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

June 14, 2010

Comments

Malebranche,
Either way, the result is the same - the majority of humanity langushes. Explain how your message is considered good news?

SteveK,

I'm a universalist.

Universalism may be a fact, but I don't see much in the way of textual evidence or traditional, historical Christian teaching that would suggest it is indeed a fact.

As Greg might say, how did you come to the conclusion that universalism is true?

SteveK,

As Greg might say, how did you come to the conclusion that universalism is true?

Universalism was a lot more popular in Christendom before Augustine went around laying the smack-down on everything. The first step in my acceptance of universalism was the rejection of the traditional doctrine of hell. After that, I simply looked for an alternative, and it was between annihilationism and universalism.

In any event, I would like to emphasize the point that regardless of whether or not universalism is true, the criticisms I raised against Koukl still stand. The legitimacy of those objections is in no way weakened by whether they come from the mouth of a universalist or an atheist.

WL & Others, In the Bible, we are told time and again, "whosoever believes will be saved".

Is believing a characteristic of the saved? Or is it a condition we must meet in order to save ourselves?

That is, are you saved because you believe, or do you believe because you are saved?

Luther put Pelagius to flight by mentioning the fruit of the Spirit versus the works of the flesh, in Ephesians.

He asked, if you remove the Spirit leaving only the disposition of the flesh, which disposition of the flesh will choose Christ?

That is, you cannot believe without first having been saved and having been given the Spirit.

Regeneration precedes faith.

Malebranche

In any event, I would like to emphasize the point that regardless of whether or not universalism is true, the criticisms I raised against Koukl still stand.

Not true at all. Goodness is grounded in the character and reality of God - not in what we think about God or his plan of redemption. So if Greg's view is actually true then that good news is objectively good, and your criticism of it is, at the very least, invalid.

Wisdom Lover,

enlightenment is achieved when you realize it's ALL marketing baby.

http://tiny.cc/nfkqu

http://tiny.cc/4g549

http://tiny.cc/g8mew

Hi Malebranche,
You are overstating this to KWM and throughout:

[according to] Greg, what ultimately explains their rejection of the lifeboat is God decreeing and thereby guaranteeing that the majority reject the lifeboat.
...
and
...
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.

God does not decree that they will not accept the Gospel. Double predestination does not entail the same active participation on God's part for salvation as for retrobation. Whereas He has to change the natures of those whom He has elected all He has to "do to" the reprobate is leave them as they are. Yes, it is His ultimate decision, but it is not as though He stopped them from being saved by Christ's Atonement, but rather that He left them in their rebellious condition to atone for themselves.

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.
The Reformed message is that mankind has doomed himself to separation from God. God has, in His mercy, elected some to be saved by His sacrifice. The bad news already pertains before God does anything. Humans know this before they hear the Gospel. There is the known problem of the human condition, the realization that things should be better than they are, that we should be somehow better. Many of the Enlightenment, Darwin, Marx, etc. recognized this, as do the nihilists and the 20% of teens who would prefer to die or to never have been born. But we can't fix it, as we saw most vividly last century. But there is good news. Rather than the pessimistic future you referred to early there is a very optimistic future in store. Mankind, the family of Man, will be perfected and Glorified. He will be reconnected with his Spiritual spring. He will not die or cry, and will never suffer or do evil. Man, the corporate body, or family, will exceed his wildest, but altogether paltry, earthly hopes.

Let me think about your query about your family.
Let's put a family on a ship from famine stricken Ireland to America. Every last member of the family goes down, but one fertile couple. They are plucked from the sea and carry on the family name. They have many fertile children and the family becomes a dynasty, large and wealthy in America. Their relatives in Ireland dwindle, never amount to anything (this is hypothetical, no slight meant to my Irish brethren) and finally die off.

Was the rescue good news for the family or bad? The body that is the family has succeeded astoundingly because of it.
Step back. Was the ship ride, even with its disaster good or bad for the family? Obviously, it was good.

But I'd still really like a number, or a guesstimate at a percentage. Is the Gospel bad news to you if even one person is left to languish? What if it is Hitler? Would you prefer he (presuming he remained unrepentant and unsaved) go to Heaven (were it possible) in his sinful state to to continue in his reprehensible ways? Would it be good news to allow him to pollute paradise the way he did the earth?

Early churchmen on Hell.
http://www.google.ca/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=church+fathers+teaching+on+hell&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=&ei=XF8YTIfJJZPKMIuV2K4E

Here's another thought. Without the Gospel man is a cancer or a parasite on this planet. The intelligentsia wants him to quit reproducing, or to die off in vast numbers. He is destroying the planet and its inhabitants and in so doing is committing suicide.
Even if he quits killing "mother" earth his sun god will finally fail him one day and everything he ever did will come to naught as he perishes in the universe's heat death.

Orrrr.... man actually has a purpose. He actually matters in this universe and his kind, grafted into the body of Christ, reconciled to the Creator and true Reality, will live and reign forever in the New Heavens and the New Earth.
And all he has to do to realize this end is to accept its gift.
Sounds like good news for the world (not just man, and not even just the planet) to me.

Then again, I'm an absurd, myopic, brainwashed dogmatist.

The charge of absurdity, as it relates to Greg's views, is what baffled me the most. Mainstream, traditional Christian teaching supported by biblical textual evidence and sound reasoning = absurd beliefs??

If universalism is true then everyone has nothing to worry about and God's commands ring hollow. I could stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with Satan and I would be no worse off than the apostle Paul. However, if it is false, then everyone has a lot to worry about and God's commands make sense.

Makes you wonder why the Spirit even bothered with a Bible, doesn't it, SteveK?

WL,

I think there are important ways the analogy between genes and memes breaks down. I don't know how far (seriously) people have taken the idea and tested it.

Meme is not a synonym for idea. Let's use 'element of culture'.

"Doh" is a meme I happen to hate. Once, long before I heard of memes, someone said to me 'it occurred to me that'. The phrase sounded so attractive. I wondered if it would sound that way to others. So I used it in conversation and listened. Sure enough, it came back. More recently I started answering the phone: "sRon", meaning "it's Ron" or "this is Ron".) But I had to quit because my cube mate started answering his phone 'sMike'. I consider meme to be a name for this phenomenon.

No, they don't have a code. But evolution doesn't require a code. It requires reproduction and variation.

They do bundle together though not the way genes do. If you are spreading "Doh" you are probably spreading other TV memes.

Animals don't do memes? Arguably, they do. Google 'animal culture'.

I'd say a meme is 'naturally selected' if it tends to be spread by those exposed. Contrary to what I said before, I don't think it makes sense to require that it be true. It might be false but tickle the ear.

In memetics, the reproducer is the meme itself not the individual exposed to it, carrying it, or spreading it. Survival of the fittest, in memetics, means spreading of the fittest. We are the environment memes find themselves in.

In evolution, the organism is usually thought of as the reproducer with variation. But you can make a good case for considering the gene the reproducer instead. This is what Dawkins does in 'The Selfish Gene'. As a casual aside, he talks about memes and coins the word.

I'm not sure drift makes sense in memetics. In genetics there are places on the chromosome that have to have something (an allele) there. If two or more alleles are equal in the fitness the afford then you get drift among them. Memetics has no analog of the chromosome or the allele and hence, I think, opportunity no drift.

RonH


Thanks for the comments Ron.

Dear God, I hope "Doh!" is not the fittest meme out there!


For all the back and forth on this blog, no one has done anything to even begin to make progress rendering the following thesis (which Koukl endorses) plausible:

Koukl’s Christian Message: Behind the person and work of Jesus Christ stands an inscrutable God who from eternity freely decreed and thereby guaranteed that the majority of humanity would languish for eternity while guaranteeing the flourishing of only a minority. This was God’s first and final word to humanity and is effectually worked out in the life of Christ. Moreover, this message is news of great joy and hope to the world, news from an infinitely loving and perfect God.

I cannot see how anyone can think that this is not absurd to the highest degree.

In light of the depiction of God delivered from the minds of traditional Calvinists, I thought the following poem appropriate:

Oh Horrible Decree

By Charles Wesley


Ah! Gentle, gracious Dove,
And art thou grieved in me,
That sinners should restrain thy love,
And say, “It is not free:
It is not free for all:
The most, thou passest by,
And mockest with a fruitless call
Whom thou hast doomed to die.”

They think thee not sincere
In giving each his day,
“ Thou only draw’st the sinner near
To cast him quite away,
To aggravate his sin,
His sure damnation seal:
Thou show’st him heaven, and say’st, go in
And thrusts him into hell.”

O HORRIBLE DECREE
Worthy of whence it came!
Forgive their hellish blasphemy
Who charge it on the Lamb:
Whose pity him inclined
To leave his throne above,
The friend, and Saviour of mankind,
The God of grace, and love.

O gracious, loving Lord,
I feel thy bowels yearn;
For those who slight the gospel word
I share in thy concern:
How art thou grieved to be
By ransomed worms withstood!
How dost thou bleed afresh to see
Them trample on thy blood!

To limit thee they dare,
Blaspheme thee to thy face,
Deny their fellow-worms a share
In thy redeeming grace:
All for their own they take,
Thy righteousness engross,
Of none effect to most they make
The merits of thy cross.

Sinners, abhor the fiend:
His other gospel hear—
“The God of truth did not intend
The thing his words declare,
He offers grace to all,
Which most cannot embrace,
Mocked with an ineffectual call
And insufficient grace.

“The righteous God consigned
Them over to their doom,
And sent the Saviour of mankind
To damn them from the womb;
To damn for falling short,
“Of what they could not do,
For not believing the report
Of that which was not true.

“The God of love passed by
The most of those that fell,
Ordained poor reprobates to die,
And forced them into hell.”
“He did not do the deed”
(Some have more mildly raved)
“He did not damn them—but decreed
They never should be saved.

“He did not them bereave
Of life, or stop their breath,
His grace he only would not give,
And starved their souls to death.”
Satanic sophistry!
But still, all-gracious God,
They charge the sinner’s death on thee,
Who bought’st him with thy blood.

They think with shrieks and cries
To please the Lord of hosts,
And offer thee, in sacrifice
Millions of slaughtered ghosts:
With newborn babes they fill
The dire infernal shade,
“For such,” they say, “was thy great will,
Before the world was made.”

How long, O God, how long
Shall Satan’s rage proceed!
Wilt thou not soon avenge the wrong,
And crush the serpent’s head?
Surely thou shalt at last
Bruise him beneath our feet:
The devil and his doctrine cast
Into the burning pit.

Arise, O God, arise,
Thy glorious truth maintain,
Hold forth the bloody sacrifice,
For every sinner slain!
Defend thy mercy’s cause,
Thy grace divinely free,
Lift up the standard of thy cross,
Draw all men unto thee.

O vindicate thy grace,
Which every soul may prove,
Us in thy arms of love embrace,
Of everlasting love.
Give the pure gospel word,
Thy preachers multiply,
Let all confess their common Lord,
And dare for him to die.

My life I here present,
My heart’s last drop of blood,
O let it all be freely spent
In proof that thou art good,
Art good to all that breathe,
Who all may pardon have:
Thou willest not the sinner’s death,
But all the world wouldst save.


O take me at my word,
But arm me with thy power,
Then call me forth to suffer, Lord,
To meet the fiery hour:
In death will I proclaim
That all may hear thy call,
And clap my hands amidst the flame,
And shout,—HE DIED FOR ALL

Nice assertion, Malebranch.
I did exactly that. Your cries of absurdity are, well, absurd.

If none will languish do tell us why there is even a Bible, why God bothered to speak at all, or give commands, why we preach, or why you even care to post on this blog.

And the whole of this insolvable question is cleared up in one word - There is a life after this life, in which will be punished and repaid, everything that is not punished and repaid here, for this life is nothing more than an entrance on, and a beginning of the life that is to come!

Martin Luther, The Bondage Of The Will

Daron and SteveK,

Perhaps I can just get a true or false from you with respect to the following proposition:

It is good news of joy and hope to humanity that God’s first and final word to humanity consists in a free decree that only a minority will finally flourish while the majority are left to languish for eternity, a decree effectually accomplished in the person and ministry of Christ.

Is that proposition true or false?

The proposition doesn't represent the facts. If that were all Greg believed, or intelligently summed up the Gospel, then I would be hard pressed to call it good news.

But I've already shown you why the Good News is good news.
How about you true or false this:

It is good news that the world is one of ultimate justice where evil deeds will be punished and paid for - even if we don't see it in our day to day existence.

It is good news for the world that the world (including Man) will be redeemed to permanent perfection and glory.

It is good news that the evil and rebellious, however great or not their number, will not be allowed to bring evil and rebellion to bear on this New World.

How about this:
It is bad news of even one person languish in Hell for eternity. Even if that person is an unrepentent Stalin, or Hitler, or Dahmer.

Or this ... true or false?

It is good news that everyone, regardless of behaviour, propensity, or attitude toward God and morality continue in their situation and in relation to others for eternity.

Daron,

The proposition doesn't represent the facts. If that were all Greg believed, or intelligently summed up the Gospel, then I would be hard pressed to call it good news.

I take that to be an admission that the proposition above is false. Good, then we agree on that.

But you seem to think that if we just fill it out enough, then all of the sudden it will become good news to humanity. For instance, perhaps we could add to the abominable proposition the thesis that the world is a world that is fundamentally and ultimately just. You seem to think that there is nothing problematic about that maneuver.

But if from eternity God has freely decreed that the majority of humans languish for eternity, then it's hard to see how the world really is fundamentally just. Instead, the world is fundamentally governed by a despotic tyrant willing to reduce most humans to fertilizer for the soil of God's inscrutable good pleasure. You seem confident that it is just for God to act in this way toward most humanity. But it is not just to bring a person into existence having already freely guaranteed that the person will languish eternally when one could have done otherwise. That is simply wicked.

You say that it is good news that evil and rebellion will not be brought to bear in the New World. That would be good news, if you believed it. But you probably don’t. Instead, you probably think that pain, suffering, wickedness, and evil will exist in hell for all eternity. Such darkness will never be destroyed, but will only be quarantined, and for all we know many of our loved ones will be sustained eternally in anguish and torment. So, on your view, pain and suffering have an eternal future. Not the best news.

The fact of the matter is that none of this is good news. It’s almost the worst news one could imagine for humanity. If it is true, the world is not fundamentally just, and the Christian Message is a message of despair, not hope.

Hi Malebranche,

But you seem to think that if we just fill it out enough, then all of the sudden it will become good news to humanity. For instance, perhaps we could add to the abominable proposition the thesis that the world is a world that is fundamentally and ultimately just. You seem to think that there is nothing problematic about that maneuver.
I'm not "filling it out" or "adding anything". I am telling you what the Gospel is. You are the one trimming it from what it is.
(Do you think you convince anyone of anything with your language ... "abominable", "absurd", "ridiculous", "despotic tyrant"? All you do is show your bias and desire to manipulate).

But if from eternity God has freely decreed that the majority of humans languish for eternity, then it's hard to see how the world really is fundamentally just.
No it's not. Is it just to allow sinners to go on and on sinning just because there are lots of them?
You seem confident that it is just for God to act in this way toward most humanity. But it is not just to bring a person into existence having already freely guaranteed that the person will languish eternally when one could have done otherwise. That is simply wicked.
You don't know that it is wicked. I am confident in that, yes. Gods who are totally scrutable are called idols. The God who created the universe and superintends it is perfectly good. That means He is also perfectly just. I know justice is good and it is not demanded by logic that God not allow people to come into existence who will merit and receive eternal punishment. If it is not unjust for a single one to go to Hell then it is not unjust for any number to ... there is neither a summing nor multiplication of suffering by multiplying the number of those suffering. It seems highly reasonable to me that it is worth unrepentant sinners getting the punishment they deserve if even one person can be saved.
But you probably don’t. Instead, you probably think that pain, suffering, wickedness, and evil will exist in hell for all eternity.
It's called torment, not pain and suffering. And they will not be in the New Creation but in the old Hell created for Satan.
The fact of the matter is that none of this is good news.
That's not a fact. You are entitled to your opinions but you don't get to call them facts.
If it is true, the world is not fundamentally just, and the Christian Message is a message of despair, not hope.
You can probably repeat this assertion until you die. And all you will do is doom more and more to languish. The world is, in fact, fundamentally just, if all crimes are paid for and punished. It is far more likely that it is fundamentally unjust if you get your universalist way. And it is contrary to Scripture as well. The Christian message is, indeed, one of hope. We all know that Man is sinful and we all crave justice. But this world does not provide justice, and we all see that as well. We also, who look into our own hearts, know that we ourselves are sinful and are not righteous or holy. Secular explanations of morality even show that this is so - without God our attempts morality are mere acts of selfishness. And we know this as well. So we have a world of futility, death, injustice and immorality ... or we have the Gospel. With the Gospel Man himself will be saved and enter the Kingdom. And his redemption will accompany the redemption of all Creation. And eternity of perfection, a perfected Creation with no more death, with no sorrow, no evil of any kind - only complete and fulfilled eternal bliss. It seems to me that even one created being experiencing this final and true Joy more than outweighs all the torment of all the remains in Hell. And the best news of all, is everyone can have it. Just start telling them the truth.

By the way, I nailed your "is it good for the family" quiz. Care to comment?

Daron,

By the way, I nailed your "is it good for the family" quiz. Care to comment?

Haha, no, I don't care to try and convince you that it is not good news for my family if most of them are tormented for all eternity while only a small minority flourish. I would just encourage you to think about it more.

Well, I've made my point, so I'll leave it at that.

If you think you've made your point then you made it equally well on your first comment and could have left it at that. Nobody ever denied that there was a bad news element to the Gospel. Indeed, everyone agrees that you have to give the bad news before the good news.
If I tell you you are sick and I can cure you I have given you bad news and good news. If you think your point is made by ignoring the cure and claiming you received bad news then so be it.
If you already knew you were sick and I have only confirmed it before giving you the good news of the cure then you are even less justified in ignoring the good news.

Once again, if everyone is saved why are you even discussing this? What possible difference can it make to anyone what we say, do or believe? why did Jesus commission the 12? Why did the Spirit write the Bible at al? Why did God talk of separating sheep from goats, of redeeming His remnant, of winnowing the chaff from the grain? Why did He issue Commandments, admonish sinners, or talk ever of wrath or favour?

You've made your point? OK.

I would just encourage you to think about it more.
Thanks for your encouragement. It gave me just enough motivation to have another go at this thinking thing. So we have determined, by your scheme, that it is unjust that the majority go to Hell. If so, then it is unjust that any go to Hell. You must have concluded this yourself as you've made yourself a universalist and deny Hell at all.

But on top of that you say that Jesus dies for ALL.
Now why would He do that, if it is unjust for anyone to go to Hell ... and there is no Hell?
From what has Jesus saved anyone from?
Obviously, from nothing. So then, by your scheme, Jesus did not die for anyone. And His death, if it even happened, and why should we accept Scripture on this if not on His plain teaching s about Hell, was then unjust, as well as being useless.

But you have derived your universalism, you say, from His dying for ALL (as opposed to your emotional reaction to the absurd, ridiculous, tyranical despotism...).
But then, we've established He didn't die for anyone. So how could you have determined He died for everyone?
Your scheme is born of illogic.
Now that is what I call absurd.

Malebranche can believe what he chooses. What he cannot do is purposely equivocate and redefine terms so to mislead others, and that is what he is doing.

The term "gospel" has a particular traditional, historical meaning and understanding. It is no different than the term "marriage". Malebranche wants to take that traditional, historical understanding and make it into something it is not.

The Malebrache "gospel" is to the biblical gospel as same-sex "marriage" is to traditional marriage.

SteveK,

I haven’t the slightest care about what words you use to name abominable doctrines. You may call it what you please, but the point remains that on the view I am discussing the fate of humanity tends towards despair and ruin, not salvation and life. Folks like Koukl seem to think that from eternity God freely decreed and thereby guaranteed the eternal languishing of most of humanity. I am simply pointing out that if that is the case, then God more closely resembles a tyrant over humanity than a friend doing everything he can to save humanity. I am utterly indifferent as to whether or not you call this the gospel. Whatever you call it, however, you certainly cannot call that abominable doctrine good news to the world, since it is nearly the worst news a person could receive. Seriously, is there anything worse than inhabiting a universe in which an omnipotent being has set Himself eternally against your flourishing and guaranteed your eternal ruin? Of course not. That is the worst news one could imagine. And that seems to be what folks like Koukl and his hard-nosed exclusivist Reformed buddies believe. Not only do they believe that nonsense, but they believe that all of history and the life of Christ is merely the working out of that abominable decree.

I would have thought that doctrines that render the Christian God a tyrant would be the most threatening to the Church. If so, then I’d say the number one enemy is probably not inclusivism, but this terrible Reformed dogma.

Malebranche

You may call it what you please, but the point remains that on the view I am discussing the fate of humanity tends towards despair and ruin, not salvation and life.

Individuals are saved or damned as individuals so in reality there is neither good news nor despair for humanity as far as the final tally goes. The good news of the gospel only makes sense at the level of the individual human person.

On the universalist view of the nature of God, absurd decrees from eternity past and abominable teachings....

The fate of Satan and the demons is despair and ruin, not salvation and life - for ALL of them. How can the 'gospel' of universalism be good news if Satan and the demons are languishing?

- Is God a tyrant or is he Holy? How did you come to know?

-What about this decree from eternity past, is it absurd?

Also, for Satan and the demons, is there anything worse than inhabiting a universe in which an omnipotent being has set Himself eternally against your flourishing and guaranteed your eternal ruin?

...or is your view that Satan is also saved? If so, where do you find support for that teaching?

"Set himself against your flourishing"?
Malebranche, not only do you poison your speech with emotive words you poison it with made up concepts.
God causes it to rain on the just and the unjust. The Psalmist's lament is just the opposite - the evil very often flourish while the righteous languish. That we are allowed to live and move and have our being is evidence of God's Grace. That we can communicate demonstrates that He is not "set against us".
That those who choose to live apart from His special Grace will get their desire and find themselves apart from His common Grace as well.

And again, you are still ignoring the difference between God's active predestination and election of His sheep v. His passive predestination of retrobation of the goats in which He does nothing but allow them their will and their chosen languishing.

Malebranche,
Is the good news associated with life, nullified by the fact that all will physically die?

Is it absurd to preach the 'gospel' of pregnancy knowing that it all ends in death?

By decreeing the pregancy, the mother has also 'decreed' the death.

The mother has the power to stop this from happening - yet she doesn't.

For all of humanity, isn't the good news of pregnancy the worst news one could imagine?

What is so happy about Father's Day?

SteveK,

Individuals are saved or damned as individuals so in reality there is neither good news nor despair for humanity as far as the final tally goes.

This betrays a naive and non-Christian conception of what it is to be a human individual. More often than not, after all, nations and households are the focus of Scripture. Moreover, human individuals are not atomic islands unaffected by the fate of those around them. Human individuals do not even experience their individual identity and welfare as completely isolated from others. Often when we lose someone close to us we experience it as though we have lost a significant part of our own welfare, even a significant part of ourselves. The clear teaching of Christ and the way we experience our lives in the world shows that my welfare is inseparably wrapped up in the welfare of those closest to me. Christ calls me to entangle my welfare in the welfare of even my enemies so that I may then love them as I love myself. Unfortunately, these abominable doctrines we’ve been discussing have convinced people that somehow God can work toward the flourishing of a mother while eternally refraining from working toward the welfare of her children. That is yet another mark against them, for instead of encouraging Christian solidarity with humanity, they encourage naive and non-Christian forms of individualism that are doubly refuted by both Christ and human experience.

The stuff about my universalism is a complete distraction. When trying to decide whether or not it is reasonable to believe that from eternity God freely decreed the salvation of only a minority while leaving the rest to languish eternally, it is simply irrelevant whether Malebranche is a universalist or not. Refuting my universalism certainly does nothing to render Koukl’s Gospel-with-Teeth reasonable. We could, after all, both be wrong. That means that if you wish to give an adequate defense of the view that from eternity God freely refrained from saving the vast majority of humanity and instead left them to eternal perdition, you will have to do far more than raise questions about universalism. Instead, you will have to give an account from which it clearly follows that it is reasonable to believe that from eternity God freely abandoned most of humanity to eternal perdition and worked out this divine abandonment in the person of Christ. Since this is utterly indefensible, I can see why you would rather turn attention to my universalism. But nevertheless, the merits of my universalism is hardly what is at issue.

absurd, wicked, abominable, gasp, eek, egad, vile, wicked, oh nos,
...
just thought I'd get that out of the way before I start thinking.

Hi Malebranche,
Very, very nice start to your first paragraph.

More often than not, after all, nations and households are the focus of Scripture. Moreover, human individuals are not atomic islands unaffected by the fate of those around them. Human individuals do not even experience their individual identity and welfare as completely isolated from others. Often when we lose someone close to us we experience it as though we have lost a significant part of our own welfare, even a significant part of ourselves. The clear teaching of Christ and the way we experience our lives in the world shows that my welfare is inseparably wrapped up in the welfare of those closest to me. Christ calls me to entangle my welfare in the welfare of even my enemies so that I may then love them as I love myself.
You are absolutely right. I was alluding to this myself. Indeed, I demolished (oops, not all out of my system yet) your languishing family example, with this concept.
Your acceptance of this doctrine moots your entire project.
Vanity, vanity. All is vanity under the sun. This is the best man can hope for without the Gospel - annihilation. The race will live, miserably say some, and then disappear. Boddaboom. This is bad news for the world of man.

But God has Good News: the Kingodm is at hand. Man will not be annihilated. Man will attain Glory and live in perfect harmony with the Creator. Man will be a creative force unleashed on this universe, attuned to the will of God and free then to exercise his own will in perfect love.
Fun!


Daron,

Are you seriously here to recommend that I refrain from using the word ‘languishing’ to describe the fate of a person who is eternally unable to fulfill that for which she was created? Is this really your big gripe with my comments, that I’ve used ‘languishing’? Perhaps you’d prefer ‘eternal agony,’ ‘eternal ruin,’ ‘eternal perdition,’ ‘eternal frustration of one’s most fundamental good,’ ‘eternal torment,’ ‘eternal torture,’ or maybe just ‘burning in hell for all eternity, metaphorically, of course’? The words are shocking because they describe shocking states of affairs. There is simply no reason to refrain from using such language. The term ‘languishing’ is the best term that contrasts sharply with ‘flourishing.’

You call attention to active versus passive decrees, as though this will all of the sudden shed light on the reasonableness of the view we’ve been discussing. I simply fail to see the work this is supposed to do for you, since the following thesis is also plainly ridiculous:

All of history and the person and work of Christ is merely the working out of God’s first and final free decision to let most of humanity languish in unending ruin while saving only a minority. It was in order to enact this decision that Christ came to the world. Moreover, the world is fundamentally good and just and the work of Christ is good news to humanity.

That is yet another mark against them, for instead of encouraging Christian solidarity with humanity, they encourage naive and non-Christian forms of individualism that are doubly refuted by both Christ and human experience.
More inventions. The doctrine of Hell makes Christians cringe for the fate of those who don't believe and traverse the globe to bring them the good news for the very fact of our solidarity. With the Good News they bring water, food, literacy, health care, human rights, democracy, etc.
Refuting my universalism certainly does nothing to render Koukl’s Gospel-with-Teeth reasonable.
Thankfully, we get a two-fer. Without the universalism (or annihilation, which suffers the same fate) everyone has to deal with Koukl's Gospel. If even one person goes to Hell then Hell is either just or unjust - exactly as it is if a minority end up there, or if a majority. Without the universalism you have no ground to criticize. But the universalism, and thus, the ground, fails. And so does the case against Hell.
Are you seriously here to recommend that I refrain from using the word ‘languishing’ to describe the fate of a person who is eternally unable to fulfill that for which she was created?
Serious or with a clown's nose, I don't think I said that.
You call attention to active versus passive decrees, as though this will all of the sudden shed light on the reasonableness of the view we’ve been discussing. I simply fail to see the work this is supposed to do for you, since the following thesis is also plainly ridiculous:
Oh, but you do see the work. If you didn't see the work you wouldn't insist on ignoring the doctrine and you wouldn't continue to switch it around to say that God has forced people to disobey Him and to warrant their damnation.
the following thesis is also plainly ridiculous:

All of history and the person and work of Christ is merely the working out of God’s first and final free decision to let most of humanity languish in unending ruin while saving only a minority. It was in order to enact this decision that Christ came to the world. Moreover, the world is fundamentally good and just and the work of Christ is good news to humanity.


Yes, I would certainly agree with your assessment here of your characterization of the Gospel.
God's "first and final free decision" was not to let most languish. Regarding Man His first decision was to create him in harmony and unity with His Spirit. And that is fulfilled in the Gospel.
That the means offends your sensibilities is not a mark against it. Nor does it invert the logical order.

Malebranche

Since this is utterly indefensible, I can see why you would rather turn attention to my universalism.

You are so charged with emotions here. I'm not disputing what you think of the Gospel message. I'm disputing what the Gospel message is. See the difference?

The fact is, there are volumes of books written with the sole intent of defending the traditional view of the Gospel. The Catholic Church, as one example, has a non-universalist view. The non-universalist view is defended everywhere - with reasons backed by history, tradition and scripture.

What you mean is that it's emotionally difficult for some to defend. I would agree with that, but so what? I'm not disputing what you think of the Gospel message.

And if you haven't rested your case after all why don't you address the answers to your questions?
What about the example of the family wherein I showed that the destruction of many can consistent with good news for the family?

I answered your true and falses, why not answer mine?


Good point, SteveK.
C.S. Lewis, while recognizing the necessity of Hell (and writing a very nice allegory in the Great Divorce) stated that he, personally and emotionally, hated the idea.

C.S. Lewis also did not believe that from eternity God guaranteed the damnation of the majority of humanity by abandoning them to their sin and wickedness. Nor did he tow the exclusivist line Koukl tows. Nor did he believe that, after death, God finally gives up on human individuals. If Koukl believed such things as these, then I would have no complaint.

Sorry, that was ambiguous. I meant to say that if Koukl agreed with Lewis in rejecting these doctrines, then I would have no complaint. My complaint isn't necessarily that most people will languish eternally. It is only when that doctrine is conjoined with Koukl's classical Calvinism.

Daron,

If you would like me to reply with a true or false to an assertion, then I agree on the condition that you state the proposition clearly.

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