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March 25, 2016

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Now just a minute, here.

"God revealed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, cursing God with every breath, that the Son came to die for us (Romans 5:8)."

In whose Bible? "cursing God with every breath"? I would contend that nobody, even the worst sinner, curses God with every breath. What is with the Reformed obsession with beating down humanity?

And what these quotes would look like if the Reformed Pastor told his whole story...

"Instead, we have a portrait of the triune God of holy love who purposes from all eternity to redeem (some, actually a very few)sinners for himself, before it ever entered their minds to repent he looked to embrace us (well, some of us anyway. The rest of humanity is out of luck, doomed to eternal torment for God's glory) in Christ (Eph. 1:4-5; 1 Peter 1:20)."

"God doesn't have to be convinced or persuaded to love us,(well, to be perfectly honest, He loves a few of us. The rest He either hates or is indifferent to. The vast majority He either actively damns or through inaction consigns to the flames) nor does the Father need to be convinced by the Son."

I respect the Reformed Pastors who are not disingenuous, who don't sugar coat their message by leaving out the objectionable parts

Christians should always be skeptical of those saying, “Listen, humanity is not that bad. If you think otherwise, speak for yourself.”

Should humanity be “beaten down”? Oh yeah, baby. Don’t we prove that day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute? Turn on the news right now if you don’t believe me. Open up the paper. Browse online.

There will always be a soft whispering in your ear – you’re not that bad.

nobody, even the worst sinner, curses God with every breath.

Isn’t that sweet? Doesn’t that make you feel good about yourself? Do you have a sense of relief knowing that? We’re just part-time sinners!

This is a pretty low bar.

The bar of perfection has been laid out. What does something look like compared to perfection?

It looks pretty ugly.

It’s worse than ugly.

But take heart. Our Redeemer liveth.

@ GH5; Re; "cursing God with every breath"

I took it as a metaphor since scripture teaches that even the plowing of the wicked is sin (Proverbs 21:4).

KWM,

Yeah, I'll say it. A lot of non Christians act much more morally than Christians. Cough Ted Cruz Cough.

Does that mean we meet a standard of perfection. Of course not.

Dave,

I think using that proverb in that way is a real stretch.

Here's the whole thing.

4Haughty eyes and a proud heart—
the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.

This does not say that even the plowing of the wicked is sin. Actually talking about an unplowed field here. This is not even addressing "cursing God with every breath".

@GH5;

4 Loftiness of eyes, and breadth of heart, Tillage of the wicked is sin.

Young, R. (1997). Young’s Literal Translation (Pr 21:4).

Pr 214:4 I נִיר light, or II נִיר ground which has been recently cultivated , see Gemser Spr. 81. †

Koehler, L., Baumgartner, W., Richardson, M. E. J., & Stamm, J. J. (1994–2000). The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 723). Leiden: E.J. Brill.

What is with the Reformed obsession with beating down humanity?

It's the consistent witness of Scripture:

Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Genesis 8:21 ... for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.

Ecclesiastes 9:3 ... the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

1 Kings 8:46 ... there is no one who does not sin

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.

Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes...

Proverbs 28:21 ... for a piece of bread a man will do wrong.

Ecclesiastes 3:16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Furthermore, unbelievers are slaves of sin (Rom. 6:17), blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3-4), dead in sin (Eph. 2:1-2) and in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19) and they walk in the futility of their minds, darkened in their understanding (Eph. 4:17-19).

Try reading the Bible sometime instead of following the liberalized, feel-good American Jesus and you'll realize there is no obsession with beating people down, unless that's how you want to describe the Bible itself.

"Instead, we have a portrait of the triune God of holy love who purposes from all eternity to redeem (some, actually a very few)sinners for himself

According to the Bible it will be "a great multitude that no one could number" (Rev. 7:9).

before it ever entered their minds to repent he looked to embrace us (well, some of us anyway. The rest of humanity is out of luck, doomed to eternal torment for God's glory) in Christ (Eph. 1:4-5; 1 Peter 1:20)."

According to the Bible, it's not a matter of luck, but of God's sovereign choice to show mercy on some. “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Romans 9:16)

(well, to be perfectly honest, He loves a few of us. The rest He either hates or is indifferent to. The vast majority He either actively damns or through inaction consigns to the flames)

False dichotomy. Reformed theology traditionally teaches that God loves everyone, but it does not falsely conclude that God must love everyone in the same way or to the same degree.

And what's the non-Reformed alternative? For all non-Reformed people who affirm that God has foreknowledge then the alternative is that God creates millions of people that he knew would never accept him and that he would either actively damn or through inaction consign to the flames. For all non-Reformed people who deny that God has foreknowledge then the alternative is that God creates millions of people that he knows with a very high degree of certainty will never accept him and that he will either actively damn or through inaction consign to the flames.

If you're looking for a theology that makes you feel warm and fuzzy just make one... no point trying to pretend it has anything to do with historic Christianity.

Dave,

You don't get a pass on this one, cherry picking translations.

This proverb cannot be stretched to imply that all the non Christians "curse God with every breath".

Make Fascism Great Again, 2016,

First of all, Fascism never stopped being great.

"According to the Bible it will be "a great multitude that no one could number" (Rev. 7:9)."

Seriously? Are you saying that the Elect will not be a tiny subset of all humanity? How?

"Reformed theology traditionally teaches that God loves everyone, but it does not falsely conclude that God must love everyone in the same way or to the same degree."

Thus, the word "love" loses all meaning. I could save you, I"love" you, but I choose not to save you, dooming you to eternal torment. How can that kind of "love" be distinguished from hate?

GH5,

First of all, Fascism never stopped being great.

:)

Seriously? Are you saying that the Elect will not be a tiny subset of all humanity? How?

It's not that hard to see how. First most reformed & non-reformed people believe that people who die as infants are saved. Furthermore, it's believed that anywhere from 50% to 75% of pregnancies spontaneously miscarry. If you add that population of people to those who don't die in infancy but are saved then it could easily be the case that the majority of humans in Heaven outnumber those in Hell. Second, reformed theology doesn't have just one eschatological position. The idea that the majority of people are damned is usually a view held to by premillennialists but not by postmillennialists. B. B. Warfield was a famous reformed postmillennialist.

Whether or not postmillennialism is true, it's still the case that Revelation 7:9 says that those who are saved will be "a great multitude that no one could number." And reformed people believe that. So it's misleading to pretend like, on reformed theology, God only saves very few people.

Thus, the word "love" loses all meaning. I could save you, I"love" you, but I choose not to save you, dooming you to eternal torment. How can that kind of "love" be distinguished from hate?

The word "love" only loses all meaning if "love" only means "salvation". It clearly doesn't. Most of the time when we say we love this person or that thing we don't have a soteriological sense in mind.

Even in context in which saving is relevant we still might not love a thing salvifically. For instance I might genuinely love my dog and genuinely love my son. Now suppose a flood occurs and my life, my son's life, and my dog's life are all in danger. I quickly think to save my son but not my dog, even though I could save both. Does the fact that I didn't think to save my dog but only focused on my son mean that I didn't really love my dog? Clearly not. Unless you're just trying to win the debate by stipulation, you would have to admit that I could love my dog but fail to save it even though I could have.

And again, you try to pose a problem for reformed theology when I could simply spin your problem around for all non-reformed theologies. God *could* not doom anyone to eternal torment, on any non-reformed view. It's not as if God is forced to create Hell and then send people there. God could just create an eternal earth-like state where people live fairly happy lives without much intrusion from God. It's easy to think of other scenarios to "trap" the annihilationist too or any other variation you might think of.

This gets back to something I've pointed out on this blog before: most Christians who use these emotional/moral "dilemma" arguments against reformed theology would actually have to become atheists or universalists if they were to apply their line of reasoning consistently. It's always pretty simple to spin their attacks back on their own position. They just don't think consistently about their own view.

@GH5;

The Hebrew translates equally well in either case. What makes the most sense?

Paul says whatever is not of faith is sin; “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

Plowing and eating apart from faith is sin :)

Well, Dave,

I think it is an unreasonable stretch to say that the Bible teaches that non Christians "curse God with every breath".

This is a great illustration of making the Bible fit your theological system.

Make Fascism Great Again, 2016

Was fascism ever not great?

The Reformed system of monergism casts God in the role of the priest in the good Samaritan parable; passing by the bleeding man.

Does that picture of God sound Biblical to you?

GH5,

Okay, maybe we won't make fascism great again if it's always been great... But maybe we can make demeaning women great again? ;)

The parable of the good Samaritan is not about salvation. And it has some features that don't mesh well with how the Bible depicts salvation. For instance, apart from the drawing of God the unbeliever is in a state of rebellion. The unbeliever is fighting against God, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness--not an innocent victim looking for help.

In the Bible God passes some people by (e.g., Pharaoh). He chooses some people to enter into a special relationship with (e.g., Israel) and not others. So your problem isn't with reformed theology per se, but with Scripture. And what you're essentially doing is taking a parable out of context in one part of the Bible and pitting it against a clear teaching of another part of the Bible.

That doesn't sound biblical to me.

Also, notice that the actual point of the parable is that we should help those in need. Whoever needs my help is my neighbor.

Now you're trying to use this parable as a blueprint for how God should act. But if we do that then what's the result? Even on non-reformed theologies it looks like God doesn't match up to that very well. There are countless people that need God's help that God seems to pass by, like the priest in the good Samaritan principle. This just confirms what I said earlier about how some non-reformed persons argue in ways that undercut their own theology.

GH5: Quoting extensively from OT wisdom literature, Paul observed of men in general: "Their throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." And he concludes, "There is no fear of God before their eyes," and states that the law of God works "so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world held accountable to God." (Romans 3:13ff.) Sounds like a good case can be made for the accusation that the unsaved curses God with every breath, particularly when we remember that Paul also said that everything that is not of faith is sin.

Ken

This idea that unsaved people are completely bad is nonsense. Do you seriously think that when an unsaved person does the right thing, God isn't happy with them? Don't you think that God smiles whenever someone makes a righteous choice, saved or unsaved? He designed and created us, after all.

The reformed idea of "total depravity" is mistaken. There is no need for this. The Bible only teaches this if you cherry pick verses and ignore the rest.

When I was unsaved, I didn't "curse God with every breath".

And Ken, Romans. Context. Who is Paul talking to? What is He trying to say to these people? What problem in the Roman church is he addressing? Or, do you think he is writing to them to make sweeping universal statements, no context need apply?

GH5: If you believe that total depravity teaches that "unsaved people are completely bad," you are mistaken. The "total" refers to the entirety of being--that is, all parts of fallen humanity are affected by sin, there is no island of righteousness. This does not mean that a fallen human being is as thoroughly bad as he could possibly be; even the Marquis de Sade probably loved his mother, at least at one point. On the other hand, each one of us is capable of the most depraved acts; each could be worse than he is.

And, yes, I maintain that an unsaved person is incapable of pleasing God. Even if he does "the right thing" he does it from unrighteous motives, for he does not do it to the glory of the God he denies or despises. As Spurgeon said, the "righteous" acts of the unsaved are simply "splendid sins."

Notice that Goat Head 5's comments are almost always nothing more than an expression of incredulity (do you seriously think...) followed by an anecdote (I never...).

Notice that expressing incredulity is not an argument or a sound basis for developing theology.

Notice that personal experience is not an argument or a sound basis for developing a theology.

Ken,

"And, yes, I maintain that an unsaved person is incapable of pleasing God. Even if he does "the right thing" he does it from unrighteous motives, for he does not do it to the glory of the God he denies or despises. As Spurgeon said, the "righteous" acts of the unsaved are simply "splendid sins."

This is a major point of disagreement I have with reformed theology. I do not agree that motives are all that important. If I'm hungry and you give me food I couldn't care less about your motive.

Make Fascism Great Again, 2016

What is your problem with Fascism? I'm assuming your handle is sarcastic....

But on to the issue at hand...

Here was my direct question:

"Thus, the word "love" loses all meaning. I could save you, I"love" you, but I choose not to save you, dooming you to eternal torment. How can that kind of "love" be distinguished from hate?"

Notice how you dodged it.

GH5,

I didn't dodge it, I spent 4 paragraphs responding to your mistaken claim. And I explained how your own objection can be turned around on you... and I did this on several occasions. For instance, last time I demonstrated that your own use of the parable of the good Samaritan could be used to undercut your own theology.

Notice how you dodged it.

GH5: Perhaps motives don't matter to you, but that's entirely beside the point. They matter to God, as is clear from the several references in Scripture to man looking on things outwardly but God seeing the heart.

Make Fascism Great Again, 2016

Again, what is your beef with Fascism?

But on again to the matter at hand.

Ah, I remember now. You responded by re defining what love is. Excellent. A standard Calvinist rhetorical move, like re defining "sovereign" and "choice".

And, of course, "turning my objection around" didn't work either since I don't believe that God know future free will choices. Thus, Him creating a person and giving them a choice is very different than creating a person and determining that they will be eternally damned. Also, giving someone a choice, and them living with the consequences of that choice is a very different matter than choosing for them and damning them for eternity for ones own "glory".

Ken,

I would contend that the Scripture passages about God seeing the heart do not mean what you think they do.

GH5/Diego Montoya: An interesting discussion might ensue regarding the meaning of God seeing the heart, but we can put that aside for the moment.

How about Proverbs 16:2--"All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD."

1 Corinthians 4:4-5--"My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God."

James 4:3--"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

There are others. If I may, I recommend finding a good book on Christian ethics, as they will routinely discuss the importance of motive.

Sorry, that's *Inigo* Montoya. Maybe Diego was a distant cousin...

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