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August 10, 2016

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The atheist does not have a Biblical starting point wherein the answer to his/her bewilderment is found.

Scripture teaches that God created things just as they are in order to manifest his wisdom to the Heavenly host.

Paul says;

“I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.” (Ephesians 3:9)

“God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:10–11)

So God made both good and evil to display the rich variety of his glorious wisdom.

We can question how this works. Some say that without evil there is no view of God's Mercy, Love, Wrath, Judgement, goodness, etc. And so he created evil to display all of these attributes plus his sovereignty in the electing grace of some and reprobation of the rest.

So I do not flinch when challenged about the Canaanites or any other death God brings upon all in his appointed time.

Everything, even death and mayhem exists to display his glory.

"So God made both good and evil to display the rich variety of his glorious wisdom."

Where does the Bible say God created evil?

If God is literally the embodiment and source of "good," then evil would be better described as a place or condition without God in it. A broken relationship that was once whole, but now corrupted.

The Bible portrays evil as being the result of choice and free will.

We choose evil over God. God's creation was good, but He did not create the evil (the separation.) Humanity did that.

The obvious answer to the conundrum is that atheists don't think the Canaanites were especially evil.

Atheists probably see such things as sexual deviance and witchcraft as possibly foolish behavior, but not evil of the sort that needs to be wiped off the face of the earth.

Atheists will admit that child sacrifice is evil, but all the various tribes in those days did evil things. Again, it's not enough to deserve genocide.

@ SelectedPete,

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7)

Even if God could have "allowed" Adam to plunge the universe into ruin. Would he not create evil when he brought it to pass?

Isaiah 45:7 is also used quite often by Bible skeptics to claim that God "created" the entire concept of evil.

Greg Koukl will often say "don't read a Bible verse" as a way to say: Read the entire context.

The Bible does say in many cases that God allows and even directs calamity and "evil" upon people in judgment and in testing. In one case he even directed an evil spirit to afflict someone.


It does not say that God created good and evil as larger concepts. God did not create the opposite of "good." We did that part.

The "evil" you see mentioned in Isaiah has many translations throughout the Bible, and in that case, it is speaking of evil as a natural calamity or distress, or many other synonyms. "Rah" is the root of this instance of the word and the context matters very much.

I only stress this because your comment seemed to indicate that God had created the larger concept of "evil" or "sin"

Thank you for this post. It is a great way to respond. I think that greatest weakness of atheism is that they are consistently inconsistent.

@ Pete; "God did not create the opposite of "good." We did that part."

How can God not be the cause and creator of evil knowing Adam would sin before he created him?

Pete,

Dave reasons from his Platonic concepts of God, and then finds proof texts to support that. You see that when you challenged him on context, he immediately went to his Platonism. "How can God not be the cause...."

Dave elucidates the conundrum of consistent Calvinism;

How can God condemn evil when He created it and causes it to happen?

@ Goat Head 5;

Present your view with support from scripture. I'll be glad to respond. PS, Calvin was wrong more than he was right. If my views are not found in scripture, please correct them with scripture.

@GH5; "How can God condemn evil when He created it and causes it to happen?"

How can anything exist apart from God? Even if you blame free will, God still brought it to pass, thereby created it.

But I go one step further. God cannot sin so what ever he does is right and part of his perfect plan was to create evil.

“The LORD hath made all things for himself: Yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Proverbs 16:4)

@ Goat Head 5

Paul addresses precisely this question in Romans 9.

1)What is the extra-biblical evidence of the pretexts for Canaanite genocide?

2)How long were the crimes allowed to proceed before action was taken?

3)Could God have done His own butchering?

In a Biblical context, evil is the direct result of sin. You cannot separate the two logically. If it is correct that God created evil (writ large), then we must also conclude that God created sin.

*If* that is indeed what God did, then the atheist using this argument stands on much more solid ground. Why would a logical and fair God create evil, and then turn around and punish it?

Based solely on scripture I cannot conclude that God is the creator of all evil any more than I can conclude that he is the creator of all sin.

Where does the Bible say God created evil?

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.-- Isaiah 45:7

The atheist would object and say why can't an all-powerful god create a world in which evil did not exist. Supposedly, there will be no suffering int heaven, so why didn't he just skip the beta testing (earth) and move on to the production release (heaven)?

Also, why can't god do his own killing? Why does he need Joshua and the Hebrews to smash the skulls of infants? Sounds more like after-the-fact justification for genocide than anything else.

@ Pete; "Based solely on scripture I cannot conclude that God is the creator of all evil any more than I can conclude that he is the creator of all sin."

God cannot sin so it is not a sin if he creates sin. If he foreknew Adam would sin if created, and he created him. God created sin along with Adam.

But as I mentioned in my original post, God created all things for his glory, including the Heavenly host that would behold him.

How can he display his mercy apart from sin? Or goodness? Or righteousness? Sin must exist to glorify God.

Here's another angle:

Free will does not equal sin. It equals choice, liberty.

A gun does not equal murder, or even death. It can readily be used for murder, but it can also be used to prevent murder.

Dave is attempting to make free will = evil, and this is simply wrong any way you approach it.

@ Pete;

There is no free will. So how can I make free will evil?

Free will doesn't exist; it's an illusion. If you have an omniscient, omnipotent, all-sovereign god, there is no room for human freedom. Your actions are exactly what god has both foreseen and preordained. Or do you believe in an open-theist god who doesn't really know the future.

The naturalist would also claim that free will doesn't exist because, at the lowest level of reality, the fermions that make up our bodies are subject to only the four fundamental forces of nature. There's no room for "you" to control their behavior.

*If* that is indeed what God did, then the atheist using this argument stands on much more solid ground. Why would a logical and fair God create evil, and then turn around and punish it?

It's good to see at least one person here "getting it".

@ Aaron; "Why would a logical and fair God create evil, and then turn around and punish it?"

As I pointed out twice now, Scripture states that all things exist for God's glory. So he created sin and punishes it. Showing his sovereignty in creating it and his goodness in punishing it.

Consider the following;

“What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,” (Romans 9:22–23)

“The LORD hath made all things for himself: Yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Proverbs 16:4)

“And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (1 Peter 2:8)

“Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Romans 9:21)

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

You can claim there is no free will all you like, and you can excuse your actions and life that way, but you still don't get any cake ;0)

@ Aaron; "Why would a logical and fair God create evil, and then turn around and punish it?"

I didn't write that.

No one has bothered to answer my question. If heaven supposedly doesn't contain evil or suffering, why did god supposedly create a world in which it does? Did he do it just so he could torture a great number of poor, unfortunate souls for all eternity for being exactly what he created them to be. All for his glory? Why would anyone call such a being good or loving? He sounds like the epitome of evil to me.

Aaron:

Open theism is problematic, but I would make an argument from Christian scripture that God knows all possible worlds, but does not know all possible choices until those choices have been made (but would know all possible outcomes and possible worlds before the choice). I think Christian scripture makes it clear that God does not "make" evil, but he also knows that a wrong choice by Adam and Eve or mankind could result in the creation of evil. God did not create a world with any evil, but the choices of human beings, and also of Satan, have created evil, which is a world that does not subject itself to God as the standard for thinking and behavior. It's very much the idea that you might birth a child, and that child could become Hitler. Yet you still take that chance.

>> Also, why can't god do his own killing?

You have a flair for excellent questions, Aaron.

Doesn't He? It is called death after all. Is was bequeathed to a sin-struck world.

But now, how would God, in your gracious opinion, do the deed to the malignant Canaanites to your taste and satisfaction? Here your question becomes trite, even though much thought could be given it.

Consider the death of Herod Agrippa I(Acts 12) on account of his persecution of the Christians, execution of James and arrest of Peter? He was struck down in a moment of his vainglorious display of splendor (an event also mentioned in Josephus, Antiquities Book 19:Chapter 8). But his demise (trichinosis or cancer) was so similar to his grandfather's that we must consider, inherited disease, divine intervention, or a neat blend of both.

Was Herod Agrippa's death appropriate, expected, or a matter of natural consequences?

In the light of this question would I consider your "Also, why can't god do his own killing?" query.

God supposedly destroyed Sodom without any help, yet he enlists Hebrews to bash in babies' skulls. If god told me to bash in a baby's head, I'd tell him to sod off, and if god's supposed chosen leader told me to bash in a baby's head, I'd tell him to sod off too.

Would you bash in a baby's head if god commanded you to do it DG?

No one has bothered to answer my question. If heaven supposedly doesn't contain evil or suffering, why did god supposedly create a world in which it does?

Dave has answered you twice already. God created heaven, earth, good, and evil, all for his own glory. I know this seems odd to you. It seems odd even to a lot of Christians. But if you want to delve a bit deeper into the rationale behind all this, I would highly recommend reading Jonathan Edward's book on _The End For Which God Created the World_. It's a short book--almost a pamphlet--that goes into detail about what is meant by "God's glory," why it is the highest good, why it is right for God to make that his ultimate goal, and how God's passion for his own glory is precisely what makes God so good. After reading it, you may still have a serious problem with God being that way, but you'll at least have a deeper understanding of the reasoning behind it. You can read the whole thing here:

http://heavenslight.org/wp-content/uploads/articles/The_End_For_Which_God_Created_The_World_Jonathan_Edwards.pdf

Did he do it just so he could torture a great number of poor, unfortunate souls for all eternity for being exactly what he created them to be. All for his glory? Why would anyone call such a being good or loving? He sounds like the epitome of evil to me.

Edwards explains near the beginning of his book the difference between ultimate ends, subordinate ends, chief ends, etc. But lemme give you the skinny on it and explain it in my own words. There are some ends were strive toward, not because they are ultimately what we want, but because they are means to further ends. For example, we study for a test so we can make a good grade. But making a good grade isn't our final goal. We don't make good grades just for the sake of making good grades. Rather, we make good grades so we can graduate, hopefully with honors. But graduating isn't the ultimate goal either. We want to graduate so we can get a degree so we can get a good job so we can make money so we can live a prosperous life, live comfortably, take care of our families, be happy, etc. What Edwards argues is that God's ultimate end in everything he does, including all he has created, is the expression and manifestation of his own glory.

So yes, it would seem evil if the only reason God created this evil world is just so he could torture a lot of people for being just how he created them to be. But the scriptures are clear that God takes no pleasure at all in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). That isn't his ultimate goal. Rather, it serves various other ends, all of which ultimately lead to God's glory, sometimes directly, and sometimes through a chain of causation. Everything God decrees to happen in this world, he does so ultimately for his own glory. But there are many subordinate goals along the way, just as there are for a person who goes to college.

Often it's hard for us to tell how some particular event, like somebody being buried in an avalanche, results in God's glory. It's hard for us to see why it's necessary even when we CAN imagine, through a chain of causation, how it might result in God's glory. And it's sometimes hard for us to see it resulting in God's glory justifies it. But that is what scripture teaches, and I suppose there's no reason to accept it other than that. I suspect the reason many of us don't see the justice of it is because we don't have a deep appreciation of the holiness and glory of God. God's glory is not our ultimate aim (though I think it should be). It shouldn't surprise us, though, that it's hard for us to see through any line of causation how some horrible event leads to the expression of God's glory. After all, it's hard for us even to predict the weather a few days in advance. How on earth can we possibly see how any one event in history can affect everything else that comes after? One can only accept that evil events--even events that touch us personally--ultimately result in God's glorification if they trust God to begin with and trust what the scriptures teach about God.

As far as punishing people for being just how he created them to be, I can sympathize with you or anybody who thinks that's unfair or unjust. But Edwards also dealt with this issue in quite a bit of detail in another book he wrote that's a lot longer than the previous book I mentioned. In his book, _The Freedom of the Will_, Edwards explains how it is that we can be morally responsible for our actions even if those actions are determined. As for me, I used to subscribe both to libertarian free will and to the notion that libertarian free will was necessary for moral accountability. After reading Edwards' book three times (because it's hard to understand), I was persuaded to change my mind. Now, I believe that libertarian free will is not only unnecessary for moral accountability, but it actually inconsistent with it. There's more detail to the argument than I can provide in the comment section of a blog, but if you're interested in delving into this subject, I would highly recommend that book as well. Even if you come away from it not agreeing with it, I think you'll be enriched by reading it.

So yes, it would seem evil if the only reason God created this evil world is just so he could torture a lot of people for being just how he created them to be. But the scriptures are clear that God takes no pleasure at all in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). That isn't his ultimate goal. Rather, it serves various other ends, all of which ultimately lead to God's glory.

I fail to see how a god who tortures people for eternity is less evil because he needs to do it to bring glory to himself rather than just for the heck of it. Even as a former Christian of thirty years, I still have no idea what "bringing glory to himself" is even supposed to mean. What kind of vainglorious being needs to have his followers bash in the heads of babies to bring glory to himself? The only reason Christians don't find the whole idea repugnant is because they've been conditioned to accept these nonsensical explanations.

How do you know you aren't actually worshiping an evil god who just calls himself good? I judge a person by their actions not their words just as I judge the Christian god by his actions not his words. There is no sin committed by a finite being that could possibly justify an eternity being tortured. The nonsense about god needing to inflict pain and suffering on his pitiful creations to glorify himself should be rejected by all decent men.

I fail to see how a god who tortures people for eternity is less evil because he needs to do it to bring glory to himself rather than just for the heck of it. Even as a former Christian of thirty years, I still have no idea what "bringing glory to himself" is even supposed to mean. What kind of vainglorious being needs to have his followers bash in the heads of babies to bring glory to himself?

It sounds like you're a perfect candidate for reading Edwards' book on this subject. He addresses all these issues--how God bringing glory to himself is good rather than evil, what "bringing glory to himself" means, and whether this is just an unsavory example of "vainglorious" behavior." You should read it.

The only reason Christians don't find the whole idea repugnant is because they've been conditioned to accept these nonsensical explanations.

I'm not sure whether you're shooting for the ad hominem fallacy or the genetic fallacy. Maybe both? As for me, the reason I don't find the idea repugnant is because I was persuaded by arguments like those of Jonathan Edwards in the book I recommended to you. I certainly wasn't raised with this notion of God. It could be that God is repugnant to anybody who isn't regenerated, though. If I was just conditioned, maybe it was the Holy Spirit at work in me who did the conditioning.

How do you know you aren't actually worshiping an evil god who just calls himself good?

Amy actually addressed this question on this blog once. I chimed in with some of my reasons, too. You can see that entry here:

http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2011/11/craig-law-and-the-evil-god.html

I judge a person by their actions not their words just as I judge the Christian god by his actions not his words. There is no sin committed by a finite being that could possibly justify an eternity being tortured. The nonsense about god needing to inflict pain and suffering on his pitiful creations to glorify himself should be rejected by all decent men.

Well, speaking is an act, so I judge people by both. God judges people by their actions (2 Corinthians 5:10), their words (Matthew 12:36), and even their thoughts and motives (Proverbs 16:2).

I fail to see …
Admitting ignorance is an excellent starting point for learning. ;)
How do you know you aren't actually worshiping an evil god who just calls himself good?
At some point, a question like this becomes philosophically nonsensical. Morality cannot exist in a vacuum; it must be defined by some sort of entity. Thus, at an absolute level, "good" and "evil" are simply tags that God has given humans to guide their moral behaviour. And when God describes himself as "good", he is not referencing an ideal outside himself, but instead explaining his ideal to humans.

One can only have "an evil god who just calls himself good?" if there is a greater standard to which that god is accountable, in which case there is an incentive to find out who sets and evaluates that standard, and make sure you are right with that entity. Once you get to God, he is the standard; he is not accountable to it.

And if you're dealing with "the Lord of all creation" and the "author of life", the question isn't whether you find him agreeable, but what you have to do to agree with him.

Moral arguments against God are only useful if you can find an alternative moral authority. Otherwise, you have to deny both God and any morality that is more than merely opinion, custom or practicality.

>> Would you bash in a baby's head if god commanded you to do it DG?

Ah, but He hasn't. Ever hear of Jesus' parable of the Wheat and the Weeds? Matthew 13: 24-30. Do not pluck up the weeds. Let them grow along with the wheat until the time of harvest. At that time the Master's agents (angels) will remove the weeds before harvesting the wheat.

So, why the converse in the days of Joshua? I found that God willing descends to the level of the culture that man invents. In an era of invade and displace, God instructs His people to invade and displace, to distance themselves from the conquered.

In the end, did they do that task? History tells us that they did not. Enough of the original inhabitants maintained their place, influencing Israel in their abominable practices.

If that was the case, is the accusation of genocide being overplayed?

This pertains to free will (since it came up) and how God glorifies himself punishing sin. Using Adam as an example, it applies to the Canaanites as well.

If God knows everything, human beings do not have free will (because everything must fall out according to what is known). If God does not know everything, he is not God...

People do what they want. Therefore the will is not free to choose otherwise. Adam did what his nature led him to do. Did God create Adam as a sinner? No. Because sin is a transgression of the law. But as soon as God gave Adam a law, Adam reacted, and did what he wanted.

Just as God punished Adam for doing what he wanted, he punished the Canaanites and Sodomites, indeed, the entire world of Noah's day, for doing what sinners want.

People honor those who do what they do not want to do, sometimes in a self sacrificial way, but they still do what they want. And since Adam, their wills are bound to a sinful self, unless renewed by Christ.

A word on the Non-Theist’s sloppy attempt at both having cake and eating cake.

But first….

DGF,

I found your comment of “Posted by: DGFischer | August 10, 2016 at 04:35 PM” to be very insightful and helpful. It’s a pattern of yours. Thanks for that. For the sake of context I’ll copy it here:

“[You asked], “Also, why can't god do his own killing?

You have a flair for excellent question[s.]

Doesn't He? It is called death after all. Is was bequeathed to a sin-struck world. But now, how would God, in your gracious opinion, do the deed to the malignant Canaanites to your taste and satisfaction? Here your question becomes trite, even though much thought could be given it.

Consider the death of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12) on account of his persecution of the Christians, execution of James and arrest of Peter? He was struck down in a moment of his vainglorious display of splendor (an event also mentioned in Josephus, Antiquities Book 19: Chapter 8). But his demise (trichinosis or cancer) was so similar to his grandfather's that we must consider, inherited disease, divine intervention, or a neat blend of both.

Was Herod Agrippa's death appropriate, expected, or a matter of natural consequences? In the light of this question would I consider your "Also, why can't god do his own killing?" query.”

A question in all of this obviously comes to mind:

“God instructs His people to invade and displace, to distance themselves from the conquered…. In the end, did they do that task? History tells us that they did not. Enough of the original inhabitants maintained their place, influencing Israel in their abominable practices….” (emphasis mine)

On the “History tells us they did not” we come to this: whether we speak of the Canaanites continuing, after hundreds of years of warning(s) and informing(s), to burn children alive, or, whether we speak of Israel’s failure to overthrow such places, again after hundreds of years of warning(s) and informing(s), such does not get to the actual nature of the complaint.

I don't think that's the complaint by our Non-Theist friends nor by the larger canopy of Christendom which happens to be Non-Calvinist. Obviously agency is not presupposed by the Non-Calvinist but rather the Non-Calvinist simply arrives at that conclusion by following the evidence of Scripture, so in a way it's not really a "complaint" so much as an observation of imprecision on the part of the Calvinist. For now, the word “complaint” will do, not wanting to get outside of the purpose of my question, which is simply the question of automata.

Rather, the complaint lies buried over inside of the question, "Did they have a choice? Did they have agency?" The earlier comment of, “….*If* that is indeed what God did, then the atheist using this argument stands on much more solid ground. Why would a [good/loving] God create evil and then turn around and punish it?” emerges. Doing evil is one thing. Being automata wholly programmed by the Immutable God is another.

I’m only seeking clarification on the question of automata.

Nothing else.

I would add that [1] such automata wholly programmed by the Immutable God to burn children alive (to want it, to like it, to do it, etc.) is being used (per the Calvinist) by that Immutable God to glorify Himself before and in front of [2] yet other automata wholly programmed by the Immutable God to glorify Him (to want it, to like it, to do it, etc.) (again, on Calvinism).

Obviously the larger canopy of Christendom rejects such a narrative simply because it does not find such a narrative in Scripture, and hence the (narrow, focused) question (here) of whether or not they (actually) could have done otherwise, or is it all, at bottom, automata?

That sort of thing. Hence the (narrow, focused) question.

The reason for the question is not to argue against it, as obviously much of Christendom disagrees with that (as I do), but rather the reason is to engage in a kind of, “What I hear you saying is X. Is that what you meant me to hear?”

__________________________________________

Disclaimers:

I’m only seeking clarification on the question of automata. Nothing which precedes it or takes place after it is of interest to me here, in this thread. Only the affairs of unable to do otherwise – of automata – whether hating or loving.

I’m leaving alone here, and will leave alone here, the obvious uninformed comments about the non-fact of babies skulls as we can't expect our Non-Theist friends to be read up on everything (I credit STR, Koukl, and Copen for their work in that corner). Just as I’m leaving alone, and will leave alone, the Non-Theist’s confusion about the silliness of beta testing, the fundamental nature of Eden, and possible worlds vis-à-vis the impossibility of God creating round squares when it comes to the proverbial bride and groom. God’s sovereignty isn’t threatened regardless of any number of possible worlds He sets before this or that created being (Man in our case) despite the uninformed misgivings and sloppy approach to causations (plural) of our Non-Theist friends.

Regarding real possibilities, real weddings, real grooms, real brides, and the real Eden, I’m leaving alone here, and will leave alone, the misguided conflation of foreknowledge (singular) for causations (plural), just as I’m leaving alone, and will leave alone, the Calvinist’s rejection of [foreknowledge, prophecy, and event X] in the setting of that same conflation.

Obviously the Calvinist disagrees with the rest of Christendom on such things, and that’s okay. The point here is to simply state that there are in fact other more robust exegeses and then to leave it off there.

As for Romans 9, well obviously I think we would use that quite differently depending on our obvious differences. In my view, and in a large swath of Christendom, Romans 9 affirms the Non-Calvinists approach to the obvious. A good read is an essay on Romans 9 at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast/transcript/s10-17 – Context obviously matters and while I don't agree with all of the host's theology, the following is still quite helpful in keeping one's exegesis on track: the umbrella at “the narrow path dot com” has within it a sub-umbrella of audios termed “verse by verse” which has three lectures on Romans 9. The second is Romans 9:14 - 9:34 and is at http://www.thenarrowpath.com/Audio_Teachings/Bible/Romans/22_2015_Romans_9.14-9.24.mp3 (…obviously the other lectures on Romans chapters 9, 10, and 11 add context….).

As in Romans 9, so too with Abraham, and, for all the same reasons, so too with Cyrus and all the gymnastics which the Calvinist employs in Isaiah 45:7. The context of the discussion comes first as God’s statement to Cyrus about the Persians bringing disaster to the Babylonians unfolds within Cyrus’ expectations as to who and what “god” in fact “is”. A little research brings out the obvious. A tool for exegesis:

The lesson revealed in the comparison is always the central (and often the only) point of the parable. A parable is not an allegory like Pilgrim’s Progress, in which every character and virtually every plot point conveys some cryptic but vital meaning. Parables are not to be mined for layer upon layer of secret significance. Their lessons are simple, focused, without much embellishment.

MacArthur, John F. (2015-10-27). “Parables: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told”.

Now, that principle is key in *all* exegesis. If one is going to force things beyond the context, that *is* acceptable so long as one uses other areas of scripture to carry one safely out of the initial context and into those “other” applications and so long as one’s attempt does not force one to expunge swaths of scripture just to get it to “work”.

It is often done and done right. But we have to be clear that we are doing “that”. As with Abraham and God’s confronting him right where he lives, there inside of cultural milieus and mindsets soaked through with child sacrifice, and God’s end-game of revealing a radically different God to Abraham up on that mountain of sacrifice, we cannot stop too soon in our moves amid contextual definitions. Cyrus’ context and misguided mindsets are no exception. Meaning does not flow upward from our (the contingent’s) misguided thinking into God (the Necessary), but, rather, from God downward into us. And in fact there are no exceptions anywhere given that Scripture is but one, singular, seamless metanarrative.

__________________________________________

Lastly: The Non-Theist’s sloppy attempt at both having and eating cake.

Judgment: Leaving to the side the non-fact of babies skulls and so on, we find that in all such instances it is the case that such is God “Causing Judgment”, and that is “In Response To” what is always hundreds of years of, or a string of, or a series of, volitionally rejected opportunities by this or that Man or Men to, say, stop burning children alive, and, therefore, we arrive here: Will we declare and insist that, given said fires and said children, that [1] “God Causing Judgment” just is on ontological par with [2] “God Causing Evil”? Even “Evil as Privation” (which is scripturally sound) makes nonsense out of such a false identity claim for that which is already in Privation cannot be caused to be in Privation by God. When it comes to “Judgment” via God we cannot (rationally) conflate it for, or equate it to, “Evil” via God. Those are the sorts of unthinking conflations and false identity claims which lead us into all sorts of misguided conclusions about the nature of both God and reality. “Evil” is not necessary in all possible worlds, but, *if* evil, *then* (God being love) we *will* find at some seam somewhere judgment of this or that form manifesting in this or that context.

All such vectors (Judgment) are at once satisfied and obliterated inside of the singularity that is both Perfect Justice and Perfect Mercy – namely Christ.


Typo:

The audio on Romans 9 is at http://www.thenarrowpath.com/Audio_Teachings/Bible/Romans/22_2015_Romans_9.14-9.24.mp3

Well,

The combox cuts off the end.

I'll try again:

[A] 9.14 should be 9.14-9.24.mp3

Or,

[B] 9.14 dash 9.24 dot mp3


"The question of the so-called Canaanite “genocide” is a difficult one to answer."

Why? These were grossly immoral, evil, wicked, sinful people who deserved judgment and then got it. (Just like we ALL deserve judgment because we are ALL sinners!)

I have never understood why this seems to be a problem for people.

Why did not God destroy the Spartans? They were certainly guilty of every possible wicked thing described here.

What about the Mongol empires?

These were grossly immoral, evil, wicked, sinful people who deserved judgment and then got it.

Canaanite babies too?

So, why the converse in the days of Joshua? I found that God willing descends to the level of the culture that man invents. In an era of invade and displace, God instructs His people to invade and displace, to distance themselves from the conquered.

So genocide was a moral thing to do at one point in the past but it's a bad thing nowadays? And why exactly should anyone trust Christianity to provide some sort of model for what constitutes moral behavior when things like genocide and slavery were once considered good? It seems like Yahweh can't make up his mind about what good and evil behavior look like.


What about the Mongol empires?

Because the Mongol hordes slaughtering tens of millions somehow brings glory to God. Tough luck for the the millions of torture and rape victims. Their pitiful lives aren't as important as God glorifying himself with their screams and death.

What about the genocide of the Native Americans and the flag many hold so high? Are we any better than the others?

Everyone can simply ignore anything that Aaron Ginn has written because his words/thoughts are not "his" own. "His" comments are determined by the four fundamental forces of nature, and therefore are random and purposeless.

Is glorifying God the ultimate ethic? Or is love the ultimate ethic?

With our earlier prerequisites still in place: As it turns out, given the Trinity, and given the Imago Dei, the two are one in the same. “To Glorify”? For one who has loved a child, or a spouse, or a friend, or anybody at all, this is all easy enough to see. If we have ever loved another, we have glorified, lifted up, adored, and honored the beauty therein – the beloved.

*If* there is love, *then* there is that which glorifies the beloved and that is why God first humiliates Himself and thereby glorifies us as we find revealed in Christ “…… the God who is glorified by sacrificing Himself for creation and not by sacrificing creation for Himself…..” (by Fischer).

If we engage in purely linear semantics it may appear that there can be a disconnect here as one of these ethics may on some front seem to offend the other. “There is only one best” is a move which gets things half right, and half wrong. Unfortunately for the Non-Theist he must confront what ultimately ends up with “glorification” happening in multiple vectors and none of it coheres but for the Christian God in that only there do we come to “Trinity” and the timeless interfaces of love’s reciprocity.

God, or The Good, glorifies Man, that Man may glorify God. The Non-Christian need not turn his head in disdain at the Christian’s leveling the seemingly ultimate act of tyranny: the Ultimate Ethic is God’s Glorification. *If* there is in fact “The Good” relative to “Mankind” and *if* in fact God is said Good, *then* in fact (assuming love’s demand) nothing less will do other than God filling up Man’s gaze with Himself.

When we say that God aims for Man to glorify Him we realize that in loving man God pours Himself out for Man (because of that love) and by that pouring out He pulls Man up into Himself, or, He fills Man up with Himself, and thereby glorifies Man forever: God ultimately makes of Man the New Creation, a Son of God, once Man is (therein, thereby) glorified. There is no road out of Eden by which such can be avoided.

Nonsense is nonsense even if ascribed to God and that is why there is no possible world streaming out of Eden (given the Imago Dei) where that which is utter insufficiency (Man) can avoid running face first into utter All Sufficiency (God). Whether in obedience or in disobedience that fact holds and the nature of Eden and Eden’s possible worlds reveal the impossibility of God creating round squares when it comes to the proverbial bride and groom. That is why God cannot create there in Eden a one-sided coin. Not given the triune God and not given the Imago Dei. There can be no such “Creative Act” of God creating a one sided coin. As for what streams out of Eden (in all possibilities) we know there is no such thing as [God’s beta testing world X instead of skipping that step and going straight to heaven] for Heaven has never, not once, declared a Wedding until now and as for what happens in weddings and after weddings we simply have no basis to guess for neither Angles nor any other of Heaven’s lines have ever known or even spoke of such a thing. Not ever has there been a Wedding. Not until Christ. That is why Lucifer’s Heaven, whatever it was, will not be Man’s Heaven. Sometimes we really do think too small of God and His reach. God only knows the abyss of countless realities…….. This we also know: God’s sovereignty isn’t threatened regardless of the number of possible worlds He sets before any created, contingent agent (Man in our case).

[A] What does the ethic of love look like? Our answer cannot mean anything less than that which carries all our semantics to the bitter ends of reality. What is in Trinity with respect to reciprocity? The answer is simple: Given love, we cannot escape the fact that (in the Christian Trinity) whatever we mean by “self” in fact glorifies whatever we mean by “other” there in what David Bentley Hart terms the eternal “one another”. If there is love, there is this. Only in the triune God do we find this necessary and sufficient “irreducible reality” as we discover (in God) reciprocity’s timeless processions amid love’s unending outpouring.

[B] And now in reverse: Man, in his own glorification by God, finds his “Final Felicity” or his “True Good” as he beholds the immutable love of the Necessary Being and in beholding Him is made like Him, knows Him, and therein Man will forever Glorify God, and God will be (then) forever Glorified by Man. Once again we stumble upon the syntax of reciprocity where we find that whatever we mean by “self’ in fact glorifies whatever we mean by “other”, again there in what D.B. Hart terms that timeless “one another”. Just as in [A], so too here in [B], for if there is love, there is this.

Once again: for one who has loved a child, or a spouse, or a friend, or anybody at all, this is all easy enough to see. If we have ever loved another, we have glorified, lifted up, adored, and honored the beauty therein – the beloved. Such lines reduce to, or force us into, the Christian God:

This is true in two related and consequent senses: on the one hand, love is not originally a reaction but is the ontological possibility of every ontic action, the one transcendent act, the primordial generosity that is convertible with being itself, the blissful and desiring apatheia that requires no pathos to evoke it, no evil to make it good; and this is so because, on the other hand, God's infinitely accomplished life of love is that trinitarian movement of his being that is infinitely determinate – as determinacy toward the other – and so an indestructible actus purus endlessly more dynamic than any mere motion of change could ever be. In him there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning because he is wholly free, wholly God as Father, Son, and Spirit, wholly alive, and wholly love. Even the cross of Christ does not determine the nature of divine love, but rather manifests it, because there is a more original outpouring of God that – without needing to submit itself to the order of sacrifice that builds crosses – always already surpasses every abyss of godforsakenness and pain that sin can impose between the world and God: an outpouring that is in its proper nature indefectible happiness. These are matters to be addressed later, but here I can at least offer a definition of divine apatheia as trinitarian love: God's impassibility is the utter fullness of an infinite dynamism, the absolutely complete and replete generation of the Son and procession of the Spirit from the Father, the infinite "drama" of God's joyous act of self-outpouring – which is his being as God. Within the plenitude of this motion, no contrary motion can fabricate an interval of negation, because it is the infinite possibility of every creaturely motion or act; no pathos is possible for God because a pathos is, by definition, a finite instance of change visited upon a passive subject, actualizing some potential, whereas God's love is pure positivity and pure activity. His love is an infinite peace and so needs no violence to shape it, no death over which to triumph: if it did, it would never be ontological peace but only metaphysical armistice. Nor is this some kind of original unresponsiveness in the divine nature; it is divine beauty, that perfect joy in the other by which God is God: the Father's delectation in the beauty of his eternal Image, the Spirit as the light and joy and sweetness of that knowledge. As Augustine says of the three persons, "In that Trinity is the highest origin of all things, and the most perfect beauty, and the most blessed delight. Therefore those three are seen to be mutually determined, and are in themselves infinite, that is, infinitely determined as the living love of the divine persons – to "one another" – to which infinity no moment of the negative or of becoming or even of "triumph" can give increase. Hence God is love.” (by David B. Hart)

When God tells us He means for us to glorify Him, it is (necessarily) “The Good” which such entails. And what is “The Good”? Well it is God, Who is love, of course. Assuming Trinity and assuming the Imago Dei there is no such thing in our reality as a “self” who does not pour out in some fashion and the Dying God within Himself just does so “worlds without end”, as they say. And, yet, as David Hart reminded us, though God Himself within Himself forever abdicates amid reciprocity’s unending “one-another”, He also here in our privatized “Now” suffers that same acquiescence in the Suffering Servant. He is that ontic A to Z who knows no sin yet becomes sin, for love just does pour itself out, into, unto whatever we mean by the “other”. *If* there is love, *then* there is *that*.

…… the God who is glorified by sacrificing Himself for creation and not by sacrificing creation for Himself…..” (by Fischer)
When we say with that our ultimate ethic is love we must mean all that love must mean. Nothing less will do. No ontology which carries our semantics into the deflationary truth values of ultimate or cosmic illusion will suffice. Not ever. His Cross is Actual and not mere gesture and when we say “God is love” we find that that statement invokes another statement, which is that the “ultimate ethic” is, then, “love, and when we say that we invoke nothing less than the immutable contours which the triune God “just is”. In no other pattern other than this uncanny triune God do we find a ground sturdy enough to support the massive weight of the statement that in all of reality, in all possible worlds, in all multi-verses, and in all whatever-one-calls-it there is but “One Perpetual Incline” toward but “One Eternal Language” and the immutable semantics therein factually comprise this: the immutable love of the Necessary Being.

Only in and by Christ do we find such seamlessness amid the epistemic/ontic.

“To Glorify”? For one who has loved a child, or a spouse, or a friend, or anybody at all, this is all easy enough to see. If we have ever loved another, we have glorified, lifted up, adored, and honored the beauty therein – the beloved.

There will be, can be, *no* person in Heaven who can say, “God has not first glorified me” for every “self” there will be necessarily a “glorified self” whom that Suffering Servant has in His Suffering glorified. We will say in Heaven, “Thou hast first glorified me, and I now thee!”

If one shakes one’s fist and shouts, “love is the ultimate ethic!” then there is only Christ, there is only reciprocity’s eternally sacrificed self vis-à-vis the triune God in Whom and through Whom and by Whom all necessary and sufficient requisites of such a statement are fully satisfied and eternally sustained. There, and nowhere else, can our insufficient and contingent eyes stare into the face of God and rightly declare of ultimate reality, “Glory to God!

Qualification:

On the roads out of Eden, nothing in my previous post is meant to affirm universalism. Universalism isn't coherent with Scripture and, on several levels, is simply Hyper-Calvinism but in "reverse".


John Piper, child sacrifice, having cake, and eating cake:

As per my earlier comments here I obviously disagree with Calvinism on several fronts and hence also with Piper by extension.

That said, Piper offers a great insight:

In another thread somewhere the topic was sex trafficking of little girls and little boys and the purchasing of said girls and of said boys.

In short: child sacrifice in the twenty first century.

The following (paraphrase of) by John Piper is a profound statement on the nature of love, but I had (in that other thread) paraphrased it to the topic at hand, namely sex trafficking, or child sacrifice in the twenty first century. I also, in that thread, was discussing how God “is” love in the greater context of what is going on with these kids in that such “child sacrifice” amounted to an affront against love itself, or a “dishonoring of love”. Piper’s actual video is on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qp8Qv52Fv0U (John Piper love must hate). So, with those disclaimers on my paraphrasing, here’s John Piper:

"If you don't hate anything in this world you can't possibly love because things are killing people. Things are destroying people ..... if you can't hate anything in this world then you can't love..... If love is the doing of what is good for people, then love is the hating of what destroys people……. Once you decide what really harms people, you hate it because genuine love must hate these evils in order to be love. If there were a universe in which there were no evil, no hurting people, and no dishonoring of love, then that statement would be false, in fact there would be no such thing as hate in such a universe. Hate would not exist, as there would be nothing to hate. We do not live in that universe. Paul says, “Let love be genuine – comma -- abhorring what is evil.” Let love be genuine –comma— abhorring what is evil. ~~~ Love, abhorring, love, abhorring ~~~ One commentator I read defined abhorring as an intense, inward, rejection. It's rejection, and it's inward, and it's intense. In this world where there is evil, where there is these endless lines of customers destroying these children, and where there is, by our fear to hate evil, our own very present dishonoring of love, in this world with these things you have to hate those things or you just can't love people. You cannot be a wishy-washy-lovey-dovey-relational not-hating-anything-person and be a loving person. A lot of people have that notion, that love is always smooooth, love is always eeeeazy, love doesn't speak in negatives, love doesn't get on anyone's case……… Not in THIS world is that smooooth-eeeasy love real love --- no way! If you don't hate anything in this world you can't possibly love because things are killing people. Things are destroying these children permanently. If love is the doing of what is good for these kids, then love is the hating of what destroys these kids. Once you decide what really hurts these children, you just do hate it, and you do this because you love these children. We dishonor love when we refuse to condemn these evils that are destroying all these children.”

@ Aaron; "What about the Mongol empires?"

"Because the Mongol hordes slaughtering tens of millions somehow brings glory to God. Tough luck for the the millions of torture and rape victims. Their pitiful lives aren't as important as God glorifying himself with their screams and death."

I'm glad you see the severity of the issue. But what I'm hoping to do is show you the reality of the situation so you can better deal with it. Criticizing God only makes your plight worse.

But if you would think for instants, "If God is all good, and all powerful as the scriptures say, why does evil exist?" And then deal with it instead of finding fault, you might arrive at an answer that suits you.

The truth is, sinners hate God. And because of this, he kills every single one of them. This is why sinners who hate God construct idols, even from scripture, so they can love and worship a god that better suits them.

Once we realize how wicked we are, even before we take our first breath, we are glad that God does not allow us to fester any more than he has. But kills everyone because of his goodness.

On Calvinism it is actually worse than what Dave describes. He's trying to sugar coat it. One cannot blame him for the attempt. Really, on such a view, it comes to the fact that [1] all such automata are wholly programmed by the Immutable God to burn children alive (to want it, to like it, to do it, etc.), and, also, all such automata are being used (per the Calvinist) by that Immutable God to glorify Himself before and in front of [2] yet other automata wholly programmed by the Immutable God to glorify Him (to want it, to like it, to do it, etc.) (again, on Calvinism). That's the whole show. On Calvinism, that is. Hence the attempt to sugar coat it.


Obviously the larger canopy of Christendom rejects such a narrative simply because it does not find such a narrative in Scripture. Rather, in Scripture we discover the living God:

"In him there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning because he is wholly free, wholly God as Father, Son, and Spirit, wholly alive, and wholly love. Even the cross of Christ does not determine the nature of divine love, but rather manifests it, because there is a more original outpouring of God that – without needing to submit itself to the order of sacrifice that builds crosses – always already surpasses every abyss of godforsakenness and pain that sin can impose between the world and God: an outpouring that is in its proper nature indefectible happiness."

Such, of course, carries us to Christ, to “…… the God who is glorified by sacrificing Himself for creation and not by sacrificing creation for Himself…..” (by Fischer)

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