Theology: April 2004 Archives

Jollyblogger offers some advice on sorting through God's sovereign initiative in salvation together with God's love for all. Some Calvinists, because of this tension, reject the plain teaching of such verses as I Timothy 2:3. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (NIV). Jollyblogger's answer? Why insist on a conflict between that and God's sovereignty in salvation? What this verse says makes perfect sense on its own without postulating that it must refer only to all the elect.

This is one reason I sometimes hesitate to call myself a Calvinist, even though I fully endorse the Reformed theology Calvin held. Some people who call themselves Calvinists just take these extreme views that don't follow either from scripture or from Reformed theology. (To be fair, they think they do follow from both. I just don't agree, and therefore I find it to be extreme.) It's always better to take theology from scripture rather than bringing it to scripture from a system established by emphasizing a scriptural truth beyond what the passages it's taken from require, which then it leads to having to deny other scriptures, as with I Tim 2:3.

I've addressed this issue myself with more detailed discussions in Is There Potentiality in God? and Limited Atonement.

Forgiveness and Justice

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Forgiveness is not a substitute for justice. Forgiveness is no mere discharge of a victim's angry resentment and no mere assuaging of a perpetrator's remorseful anguish, one that demands no change of the perpetrator and no rightings of wrongs. On the contrary: every act of forgiveness enthrones justice; it draws attention to its violation precisely by offering to forego [sic] its claims. -- Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, p.123.

Volf doesn't connect this with deeper theological issues (at least not here), but this seems to me to have something to say about two issues. First, it would give an explanation for how God's forgiveness doesn't violate principles of justice. Second, it seems to undermine one explanation for why God couldn't just forgive everyone, as universalists think. Any thoughts, either on Volf's statement or on how it affects these other issues?

Hot Chicks

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Two barely related matters:

1. Hot Abercrombie Chick is a freshman in college planning, probably, to be a philosophy major. That deserves encouragement. She's just posted a great presentation of the considerations given by Malebranche and Leibniz (two of my favorite philosophers) on the problem of evil.

2. Check out this Hot Non-Abercrombie Chick. It might take a bit to load up, but it's worth it.

Divine Command Theory

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The University of Rochester philosophy grad students' blog has a name finally: My Ontology is Bigger Than Yours.

Brown has one now also, Fake Barn Country. So we've started a trend. Just remember: OrangePhilosophy was first. (Some people have argued that Philosophy from the 617 was the first, but that was a group blog from people who at the time were in Boston, not tied to one institution.)

Andrew Cullison has some worthwhile reading on Divine Command Theory at the Rochester blog. I've said stuff about this before, but my primary audience was for introductory philosophy students. This is a much more detailed discussion and includes some more sophisticated arguments (though some, I think, are poor arguments nonetheless).

Update: It was too good to last. They've taken on a new non-name (at a new location): This is Not the Name of This Blog. That's creative and interesting philosophically, but it's not as fun as My Ontology is Bigger Than Your Ontology. I'm not changing my link's name.

A friend of mine asked me why I think there are biblical reasons against Christians marrying nonbelievers (which is not to say that it's wrong for Christians to remain married to nonbelievers upon becoming Christian, since Paul explicitly gives instructions on that situation; see below). It took much longer for me to explain than people often do in these situations. The usual response is to trot out II Corinthians 6:14-18, which is not about marriage at all but idolatry. My friend also gave some objections based on those men of God who did marry outside of Israel in the Old Testament, often leading to good consequences (including some of them being in the line of Jesus). So I had to do some background work on the biblical theology of marriage and intermarriage. Here's what I came up with.

Pledge of Idolatry

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Well, here's a new idea. The pledge of allegiance is idolatry, according to Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost, not because the flag itself is an idol (which may be a problem for someone people, however) but because the god mentioned in the pledge is not the God of Christianity. It's a function of civil religion in distinction from any particular religion such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc. I'm not quite sure what to think of this. John Coleman at Ex Nihilo has a response, based largely on the claim that the pledge has many important consequences that we don't want to give up. I don't think what Coleman says fully responds to the original argument, since the same might have been said about emperor worship in the Roman Empire. That brought great unity and commonality to the empire, it involved a tradition around which the whole empire organized, etc. Still, I'm not convinced the original argument is right either (partly for concerns I've already raised about those who think 'God' refers to different gods from one religion to another, which I don't think is true of Islam and Christianity, for instance). I'll need to think about this a bit more before commenting further, but any thoughts are welcome in the meantime.

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