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« The Trouble with Theistic Evolution | Main | Radio Easter Sunday »

April 05, 2012

Comments

Hi Ben, here is an introductory yet technical blog posting on impassibility. This is regarding Thomas Aquinas' consistency with the Reformation theologians on a historic doctrine of God. I tried to post this prior to my previous answer to your #49 but it didn't post for some reason. I still wanted to give you some reference to where I'm coming from.

Ben, what's the point of arguing for 1), especially if you're assuming what everyone here agrees is an erroneous view of Christianity?

Jesse,

The original blog post offered an explanation which is not available to human beings. I merely pointed this out, and gave an example of a popular explanation which doesn't work.

Ben,

I'm sorry you found my earlier comment insulting. I find your feigned attempts at reasoning to be insulting to myself, to my God, and to my Church. So perhaps we'll just as well call that a wash, since it's all just feelings, and feelings won't change the facts at hand.

My statement was that you were free to find silly arguments and dismantle them. With the sheer number of Christians in the world, statistics would dictate that you can go three standard deviations from the mean for intelligence, and then take that group and go three standard deviations from the mean for belligerence, and still end up with over five million Christians worldwide of exceptionally poor attitude and intelligence.

Do you have time to argue with five million contentious fools? I certainly don't. But if I were of a mind to make a group look bad, I wouldn't have a hard time finding heretical or schismatic views. In fact, the internet (where you seem to be locating most of your Christian targets) is an absolute hotbed for small minds to gain a large voice.

If you just like to argue and dissuade people of their stupidity, that's fine and dandy. But why bother, in that case? The belligerent idiots of the world won't change in the face of any sophisticated reasons. They'll just grunt louder. And the more reasonable Christians *already know* that these are bad arguments. It's no use to the wise, and it's no help to the wicked, to charge the ocean of ignorance with a teaspoon.

I would encourage you to engage in some self-reflection as to what you think you're accomplishing with all this, in an ultimate sense.

If I actually *wished* to insult you, I might speculate that you just like to sound smarter than religious folks, because it reinforces your New Atheistic dogma that religious people are delusional and that New Atheism is a vanguard for clear, logical, scientific thinking.

Of course, when Christians demolish every weak, fallacious argument that a Harris or a Dawkins put out, that calls into question such dogma. If you can't beat a Bill Craig, then why not settle for any of the millions of doofuses on the internet? You could berate a moron a day for the rest of your life, without ever making significant headway on the total population, repeating yourself, or engaging with a core, established tenet of orthodox Christian belief.

But I wouldn't imply that. You don't seem like that kinda guy. And I don't think you want to become That Guy--the blustery nonbeliever with the "I'm An Atheist: Debate Me!" t-shirt. So seriously engage with what it is you hope to accomplish through this exercise. Who are you trying to help? What are you trying to prove? What is your addition to the body of knowledge and understanding?

Maybe these are your baby steps into the world of thinking critically about God. If so, I encourage you to aim them towards wisdom, and not hubris.

Brad B,

Well if you reject that God is principally concerned about the well-being of conscious creatures, then it doesn't much matter if you accept or reject (P). If we can't make it past the first step, then it doesn't matter if we can't make it past the second!

I don't see what's left to make of moral goodness, though, if you don't think it's principally about fostering well-being of conscious creatures. For that is a pretty big part of what I mean when I talk about moral goodness. If that's not also what you mean, then I don't know how to interpret a concept like "omnibenevolence."

At any rate, please don't take me to be suggesting that Molinism is the right view. Quite the contrary! Possible worlds semantics simply afforded a convenient way of articulating the point I wanted to make before. But it turns out the point is moot as far as you're concerned, so never mind.

Oh, and I'm not sure where you think impassibility figures into all this. I've not really encountered that view before, but I will say this much: I'm skeptical that it is meaningful to talk about a mind which does not experience any emotion. I'm not sure if that's precisely what impassibility entails, but if so then I would have to express concern that the notion of a God stripped of emotions is even comprehensible.

But hopefully we don't have to go there, because it doesn't seem immediately connected to the present discussion.

Hi Ben, the historic understanding of divine impassibility is not describing God as unemotional at all. I'd encourage you to read it, you'd have only got to the third paragraph to see this:

"Some people get passionate over the very idea of divine impassibility, even in their haste misspelling it as ‘impassability’, and equating it with ‘impassivity’. An impassible/impassive God is said to exhibit psychotic unconcern."

This dispells your concern about a God who's unemotional at all. In regards to this discussion, a correct doctrine of God must be considered since a divine attribute omnibenevolence is appealed to. I dont see how one can speak of a divine attribute without having an accurate understanding of the Divine in view. I'm sorry that I cant get past this and have a serious discussion that has any consequence in the real world.

So,

"Well if you reject that God is principally concerned about the well-being of conscious creatures,"
yes I do reject this view since plainly God has little concern for the well-being of those who perish in their sins.

Sorry to have been a distraction here.


Brad B,

Yes, I had already read that bit about "psychotic unconcern," but I was not able to determine from the wording whether it is a misconception which the author aims to dispel or if it is what the author views as the correct view of impassibility. It doesn't sound like "psychotic unconcern" is something you would want to attribute to God. But if impassibility is not that, and if it is not an immunity to emotion, then what is it?

Wikipedia defines it as "the theological doctrine that God does not experience pain or pleasure from the actions of another being." Does that strike you as a satisfactory definition? If so, what is its significance to the present discussion?

As for "having an accurate understanding of the Divine," I don't think any of us has a complete or perfect understanding of God. What about this particular alleged attribute of God is essential to the present discussion? Not that I am opposed to discussing it regardless, but I don't see how it connects to omnibenevolence or the necessity of Jesus' suffering.

But then from your last statement, you apparently think God just doesn't care about the well-being of a large subset of human beings. It's not that he is torn by conflicting concerns, but rather he never cared to begin with, so to speak. But surely that can't be what you really think. For on that view, God is a monster.

Hi Ben, divine impassibility is the doctrine that says that God is perfect, complete, etc... in this, He's immovable by things. He's never surprised, hurt, angry, because of others. It relates to this discussion because your attempt to say that God is moved by the concern of the well-being of others is contrary to this long established orthodox Christian doctrine of God.

More than one time I explained that to know what "omnibenevolence" means must include knowing something accurately true about the only being who possesses this attribute, that is God.

"But surely that can't be what you really think."
I can assure you that this is what I think is the case. It is a completely orthodox Christian position that is inescapably taught in the biblical revelation.

Brad B,

I'm skeptical that divine impassibility as you describe it is essential to orthodox theology. I think most Christians today would be horrified by the suggestion that God has a "psychotic unconcern" for the well-being of anyone, much less a supreme and immovable indifference to the well-being of the entire population of unsaved persons.

If you think this doctrine is remotely compatible with omnibenevolence, then you mean something radically different than I do by the term. On your view, God just doesn't care about the well-being of a large subset of conscious creatures, the unsaved. Assuming you also believe in eternal Hell, this makes God into a hideous monster who has arranged for the eternal torment of millions (billions?) without the slightest concern for their suffering.

I just can't see a Catholic like Aquinas holding this view. Surely he meant something else by God's supposed impassibility.

I Ben, you aren't reading carefully at all. The linked article and quoted paragraph both call the thinking that would characterize God as having "psychotic unconcern" erroneous.

As far as the compatibility with omnibenevolence, I am not making any particular claim about that. Your suggestion that God is omnibenevolent, thus..... must require a knowledge of what the definition is. To know that you'd better have knowledge of the only being that possesses any omni attribute. You obviously dont possess that knowledge and are unwilling to gain it I guess.

Anyway, I guess that's all I have to say.

Brad B,

I have indeed been reading carefully, but unfortunately the blog simply wasn't clear on that point. I explained this a few posts up, but you didn't reply until now.

However you did write this:

...plainly God has little concern for the well-being of those who perish in their sins.

I don't know about you, but that sure sounds like "psychotic unconcern" to me! So I wrote in reply:

...you apparently think God just doesn't care about the well-being of a large subset of human beings. It's not that he is torn by conflicting concerns, but rather he never cared to begin with, so to speak. But surely that can't be what you really think. For on that view, God is a monster.

You responded directly:

I can assure you that this is what I think is the case.

Now you complain that I don't know the definition of omnibenevolence, and so, because of this, I cannot draw conclusions based on the omnibenevolence of God. This is problematic in various ways, but it hardly matters since your idea of omnibenevolence, as articulated in the last few posts, is so monstrous. Whatever else we say about God, the idea that he would not be concerned with the eternal suffering of so many people is quite enough for my palate. Once you make that move, you have an evil God, not a good one.

Ok Ben, it is probably time to end, the misunderstandings keep mounting up and I dont think this post is on track to start explaining orthodox Christian doctrines to you. No slight on you mind you, it is just the wrong time wrong place. Maybe in the future we'll tango in sync and have a more fruitful discourse. BTW, there is nothing I've said that cannot be reasonably justified with scriptural proofs and historic writings by orthodox men, [your charge of monstrous notwithstanding].

Brad B,

I don't see how you hope to defend God's moral character by appealing to one source over another. You have said flat out that God doesn't even care for the well-being of those being tormented for eternity! On your view, this just doesn't bother him. And when I point out that this view makes God out to be a monster, you reply simply that, well, the view is supported by historical orthodox Christianity.

If it really is the case that this view of yours is supported by Scripture and historically by theologians, then so much the worse for that Scripture and those theologians! The origin of the view won't change its moral consequences.

In other words, you don't need to convince me that your view is orthodox. I'm happy to grant that, for the sake of argument. But I don't see how it helps your case here. You still have a monstrous God in view.

You are welcome not to further the conversation if that is your desire. However I must point out in the mean time that it doesn't help to complain in general about misunderstandings without explaining what those are. If you think I've misunderstood something, okay. What is it, then?

I sincerely hope that I have misunderstood that part of your view where you take God to be uncaring for the well-being of so many people. I have invited you before to revise your previous assertion about that. "Surely," I wrote, "that can't be what you really think." But you stood by your assertion. Apparently you think because your view is orthodox, that somehow gets you off the hook.

Ben,

Quick question for you;

Did the Christian God die on a cross (a horrible death) so that human beings did not have to spend an eternity in torment? It's not that you have to believe this claim, but isn't this the central truth claim of Christianity? The resurrection of Christ?

If the answer to that question is yes, then in what way is God monstrous? In fact this would make Him generously gracious because He did this willingly and not out of compulsion to some law which He is under.

Now if you decide to not accept Christ's pardon and willing choose hell over heaven, then what is God supposed to do? Cry tears of agony over your choice for all eternity? God has not only done His part, He went above and beyond, stepping down from heaven, living a sinless life which he laid down in sacrifice for yours. His resurrection proves he conquered death and provided confirmation he is who he claimed to be. In fact the bible says God is glorified in your torment for all eternity, because it shows a side of God's character that frankly I think you are in straight-up denial about.

If God - the creator of the universe, you and me and everything in it - allowed baby rapists, murders, the Stalins, the Hitlers, the Maos of this world to go unpunished, he would in fact be the "monstrous" character you seem to think Him to be.

The fact that God punishes evil for all eternity is a good thing. It's a separation -a quarantine if you will, of those who have chosen to continue in rebellion against God, from those who have chosen to accept God's pardon on His terms.

You may have never been told this before, but you only enjoy your life right now because of God's presence...however dim that is right now. When you die and are judged according to your deeds by a perfect Judge who sees every evil thought and action, you will be eternally separated from his presence.

I understand Brad's frustration because this is Christianity 101 stuff. From what I know of Brad, it's not that he's above explaining this to you (or anyone for that matter), it's just that given your blog(s) and other information you've made public about yourself (namely your education and where you were raised) it just doesn't seem plausible you would not know this stuff.

You don't have to believe it, but this is mere Christianity...the boiler plate, meat and potatoes stuff. This isn't fringe or controversial.

I hope this helps.

Regards,
John

John,

You wrote:

Did the Christian God die on a cross (a horrible death) so that human beings did not have to spend an eternity in torment?

You are free to take that position, but it's not going to help solve the mystery of what logical connection exists between the two events. It would be like saying that Jesus had to feed the five thousand in order to save penguins from extinction. It might be true, but it only raises questions and doesn't actually answer much of anything.

If the answer to that question is yes, then in what way is God monstrous?

Oh, I'm not saying that your God is monstrous. Maybe he's not. Rather, I pointed out that Brad B's God is monstrous, and here's why: Brad B's God never actually cares about the well-being of the unsaved. So for instance suppose Ghandi is in Hell for being a Hindu, which seems a pretty safe bet given the existence of Yahweh. Well, Brad B's God doesn't mind Ghandi being in Hell. He couldn't care less that Ghandi is suffering eternal torment. That suits Brad B's God just fine.

It seems pretty obvious to me that such callous disregard for the well-being of the tormented is downright monstrous.

But I don't think most Christians share Brad B's view. Presumably your God would at least feel bad about so many people being tormented in Hellish eternity. If so, then my criticism does not apply to your God.

If God - the creator of the universe, you and me and everything in it - allowed baby rapists, murders, the Stalins, the Hitlers, the Maos of this world to go unpunished, he would in fact be the "monstrous" character you seem to think Him to be.

Why? Remember, God is not bound by human limitations. He doesn't have to worry about most of the issues we normally associate with justice, such as deterrence, rehabilitation or public protection. Any punishment he doles out will be purely retributive, and moreover it will be retributive for its own sake, i.e. not to bring about some other end.

Now, what is monstrous about deciding not to take revenge?

I understand Brad's frustration because this is Christianity 101 stuff.

Oh, I realize quite well that Brad B doesn't think his God is a monster. But I also understand that he's wrong!

Whether your God is also a monster depends on the character of your God. But so far I don't see anything that would warrant the charge.

--Ben

Hi Ben,

You wrote:

"You are free to take that position, but it's not going to help solve the mystery of what logical connection exists between the two events. It would be like saying that Jesus had to feed the five thousand in order to save penguins from extinction. It might be true, but it only raises questions and doesn't actually answer much of anything."

Ben, the bible actually couldn't be much clearer on this subject. It absolutely explains the connection between Christ's death and resurrection and the forgiveness of sinners.

The bible teaches that you and I are rebels in God's kingdom. It's His creation, He made you and I and everything in it and you and I have not only rebelled against Him in thought and deed, but not one of us even truly seeks Him because we actually love ourselves the way we are and don't want God. In fact it's worse then that - we naturally suppress the truth He has revealed to us through creation and our conscience.

We are criminals waiting for our execution. We are guilty already before a just and perfect Judge and we are merely waiting for the sentence to be executed.

Now Christ's work on the cross is very similar to a pardon from a governor. You and I are sitting in our cells, and along comes the jailer and he says, "you are free to go, someone else has paid your fine". Christ's death paid for our moral crimes against God Ben.

Without Christ's death there is no forgiveness Ben. If God looked the other way he would be a monstrous God - a corrupt judge.

Our guilt is certain before Him Ben, if you disagree please look through the ten commandments and report back which ones you haven't broken. And if you haven't broken any of them, then Christ is not for you! You have nothing to worry about, because innocent people who haven't broken God's moral law go straight to heaven to be with Him for eternity when they die.

You also wrote:

"Oh, I'm not saying that your God is monstrous. Maybe he's not. Rather, I pointed out that Brad B's God is monstrous, and here's why: Brad B's God never actually cares about the well-being of the unsaved."

Ben, "Brad's God" and my God are the same Person - Jesus Christ. There is no difference. We may have different understandings of Him, but so what? No two people know you in the same way either Ben. And from what I've seen of Brad's postings here, over the course of years, I would be pleased if I found out he was my kid's Sunday school teacher.

"So for instance suppose Ghandi is in Hell for being a Hindu, which seems a pretty safe bet given the existence of Yahweh."

Ben, Gandhi is not in hell because he is a Hindu! Again, this is Christianity 101 territory! If Gandhi is in hell it's because he broke God's moral law!...just like you and I. On a scale of degree I guess you could make the observation he lived a more moral life then you or I on one level - he had more impact given our current perspective.

But my question for you then is this - What is the greatest evil, if not hating the most morally good Being in the Universe?

You also wrote:

"Well, Brad B's God doesn't mind Ghandi being in Hell. He couldn't care less that Ghandi is suffering eternal torment. That suits Brad B's God just fine."

Ben this conclusion just doesn't' make sense given Christ's work on the cross. Look at it this way, if you found out as an adult that your father died when you were a child saving you from drowning in a river, would you think he cared nothing for you? Of course not! But that's exactly what God has done for you, yet you feel justified in calling Him monstrous because He's not going to agonize over exercising perfect judgement when you pass from this life?

What you are proposing here is similar to a judge who goes home and cries himself silly after sentencing Jefferey Dahmer to life in prison! We delight when justice is done, because innocent human life (in the eyes of our justice system) is protected and valued.

"what is monstrous about deciding not to take revenge?"

Justice is not the same thing as revenge Ben. Justice is what you and I deserve for breaking God's moral law. Revenge is taking the law into one's one hands for the purpose of seeking self retribution. God is not under any law Ben. God will exercise perfect justice when you die, because there is nothing stopping him from being Himself - is there?

Look at it this way - if God were to allow you and I to rebel against Him forever, what kind of God would he be? Certainly not someone worthy of any respect! If you disagree, can I ask you another question?

If you were having dinner at a friends house and his kids were constantly talking back to him, throwing things at him, at you, taking your car keys your phone, flushing 'em down the toilet, etc, and your friend did nothing - would you respect your friend?

Do you see what I'm getting at here?

Regards,
John

John,

You wrote:

Without Christ's death there is no forgiveness Ben. If God looked the other way he would be a monstrous God - a corrupt judge.

Throughout this thread I have attempted to explain why an appeal to justice doesn't help. Why should God care about his favorite system of justice so long as it results in a worse balance of well-being than otherwise?

We value our human justice systems because they result in a better balance of well-being. But God is not in our position. For him, rules are just extra hurdles to accomplish a task he could do simply by wishing for it.

It will not do to suggest that God values a mindless set of rules more than the well-being of conscious creatures. So the challenge Christians face (if they appeal to justice to justify Jesus' suffering) is to explain how God's favorite justice system actually improves well-being overall, when it appears to do just the opposite.

Ben, Gandhi is not in hell because he is a Hindu! Again, this is Christianity 101 territory! If Gandhi is in hell it's because he broke God's moral law!

That may be part of the reason he is in Hell, but it could not possibly be the only reason. After all, you also broke God's moral law (according to you), and yet you are not going to end up in Hell (presumably).

Rather, the reason Gandhi is in Hell is because he committed a certain type of offense---not believing the Gospel. Instead, he believed the tenets of Hinduism.

What is the greatest evil, if not hating the most morally good Being in the Universe?

I don't know that there is any single greatest evil. If there is I wouldn't know what it is. But I can think of plenty of worse things than expressing hatred towards an omnibenevolent being, e.g. torturing small animals or practicing slavery. Even smaller offenses like dine-n-dashing are probably worse than privately-held hatred.

Also, I don't see why hatred of an omnibenevolent being is any worse than hatred of a non-omnibenevolent being.

What's more, I don't see the relevance anyway, since unbelievers don't hate God any more than they hate the Romulans.

Ben this conclusion just doesn't' make sense given Christ's work on the cross.

Then take it up with Brad B. It is his view, not mine.

What you are proposing here is similar to a judge who goes home and cries himself silly after sentencing Jefferey Dahmer to life in prison! We delight when justice is done, because innocent human life (in the eyes of our justice system) is protected and valued.

Again, we are human beings with limited resources, doing the best we can to improve the balance of well-being for conscious creatures. Fostering a value for justice over the well-being of heinous criminals helps that overall balance of well-being here in our human context.

But God faces no such conflicts of interest. His favorite set of rules for us to follow appears only to increase suffering without providing any off-setting benefits for our well-being. Why would he value those rules if they only worsen our well-being? Does he really value a mindless set of rules more than the well-being of conscious creatures?

Justice is not the same thing as revenge Ben. Justice is what you and I deserve for breaking God's moral law.

Of course justice is not the same as revenge. Did you read my comments about this? I explained that God's favorite rules of justice do not accomplish any of the ordinary goals associated with justice, except of course retribution. But even then the retribution would not be aimed instrumentally at accomplishing some other end, since God can simply wish for any end he likes without using an intermediary instrument. Instead it would be retribution for its own sake, which is what I mean here by revenge.

Look at it this way - if God were to allow you and I to rebel against Him forever, what kind of God would he be? Certainly not someone worthy of any respect!

So you think God should be more concerned with his own worthiness of respect than the well-being of others? If God had that kind of priority, then he would be guilty of a selfish pride.

On the contrary, if God was forgiving and cared for the well-being of those who rebelled against him, that would be a very selfless and moral response. It would make him more worthy of respect, not less.

If you were having dinner at a friends house and his kids were constantly talking back to him, throwing things at him, at you, taking your car keys your phone, flushing 'em down the toilet, etc, and your friend did nothing - would you respect your friend?

No, because this friend has a moral duty to discipline his children. By permitting such behavior, he would be shirking that duty.

In contrast, God hasn't any moral duty to discipline human beings. And even if he did, he hasn't any limitations on accomplishing this discipline---namely, he could simply wish us to be how he thinks we ought to be.

But all that is really beside the point. The fact is, God does permit undiscipline and rebellion to abound, unpunished. As you yourself pointed out, you have broken God's moral law---and yet presumably you won't have to be punished for it by going to Hell. To extend your analogy, it doesn't help my friend or his children for, say, his wife to be punished in their place, even voluntarily.

Ben,

I encourage you to read the book of Romans. I think it would be very helpful to our discussion at this point. You seem to be under the impression as though I am making this stuff up - as though it is some religion I have made up as I go.

I can assure you I have not. Everything I have written to you, to the best of my knowledge - is the real, genuine article of Christianity.

In other words, I have given you the Gospel truth,(to the best of my ability) and yet your challenges are not even aimed at the Christian God; rather, some being you have imagined Him to be. This is "sad". Perhaps not in the way you used this word earlier, but in the sense that you have been raised in a country - a culture, founded on this worldview and you have spent considerable resources (time and treasure) at debunking Christian theology; yet you have demonstrated that you don't even have a basic knowledge of what it is you are challenging.

Your challenge that God could choose some other justice system fails on many levels, namely that God could choose to be someone other than himself. In this respect you prove the bible true in that you have made God in your own image assuming he can change and choose how to be from one day to the next.

Again this is not an argument that Christianity is true per se, just that you are expending a lot of effort at burning straw.

It is true I have broken God's moral law. This would come as no surprise to you if you have read the bible, as the Christian claim is that everyone has fallen short of the Glory of God. This includes you. Again this is not my claim or my idea, rather this is Christianity 101. I'm not making this stuff up....again I refer you to the book of Romans as it seems most relevant to our discussion.

I understand that on some level - not apparent to me, your challenges about God and "his chosen justice system" and all that are very real to you, and in that regard this conversation is incredibly interesting to me.

The God I know, draws men like yourself to himself, because no one comes on their own accord. The fact that you are here at a Christian blog and that you have a real interest in proving Christianity false for yourself and dissuading others, says to me that something is going on below the surface that I am sure I do not fully understand. Men that don't like cars, usually don't post on automobile forums. Men that don't believe in Santa Clause rarely spend precious computer time arguing his character attributes with others.

Again, I encourage you to read the book of Romans over the weekend and if you're so inclined, I would be willing to discuss with you what you have read.

Warmest regards,
John

John,

You wrote:

You seem to be under the impression as though I am making this stuff up - as though it is some religion I have made up as I go.

What on earth would give you that idea? I'm sure lots of people hold beliefs very similar to what you have expressed here.

But as I reminded Brad B, showing that your beliefs are historically popular doesn't get you off the hook. If the beliefs are incoherent or vacuous, then it doesn't help that other people hold them, too.

In other words, I have given you the Gospel truth,(to the best of my ability) and yet your challenges are not even aimed at the Christian God; rather, some being you have imagined Him to be. This is "sad". Perhaps not in the way you used this word earlier, but in the sense that you have been raised in a country - a culture, founded on this worldview and you have spent considerable resources (time and treasure) at debunking Christian theology; yet you have demonstrated that you don't even have a basic knowledge of what it is you are challenging.

I find it very odd that you would accuse me of having some sort of fundamental ignorance of Christian doctrine or your views on it. Looking through your last comment, I see only one item where you try to correct an alleged misunderstanding. You write:

Your challenge that God could choose some other justice system fails on many levels, namely that God could choose to be someone other than himself. In this respect you prove the bible true in that you have made God in your own image assuming he can change and choose how to be from one day to the next.

But this is not my challenge at all. Rather, my challenge is that Christians are (so far) unable to find any logical connection between the suffering of Jesus and the salvation of the faithful. (You can read the whole thing here.)

In fact, I expressly rejected the ideas you attributed to me, writing in a previous comment (emphasis original): "Certainly there are many competing justice systems available to him. And he demonstrates by picking one of them which he prefers... This is not to say that God could have done otherwise in some broadly logical sense. However we don't need to say that about God in order to see that he has a preference. That preference may be logically necessary, but it is nevertheless a preference insofar as God enforces one system of justice but does not enforce any other system of justice."

So perhaps in the future you should be more careful before you go about accusing others of ignorance.

It is true I have broken God's moral law. This would come as no surprise to you if you have read the bible, as the Christian claim is that everyone has fallen short of the Glory of God. This includes you. Again this is not my claim or my idea, rather this is Christianity 101. I'm not making this stuff up....again I refer you to the book of Romans as it seems most relevant to our discussion.

I'm not surprised by it, nor do I deny that your views have been expressed by orthodox theologians throughout history. I just don't find that historical expression to help in answering my criticisms. Whether your views are ancient or not won't save them from logical problems.

Again, I encourage you to read the book of Romans over the weekend and if you're so inclined, I would be willing to discuss with you what you have read.

I have read Romans, and you are welcome to comment on it as you feel so inclined.

Hi Ben,

For the sake of our discusion it seems you are willing to grant the resurrection occurred, as a real space/time event. If so, does that not give authority to the words Jesus said as recorded in the bible?

Regards,
John

John,

No. Just because Jesus was raised from the dead does not mean the words which the Bible records Jesus as speaking are authoritative.

Fortunately, I am also willing to grant it for the sake of discussion. In fact I'm also willing to grant the stronger claim that the Bible is authoritative.

The present discussion is not about challenging you to justify your Christian beliefs. If some time you'd like to discuss that, just let me know. Rather, I'm arguing that Christians haven't any coherent idea of the logical connection between Jesus' suffering and the salvation of the faithful. There may be such a logical connection---indeed on some views there must be---but what exactly it is remains a mystery.

Hi Ben,

What did you think of BradB's early link to that article on the impassibility of God?

Regards,
John

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