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The Nature and Effect of Grace in the Life of the Christian

December 29, 2010 3 comments

I recently had a conversation with an atheistic Facebook friend about the nature of grace. By his own account, “JH” isn’t too keen on Christianity in part because of the hypocrisy he sees between the stated views of many Christians and the observable actions of those same Christians. If Paul’s contention is correct wherein, “It’s no longer [I] who live, but Christ who lives in [each and every Christian]” (Gal 2:20), then perhaps it only stands to reason that outward behaviors and actions are the result of inward belief.  As such, perhaps it’s fair to make judgements regarding the validity of the Christian life based on the disconnect JH sees as to what Christians say versus what those same Christians do. To me, the problem is misdirected attitudes about a holy God based upon the behaviors and actions of God’s creation who nevertheless are saved from their sins but still exhibit a sin nature.

In any event, JH is always good at bringing up thoughts and considerations I would not have otherwise entertained. He forces me to think about and defend my faith. I enjoy my periodic chats with him and thought I’d post a portion of a conversation centered around the grace of God.

JH: It’s my opinion that grace would likely be a combination of good deeds and right actions in the pursuit of Christianity. Grace isn’t some fat slob driving around in their Ford-F150 with a bumper sticker that says, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” I’ve always had the impression that Jesus would demand more of people than simply getting a membership sticker for their soul. That can’t be all that Christianity requires of its adherents.

Bob: Here’s the definition of grace found in my NIV Topical Bible: “Grace is God’s life-transforming gift of his favor to those who don’t deserve it. The gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins is available for all who through faith accept his grace revealed in Jesus Christ, but so many miss the gift because they rely on themselves and try to earn grace by keeping the law.” As such, grace can’t be earned through actions, good deeds, tithing, or anything else. However, as it says in James 2:17, “Faith by itself if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” I therefore think it’s more accurate to say that one’s actions, deeds, behaviors, etc. are the outward expression of God’s grace from within.

JH: I have to believe that there’s more effort [required] than simply announcing you’re Christian and then continuing with the same crappy behaviors as you did before. If that’s true, then Christianity truly would be a club I’d never want to belong to. I’d never want to spend an eternity with the likes of the scummy people who’d be there.

Bob: The Bible is pretty clear in saying that according to God’s standards, all of our righteous acts (good deeds et al) are like filthy rags (translation: used toilet paper). Christ came to bridge the expanse between a holy God and a sinful creation. It’s a free gift and one can accept or reject it. When one accepts that free gift, it IS a life-changing event and the good deeds (which I believe should naturally follow) come about because God’s love is the “fuel” to motivate believers into actions. Something IS wrong if one claims new life in Christ and continues with their crappy behaviors as before.

JH: I just can’t see that grace is that simple. If one isn’t living up to their beliefs, then one is a crappy Christian.

Bob: Perhaps the feelings I experienced when watching my kids being born are some small semblance of how God feels towards us. There was NOTHING I wouldn’t have done for that child the moment they entered this world. That child hadn’t earned or done a blessed thing. But there I am, loving it with all my heart and willingly giving that child everything I have. And even when one of them grew up and became an angry and drug-filled alcohol-laden teenager (which is true), I still loved him in spite of the heartache that he brought. Through all those difficulties and disappointments I only wanted the best for him and I was more than willing to do whatever I could to help him even though he continually rejected me. Put another way, God’s grace to us is perfect and unwavering. However, because of our sin nature, our response to God’s grace is, well, most of the time disappointing and leads to the hypocritical examples you’ve previously sited. Admittedly, Christian hypocrisy is an open sore. Everyone sees it. Everyone hates it. But the cure isn’t to “try” and “do” better. That’s nothing more than “works”. Rather, the solution is to submit to the love of God and allow God’s love to permeate through one’s life and flow out of the believer into the actions, behaviors good deeds, etc that people see.

JH: What non-Christians want most from Christians is simply to be left alone. We know about Jesus. We know about Christianity. We have a good idea as to what Christians think the “rules” are. But we aren’t interested. Is Christianity making you happy? Is your life better off because of it? If the answer is “yes,” then we’re happy for you and we might even be willing to take a closer look. However, if the answer is more along the lines of what is seen in Christians most of the time, we have to wonder why – trade the thing I have for something that looks like that? Christians range from very good people all the way down to the Westboro Baptist Church types.

Bob: Reading your last comment, an analogy came to my mind regarding Westboro Baptist Church. Think of it this way – the Christian faith is the absolute most delicious and plentiful food imaginable. And, it’s always available. Unfortunately, there’s something utterly gross, rotten and stinking to high heaven in the fridge. And, when we’d love to open the fridge to get a chunk of Christian faith, we can’t get past the smell of Westboro. On that point, I don’t think the Westboro types diminish the Christian faith – even if their actions truly stink up the place. Rather, I think the actions of the Westboro types more accurately reflect a lack of Christian virtue within their lives.

JH: There are many of us who aren’t Christian who’d be more willing to think about Christianity. But we remember the last thousand times Christians have tried to inflict their morals on us, called us devil worshippers, harassed us at work, knocked on our doors, left us tracts, wrote letters to the editor, or called for our death or imprisonment. I think everyone agrees that this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. I still can’t see that grace is that simple. Or rather, as you imply, grace just IS – by definition. I still think if one isn’t living up to their Christian tenants, then one is a crappy a Christian like, well, most of the Christians out there.

So, how best does one follow-up or otherwise continue this conversation? I’ve heard Bob George, author of Classic Christianity, give an analogy how it’s the same sun that both hardens clay and melts wax. His inference, I think, was that God’s mercy tends to harden some individuals while at the same time it also has the effect of humbling others to their own sin and the need for a savior. Are discussions such as this counter-productive? Maybe JH’s heart is hardened against Christianity to a degree that he can’t contemplate that peace that passes all understanding because of what he sees as the outward behaviors and actions being the definitive “result” of “being a Christian”.

Thoughts, anyone?

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Identifying Absolute Truth; My “Relatively” Feeble Attempt

December 29, 2010 5 comments

I while ago I responded to an atheist friend’s Facebook comment about blaming Republicans for (at the time) the failure of congress to pass the 911 first responder’s (Zadroda) bill allocating money to those first responders experiencing continued health issues from the response and clean-up efforts on the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.  We went back and forth as to some political thoughts highlighting our respective positions.  I’m definitely conservative and JH is definitely liberal.  Eventually, the discussion weaved its way through the concept of grace and we ended up with my being challenged to support the notion of absolute truth.  I initially thought this would be a relatively (pun intended) easy task.  But as I began, the reality set in that I’m unable to defend absolute truth apart from the doctrines of my Christian faith.  That’s clearly not what I intended to end up with.  For me, however, this was a good exercise and after all was said and done, I thought readers of this blog might be interested in my $0.02 worth regarding absolute truth.  I don’t intend for this ‘paper’ to be the end-all of my philosophical thoughts related to the concept of absolute truth.  However, it’s a start and we’ll see where we go from here.

I appreciate the chance to think through and reflect on aspects of my Christian faith that for all intents and purposes I’ve simply taken for granted.  If nothing else, I’ve had to delve into a somewhat shallow aspect of my beliefs and I thank you for that.  Well, on to the matter at hand.

First, we need to dispense with the boilerplate stuff.  These terms and definitions come from one of the books noted below:

  • Absolutism: Principle standards, which are objective rather than relative.
  • Objectivism: Moral values and principles exist independent to individuals thereby providing norms to which something can be judged as either true or false.
  • Subjectivism: Emphasizing the individual self or subject as the creator of meaning, truth or values.
  • Relativism: Claiming there’s no such thing as absolute truth because what is regarded as true varies from person to person.  Truth, therefore, is seen as relative to a person’s time, place or circumstances.

I like the definition of “absolute truth” as a fixed point of reference that doesn’t change with respect to situations or circumstances.  An easy visual example is that of a chair placed in the center of dark room such that, even if blindfolded, one can navigate throughout the room always knowing where they are with respect to the chair.  However, if the chair moves when the person moves, there’s no longer a fixed reference point.

You’d asked for some examples of absolutes.  The only thing I actually had in mind when offering to provide “some” examples of absolutes was gravity.  However, a little brainstorming brought the below list of absolutes that are at least within the physical world:

  • Gravity – Irrespective of something’s size or mass, the object will fall to the ground at the same rate of speed because of gravity.
  • Ohm’s law – Apply one volt through a one ohm resistor and you’ll have one amp of current which equates to one watt of power.
  • A traffic light – green light means “go” and a red light means “stop”.
  • Airplane/marine external indicators – green means starboard (right) and red means port (left).
  • Food – if one doesn’t eat, they’ll (eventually) die.
  • Mathematics – 1+1=2
  • Measurements – A meter is a definitive length.  Four cups (8oz) of water will always equal one quart.
  • Reganomics – This is just to give you the ‘needle’!  {;-P
  • 2nd law of thermodynamics, which identifies the impossibility of perpetual motion.
  • Friction generates heat.
  • Boyle’s law of chemistry.
  • Infants wet their pants.
  • Time – or at least intervals thereof.
  • Nothing moves at absolute zero temperatures.
  • Water boils at 212F/100C – well, at sea level anyway.
  • The earth rotating around the sun and the moon around the earth.
  • Speed of light.
  • The Periodic Table of the Elements.
  • Dogs make better pets than cats – This is to again just give you the ‘needle’!  {;-P
  • Nobel metals don’t oxidize and thereby don’t corrode.
  • Any house project I set out to do costs >2x what is planned and takes >3x the time expected.  I have empirical evidence to prove this!
  • Cold air makes snot flow out of my nose.
  • Brain cells deprived of oxygen will die.
  • Men are XY, women are XX in their chromosomal makeup.
  • The cost of any given item is predicated on its supply and demand.

Granted, many of the above examples would certainly be considered more along the line of a “definition”.  Even so, they’re constants in that they’re true for everyone.  Given that there are absolutes in the physical world, it’s conceivable to me that absolutes exist within an intellectual and/or moral perspective.  There’d be chaos if no one played football, baseball, or any other sport for that matter by the same rules.  And too, confusion would reign supreme if we didn’t use the same language structure and word definitions.  Well, perhaps language is a weak example considering that new words are created over time and sometimes definitions change; words such as ‘mouse’, ‘head banger’, ‘weed’, ‘Google’ and ‘gay’ immediately to mind.  Nevertheless, I think the point is still valid.

It may appear simplistic, but I do believe our lives literally depend on the belief that absolutes exist and that everyone plays by the same rules in order to “get-along”.  I would submit that horrible historical events such as the Holocaust came about because absolute moral values were predicated on relativistic terms.  Didn’t Nazi leaders in WWII use Darwin’s principle of survival of the fittest?  In light of that, it could it not make sense that Germany saw themselves as a superior race to the Jews and therefore began “the final solution”?  If there’s no ability to define absolute truth, then it stands to reason that any outcome could conceivably have its own justification.  As such, should the subsequent Nuremburg trials and death sentences meted out have ever been conducted?  Other horrible events with terrible repercussions also come to mind including the Sudanese genocide, modern-day suicide bombers in the Middle East and elsewhere, Stalin’s purges in the USSR, the Crusades during the middle ages, Pol Pot, the Dresden bombing, the intentional starvation in Darfur, etc.

The above is obviously from a “dark side” of humanity.  But consider something thing from a different perspective.  Perhaps Mother Theresa should have been burned at the state for having been nothing more than a little pimp hussy with her young Indian charges.  Truly, there needs to be some sort of objective in which to define actions and behaviors as either wicked or good – or even somewhere in between.  To me, then, the implications of not having a “foundation” or a “truth gauge” can ultimately lead to disastrous applications.

Within this context, I sense the opposite of absolute is relative.  Perhaps a good example of someone claiming an absolute perspective versus a relativist perspective is Ann Landers.  Years ago, Ann advocated that sex before marriage was wrong.  Later, however, when asked why she had changed her mind, Ann’s response was, “Times have changed [and] we have to keep up with times.”  Speaking with regard to sex before marriage always being wrong (I can’t confirm that’s what she meant, but for the sake of argument we’ll assume so), Ann spoke as an absolutist.  That Ann changed her mind with respect to keeping up with the times would then indicate that she really had no absolute values regarding sex before marriage.

If it feels good, what the heck – do it!  Without a basis for values, can there be a basis for morality?  In addition, without morality, can there be societal standards that govern behavior?  Rape 10 year-old girls – what’s the problem?  Who’s to say that it’s right or wrong?  Questions pertaining to individual or corporate morality, it would then appear, have to be made relative to a stated source for the governance of that morality.  Legalize marijuana – is there a right or wrong here?  Do the benefits of legalizing marijuana for medical use outweigh the potential of more people getting hooked on drugs?  And again, perhaps that’s not the best example – but for now, it’s the best I can come up with.  Put this way, if one’s values are relative, then one’s own sense of morality is by definition relative.  Can there be a definitive right or wrong or only assumptions based upon one’s own perceived values of right and wrong?  Collectively, then, what a corporate people group would agree to as right or wrong would have to be their definition of what constitutes right and wrong.

Given that there can be no absolutes for a relativist (at least as I see it), I’d submit that the philosophical aspect of relativism is at best confusing considering:

  • If a relativist thinks something is true for everyone, then he believes in an absolute truth and can no longer call himself a relativist.  Therefore, hasn’t he just taken an absolutist position?
  • Billy Graham believes God exists.  An atheist, however, doesn’t believe God exists.  For both to be right, God would have to exist and not exist (which I believe to be untenable because I believe God does exist).  In a similar manner, how can we state that a cup of coffee is either hot or cold unless we have a reference?  Perhaps there’ll have to be arguments made later to justify the existence of God – but for now I’m trying to keep things close to the surface.
  • Everyone knows the math statement: if A=B and B=C, then A=C.  However, in regard to Billy Graham (A) believing in God (C) and the atheist (B), denying God’s existence (D), I think the logic would go something like: if A=B and C=D, then A=C, A=D, B=C and B=D.  But this can’t make sense because by definition of (A) & (C) are opposites as are (B) & (D) aren’t the same.  As such, these statements would have to be considered not true – or at the least, undefined.
  • If there’s no “standard”, no one can ever be wrong since there’s no way of determining right and wrong.
  • If something is true for one, does it remains true even if it’s considered wrong by someone else’s “standard”?  Suddenly we’re back to a lot of undefined statements.
  • If one claims no such thing as absolute truth, haven’t they then assumed that no “view” can be true?
  • On what basis can such claims for the opposites of right and wrong coexist?

How is it that those who don’t believe in any form of absolute truth or objective morality insist on making objective moral statements against those who do?  Can a relativist insist on using terms like “wrong” and “evil” instead of something more “relativist” such as: “It’s neither right, wrong, good, bad, or indifferent.  It just is.”  Or, perhaps the relativist could say, “I don’t like it but if you do, I’m okay with that.”  This thought seems consistent from the title of a book written in the early 1970s, I’m OK, You’re OK.

So, if truth isn’t subjective, the next question has to be how do we know what truth really is?

  • Most people will not deny they exist or that they can reason.
  • We know we exist because we’re aware of our existence.
  • Truth corresponds to facts.
  • We’re aware of some facts such as matter and reality.
  • Is there a way to know the source of this reality?
  • Even agnostics will admit to the “logic of cause and effect”.
  • What was the “first cause”?  How did the universe begin?  Is God a logical concept?
  • Without God, where did matter come from?

Descartes famous line, “I think therefore I am” is interesting in that it illuminates one’s own existence and that we have the required capacity to reason.  We know we absolutely exist and therefore if someone were to say to us that we didn’t exist, rationale thinking says that it’s impossible for both of these claims to be right. Then again, things can appear to be true at some times and not at others.  Around the time of Columbus, many people believed the earth was flat.  Today, however, we know the earth is a sphere.  Someone might infer that the truth has changed.  But in reality, it didn’t.  The earth has always been a sphere even when people believed it was flat.  The truth of the earth’s physical shape did not change but I think it’s safe to say that people have changed from holding a false belief to a true one.  In essence, our beliefs with respect to the shape of the earth now correspond with the facts.

In summary, then, for someone to then say that there’s no such thing as absolute truth is to state an absolute and from my feeble understand, this is a contradiction of terms.  Yet, everyone seems to have an innate sense of right and wrong.  Who hasn’t been “cut-off” while driving?  The immediate reaction is anger and rage, flipping the ‘bird’ at the other driver and shouting out, “You stupid %#$@&% idiot!”  Even small kids understand the unfairness of an action when, say, someone cuts in front of the line for an ice cream cone.  Lying in legal court proceedings is perhaps a violation of another absolute and courts have laws regarding perjury in order to ensure compliance to the law.  From where do we get this innate sense of right and wrong?

Therefore, I think it’s reasonable to state that there are absolutes.  The question, then, becomes whose absolutes do we follow?  How, then, do we know that one’s absolutes are indeed absolutes?  On this point, I think we get to the crux of the issue.  Being honest here, I’m sympathetic to those who’d say the Christian idea of absolute truth is intolerant, narrow-minded, bigoted and even exclusivist.  Christianity’s claim is not that it’s one truth among many.  Instead, Christianity claims to be the only channel through which truth is communicated.  I’ll concede, that sounds rather exclusive.  In reality, though, Christianity isn’t the only faith-belief doctrine that claims to be exclusive.  Even a cursory examination of, say, Islam reveals its exclusive claims of truth through Allah and the necessity of Jihad.  It’s fascinating to observe the degree to which Western people generally condemn Christianity for its self-proclaimed tenants.  Yet the adherents of Islam are in essence given a pass for their self-proclaimed tenants that are in my mind much more punitive to the non-Muslim infidel.  However, that’s probably a different subject altogether.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to ignore a “diminished evaluation” of other beliefs (faiths?) when biblical scriptures such as John 14:6 state: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”  The thought occurs to me as I’m thinking back on our conversations about ‘grace’ – I fully agree and understand that if the truth the Christians professes to possess is only proclaimed for others to live by but not those within the “Christian community”, who would want to believe Christianity’s message?  Along the same line, even if Christians fail to live up to the standards of their faith; do those failures necessarily illuminate false doctrine?  Perhaps those failures are better defined as ignorance of the Christian faith or the inability of Christians to uphold to their faith?

To that point, I think C.S. Lewis said it best when he concluded that everyone has to come to a point where they determine that Jesus is either lord of the universe, a liar, or some kind of lunatic.  Cultural trends come and go with the passage of time.  Hey, if nothing else, thank [our supreme being] that we aren’t heading back to the disco days anytime soon.  Those colorful bell bottomed polyester leisure suits, fat belts and heeled shoes were the pits!  However, I do miss the hair!!!!  Nevertheless, the basic message of Christ as ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ has remained for nearly two thousand years.

My daughter once explained to me that the concept of absolute truth might be more clearly defined by the concept of non-truth (or falsehood).  Intolerance is (to me) a good example.  Are people who believe in absolute truth intolerant?  Wouldn’t tolerance be putting up with error and not accepting all views as true?  So, if tolerance is putting up with error, doesn’t that assume that there is truth?  You can’t have error without the concept of truth much like you can’t identify whether a cup of coffee is hot or cold without a reference. To me, a belief system composed of objective truth that claims to be founded on a fixed point of reference is the only consistent way of living and thinking.  I would therefore submit that absolute truth gives a firm foundation for decision-making and the implementation of principles into our daily lives.

The End

I apologize that it’s taken me a lot longer than I expected to piece this little ditty together.  Yet, after reading through this “tome”, I’m not sure that I’ve adequately answered your question or provided sufficient reasons or examples as to the existence of absolute truth.  I think I devolved into what I already have believed for some time.  and, maybe that’s okay.  That’s where I am – believing that absolute truth exists both in the physical world as noted above and within the intellectual world as I’ve tried to argue here.  It was my intent to prove absolute truth exists apart from having to lean on my Christian faith.  Nevertheless, I ended up where I did if for no other reason than because I see my Christian faith as the epitome for absolute truth which is best exemplified through the life of Christ.  Christ’s life and teachings are the basis for my standards of morality et al in spite of the fact that Christians (and certainly myself include) all too often aren’t examples of living a life predicated on Jesus’ teachings.  Maybe it’s possible to understand partial absolute truth with reason and logic apart from Christianity.  Then too, maybe I’m concluding that the ultimate source for absolute truth is beyond our finite abilities of reason and logic and perhaps for that realization of truth to be found, we have to be open to the source of absolute truth.

Well, agree or disagree – there you have my $0.02 worth.  Feel free to comment, question or challenge anything said.  As you’ve perhaps sensed, I enjoy healthy debate, deep discussion and having to dig deeper into things about which I really ought to have a better understanding.  Without your gentle prompting, this would not have happened.  So, thank-you.

Final note: I regret not having done a better job sourcing quotes, logical constructs, and miscellaneous thoughts that aren’t my own.  It wasn’t my intention to plagiarize per se. What I thought was going to be a relatively simple explanation got exceedingly complicated rather quickly. And, I’m guessing people who’ve studied philosophy are not at all surprised. Still, looking through a couple of philosophy books and checking out some web sites I visited, miscellaneous notes were scribbled down here and there and it didn’t take long before I lost track of what came from where. I should have done better in this regard – if only to go back to particular sources for further consideration. But I didn’t. Even so, a couple of books I drew from for definitions and some lines of reasoning in compiling this piece are Philosophical Issues and Problems, by Joseph Bien & William Bondeson and Understanding the Times, by David Noebel.

The Digital Age and the Christmas Story

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

You’re not alone if you’d never wondered how Joseph & Mary might have managed with Google, cell phones and all things digital.  I hadn’t either.  But I find this is quite original, humorous and entertaining.  Enjoy!

Calling all Brethren of Christian Clarity Review, come in please, over.

December 22, 2010 Leave a comment

dit dit dit dahhhh    dit dit dit dahhhh    dit dit dit dahhhh

CQ CQ CQ (that’s ham radio jargon for, “Anyone listening on this frequency?”)

CQ CQ CQ Brethren of Christian Clarity Review, come in please – over.

CQ CQ CQ Brethren of Christian Clarity Review, this is Martin’s Mercurial Musings, come in please – over.

Hmmm.  No response.  The Rev Timothy Elder, an honorably retired Presbyterian minister in the Gulf Coast Presbytery and blogger at Christian Clarity Review has claimed to be God’s messenger to the brethren regarding “created speech”.  Yet, could it be that there are no Christian Clarity Review brethren?  In other words, is Tim a “fellowship of one” without the benefit and blessings of being a part of a body of believers?

I rather doubt Tim has saved his most vitriolic “created speech” for me even if I had a bit of fun when I wrote this post – a take-off on Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World”.  Tim obviously has a sharp mind and appears well learned in Christian doctrine and church history.  I’ve always thought that the good news of the Christian faith brought about unity.  However, that’s not what I see in Tim’s writings.  Sadly, it’s hard for me to see where the love of God is revealed in Tim’s writings.

So, what’s the purpose of these posts pertaining to Tim Elder at Christian Clarity Review?  Frankly, I’m hard-pressed to believe the vitriolic “created speech” Tim spits out exemplifies the love of God and I don’t understand the motivation for Tim to write the things he does.  To that end, I’m told that light is the best disinfectant.  And so, it’s my hope that by bringing the light of day to Tim’s writings, others who are perhaps in a better position to evaluate the truth (or lack thereof) regarding Tim’s writings would do just that.

dit dit dit dahhhh    dit dit dit dahhhh    dit dit dit dahhhh

CQ CQ CQ

CQ CQ CQ Brethren of Christian Clarity Review, come in please – over.

CQ CQ CQ Brethren of Christian Clarity Review, this is Martin’s Mercurial Musings, come in please – over.

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob: The Hallelujah Chorus

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

As I understand it, a lunchtime crowd at a Canadian shopping mall food court was surprised and delighted when over 100 members of a local choir participated in something called a “Christmas Flash Mob”.  This really is a must see and so I’m doing my part to help this video go “viral”.

Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE

Award Accepted from Christian Clarity Review: Worst Arminian in the World!

December 5, 2010 6 comments

I hereby congratulate myself on the just-created weekly award of – drumroll, please – “Worst Arminian in the World“.  I am beholden to none other than Tim Elder at Christian Clarity Review for this great honor.  This first competition was keen.  Up for consideration were ‘bdrex’, ‘Bill’ and myself for commenting on Tim’s post that Arminians Are Not Christians.

Tim said of me:

  • Another wicked soul pops in for a chat.
  • The unforgivable sin is your default piety in particular Bob.
  • You, like so many, are deceived that if you don’t make up a new ‘meaning’ from the text other than what it says as Word of God as Creating Speech/Jesus Christ, then you’re only a baby Christian.
  • You sin happily and forcefully and call it being pious.
  • That the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience now works in you is plain.
  • You heard the same Word of God I did and the effect it had on you was to harden your heart and make you a vessel of wrath.
  • You enjoy lying against God.
  • You are all very polite as you supposedly ‘choose’ your various positions.
  • There are literally thousands of blogs on which Lucifer is welcome. This isn’t one of them.
  • You should surely be hired by any [A]rminian witch as their PR person.
  • Your lies are always disguised as sombre [sic] wishes for fair discourse while accusing those who point out your lies of being mean spirited asses who do everything they do, supposedly like you, on purpose.
  • It isn’t that I don’t understand. It’s that I do and I overtly don’t want the emotional common sense friendship or discourse of hardened sinners in addition to being blessed by God to not have to hear it.
  • You can’t choose to believe what God is Saying through me as truth. No one has that ability.

Tim, I can think of no one more qualified than you to present these weekly awards.  We’ll all be anxiously awaiting the next Worst Arminian in the World!

To be considered for this award, prospective entrants must read any post on Tim’s blog and do one of the following:

  • Make a comment
  • Ask a question
  • Challenge a premise
  • Simply not understand various things such as created speech, et al

Now don’t be shy.  Hurry and submit your comments and questions to Tim’s blog.

Oh yes, mention my name or, better yet, link to this blog and you’ll be a shoe-in for Worst Arminian in the World.  Not only that, but you’ll also receive my warmest personal regards.

Best of luck to one and all in becomming the next Worst Arminian in the World!!!


A Calvinist Spanking of Yours Truly from Christian Clarity Review?

December 4, 2010 7 comments

A rather pathetic title for a hissy-fit between a Calvinist named Timothy Elder Jr at Christian Clarity Review and one who doesn’t subscribe to the TULIP doctrines of Calvinism – me.  In the large scheme of things, this really is much ado about nothing.  Honestly, what new thoughts or arguments could possibly come forth between the centuries-old debate between Calvinists and Arminians?  From my perspective, both sides have considerable biblical “ammunition” and can lob verse after verse to effectively press either Calvinist or Arminian doctrine.  This on-going debate is somewhat distressing to me if only because there appears to be such divergence of opinion between the two camps with both sides often justifying their positions using the same Scriptures.  By and large, it’s been easier of late to not take part in the debate – at least not to the degree I used to.  Perhaps I got a little bruised and worn out and have, at least for now, decided to premise my Christian faith on the Arminian side if for no other reason that I am more comfortable with what I understand to be the nature and character of God as viewed from an Arminian perspective.

But now, back into the fray.  There was a recent post on Christian Clarity Review entitled; Arminians are not Christians.  Nice to know, I guess.  But I adamently disagree.

‘bdrex’ and ‘Bill’ initially posed some questions to CCR and things escalated quickly.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize Tim doesn’t appreciate any challenges to his views.  I got into the fray a little later.  And too, I admit to a little venting in what I was told would be my last posting to CCR.  But ultimately, I have to ask my Calvinist friends; is Christian Clarity Review someone who accurately represents Calvinist doctrine and thought?

Anyway, for those interested, here’s my last comment to Christian Clarity Review and his subsequent response:

Dear Tim,

I regret your request for me to no longer comment on your blog.  I’ve done my best to be open, candid, honest and respectful when posing questions, responding or otherwise commenting on CCR.  I’ve tried to do likewise when you have commented on my blog.   But I will honor your request.

For my last comments on your blog,  I thought of providing a list of what I believe to be justifiable arguments against Calvinism and attempt to show where (I believe) verses you reference do not support the contentions you make.  But what’s the point?  I’ve concluded that you’re going to believe what you will irrespective of illogical thought and misapplied scriptures.  If nothing else, I’ve come to understand that that if something isn’t hyper-Calvinistic in nature, you’ll naturally be against it irrespective of the many scriptural references appearing to support Arminian thought.  If ever someone desires to see a Hyper-Calvinist in action – you are the real deal, Tim.

Your responses in this post to bdrex and Bill were fascinating.  I’m admittedly slow, but I finally realized you aren’t able to tolerate challenges to your theology.  If someone doesn’t agree with you, out pours some verbiage condemning the questioner or equating them to Lucifer followed by hate-filled speech (spoken as if you were the Holy Ghost Himself) with a taken-out-of-context verse or two.

You’ve clearly studied a lot of church history and tenants of the Christian faith.  But for what purpose?  Where, Tim, is the fruit in your life?  Where can one find in your life the love and compassion that Jesus exhibited?  Why is there such anger and contempt within you?  Where is the joy that Jesus wants all believers to experience and in which he promises to make complete?  Why is there no apparent laughter and (oh dear, should I actually use this word – yes!) the “gaiety” in your life?

Can anyone, who questions your understanding on any matter of Christian thought and faith not be labeled a heretic sent straight from Lucifer?  Apparently not and yet, as you have previously said to me, Lucifer has intentionally deceived me (at God’s command, no less).  So, applying your logic gleaned from our previous conversations – any and everything that has ever happened or ever will happen is as a direct result of God’s intentional will and command?  If your answer is ‘yes’, then would you please answer this question: if there’s no free-will, why are you not praising God for (I’m using your words, here) the world being “inundated with homosexuality, whoredoms [sic], abortion, and false religion”?  I can only surmise that as a logical extension of your hyper-Calvinistic thoughts and logic, God desired, designed and implemented all that is antithetical towards Christianity and therefore to Himself.  To God be the glory, right?  So, why do I not hear a great big ‘halleluiah’ from you?  Why are you not thankful that God has sent me to your blog?  After all, am I not (according to your logic) visiting CCR as a direct result of God’s intentional will and command?  You should be praising God that I’m conversing with you for after all, I am one of the few who’re willing to do so.  Oh, wait, that’s right, God has already determined that you’re to despise anything that is contrary to hyper-Calvinism.  Sorry, Tim, but the most elementary reading of Scripture and the simplest application of logic brings down your house of ‘faith-cards’.  Your theology doesn’t hold up on its own merits.  It’s only with a heavy dose of hate and vile do you make believe and otherwise fool yourself that you are one of God’s chosen few.  Sad.

Bill asked you for source material within Christian literature compliant with the theological concept of created speech.  Honestly, it didn’t take hardly any time at all to find sources (http://christianbookreviews.net/?p=43#more-43) that, well, have an exceedingly different perspective of The Two Babylons – one of the books you referenced and which I presume to be a foundation of your faith.  This review states:

“As is commonly the case with fundamentalists, the truth did not get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.  Weaving an absurd tale reminiscent of other types of conspiratorial drivel, Woodrow (like Hislop before him) combined incredibly bad scholarship, paranoid delusions, and pure bigotry in an unseemly concoction lacking even a rudimentary understanding of historical developments within the Church.  This is where one would expect it to end – another entry in the “antichrist of the month” sweepstakes spoon fed to those who do have neither the knowledge nor the discernment to see past the smokescreen of their insulated belief system.”

Ouch!  Sorry, but your blog posts appear to be the epitome of this review, Tim.

Before I go, can we agree that there must be consistency throughout Scripture and that doctrine can’t be built on only a given verse.  Rather, doctrine that is true is reflected uniformly throughout all of the Bible.  With regard to individual election, then, using your beloved KJV, I would welcome an explanation of how you rectify the following verses:

(John 6:44) No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day

(Titus 2:11) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men

Do you see the apparent conflict with personal election?  No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him and yet God’s grace which brings salvation has appeared to all men.  I could present my $0.02 worth, but again, what’s the point?  However, if you ask nicely, I’d be pleased to answer that apparent contradiction.

Paraphrasing, you’ve stated that God has enlightened you with an understanding of non-creating speech and that you’re responsible for passing this knowledge on to the “brethren”.  You are then God’s enlightened messenger who’s the only person on earth that has received this revelation?  Perhaps you’re in good company for if a Christian has difficulty understanding the concept of created speech and can’t find biblical justification for that belief system, how can one be sure that Timothy Elder Jr. isn’t the origin of a created speech cult in much the same way that a Jehovah Witnesses will follow Charles Russell, Mormons follow Joseph Smith, Seventh-Day Adventists follow Ellen G. White, Christian Scientists follow Mary Eddy Baker or Scientologists follow Armstrong and Hubbard, etc.?  Pity, perhaps Walter Martin was died too soon to include you in his book, Kingdom of the Cults.

If you care, feel free to respond to some questions I’d hoped to delve further with you over time.  Per your request, unless you give me permission, I won’t respond.  But please, fire away:

  • Did God plan every evil act and every sin that anyone would have ever committed?
  • Did God predestine Adam and Eve to sin?
  • Did God plan and bring about the rebellion of Satan who was once the angel of light, Lucifer?
  • Did God originate sin?  With regard to this question, I don’t doubt that God planned and has “elected” (I’m guessing my definition of “elect” is different than yours) much within our human existence.  God may have allowed sin.  But I’m hard-pressed to find any Scriptural evidence that sin originated with God.  Please, show me where.
  • Has God truly chosen to make you such a wretched creature?  I don’t personally think so.  Rather, I believe you have exceeded your wildest expectations and have become all that you are of your own volition.

Congratulations!  You’re now done with me.  Perhaps you’d like to celebrate and go share your faith with someone?  I’m sorry, I forgot; outreach to a hyper-Calvinist is pointless.

Well, enjoy your life, Tim.  I know I enjoy mine.  I do wish you all the best and will welcome the opportunity to discuss anything further with you should you decide to do so.  You know where I can be reached.

Sincerely,

Bob

If you’ve read this far, you may be interested in Tim’s response to my last comment:

1. “I regret your request for me to no longer comment on your blog”.  It wasn’t a request.  Don’t change your username and go for it again. Not saying you’ve already done it.  If you post again I’ll delete it.

2. You should surely be hired by any arminian witch as their PR person.  Your lies are always disguised as sombre wishes for fair discourse while accusing those who point out your lies of being mean spirited asses who do everything they do, supposedly like you, on purpose.  I get the point.  I really do.  You love me in what you call love –but I, as the Big Meanie, won’t love you back by succumbing to your lies.  It isn’t that I don’t understand.  It’s that I do and I overtly don’t want the emotional common sense friendship or discourse of hardened sinners in addition to being blessed by God to not have to hear it.

You can’t choose to believe what God is Saying through me as truth.  No one has that ability.  I don’t speak as if you could and to pretend that is exactly why I speak is to lie to my face and to call me a liar, no matter that you think to have done so in some perfect emotional paradigm some onlookers will automatically be forced to think is politeness because they share your deceptions.

Proverbs 14: 7  Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.

Proverbs 6: 12-15  A man of Belial, a wicked person, is he that goeth about with a perverse mouth; he winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; deceits are in his heart; he deviseth mischief at all times, he soweth discords.  Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly: in a moment shall he be broken, and without remedy.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Final thought – I truly have enjoyed the back-and-forth exchanges with many Calvinists on this blog as well as those with whom I associate personally.  Perhaps the ‘chemist’ within me needs to have a hypothesis, or in this case a premise of my belief, and then to go about determining whether or not the hypothesis is correct.  And I have truly struggled with determining where the truth lies within the  Calvinist-Arminian debate.  And that will probably continue for some time.  However, Tim may be the first person I would consider a hyper-Calvinist.  If I follow what I believe to be the natural outcome of Calvinist doctrine, it quickly leads me to someone who would espouse the views of Timothy.  I hope I’m wrong on that point.   And to that end, I would appreciate Calvinist’s comments to help identify the error – whether with me or with Tim.  (John 8:32)

Sincerely,

Bob