Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Arminian schizophrenia

Since Olson's post continues to accrue comments (170 at last count), I'll say a bit more:
Or do you not feel any pressure to reconcile or deal with contradictions? Do you simply accept that God both did and did not command David to carry out a census? Please read Dewey Beegle's Scripture, Tradition and Infallibility and then tell me how you hold on to scriptural inerrancy (other than closing your eyes to the contradictions or engaging in tortured harmonizations).

An obvious problem with Olson's argument is that he's appealing to Scripture to attack Scripture. If the Bible is errant and contradictory, what makes him think the Gospels are a reliable source of information about Jesus' teaching? Given his view of Scripture, why think Jesus really said the things the Gospels attribute to him? Why not think the Gospels write a script which they put on Jesus' lips? You can't impugn the veracity of Scripture one moment, then prooftext your claim the next moment. 

Frankly, and with all due respect, I think you are still evading the issue. Jesus, God in humanity, the God-man, the perfect revelation of God's character, gathered children about him and said "of such is the Kingdom of God." Surely you don't think he meant "these children only--the ones right here sitting by me." Surely he meant children, period. That he, God, would also command the merciless slaughter of innocent children…

There are several obvious problems with his extrapolation:

Jesus miraculously fed some children when he multiplied the fish and bread. But Jesus doesn't miraculously feed all, or even most, hungry children. Many children are malnourished. Many children die of starvation.

Jesus healed the daughter of Jairus. But there were many sick or dying children in Palestine whom Jesus didn't heal. Not to mention the Roman Empire at large. Or North America. Or South America. Or China, India, Japan, Scotland, &c. And that's just in the 1C. What about the ancient Near East? What about the Middle Ages? 

I know of no more important principle for Christian theology than that Jesus is the perfect if not complete revelation of God’s character. After all, Jesus was God in human flesh. Or, put more technically, following the hypostatic union doctrine of Chalcedon, he was the Son of God, the eternal second person of the Trinity, equal with the Father, with an added human nature. But orthodoxy does not say and should not permit anyone to say that the addition of humanity to the Son of God made him any different morally than he always was or than the Father is.
The “person” of Jesus Christ was not morally altered by the incarnation. That, I take it, is a basic orthodox doctrine. He was the Son of God. That is his “who” even if his “what” included humanity.
Surely, in trinitarian orthodoxy, the Son of God, the Word, the Logos, is morally the same as the Father; that is, there is no difference between them (and the Holy Spirit) as to their character. They share all the same moral attributes and always have and always will. To say otherwise would be to wreak havoc with the Trinity.

i) Problem with his appealing to the deity of Christ is that it backfires. Logically, this means whatever the OT attributes to Yahweh, Christians should attribute to Jesus. But that includes the very commands to execute the Canaanites. 

ii) In addition, thousands of children die every year from divinely preventable causes. Sometimes these involve moral evils, like war or murder. Sometimes natural evils, like illness, accidents, famine, tornadoes, &c. 

Be patient…I’m going somewhere with all this.
Jesus said “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” He gathered them about himself and, as they say in Texas, “loved on them.” I do not believe these were “elect children,” some select group of children Jesus loved while he hated others.

Actually, this is a select group of children. Notice that Jesus didn't seek out children to bless. Rather, parents brought their children to Jesus. 

But there’s a problem. Can anyone imagine Jesus turning around and saying “Slaughter these little children”? I can’t.

i) Actually, when God threatened to punish apostate Israel by the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Romans, that included many underage victims. 

ii) What matters in the long run is what happens to you in the long run. Not this life, but the afterlife. Sooner or later, all of us die. Some die young. Death by natural causes can be more painful than a violent death. 

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