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« God Is a Person, We Are Persons | Main | Acton Institute 2010 »

June 14, 2010

Comments

As far as I can tell, this is roughly the ‘real’ Gospel that Greg thinks needs to be defended from attack within the Church (I’m sure he’d not put it this way, but I doubt the content differs much from the reformed, hard-nosed exclusivist line he seems to tow):

Gospel-with-Teeth: Everyone has committed sins and therefore deserves to languish under omnipotent fury for all eternity. God is perfectly just and so must pour out his fury on someone. Since he’s merciful, he decided to pour it out on Jesus, but only for those who believe that Jesus is God Incarnate and trust in Jesus as savior. The rest of the world (which is probably the majority) will receive their just portion of eternal omnipotent wrath. Incidentally, in God’s inscrutable and unrecognizable goodness, he has predestined a great number of people to reject the gospel, thereby guaranteeing their eternal ruin. That, however, doesn’t mean the Gospel is bad news, because after all we ALL deserve to languish for eternity, and fortunately God has predestined a FEW of us (though probably a minority) to not writhe in eternal torment. The biggest problem people have with this Gospel-with-Teeth is not that it renders the Gospel almost the worst news the world could ever receive. Instead, the biggest problem people have with this Gospel-with-Teeth is that people are so soft that they’d prefer the Gospel-with-Dentures. Lefty liberal Christians who drink deeply from the well of postmodernism just can’t bring themselves to see the goodness of the Gospel-with-Teeth. They prefer mealy mouthed sermons about how everyone is right and even think that perhaps Socrates and Plato will enter into glory along with Abraham and St. Paul!

I immediately guessed the answer Greg would give: relativism in the church. He might have said, as easily, liberalism. But either way this is just a symptom.

Individual minds are rarely changed. People with the old belief systems leave the scene. The new belief systems move up in ranking. What drives this? Partly memetic natural selection: Systems supported by evidence are selected for; systems that conflict with evidence are selected against, weakened, blended, and modified.

This is not to say the weakened, modified, or blended systems are all truer on the whole. It's just that there is nothing protecting an unsupported system from replacement by another unsupported system. Rather than natural selection, this is a kind of memetic drift.

RonH

Malebranche,

You say "God is perfectly just". By what standard do you determine this?

RonH

RonH,
I'd like to know by what standard, or more specifically, by what theology, you would judge the response given to your question above?

Right on Greg! False Christians such as Romanists, emergents, universalists, pluralists, inclusivists, and plain ol' liberals are Christ's greatest foes.

Malebranche-

I certainly can't speak for Greg, since I'm Lutheran. But it seems to me that the Gospel with teeth is just this: when you face judgement, you will not be able to say one word in your own defense and it is only Christ who will save you. Other religions tell you to turn away from vice and turn to virtue. Christianity tells you to turn away from virtue and turn to Christ.

I think Greg would agree with me completely about this even though he is a Calvinist. This is the offense of the Gospel. It is also obvious that relativism is incompatible with this.

You do identify a number of other points, Malebranche, that I surely don't agree with Greg about: Limited Atonement and Irresistable Grace are the two most prominent. On my view, Christ died for all, justified all, redeemed all and saved all. The reason people end up in Hell is that they reject Christ's gift. We have all the freedom in the world to sin and reject Christ.

On a related point, all of God's wrath was poured out on Christ, God did not reserve some for the unelect. But the cross is like an umbrella, not like a sponge. We are safe as long as we shelter in its shadow, and there is room enough for all. But we must leave the shadow of the cross, God does not push us out and instead tries (resistibly) to hold us in.

SteveK,

I dunno. Depends on the answer. Maybe the answer will change my life such that I stop asking such questions.

In the mean time, to start with:
Will Malebranche (anyone?) offer such a standard?
If there is an answer that proposes a standard, is this standard independent of God or is His Justice determined by his own Standard? How do you weigh or judge or measure anything without a standard independent of the thing itself? My banister is one banister long. Does that say anything?

Most of the time, when people say something like, "God is perfectly just" I think they implicitly have in mind a human standard of justice augmented in some way to avoid all the problems they see in human standards of justice. It's a sort of what-we'd-do-if-we-knew-better standard.

Speaking of such a standard is a way of saying we don't accept any of what they see as injustice coming out of a system they specifically established to do justice. Personally I think this is fine. Be consistent. Way to go homo sapiens! But I assume you imagine that somehow there is more. What is it?


RonH

Hi RonH,

>>”Speaking of such a standard is a way of saying we don't accept any of what they see as injustice coming out of a system they specifically established to do justice.”

What do you mean by this? Can we not use or “if-we-knew-better” faculties? If not, why not?

Hi Malebranche,
How is a cosmos governed by justice worse news than one not? Why do we crave justice even from infancy if it would be, cosmically, a better situation that people get away with their crimes?

KWM,

Sometimes we know our system has failed. Eyewitness testimony puts an total innocent behinds bars. We intended to prevent this.

Other times the system seems to have work as designed but we get unintended consequences.

Do we accept either of these things? Maybe 'like' is a better word: Do we like either of these things? No. Meaning: perfect justice would not result in these things.

Any clearer?

RonH

An example of the unintended consequences I mentioned: A lot of people suggest we have too many people doing too much time for lesser drug crimes. You might disagree but supposing it to be so, that is an example of what I mean. You can probably supply a better example - maybe even one we'd agree on :).

Ron-

"What drives this? Partly memetic natural selection: Systems supported by evidence are selected for; systems that conflict with evidence are selected against, weakened, blended, and modified.

This is not to say the weakened, modified, or blended systems are all truer on the whole. It's just that there is nothing protecting an unsupported system from replacement by another unsupported system."

I just love Darwinist fantasies like memes. By this reasoning, Islam is either the view most supported by the evidence, or the most moderate of all the unsupported views. It certainly seems to be the view being naturally selected for.

RonH,

Yes, that’s clear. I think it’s entirely possible to conceptualize perfect justice. Justice in which the types of problems you describe never happen. I think we have to accept the failings of our justice system (e.g. innocents convicted and unintended consequences) or throw it out all together. We can’t throw it out, therefore we must accept the fact that it fails and will continue to fail.

I don’t see how this is a problem. If anything, it makes it easier to understand perfect justice – comparing it to our imperfect system.

WL,

First, being true is only one natural pressure on a meme. Having a lot of kids spread your memes. So does rhetoric. So does money. Etc.

Second, memes, like genes, are subject to forces besides natural selection; I have heard the Koran takes a dim view of apostasy. Have you heard that?

KWM,

I'm saying a perfect justice system would actually accomplish what we intend. Every time.

Yes we accept we'll fail. We even accept we don't intend what we'd intend if we were more informed. That is, we'll probably change our minds about things.

The problem is that this is a human standard and it's also the standard that people have in mind when they say 'God is perfectly just'.

God measured by a human standard. That's the problem.

Oh yes, maybe someone will now it's not that God does justice because it's just. Nor, they will say, is it that justice just just because God does it. No, they will say (Euthyphro should have said): justice flowwwss from God's nature.

To which I would ask: By what standard do you say God's nature is just?

RonH

>>”The problem is that this is a human standard and it's also the standard that people have in mind when they say 'God is perfectly just'.

God measured by a human standard. That's the problem.”

I don’t see the problem here. According to this, no human could possibly have a standard as to compare anything to perfection. This is obviously false.

It sounds like your first beef is conceptualizing perfection in general – not necessarily perfect justice or God's standard of justice.

KWM,


If there is no problem why do we have this?

Greg says God's goodness (here His justice) is rooted in His character. This is supposed to get Christianity off the horns of Euthyphro's dilemma by showing God's goodness is neither arbitrary nor dependent on an external standard.

But all it does is push the problem back: God's character has to be judged by some standard if it is to be labeled 'good' or 'just'.

What flows from his actions is still 'good' or 'just' according to that independent, external standard.

RonH

RonH,
God's character, is.

- Did God fail to have a character or nature prior to the existence of this external standard? No.

- Did this external standard exist prior to God? No.

You and I make judgements about what is, but our judgements don't create or determine what is.

Steve,

What is the purpose of the comma in: God's character, is?

I'm not being picky about punctuation. It's probably a small thing but really want to know. Is that comma a typo? Is it there doing some standard comma work? (What?) Or is supposed to have some kind of grand effect wholly outside of every day use?

And: I guess your statements would apply to any external standard whatever. Don't you think? So God was and is good and just, and perfectly so in both cases, by no standard at all. I mean: if he had this character prior to and independent of 'this external standard' he must have had it prior to and independent of any external standard. So it must have been good and just by no standard at all. And He must be that way now too. One would think.

RonH

I think Greg does a good job of dealing with Euthyphro's dilemma. I still see no problem.

>>”What flows from his actions is still 'good' or 'just' according to that independent, external standard.”

How do you square this with the fact that God was not created? How can His justice be compared to something separate from Himself when he has no beginning? If anything is external to Him, outside of His character and man’s free will, then it was obviously created by Him which would reflect His character.

I just don’t see why this is a problem. Besides, what unchanging “external standard” for all would an atheist be comfortable with? This is rhetorical of course.


Ron,

You ask by what standard I determine that God is perfectly just. I would have thought it is as simple as determining that bachelors are unmarried men: concept containment. The concept of God is a being greater than which none can be conceived. According to that conception of God, it just follows that God is perfectly just, at least in the sense that God does no injustice. So, if you want to know how I know that God is perfectly just, it is because I can reflect on concepts and notice what they do and don’t contain.

In any event, I was merely depicting the substance of Koukl’s view in a fashion that highlights the absurd incongruity of his Gospel-with-Teeth. I don’t see why accomplishing that task requires me to enter into a discussion of the moral epistemology of justice or anything of the sort.

Daron,

If you would like to defend the proposition that Koukl’s Gospel-with-Teeth actually is good news to the world, then I wish you a great amount of luck, for it will be greatly needed. It clearly does not seem to be good news to the world, and it requires no discussion of divine justice on my part in order to call attention to that fact.

WisdomLover,

You say that the Gospel-with-Teeth is just the view that when you face judgement, you will not be able to say one word in your own defense and it is only Christ who will save you. Other religions tell you to turn away from vice and turn to virtue. Christianity tells you to turn away from virtue and turn to Christ.

The last part about turning away from virtue strikes me as odd, but I’ll leave that aside. Notice, that this is consistent with universalism and the doctrine that it is not necessary to believe in Jesus Christ in this life in order for Jesus Christ to redeem you for eternal life. Both the universalist and inclusivist can believe that only Christ saves. They simply think that Christ (and only Christ) saves everyone and that it is not necessary to believe in Christ in this life in order to finally be saved. Now apparently Koukl thinks such doctrines as these are the Church’s biggest enemy. I doubt, therefore, that he would say that your Gospel-with-Teeth has enough teeth, since after all it is consistent with what he takes to be the claims of the Church’s greatest foes, Origen (the universalist) and C.S. Lewis (the inclusivist).

Malebranche
I'm not sure you have represented Greg's theology accurately. You might. I'm not entirely sure. Regardless, what is your primary complaint?

- Are you arguing against a gospel message that says some won't spend eternity with God?

- Are you arguing against a gospel message that says all have sinned?

- Are you arguing against a gospel message that says God owes nobody a pardon?

- ??

>The reason people end up in Hell is that they reject Christ's gift. We have all the freedom in the world to sin and reject Christ.

>>Wl, isn't this salvation by self righteousness? The same Pelagianism Luther fought?

What about the multitudes who never heard of Christ?

Also, aren't we condemning people to Hell when we tell them about Christ, knowing most will reject him? Unless we "adjust" the Gospel?

RonH:

One thing that militates against memetic drift on this topic is that major actors (angels and demons) are immortal and acting under direction of their superiors. Demons may assist in spreading memes for purposes of disinformation, but they don't believe in them themselves. They know, and tremble. Jesus supervises the actions of angels in charge of churches, as we see in the epistles in Rev. chs. 2 and 3. Sins and virtues seem to be about the same now as they were described back in Bible times, which suggests that any memetic drift is overridden by strategic considerations on both sides.

WL: The reason people end up in Hell is that they reject Christ's gift. We have all the freedom in the world to sin and reject Christ.

Dave: Isn't this salvation by self righteousness? The same Pelagianism Luther fought?

No I don't think so. I did not say that we are saved because of any work we do, not even a work of acceptance. We are saved because of Christ and Christ alone. That seems to just be what the Bible says.

But the Bible also seems to say that it's our own fault if we are not saved. We are the one's who sinned in the first place...thus placing ourselves in need of a savior, and we are the one's who reject the savior when He comes. God has to cram Him down our throats.

Now, if you want to know why some rejection of Christ is successful (resulting in damnation) and some rejection is unsuccessful (resulting in salvation), I have to say that I don't know.

Even so, we can see that boasting is clearly excluded. What would you say "Aren't I wonderful? Look at how weakly I rejected Christ!" For starters, it's a ridiculous boast. But even that boast goes beyond what I'm claiming. I'm not saying that those who are damned resisted more strongly than those who are saved. All I am saying is that they do so more successfully...and I have no idea why they are more successful. I leave that to God.

As for the multitudes who have never heard of Christ, What I believe is that no one will be saved apart from Christ, and that no one will ever have a valid basis for accusing God of injustice. I am fairly satisfied that these views are logically compatible. I don't think I need to worry about the details of how they are compatible.

Finally, on the subject of preaching the Gospel. I do know that we are commanded to preach the Gospel. There may be some suggestion in the Bible that we are making it worse for those who reject it. This will not condemn anyone to Hell though, their sin does that. But again, I don't think I need to defend God against injustice by advancing some particular view about how all this works. I think it is enough to see that it can work.

WL

I did not say that we are saved because of any work we do, not even a work of acceptance. We are saved because of Christ and Christ alone.
.....
But the Bible also seems to say that it's our own fault if we are not saved.

My own way of looking at this in human terms...

A person can forgive me, however if I don't accept the gift of forgiveness properly (with humility), then the relationship remains estranged - and rightfully so.

If I accept the gift of forgiveness properly, then the relationship is restored and I can once again enjoy the relationship. I am not credited with doing anything to earn forgiveness in either case.

As for the multitudes who have never heard of Christ, What I believe is that no one will be saved apart from Christ, and that no one will ever have a valid basis for accusing God of injustice. I am fairly satisfied that these views are logically compatible. I don't think I need to worry about the details of how they are compatible.
These are my views as well. We aren't told the details of how it all works itself out. We are only told that it will happen.

Hi Malebranche,

If you would like to defend the proposition that Koukl’s Gospel-with-Teeth actually is good news to the world, then I wish you a great amount of luck, for it will be greatly needed. It clearly does not seem to be good news to the world, and it requires no discussion of divine justice on my part in order to call attention to that fact.
Thanks for your well wishes.
It may not seem like good news to the world, but it is. This, too, is Biblical. Foolishness to the Greeks and a stumblingblock to the Jews.
But yes, I certainly think it good news that there is cosmic justice, that the crimes, for instance, of rapists and murderers who elude our human systems of justice will not go unpunished.
If there is no justice cosmically why would we think there is, or ought to be? It is not as though there is anything under the sun, in this natural realm, that would make us expect it and think it the case.
If there is not then man's great longing and seeking is for naught. That doesn't make it so, of course, but finding out that such a desire is fulfilled seems like good news to me.
Maybe it is bad news to those who want to avoid justice? Or to those who think they merit clemency?

Ron-

I guess my first point of disagreement is that there is no such thing as memes, unless you just mean ideas. But in that case, why not just say "ideas"? The notion of a meme is just a classic example of everything looking like a nail when the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer. Here's what happened: Dawkins doesn't really know anything but evolution, so when he wants to talk about how ideas are communicated and change over time, he coins the term "meme" as an analog for "gene" but to replace "idea". That way he can reuse the apparatus he's familiar with, and he doesn't need to learn anything new.

But really, ideas are nothing like genes are they? I mean, ideas don't have any kind of replicating code like genes do. That's not how they work at all. They don't seem to bundle together to form a fixed number of chromosome-like entities that all humans share. Animals don't seem to have them at all. The whole parallel with genetics is unfruitful.

Now, I agree with you when you say that ideas get transferred by rhetoric, argument and all sorts of means other than natural selection. Even when parents pass their ideas on to their offspring they use these other means of transferring the ideas. Ideas are not heritable the way genes are. Parents are simply in a good position to persuade their children to have beliefs similar to those of the parent. But anyone else can use those same techniques to persuade as well. Natural selection doesn't come into play at all. This, of course, undercuts the idea that "Individual minds are rarely changed. People with the old belief systems leave the scene. The new belief systems move up in ranking."

Christianity's "Greatest Foe" is bad marketing, bad PR, and bad production quality.

Make less of these videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vciwZjo3oXQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8UPXGun5zI

Make more like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxIN79n4jVo

and this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsQAKQSh1Nw

Notice the use of masking on his red tie.

So hip!

Remember, it's not what you say, it's how you say it.

WL, in John 10 Jesus specifically tells the Pharisees that he is not laying down his life for them.

How does this square with your theory of universal redemption?

11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

26 "but you do not believe because you are not my sheep."

Notice, they do not believe because they are not his sheep.

Your theory states they are not his sheep because they do not believe.

Daron,

It may not seem like good news to the world, but it is. This, too, is Biblical. Foolishness to the Greeks and a stumblingblock to the Jews.
But yes, I certainly think it good news that there is cosmic justice, that the crimes, for instance, of rapists and murderers who elude our human systems of justice will not go unpunished.

Only someone in the severe grip of a dogma would ever think that it is good for the world that God efficaciously decree from eternity the perpetual ruin of most of its inhabitants. I suppose you also would think it good news to a family if God informed the family that from eternity he had decreed that most of them would languish eternally, with perhaps an exception or two?

You have done nothing to argue that the Gospel-with-Teeth (as described above) is either just or good news to the world. I don’t know what you could possibly say to render that implausible view plausible, but I’d be willing to hear an argument if you have one.

Dave-

John 10 makes claims about Jesus relation to the elect in terms of the Good Shepherd and His sheep.

As you note, John 10 makes these two claims:

1) The Good Shepherd lays down His life for every sheep. (Verse 11)

2) No Pharisee is a sheep. (Verse 26)

But nowhere in John 10 is this claim made:

3) There is no Pharisee for whom the Good Shepherd lays down His life.

Even this weaker claim is never made:

4) There is at least one Pharisee for whom the Good Shepherd does not lay down His life.

What's more, neither #3 nor #4 is implied by #1 and #2. That is to say, that #1 and #2 are compatible with the opposite of #3 and even the opposite of #4:

~4) There is not even one Pharisee for whom the Good Shepherd does not lay down His life.

Or, to put it another way, #1 and #2 are perfectly compatible with this claim:

5) The Good Shepherd lays down His life for every Pharisee.

To be clear, I'm not saying that John 10 implies #5. My point is that the passage is silent on whether Jesus died for the Pharisees. John 10 compatible with #3, #4 and #5. And that's all.

However, there are plenty of passages that are not silent about the subject. They say that Jesus came to die for and save all.

John 12:32

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.
Hebrews 2:9
But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
1 Tim 2:5-6
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
Romans 5:18
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

I especially like the Romans passage because it so strongly makes the parallel between the breadth of the fall and the breadth of the atonement.

You also made this charge Dave:

"Your theory states they are not his sheep because they do not believe."

I don't think I ever said exactly that. And if I did, revoco.

I think my point has been this. By nature, we're all goats and don't believe as a result. Christ turns our goat nature into a sheep nature and we believe as a result. Every sheep was unwillingly transformed out of his goathood. As such, Christ gets all the credit for the sheep becoming sheep, and the goats get all the blame for remaining goats.

In Acts 23:6, before the Sanhedren, Paul calls himself a Pharisee. The most John 10:26 says is that of the group of Pharisees being addressed by Jesus, none is a sheep. We can conclude that Saul-to-be-Paul must not have been among the group being addressed by Jesus.

Tony-

Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't think the Crazy Christian Woman video (the second in your four) was an attempt to 'market' Christianity. If anything, it was the opposite wasn't it?

Also, I think the Whitney Houston/Mariah Carrey video (the third in your four) was more an effort to market the movie Prince of Egypt not Christianity. Indeed, since Steven Spielberg is in back of that whole project, I'm sure he wasn't trying to market Christianity (though it certainly was not a project unfriendly to Christianity).

I'll have to say that bad PR doesn't quite strike me as a major threat to Christianity. Of course, I'm not sure that Christianity in America faces any major threats at this time. It's not like Christians are being rounded up and fed to hungry lions. That was a real threat. Grainy videos and sophomoric views like relativism hardly measure up.

Malebranche

Only someone in the severe grip of a dogma would ever think that it is good for the world that God efficaciously decree from eternity the perpetual ruin of most of its inhabitants.

Does Greg believe that God handpicked those that he wanted to save - a.k.a. the elect?

SteveK,

Does Greg believe that God handpicked those that he wanted to save - a.k.a. the elect?

Unless all this time Koukl has been defending a nuanced and subtle version of Calvinism he has yet to inform us about, I think the answer is yes. He's a classical Calvinist.

continuing...I recall Greg saying on his show that he doesn't believe that while acknowledging that it could still be true because we are told God is sovereign. I've never heard him teach the gospel as you have described it.

Perhaps you have a link to support what you are saying about Greg's gospel with teeth??

Hi Malebranche,

I don’t know what you could possibly say to render that implausible view plausible, but I’d be willing to hear an argument if you have one.
Since you are merely pointing out that much of the world doesn't think the Gospel is good news and don't have to enter into a discussion on justice there is not much more I have to say - whether plausible or not. I agree the world doesn't accept the Good News for what it is - the Bible told us that would be the case. Greg also mentions that, as you note, there is bad news to be heard first, before the Good News. The Bible also stated there would be lots of false Gospels and false Christs. So if you choose not to address whether or not a world with justice is better news than a world without, or whether or not it is Good News that God should be Holy, I don't see any point in furthering my argument at this time.

Malebranche
Below is a link that answers my questions about what Greg believes. It seems you are correct.

Still, I'm NOT inclined to think that Greg, in this video or elsewhere, is saying that non-Calvinistic teaching is the greatest threat to Christianity. I don't hear him saying that the problem is that Christian's don't teach Calvinism.

http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8201

I think I've erred and an article by William Lane Craig didn't appear.
My apologies if I'm merely repeating a link that is being filtered.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5347

I think this is the other link I was offering as well.
http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6199

SteveK,

Koukl has been pretty clear throughout his career that he thinks denying the following represents a serious compromise of his Gospel-with-Teeth:

Koukl’s Non-Negotiable: At least for those living after the time of Christ, all (after the age of reason?) who, for whatever reason, do not believe in Christ in this terrestrial life will languish for eternity.

Koukl’s Non-Negotiable, together with facts about how many have never heard and how many have not believed, entails that the overwhelming majority of people living after Christ will languish for eternity. One could be forgiven for thinking that that alone renders his Gospel-with-Teeth fairly depressing news to the world, news worthy of mourning, not celebrating every December.

Koukl’s Calvinism only makes the fact that he believes his Gospel-with-Teeth is good news to the world all the more ridiculous. Perhaps he doesn’t think that alternative to Calvinism are all enemies of the Church, but he nevertheless is in the exceedingly absurd position of believing that it is good news to the world that God sovereignly ordained a plan for salvation whereby he also guaranteed that most of the worlds inhabitants would languish in unending hopelessness for all eternity. For the life of me I cannot figure out what Koukl believes is so worthy of celebration every Christmas. I suppose if you tell half of the story and bracket the part where most of your fellow humans were guaranteed to languish eternally by God himself, then one might celebrate Christmas on behalf of the few and the fortunate that were selected. But that does nothing to change the fact that a less myopic perspective on his Gospel-with-Teeth would merit something more like a funeral than a celebration on December 25.

Johnnie-

I'm not sure that we can even conclude that Paul wasn't among the Pharisees Jesus addressed. Don't get me wrong, he probably wasn't. All I am saying is that the passage doesn't give us the right to conclude that.

As I said before, by nature, we are all goats. We only become sheep when Christ transforms us. Because Jesus can turn any goat into a sheep, any of the Pharisees Jesus was addressing might later have become believers. Perhaps they all did. Scripture doesn't say, so I don't know. Scripture just tells us that they were not believers at the time Jesus was speaking.

WisdomLover:

My post meets dave's argument without having to assume that goats can change to sheep. Dave's argument still has to be met if he corrects his premise that "the Pharisees" in verse 10 were all Pharisees, not those in Jesus' hearing at the time. Anyone, including dave, can argue that some Pharisees were sheep to begin with.

Malebranche

...but he nevertheless is in the exceedingly absurd position of believing that it is good news to the world that God sovereignly ordained a plan for salvation whereby he also guaranteed that most of the worlds inhabitants would languish in unending hopelessness for all eternity.

Nowhere in Christianity is it taught that the consequences of rejecting the gospel is the same thing as the good news of the gospel.

The good news of the gospel is that there is a solution to the problem, and that solution is a gift freely given to all who accept it.

For the life of me I cannot figure out what Koukl believes is so worthy of celebration every Christmas.

We celebrate because there is a solution to the problem, and that solution is a gift freely given to all who accept it.

Do you not celebrate when a lone survivor is pulled from the wreckage? If you were dying in the wreckage, would you not celebrate the life you saw being saved? I think you do understand why Christians celebrate.

But that does nothing to change the fact that a less myopic perspective on his Gospel-with-Teeth would merit something more like a funeral than a celebration on December 25.

God grieves for the lost so I think you can both celebrate and grieve at the same time. There's no absurdity there so I fail to see the problem.

SteveK,

We celebrate because there is a solution to the problem, and that solution is a gift freely given to all who accept it. Do you not celebrate when a lone survivor is pulled from the wreckage? If you were dying in the wreckage, would you not celebrate the life you saw being saved?

Of course it is good that some individuals are saved. But that is entirely consistent with the overall Christian message (as Koukl conceives of it) being one of the most pessimistic views one could hold with respect to hope for humanity. Koukl’s Christianity offers hope for humanity in the same way that a healer offers hope for all chain-smokers by healing only two chain-smokers. By myopically focusing on the good part and saying, “See, see, right here, here’s a good part” one does nothing to mitigate the fact that the Christian message in its entirety (as Koukls conceives of it) counts as close to the worst news the world could ever receive.

You ask if I would celebrate the life of one survivor being saved. I would recognize some measure of goodness with respect to that event, but that would do nothing to lessen the fact that the entire state of affairs is about as tragic as it could possibly be. It’s interesting that you use the analogy of a sinking ship with only one survivor, since according to Koukl’s Christianity the world is like a ship sinking through the fault of its inhabitants and in which the good news for this ship is that very few will be saved. That’s a pretty miserable state of affairs, far from what one would have expected from an omnipotent God determined to save the world (well, Koukl doesn’t believe that last part I suppose).

I still don't understand what your primary complaint is, Malebranche. Gregs's gospel message is good news for all who receive it and pretty horrible news for all who reject it. The final tally at the end is not part of the gospel message anymore than the unemployment rate is part of the good news that there are jobs out there.

What magic number of unbelievers must languish that the Gospel be called "bad news"?

Grace and the Gospel
http://www.awmi.net/grace_power_of_gospel/chapter_1

Malebranche, you wrote:

>>”It’s interesting that you use the analogy of a sinking ship with only one survivor, since according to Koukl’s Christianity the world is like a ship sinking through the fault of its inhabitants and in which the good news for this ship is that very few will be saved.”

You went on to say:

>>”That’s a pretty miserable state of affairs, far from what one would have expected from an omnipotent God determined to save the world .”

Miserable? Yes, for those not saved. They sabotaged the ship. They refused to man the helm. They threw their fellow men overboard. We must remember they are not saved because they chose to reject the only method that would save them. The only lifeboat was rejected.

KWM,

We must remember they are not saved because they chose to reject the only method that would save them.

I agree entirely, except for what is conspicuous by its absence, namely, that, according to Greg, what ultimately explains their rejection of the lifeboat is God decreeing and thereby guaranteeing that the majority reject the lifeboat.

I simply find it odd that while harboring such nonsense as this Greg thinks that the real trouble with the Church is that people like C.S. Lewis, John Stott, and the Catholic Church think Plato might have been saved.

Daron,

What magic number of unbelievers must languish that the Gospel be called "bad news"?

Well I don’t believe in magic numbers, but I would affirm the following conditional:

The Bad News Thesis: If the Christian message teaches that God has freely chosen to predestine the majority of humanity to languish for eternity, then the Christian message is not good news to the world.

How controversial is this really? I mean, would you say it’s controversial that everyone in my family except me languishing for eternity is bad news for my family? Would you be inclined to ask, “Well what’s the magic number of family members that must languish for eternity before it’s bad news for the family?”

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