crime?

“As people of faith we must lead our churches to engage in multi-faceted human needs ministries on a massive scale to meet the physical and spiritual needs of millions of men, women and children living in the shadows of society…”

Sigh. “Living in the shadows” is such a cliché. If some people break reasonable laws, then they ought to live in fear. Do we want our laws to have that deterrent effect?

Now, we can debate whether or not our current immigration laws or just or unjust. But that’s a different debate.

“The millions of undocumented workers living among us suffer as outcasts without the full protections of the law or full access to the opportunities this nation offers to all to fulfill their God-given potential…We should, and we will, always have room in this great nation for those who are willing to embrace the American dream and the American ideals that both inspired that dream and define it.”

It is not the duty of the US to open its doors to everyone who wants to come here. That’s totally unrealistic.

“Proper reform should consist of a program that provides an earned pathway that requires an illegal immigrant who desires to remain legally in the U.S. to undergo a criminal background check, pay a fine, agree to pay back taxes, learn to speak, write and read English and get in line behind those who are legally migrating into this country in order to apply for permanent residence after a probationary period of years.”

i) That’s a popular metaphor: go around to the back of the line. But what does that mean? Is Land suggesting that illegal aliens return to their country of origin, then apply for legal residence or citizenship? But that would involve mass deportation, which he opposes. Likewise, would they be learning English in their country of origin? How would that work, exactly?

ii) Or does he mean they would stay on US soil? But if that’s the case, then in what sense are they getting in line behind those who came here legally? And if they can stay here during the process, then what incentive do they have to pay a fine, back taxes, learn English, &c?

iii) Learn English? Permit me a personal anecdote. Back when I was living in San Diego County I once went to a food market which was basically a Mexican establishment this side of the border. I showed one of the employees an ad, in Spanish, for an item they had on sale. He drew a blank. It dawned in me that he was illiterate.

How could we require him to learn English when he didn’t even know how to read and write in his mother tongue?

Now maybe that’s an isolated incident. But it makes me wonder if Land has any concrete grasp of the issues.

iv) Actually, I'm not sure if I even agree with him about requiring immigrants to learn English. I'm inclined to take a more libertarian position on that issue. On the one hand I don't think the gov't is obligated to issue official forms in foreign languages, or conduct bilingual classes. On the other hand, there are ethnic communities in this country where an immigrant can get by in his own language.

“They must also acknowledge and pledge allegiance to America’s governmental structure, the duties of citizenship and our core values as embodied in the Declaration of Independence.”

What about illegal aliens who riot when duly elected representatives pass laws like Arizona’s? Should they be summarily deported in view of their evident disloyalty to the democratic process of the host country?

“People who fail background checks or who refuse to comply with this generous opportunity to earn legal status should be deported immediately.”

But I thought that Land was opposed to “rounding up” and “forcibly deporting” illegal aliens? I mean, wouldn’t that divide families?

And here’s a statement by Prof. Carroll regarding:

“…the possible complicity of the U.S. in some of these conditions (e.g., the impact of NAFTA on Mexican agriculture)—that has resulted in up to 200 million people migrating worldwide today looking for food, work, and safety.”

I have no opinion on the pros and cons of NAFTA. I’m not a businessman or economist.

However, it’s absurd to pin the blame for NAFTA on our gov’t when the Mexican gov’t was a signatory to the same treaty.

But there’s another issue concerning Carroll’s long, hostile review. Carroll panned the book. But when I click on his academic webpage, this is what I find:

Dr. M. Daniel Carroll Rodas, who celebrates his heritage from both Guatemala and the United States, joined the faculty in 1996. He currently is Distinguished Professor of Old Testament. He is affiliated with the Evangelical Theological Society, Institute of Biblical Research, Society of Biblical Literature, Society for Old Testament Study (Great Britain), Fraternidad Teológica Latinoamericana, Latin American Studies Association, and Evangelicals for Social Action. He serves on the international editorial boards of Religion & Theology (South Africa) and DavarLogos (Argentina), is a contributing editor to Prism (the journal of Evangelicals for Social Action), and is an editorial consultant for Perspectivas (of the Hispanic Theological Initiative) and Ex Auditu.

Prior to his appointment to Denver Seminary, he was professor of Old Testament and ethics and director of graduate studies at El Seminario Teológico Centroamericano in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He remains an adjunct professor there. Dr. Carroll also maintains connections to Latin American theological education through his continuing participation in the accreditation commission of AETAL (Asociación Evangélica de Educación Teológica en América Latina). He was instrumental in the establishment of IDEAL (Instituto para el Desarrollo y Adiestramiento de Líderes), a Spanish language training program at Denver Seminary, and regularly teaches in that program.

i) In the interests of full disclosure, wasn’t it incumbent on Carroll to say at the outset of his review that he has a vested interest in the issue? I’m not suggesting that we dismiss his review out of hand just because he has an ax to grind. At the same time, as I read his highly partisan review, other comparisons spring to mind–like A Defense of Virginia and the South by Robert Lewis Dabney, "The Christian Doctrine of Slavery" by James Henley Thornwell, and A Short History of the Confederate States of America by Jefferson Davis.

It’s the same thing in reverse.

ii) This conflict of interest also exposes a basic tension in his review: On the one hand we’re supposed to treat illegal aliens as fellow human beings, made in God’s image. Indeed, we’re supposed to treat some of them as our brothers and sisters in Christ.

On the other hand, Carroll’s review is clearly driven by identity politics. His ardent sense of ethic solidarity with his own people-group. So his Christian vision is diluted by his astringent chauvinism.

iii) I'd add that, as someone who grew up in the Mideast, who continues to conduct field archeology in that region, Hoffmeier is no stranger to Third World poverty.

On God Hating Esau

I have recently been involved in an email discussion with an Arminian on the issue of God’s hatred of Esau in Malachi 1:2-3. One of the key issues to resolve is just what the word “hate” meant to the Hebrew people. This is especially relevant in light of the fact that my Arminian correspondent quoted from a pastor who argued that hate was not the opposite of love, but rather apathy was the opposite of love, and further a claim was made that God could both love and hate the same individual at the same time.

Malachi 1:2-3 states:
"I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?" "Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert."
In my e-mail exchange, I made the point that God is setting up “love” and “hate” as direct polar opposites in this passage. He loves Jacob, yet He hates Esau. And it is the very existence of that hate the proves His love for Jacob, in this passage. In other words, God says: “I have loved you.” The people then ask God to prove it, by questioning: “How have you loved us?” and God’s proof is, essentially, “I loved Jacob and I hated Esau. Look what I did to Esau. I didn’t do that to you. Therefore, that’s proof I love you.”

What I take away from this is that, since God is using what He did to Esau and saying, “Because I didn’t do that to you, that’s proof I love you” then it seems to almost necessitate the opposite, “Because I did do that to Esau, that’s proof I do not love him.” In other words, God is saying: “You do not lay waste to a person’s hill country and leave his heritage to the jackals of the desert if you love that person.”

That was my main argument. Now I want to further buttress it by showing how the Hebrew word sane’ (hate) in verse 3 is used throughout the Old Testament. I believe that it will clearly show that love and hate are opposites, and further that “hate” is a much stronger word than Arminians are comfortable acknowledging of God.

If you look at the resource I have compiled, you’ll see all the verses where the word sane’ appears in Scripture. In every instance, save one, if the word “love” also appears in the verse, the Hebrew word for “love” is ’ahab (the exception is Hosea 9:15, which uses the obviously related word ’ahabah). Thus, whenever we see “love” and “hate” in the same verse (in the list), it is a comparison between ’ahab and sane’.

And what do we see? We see that the two terms are in contradistinction to each other. They are polar opposites. One of the most obvious examples is found in 2 Samuel 19:6. After David’s son, Absalom, revolted and was killed by David’s general, Joab, David wept bitterly at the death of his son. Joab was angered, and chastised David by saying: “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.”

This passage links the opposites. Love is the opposite of hate. This is why Joab was so mad that David would “love those who hate [him] and hate those who love [him].” (Note that we are not concerned with whether or not David’s behavior was accurately described by Joab, nor are we concerned with whether or not either of them was acting justly. Rather, what matters is what the words mean. And it is clear in this context that love and hate were considered opposites.

To give another example, Proverbs 9:8 says: “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” This passage shows a double parallel. There is the parallel between the “scoffer” and the “wise man” and there is a parallel between their reactions. Just as a “scoffer” is the opposite of a “wise man”, so too is “hate” the opposite of “love.”

Proverbs is full of similar contrasts. To take just one more, Proverbs 13:24 says “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Again, the love/hate polarity is displayed.

To give one final example, in Ecclesiastes 3 we are treated to a long list of opposites. The passage states:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
In so much as “born” is the opposite of “die”, “plant” is the opposite of “uproot”, “kill” is the opposite of “heal”, “tear down” is the opposite of “build”, “weep” is the opposite of “laugh”, “mourn” is the opposite of “dance,” “scatter” is the opposite of “gather”, “embrace” is the opposite of “refraining from embracing”, “searching” is the opposite of “giving up”, “keep” is the opposite of “throw away”, “tear” is the opposite of “mend”, “silence” is the opposite of “speak”, and “war” is the opposite of “peace”; so too is “love” the opposite of “hate.”

The second aspect of the word sane’ includes the concept of “enemy.” In fact, there are a couple of passages where the word is translated exactly that way (as either “enemy” or “foe”). A couple of those passages are:

Exodus 1:10 “Come, let us deal shrewedly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies [sane’] and fight against us and escape from the land.”

Deuteronomy 30:7 “And the LORD your God will put all these curses on your foes [sane’] and enemies who persecute you.”

Proverbs 25:21 “If your enemy [sane’] is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink…”
Additionally, in Scripture “hate” is itself often linked with “enemy” even when a different word for “enemy” is used. Some examples are:

Leviticus 26:17a “I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you…”

Psalm 21:8 “Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.”

Psalm 44:7 “You have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us.”

Psalm 68:1 “God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him!”

Psalm 139:22 “I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.”
The Psalms are especially interesting in that they often use parallelisms, stating the same thing in different ways. Hence, in Psalm 68:1 (above), we have “his enemies shall be scattered” in parallel with “those who hate him shall flee.” Similar concepts repeated in different ways. The same is also stated in Number 10:35, where Moses says :”Arise, O LORD, and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before you.” One final example from Psalm 21:8 (above) should suffice: “Your hand will find out all your enemies” is coupled with “Your right hand will find out those who hate you.”

So to hate someone is to be their enemy. When we return to Malachi 1:2-3, it is important to note that God is the actor. He is the subject. Jacob and Esau are the objects. So when it says, “Esau I have hated” then, if the term “hate” is linked to being an enemy, then this passage is saying that God is Esau’s enemy; it is not saying that Esau is God’s enemy, although we know from other passages that that is also true.

Finally, let us look at further action that goes along with hatred. That is, many verses deal with hatred and include more concepts of what goes along with hate. So we see in Genesis 26:27, “Isaac said to them, ‘Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?’” So to hate is to drive someone away. See also Judges 11:7 and Isaiah 66:5

In Genesis 37:4, Joseph’s brothers saw their father loved Joseph more than them, and “they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.” So hatred means one cannot speak peaceably.

In Deuteronomy 12:31 we see “every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods”, showing that to hate something is to consider it an abomination. See also Proverbs 6:16 (“There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him”) and Jeremiah 44:4.

Psalm 41:7 says “All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me.” So to hate someone is to plot the worst outcome for that person.

Amos 5:21 says, “I hate, I despise your feasts” showing that to despise something is to hate it. See also Isaiah 1:14.

Amos 6:8 says, “I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds” linking hatred and abhorrence.

So putting these together, we see that hatred encompasses driving someone away, not speaking peaceably to them, considering them an abomination, despising them, considering them abhorrent, and wishing the worst for them. And it is this word, that contains these shades of meaning, that God uses of Esau.

So we’ve seen that the Old Testament clearly used “hate” as an opposite of “love”, and we’ve seen that to hate someone is to be their enemy, and further we’ve seen that “hate” holds all of the negative connotations one would expect. And we’ve further seen that God uses this very word to describe His attitude toward Esau.

Verses containing the Hebrew word sane'

A search of one of the Hebrew words for “hate”, sane' (Strong’s number H8130):

Genesis 24:60
And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

"Our sister, may you become
thousands of ten thousands,
and may your offspring possess
the gate of those who hate him!"

Genesis 26:27
Isaac said to them, "Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?"

Genesis 29:31
When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.

Genesis 29:33
She conceived again and bore a son, and said, "Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also." And she called his name Simeon.

Genesis 37:4
But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

Genesis 37:5
Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more.

Genesis 37:8
His brothers said to him, "Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?" So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Exodus 1:10
Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land."

Exodus 18:21
Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.

Exodus 20:5
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me

Exodus 23:5
If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

Leviticus 19:17
"You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.

Leviticus 26:17
I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you.

Numbers 10:35
And whenever the ark set out, Moses said, "Arise, O LORD, and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before you."

Deuteronomy 4:42
that the manslayer might flee there, anyone who kills his neighbor unintentionally, without being at enmity with him in time past; he may flee to one of these cities and save his life:

Deuteronomy 5:9
You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

Deuteronomy 7:10
and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face.

Deuteronomy 7:15
And the LORD will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you.

Deuteronomy 12:31
You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.

Deuteronomy 16:22
And you shall not set up a pillar, which the LORD your God hates.

Deuteronomy 19:4
"This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having hated him in the past?

Deuteronomy 19:6
lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and strike him fatally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he had not hated his neighbor in the past.

Deuteronomy 19:11
"But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities,

Deuteronomy 21:15-17
"If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his.

Deuteronomy 22:13
"If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her

Deuteronomy 22:16
And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her;

Deuteronomy 24:3
and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife,

Deuteronomy 30:7
And the LORD your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you.

Deuteronomy 32:41
if I sharpen my flashing sword
and my hand takes hold on judgment,
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
and will repay those who hate me.

Deuteronomy 33:11
Bless, O LORD, his substance,
and accept the work of his hands;
crush the loins of his adversaries,
of those who hate him, that they rise not again."

Joshua 20:5
And if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not give up the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unknowingly, and did not hate him in the past.

Judges 11:7
But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, "Did you not hate me and drive me out of my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?"

Judges 14:16
And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, "You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is." And he said to her, "Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?"

Judges 15:2
And her father said, "I really thought that you utterly hated her, so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister more beautiful than she? Please take her instead."

2 Samuel 5:8
And David said on that day, "Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack 'the lame and the blind,' who are hated by David’s soul." Therefore it is said, "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house."

2 Samuel 13:15
Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, "Get up! Go!"

2 Samuel 13:22
But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had violated his sister Tamar.

2 Samuel 19:6
because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.

2 Samuel 22:18
He rescued me from my strong enemy,
from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.

2 Samuel 22:41
You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
those who hated me, and I destroyed them.

Kings 22:8
And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil." And Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say so."

2 Chronicles 1:11
God answered Solomon, "Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked long life, but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king,

2 Chronicles 18:7
And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil." And Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say so."

2 Chronicles 19:2
But Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the LORD.

Esther 9:1
Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.

Esther 9:16
Now the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies and killed 75,000 of those who hated them, but they laid no hands on the plunder.

Job 8:22
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
and the tent of the wicked will be no more."

Job 31:29
"If I have rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me,
or exulted when evil overtook him

Job 34:17
Shall one who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty,

Psalm 5:5
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.

Psalm 9:13
Be gracious to me, O LORD!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,

Psalm 11:5
The LORD tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

Psalm 18:17
He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.

Psalm 18:40
You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
and those who hated me I destroyed.

Psalm 21:8
Your hand will find out all your enemies;
your right hand will find out those who hate you.

Psalm 25:19
Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.

Psalm 26:5
I hate the assembly of evildoers,
and I will not sit with the wicked.

Psalm 31:6
I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the LORD.

Psalm 34:21
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

Psalm 35:19
Let not those rejoice over me
who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink the eye
who hate me without cause.

Psalm 36:2
For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.

Psalm 38:19
But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty,
and many are those who hate me wrongfully.

Psalm 41:7
All who hate me whisper together about me;
they imagine the worst for me.

Psalm 44:7
But you have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.

Psalm 44:10
You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.

Psalm 45:7
you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;

Psalm 50:17
For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.

Psalm 55:12
For it is not an enemy who taunts me?
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me?
then I could hide from him.

Psalm 68:1
God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;
and those who hate him shall flee before him!

Psalm 69:4
More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?

Psalm 69:14
Deliver me
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.

Psalm 81:15
Those who hate the LORD would cringe toward him,
and their fate would last forever.

Psalm 83:2
For behold, your enemies make an uproar;
those who hate you have raised their heads.

Psalm 86:17
Show me a sign of your favor,
that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

Psalm 89:23
I will crush his foes before him
and strike down those who hate him.

Psalm 97:10
O you who love the LORD, hate evil!
He preserves the lives of his saints;
He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 101:3
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.

Psalm 105:25
He turned their hearts to hate his people,
to deal craftily with his servants.

Psalm 106:10
So he saved them from the hand of the foe
and redeemed them from the power of the enemy.

Psalm 106:41
he gave them into the hand of the nations,
so that those who hated them ruled over them.

Psalm 118:7
The LORD is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

Psalm 119:104
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

Psalm 119:113
I hate the double-minded,
but I love your law.

Psalm 119:128
Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
I hate every false way.

Psalm 119:163
I hate and abhor falsehood,
but I love your law.

Psalm 120:6
Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.

Psalm 129:5
May all who hate Zion
be put to shame and turned backward!

Psalm 139:21-22
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

Proverbs 1:22
"How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?

Proverbs 1:29
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the LORD,

Proverbs 5:12
and you say, "How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!

Proverbs 6:16
There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:

Proverbs 8:13
The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
And perverted speech I hate.

Proverbs 8:36
but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death."

Proverbs 9:8
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Proverbs 11:15
Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer harm,
but he who hates striking hands in pledge is secure.

Proverbs 12:1
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Proverbs 13:5
The righteous hates falsehood,
but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.

Proverbs 13:24
Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Proverbs 14:17
A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated.

Proverbs 14:20
The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.

Proverbs 15:10
There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way;
whoever hates reproof will die.

Proverbs 15:27
Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household,
but he who hates bribes will live.

Proverbs 19:7
All a poor man’s brothers hate him;
how much more do his friends go far from him!
He pursues them with words, but does not have them.

Proverbs 25:17
Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house,
lest he have his fill of you and hate you.

Proverbs 25:21
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat,
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,

Proverbs 26:24
Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
and harbors deceit in his heart;

Proverbs 26:28
A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Proverbs 27:6
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Proverbs 28:16
A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.

Proverbs 29:10
Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless
and seek the life of the upright.

Proverbs 29:24
The partner of a thief hates his own life;
he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.

Proverbs 30:23
an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress.

Ecclesiastes 2:17-18
So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me,

Ecclesiastes 3:8
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Isaiah 1:14
Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.

Isaiah 60:15
Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
with no one passing through,
I will make you majestic forever,
a joy from age to age.

Isaiah 61:8
For I the LORD love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

Isaiah 66:5
Hear the word of the LORD,
you who tremble at his word:
"Your brothers who hate you
and cast you out for my name’s sake
have said, 'Let the LORD be glorified,
that we may see your joy';
but it is they who shall be put to shame.

Jeremiah 12:8
My heritage has become to me
like a lion in the forest;
she has lifted up her voice against me;
therefore I hate her.

Jeremiah 44:4
Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, 'Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!'

Ezekiel 16:27
Behold, therefore, I stretched out my hand against you and diminished your allotted portion and delivered you to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior.

Ezekiel 16:37
therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated. I will gather them against you from every side and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness.

Ezekiel 23:28
"For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will deliver you into the hands of those whom you hate, into the hands of those from whom you turned in disgust,

Ezekiel 35:6
therefore, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; because you did not hate bloodshed, therefore blood shall pursue you.

Hosea 9:15
Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal;
there I began to hate them.
Because of the wickedness of their deeds
I will drive them out of my house.
I will love them no more;
all their princes are rebels.

Amos 5:10
They hate him who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor him who speaks the truth.

Amos 5:15
Hate evil, and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Amos 5:21
"I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

Amos 6:8
The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts:

"I abhor the pride of Jacob
and hate his strongholds,
and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it."

Micah 3:2
you who hate the good and love the evil,
who tear the skin from off my people
and their flesh from off their bones,

Zechariah 8:17
do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the LORD."

Malachi 1:3
but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert."

Malachi 2:16
"For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless."

[This passage was differently stated in the KJV.]

Malachi 2:16 (King James Version)
For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

Arminian apologetics in action



bossmanham said...

bossmanham said...

I'm honestly interested here. Good responses wouldn't change my mind, but...

Reasons Why Not to Have a Facebook Account

Update: Here are a few other related articles that have been brought to my attention.

Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook

How to Quit Facebook Without Actually Quitting Facebook

Fed Up With Facebook? Delete it, and Here's How

Reclaiming Privacy

Kent Brandenburg is someone that I rarely agree with. I once was a fundamentalist as he is. But I still share some concerns that they have about worldliness. I don't always agree on their specifics of what constitutes worldliness. But here he gives good reasons why not to have a Facebook account. Certainly, some of these reasons can be applied to other orbits of the Internet (I don't even believe in Powerpoint Preaching).

Facebook (and addiction to it) is pervasive in the Evangelical church. My first concern about it happened when I attended seminary. Yes, I said seminary. I noticed that scores of seminarians were addicted to it -- spending 2–5 hours a day on it. I have no idea how they managed their studies by being consumed by this social network. I never asked. But maybe I should have. That was over three years ago. I cannot imagine how more prevalent it is today. Should seminaries crack down on facebook addiction with students? Should God's people finance tens of thousands of dollars to send their young men to seminary so they can play on facebook all day and night?

I think we can have a beneficial discussion on this topic. What are your thoughts after you have read all of Kent's reasons.

Arminians twice confounded

J.C. Thibodaux, on May 13, 2010 at 1:18 pm Said:

Brennon, the only way one would be able to use such an appeal effectively is to show that the behavior would violate God’s nature as He’s revealed in the Bible.–-fallacy-6-is-god-cruel-if-he-lets-a-believer-fall-away/#comment-4530

Thibo keeps making the same mistake. The question at issue is not whether this behavior violates God's nature as revealed in Scripture, but in Arminianism. Is this consistent with God's universal love and universal grace? Does God intend the best for all his fallen creatures? Does he always act in their best interests?

To be sure, God isn’t cruel in any objective sense, but it’s beyond argument from scripture that He’s very harsh with those who turn against Him.

Which the Arminian God foresaw in saving the would-be apostate.

Hays’ argument consists of taking God’s severity against people who rebel despite His goodness (and are thus more deserving of condemnation), then framing Him as being cruel for it.

Every time Thibo swings the bat, he misses the ball. I take God's severity against apostates as a defeater for Arminian theism. Yes, the apostate is more deserving of condemnation. And therein lies a problem for Arminian theism.

Since that dire outcome was a foreseeable and avoidable outcome of God's action (avoidable if God refrained from ever saving the would-be apostate), God is making the would-be apostate more deserving of condemnation by saving him in the first place, knowing all the while that by so doing, the would-be apostate will be more deserving of condemnation than if God simply left him alone to perish in his unregenerate state. Therefore, on Arminian assumptions, God always intended to do the would-be apostate harm. Maximal harm. His grace was ill-meant rather than well-meant when directed at the would-be apostate. Saving grace was just a way to aggravate the would-be apostate's guilt and condemnation. A necessary, preliminary, and transitional phase to make the would-be apostate worse off in the long run. A set-up to intensify his punishment.

For his caricature, he might also be charged with oversimplification since his fishing trip example altogether excludes the main reason God condemns the apostate.

I already dealt with that objection. Moreover, Thibo's objection only pushes the question back a step. Given apostasy, God condemns the apostate. But why did the Arminian God save him at the outset to later condemn him? And tighten the screws in the process? Why isn't that action exquisitely cruel by Arminian standards?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Is He Evil?

There was once a woman who was terribly injured in a car accident. Due to her injuries she could not move a muscle, she couldn't even blink an eye.

However, a kind and loving grandfatherly-looking man loved this woman.

Knowing that the poor, injured woman had evolved from the stars, he loved her because she was fearfully and wonderfully made.

It so happened that the kind and loving old man was also highly intelligent. He had constructed a machine, The Lifegiver5000.The Lifegiver5000 could uphold anyone by the surge of its power. The only hitch, the man had to keep his finger on the upholding button. The button had power with the current produced by The Lifegiver5000, so he named the button con-current. Thus, the kind and loving grandfatherly-looking man gave new life to the woman.

The man also had a camera planted in the woman's eye so that he could see everything she saw. He was basically omniscient with respect to her life.

Having loved the woman with an amazing love, the kind and loving old man vowed never to interfere with her free will. He would hold the button no matter what. The old man hoped she would seek him, and if she happened to knock on his door, he would open it for her. He had to allow her to knock on his door by her own free will, otherwise she would be a puppet, and who could love a puppet.

The woman, however, did not appreciate her gift of life. She became angry and bitter towards her fellow man--who the kind and loving grandfatherly-looking man also loved. But the man kept his finger on the button, upholding her by the surge of his power. If he took his finger off the button, she would immediately fall to the ground, unable to move, even to blink an eye.

Incidentally, the woman could not have children, and so she hated children. One day her hatred took hold of her and she plotted to kill the little boy who lived next door. She invited the child over for milk and cookies. Upon hearing the invitation, the little boy's big blue eyes lit up and he jumped up and down with joy. Once she had the child in her house, she led him into the basement, where the milk and cookies supposedly were.

As soon as they were in the basement, the woman grabbed the child and picked him up, shaking him while yelling at him, "I hate you, I am going to kill you." The little boy started crying, pleading for his life. He screamed, "Mommy, mommy, help! Mommy, help!" The woman laughed an evil laugh. She then pulled out a butcher knife . . .

The details don't need to be reported, it's enough to know that she stabbed the boy 47 times. The kind and loving giver of life watched the entire thing; his finger remained on con-current.

The woman was eventually caught. Scientists inspected her and found signs of intelligence that led them to the kind and loving old man. The trial shined a global spotlight on the details of the case. The world found out about The Lifegiver5000 and the button concurrent.

At the trial, the kind and loving man was put in the dock. The question the prosecutor put to him was this: "If you are as kind and loving as you say you are, why did you keep your finger on the button con-current? You only had to remove your finger and the woman, who would have ceased to exist had you not gave her life, would have fallen motionless to the floor. Why did you uphold her by the surge of your power and use con-current?"

The reply still baffles most, and people debate it to this day. The kind and loving old man said that he would not violate her free will in case she ever knocked on his door. He also said that he merely allowed her to brutally murder the young child and that people were ignorant for thinking him morally culpable. After all, he said, "It's not like I determined her to do it."

The question debated to this day is this: Is he evil?

There are those who argue that if we would call fellow man evil for the same thing, we must call the saintly grandfather evil too. They say, "If he is not evil, then we do not know what the terms 'good' and 'evil' mean."

Others argue that he is not evil because he merely allowed the murder to occur. They argue that keeping your finger on con-current does not implicate you in the murder, but ordaining that the murder happen does so implicate.

Most wonder if that's a distinction without a morally relevant difference.

How much worse!

After his recent, ill-fated bout with Steven Nemes (in the “Transference of Nonsense Principle”), Thibodaux was carried out of the Octagon on a stretcher and medevaced to a Level I trauma center to recuperate from his injuries. A hospital spokesman says he may never be the same.

But from his hospital bed in the STICU he was able to dictate a brief post responding to something I wrote.

“This critical failure at critical thinking can be easily answered with a simple scriptural example.”

Actually, it can’t. For the question at issue is not what Scripture teaches, but what Arminianism teaches.

“How each systematic theology interprets the events of Israel’s fall in the wilderness reveals much.”

Thibo then produces a little chart comparing and contrasting Calvinism and Arminianism. Needless to say, you can’t accurately describe the differences in a word or sentence. But that doesn’t stop Thibo from trying to oversimplify the issues.

However, let’s address him at his own level. He says, for example, that in Calvinism, “God not only permitted their rebellion, but actually wanted them to fall”–in contrast to Arminianism.

But is it really that simple?

i) Per Calvinism, God doesn’t “want” every event for its own sake. Rather, he “wants” many events because they facilitate other events.

ii) Per Arminianism, if God didn’t want apostates to fall, then why did he create them with that foreseeable consequence in mind? Presumably Thibo doesn’t think that something or someone necessitated God to make them. If the consequence was both avoidable and undesirable, then why did God go ahead and make them?

Yes, you can say they weren’t apostates at the time he made them, but that’s irrelevant to God’s intentions. If God foreknew that his creative action would have that end-result, then God intended the end-result. Does Thibo think that God is forced to do things against his will? Why did God do something he didn’t want to do? Does Thibo think that God was acting at gunpoint? Is God a hostage? Was God confronted with a Sophie’s choice scenario?

Who’s in charge of the Arminian universe, exactly?

Thibo also attributes apostasy to “the rebels’ independent free will.” But that begs the question.

“If the Arminian view is that God didn’t want the children of Israel to fall, but the Calvinist view is that their fall was His perfect will, who then is framing God as setting them up for their demise?”

Thibo will ring the changes on this counterargument. However, this is inept. I drew an analogy between Arminianism and what Arminians find so odious in Calvinism. He responds by trying to create a parallel with Calvinism! How does that rebut my argument?

My argument was based on a parallel! So how does his attempt to say that Calvinism is analogous refute my comparison? It doesn’t! It simply says the same thing in reverse.

It doesn't seem to occur to him that I was using a tu quoque argument. As such, that doesn’t mean I happen to agree with all the assumptions feeding into the argument. Rather, I took Arminian assumptions for granted for the sake of argument, then constructed a morally analogous situation in Arminianism.

I don’t have a problem with the suggestion that God set them up for the fall. It’s Arminians who find that problematic, not me.

But my point is that Arminian theology commits them to an analogous situation.

“From where did their rebellious downfall ultimately originate? Note again that in the Arminian view, this was the Israelites’ own doing and not necessitated by the will of God; in the Calvinist view their rebellion was necessary due to God’s decree. So who then is portraying God as orchestrating the downfall of the people He had saved?”

i) Thibo is equivocating over the term “saved.” There’s a basic difference between “salvation” in the sense of delivering the Israelites from Egypt, and “salvation” in the sense of delivering somebody from a hellish fate.

In Calvinism, unlike Arminianism, God never saves someone to damn him. If God elect, redeems, regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and adopts a person then that person cannot lose his salvation. It’s a package deal.

By contrast, there are, in Arminian theology, people whom God saved at an earlier date, only to damn at a later date. And God knows that in saving them, he will later damn them.

ii) Thibo is also trying to change the subject. That is already a sure sign that he lost the argument before he ever came into the debate.

The question at issue is not the ultimate origin of their apostasy. The question at issue is whether it is merciful for God to save someone to damn him.

Introducing libertarian freewill into the discussion is a diversionary tactic. For it makes no difference to my argument. I wasn’t arguing on Calvinist assumptions. I was arguing on Arminian assumptions.

My argument takes libertarian freewill for granted. Even if a born-again Christian lost his salvation of his own free will (in the libertarian sense), how is it merciful for God to save him in the first place?

Isn’t the apostate worse off than he was before God saved him? Don’t Arminians concede that an apostate is worse off than he was before God saved him?

So, according to Arminian theology, God is doing something to that individual which will worsen his situation the long run. God is not acting in the best interests of the individual. To the contrary, the Arminian must admit, consistent with his own theology, that God is acting to the detriment of the individual. Making him better off in the short-term tomake him worse off in the long-term.

iii) Also notice that Thibo has failed to rebut my argument. Indeed, he makes no attempt to rebut my argument I pointed out that, given divine foreknowledge, if God saves somebody who will later lose his salvation, then salvation is a set-up for apostasy. According to Arminian theology, salvation is a prerequisite for apostasy. You can’t lose your salvation if you have nothing to lose.

Does Thibo rebut my charge? No. Rather, he tries to deflect the reader’s attention away from my argument by arguing that Calvinism is guilty of doing the same thing. Well, so what?

That doesn’t let Arminianism off the hook. What is more, I baited the hook with Arminian assumptions.

“Is it cruel of God to save people from destruction and give them a genuine opportunity to obtain the promise, even though He knows they will ultimately die in a self-started rebellion?”

How does that rebut the argument? If you give somebody a “genuine opportunity” when you know in advance that he will blow the opportunity and be even worse off than before, were you doing him any favors?

“The fact that God shows His continued kindness to men on a conditional basis is well-established in scripture (e.g. 2 Chronicles 16:6-9). So the logic of this argument then breaks down to the ridiculous position of condemning God as ‘cruel’ if He saves someone, but later lets him suffer the destructive consequences of his own free choices; and at the same time lauding Him as good and just if He saves someone, then later destroys him for choices that God decreed he make. That’s special pleading at its most absurd.”

This is just another decoy. The question at issue is not what Scripture teaches, but what Arminianism teaches.

Arminians accuse the Calvinist God of being monstrous, cruel, bloodthirsty, diabolical, &c. The question, though, is whether their objections boomerang. Quoting Scripture does nothing to resolve the self-contradictions in Arminian theism.

“Further, the author confuses and equivocates God merely allowing the evil to occur (the Arminian view) with God ‘setting up’ and ‘orchestrating’ the event (which better reflects his own exhaustively deterministic views).”

i) How is “allowing” evil ipso facto exculpatory? Aren’t there many situations in which allowing evil is culpable?

ii) And, of course, the Arminian God does more than merely “allow” evil. For starters, what about the Arminian doctrine of divine creation. God created a world with these foreseeable consequences. So that’s a set-up.

Moreover, Arminianism also has a doctrine of divine concurrence. God must enable the evildoer. Empower the evildoer. Sustain the evildoer.

“The comparison of God to a serial killer in that He’s eager to deliver the death blow is also a complete mischaracterization, since He doesn’t take pleasure in the death of the wicked (or their wickedness for that matter).”

Alluding to a Scriptural passage does nothing to harmonize Arminianism with Scripture, or resolve its internal tensions.

If the Arminian God doesn’t take pleasure in the death of the wicked, then why do they die? Why does the Arminian God send the flood to kill evildoers? Why does the Arminian God command the Israelites to kill evildoers? Why does the Arminian God make evildoers die of illness or old age?

Why does the Arminian God do things and command things to be done which he finds “unpleasant” (to work with Thibo’s adjective)? Does Thibo think this world was a fait accompli? Was God fated to play the hand that ill-fortune dealt him?

Have you ever noticed that Arminian theodicy resembles Greek mythology? The gods are subservient to the Fates. Zeus would like to save so-and-so, but if the Fates have doomed him, then Zeus is powerless to intervene. Arminians so often act as if God’s hands are tied.

“Missing from the weak and badly misplaced ‘fishing trip’ analogy is any reference to the factor of willful rebellion against the Savior. Apostasy isn’t something that people suddenly just fall into by accident and without warning. The apostate isn’t some poor kid flailing in the water and crying for help to an uncaring and indifferent God.”

I didn’t bring that up because it’s irrelevant to the argument:

i) To begin with, that factor is not a differential factor between Calvinism and Arminianism. Calvinism would also say the apostate is guilty. Calvinism would also say the apostate got his just deserts.

ii) Even more to the point, this does nothing to salvage Thibo’s case. If God punishes the apostate, then that’s an act of justice rather than mercy.

So in what sense was the Arminian God gracious and loving in his treatment of the would-be apostate? Sure, you can say the apostate got what was coming to him, but how is that loving?

If the Arminian God knew from the outset that by saving John Doe, he would damn John Doe, then how does Arminianism extricate its God from the charge that he is merely toying with the lost? Leaving them worse off than if he never made them or saved them in the first place?

Hebrews 10:29

How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

2 Peter 2:20-21

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.