Saturday, October 01, 2011

400,000 Textual Variants?


Well worth watching:

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper.

Them thar knee-jerk Bahble-thumpers

I realize this is largely a waste of time for many people. Talking about the history of the state of Israel with Zionist Dispensationalists is as useful as talking about the history of the Bible with King James Onlyists...In short, no meaningful discussion will take place over the primary issues because one side is simply incapable of putting emotions, tradition, and knee-jerk reactions aside.

Jamin Hubner: Towering intellectual

Hubner Farms and Ranch (work - Ranch Hand, Farmer)
Sandstone Ridge Condominiums (work - Maintenance)
Jack's Campers (work - RV Technician)
Youth Pastor (work - Memorial Baptist Church)
Youth Services International (work - Youth Counselor)
Avon High School (work - Substitute Teacher)
All Seasons Center (work - Assistant Swim Instructor)
Dordt College (work - Teaching Assistant)
Dordt College ASK Center (work - Tutor)
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(work - Percussion Instructor)
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Charles Lee Feinberg: Hayseed Bible-thumper

Charles Feinberg was born in Pittsburgh to orthodox Jewish parents. At age 17 he went to the University of Pittsburgh, which he completed in three years with a major in history and a quadruple minor in English, French, German, and Psychology.
Still a high achiever, in his three years at Dallas he ran through three degrees in theology, a bachelors, a masters, and a doctorate. More precisely, he earned a ThB and a ThM, but also completed all the course work for a ThD. The school agreed to give him the doctorate if he wrote the dissertation and spent one more year in residence (summa cum laude, May 1935). Writing the dissertation was no problem, and he spent part of the remaining year teaching church history.
In 1935 Feinberg began teaching Hebrew in the seminary of the Evangelical Theological College until 1945. During his decade of teaching he earned an MA in history from Southern Methodist University in 1943, and a PhD in Semitic Languages from Johns Hopkins in 1945, under William F. Albright.

Born in captivity

One popular theme in modern SF is the distinction between real people and virtual characters. Some virtual characters are artificially intelligent. Like real people, they have consciousness.

But unlike real people who are immersed in the simulation, the virtual characters don’t know it’s a simulation. To a virtual character, even a conscious virtual character, the virtual world is the only world it knows. The virtual world is the real world. Even if a real person immersed in the interactive program explains to a virtual character that this is just a simulation, the virtual character won’t believe him.

Real people in the virtual world sometimes suffer from amnesia. At first they mistake the simulation for reality. But then they begin to remember. Remember their past. Remember the world they came from.

Christians are like real people immersed in a virtual world. But God has given us the story behind the story. And God not only made us self-aware, but aware of the unseen world beyond the world of our senses.

Likewise, some wild animals are captured in the wild and transferred to zoos. But other animals are born in captivity. The zoo is all they know. They live and die in captivity. This is their home. If you released them back into the wild, they would feel lost. Out of place. They are content with their fenced-in quarters.

When the Babylonian exile ended, some Jews stayed behind. They were born in captivity. Their prison became their home.  

Duplantis: Exegete Par Excellence


Supporting Arabs with Unsound Arguments

Rough justice for citizens, due process for terrorists

The assassination (or “targeted killing”) of Al-Awlaki represents a reductio ad absurdum in Obama’s judicial philosophy. On the one hand he awards full due process rights to foreign-born terrorists while, on the other hand, he authorizes the summary execution of American terrorists. It represents a total inversion of values.

BTW, I’m not commenting on the intrinsic merits of the Al-Awlaki assassination–just the absurdity of Obama's judicial philosophy. 

Geostrategic morality

Since Jamin Hubner lacks the moral discernment to properly frame the Arab-Israeli conflict, we need to walk him through the process.

1. Let’s assume (arguendo) that Israel and her Muslim neighbors are equally bad. Let’s stipulate moral equivalence for the sake of argument.

For some odd reason, Hubner lacks the moral discernment to draw the correct conclusion from that worse-case scenario. He apparently imagines that if Israel and the “Palestinians” are equally culpable, then they are entitled to equal treatment from the US, or Christian Americans.

This is strange coming from somebody who considers himself a Calvinist. A staple Arminian objection to Calvinism is that God is unjust if he is inequitable in his treatment of human beings. The stable Reformed response is that unequal treatment is only unjust if both parties have just claims on God. If both parties merit a certain level of treatment, then it would be wrong of God to deny to one group the treatment it deserves.

If, however, both parties are guilty, then God can justly discriminate. It is not unjust for God to be unfair (i.e. inequitable) if both parties are culpable. If neither party is entitled to better treatment, then it’s not wrong of God to treat one party better (or worse) than another.

To take a human illustration, if you have two mob families which commit mutual atrocities, then they forfeit their prima facie right to equal treatment.

2. American husbands and fathers have a moral obligation to defend their dependants (e.g. wives, kids, aging parents) against the jihadis.

3. American Christians, through their elected representatives, have a right to form military alliances that serve to protect their families against foreign aggression. National defense is a logical extension of self-defense.

4. Even if (arguendo) Israel is just as bad as her Muslim neighbors, American foreign policy can rightly accord preferential treatment to Israel as a military ally in our common fight against global jihad.

Israel has certain assets which contribute to our mutual security interests. Israel has excellent intelligence resources. Israel can also function as base of operations for joint military campaigns in the region.

To revert to my earlier illustration, suppose both mob families are equally corrupt, but one is dangerous to the public safety in a way the other is not. Suppose one family is into gambling while the other is into drug trafficking. Suppose the police lack the wherewithal to single-handedly defeat the dangerous mobsters, but it can successfully take down the dangerous mob family it if temporarily teams up with the other mob family. By so doing, the police save the lives of many innocent bystanders. That would be morally permissible. 

Trusting the enemy

We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins in race, having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers at the hands of powers stronger than themselves, and by a happy coincidence have been able to take the first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together.
We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organization to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through: we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home…I Hope the Arabs may soon be in a position to make the Jews some return for their kindness. We are working together for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete one another. The Jewish movement is national and not imperialist. Our movement is national and not imperialist, and there is room in Syria for us both. Indeed I think that neither can be a real success without the other…I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of civilized peoples of the world. Believe me, Yours sincerely, Feisal

Now, as far as I know, I have yet to hear a single Zionist dispensationalist ever acknowledge that that was truly the opinion of any Arab in the Middle-East at any time. Could have Feisal expressed sympathy and kindness towards the Jewish cause any more?

Needless to say, we should take whatever a Muslim says at face value. Give him the benefit of the doubt. It's not as if Muslims ever dissimulate about their true intentions. They have such a fine track-record, you know. 

National Geographic News
September 28, 2001
In an interview with National Geographic, Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki shares his perspective on the tragic events of September 11 and the impact they have had on the United States and the world...He is now the imam of Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, and the Muslim chaplain at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

First of all, we stated our position clearly, and I even feel that it's unfortunate that we have to state this position because no religion would condone this, so it should be common knowledge. But we were in a position where we had to say that Islam does not approve of this. There is no way that the people who did this could be Muslim, and if they claim to be Muslim, then they have perverted their religion.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The American-born imam who preached to both the Fort Hood shooting suspect and two of the Sept. 11 hijackers at a Washington, D.C., mosque in 2001 has been under investigation by U.S. intelligence for years.
Anwar al-Awlaki is back in the news after praising Nidal Malik Hasan's actions in the rampage on the U.S. Army base that claimed the lives of 13, calling the disgruntled major "a hero" on his blog.
"He is a man of conscience who could not bear the contradiction of being a Muslim and fighting against his own people," Awlaki writes.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Protocols of Anti-Zionism

I realize this is largely a waste of time for many people. Talking about the history of the state of Israel with Zionist Dispensationalists is as useful as talking about the history of the Bible with King James Onlyists.

What a bigoted statement.

Likewise, the true British offers to the Zionists, the history of Zionism and the worldviews of its founders, the persecution of Arabs, ethnic cleansing, and Jewish terrorism. None of that matters for the Dispensational Zionist. The response to the facts is the same: “It can’t be! It can’t be!” or “Those facts don’t matter! You’re condemning the people of God [or not casting present day Israel in a good light, which is politically incorrect], so you should be condemned.” Eventually, you’re told something along the lines of “you’re anti-Semitic,” “a shill for Hamas,” or told straight out from another Christian, “Hubner’s…just a dupe for the jihadists” (Steve Hays), etc.

Except for the awkard little fact that I'm not a “Dispensational Zionist.”

In short, no meaningful discussion will take place over the primary issues because one side is simply incapable of putting emotions, tradition, and knee-jerk reactions aside.

Ah yes, confirmation bias could only possibly apply anyone who disagree's with Hubner. He himself is immune to confirmation bias.

We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins in race, having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers at the hands of powers stronger than themselves, and by a happy coincidence have been able to take the first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together.
We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organization to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through: we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home…I Hope the Arabs may soon be in a position to make the Jews some return for their kindness. We are working together for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete one another. The Jewish movement is national and not imperialist. Our movement is national and not imperialist, and there is room in Syria for us both. Indeed I think that neither can be a real success without the other…I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of civilized peoples of the world. Believe me, Yours sincerely, Feisal

Now, as far as I know, I have yet to hear a single Zionist dispensationalist ever acknowledge that that was truly the opinion of any Arab in the Middle-East at any time. Could have Feisal expressed sympathy and kindness towards the Jewish cause any more?

Of course, no Arab leader would ever dissemble. No Arab leader would ever talk out of both sides of his mouth.

On the one hand:

September 9, 1993
Yitzhak Rabin
Prime Minister of Israel
Mr. Prime Minister,
The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era in the history of the Middle East. In firm conviction thereof, I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments:
The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.
The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.
The PLO considers that the signing of the Declaration of Principles constitutes a historic event, inaugurating a new epoch of peaceful coexistence, free from violence and all other acts which endanger peace and stability. Accordingly, the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators.
In view of the pormise of a new era and the signing of the Declaration of Principles and based on Palestinian acceptance of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.
Yasser Arafat
The Palestine Liberation Organization

On the other hand:

The late Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat had instructed Hamas to launch terror attacks against Israel when he realized that peace talks with Israel weren’t going anywhere, Mahmoud Zahar, one of the Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, revealed on Tuesday.
“President Arafat instructed Hamas to carry out a number of military operations in the heart of the Jewish state after he felt that his negotiations with the Israeli government then had failed,” Zahar told students and lecturers at the Islamic University in Gaza City.
Zahar did not specify when and how Arafat instructed Hamas to launch the “military operations” – most of which were suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians.
However, it is believed the reference is to Arafat’s response to the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000.
This was the first time that a senior Hamas official disclosed that some of the Hamas suicide bombings during the second intifada, which erupted 10 years ago, were ordered by Arafat. Until now it was widely believed that Arafat had only ordered his Fatah militiamen to carry out terror attacks on Israel.
According to various testimonies, Arafat ordered the armed wing of Fatah, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, to launch terror attacks against Israel after he realized that the government of then-prime minister Ehud Barak was not going to meet all of his demands.

Beware of moderate Muslims bearing gifts

The greatest bluff on earth

God on the quad

On Ducking Challenges to Naturalism

Dissent and discipline

In the Clark Controversy, John Murray wrote the majority report on the well-meant offer. Since this is often treated as the benchmark for further discussion regarding the offer of the gospel, let’s put this report in historical and ecclesiastical context.

1. This states the official position of the OPC. It has no authority outside the OPC. It’s not a creed which representatives from different Reformed denominations ratified.

2. Of course, that doesn’t mean it has no cachet beyond the OPC. Although it lacks ecclesiastical authority outside the OPC, we can still judge the majority report on the merits. Assuming the exegesis is sound, assuming the inferences are valid, it should hold sway beyond the confines of the OPC.

But, of course, that cuts both ways. We can also judge the minority report on the merits.

3. At the time the report was written, the OPC didn’t have much competition. Likewise, Westminster seminary didn’t have much competition back then, and the Westminster faculty had a disproportionate influence in the OPC deliberations on the Clark Controversy.

I don’t think there’s anything pernicious about that. But it does reflect a historically provincial set of circumstances that isn’t ipso facto representative of the Reformed scene in the 21C.

4. This is the default policy of the OPC. But keep in mind that this goes back to the 1940s. That’s several generations ago.

In principle, a later generation of OPC elders could always readjudicate this issue. There’s a kind of stare decisis in Presbyterianism, where there’s a standing presumption in favor of a preexisting policy. But that’s not infallible. That’s not irreformable.

5. And there’s another issue. When some controversy makes its way up through the appellate process to the General Assembly, and is ruled on one way or the other, what happens to the losers?

In the very nature of the process, you’re going to have a public debate with various spokesmen taking sides. Eventually one side wins and the other side loses. But the view of the losers is a matter of public record. So what’s the next step?

They don’t suddenly recant their stated views. In terms of the official policy, what’s expected of them?

To take some concrete examples, William Young wrote and signed the minority report on the Clark Controversy in reference to the well-meant offer. Yet he remained an OPC minister in good standing. And he left for another denomination of his own volition. He wasn’t defrocked. 

Likewise, Bob Strimple supports the office of deaconess. His side lost that battle. Yet he remained a minister in good standing in the OPC.

Even in the infamous “Shepherd” affair, Norman Shepherd wasn’t defrocked. He later left the OPC for the CRC–of his own accord.

So the dissenting view is still tolerated unless and until the dissident is charged, convicted, and defrocked. Which doesn’t happen very often. A dissident is vulnerable, but severance isn’t automatic.

Talking sense to nonsense

Ponter has posted his final response to me:

When I started this project of engaging well-meant offer Calvinists on the topic of limited satisfaction in relation to the free offer, my original parameters for conversation were that I wanted to engage true evangelical Calvinists. Part of my desire was that I was looking for any defeaters to my argument. When Hays picked up on my project and began to respond, I replied on the supposition that he was not a hypercalvinist. I admit I had my suspicions and concerns, but I had hoped for the best. It is clear now that my suspicions are being confirmed.
There are 3 core parts to Hays’ reply to Tony Byrne and myself. Let’s track through them just enough to make the points. The question I want to tackle today takes us beyond simple theology to the more important issue of whether or not Steve Hays is even Reformed in his understanding of the doctrines of the Free Offer, of the Revealed Will, and of Reprobation. For my part, the more I read of him, the more I come to believe he has moved outside the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy on these points.

Putting aside his tendentious characterization, this does, indeed, reflect a fundamental difference between his theological orientation and mine. I never begin by asking what’s “Reformed”? Rather, I begin by asking what’s “true.”

If Reformed theology is true, then it has nothing to fear from that starting-point.

Likewise, the issue which ought to concern Christians is not whether we have “moved outside the bounds of” what’s Reformed, but whether we have moved outside the bounds of what’s godly. Scriptural. Biblical. 

Are we faithful to God? Do our beliefs line up with God’s revelation?

Unfortunately, Ponter has reduced theology to a little game, where what matters is winning the game rather than fidelity to God. Where you win by planning by the rules. The way you play by the rules is to quote snippets from your favorite theologians. An internal game in which you assume the role of a player. In the meantime, God recedes into the background.

That doesn’t interest me. When I’m on my deathbed, all that matters is whether I was faithful to God. Did I believe what God revealed, and did I live in accordance with God’s revelation. How well I gamed the system won’t prepare me for death–or eternity. God is not impressed by what theologians we can quote. What counts is whether you and I were faithful to his word.

Firstly, I would like to reference this: Regarding Hays’ claim that God ensures that Pharaoh would refuse the command of God by hardening his heart, how would Hays propose to extricate himself from the charge by Dort that such ideas are to be deemed detestable by the Reformed?

See what I mean? I quoted two passages from Exodus (Exod 4:21-23; 7:2-5). I drew two logical inferences from what I quoted:

Does God’s command or proposal have Pharaoh’s well-being in view? No. Is God well-disposed to Pharaoh? No. Does God desire Pharaoh’s compliance? No.
God wants Pharaoh to refuse the command or proposal. For the refusal is a means to an end. It would thwart God’s long-range plan if Pharaoh accepted the proposal or obey the command.
And not only does God want Pharaoh to refuse the command or proposal, but God ensures the refusal by hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Under those circumstances, it isn’t even possible for Pharaoh to accept the proposal or obey the command.

Now, ask yourself–what’s the appropriate response for Ponter to make? Remember who the speaker is. This is God talking.  This is God telling Moses what to say to Pharaoh. And this is God revealing his ulterior intentions to Moses. God is interpreting his own commands.

Why did I cite this? As a biblical counterexample to Ponter’s preconceived definition of a divine “offer” or command. As a biblical counterexample to Ponter’s stimulations regarding the necessary preconditions of a divine “offer” or command.

 If we’re going to discuss the nature of divine offers, promises, commands, and so on, shouldn’t we begin with some Biblical examples? See if our definition squares with God’s actual practice?

So how does Ponter respond? Does he show that I misinterpreted the passages I cite? Does he show that I drew a fallacious inference from the passages I cite? No. He completely bypasses that issue, and instead asks how I’d extricate myself from the charge of Dordt.

How is Ponter’s reply accountable to the word of God? Isn’t the only important question whether Ponter’s definition is consistent with what God himself is telling us in this passage?

How can Ponter maneuver himself into a position where he doesn’t even care? This is the problem with people who get so swept up in play-acting that they completely lose sight of reality.

Ponter suggests my statement would be “be deemed detestable by the Reformed” I don’t think that’s the case (see below), but even if we grant his allegation for the sake of argument, which is the more important question to ask ourselves: Is my position detestable to the Reformed, or is Ponter’s position detestable to God?

I quoted to passages from Exodus to challenge Ponter’s preconceived definition of a divine “offer.”  Ponter doesn’t show that my inference was invalid. Ponter doesn’t present an alternative interpretation. Why does Ponter think he has a right to snub God?

Secondly, the problem is that in standard hypercalvinist fashion, Hays has disconnected the divine desire for compliance to his commands from the command itself. Thus, God can command a man do something, but in no way desire that the man comply with the command. Indeed, it is God’s unalloyed desire that the man not comply with the command. If Hays were to say this scenario only applies to Pharaoh and not to the non-elect as a class, that would be absurd. For clearly, all that Hays charges on the point of Pharaoh must be equally applicable to the circumstances of the non-elect in relation to God’s decree. Hays has, as a hypercalvinist, thrown the revealed will under the bus.

i) Once again, how does that even begin to refute what I said about the passages in Exodus? I’m quoting the “revealed will” of God from the very lips of God.

Not only do these passages give us God’s revealed will, but they also give us God’s own interpretation of his revealed will. They give us God’s command, but what is more, God also tells Moses what lies behind the command, what God intends to accomplish by his command.

I’m not the one who “disconnected the divine desire for compliance to his commands from the command itself.” Go back and read the text. That God desired noncompliance is demonstrable in two respects, either one of which would be sufficient:

i) Pharaoh’s refusal is instrumental to God’s overarching objective. That’s explicit in the text itself.

By contrast, Ponter would have us believe that God wanted Pharaoh to thwart God’s plan. Does that make sense of the text?

ii) In addition, the text says God will harden Pharaoh to guarantee noncompliance. I didn’t make that up. I didn’t draw that connection. That’s right there in the text.

By contrast, Ponter would have us believe that God desired Pharaoh’s compliance even though God told Moses that God was going to render compliance impossible by hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Once again, how does Ponter’s position make any sense of the sacred text?

And what’s worse is that Ponter doesn’t even a feel duty to engage the text and square his position with the word of God.

In orthodox Reformed theology, God desires that men comply with the divine commands. As soon as Hays goes down the road of denying that God desires compliance to his commands, he has exited Reformed orthodoxy on these points.

Even if we grant that claim for the sake of argument, how is that responsive to the passages in Exodus? Ponter has exited the word of God. Ponter has exited the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I prefer the road I’m going down to the road Ponter is going down.

Firstly, Romans 10:9 is not a command.

Irrelevant. The question is what God “offers” in the gospel. Rom 10:9 is one example. It gives the content of the gospel offer. The divine promise of salvation. Both what is offered, and how it’s offered.

Thirdly, Hays reduces both the commands to repent and the offer of salvation to nothing but good advice presented as a statement for their consideration, and this to two non-specific people-groups.

i) You sometimes wonder if Ponter even knows how to think. Let’s take a comparison. Take 1 Timothy. Who is that to? Wh is Paul writing to? Who is the immediate recipient? Paul wrote that to Timothy. He didn’t write that to David Ponter.

On the other hand, God also inspired and preserved 1 Timothy for posterity. For the benefit of the church.

Likewise, the gospel of the offer isn’t personally addressed to you and me. The offer of the gospel doesn’t name David Ponter. It doesn’t specify David Ponter as the offeree.

No, the gospel offer is a general proposal or command. BTW, I use the word “proposal” because that’s a synonym for “offer,” and Ponter himself directed the reader to that definition (among others), when he linked to the Free Dictionary.

ii) Moreover, why does Ponter make a big deal about the word “consideration”? Look at how Ponter himself defines an offer:

To present something to someone for their acceptance or rejection.

Well, isn’t that presenting something to someone for their consideration?

Ponter imagines that he’s ridiculing what I said when, in fact, he’s ridiculing his own position. Ponter is so caught up in the polemical momentum that he can’t think straight.

Fourthly, as God now only offers statements, so faith can only be assent to such statements. We are right back into Sandemanianism. And so even here, Hays has departed from Reformed orthodoxy.

Ponter really needs to sober up. He’s just making a public fool of himself at this juncture.

A “statement” can be a command, promise, threat, assertion, offer, and so on. How is that Sandemanian?

Now to the first part. Hays has asserted that God is not making an offer anyone in particular. Hays’ counter here is patently absurd. This is just an embarrassment. This is so absurd that he has reached a new level that I have never seen any hypercalvinist reach to in all my years of interaction with hypercalvinists.1 God issues forth a conditional statement to two amorphous people-groups, but to no one in particular, offering to these two undifferentiated masses conditional statements, for them to consider! This has to be a joke?

I’m afraid Ponter is a joke. A bad joke.

Let’s go back to Rom 10:9. Is that addressed to any specific individual? Does that single out David Ponter? No. It’s a hypothetical syllogism. In Scripture, the offer of the gospel typically takes that form. That’s what makes it generally applicable.

Perhaps Bnonn can take Ponter aside and talk some sense into him.

There is just so much more I could present to Hays. The idea that God does offers salvation to no one in particular should be seen by all impartial parties as self-evidently absurd. I cannot believe that reasonable well-meant offer and orthodox Calvinists will buy into this absurdity.

Does Ponter even know how to define a hypothetical syllogism? Does Ponter even know how to recognize its frequent occurrence in Scripture? At this point he’s degenerated into spouting emotional blather.

I didn’t invent this. It’s easy to find examples in Scripture, including the offer of the gospel.

Finally, let’s circle back to the secondary issue of whether my position has departed from the Reformed faith:

It is very evident that our conduct, in preaching the gospel, and in addressing our fellow-men with a view to their salvation, should not be regulated by any inferences of our own about the nature, extent and sufficiency of the provision actually made for saving them, but solely by the directions and instructions which God has given us, by precept or example, to guide us in the matter–unless, indeed we venture to act upon the principle of refusing to obey God’s commands, until we fully understand all the grounds and reasons of them.
God’s revealed will is the only rule, and ought to be held to be the sufficient warrant for all that we do in this matter,­–in deciding what is our duty,–in making known to our fellow-men what are their privileges and obligations,–and in setting before them reasons and motives for improving the one and discharging the other. And though this revelation does not warrant us in telling them that Christ died for all and each of the human race,–a mode of preaching the gospel never adopted by our Lord and His Apostles,–yet it does authorize and enable us to lay before men views and considerations, facts and arguments, which, in right reason, should warrant and persuade all to whom they are addressed, to lay hold of the hope set before them…
The position of our opponents is, in substance, this,–that it was not possible for God, because not consistent with integrity and uprightness, to address such offers and invitations to men indiscriminately, unless an atonement, which is indispensable to salvation, and been presented and accepted on behalf of all men,–of each individual of the human race. Now, this position bears very manifestly the character of unwarranted presumption, and assumes our capacity of fully comprehending and estimating the eternal purposes of the divine mind,–the inmost grounds and reasons of the divine procedure. It cannot be proved,–because there is really not any clear and certain medium of probation,–that God, by offering to men indiscriminately, without distinction or exception, through Christ, pardon and acceptance, contradicts the doctrine which He has revealed to us in His own word, as to a limitation, not in the intrinsic sufficiency, but in the intended destination of the atonement.
When we carefully analyze all that is really implied in what God says and does, or authorizes and requires us to say and do in this matter, we can find much that is fitted to show that God does not, in offering pardon and acceptance to men indiscriminately, act inconsistently or deceptively, though it is not true that the atonement was universal. And it is easy to prove that He does no injustice to anyone; since all who believe what He has revealed to them, and who do what He has given them sufficient motives or reasons for doing, will certainly obtain salvation.
In regard to the allegation often made by orthodox divines, that this act of God is warranted by, and is based upon, the infinite intrinsic sufficiency of Christ’s atonement, we would only remark,–for we cannot enter into the discussion,–that we are not aware of any Scripture evidence that these two things,–namely, the universal intrinsic sufficiency and the unlimited offers,–are connected in this way,–that we have never been able to see how the assertion of this connection removed or solved the difficulty, or threw any additional light on the subject.
So far as the objection of opponents is concerned…it cannot be proved that there is any inconsistency or insincerity, that there is any injustice or deception, on God’s part, in anything which He says or does in this matter, even though the intended destination of the atonement was to effect and secure the forgiveness and salvation of the elect only, even though He did not design or purpose, by sending His Son into the world, to save any but those who are saved.

W. Cunningham, Historical Theology (Banner of Truth 1969), 2:345-48. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Three Simple Questions on the State of Israel

Keel hauled

Nearing Home

Speech police

Can Cain win?

Perry, Santorum feud over legislating morality

Cross, crescent, and star of David

Jamin Hubner, with his overdeveloped persecution complex, nurses the notion that I must be attacking his pro-“Palestinian” position because I hate him. For the record, I have a longstanding public position on the issue: 

Godly men

Both of these stories have come up recently; I've just had the opportunity to put them in one place:

Why Can’t I Have Relations With My Two-Year Old Canadian Relative?

Universalism, Colossians 1:15-20, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, the Already–Not Yet and the Parousia–not-yet-and-the-parousia/

Geisler Syndrome

Recently Jamin Hubner has raised issues relating to a simple question: is the modern secular state of Israel religiously and theologically significant? Is it "Israel" as in the Israel of Scripture, or Romans 11? And if it is not, is it open to criticism? He is concerned about the strength of the movement, mainly amongst American evangelicals, that has granted to Israel not only a theological position it does not actually hold, but which precludes even the slightest mention of criticism of a secular state. Now, I am not going to re-hash everything here, but he has even been accused of being a "shill for Hamas" due to sources he has cited and issues he has raised (which seems to me to provide strong evidence of the need to raise such issues and challenge the knee-jerk reactions of many in the Evangelical community as a whole).

If Dr. White can quote where I suggest that Hubner is a shill for Hamas because Hubner has criticized the Dispensational view of modern Israel, he’s welcome to do so. Otherwise, he’s burning a straw man.

Hays is simply unfair in his attempted response to Jamin. It is scatter-gunning, it is not sober, fair, researched writing. It is "you sound like a CNN reporter" rather than "here is a more sound, historical way of seeing those events."

i) Jamin’s notion of “sober, fair, research” is to glean his factoids from a PC-USA minister and writer for Sojourners magazine.

ii) Yes, Jamin is acting exactly like the average CNN reporter. Whenever you have a jihadist attack, the mainstream media goes out of its way to step around the elephant in the room. It studiously avoids suggesting a religious motivation. Anything but that.

Likewise, in his discussion of why “Palestinians” or “Arabs” kill Israeli Jews, Huber went out of his way to ignore the Muslim connection.

It seems that Hays leaps from the reality that Islam as a whole has a long history of anti-Jewish behavior, one which is easily documented today in Palestinian broadcasting and writing, for example, to the unfounded conclusion that there has never been any period of time in all of history where Muslims and Jews lived in relative peace in close proximity with each other.

i) The reason I brought up the long history of anti-Jewish behavior in Islam should be obvious: Hubner raised the issue of what motivates “Palestinians” to kill Israeli Jews. Do purely local circumstances account for that? Or is that part of a larger historical pattern, grounded in a religious ideology?

ii) Sure you can have peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Jews when Muslims subjugate Jews. When Muslims rule over a Jewish populace and bilk Jewish dhimmis for all they’re worth. When Jews are ghettoized. Second-class citizens. But I didn’t expect White to defend dhimmitude.

You can also have peaceful coexistence if both grounds are under the thumb of another overlord (e.g. the defunct British Empire).

This is part of the problem with this kind of thinking: it is far too easy to provide counter-documentation of where there have been enlightened, unbigoted Muslims (and Muslim leaders) who did not follow this path. The reality is, of course, that Islam is not a monolith, either today, or in the past. Is there violence against Jews based solely upon a deep and abiding presence of religiously inspired bigotry amongst some Muslims based upon, say, particular hadith stories?

So now we see White taking the CAIR line. We must distinguish between “true Islam” (the “Religion of Peace”), to which peacenik “moderate” Muslims adhere–and those wacky “radicals” who’ve “hijacked” the true faith, what with their twisted ideology and all.

It is absurd to accuse Jamin of being a Hamas shill, first of all. Jamin is not "constantly reciting the Hamas narrative."

Just compare Hubner’s narrative about “mass murder,” the right of return, and so forth and so on, with any jihadist website like, say, “The Palestinian Information Center”–to see that Hubner has simply repackaged the same rank propaganda.

Is Hubner a jihadist? No. He’s just a dupe for the jihadists.

The gospel transcends all geopolitical boundaries and is for all people at all times and in all places. Christianity does not require the importation of any political, cultural, or governmental system, again, unlike Islam. This is part and parcel of my presentation, and the role of politics, the existence and rights of Israel as a secular state, etc., have never had anything to do with my defense of the faith or my criticism of Islam. So on any logical basis, anything Jamin Hubner has said about the secular state of Israel, world history in the 20th century, etc., has nothing at all to do with my apologetic regarding Islam. Further, I challenge the implied assertion that speaking to the issue of whether the secular state of Israel has theological import or ramifications would undercut meaningful Islamic apologetics.

That’s hopelessly naïve. For while the “gospel” transcends all geopolitical boundaries, “evangelism” does not. Islam disallows evangelism. Islam disallows conversion from Islam to Christianity (e.g. the law of apostasy). Wherever possible, Islam tries to suppress Christian expression. And that agenda is facilitated by willing dupes like Hubner.

Secondly, Hays' view of Islam is way too simplistic when he speaks of taking a position on the "role of Islam in geopolitics."

Once again, White is taking the CAIR line. We mustn’t blame all the “good” Muslims for a few “isolated incidents” perpetrated by a fringe group.

Unfortunately, White is suffering from Geisler Syndrome. Geisler syndrome is when a mentor automatically covers for his protégé. White constantly faults Norman Geisler because Geisler automatically covers for Ergun Caner.

Of course, one symptom of Geisler Syndrome is that you have to be an outsider to recognize the symptoms. The mentor himself is oblivious to the syndrome.

Because Caner isn’t White’s own protégé, White can clearly see the problem with Geisler. But because Hubner is White’s protégé, he lacks the same objectivity in that case.

Taken by itself, that’s simply a common human foible. What’s more unfortunate is that in order to defend his protégé, White is now sticking up for “moderate” Islam.