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Have you ever noticed that in a long comment stream, it’s sometimes difficult to read because there are so many conversations going on. There recently was a very interesting comment discussion over at Vox Populi from a blog post entitled Not So Fast that yielded quite a bit of interesting food for thought and revealed much about it’s host.
But just try wading through the 200+ comments to see what was going on.
I here provide the good parts version. I’ve weeded it down to under 30 comments, and stripped out all the referring quotations. See if you find it as interesting as I did.
Vox Day <from blog post a day earlier>
I think Jesus was the fix for a design gone haywire.
Markku <in the comments to this previous post>
1Pe 1:19-20 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.
Vox Day (in the Not So Fast Post)
Markku is under the impression that he managed to catch me making a mistake about God’s knowledge of the design imperfections of His Creation. I think I can demonstrate that this is not correct:
Markku’s interpretation is potentially correct, as it indicates that God was aware from before the beginning of the possible need to send Jesus Christ to redeem Man. The Redeemer was chosen from the start, but not revealed until later. But this does not make his interpretation necessarily correct because it is perfectly plausible that God would have understood that Man was capable of falling and had a backup plan prepared in case of such an event.
And now the comments from this post.
Jamsco 1/8/10 9:13 AM
Good job, Markku.
Vox, what do you do with
Revelation 13:8 (ESV)
8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
I read this to say that God knew before creation that some (many) would not be saved. How do you read it?
VD 1/8/10 9:29 AM
I would say that such knowledge from the time of creation is a reasonable interpretation. Perhaps even a likely one. But still not a conclusive one. Since the world is repeatedly described as evil, it’s also possible that “the foundation of the world” refers to the fall of Man, not Creation, and that the only reference to the book of life is that it is “of the Lamb”.
Jamsco 1/8/10 9:43 AM
So following this line of thought . . .
God didn’t know who was going to be saved. And then Adam sinned, man fell, and then God suddenly knew who was going to be saved?
VD 1/8/10 11:37 AM
Or decided, if you like.
Jamsco 1/8/10 9:46 AM
and following from that . . .
You’re saying that God knew right after the fall everyone in history is going to choose Jesus, but he didn’t know before the fall that Adam and Eve were going to eat the fruit?
VD: 1/8/10 9:46 AM:
I’m not saying anything of the kind. How could you possibly conclude that? And anyhow, I leave the silly statements about spiritual certainties to the Calvinists and omniderigistes.
Ben-El 1/8/10 11:47 AM
It’s rather clear to me that Jamsco meant to say, “You’re saying that God knew right after the fall everyone in history whom is going to choose Jesus.”
Jamsco 1/8/10 12:07 PM
Ben-El is correct. My apologies. Vox, would you agree with the revised statement?
VD: 1/8/10 12:27 PM:
No, I wasn’t quibbling about grammar. You should know that. You can’t seem to grasp that I am not like you. I am not claiming that anything MUST be one way or another. I am simply asserting that YOU DO NOT KNOW what God does or does not know, much less what He did or did not know despite the verses to which you are appealing.
Jamsco: 1/8/10 12:07 PM:
Vox, it wasn’t just grammar. The revision completely changed the meeting.
It’s like this. I say the verse means A.
You say, no it could mean B.
I say well then, B implies C.
You say, sure, okay, C then. (you did this at 11:37)
I say well doesn’t C imply D?
And then you go all ranty on me.
I’m just following your statements to the point where I hope you see that B can’t be the right way to read the verse. I didn’t say that you were saying that B is the right way to read the verse.
<end of this part of the thread with no response from Vox, but another interesting thread starts up and things take a different turn>
Azimus 1/8/10 10:24 AM
Precisely what language would the Bible be required to use for you to support Jamsco’s read?
VD 1/8/10 12:04 PM
That’s really not the issue. Since the verse contradicts other verses and is also in the nature of an aside, I would ignore this one in favor of the others. Jamsco, on the other hand, will tend to ignore the verses where God changes His mind, repents, and generally takes a dynamic approach. But since these are mere matters of speculation and partial understanding, not critical matters of faith, I don’t see it as particularly important which way a Christian falls on the issue.
I have never insisted that I must be correct about this. I don’t pretend to know God’s essence or even God’s will except in a few very specific matters. It’s His game and His rules, not mine. But throughout the broad theme of the Bible and history, I see no sign that everything is a scripted play. To me, it all looks much more like an experiment that has a few scripts set to run in important places.
Jamsco 1/8/10 12:12 PM
Vox, you’re making me nervous. Do you actually believe the Bible is self-contradictory?
VD 1/8/10 12:27 PM
To the best of my understanding, small parts of it are contradictory. I don’t see how you can claim that God has a perfect plan of which He repents, or that He planned to decide to destroy the Earth, then changed His mind.
This isn’t news to you. I have never said that the Bible is the flawless and perfect expression of the Word of God. Or rather, most Bibles are not because they cannot be, given the small differences between one Bible and another. As a physical expression of God’s Word, it is limited by our capacity to encompass and transmit it; anyone who is multilingual can easily see the differences between one Bible in one language and a second Bible in another. This doesn’t alter the truth of the original message in the slightest, it just means that we should not fool ourselves into thinking we can understand it in its fullness. Paul and Jesus both tell us this.
So, I’m not troubled by exegetical inconsistencies. I don’t have to pretend that the words are different than what they clearly are and appeal to allegories or anthropomorphy whenever an apparent contradiction arises. What matters is the broad thematic sweep and the clear and specific commands, not the details in the asides.
VD 1/8/10 11:52 AM
Jamsco, Genesis 6:5 quite clearly contradicts your idea that God knew every single person who would be sinful prior to Creation:
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
It is also one of the many examples of God changing His mind and deviating from His plan. He said that He would destroy man, and then He did not. Are you willing to argue that He also planned to destroy man prior to Creation? And why would it grieve Him if He planned for man to be wicked to such an extent?
Jamsco 1/8/10 12:15 PM
This is not contradictory. Here’s how to resolve it (from here –
On the second point, the language used in Genesis 6:6 is completely understandable without assuming a lack of foreknowledge on God’s part. Allow me to make an analogy. Suppose a man has a teenage son who is prone to wildness and indiscretion. This son desires a sports car. The father warns him saying, “Son you are only going to get into trouble, you will get tickets, you will probably wreck the car and injure yourself and others.” Yet the son persists, and is unrelenting in his demands for the car. Finally the son has nagged his dad for the car for an entire year and has reached the age of 17. The father, against his better judgment yet feeling the son needs to learn his own lessons in life, buys him the car. Sure enough, the young man gets tickets and eventually gets into a bad accident with multiple injuries. The father, visiting him in the hospital says, “Son, I regret that I bought you that car.”
In this case, the father’s regret does not indicate a lack of foreknowledge about what would happen. He was quite sure of what would happen, but still had reasons for buying the car for his son. In God’s case the difference is that His foreknowledge is absolute, the earthly father’s only a very strong assumption based on present knowledge. However, the point of the analogy is that expressions of regret, as human languages are commonly used, do not always imply a lack of foreknowledge. We regret many things that are very much predictable or even inevitable
VD 1/8/10 12:27 PM
Now, Jamsco, did God repent or did He not repent? Did He change His mind about destroying man or did He not change His mind?
Jamsco 1/8/10 12:48 PM
The way that you can read this (and all Calvinists and non-open theists Armenians do it this way) without contradicting the revelation passage is this –
God repented = God made it clear that he was aware that this was not the right state – despite the fact that he ordained that it would happen.
VD 1/8/10 1:10 PM
That’s not what “repent” means. I am familiar with that interpretation and it is one of the reasons that I think Calvinists are prone to weaseling around that which calls their certainties into question.
I don’t mind that people think they are puppets free of volition or if they want to construct a structure of multiple Divine wills that allows them to avoid contradictions. I’m just not willing to accept them telling me that it can be read no other way. And I find it amusing that I am perfectly willing to say, “yeah, okay, it could be that way” while the other side gets twitchy at even considering the mere possibility that everything is not the way they assume it has to be.
How do you explain the abovementioned Jeremiah 19:5? You, not the conventional explanation. What do YOU think about it? Or Jeremiah 7:31: “They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind.”
He didn’t command it. It didn’t come into His mind. And yet you insist that He planned it? That He made them do it?
<I never responded to this, so I will just say that given the context, we can read this to mean it did not come into God’s mind to command it. Not that he didn’t know it would happen. This is my answer, since I don’t know what the “conventional explanation” is. And why would Vox care about that? It’s not like he’s never gone to Boyd documentation to get some help.>
VD 1/8/10 1:16 PM
<Refering to Juel of Krypton: 1/8/10 12:39 PM – “Your example of an apparent contradiction only illustrates that you are reading Hebrew thinking using Greek thinking.”>
You are making my point for me. It’s Hebrew thinking. And Greek thinking. It’s HUMAN thinking. It is not God’s unadulterated thinking. We can’t handle it. 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.
GaretGarrett 1/8/10 1:24 PM <Apparently an Atheist>
So you would occasionally rather give up on scripture than on your ideology, eh? Good for you.
As a physical expression of God’s Word, it is limited by our capacity to encompass and transmit it; anyone who is multilingual can easily see the differences between one Bible in one language and a second Bible in another.
God would not have used revealed scripture to communicate to us precisely because of the limitations you mention.
VD 1/8/10 1:29 PM
You completely missed the point. If you choose one side or the other, then you will give up on scripture. This has nothing to do with ideology. Moreover, I am obviously not giving up on scripture for the very obvious reason that I am doing nothing more than stating that both sides are possible. If I have to choose one side, I would come down on the aprevistan side <Open Theist> as I believe it to have stronger scriptural and logical support. But I don’t have to; no one does.
The only ones giving up on scripture are those who say it absolutely must be one way or the other.
GaretGarrett 1/8/10 1:44 PM
You don’t call this “giving up on scripture”?
Whatever you call it, it’s a step in the right direction.
VD 1/8/10 1:10 PM:
I don’t think you realize the direction from whence I came…. And I tend to see being wedded to the infallibility of Scripture as an invitation to a broken faith. It’s certainly one reason why I rejected the Bible at the age of five.
VD 1/8/10 1:25 PM
<Refering to vinny: 1/8/10 1:16 PM: “The Bible makes so much more sense if you start with the assumption that is was written by superstitious and politically ambitious men before being edited, altered and translated by other men with ideological and political axes to grind.”>
Except it doesn’t because you’re quite obviously wrong. It may have been written by superstitious men, although the Pew Study recently showed that Christians are much less superstitious than those unaffiliated with any religion. But, without question, the writers were not in the least bit politically ambitious. So, not only is your atheism showing, so is your historical ignorance.
Anyhow, I found this attempt to deal with the Jeremiah verses to be amusing: “Is the Lord actually saying that He did not think of something? Even in open theism, God knows all things actual as well as potential. That means that God can know all things in the present tense as well as all possibilities of things that could exist. Certainly God who knew the past sins of Israel would have thought about them doing such sin — as horrible as it was. So, it doesn’t make sense to interpret this as God admitting that He had never thought of something.”
Pure weaselry. Because they assume God must have been able to do something, therefore He didn’t do what He said He did. It’s pathetic.
Starwind 1/8/10 3:30 PM
<Refering to VD: 1/8/10 12:27 PM: “Now, Jamsco, did God repent or did He not repent? Did He change His mind about destroying man or did He not change His mind?”>
Well, what saith scripture?
1Sa 15:29 NASB “Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”
The word underlying the English translation of “repent” is Strong’s H5162 na^cham, for which Brown Driver Briggs gives:
1d1) to be sorry, have compassion
1d2) to rue, repent of
1d3) to comfort oneself, be comforted
1d4) to ease oneself
Given that a true prophet of God, Samuel, tells us explicitly that God does not change his mind, then the old English rendering of “repenteth” is incorrect. Almost all the newer literal translations, including the NKJV for example, use “grieved” or “sorry”, consistent with 1Sa 15:29 and the other uses of the words as indicated by BDB.
There are perhaps 100 other comments after this, many of them well written and thought out. Go see them if you like. Vox comments only one other time, much further down on another subject.
In my next post, I will comment on all of this.
Update: The next post is here.