Saturday, April 16, 2016

Intuition, indoctrination, and malice

On Facebook, some people attempted to comment on my post ("Last plane out of Saigon"):

Bill Evans IMO while Calvinists claim that they believe that they firmly believe in God's grace, they spend a whole lot of time "looking down their noses" at those who live in an especially depraved manner. They act as though they have not "received" from God but as if they have earned it. This guy's article is the epitome of pride and self effort. His comparison of those people who have perpetrated heinous acts clearly points to the glory of man, not the Glory of God as they Calvinists so claim.

i) First of all, Evans is utterly oblivious the fact that he himself is looking down his nose at Calvinists.

ii) The point of the comparison is to test Jerry's appeal to moral intuition. Is it intuitively evident that God is required to love the wicked? Is that contention derivable from general revelation?

Sergey Koryakin "He acts as though it's a self-evident truth that God must love everyone"... Ha! smile emoticon. God even loves those who nailed God to the cross!

Does Sergey not know the difference between truths in general and self-evident truths in particular? The question is the role that intuition plays in Jerry's moral epistemology. 

Alex C Smith The author comes across as saying, "God couldn't possibly love this nasty person". However, I thought that no one is entitled to God's love, that everyone is nasty so God doesn't use that as a criteria for His love? Also surely a Calvinist isn't allowed to presume to know whether or not the nasty person example is one of the Elect?

So Alex is unable to follow the actual argument. The argument is not that "God couldn't possibly love this nasty person".

The argument, rather, concerns Jerry's contention that God's universal love is an intuitive truth. A deliverance of general revelation.

The question, then, is whether it's intuitively the case that God is required to love everyone, including people who commit especially horrific crimes. Do humans in general have that moral intuition? I'm simply responding to Walls on his own grounds. 

Sandy Mimi Pierce See my comments on the Triablogue site (signed with my WordPress Blog, The Mourners Bench)

Here's what she said:

A man repeatedly molested and eventually raped a 9 year old little girl with a door knob. I wonder if she shared Walls' moral intuitions that God must love her rapist? She absolutely does share Walls' intuition about the depth of God's love, because if it were not for the fact that God was capable of loving such a man who was so utterly undeserved of that gracious love, then I would not have ever been able myself to extend grace to such a disturbed and wicked man. Instead, I would have been condemned to hate, not only him, but filled with self-condemnation and self-hatred. How could I love such a man if God Himself could not love such a man. But, because my God is so loving and IS love that He so full of grace, enough even to cover a man such as this man who harmed me, I share in that very grace, the very same grace that He has shown to that man.

So she doesn't know how Jerry uses the word "intuition". As a result, she confusing intuition with indoctrination. 

She seems to believe in blanket forgiveness. If so, that isn't based on general revelation, but a theological tradition. 

Aaron Duvall So he can appeal to random stories as "proof" but you can appeal to your own?

i) Because she isn't actually appealing to intuition, but her Christian conditioning.

ii) I didn't appeal to random stories as "proof". Rather, I cited some counterexamples to test whether Jerry's appeal is intuitively compelling or persuasive. 

Sandy Mimi Pierce I started to reply with that very same thing, but he would never see it. He sensationalized those children's stories…

I simply quoted news reports. How can you "sensationalize" a story about a child who was raped and buried alive, or a story about a minor who was raped and mutilated? Isn't that about as bad as things can get? 

…and diminished them by pretending to speak for them.

No, I didn't speak for them. Rather, I raised the question of whether they'd agree with Walls. Is there any presumption that they'd share his (alleged) moral intuition about how God would not be good unless he loved the men who raped them, mutilated them or buried them alive?

…which is why I spoke up. But, this is a man who clearly has never experienced the saving grace of Christ.

Notice the attitude that Arminians habor towards Calvinists. 

Tully Borland I'm just wondering if Steve thinks that "The Starry Night" was painted by Gogh.

Was that supposed to make a meaningful contribution to the discussion? Or is it just another snide remark? 

Why are Arminians like these unable to track the actual argument? Given the palpable enmity which they exhibit,  their reflexive animosity towards Calvinists predisposes them to substitute a malicious caricature for what was actually said. They have a narrative about Calvinists. When they read something a Calvinist says, they automatically retranslate that into their odious preexisting narrative. So you end up with a spiteful, uncomprehending take on what was actually said. It's like the filter that atheists bring to debates between atheists and Christian philosophers and scholars. 

It's a revealing and disturbing window into the kind of piety and mentality that the Arminian community cultivates. It doesn't foster charity or critical discernment. Rather, the moment they encounter a Calvinist, that rubs their fur the wrong way and they bristle and bite and scratch and snarl. Instead of "bearing with one another in love" (Eph 4:2), they bare their canines. 

I'm not suggesting that's unique to Arminians. But It gives the lie to their self-image, to their professions of universal charity. 

There's a certain parallel between Muslims and Arminians. When people say Islam is a violent religion, Muslims protest the allegation by resorting to violence! They are too blind to realize that their reaction corroborates the original charge.

When I point out that Arminianism is not as loving as its proponents make it out to be, loveless Arminians respond with anger and abuse. It's really kind of funny, in a sad sort of way. 


  1. Contrast Betsy Herold Heimke your unconditionally loving Arminian interlocutors. Apparently Betsy's moral intuitions don't align with those of Jerry Walls, nor his reading-comprehension-impaired defenders.

    Odd that.

  2. That should have read "Contrast Betsy Herold Heimke with your unconditionally loving Arminian interlocutors."

    Oh well.

    Also still today many Chinese, including Chinese Christians are unable to forgive and love the Japanese because of the events surrounding the Nanking Massacre. Their moral intuitions don't align with Jerry Walls' moral intuitions either.

    Probably because Jerry Walls has lived a pampered, sheltered, Ivory Tower life. I suspect if Jerry were to face a real trial, a real evil, if he were faced with a Job-like test he would "curse God and die".

  3. Steve, one thing Immust credit Calvinists formis having the right enemies; this adds immeasurably to the strenght of your position.

  4. "Notice the attitude that Arminians habor towards Calvinists."

    All the time. I think it's because of the cognitive dissonance of, on the one hand, believing the Bible is true and, on the other hand, believing their intuition is also true. As long as they don't put the two side by side, no problem. But then along comes Calvinists to quote the Bible and when Arminians are done with their handful of prooftexts sans context, they're left with only bluster and loud words. Which shows in the way they treat Calvinists.

    I think more evidence that this happens is found when you catch Arminians off guard and they accidentally sound like Calvinists without even realizing it. Take Charles Wesley, for instance, who wrote in "And Can It Be" the following lyric: "My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee." Now that sounds all the world to me like regeneration preceding faith...

    Anyway, given the paucity of Bible in Arminian theology, don't expect anything but more ad hominem, wish-casting, intuition claims, and misquotes of John 3:16 again and again.

    1. I've heard it said that Arminians pray like Calvinists when they are earnestly pleading with God to save someone.

      Why bother with that kind of prayer if God has already done all He can do? If the Lord has cast a vote for you, and the devil has cast a vote against you, and you cast the deciding vote, why waste time praying? At that point the ball is in man's court, the ultimate decision-maker and determiner.

    2. Ugh, and don't get me started with that whole idea that the devil's vote would count as much as God's vote!

    3. I had a friend who was/is also a deacon in a freewill Baptist church assert precisely that to me once during a discussion comparing and contrasting Calvinism and Arminianism, although he didn't realize that he's Arminian.

      A lot of that stuff is theological denominational baggage that folks have been taught since they were toddlers in Sunday School and they simply think that's what everyone believes.

      In my experience they're often shocked to learn their beliefs are provincial and relatively "new" in the course of events.

      As you aptly pointed out, cognitive dissonance is a good description of the "does not compute, does not compute, error, error!" response that's often generated when their interpretations are challenged with Scripture and Reformation theology.

      It may sound terrible, and I'm not mudslinging, but the reactions often put me in mind of the Pharisees reactions to Christ and His teaching.