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July 30, 2010

Comments

Dave,

If you’d like to see a view I have a lot more sympathy with than the God-the-Great-Damner view, then maybe you could look at the following:

http://pantheon.yale.edu/~kd47/univ.htm

I don’t agree with everything in that article, but that might get you in the ballpark of what I tend to think.

But again, even if you showed that Jesus believed that God predestined most of humanity to the worst future possible, that would not show that God actually did such a thing. All that would show is that Jesus believed something absurd.

SteveK,

According to universalism, in what way does spiritual harm done now affect the eternal spiritual situation? For example, what becomes (spiritually) of a believer who preaches a false gospel (the reformed) vs. a non-believer who preaches the truth (the new-ager)? Some scriptural references would help me.

I don’t know why you think that non-believers who preach new-age philosophy preach the truth. I certainly don’t believe that they do, but that is mostly because I am utterly ignorant of what they do teach.

But now I’ll answer your question directly. A believer who believes or preaches a false gospel in no way jeopardizes the fact that she will finally be saved by God. God is not so fickle or impotent as to have his saving loving power thwarted by the stupid intellectual foibles of sinful humanity. She may, in virtue of her intellectual failure, requires extra treatment and healing by God before she enters into glory, and that may be a rather unpleasant healing process (I really have no clue about that, and I suspect no one else does either).

What’s interesting, however, is your question is very similar to this question which has been constantly posed to Calvinists: What eternal spiritual harm comes to a true, genuine believer who commits many sins in this life? And if the Calvinist is honest and not in the business of shuffling his feet around the question, the Calvinist will say, “Ultimately, not even your sins can jeopardize the fact that you will finally be saved by God.” Is this not exactly what Melinda was originally saying? So, just as the Calvinist denies that a Christian’s sin will jeopardize her eternal salvation, so a universalist denies that a Christian preaching a false gospel will jeopardize her eternal salvation.

Now, what happens to a non-believer who preaches the truth? Well they certainly won’t be tormented forever by God! On the contrary, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22), and “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn 2:2). Calvinists have never believed that Jesus atoned for the sins of the whole world or that all shall be made alive in Christ. The notion of Jesus’ universal atonement is hateful to them, undermining, they think, the very foundation of the gospel. “Permit us a thousand distinctions,” they request, “so that ‘all’ will mean only ‘a minority,’ and that ‘atoned for the sins of the world’ may mean only ‘actually atoned for a minority while abandoning the great mass of the world.’” And while turning their back on Christ’s universal redemption, they simultaneously boast that the plain sense of Scripture is on their side. I digress. The answer to your question is, “Non-believers too were forgiven by Christ and shall ultimately be saved.”

Malebranche,

>>”A believer who believes or preaches a false gospel in no way jeopardizes the fact that she will finally be saved by God. God is not so fickle or impotent as to have his saving loving power thwarted by the stupid intellectual foibles of sinful humanity.”

In other words, nothing really matters. And you say God is cheap with His grace in the Calvinist view? Maybe it’s just a different understanding of the word cheap? Your version of cheapness above would be more like, everyone gets a plastic trophy in little league cheap.


By the way, did you choose your name after Nicolas Malebranche? If so, why?

KWM,

Perhaps you would have preferred me to say, “Well, believers who preach a false gospel will be abandoned by God for eternity in the worst future possible. Oh, and non-believers will too!” Perhaps you are among those who believe that the Christian life and mission have meaning only if at least someone’s existence is consumed in the eternal horrors of divine abandonment. “If God saves everyone,” the typical Protestant enthusiastically asks, “then what meaning could living the Christian life possibly have? Mustn’t someone’s life end in horrific despair if I am to have my meaning and purpose? Please, for the sake of my meaning, let at least someone live a life not worth living! And in your mercy don’t give meaning to everyone, otherwise my meaning will be common, and therefore cheap. Please, for the sake of my meaning and mission not being cheap, let it be given only to a few!” If there is a devil, he’s certainly made an appearance in that horrible request. I wasn’t aware that so many Christians thought that the reprobate had to serve as the fertilizer in the soil of the Christian’s sense of meaning, significance, and mission. But I’m also not surprised. Those that have been trained to believe that their mission is to save as many people as they can in this sinking Titanic of a world doomed by divine design probably would be puzzled to encounter a God of universal redemption, love, and grace. Making sense of our meaning in a world ruled by a God of universal redemption unfortunately escapes the ability of many Christians. To think that the gospel really is good news to the world, that simply makes no sense apparently. Quite the contrary, the only good news that some Reformed folk can make sense of is a world ruled by a God who damns most humans to eternal hell.

Perhaps I am being too harsh. I simply cannot understand, however, the thought that in order for it to be meaningful to follow Jesus and to introduce others to him, someone must be tormented for eternity. That strikes me as one of the most diabolical, hateful, and anti-Christian attitudes a person could have. It is as though God harms me and undermines my Christian vocation if he saves my neighbor (or at least if he saves too many of them!). There are many that actually believe that the only way our vocation to make disciples of all humans could be meaningful is if not all humans will become disciples. What a thoroughly contemptible attitude.

Anyway, I chose the name ‘Malebranche’ because of my interest in early modern philosophy. I’m no Cartesian or occasionalist, but his name is as good as any to use on this blog.

Malebranche
So there is no spiritual harm done in any case because all of it will be fixed by God.

No spiritual harm comes to those who preach the traditional gospel, the gospel of the universalist or no gospel at all - and no spiritual harm comes to those who align themselves with Satan.

Do you have the references to scripture that I asked for?

Malebranche,

>>”Perhaps you would have preferred me to say, “Well, believers who preach a false gospel will be abandoned by God for eternity in the worst future possible. Oh, and non-believers will too!”

But they wouldn’t be believers – preaching false gospel. You missed that, understandably. Belief in this case, should be narrowly defined. Belief cannot mean any old thing.

Let me ask you this: Would God still be a good God in your view had he not sent his son?

SteveK,

So there is no spiritual harm done in any case because all of it will be fixed by God... no spiritual harm comes to those who align themselves with Satan.

That really is quite thoughtless. God couldn’t very well fix someone spiritually if she weren’t harmed spiritually, now could he? So of course if I believe God will one day heal everyone spiritually, then I also believe that everyone needs to be redeemed from spiritual harm. Far from my view entailing that no one can be spiritually harmed, my view entails that everyone already is spiritually harmed! Just to make the entailment relation perfectly obvious, notice that “God redeems all humans from spiritual sickness and darkness” entails that everyone suffers from spiritual sickness and darkness.

Would you ever be even remotely tempted to say of an epileptic, “Well, I guess there’s no physical harm here because all epileptics will one day be healed by God...I guess it’s not even physically harmful to chop off one’s own head, because after all God’s gonna give us new heads in heaven.” You would probably agree that this is the height of bad reasoning. Why then do you find this bad reasoning so compelling when discussing spiritual harm? There are a lot of ways to harm yourself spiritually without damning oneself eternally, just as there are many ways of harming oneself physically without killing oneself. Here are ways a person can harm themselves spiritually without being damned for eternity:

(a) Failing to live up to one’s moral duty.
(b) Believing false things about God that cultivate fear, turmoil, despair, and doubt about what he is going to do to you in the future.
(c) Convincing others of false things about God that cultivate in them fear, turmoil, despair, doubt, etc.
(d) Living an earthly life that frustrates instead of accomplishes one’s teleology, which includes knowledge of God.

KWM,

Let me ask you this: Would God still be a good God in your view had he not sent his son?

Well that depends. Supposing God the Father did not send God the Son, what does the Godhead decide to do? Suppose that instead of sending God the Son to save the world, the Godhead decides to send anyone who does a single thing wrong straight to hell for eternity. Suppose further that all human creatures are such that it is inevitable that all will sin at least once. In that case, the answer would be, “No, if the Godhead did that, the Godhead would more closely resemble a tyrant than a loving father. What could be more obvious than that?”

So, my answer depends on your answer to this question: Supposing God did not become incarnate, what alternative are we supposing him to have adopted? Universal damnation? Universal salvation via another route? What do you have in mind?

Malebranche,

A simple ‘no’ would’ve worked.

Malebranche,

We are all sinful. In your view, because God created man, He was obligated to send His Son to die. Or do any other old thing that would get us all to Heaven. For example, He could've sent His Son to come to earth to eat ice cream so long as it saves us to your liking. Otherwise He is a tyrant.

That’s creative.

Well that depends.

This is where you go wrong, Malebranche. If you want to hold onto the view of God revealed to us in scripture, the reality of God's nature, his goodness, is not contingent on any action or inaction. The nature of his being comes first and then it is expressed in his creation. In the beginning God. God cannot sin because the nature of this being - his Holiness - doesn't allow it to become reality. To say otherwise means that God is not Holy.

Furthermore, if God's message for humanity is the Reformer's message then by the same teaching it must be GOOD NEWS even if you think it isn't good news. To say otherwise means that God cannot be Holy.

You say, “If God’s message for humanity is the Reformers’ message, then the Reformers’ message is good news.” Fine. I’m happy to see you say that. I would only add to it, “And obviously the Reformers’ message is about the worst news one could imagine for the world. In other words, it is false that the Reformers’ message is good news.” From which it follows that God’s message for humanity is not the Reformers’ message.

I certainly believe God is necessarily morally perfect. But unlike the Calvinist, I think that God’s moral perfection entails that he does not act in hateful and perverse ways towards his creatures. I’ll leave you with the following argument:

(1) Necessarily, for any persons S and S*, if S freely arranges for S*’s existence to be terrestrially and eternally consumed in vice and on the whole not worth living ultimately for the purpose of enhancing S’s glory, then S has acted in a perverse, or cruel, or callous, or hateful, or selfish, or contemptuous manner towards S*.
(2) Necessarily, it is false that God acts in either a perverse, cruel, callous, hateful, selfish, or contemptuous manner towards another person.
(3) Therefore, necessarily, it is false that God freely arranges for another person’s existence to be terrestrially and eternally consumed in vice and on the whole not worth living ultimately for the purpose of enhancing God’s glory (from 1, 2).

The argument is valid and even you will agree that premise (2) is true. If you agree that premise (1) is true, then you must accept the conclusion. If you wish to reject the conclusion, then you have to endorse the truth of the following claim:

The Abominable Reformed Conjunction: Possibly, for some person S and some person S*, S freely arranges for S*’s existence to be terrestrially and eternally consumed in vice and on the whole not worth living ultimately for the purpose of enhancing S’s glory & S does not act in either a perverse, cruel, callous, hateful, selfish, or contemptuous manner towards S*.

Now you can go around saying that you believe that God is essentially and necessarily good, but apparently you think his goodness is consistent with God harming the majority of his creatures in the worst way possible by abandoning them to sin and eternal hopelessness. In other words, God’s goodness doesn’t really amount to much according to your way of thinking. You may say that you believe in a benevolent God, but the fact that you endorse the Abominable Reformed Conjunction betrays the fact that your understanding of God’s benevolence is compatible with God ordaining eternal languishing for those we love and cherish. And that’s a pretty unimpressive benevolence.

Malebranche,

You keep talking about the Reformed view, but you have a problem with the Biblical concept of Hell (and how humans can be sent there). Your problem is much broader – so please spare us all the talk on the Reformed view.

KWM,

In case you’re forgotten, the traditional Reformed view contains the traditional doctrine of hell as a constituent. The classical Reformed folks demand not only that we believe that God is completely sovereign, but also that God freely abandons most of humanity to eternal languishing. If that weren’t absurd all by itself, they multiply absurdity upon absurdity by saying that all of this is good news to the world.

But what we call these abominable doctrines is neither here nor there. My beef is with those foot soldiers in the Reformed camp (such as Koukl) who believe the conjunction of the classical Reformed perspective and eternal conscious torment for the majority of humanity. That is what Greg Koukl affirms, and that is what I am here to dispute.

Now, I can understand why you’d prefer me to stop arguing that this absurd view is absurd. After all, it appears to be Koukl’s and your view (or at least a view you don’t enjoy being attacked), and apparently you are able to say nothing in defense of it except, “Well, I believe that the Bible says…” which again would only show that you believe that the Bible says something and the something you think it says is patently false. Thus far, for instance, no one has made the least effort to explain how it is possible for it to be good news to the world that the world is ruled by an omnipotent being that has abandoned most of the world to eternal hopeless ruin when that omnipotent being could have done otherwise and redeemed the majority of the world. Furthermore, no one has done anything to address the argument I gave previously that if Calvinism is true, then God has acted in a perverse, cruel, callous, hateful, selfish, and contemptuous manner towards at least one person.

A previous commenter was correct when he noted that it is humorously ironic that folks would just simply refuse to address the substantive concerns raised by these Reformed doctrines and retreat to mere proof-texting at an organization that prides itself on its reasonability. At least Koukl himself has tried to discuss problems pertaining to the Reformed view and freedom without leaning entirely on, “Well, I believe that the Bible says…”

Malebranche

I would only add to it, “And obviously the Reformers’ message is about the worst news one could imagine for the world. In other words, it is false that the Reformers’ message is good news.” From which it follows that God’s message for humanity is not the Reformers’ message.

Here's your argument:

1) God's plans are always good because his nature is Holiness.
2) God's plan is X
3) Malebranche doesn't think X is good.
4) Therefore X can't be God's plan.

Can you see the problem with this? I already point it out to you. The question that WE need to answer is "What is God's plan". What you and I think about God's plan is a non-factor.

How do you suppose WE can come to know the answer to this question? Yes, we look to scripture. There we will learn about God's plan for humanity.

Now, we may disagree with the interpretation of scripture, but that's the only place we can go to get an answer. Your emotionally laden outbursts - which are frequent and stale - have zero effect on the question.

SteveK,

That argument you say is my argument is not even valid (i.e., the conclusion does not follow logically from the premises), so of course that is not my argument. Instead, my argument is the following:

(1) Necessarily, for any persons S and S*, if S freely arranges for S*’s existence to be terrestrially and eternally consumed in vice and on the whole not worth living ultimately for the purpose of enhancing S’s glory, then S has acted in a perverse, or cruel, or callous, or hateful, or selfish, or contemptuous manner towards S*.
(2) Necessarily, it is false that God acts in either a perverse, cruel, callous, hateful, selfish, or contemptuous manner towards another person.
(3) Therefore, necessarily, it is false that God freely arranges for another person’s existence to be terrestrially and eternally consumed in vice and on the whole not worth living ultimately for the purpose of enhancing God’s glory (from 1, 2).

You’re theological dogmas about Scripture and God force you to affirm the Abominable Reformed Conjunction, according to which possibly, for some person S and some person S*, S freely arranges for S*’s existence to be terrestrially and eternally consumed in vice and on the whole not worth living ultimately for the purpose of enhancing S’s glory & S does not act in either a perverse, cruel, callous, hateful, selfish, or contemptuous manner towards S*. But the Abominable Reformed Conjunction is absurd. So much the worse for your theological dogmas about Scripture and God. Commit them to the flames, as Hume might say, because they entail the absurd.

But you reply, “But my dogmas about Scripture compel me to endorse the Abominable Reformed Conjunction, or at least something very like. Therefore, the Abominable Reformed Conjunction cannot be absurd” Again I repeat, so much the worse for your dogmas about Scripture. Furthermore, that your dogmas entail the absurd is merely evidence that your dogmas are absurd. Repeating, “But my dogmas about Scripture tell me that...” does nothing to undermine this point.

As I said to another commenter, what a mercy that you aren’t convinced that your dogmas about Scripture compel you to believe that God occasionally becomes incarnate in order to molest children. If they did, apparently you are the sort of fellow that wouldn’t completely rethink his dogmas, but would instead defend the ridiculous notion that God occasionally molests children.

You say that the only way to discover God’s plan is to investigate Scripture. That is false. Prior to even opening Scripture, so long as I know that God is good and is good to his creatures (which is part of the very concept of God), then I know a priori that God’s plan includes none of the following:

(a) Molesting children.
(b) Torturing the innocent for fun.
(c) Sending all humans to eternal torment merely to watch them writhe.

I can know that God’s plan includes none of (a) through (c) even without looking at Scripture. I know this because I know (i) that God is supremely good, and (ii) that were God’s plan to include any of (a) through (c), then God would not be supremely good. Surely you will agree with me that none of us need to search the Bible in order to find out if God’s plan includes (a) through (c).

Similarly, I can know a priori that God does not create humanity in order to damn most of its members for the sake of enhancing his glory. I know this because I know that God is supremely good and that were he to do such a thing he would not be supremely good.

SteveK,

I also want to point out that instead of taking up the burden of showing or explaining how the gospel can be good news to the world if what you defend is true, you have retreated to reminding me of your dogmas about Scripture and what they do and don’t require. But I am not interested in your dogmas about Scripture. That was not the nature of my challenge. My challenge is for someone to say something remotely plausible that would help explain why the classical Reformed gospel is good news to the world. Dutifully repeating, “Well, my dogmas about the Bible entail the classical Reformed view” certainly is not much by way of an attempt to render the classical Reformed view reasonable. The entire legion of Christian apologists always go on and on about how important their industry and books are for the Church, trying to convince Christians that in addition to quoting Scripture, we also need to be able to make our views reasonable if they seem completely ridiculous. Have you any interest at all in doing that with respect to the view that the good news of the gospel to the world includes God creating humanity in order to damn most of it to the worst future possible? Or do you think that it is quite enough for you to remind everyone that your dogmas about Scripture convince you of the good news of God’s general ungraciousness to humanity?

Malebranche
Again you have a grounding problem. You must start with God if you want to talk about moral facts because that is where they are grounded.

What makes killing innocent people, evil, Malebranche? As much as our perceptions can be helpful, is it our ability to percieve it as evil the reason it is evil? No. The spiritual fact of the matter is what makes it evil. Your perceptions, be they correct or incorrect, have nothing to do with it. You keep trying to make them count, but they don't.

What makes the eternal separation of the unrepentant from God evil, or good? Same answer as above. The spiritual fact of the matter is what makes it evil, or good.

IF, IF, IF (IF !!) the fact is that God's purposeful plan for humanity is the same one described by the Reformer, then that plan MUST be good. No way around it, Malebranche. If you allow it to be evil - even as a mere possibility - then you are saying that God is not Holy because it is possible for God to sin. It's in his nature. You'd have a nice religion, but you wouldn't have Christianity.

Here is the logic that you must adhere to - absent any preference for one view or the other, absent any Christian theology except the one that grounds moral facts in the fact of God's Holy nature. It is presented in the most simple and generic of terms, without the emotionally laden words you like to use.

(a) God is Holy.
(b) God's purposeful plan for humanity is X.
(c) God's purposeful plan for humanity is not a morally evil plan.

The question for us is, "what is X", not "what do I think or believe or feel about X".

Well there you have it folks. God has freely decided to damn most of humanity to eternal despair and viciousness while redeeming only a minority. All of human history and the life of Jesus Christ are merely the outworking of these sovereign decrees that finally end in the ruin of many of the people you know and cherish, perhaps even your friends and children. In case you were thinking to yourself, “Well geez, that sounds like the worst news ever,” you couldn’t be more wrong. Believe it or not, it is actually news of great joy to the world! Do you know how I know that? Because the Bible tells me so, that’s how. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s in the Bible and I’m a Christian apologist, so just listen. The reason it’s good news is because God could have sent us all to eternal languishing, but instead he’s only sent most of us there! Woo hoo! And besides, God’s grace is grace, so he doesn’t have to give it to anyone. If he had to give it to someone, it wouldn’t be grace, would it? See, I told you this was good news to the world. Man, I bet you’re ready to celebrate, aren’t you? Oh, and in case you were worried, your friends and family in hell deserve every bit of it, because God not only decreed that they be in hell, but he also decreed that they live a life of sin. So, as Koukl says, they won’t be punished for any sins they didn’t commit. Isn’t that a relief? Anyway, I can tell that you’re now flooded and overwhelmed by the love of God for humanity, and so I have a deal for you. Well, I might have a deal for you. That sort of depends on whether you are among the few and the fortunate. But don’t worry, there’s ways to figure that out. For instance, if you just trust in Jesus for your salvation, that’s pretty good evidence that God picked you. Now our best evidence suggests that your grandfather wasn’t picked, because he never even heard the Gospel. And people that never heard the Gospel weren’t picked by God. They go to hell. But remember, they don’t go to hell for not believing in Jesus. They go to hell for their sin. Woo hoo! Great news, I know I know. But let me finish. Now that you’ve trusted in Jesus, you need to go and spread this fantastic news of God’s love in Jesus Christ. You might not want to say everything I just told you to those you are introducing the faith too. That might scare them off, or convince them that God is an insane tyrant. Just keep it simple, and talk about Jesus dying on the cross. Once you convert them, more than likely if they study Protestant theology, they too will come to see that the good news of the Gospel is that from eternity God freely decreed that only the majority of humanity languish and that all of human history and the work of Christ is merely the working out of these decrees. Man, just talking about this stuff makes me want to sing praises to God.

Haha, I'm done.

Malebranche,

You simply have an emotional problem with Christianity – as referenced in that previous, highly emotional post.

You simply have an emotional problem with Christianity – as referenced in that previous, highly emotional post.

Now that's funny. You're completely correct. If only I could just get over these darn emotional problems of mine, the Reformed perspective would fill me with great joy and gladness. But alas, in my present unhealthy emotional state, I am prevented from seeing how reasonable and joyous it is to believe that God has abandoned most of humanity while saving only a minority. If only I could shake these unhealthy emotions, I might finally see the light. Maybe one day I will come around. We can only hope.

Malebranche,

You repeatedly use the words: minority, most, majority, etc. when describing this unholy alliance between God and humanity…why? Is this morality by numbers?

You repeatedly use the words: minority, most, majority, etc. when describing this unholy alliance between God and humanity…why? Is this morality by numbers?

Oh no no no, I was just saying that due to my emotional autism I can't see the joy in God freely abandoning most of humanity to eternal perdition while saving only a few like Greg Koukl believes that God has. The 'majority' and 'minority' stuff is merely me factually reporting on Koukl's joyous and profoundly reasonable gospel, ya know, the one that emotionally healthy people can contemplate with warm smiles and hearts full of celebration. And I agree with you. The numbers don't matter. Even if God abandoned all of humanity to eternal perdition except a single individual, then clearly the gospel would still be good news to humanity. My only problem is that my emotions sometimes make me think that, in that case, the gospel would be awful news. But I agree with you. The numbers don't really matter, and so no matter how many people God abandons, it's still good news to the world worth celebrating every Christmas.

Emotions can be controlled –adolescent sarcasm – I’m not so sure : )

KWM,

But at least we're finally seeing things similarly. I mean, can we agree that the numbers don't matter. Even if God abandoned all of humanity to eternal perdition except a single individual, clearly the gospel would still be good news to humanity? Surely you would agree with that, right?

KWM,

Looks like I had quite a bit of question mark trouble in that last post. Oops. I'll ask again just to be perfectly clear. Surely you would agree that the gospel would be good news to humanity even if God abandoned every person to eternal destruction except for a single individual. Wouldn't you agree that even in that case, the gospel would be good news to the world?

I have no beef with calling the Gospel terrible news for those that reject Christ and His message. In other words, I'm not emotionally averse to it.

Malebranche,

See if you reject Good news…oh that’s bad news...very bad news.

KWM,

Awesome, thanks for the response. But I'm still not quite clear about you're view. In order to give you the opportunity to answer a direct question as directly as you can, I'll keep it short and sweet. Wouldn't you agree that the following proposition is true:

The Numbers Don't Matter Thesis: It would still be good news to the world if God freely chose to abandon every human being to eternal anguish except for a single individual who enters into heavenly glory.

Do you think that the Numbers Don't Matter Thesis is true? This very proposition that I have written and named the Numbers Don't Matter Thesis is either true or false. Do you believe the Numbers Don't Matter Thesis is true? Yes or no?

I take issue with the way you frame your question. It would still be good news if every single person except one chose to reject it. Yes, it would. Can you not see your problem here?

Reaction to ‘news’ doesn’t make it good or bad. You can choose to reject good news at your peril. That doesn’t automatically make it bad news.

Let’s say you just had the birth of your first child – and you are in a room of 10 people and you told them the good news, but they reject it – does that make your news bad news?

Let me ask it another way: let’s say that room was slowly being filled with deadly gas through the fault of the 10 (they broke a gas line on purpose). You signal through the door that you have good news! There is a way out! They reject the way out - they all die. Does that make your news bad news simply because they all rejected it?

If you write anything about God being the one that siphons the gas in – I’ll just have to get emotional.

KWM,

Ohhhh, so close. Almost got a direct answer, but not quite. Suppose, for instance, that you asked me, “Do you believe that the following proposition is true: God is a three-headed rabid dog. Yes or no?” Since I understand the proposition and am capable of considering it and having a view on its truth-value, I would answer, “No.” Suppose that someone asked me, “Do you believe that the following proposition is true: God foreknows the future by deducing every future event from all the facts at the Big Bang singularity and the laws of nature.” Since I understand the proposition and am capable of considering it and having a view on its truth-value, I would answer, “No.”

Now, perhaps you don’t like my proposition, but whether you liked it or not is not something I asked you about. The proposition is the following:

The Numbers Don't Matter Thesis: It would still be good news to the world if God freely chose to abandon every human being to eternal anguish except for a single individual who enters into heavenly glory.

The question is very simple. Do you believe the Numbers Don’t Matter Thesis is true? Maybe you don’t understand the proposition. But supposing for the moment that you understand it, do you believe that it is true? It’s either true or false, right? Which is it?

Let me repost:

The Reaction to News Thesis: Reaction to ‘news’ doesn’t make it good or bad. You can choose to reject good news at your peril. That doesn’t automatically make it bad news.

You believe this is true?

KWM,

Again, very funny. "Suppose you asked another question, Malebranche. Well then I would ask you what you thought the answer was."

Here, I'll show you how to answer a question directly. You ask, "Hey Malebranche, do you believe the following proposition is true: Reaction to ‘news’ doesn’t make it good or bad. You can choose to reject good news at your peril. That doesn’t automatically make it bad news."

Malebranche's Answer: Absolutely correct! Yes, that is true. That proposition is the opposite of false. Absolutely true, veridical, and worthy of the belief of all rational agents.

See how that worked? You gave a proposition, asked if I thought it was true, and I said, "Yep, that's true."

Now it's your turn to do what I just did. Do you believe the following proposition is true (the wording is slightly different):

The Numbers Don't Matter Thesis: It would still be good news to the world even if God freely guaranteed that every human person with the exception of one lives an earthly life of sin and experiences eternal postmortem anguish and languishing.

KWM's answer is....?

KWM,

Perhaps you simply have emotional problems with answering my question directly?

I think this thread has run its course.

Malebranche,
I noticed you didn't comment on the simple logical statement I provided. As Christian's we are called to think so we can come to know the truth. What do you not agree with, and why?

(a) God is Holy.
(b) God's purposeful plan for humanity is X.
(c) God's purposeful plan for humanity is not a morally evil plan.

The question for us is, "what is X", not "what do I think or believe or feel about X".

Malebranche,

Yes, it would still be good news if all but one rejected it. The News is good in itself.

I don't know how one that feels God owed us His Son will take this though.

Malebranch is on record as a universalist. Everyone will be saved, regardless of beliefs, actions or adherence to false teachings. Since this is the case, it causes one to wonder why he is so vexed by a doctrine that has no ultimate impact and why he thinks his point is so nifty that it needs to be revisited at every opportunity?
Beyond his opinion that it is "absurd" of course... and every other negative adjective he can muster.

In Malebranche's theology, God is "cheap with His Grace" if even one sinner is damned:

It is bad news that even one [single] person languish in Hell for eternity. Even if that person is an unrepentent Stalin, or Hitler, or Dahmer. True.

http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2010/06/christianitys-greatest-foe-video.html?cid=6a00d83451d2ba69e2013484431d03970c

I would greatly appreciate it if STR would critique the following paper on Christian Universalism:

http://pantheon.yale.edu/~kd47/univ.htm

(Christian Universalism, unlike Unitarian Universalism or all-roads-lead-to-God universalism, posits that everybody will eventually (in this life or the next) gladly receive Christ as his savior and be saved through His shed blood. Among the verses they cite are Rom. 5:18-20, Rom. 11:32,36a, I Cor. 15:22,28, Col. 1:20, John 12:32, Isaiah 45:21-25, Ezek. 16:53,55, Psalm 145:10a, Rev. 5:13,15:4.)

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