Monday, July 02, 2012

Rewriting history

I'll comment on this:

It tends to revel in denigration of human beings EXCEPT insofar as they are “elect.” How does one reconcile that with Christian humanism (viz., that all human beings are created in God’s image and possess infinite value and worth)?

i) Only God has “infinite” worth.

ii) What’s wrong with “finite” worth? There are degrees of finite worth. Along with the angels, we’re already at the top of creaturely scale.

iii) Is the infinite worth of human beings a logical entailment of Arminian theology? That may be a flattering phrase, but how would Olson actually go about defending the proposition that Arminian theology necessarily confers “infinite value” on human beings? Is there anything to that claim beyond precious sentimentality?

iv) A presupposition of unconditional election is that God’s elect don’t have greater intrinsic worth than the reprobate. God elects us in spite of the fact that we aren’t more valuable than the reprobate.
It seems to me the only rational way to combine Christian humanism with Calvinist dualism. Dualistic Calvinism that includes belief in eternal reprobation of a definite number of human beings, especially combined with limited atonement, seems to me to open the door to considering some portion of humanity empty of real dignity and worth.
Election and reprobation cut across (or even against the grain) of race, ethnicity, and social class. To the extent that one group is disproportionately impacted, it’s the cultural winners in this life who are more likely to be the cultural losers in the afterlife:
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Cor 1:26-29).
Back to Olson:

Historically, of course, it played out that way in South Africa and North America.
Olson is so blinded by his loathing of Calvinism that he rewrites history to suit his agenda. Here’s an example of how theology played out North America:
As the nineteenth century progressed, it became apparent that tensions were deepening in Methodism over the slavery question. In this matter, as in so many others, Methodism reflected a national ethos because it was a church with a membership that was not limited to a region, class, or race. Contention over slavery would ultimately split Methodism into separate northern and southern churches.

The slavery issue was generally put aside by The Methodist Episcopal Church until its General Conference in 1844, when the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions clashed. Their most serious conflict concerned one of the church’s five bishops, James O. Andrew, who had acquired slaves through marriage. After acrimonious debate the General Conference voted to suspend Bishop Andrew from the exercise of his episcopal office so long as he could not, or would not, free his slaves. A few days later dissidents drafted a Plan of Separation, which permitted the annual conferences in slaveholding states to separate from The Methodist Episcopal Church in order to organize their own ecclesiastical structure. The Plan of Separation was adopted, and the groundwork was prepared for the creation of The Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

Delegates from the southern states met in Louisville, Kentucky, in May 1845, to organize their new church. Their first General Conference was held the following year in Petersburg, Virginia, where a Discipline and hymnbook were adopted. Bitterness between northern and southern Methodists intensified in the years leading to Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860 and then through the carnage of the Civil War. Each church claimed divine sanction for its region and prayed fervently for God’s will to be accomplished in victory for its side.


  1. Well, maybe I am an Arminian hate-monger?

    Reading this article this morning leads me to make a point about our infinite or finite worth from both sides of our eternal life; this side, the temporal side and from the other side, the eternal side. The point is on both sides I shall always and forever be of finite worth to God and one another, not infinite!

    Looking at one's finite worth from this side or the temporal side, we see that the Apostle Paul did just that. If he did, shouldn't we?:

    Php 3:17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
    Php 3:18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
    Php 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
    Php 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
    Php 3:21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

    One might conclude from reading those verses the Apostle held both an infinite value and a finite value in view?

    After all the Apostle asks us to consider both kinds of worth, the worth of the reprobates and that of the Elect.

    Now for the other side's point of view. I cite from the book of the Revelation given to John to show to His servants the things that will shortly take place and the final infinite realities of finite and infinite worth and value of all living creatures after this present heavens and earth are no more:

    Rev 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
    Rev 22:2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

    Here we see the Elect partaking as of "finite" worth His infinite supplies that sustains us for the rest of Eternity, once, we too, are partakers of the fruit of those trees yielding fruits monthly, a finite phrase, phrase, mind you; and, apparently there is going to be served up some fantastic piping hot Heavenly Tea made from the leaves of those fruit bearing trees yielding fruits monthly when we fall ill (The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations)!

    There is Infinite Worth in just Three Eternal Beings. All other living breathing beings in this life and the next have to live in a knowing Them on a regular and consistent daily basis reality, something we can only do on this side with Their Infinite Help as Peter shows us when we read this written by the hand of Silvanus on his behalf for our learning and edification about these values and worth, whether infinite or finite:

    1Pe 1:5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    So, no, I am not of infinite value and worth. I am a living creature who was conjoined to and reanimated with the Son of God by the gift of Eternal Life in this life and after I pass out of this life into the next I will continue to be in need of God's Grace and Mercy and Peace, Our God Who is of infinite value and worth!

    Does this make me an Arminian hate-monger?

  2. Haha, no one will care, but . . .

    What interests me most about Olson's post is the emoticon in paragraph 6. The smiley with the sunglasses. You see he obviously did not mean to type that. It is also equally obvious how that came about. Olson typed (Psalms 8) and his combox automatically turned the 8 ) into an emoticon. Totally understandable.

    What is so interesting to me is that the EXACT same thing happened to me once while I was dialoging/lightly debating Olson on a topic. I was entirely civil, but at the end of one of my posts I typed something like (1 Cor 2:8) or what not, and sure enough the combox turned that last bit into an emoticon.

    Funny thing is, I noticed that immediately. You see, on Olson's blog he moderates posts, so no one else can see the post until he okays it, but you still can. So I saw how he might have taken the emoticon as a jab and so I immediately, literally seconds after the first post, posted a quick explanation.

    So there my two posts were hanging in limbo, now get this,

    Olson posts my FIRST post only. Then he responds to it and calls me disrespectful with the emoticon. Then he posts my explanation post some time later (as if it were a reply to him calling me out), and then responds to my explanation post by saying "I'm not sure how someone can "accidentally" make a smiley, but out of charity I will accept your explanation."

    The only way I can "charitably" interpret that is that it was straight up deception. He took my two posts that were separated by seconds and separated them by a day and made it look like I had only posted the second one after being caught being disrespectful.

    Furthermore the context should have made it completely obvious that it was an accidental emoticon without any explanation. How often do you see half a scripture citation followed with no spaces by a sunglasses smiley?

    And then he stops the debate. Never responded to any of the things of substance that I had actually said in my post. Just latched onto that emoticon, and used that as an excuse, as if there were no point in dialoging with someone as snarky as me.

    So I love that he made the emoticon. I commented on it, wonder if he'll post my comment or how long it will stay uncorrected. Good ol' Roger.

    1. It makes you wonder how people like him sleep at night...