« The Contingency Argument | Main | How Do We Reconcile an Unchanging God with the New Covenant? »

December 19, 2015


The way I see it, God saves people directly through regeneration also called the New Birth. Our job is to locate them and guide them into the safe port of the Scriptures with the Gospel. "Whosoever believes" shows evidence of the New Birth and that God has saved them.

It isn't so much telling people they are sinful, the Born Again already know and wrestle with this. It is more in telling them the good news that God has forgiven their sins in Christ. Peter followed his version of the Gospel with a call for repentance and Baptism.

A few approaches:

In all of these approaches we find that reason as truth-finder confronts the enabler.

Love is the highest ethic and in discovering such we necessarily come up against all the affairs of Self vis-à-vis Other as relational reciprocity begins to make demands upon us, and, therein, learning love’s landscape involves the discomfort of learning that life isn’t about oneself, but about others.

The linked essay is copied here:


Dr. Everett Piper, President

Oklahoma Wesleyan University

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.

So here’s my advice:

If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.

At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.

Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.

This is not a day care. This is a university.

End Quote.

Granted, it’s just intellectually easier for a critic to pick out a few paragraphs and build a straw man, tear it down, and, well, there you go. Granted, it’s time consuming to unpack Christianity's *entire* metanarrative. But we don’t need time – as all vectors converge in “love one another”. Why? Simply because all the rules have been simplified vis-à-vis Christ – love just is the rod which suspends all lesser, smaller, darker realities – hence – love one another rises to the surface.

But then, there’s that pesky “meta-narrative” business again…… what just does sum to the infinitely worthy Self amid the infinitely worthy Other as such relational interfaces unendingly beget love’s infinitely worthy and singular Us. Such sums to love’s ceaseless reciprocity amid the relational interfaces housed with the unavoidably triune landscape of “Self / Other / Us” as the Triune God transposes Himself into time and physicality such that E Pluribus Unum obtains in and by being’s three unavoidable vertices.

Moving further:

The Cocaine Addict Has A Friend – The ENABLER:

The enabler’s experience at such and such a time informs him, convinces him, that the Physician’s Prescription is – well – false, and the enabler’s conscious feelings and conscious belief state all affirm that he is (factually) helping his addict friend by bringing more cocaine. Now, that is fine. His intent is for the good of his friend. He believes in what he is doing. But the fact that is the current state of affairs is that the enabler’s love/hate affair with reality’s elemental grain is quite different, well, assuming death-by-cocaine is *factually* running *against* the grain of – well – here we go again – final causes.

But even *if* we just remove final causes, the premise still stands because the enabler's GOAL was (and is) to HELP his friend (he knows cocaine is "bad") and his "designed scheme" all along was to reach that goal – and at the end of the day – looking back – he sees that he had been – all along – factually ripping apart good and factually building up harm.

His rational dis-belief (and it *is* rational) in the Physician's Prescription was – all along – wrong. He had in fact been valuing and liking and building up harm/pain and he had in fact been devaluing, disliking, and hating the good, the lovely. “I *like* this body of information because it’s *helpful* and I *dislike* the Physician’s Prescription because it’s *harmful*……

And a thousand other combinations and permutations. Rational disbelief exists – *Yes*. And, such disbelief is both rational and intellectually non-culpable – *Yes*. That is all valid and affirmed by science, by scripture, and by observational reality. Only, it is blatantly obvious, that is to say, the brutal repeatability of “Actuality” has in fact made it plainly evident that, in fact, reality does not just magically stop *there* for the enabler nor for any of us.

This is a distinction between *doing/being* vs. *believing/feeling* relative to “The Real”. Paul’s ignorance and even the ignorance of the world in eons past are (apparently per Paul in Acts and Paul to Timothy) overlooked and disregarded by God and both Paul and Christ affirm that part of (not all of) *why* God motions thusly is directly tied into awareness (the phrase “tied into” is weak, but whatever). (Granted – Paul did go on to talk of the arrival of new information – but that is a separate discussion).

Rational and irrational disbelief are matters of great importance, but clearly reality out-distances one's current state of awareness. The culpability here which out distances our conscious belief state is speaking instead about (vis-à-vis the enabler) one’s factual condition relative to "The Real".

And that is coherent relative to *mankind* because the Christian, assuming his Faith is in “The True”, so to speak, or the Actual, or whatever, though he holds the proper intellectual set of facts (etc.), is still found morally wanting, still found insufficient before God – or before “All-Sufficiency”, he is still found in that human stock-exchange described earlier.

When the Christian speaks of the Natural Man having enmity against God he is not speaking of feelings nor of (necessarily) the conscious belief state – because such things literally cannot define the stopping point of *fact* inside of the Christian paradigm (granted, in Naturalism, taste-buds and indifferent photon cascades are the end of the line. etc.).

Rather, the Christian is speaking about an insufficiency as such relates to final causes and all of that carries us into a discussion dealing with the pains of our privation, part of which finds our nature (factually) running against the grain of “The Real”.

Assuming Death-By-Cocaine offends an irreducible (rather than eliminative) contour of “Actuality”, we can say that the enabler, according to Christianity, and according to the science of addiction (which just is in large part the science of self-deception) is either:

A) Valuing, building, and loving the The-Good, The True, The Actual.

B) Devaluing, destroying, and hating The-Good, The True, The Actual.

Christianity and the science of addiction (which just is in large part the science of self-deception) both affirm the latter.

The paradigm in question (Christianity) can arguable claim that – in some real though enigmatic quality – love's ceaseless reciprocity found within the immutable love of the Triune God comprises the irreducible and constitutional shape of “actuality”. It is not intellectual culpability – but rather it is an equally pressing sort of culpability which is found in that which is somehow *doing/being* within motion against the elemental grain of actuality *irrespective* of an awareness of such or of conscious feelings about such. The enabler emerges and all lines converge in the distinction between (on the one hand) *doing/being* vs. (on the other hand) *feeling/believing* as such motions relate to “reality” or to the actual state of affairs (whatever they may be). Fortunately we’re not in the dark as there is only genre on planet Earth wherein the paradigmatic irreducibility of logic, where the categorical irreducibility of reason, and of love’s peculiar Self-Sacrifice relative to Other, all seamlessly converge. Reason as truth-finder confronts the Enabler.

But then, there’s that pesky “meta-narrative” business again…… Reason as truth-finder carries us into the topography of what just does sum to the infinitely worthy Self amid the infinitely worthy Other as such relational interfaces unendingly beget love’s infinitely worthy and singular Us. Such sums to love’s ceaseless reciprocity amid the relational interfaces housed within the unavoidably triune landscape of “Self / Other / Us” as the Triune God transposes Himself into time and physicality both and in and by being’s three unavoidable vertices as reason affirms that such, and no less, constitutes infinite love.

is it unloving to tell people they are sinners?? i don't know, we all know that we all all not perfect. what we don't need are the pathetic hell threats. we all need to be held accountable for our actions in this lifetime, on this earth (the only life we have). the hell fantasy sort of says that in addition to being held accountable in your earthly life, there needs to be a 2nd, much more severe consequence in an afterlife. why? what is the point? many apologists like to say that non-believeers are trying to avoid accountability, which is just bizarre because christianity is all about avoiding accountability--you can live however you want to live--murder, rape, lie, cheat, steal,etc--all you have to do is grovel to "god" 2 seconds before you take your final breath and you are off the hook. sadly i used to believe this nonsense when i was a christian. hell is a bronze age fantasy, it's sad that anyone believes this stuff.

The most bizarre thing about the concept of avoiding the "sinner issue" is that we are drawn to theological ideas that take us to the mountain top of self-adulation. Sometimes it is more authentic that we view a "out of the depths I have cried ..."

Lutherans make much of a proper distinction between law and gospel. Some of us know the SOS messages attached to each (show our sin. show our Savior).

Gospel means nothing to one who has no clear idea of sin and culpability. Without the knowledge of sin, the message of Gospel undergoes alteration. Be a better businessman, athlete, spouse, et. al. for Christ. Save the social fabric of our country.

And Gospel must have meaning. In Jesus' day, it meant everything to "tax collectors and 'sinners'". It meant nothing to pharisees.

Without raising the issue of one's position as "sinner" in need of Savior, all efforts at Gospel is closed. While this might be appealing to some, it is all an exercise in evasion.

Try that with taxes.

Hell or Annhilationism, or whatever, fail to change the necessary moral landscape of non-fictitious, irreducible Good, the sort which obligates reason as truth-finder to chase love's categorical means and ends (lest reason be factually, ontologically *un*-reasonable).

In short, removing eternal conscious torment from the Christian's metaphysical landscape (easy enough to coherently do, hence many have) won't change the Non-Theist's painfully obvious problem of fictitiousness in all fronts dealing with love and ought-love. Normative approval, the Non-Theist's hard stop, finds Roman Blood Sports the high-society thing to do on one's lunch break.

Hedges, conflations, and equivocations which come up short of immutable love need not bother wasting our time.

>> hell is a bronze age fantasy,

Our system of time division is pre-Bronze Age.

The ideas of democracy is late Bronze Age.

The philosophical materialism of Empedocles and Anaxagoras arise from the Bronze Age.

Therefore, atheism is a bronze age fantasy.


Be careful with your rational arguments. Simply because an idea is horrid and unpopular doesn't mean you can dispense with them with a swat of a calendar.

>> christianity is all about avoiding accountability

Wrong. Christianity is all about accountability, owning up to our errors, and then realizing that our best efforts are tainted and that we are is need of God's merits in Christ. The repentant realize this too well. The smug are clueless.

There are certain expressions ... Ps. 14: 1 ... Q.E.D.

dg--reading what you said is just one of the reasons those like me leave the church--all the convoluted philosophical stuff, all the noise, no real answers to anything. i would be happy to argue with you or anyone else about the "hell" issue, the injustice of it, the repulsivenes of it, etc, give me real (real) evidence that there is a hell--along with a detailed description of what it is--not this separation from god bs--describe it in detail--you can't do it, you know it's fantasy, and you also know it is repugnant and repulsive


If you actually believed what you are saying about good, evil, justice, and injustice, and fairness, you'd be a Christian Universalist, or a Hindue, or in the Christian's Conditional Immortality arena.

But instead you believe normative ethics when such affirms the goodness of Roman Blood Sports.

Therefore, trying to take you seriously, without laughing, is impossible.

Try being honest.

And please don't waste our time here telling us that mutable taste buds can get your logic where you need it to be when immutable love is the only end that will suffice here.

One can find some intellectual respect for Hindus or Universalists (Christian) or the Conditional Immortality folks (Christian) who approach hell from your direction, but when Atheists attempt this move with hell it's only revealing of a gross unawareness that they are in fact praising Roman Blood Sports within their own
normative ethics and hence cannot possibly believe in injustice nor justice, nor right nor fairness.

On (actual, metaphysical) fairness, on justice, on injustice, there are very important difference of course, but, the only players with ANY possible claim to rational (metaphysical) resolution of evil, of injustice, of unfairness, are:

[1] Christian A -- Volitional Hell

[2] Christian B -- Conditional Immortality (Annihilationism)

[3] Christian C -- Universalism

[4] Hindue

The logical failure of Atheism when it tries to get into this arena is not only blindingly obvious, but what the Atheist actually ends up conceding, and embracing, is just embarrassing.


Feel free to pick 2 or 3 or 4.

Because fairness.

Moose says: "hell … the injustice of it".

Possibility 1: No Creator God. In which case arguing about the injustice of hell is irrelevant.

Possibility 2: Creator God exists. In which case he can do with you whatever he feels like. Any "injustice" is entirely his to define.

An argument from injustice only has bite if you're actually making an argument that the Bible's teaching is inconsistent (and therefore in some way false). But your argument is that it's "repugnant and repulsive", which is a moral argument, not a propositional one. Thinking that something is immoral just proves that you have a moral difference of opinion with someone else, and when that someone else is God you're not in a position to make the rules.

Finding truth repulsive doesn't make it less true, and finding falsehood pleasant doesn't make it more true.

"no real answers to anything".

Acts 17:30-31: "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."

That's God's answer to everything. People are living in ignorance and folly. Judgement is coming. Repent now, and be friends with God.

Meanwhile, it's a bit rich to make unsubstantiated claims and then respond with "convoluted philosophical stuff" when it's shown to be nothing but a snow job. Just like the way your mum cheated when she looked under your bed after you had "cleaned your room".


If you believe in fairness, then you believe that fairness is a valid truth-referent. Therefore we'll await your choice of 2, 3, or 4 (we're leaving 1 aside as it's your supposed contention).

If you don't believe that fairness is a valid truth-referent, then you won't pick 2 or 3 or 4 and in fact you don't believe in fairness. In which case you and the Christian certainly, absolutely, have a radical difference in what the believe given that the Christian absolutely believes in fairness.


Everybody understands (hopefully) that the Hindu and the 3 discussions within Christianity have important differences. It's not the point here, however.

Rather, the point is on two claims:

[1] "I believe in fairness and cannot believe in an unfair Ultimate Actuality. God being, of course, ultimate actuality."

[2] "Because I believe in fairness, fairness is *therefore* (since we are not speaking of the fictitious here) *necessarily* a valid truth-referent such that whatever paradigm I shall embrace, well fairness just does remain intact ad infinitum."

The options are, truly, limited. Finer nuances can be worked out later, once we are well within the walls of what we know houses fairness. For now the point is simply to get ourselves into something true where fairness is concerned, and, thereby, to test the premise of our own claim that we must have fairness.

dg--you say "simply because an idea is horrid and unpopular doesn't mean you can dispense with them with a swat of a calendar" really--why can't i dismiss the idea when there is no evidence for it? as hitchens used to say "that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence". you also call it horrid--so you are admitting that your god is horrid?

describe exactly what hell is--in detail, along with some real evidence, and i will stop laughing at it.

And the Skeptic Moose just continues on..... ever blithely unaware within his own "As-If" he himself does not actually count fairness itself as intellectual trash.

>> describe exactly what hell is--in detail, along with some real evidence, and i will stop laughing at it.

Uncomfortable NDE’s.

Episodes where a person who was clinical dead and then resuscitated recalled vague frightening experiences. I know of one of these incidents.
This would be evidence for you, not for me. And, if given one episode, you’d ask for two. And once 52 is reached, you might ask for #53. Laughing at it is but a response to the discomfiting.

Here’s a look at the problem for a different angle. Hell is horrid (note hell = horrid; this state of horrid does not transfer to God); so is war. I could denounce war to a degree that I minimize it. But I can’t banish it. Touring battlefield cites as Gettysburg only adds to the confusion. The fields are peaceful now, and one cannot imagine the days in 1863 when thousands were killing and being killed. War is unimaginable, but being unimaginable does not make it all too true.

Therefore, we can hate war. We can hate hell (Sherman equated the pair). But to make “war no more” seems beyond the norm. To rid ourselves of hell because we cannot amass scientific evidence is really something we can laugh at (the things I shall do today apart from amassed scientific evidence will be legion, from hugging my children to crossing the street).

As for hell = separation from God; don’t minimize this either. Living in a proudly secular country, we have moved into areas one might on observation declare near madness. Believing that racism is defeated by the lowering of a flag, that gun violence can be resolved by gun law without resolving the complex inner workings of man who could be violent in many more ways than one. We believe we can separate from God and be happy. To what point must we go before discovering that this is delusional?

This delusion perhaps is the first wisps of hell.

we all need to be held accountable for our actions in this lifetime

We do? All of them?

But we aren’t. Everyone knows that.

And even if we could be held accountable, wouldn’t there be a lot of injustice there?

In other words, if every immoral action that one took, one was held accountable, don’t you think that would be unfair? By moose’s standards of justice (whatever those are), of course. Surely you believe one would have to spend too much time being held accountable to live the kind of life one would want to live. That sounds hellish at least.

Or – Do you just not know what in the world you’re talking about?

"We do? All of them?"

KWM asks a question that is far more relevant than the Non-Theist probably realizes.

But then, the Non-Theist is forced to live on phosphoresing vapor.

It's all a sort of "As-If" approach to reality. We speak As-If so and so is true. We argue about so and so As-If we speak of ontology and not fiction. We try to act As-If so and so isn't fundamentally fictitious. We run about the stage pretending As-If *fairness* actually does serve as an *actual* truth-finder (such that our Non-Theism couldn't possibly be true). We argue against the only possible metaphysical landscapes capable of housing (actual) fairness As-If fairness testifies against them rather than against our own Non-Theism.

It is interesting that when it comes to actual, metaphysical *resolution* of unfairness, of injustice, on all fronts, both tensed (temporal) and untensed (timeless) it is the case that we find ourselves within only two potential metaphysical landscapes. Those two being, on the one hand:

[A] Hinduism’s Pantheism (not by any means a pantheism of the Spinoza variety, which is just materialism)

and, on the other hand,

[B] Christianity’s umbrella beneath which we find three sub-variations on the question of hell (described earlier, those being [1] volitional hell and [2] conditional immortality or annihilationism and [3] universalism)

Unpacking the topography of Buddhism, or Islam, or Atheism, and even Panpsychism leaves us with no rational means to resolution. The points of divergence amid Christianity/Hinduism are of course important, and ultimately patently distinct but such are not of ("immediate") importance on the point at hand. As a book written in 1897 notes, all of this carries us to a location which “…….removes from the Skeptic’s hand both the moral and the intellectual right to appeal to “everlasting pain”…….” in rejecting the metaphysical claims of Christianity upon reality.

It is at such a juncture where the Skeptic must come up, then, with his second complaint, and, then, once the second is either defused or shown to be self-negating, with his third. And then a fourth must (then) come. In such an inevitable sequence the Skeptic's brand of a sort of subtle intellectual dishonesty begins to take shape.

dg--are you saying nde's are real? when one has a nde should we just go ahead and believe it? have you ever had a nde. i don't know if they are real or not. i would probably have to have one myself b4 i can try to figure out if it was real or just a dream or a hallucination.--by the way i have heard of more than one person who has had a nde who has admitted it was just a dream, also heard of a story of a girl who had a nde and saw santa. (not making that up). what does all this mean? i don't know. if a muslim has a nde--what do they see? allah?

since you can't describe what hell is, if the biblical god is real, he/she/it says it is a place where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. what does this mean? i know you will probably say it is just metaphor. why would god need to mess with our minds and give us metaphor, especially on a subject like this that is supposedly so important and the stakes are so high. why can't "god" just tell us straight up what it is in this inerrant holy book


It means there are actual soil ladden worms that live forever. Which is why we need to lay eggs, as God tells us to be like doves.

Some books are written for grownups.

If you're not interested in being honest about your own (actual, ontological) beliefs about *fairness*, it's hard to take you seriously.


As to the scientific basis of NDE's ...



Your take on moose's lack of logical structure is capital. Your insights take time to wrap the head around, but I find them valid and valuable.

I reject Atheism.

Because unfairness.

The Non-Theist replies: "Bah Humbug! Just because something isn't palatable doesn't make it untrue! What sort of truth-test is THAT! Bah Humbug!"

Fairness, being an actual truth-referent, leads Reason, as truth-finder, into the two shadows of only two umbrellas, as alluded to earlier. Once within said shadows, well there is more work to do of course, but not until one is in from out of the rain can one begin to do such work.


I'm always careful to read your comments when I spot DGFischer while scanning the page -- always helpful!

dg and scbrownlhrm--i am someone who is more interested in cold hard facts--cold hard verifiable facts than i am in long convoluted philosophical "stuff"--noise--which is part of the reason i am no longer a christian, anyways--i'm out of this discussion for now for now

Scientism is irrational.

"cold hard facts"

1 Cor 15:4-8
"…, that [Jesus] was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me."

That's a claim to cold hard facts, replete with evidence. Of course, "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead."

I think the metaphor was wrong because an illness is not the same as sin. If you really want to help one you pray for the person.
God gives every human beeing the knowlege to distinguish sin from not sin. They who say not to know what sin is they are liars. Every human beeing have consciousness and if you don't listen to it than you like sin better then God and no one can help you but yourself by letting God to guide you. Thank you.

The comments to this entry are closed.