You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Both Ways’ category.
I have recently prodded Vox to tell his readers what he feels the gospel is – to explain what it means to be saved – and I have expressed dissatisfaction with what he’s written to date. And now I’m feeling a little guilty about that – because I have just finished re-reading his first Fantasy novel – The War in Heaven.
Towards the end of it, he pretty much completely lays out for the reader what salvation is. And here’s the good news – I almost completely agree with him. It’s classic Gospel. So I thought I’d share it with you.
Now I don’t want this to be too much of a spoiler, so I’ve edited out some details. To set up the scene – a major character, who has behaved poorly (to say the least) finds himself having a face-to-face conversation with Jesus.
“… I’m pretty much going straight to Hell now, aren’t I? …”
“That depends entirely on you.”
“On me? I’m not… I mean, I’ve done some bad things. Really bad things, you know?”
“Yes, I do. . . you have worshipped at the false idol of your own desires.”
“So, is there really a Hell after all? But you said… well, what do I do now? I suppose I can’t change what I did.”
Lord Jesus smiled.
“Yes, there is a Lake of Fire. And you cannot change what you have done, instead, you must change who you are.”
“Change who I am? What do you mean? How can I do that?”
“Follow you? Where?”
“I speak not of a place, but a Way.”
“A way? What way?”
“The Way to the Father. The Way out of bondage, death and sin. It goes through Me. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
“I don’t understand. How can following your Way change who I am?”
“What is made may be unmade.” His voice was soft and caring. “You see, one day, you will stand before the Throne of My Father’s Judgement. And on that day you will be judged. Every word, every thought, and every deed must be deemed pure and right and holy in order for you to be deemed worthy of entering into the glory of My Father’s House.”
“But I’m already doomed, then.”
“You are, because you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The glory of God is perfect, Christopher, and even one small sin in an otherwise saintly lifetime of righteousness would render one unworthy of His radiant glory.”
“That seems a little harsh.”
“Can you be just a little dead, and yet be alive? Nor can you be a little stained by sin. My Father is pure and holy, and He demands like purity and holiness from all those who would enter into His presence. This is right and just. But My Father is also merciful, and He knows that you are weak. That is why He [sent] Me to your world, to die, so that you may live forever in the Light.”
“Yeah, the cross thing. I’ve heard about that. But even if it were true, I should say, how does Your death help me?”
“Because My Father has promised Me that when He judges those who have pledged themselves to Me, those who have repented of their sin and walk in My Way, that on the Day of Judgement He will look at Me in their place and judge them as if My life had been theirs. And I am without sin, Mine is the only life that can be deemed worthy.”
“So what do I have to do?”
“Give up all that you have and follow Me.”
“Everything? Do you mean even all of… this?”
Isn’t that close to what you think Jesus might say?
You might ask why I say I ‘almost completely agree with it’. My agreement with it would be more full if it weren’t for the second sentence: (“That depends entirely on you.”) But what he writes about what a person must do to be saved is, I think, correct. I’d like any Calvinist reading this to tell me if they agree (or disagree).
In any case, good for you, Vox. My God be glorified by your books.
For years, every time Vox has gone on one of his anti-Calvinist or anti-Piper sprees, I have thought that it would be very enlightening if he were to allow himself to be questioned about his theology (in contrast to just reacting negatively to another theology.)
To help illustrate my motivation, I’ll go back to Monty Python and its ‘Crunchy Frog’ skit.
Bear with me and let me share a part of that skit with you. To explain the setting, “Mr.Praline” is an inspector from the ‘Hygiene Squad’ and Mr. Milton is the “Sole Proprietor and Owner of the Whizzo Chocolate Company”. They are talking about some of the candy sold by this company.
Praline Next we have number four, ‘Crunchy Frog’.
Praline Am I right in thinking there’s a real frog in here?
Milton Yes. A little one.
Praline What sort of frog?
Milton A dead frog.
Praline Is it cooked?
Praline What, a raw frog?
Milton We use only the finest baby frogs, dew-picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in the finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope, and lovingly frosted with glucose.
Praline That’s as may be, but it’s still a frog!
Milton What else?
Praline Well don’t you even take the bones out?
Milton If we took the bones out it wouldn’t be crunchy would it?
Praline Well, the Superintendent thought it was an almond whirl. People won’t expect there to be a frog in there. They’re bound to think it’s some sort of mock frog.
Milton (insulted) Mock frog? We use no artificial preservatives or additives of any kind!
Praline Nevertheless, I must warn you that in future you should delete the words ‘crunchy frog’, and replace them with the legend, ‘crunchy raw unboned real dead frog’ if you want to avoid prosecution.
It is my thought that Vox has long been passing off his theology as a Crunchy Frog theology, when in actuality it is Crunchy Raw Unboned Real Dead Frog theology, at least in the eyes of most people when they actually see it. Which many hadn’t because Vox was only focused on Calvinism.
So when Vox accepted MarkkuKopenan’s challenge to respond to answer five questions, it was my hope that the oddness of his theology would be made clear. And here’s the good news: It was made clear.
So let’s go through the five questions, shall we?
Question 1: A Summary of What Vox Day Believes
Vox was gracious here in answering the question, because (A) It wasn’t a question about a Bible passage which many assumed all the questions would be and (B) it wasn’t really a question, it was a statement that said “Edit this.” But Vox did edit the paragraph, changing surprisingly few words.
When I wrote the question, I made a guess as to what he believed. And I tried to choose the portions of his belief that made his theology unique. It was after his response to Question 1 that I decided that I should start compiling a list of his unique beliefs, so that they would be in one concise spot.
This turned out to be a good idea.
Some were disappointed (or saw it as a weakness of our case) that we didn’t force Vox to give Bible references to support his answer, but that wasn’t the goal of that question.
Question 2: Vox explains why your hairs most likely aren’t numbered.
It was in this post that I saw that things were going well, given my goals. Vox chose to say that the context of the “God Knows when a Sparrow dies” passage and the “Your hairs are numbered” passage should be understood only in the context of the Sending of the Twelve and were thus only meant to apply to the 12 Disciples.
When I pointed out that in Luke the Sparrows and Hairs passage are 3 chapters away from the Sending of the Twelve, he said that the book of Luke was based on Matthew and we thus can disregard the context in Luke. He shows his Bible Is Not Innerrant bent here, but it’s worse than that. He doesn’t even give Luke the benefit of the doubt that he would give a regular secular book that had compiled words from another source.
I’ll just note that it was in the comments of this question that Nate called me “sugar britches”, which is by far the nicest thing he’s ever called me.
Question 3: Vox Embraces An Interesting Theology and Says X = Not Xn
In this response, Vox stated that “it is incorrect to describe me as a Arminian since my theological stance is more accurately described as Pelagian”.
I will tell you this. If Vox stating that he was a Pelagianist was the only thing that came out of all of these questions, it would have been worth it. Today I googled “Pelagianism Boyd” and found this statement: “Grace helps people live for God, but Pelagians deny that people are saved by grace alone. For this reason, evangelicals are in agreement that Pelagianism is an unbiblical belief system.” This is from the glossary of “Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology” a book where Greg Boyd is one of two authors.
So when I saw that statement from Vox, I thought that that was all I needed from that question. But then I looked at his Chain of Events and saw these two statements:
(A) The Father draws everyone.
(B) Some . . . do not permit themselves to be drawn.
Later he agreed to the statement “Some who God draws are not drawn.”
This, I maintain, is a contortion at least as bad as what he claims the Calvinists make.
Question 4: Vox states that his God unintentionally causes bad things to happen to people.
I just want to point out that Vox, who is very outspoken about his beliefs that the US Government often makes laws with good intentions but that have unintended negative consequences, has a God that does similar things.
Question 5: Vox says that Hate is most likely Hyperbolic. Calvinists agree.
Here I’ll quote MarkkuKoponen’s comment:
That was the whole point of this exercise. It started from my comment to Vox in Skype; It is nearly always Vox who is on the attack, so he gets to choose the verses. Of course he is going to choose the verses where the plain reading is in line with his own view. And therefore it looks as if we need to give seemingly odd explanations for any verse.
So, we changed places for a while, so that we’d put out verses where Vox has to go looking elsewhere in order to prove that the plain reading is not the correct one.
Summarizing my summary, I will say that during this process, the personal emails that I got stating that they’ve now seen that Vox is wrong, the comments on my blog posts encouraging me, or making suggestions of items to put on the list of what he believes, and every comment on Vox’s posts that began with something like , “I’m not a Calvinist, but Vox you’re wrong when you say . . . ” has encouraged me that some truth is getting out.
Now, I have prayed that those who are wrong (and I’m not saying this isn’t me) about the nature of God will see where they are wrong. I want God to be glorified and I believe that whatever is true about him will glorify him. So I will still pray that we will all understand what God does and doesn’t do.
[If you don’t know who Vox Day is – please ignore. If you do know who Vox is and you’re thinking about commenting over there, you may want to first want to read this list of previously made comments (and our responses).]
Speaking as a representative of the Nine Reformed/Calvinist commenters – I say this: Please find below the 5 questions we would like Vox Day to answer.
Speaking as Jamsco (and not a representative) – I say this:
1) I rather enjoyed working with the 8 other guys in the process of creating this list. They are a gracious and thoughtful group
2) As pointed out in the challenge post, Vox theoretically has a strong advantage over us, because it’s his blog, and he gets to make the rules. If he can’t clearly and unequivocally show us what he believes and defend it with the Bible, then we should be able to conclude that his theology isn’t quite as solid as he likes to think it is.
AA. Vox: Is this paragraph something you could write and agree with? If not please make it something you agree with, while editing, changing and deleting as few words as possible.
The God I worship is probably not aware of much of what is happening on earth today. You should not tell a child that God has a plan for her, because not only does He not know which husband will be right for her in twenty years, He doesn’t even know that she will be alive tomorrow. And it’s quite possible that if she does die, he will not be aware of it. If on the other hand she lives through an accident in which the car is totaled, thanking God for protecting her may be giving him credit for something he didn’t do. It is quite possible that my God knows less about your daughter than you do. To find out what is happening somewhere on earth, my God has to do research (or, if you like, “go and see”) to find out about it. My God most likely doesn’t have enough knowledge about me and my soul to know what I will do in a given circumstance.
BB. Matthew 10:29-31
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
If God indeed didn’t know of Israel’s suffering in Egypt for 400 years, and if He indeed didn’t know how many righteous men were in Sodom, then what do these verses mean? If they are a metaphor or poetry, then a metaphor or poetry signifying what? Please write a paraphrase of the passage such that it helps the reader understand how it doesn’t actually say that God watches the earth to the detail of each hair of one of his own or one sparrow, since such detail would conflict with God not even knowing of the existence of the person in Sodom.
CC. John 6:37, 44 and 45
All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.
(…) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.
If there are those that get saved without God’s prior action (Pelagianism), or those that refuse the action (Arminianism), then where do they fit between the “no one” of the first verse and “every one” of the second? Please describe a possible chain of events for such a person so that it doesn’t conflict with any of the verses.
DD. Lamentations 3:31-33
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.
Vox, does the Lord cause grief? If so, does he act against his will?
EE. “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND ; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Luke 10:27)
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:25, 26)
How do you reconcile the Second Great Command with Jesus’ statement about hating one’s father and mother, etc.?
A) Jesus contradicts Himself
B) Hate != hate
C) One verse is hyperbole
I have heard it commented that the book of Job shows that it’s Satan, not God who causes harm. So the last time I read through it, I kept track of all of the references to which person’s decision was behind what happened. Some of these references make explicit statements, and others are a more implied message.
I show them below. Did I miss* any?
Who Caused The Death And Suffering In Job
|Job 1:11||God||Implied||“But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”|
|Job 1:12||Satan||Implied||And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.”|
|Job 1:21||God||Explicit||The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away|
|Job 2:3||Satan||Explicit||“You incited me against him to destroy him”|
|Job 2:3||God||Explicit||“You incited me against him to destroy him”|
|Job 2:5||God||Implied||“But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”|
|Job 2:6||Satan||Implied||And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”|
|Job 2:7||Satan||Explicit||So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.|
|Job 2:10||God||Implied||“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”|
|Job 42:11||God||Explicit||And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.|
So, in summary . . .
By the way, if you think I’m using a faulty hermeneutic, please let me know how you think it is faulty.
* For the record, there are several implications in the middle chapters that God did these things, but since they are intermixed with statements that show the speakers have a flawed understanding of reality, I have not included them here. Fair enough? In any case, it seems like no character in the story has any inkling that Satan was a part of what happened.
Some of you may be wondering what the password protected post below this post is about. It’s actually a place for very small group of bloggers with a reformed theology to discuss which questions we should ask Vox in our upcoming 5 question challenge.
In preparation for that, I’d like to present here seven preemptive answers to comments that are often made over at his blog when this question comes up.
1. No Human Mind can understand God, so why even try? – Or – You guys are trying to count the angels on the head of a pin – Or – Who Cares?
My Response: While it is true that God is beyond human understanding and comprehension, God has given us a great deal of information about himself in his Word. He obviously wants us to know some of the aspects of his reality. I believe this is so we will worship him more. Attempting to understand a little more and, yes, even debating these issues is of value. I believe that God wants us to do this.
2. According to Calvinists/Reformed theologians everything is ordained, so I’m just doing God’s will when I [do some annoying behavior]/[disagree with you]/[whatever we’re discussing].
My Response: First, this tiresome joke is very old and not really that clever (judging by the caliber of mind who posits it as something they think is funny.) Second, this shows a lack of understanding of our theology; We believe that you really make choices and you really are responsible for them.
3. Why do you call yourselves Calvinists? Didn’t you know that Calvin wasn’t that great a person (or) don’t you know the biblical passage about following Paul or Apollos?
My Response: “Calvinist” is largely a term applied to us by people who don’t agree with us. We are aware that Calvin was a seriously flawed person. Most of us would rather be called ‘reformed’, which, while it is a name that has it’s own vagueness and imperfection, carries less baggage.
4. Why are Calvinists/Open Theists/Arminians/[people of a certain theological bent that I disagree with] always so mean/hateful/stupid/arrogant/[censored]?
My Response: I want you to consider the possibility that you have this opinion because (1) the first person you met who was this kind of person behaved like that and they became your archetype that colors every other discussion you have, (2) you would disregard that negative behavior, or actually be impressed by it, if it was coupled with opinions you agreed with, or (3) you just don’t like being reminded that you might be wrong.
5. Why don’t both sides just think like me? I believe [belief that you think would radically alter the framework of the entire discussion].
My Response: I want you consider the possibility that many on both sides have considered this way of thinking and have determined that it is (1) wrong-minded or (2) irrelevant.
6. It’s very pompous of you to think that only people who think like you are part of the “elect”.
My Response: We don’t think that. We believe that the issue of salvation is much more important than this and being reformed/Calvinist doesn’t make you saved, nor does being an open theist believe make you unsaved.
7. Wow, my side beat your side so quickly! And so easily! And so obviously!
I want you consider the possibility that you are biased to see any bold statement by someone you agree with as a smack down of the other side, even when it’s not. Also, consider the idea that when you do this, people will think (perhaps correctly) that you are trying to color the argument by making it look like your side is winning.
8. What’s up with Nate?
My Response: I don’t know, man. I just don’ know.
I promised commentary about my last post. Here are seven:
1. First of all, I obviously cherry-picked the comments that I thought were the most interesting. My hope, however, was that I kept only those comments that were a part of the threads I was trying to highlight and took out nothing that was pertinent. In addition, my hope was that I didn’t take the comments out of context.
2. The main reason I put up the post was to make clear the results of Vox’s way of thinking.
3. (Regarding the first thread) I put up a verse that looks like it helps prove Calvinist theology, Vox said that it could be read another way. I showed that seeing it that way lead to silly results. So Vox is forced to go with the “Well, the Bible contradicts itself there, then.”
As I mentioned in my comment, this makes me nervous. Rather than concede defeat, Vox denigrates the Bible. He states that this is not new. But I say it is, for him. He has previously stated that due to translation difficulties, specific verses may not be completely reliable. But he has never (as far as I know) stated that the Bible is self-contradictory. I think he was forced to go there. His only other choice is to agree with Calvinism.
4. It is a Christian’s job, even if he isn’t sure of inerrancy, when he finds passages in the Bible that seems to conflict with each other, to work them out – To try to find a meaning in the passages where they can both be true.
5. Twice Vox says that it is more common that people who believe in the inerrancy of scripture more commonly fall away from religion, than those who are more liberal minded. To that I respond in two ways: 1. I disagree, and I’d welcome any data to back up his statements, and 2. I hope Vox isn’t stating this in order to more fully prove that inerrancy is wrong. Because obviously there is no logical way to get from “This makes people break their faith” to “This must be false.”
6. Vox has put himself into the position that a Bible verse can prove that those he disagrees with are wrong, but that no verse can prove that he is wrong. This is a weasel position.
7. Vox makes this statement: “Considering how often people here have trouble following my thoughts, I have absolutely no problem believing that you and me and everyone else have trouble comprehending His”
Except for one thing: He’s not God. If God wants to make himself known, he will be known. This is the primary reason for the existence of the Bible. And God is watching over his word. The one who seeks Him will find Him.
Vox’s inability to be understood says nothing about God’s ability to be understood.
I just thought I’d let you know that over at my other blog, I posted a children’s song that I wrote with a Both Ways (i.e. espousing the responsibilities of human will and the sovereignty of God in one song) slant.
Although, looking at it, I don’t think I have the “God ordains all things” highlighted enough.
By the way – I wrote it for kindergarteners, so it’s pretty basic.
As long time readers know, one purpose of this blog is to discuss my beliefs in how we can reconcile the Free Will of Man (which I believe in) and the Sovereignty of God (and by this I mean God’s control or ordination of everything that happens) (which I believe in).
And as I peruse my both ways category, I note that I have aimed my missives more against the Aprivistan-believers (Free willers, open theists) than the Omniderigists (Calvinists). (This is largely because I agree more with the Calvinists and because the open theists are such easy targets.)
Specifically, I note that I have put up a proof text challenge for the open-theists to consider, but I haven’t put up one for Calvinists to ponder.
So here we are:
While Calvinists are all gung ho on words like “Sovereign over” and “Ordaining” they shy away from “Causing”, being more likely to use the word “Allowed” or “Permitted”
So for example, they will say of some great sin “Oh, I wouldn’t say that God caused that man to murder the other, but he did permit it to happen.”
But being a Hyper-combatibleist (believing in more extensive free will and greater sovereignty than most Calvinists) I want to push back a little with this challenge:
Show me any passage in the Bible that says that God allowed or permitted something to happen.
Because if a passage like this doesn’t exist then it would be reasonable to suggest that saying that “God allowed” anything is unbiblical. Right?
What say you?
By the way, I can think of one place you might go, but I don’t think it helps your case.
. . . that Open Theism is Wrong
As I mentioned, it has been too long since I talked about my Calvinist leanings. It’s time to get back to it. But I will have to go slightly round about.
What do you think when someone says that a certain event is going to happen and then it doesn’t. You think a little less of him, right? And if he does this often, you begin to lose more respect for him. And if he more than once states “I am going to do that” and then doesn’t, you really begin to think, “Hey, guy! You need to start planning ahead. You need to see if you can carry through with what you say you’re going to do before you say it!”
In short, this person is not acting in a wise way. I think most people would agree to this.
So I wouldn’t want you to say that of me.
That Jamsco! He’s always saying he’s going to do this great thing and then it never happens.
If it’s true, tell me. But if it’s not true, it’s insulting.
Also, don’t say that about my Dad. Or my Pastor.
And don’t (here’s the point, finally) say it about my God.
I understand that Greg Boyd is a nice man. Loving, intelligent and all respect him, including those who disagree with him. I wish no ill against him.
But I have this to say against him. He claims that God makes predictions and then they turn out to be false – that God is Untrustworthy.
A while back, a friend of mine, knowing that I was Calvinist, suggested that I read Pastor Boyd’s book God Of The Possible (I finally got to it, Mike!)
This book does a good job outlining his views of Open Theism (simply put, that God doesn’t know the future). It is short read, fairly interesting and it is quite clear. The passages I’m talking about here are in the appendix, but they are also (helpfully) given here.
So, for example, Pastor Boyd takes this passage (from Numbers 11):
11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”
13 But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, . . . . Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”
20 Then the Lord said, “I have pardoned, according to your word.”
And says this of it:
In response to Israel’s bickering the Lord says “I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you [Moses] a nation greater and mightier than they” (vs. 12). Moses asks the Lord to forgive the people, and the Lord eventually responds, “I do forgive, just as you have asked” (vs. 20).
Unless the intention the Lord declared to Moses in verse 12 was insincere, we must conclude that he did not at that point intend on forgiving the Israelites. It cannot have been certain at that time (let alone from all eternity) that God would forgive the Israelites. Hence, it seems that either the Lord is insincere, or the classical view of divine foreknowledge is mistaken.
So what Pastor Boyd is saying is that when God made his prediction of what he was going to do, he was wrong. And when Moses pointed out these things, God said “Huh. I hadn’t thought of that. Well then, forget what I said earlier about destroying everyone.”
And then Pastor Boyd takes 1 Kings 21:21-29:
21 Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 22 And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, . . .
27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. 28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days;
And says this of it:
Because of Ahab’s great sin the Lord tells him, “I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you…” (vs. 21). Ahab repents and the Lord responds by telling his messenger prophet, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days…” (vs. 29).
The Lord revoked his prophecy against Ahab and delayed his judgment on his family line because of Ahab’s repentance. If all of this was foreknown to God, his prophecy to Ahab that he was going to bring disaster and consume him could not have been given in earnest. If verse 21 expresses God’s genuine intention, then we must conclude that God’s mind can genuinely change in the light of change in people’s attitudes and action (something the Lord explicitly tells us is true in other passages, e.g. Jer. 18:7–10).
So again Pastor Boyd says that God said “I will destroy you” and has no idea of the possibility that Ahab might repent, so when he does, it is a surprise and God changes his mind and doesn’t carry out his curse.
Really, if I were God, I would be insulted. What, you think I had no idea this might happen?
Over and over as Pastor Boyd looks at these passages, he states that where God makes a prediction and they don’t come true, it is because he changes his mind based on how humans responded. I disagree.
So what are we to do with these threats that don’t come true? The answer is in Jeremiah, and Dr. Boyd should know this, because he quotes it in his book.
From Jeremiah 18
7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.
People who heard God’s curses knew this. They knew his statements promising destruction were conditional. So when they repented and the predictions didn’t come true, they didn’t think “Aha, we got him there!” No, they thanked God that he was so merciful.
As I say, this is one way that Open Theism is wrong. But only one way.
Last night I wrote a post quoting Pastor John, but this morning I read something he wrote in his blog yesterday. It points out another “both ways” passage of scripture in a helpful way, so I’m postponing my other post and putting this up. Pastor John writes:
1. Why did Saul die?
- “Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.” (1 Chronicles 10:4)
- “So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium.” (1 Chronicles 10:13)
- “The Lord put him to death.” (1 Chronicles 10:14)
One reason Saul died is that he committed suicide. Another is that he broke faith with the Lord much earlier. Another is that God put him to death. None of these excludes the others. To say God is the decisive actor does not mean Saul did not act. To say there are physical causes for a death (suicide) does not mean there were not moral causes (infidelity).
To say that Saul brought his demise on himself (by infidelity and suicide) does not mean God did not bring it on him. We would be unfaithful to Scripture if all we said was that the reason Saul died was the natural consequence of his own behavior. We must also say, “The Lord put him to death.”
There was real punishment, not just impersonal, natural consequences. God is personal. God put him to death. There was punishment by a judge and executioner. There was wrath. The Bible is designed to make sure we do not turn death and hell into impersonal consequences. “The Lord put him to death.” . . .
Note: Suicide is a sin.
Note: The passage does not say “The Lord allowed him to die”, nor does it say “The Lord worked it so that he would die. No, it says “The Lord put him to death”.
I have previously mentioned that our adult Sunday school class has been studying First Samuel. This class has been skillfully lead by an OT professor (and my friend), Dr. Jason DeRouchie. The level of detail we have learned about the first part of this book and how it applies to our lives has been amazing.
But I disagree with him (our teacher) on one point. Fortunately for him, however, on this point I disagree not only with him, but apparently every other Calvinist in the world – most notably, in this case, Jonathan Edwards, of whom I have nothing bad to say.
In the lesson titled ‘Wrestling with the Two-wills of God’ and subtitled ‘God, the author of sin?’, Dr. DeRouchie’s statement is as follows:
God cannot be the author of sin, if by this we mean that he is the sinner, the positive agent or actor of sin, or a doer of a wicked thing.
I mostly agree with this – all except for three words: ‘The Positive Agent’.
But first some intro.
Before getting to the tricky part, he began the lesson wisely – showing, with Bible verses, that God is holy:
Ps 5:4 – “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.”
Ps 100:1 – “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations.”
1 John 1:5 – “God is Light, and in him there is no darkness at all.”
He then discussed the reason why we were talking about this in a lesson about 1 Sam 2 (Specifically 1 Sam 2:25, regarding Eli’s sons: “If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.”):
A Proposal––God’s Oversight of Evil that Is Done:
While God has established a world in which sin will indeed necessarily come to pass by his permission—e.g ordains that Hophni & Phinehas’ hearts will be hard, sin must not be seen as coming from God’s positive agency.
Rather, God ordains that sin be by creating a world and/or a set of situations where sin will without question occur due to the absence of his positive influence.
And then he quoted Jonathan Edwards:
“[God is] the permitter … of sin; and at the same time, a disposer of the state of events, in such a manner, for wise, holy, and most excellent ends and purposes, that sin, if it be permitted … will certainly and infallibly follow.” (Edwards, Freedom of the Will, 399).
“Sin is not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of the most High, but on the contrary, arises from the withholding of his action and energy, and under certain circumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence.” (Edwards, Freedom of the Will, 404)
Here is where I wonder – is this biblical? Why do they say that God is not the positive agent of Sin? Don’t they say that God causes everything else that happens (Storms, sickness, the rolling of dice, personal salvation)? Why not sin?
Tomorrow I will show the Biblical evidence that Dr. DeRouchie gave to show that God wills that sin happen. And I hope to show why I differ with him on the point mentioned above.
Okay, so what can I say about this comic without getting into trouble theologically?
How about this?
– Artist is almost certainly not a evangelical Christian.
– The comic is somewhat irreverent in tone.
– God doesn’t use Vicoden.
But on the Plus-side -
In some respects (within reason of course) this comic is very nearly exactly how I think about God -
God is portrayed as creating everything they see, and as being the causer of minute details, even those trivial actions done by a character.
God is suggested to be intimately involved and present, but also transcendent and significantly more real than the characters.
One character believes in him, another doesn’t.
The suggestion (last panel) that if God weren’t extremely consistent, every part of our reality would be wrong and undone.
And don’t say I’m getting my theology from a comic strip. Rather, say that even as an unbelieving sceptic, the artist has been given some kind of general inspiration available to all of us just by thinking about life.
I often see (in the comments of this blog and elsewhere) people describe their difficulty with Compatibilism (or Calvinism or Determinism) as being contradictory and requiring belief in paradoxes. How can we be responsible puppets? It’s not possible.
In response, I will do to things: (1) Show you this from wikipedia
The Nature Of Determinism
The exact meaning of the term determinism has historically been subject to several interpretations. Some, called Incompatibilists view determinism and free will as mutually exclusive. The belief that free will is an illusion is known as Hard Determinism. Others, labeled Compatibilists, (or Soft Determinists) believe that the two ideas can be coherently reconciled. Incompatibilists who accept free will but reject determinism are called Libertarians — not to be confused with the political sense.
(2) I post a large section of a document that I found this weekend which I thought might add to the argument. And just to prevent you from being angry at the end, I will warn you – I am being tricksy (As Gollum would put it) in this post.
Here is the document, which is completely contrary to how I view God. Apparently the author is describing a Determinism that is very compatibilist in its leaning. I have included only the parts pertinent to my argument. My comments are below.
DO YOU believe in Determinism? Most people in Christendom do. In view of this, you would think that there could be no question about it. But there is, and lately even some of its supporters have added fuel to the controversy.
Why should a subject like this be of any more than passing interest? Because Jesus himself said: “Eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” So our entire future hinges on our knowing the true nature of God, and that means getting to the root of the Determinism controversy. Therefore, why not examine it for yourself?
. . . <Brief description of the traditional view> Is such reasoning hard to follow? Many sincere believers have found it to be confusing, contrary to normal reason, unlike anything in their experience. ThIS confusion is widespread. The Encyclopedia Americana notes that the doctrine of Determinism is considered to be “beyond the grasp of human reason.”
Many who accept Determinism view it that same way. Monsignor Eugene Clark says: “. . . Since there is nothing like this in creation, we cannot understand it, but only accept it.” Cardinal John O’Connor states: “We know that it is a very profound mystery, which we don’t begin to understand.”
Thus, A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge says: “Precisely what that doctrine is, or rather precisely how it is to be explained, Determinists are not agreed among themselves.”
In this regard, Jesuit Joseph Bracken observes in his book What Are They Saying About Determinism?: “Priests who with considerable effort learned . . . Determinism during their seminary years naturally hesitated to present it to their people from the pulpit, . . . . Why should one bore people with something that in the end they wouldn’t properly understand anyway?” He also says: “Determinism is a matter of formal belief, but it has little or no [effect] in day-to-day Christian life and worship.”
Catholic theologian Hans Küng observes in his book Christianity and the World Religions that Determinism is one reason why the churches have been unable to make any significant headway with non-Christian peoples.
. . .
However, contending that since Determinism is such a confusing mystery, it must have come from divine revelation creates another major problem. Why? Because divine revelation itself does not allow for such a view of God: “God is not a God of confusion.”—1 Corinthians 14:33, Revised Standard Version (RS).
. . .
If Determinism were true, it should be clearly and consistently presented in the Bible. Why? Because, as the apostles affirmed, the Bible is God’s revelation of himself to mankind. And since we need to know God to worship him acceptably, the Bible should be clear in telling us just who he is.
First-century believers accepted the Scriptures as the authentic revelation of God. It was the basis for their beliefs, the final authority. For example, when the apostle Paul preached to people in the city of Beroea, “they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.”—Acts 17:10, 11.
Since the Bible can ‘set things straight,’ it should clearly reveal information about a matter as fundamental as Determinism is claimed to be. But do theologians and historians themselves say that it is clearly a Bible teaching?
. . .
The Encyclopedia of Religion says: “Theologians agree that the New Testament also does not contain an explicit doctrine of Determinism.” Jesuit Fortman states: “The New Testament writers . . . give us no formal or formulated doctrine of Determinism. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology similarly states: “The N[ew] T[estament] does not contain the developed doctrine of Determinism.
What About Determinism “Proof Texts”?
IT IS said that some Bible texts offer proof in support of Determinism. However, when reading such texts, we should keep
in mind that the Biblical and historical evidence does not support Determinism.
Any Bible reference offered as proof must be understood in the context of the consistent teaching of the entire Bible.
Very often the true meaning of such a text is clarified by the context of surrounding verses. . .
Here the author provides many verses which seem to support what he is saying and handles many verses that support typically used to counter his views. This is the bulk of the document
So here is the tricksy part – I got this document from the Watch Tower and then replaced all instances of the words “The Trinity” with Determinism.
I just wanted to point out that if you are an anti-determinist, your style and manner of argumentation may be similar to those who don’t believe that Jesus is God. How did it go?
So I think it’s time that I get on the Calvinist’s case for once – don’t you?
There is a phrase that I hear some of them say that bothers me ever-so-slightly, regarding something good that they did: “It wasn’t me, it was God.” (Okay, I’m assuming that the people who say this are Calvinists. Free-willies wouldn’t say this, would they?)
In any case, it’s a statement generally made in response to a congratulation or a compliment at some job done well done – often in a ministry setting.
Okay, you might be thinking – people who say this are just displaying false modesty. If this is the case – they are trying get people to like them by acting humble – then this is an issue (perhaps sinful) that they need to deal with.*
But let us assume that some who say this are sincere – they really are trying to point people away from themselves and towards God – which, we must admit, it is an admirable goal. But I still have a problem (albeit, like I said, slight) with this.
As a hyper-compatibleist, when I hear a Calvinist say this, I want to say – Yes, God did it, but No you did not not do it. You get some credit. God worked through you. Just like you are responsible for the sins you do, you are also responsible for the good that you do.
Give thanks to God that you were effective in your ministry, or did well at your job, or was a decent parent.
Now you might be thinking – Isn’t there biblical warrant for saying this (“Not me, it was God”)?
And I would respond: Ah! You’re thinking about Joseph telling Pharaoh that it wasn’t he but God who could interpret his dream. I would say that in this case, yes, since he was performing what could be called a miracle – predicting the next 14 years of the future – that this was indeed God and not him – so he is justified in saying this. But most of the time the good that was done didn’t require a miracle.
But now you might be thinking – No, I wasn’t refering to Joseph, but the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, where he said – “But it was not I, but the grace of God that is in me.”
Here I think you have a better case, but I think we should keep in mind that just before this he said “I worked harder than any of them.” I think he left that in there for a purpose. He really believes that some of the Good that happened should be accounted to him, at least on a secondary level.
So go ahead, I say. Give God the Glory and the Thanks. But take part of the credit.
* I’m sorry. Dangling Participle, there. It should have read “an issue with which they need to deal with”.
Last week, Vox Day coined a new word:
The problem with the concept of omniscience is that it’s a weirdly binary notion, wherein the only options are a superficially illogical all-knowing and a definitively non-Biblical naught-knowing of nonexistence. But how would one describe the knowledge of the Game Designer God, who can know or not know any given thing depending solely on His will?The concept of voliscience describes a Creator who knows whatever He wants, whenever He wants, to the extent that the concept of time is even relevant to such a being. Not only does this concept not limit God, but it has the additional benefit of being far more Biblically accurate than the traditional concept of an omniscient God.
Now you’ll remember that Vox has written about this before – Last November:
First, it is important to note that the Christian God, the god towards whom Dawkins directs the great majority of his attacks, makes no broad claims to omniscience. Although there are eighty-seven references to the things that the biblical God knows, only a single example could potentially be interpreted as a universal claim to complete knowledge.Among the things that God claims to know are the following: He knows the way to wisdom and where it dwells, he knows the day of the wicked is coming, he knows the secrets of men’s hearts, he knows the thoughts of men and their futility. He knows the proud from afar, he knows what lies in darkness, and he knows what you need before you ask him. He knows the Son, he knows the day and the hour that the heavens and the earth shall pass away, . . .
In some of what follows I am making some guesses about what Vox thinks – Vox, please correct me if I’m wrong.
Not only does Vox think that God doesn’t know all of what happens in the future; Vox thinks that God doesn’t know all of what is happening in the world currently. So, for example, I think he’s going to say (when he finally gets back to our argument) that he doesn’t think that God knew where Adam and Eve were when he called for them in the Garden after they ate the fruit.
So not only does this makes Vox an extreme Armenian (sp?), but it even makes him an extreme Open Theist (Can someone tell me if Boyd thinks that God doesn’t know everything about the current state of the world?). What I don’t understand is (A) What Vox thinks is the difference between a God who can at any time know anything, and a God who knows everything. And (B) If there is a difference, why does Vox think God limits himself this way? What possible motivation could God have to do this? An even greater super duper possibility for unfettered and fully appreciated free will?
On Wednesday, I’ll post my response to Vox regarding his addition to our vocabulary.
Update: I am reading Greg Boyd’s ‘God of the Possible’ and it really looks to me like Pastor Boyd believes in God’s Omniscience of the Present. But perhaps he has changed his mind or I haven’t read far enough.
I honestly hope that Vox’s book is doing well (it sounds like it is), but I thought I’d bring up another section from his book that I strongly disagree with. From Chapter 15:
. . . for in considering the Contradiction of Divine Characteristics argument, we were forced to draw a distinct line between capacity and action, the confusion of which is also the root of a much more serious theological error. Interestingly, this theological error is committed by Christians as readily as atheists, perhaps even more often, as they trust in God’s plan for their lives instead of making use of their God-given intelligence and free will.
There are a variety of phrases that contain the same inherent implication about a certain view of God. Many evangelical Christians refer to “God’s perfect plan” for their lives. This concept is reinforced with children’s songs such as “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” . . .
These various evangelicals have an unexpected ally in Sam Harris, who declares it to be an obvious truth that “if God exists, he is the most prolific abortionist of all” due to the fact that 20 percent of all known pregnancies miscarry, and then asserts that those who believe in God should be obliged to present evidence for his existence in light of “the relentless destruction of innocent human beings that we witness in the world each day.”
What the evangelical and the atheist have in common here is a belief that because God is omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate, he is somehow responsible for these events, although Harris would qualify that with the necessary “if he exists.” And in fairness, it must be pointed out that when Harris cites Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Asian tsunami as God’s failure to protect humanity, he is really doing rather better than the “perfect plan” evangelical who would assert that these tragedies were sent by God for some ineffable higher purpose intended to benefit humanity.
This belief in an all-acting God, who not only guides the grand course of events but actually micromanages them, is the result of the same confusion between capacity and action that we saw in the Contradiction of Divine Characteristics. . .
(I borrow from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology)
From Job 37
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
From Psalm 135
6 Whatever the LORD pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
The always-trustworthy Elihu and the psalmist also have this “confusion between capacity and action” because they do not say that God can cause lightning and wind, but that it is he who does it. It’s too bad Vox wasn’t there to point out their error as they were speaking/writing these things.
Leaving sarcasm behind, I will note that these passages do not state outright that God is acting perfectly when he chooses for a hurricane to happen, but I think it wise to assume that it is perfect. If Vox disagrees, he can take it up with God when he meets him.
Indubitably, Vox (and others) will think I’m reading these passages wrong (as is typically done by
everyone who disagrees with him only all omniderigists) and that there are other ways of reading it. I’m all ears.
And I issue another challenge: show me a omniderigist who doesn’t “make use of their God-given intelligence and free will.”
One more thing: I think Bnonn has a point:
I’m not sure why Vox feels the need to invent confusing new words when existing ones have sufficed for centuries. What is wrong with exhaustive determination, or just plain old determinism?
. . . And My Response to them.
It has been suggested (By Bethyada– and may I just suggest that for a really complex discussion on this issue that uses lots of fancy words, you should go to the debate that took place right here on this blog by Starwind and Bethyada) that I continue without Vox in my discussions. I have hesitated to do this, because I really would like to know where Vox is coming from before I continue, but perhaps this is a wise idea nevertheless. Vox was “grateful” in early December and lately he has busy (reasonably so) Irrational Atheisting, so who knows when he’s going to get back to this.
It has also be suggested (by Vox) that Omniderigests make a habit of taking a passage and wrongly say that their way of reading it (God is in detailed control of the World) it is the only way, when there are in fact many ways of reading it.
Very Well –
I just started reading Second Thessalonians and I came across this passage in chapter 2 (starting at 11.)
Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Now I, as a compatibleist, take this to mean that God causes Non Believers to not believe the truth (by sending them a lie) but that they are also responsible for their non-belief. So in this passage we have Free Will and God Causing Sin. A very compatibleist couple of verses.
How do you God is Not In Detailed Control Folks read this passage? I know you have a different way – what is it?
To those of you who say that Calvinists, Omniderigists, Sovereignty of God types deny free will. . . .
Bring it. Show me an example of this. And don’t just say “Well, you should talk to my hyper-Calvinist uncle.” – I would like to see an actual quote.
Here’s the problem – sometimes when people say something that sounds like they are rejecting free will, they are rejecting the idea that a human can do something outside the will of God. I, in fact, reject the idea that a human can do something outside the will of God. But I strongly believe that humans have free will – as in they make their own choices. I’m also pretty sure that all of my sort do as well.
So this is what I want: a quote from someone (that we can see – like on the internet, or a typed out quote from a book) where a Christian rejects that’s people have free will.
I warn you – this is a sad, cringe-inducing story.
Back a few years ago I was working on our house to get it ready for us to sell it. I was finishing up the basement bedroom. Here’s what I put in Erik’s Journal (he’s our youngest):
I was working on the closet door and Carl (then 6) and Erik (only twenty months old) were alternately watching me and playing with toys and I had just started to saw a quarter inch off the bottom of the door when Erik, who I assumed (unwisely, wrongly, foolishly) would know not to put his hand where I was sawing, did so. He recoiled and I could tell immediately that it was bad: the end of his left pinky was not fully attached. He was very upset and I carried him upstairs, quite upset myself. Debbie called 911 while I held him and he kept crying. So the ambulance came and I held him while we rode in it to Hennepin County Medical Center in Downtown Minneapolis. This was at about 2:30. He was pretty calm from the start of the ride for the rest of the time, thankfully. We had some hope that they would be able to save the end of his finger (in between the second and third knuckle) but this was not to be, which grieved us. The bone had been cut clear though . . .
So now if you look at his hand, it has a clearly shortened pinky with a scar on the tip. I grieved much that week, with no small amount of guilt at my foolishness.
There are some touches that God painted into the story that are more cheerful. A week later I still needed to finish the job and while I was doing it, I asked Debbie to bring Erik down to watch me. He showed no signs of fear or apprehension. So it appears that I didn’t scar him psychologically, at least.
And of course, since then I have been more careful.
These days, he will proudly show you his slightly different hand if you ask. A badge of courage of a different kind.
And when our family doctor (whose religious viewpoint we didn’t, and still don’t, know) looked at it a few days later to see if it was healing well, he looked my wife in the eye and said “This was God’s will.” Wow.
Towards the end of that day one of our older kids asked if it was going to be the worst day of that year. I told them that I hoped it would be and I am relieved and thankful to report that it was.
And I pray it is my worst day as a father. Ever.
Well, I just put in my order to try to improve the surge – now’s as good a time as any to put in my review.
The Irrational Atheist – By Vox Day
A Review By Jamsco
First, a disclaimer: I am biased to like this book. Again, here is a book that is Christian in paradigm and written by a friend of mine. In addition, this book is unique among all books in the work in that it has my name in it, sort of. You can see the word ‘Jamsco’ on page vii. Hey, that’s me!
I must admit it was a kick to go through these chapters, chapters from a real live book that was going to be published, and try to find flaws and problems. It was a bigger kick to be thanked for it in print.
Second, a quick Summary: In this book, Vox takes on 3 (or 5 depending on how you count it) noted atheist authors and attempts to show that they are wrong. He also tackles many of the common arguments that atheists (and agnostics) use against religion in general and Christianity specifically, such as the Inquisition, the crusades, Hitler, faith verses science, etc. And he does all of this on their terms, i.e. (mostly) without Bible verses.
Third – The Rating – 8.5 out of 10
Fourth, the actual review:
I must say I’m a bit torn on this one. But the tear doesn’t go down the middle of the page; the Good piece is bigger than the Bad. And the Bad I think will come as no surprise to Vox and regular Puppet or Vox readers. So let’s start with the Bad and get it over with, shall we?
They are three.
1. As I have been involved in creative endeavors of late, I am learning something that perhaps most artists/authors/developers already know – Art requires sacrifice. Except for the extremely talented, artists need to choose one good over another in their creative process. So for example, a painter who wants to go for a more impressionistic piece sacrifices realism. A movie director who is going for a stark feel will hesitate to show the beauty inherent in their subject matter. A poet will choose a rhyming word over the word that makes more coherent sense. This is the way it must be. You can’t do everything. I understand this.
Okay, here goes: I disagree with a significant sacrifice that Vox made while writing this book – In some sections, he chose style and tone and sacrificed showing a Christ-like attitude. To be fair, this choice doesn’t show itself that often, but where they are apparent, it is pretty significant. This is unfortunate and I think it might hurt his overall goal.
The most notable example of this is the very first sentence of the first paragraph in chapter one. I will not give it away here, but it expresses a disinterest in the reader’s final destination and (by implication) their relationship with God. Let me be clear – It is an excellent way to start his book. It makes a reader want to read more. But I think it is un-Biblical.
There are other notable places where he is somewhat course (read: not rated G or PG) but to his credit, more than once it is clear that he has chosen the more discreet way of putting things. But it is the first paragraph that really bugs me.
I think it possible that Vox will say that he sacrificed nothing – This is how he really is and he is not ashamed of it. To that I would respond that he needs to read more of Jesus and Paul. I am at his disposal to give him passage suggestions, should he so need.
2. Of course, I can’t write a review of this book without at least mentioning our differing theology. You might be surprised, however, that my principle theological difference with him (omniderigence vs. open theism) is only brought up twice. One is a short paragraph which really only troubles me because he appears to seemingly be suggesting that all Christians agree with him. Of course, this is verifiably false. Applying Occam’s here would point to the implication that he wants his reader to believe that all agree with him on this issue.
Where he really moves into this subject is Chapter 15 (Master Of Puppets Or Game Designer?). He posted a significant part of this as his lead-in to our online debate (which you can see here). The topic is largely brought up as a response to an extremely lame “logical contradiction” posited by Dawkins. All Vox needs to do here is to create a way to consider God which defeats this contradiction. He does this successfully. His book, his theology – that’s the way it goes.
3. Dates on the helpful chart about the crusades would have made it more helpful.
Two Neutral Statements about the book.
1. Having read this book, I fear that he has presented responses to the most poorly reasoned passages in the atheists’ books and disregarded those sections that were more logically sound. But since I haven’t read any of the targeted authors’ work, I can’t say.
2. Beware – some (okay notably one) of the chapters are thick with tricky vocabulary, intricate history, and difficult concepts. I found it helpful, at the end of harder chapters, to write out what I thought was the main theme. I recommend this. And if, having read it, you are thinking about making a suggestion to the author regarding this: ix-nay on the umbdown-day.
Okay, that took a bit longer that I thought it would. On to the positive:
1. This book succeeds in making his targeted authors look like fools.
2. This book has no short supply of wit and cleverness.
3. Vox managed to find extremely helpful studies and data which prove his point and made me think: How did he conjure that up? That was exactly what he needed to disprove the atheist line of thought on this subject.
4. I learned a fair amount of history by reading this book, and the next time the Crusades or the Inquisition are brought up, I’ll know what to show them.
5. Vox is willing to admit dark things about Christians in the past.
6. This book succeeds in making the idea of an Atheist-run government seem dangerous.
7. Who knew that Schwinn, the bicycle company, was so evil?
8. This book succeeds in showing that religions aren’t the source of all wars, or even the majority of them.
9. I like how he groups the various atheist types. (High Atheists, Low Atheists, etc.)
10. I also appreciated his nomenclature for the three ways of looking at Science.
11. This book is effective in defending religion, specifically Christianity.
12. If there is any fairness in the world, this book will add to the American lexicon.
13. Did I mention that it has a great hook for a first sentence?
14. This book has at least two Python references. One is hidden – can you find it?
15. Extremely astute Responsible Puppet readers will find four words written by me. Hint: It’s a footnote.
16. The last chapter is sweet, short and poignant. It is also more biblical in attitude than the first.
It is my prayer, hope and expectation that this book will serve to make atheism less tenable in many minds. I further expect and pray that this book will then push many readers closer to the true God and His Son, make Their existence (and love) look more plausible, and thus glorify Them. This is the most important goal any book can have.