Reason as the Metaphysical Foundation of Job’s Lament

(Note:  If you haven’t read Job before, or its been a while, going back and reading or re-reading it again is a good idea prior to reading this post.)

“Oh, that I knew where I might find Him; that I might come to His seat! I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments.  I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say to me.  Would He contend with me in His great power?  No! But He would take note of me.  There the upright could reason with Him, and I would be delivered forever from my Judge.” – Job

Before I move on to the predestination/free-will contradiction, which I intend to unravel shortly, I would like to give a biblical illustration of the use of reason (the “reference ability”, as I term it, or soul) in understanding the Creator and how He relates to man.  I say illustration, not proof, for two reasons.  The first is that it is not the intention of this blog to be a Bible study.  On the contrary, I intend to prove my theological premises via my innate sense of reason, rooted in logical metaphysics.  I will use the Bible to iterate or reiterate, or to provide an example of the metaphysical premise I am defining and defending for the purposes of enlightening myself and readers to how this premise may look when practically applied via our religion and our faith (which is based, again, on reason, as I have explained somewhat (but will do so more later) in a previous post).  But I do not desire use the Bible as proof of my philosophy; for to do this would constitute an obviously circular argument and, further, would move me into the direction of my Calvinist friends, and others, where the assumption is that the Bible doesn’t have to be particularly logical, or metaphysically consistent, or non-contradictory, because it’s either too lofty (ironically) to be judged as needing to conform to the logic of reality, or because it is too spiritual, and thus, stands in stark contrast by definition to logic or reality…thus, it is granted something akin to massive artistic license under the guise of “inerrancy”.  Note that the logical conclusion of both of these arguments leads to the same place:  the bible doesn’t NEED anyone to illustrate or to organize a logical metaphysical premise for its truths because it is the Bible; the Bible can be used to prove itself.  Even attempting such a feat is, in some circles, is an exercise in rank heresy.  Obviously, I completely disagree.  This is the kind of “logic” that drives people from the religion, no to it.  But that never seems to deter the more fundamentalist members of our religion from  from appealing to “infallibility” in defense of their own particular interpretations, and when responding to metaphysical (or logical, or theological) disagreements. “The Bible said it; I believe it; that’s the end of it”, is the sum of many people”s philosophical concern in regards to their Christian beliefs.  While I can respect that this is a comfortable and uncomplicated view to hold, it is decidedly not the point of this blog.

Now, to reiterate, I define reason essentially as you will find it explained in Wikipedia.  In summary, it is that faculty of man by which abstract, conceptual truth can be known, and the outcomes of its contextual applications can be apprehended by the senses, that the mind may (also by the r-ability) grasp this truth (or, one might call it, in metaphysical terms: law, e.g. natural laws, mathematical laws, consistent cause and effect interactions laws, etc.) so that it may be understood to indeed be true (though, not necessarily permanent…for a “law” as apprehended by man’s reason does not need to conform to the idea of perpetuity; man’s reason allows him to continually see relationship between cause and effect outcome, and declare that cause and effect rational, even if it isn’t constant, meaning, perpetual. (For example, you dislike the Red Sox, but you are at a game in Fenway Park and so decide to root for them anyway just this once, because your very best friend, with you, is a fan).  The fundamental aspect of man’s reason is its ability to see the relationship as being a truth, or law, regardless of how permanent that relationship may be.)  Thus you could argue that reason itself is the utter TRUTH (and I do argue it) that is the reference for all the other truths, no matter how small, large, short or long term, temporal or eternal.  And these truths of course, are stacked, and parsed by the same reason, so that rooting for a team you dislike is a reasonable exception to another axiom, which is referenced by another, rooted in another, and so on and so forth.

In this post what I will submit is this:  that Job’s appeal to God’s mercy and his friends’ understanding and sympathy is an appeal to reason.  Job is a book about a man struggling with the metaphysics and rationale of what he is enduring, according to the truths he fully knows and comprehends.  Note how in his soliloquies there is never a hint of the idea that he could be misunderstanding that which he knows must be true about himself and God.  He is fully convinced in his own mind that he has full grasp and awareness of the rational, cause and effect metaphysics of the truths of his relationship with God; and of God.  This, of course, flies in the very face of Calvinist theology, where man can never presume upon his understanding of anything about God.  No, Job never questions his own epistemology.  He knows what he knows and fully believes that he does, indeed, know it.

Understanding of how he knows what he knows and the truth of what he knows is never something he calls into question (take note, his friends DO…which, in light of my fifteen years as a devoted Calvinist fully immersed in the doctrines of total depravity and inability of man, I find extremely enlightening and interesting).  His knowledge of God and his metaphysical and rational understanding of God and His goodness–according to his well-understood concepts of right and wrong, just and unjust, etc.–is something Job simply presumes.  Now, though I would argue that his friends do not consistently presume this (at least once Job is forced to explain that he knows exactly what they know, and believes what they believe about God and that they are not “better than [him]”), it does seem as though, in the course of the discussions, all the parties involved at least have a general understanding that they are proceeding from agreed upon standards of truth, and that the focus of the debates  is the interpretation of the unfortunate events which have constituted Job’s demise, and not on defining exactly how they know who and what God is.

Thus, as far as Job, the man, is concerned, the book is purely about an individual who is judging God and what he sees by appealing to the truth of metaphysical rationality.  So, what I am saying is that man’s reason forms the singular basis for his fundamental understanding of how he relates to his Creator.  It is why man can even know Him in the first place.  It is reason that allows man to even grasp the concept of a Creator in the first place.  Reason itself, in the form of the the soul, precedes even God in man’s consciousness.  I’m not making a quantitative statement on degree of importance, I am simply pointing out the fact that reason is itself the very beginning of man and everything he understands.  This being the case, we begin to understand just why and how Job was so utterly tortured in his mind; why he writhed in as much exasperation as he did in pain.  Why he longed that the day he was born had never been.   Because, I submit, if God no longer fits into man’s reason…if the Creator of all and all truth removes himself from the framework and structure of man’s reference ability, then all men are by definition functionally insane.  There can be no point to their existence because there can be no point to ANYTHING at all, including God, because, without reason, or rather, in the case of irrelevant reason (meaning God functions outside of rational metaphysics/understanding) life, by definition, as a function of the divine work of the Creator, becomes not only irrelevant, but in a way, a literal living hell.  And I believe that this formed a significant part of Job’s torment.  He could not psychologically cope with the idea that God could decide to remove Himself from rational understanding according to logical metaphysics and the ability to recognize truth/laws in the form of abstract, conceptual truths; could remove Himself from His own laws which Job could, by virtue of reason, know and depend on consistently.  With that gone, Job realized that his life could mean nothing; and he lamented his birth.

In the book, Job fully acknowledges two things:

1. That God is always supreme; what He wills comes to pass, regardless of what may be a moral or rational truth; what may be metaphysically or pragmatically reasonable.  As the Creator, Job recognizes and concedes that this is entirely God’s prerogative; and He is just and good for doing whatever He does because He is God.  Job recognizes that the supreme truth of God being the Creator of everything means that God is always good, even outside man’s understanding, reason, or moral assumptions. (I hesitate to say “truths” here, and prefer assumptions, even though this word may not be completely appropriate…one must be careful; the point is that God can do anything He wants, and He is still just and good, because God’s justice and goodness is a function of Himself, not on laws or ethics that are applicable for man’s created context.  I trust we can leave it there and say safely that the point has been made.)

2. God is not acting towards Job in a way that is consistent with God’s metaphysical truth; and by this I mean that God is acting in a way that could not possibly be true, because, by God acting contrary to metaphysical reason which Job understands must be true for God to be God, then God cannot BE God.  That is BE all powerful and all supreme and all perfect.  For the nature and truth of God demands that He act according to the metaphysical truths that make His existence possible.   Being perfect means that perfection must be a truth that man can acknowledge, and it must have meaning, and thus, God cannot defy that meaning and still be God.

You may see a contradiction between these two points, and you see correctly.  They are both true, but on the other hand, this is of course impossible.  It is truly a contradiction that no logic or understanding of man can rectify.  And if you see this, you are astute, and you begin to understand Job’s psychological torment.  Both ARE true, and yet, this cannot make any sense but that man is born to be functionally insane; to exist in a world where reality is a dream, and the surreality of dreams passes for reality.  Where there can be no distinction between up and down because even though they may be “true”, they are meaningless, and cannot, then, be trusted.

This is the heart of Job’s misery, I believe.  Worse than even the physical torment and the loss of his family.  When we have reason by which we can grasp the eternal truth of God, everything has a perspective.  We understand that the anchor of the universe is comprehended, and thus, even in the midst of great tragedy, we can find order and sense and comfort.  When God removes Himself from our ability to reason, our reference ability, then the physical gives way to the addition of emotional torment, followed inevitably by madness.  All life is twisted, and in Job’s case, an enigma of a nightmare with no code to break into the light of the understanding of it.  A maze of horror with only one dead end after another.  Put this way, we can understand better his long, and sometimes scarcely coherent, anguished monologues.

Job is constantly making pleas for God to be who He is.  That is, to judge Job according to what He Himself is rationally culpable; to the abstract truths to which He, by virtue of being God, must obligate Himself in order to be, in fact, God.  In order for God to be God, He MUST respect the rational truths which man has grasped by his innate and God-given reason.  Without God adhering to this reason, man’s existence is pointless, and God becomes the Creator of the redundant.  And as such, He makes Himself a hypocrite.  Job cannot suffer this thought, and so cries of anguish and pleas to God for justice are all that is left for him to do.  Job begs to be treated in a manner in keeping with the GOOD he understands, by his reason, which he doggedly adheres to, and insists that he has done, in accordance with God’s commands and God’s rational and metaphysical truth.

We see ultimately that, at the end, Job does not forsake God.  But I think the reason isn’t what one may at first suppose.  Upon first glance, and superficial introspection, we assume that Job’s trust in God is merely a conceding of the supremacy of God to do whatever He wants to do because, of course, it is a prerogative of His omnipotent “office”.  But I do not think it is this at all.  Instead, I believe that Job makes a conscious decision that he will trust God according to, not in spite of, what he (Job) understands to be metaphysically reasonable in regards to God.  He will trust that in order for God to actually be God, and to be all the omni-plus things that are inherent to God, God MUST act according to Job’s rational and real metaphysical understanding of God’s truth, and that, this being the case, there MUST be an explanation for his predicament that fits this proper understanding of God, even though it seems as though God is not keeping to His own metaphysical obligations.  That is, again, those things which MUST be true in order for God to be who He is.

Job recognizes that the only solution to his misery–the only shred of rational understanding to bring comfort–is to trust that God is not, in fact, a hypocrite.  That what is happening must somehow be a function of God’s rational truth, not in spit of it or in opposition to it.  Job will not forsake God based on THIS, and not on anything else.  And this premise has two aspects to it.

The first is that God cannot be God if He is not metaphysically consistent, thus, forsaking God would be a moot and irrelevant move on his part.  God can have no power or bearing upon Job’s temporal or eternal future, and so forsaking him is a less viable option than attempting to reason with Him.  It is nonsense on top of misery.  And the second is that forsaking God would be, for Job, an act of acquiescing to the very thing he is refusing to accept: that God can act unjustly, contrary to what he knows to be reasonably true based on his correct understanding of who God is, in light of the righteousness he (Job) has done.

The moral (or, perhaps, one of the morals, I should say…though, it may indeed possibly be THE moral) of the story of Job is that when faith in God means directly rejecting what we know to be real, based on the the inherent reason we have been given, innately, by God–that is, on what we understand of reality–then what we really are doing is rejecting that very same faith.  Outside of reason, then, there can be no faith.  Without reason, there is nothing by which we can ever trust God.  God’s very existence becomes irrelevant to man; and therefore, God cannot, in fact, be God.

Faith no longer has any foundation by which it can be reasonable.  And if it isn’t reasonable, then there can be no expectation of consequences of that faith whatsoever.  There can be no trust that anything is true at all, including God.  If the Creator removes Himself from how man conceptually organizes his world and his ideas so that constant, knowable outcomes can be integrated, then man’s very existence, and ALL the laws which man grasps by his reason become utterly pointless.  And if they are pointless, then they are laws without meaning.  And laws without meaning are ultimately truths that do not serve.  And a truth that does not serve is not a truth at all.  A truth that cannot be trusted to effect any outcome of any significance is not really “true”.  This is because a truth or law is designed to help man organize his world.  If his Creator has pulled Himself away from the truth that organizes creation, how are the truths any longer true? The original intent of any law or truth is eliminated at its source: the Creator.  The purpose for creation itself is gone, thus, all truths cease to be true, because creation cannot functionally exist.

So faith itself, absent an anchor of reason, which to me IS the soul, becomes a capricious, purposeless idea.  The Creator has removed Himself from being a rational object of faith.  Thus, faith is dead.  And this is what Job refuses to concede.  And the irony is that when we trust in God’s metaphysical TRUTH and refuse to surrender it to appeals for irrational “faith” based on our submission to blindness and inherent ignorance or madness (such as proffered by Job’s “friends”), we are able to exhibit real, effective, and rational faith.  Faith in God truly becomes faith that God is who He is, and does what He does for the benefit of Himself and man, based on conceptual truths that are factual and real and that man can grasp because in order for God to be God and Creation to be what it is–which is, essentially, to exist–these abstract rational truths/laws MUST be true and man MUST have innate ability to access them.  In this way, we can trust that He will never stop being perfect.  In other words, we can trust that He will never stop being God.  And because He is God, He will never violate man’s reason.  For a violation of man’s reason is a violation of Himself.

And this is why Job would not reject God.

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10 thoughts on “Reason as the Metaphysical Foundation of Job’s Lament

  1. “His knowledge of God and his metaphysical and rational understanding of God and His goodness–according to his well-understood concepts of right and wrong, just and unjust, etc.–is something Job simply presumes.”

    I had never thought about it this way. This is an excellent article. So much to think about. but I will tell you the whole time I was reading it I was thinking of Luther and what he said about “reason”. It is any wonder Christianity is a mess? The influence of the Reformation is deeper than just Reformed. I see this same thinking in non Reformed groups, too. As if ‘reason” is something to avoid. It really has produced a lot of problems and irresponsibilty.

  2. Hi Lydia,
    Thanks for reading it. I am glad you appreciated it. While I was reading Job recently, it just sort of struck me: “Who sounds like the Calvinists in this book?” The answer–and I’m not meaning to be funny or facetious, led to this post. I was astounded, in light of my fifteen years of pure reformed theology, at how confident Job could be about his righteousness. And moreover, that he was actually RIGHT! He could DO GOOD and KNOW IT. It seemed so contrary to almost everything I understand about TULIP; I just had to write about it.

    Now, I understand that at the end Job gets a rebuke for his lack of faith and for his daring to question God. But, notice how God never corrects him on his facts, merely his petulance in the face of his plight. Namely, his insolence in daring to lord his righteousness over God. But, again, God never declares Job “unrighteous”. This amazed me.

    I really, really appreciate you wading through this Lydia. I understand this kind of writing has a limited appeal; it is very tedious. We are parsing some very thin metaphysical lines of thought here, and pulling away layers and layers of theology to get to the root, metaphysical premise of a theology that is as comprehensive, misunderstood, and multifaceted as Calvinism (five point, three point, dysfunctional Calvinists (those that chose to ignore the foundational contradictions and simply wade in the shallow waters of the doctrine “Well, no…my my pastor says we need to evangelize; he says it’s important.” (yeah…I know, they all saaaaaay that; but what does the doctrine really conclude??)) is very intense and nerve wracking, both for the writer and the reader.

    At the end of the day, I just can’t get around it. I can’t put my reason aside. It is the burden we must bear. LOL!

    Thanks for being one of the stalwarts!

  3. Hey, I had to get over being thought reprobate if I dared to think I was not totally depraved. Then it has taken years to actually say it out loud. I have a friend who has questioned this for years and done some extensive writing about it. I havea come to one conclusion….it is all an excuse to sin. To not think. That is all it is.

    The seekers have their cheap grace with free will. The Reformed have total depravity and inability with limited atonement coupled with a Sovereign God which means it was all foreordained. Both are nothing but excuses to sin and redefine what is sin.

    You have actually given me the urge to read Job again and that is saying a lot! BTW: One debate I have had with theYRR when they trot out Romans 3 quoting the Psalms that NONE is righteous is that I counter with Job. If there is NONE righteous– what about Job? If no one seeks God, then what about Cornelius?

    No we cannot put our “reason” aside. Even though, according to Luther, reason is a “damned whore”. It is one thing I kept thinking of during my mega days which has some of the same problems but with original sin but using cheap grace. If we cannot chose between right and wrong then what is the point of it all? Jesus died so we could sin more? So much of religion has become “check your brains at the door” that I cannot stand it.

    I want to learn more about Gen 3 and how “now, like God, they know good and evil”. Have you given much thought to that one?

  4. Hi Lydia,

    Excellent post. You are very right about the whole “check your brain at the door” mentality. The irony is that Calvinism appeals to smart people. Many of my friends in SGM are quite bright and successful. How they can apply rational thought to their jobs, for example, and yet completely throw up their hands in the face of theological nonsense is a mystery to me…except to say, I did it too; and my excuse was that I just didn’t think about it too deeply. I think on a superficial level, Calvinism has done such a good job of creating such HIGH face value, that people just assume the theological fundamentals must be just as sensible. I guess what I’m trying to say is that people can readily grasp the inconsistencies and the non-logic when they are faced with it; the problem is that they rarely are; and thinking about it for themselves is not something that really appeals or occurs to them. Occasionally, something will explode, like Brent’s wikileaks bag of flaming poop thrown at the figurative door, and a few people will step back and take pause and take a gander at the doctrinal premises. But even then, it is rare that people actually challenge the presumptions. Look at the anti SGM blogs…practically NO ONE is questioning the doctrine. And I mean NO ONE. Why?! Well…seems to me that they are still listening to their pastoral “authority”. One of the first things Detwilier did when he hypocritically attacked his spiritual superior is categorically deny doctrine had ANYTHING to do with the rank abuse and corruption of the SGM leadership (because if he concedes doctrine is at fault, he knows he then becomes culpable for the very corruption he is railing against; so for Brent, it literally CANNOT be the doctrine, or he’s never pastoring again). So…a pastor said it, he’s the authority (even subconsciously), and so, , viola! Guess what? It’s not the doctrine. Because the Calvinist says so. The SGM churches leaving…well, THEIR pastors say or imply that they are being doctrinally consistent, so, voila!! And guess what? It isn’t the doctrine…again, because the (twice hypocritical!) Calvinists say it isn’t. Those who have EVERYTHING to lose by declaring it’s not the doctrine are the ones who are believed. The surreality just keeps going and going. It’s still the same old story. There is only a problem if the Calvinist PASTOR says it’s a problem. If they say it’s not the doctrine, then it’s not the doctrine, despite aaaaaaaaalllll of the in-your-face evidence that proves it IS the doctrine.

    Whatever. That’s why I started this blog. I got so fed up with being told “don’t debate doctrine here…there’s more pressing matters to attend to”. So, I’ll debate doctrine on this blog, even if it’s just me and a few others. It doesn’t matter where doctrine is discussed…it must be discussed. DOCTRINE is what must be dismantled, everything else is just a symptom. That’s a fact. Mark my words, in SGM, nothing will change. In the churches leaving, it will be even worse than it was before they left. Unless they renounce the doctrine, they are twice hypocrites and they WILL be twice as corrupt. If you are sill in SGM and you want to keep your doctrine, my advice is to go to an SGM church that is still in SGM. You’ll be better off.

    In terms of Genesis 3…yes, I have thought a lot about that. It seems to me that the problem arises when Adam and Eve know “Good and Evil”, as you mentioned. I wrote about this in my large essay (of which I’m posting bits and pieces here on this blog). I won’t go into too much detail because I’ll make the whole subject a post eventually once I get through the election/free will bit, but for me, it has to do with the fact that, once they were aware that there was in fact GOOD and EVIL and that that “law” comprised the moral nature of their existence, then good and evil became FUNCTIONALLY real to them…that is, from that point on, they were no longer judged by their innocence of the law, but by their obligation to it. They lost the moral “neutrality” of NOT knowing good and evil…and it is that kind of morality, the mere GOOD in the absence of any EVIL that is God’s standard because it is what defines HIS moral existence. So, even if Adam and Eve were to do GOOD, it is only good insofar as the EVIL they understand via the moral law gives GOOD its goodness (its contextual meaning). So, as judged by the law, there is always good AND evil implicated in everything they do. Again, even if they were to do only good, that good is not morally neutral, it is only good insofar as it is given meaning via to the existence of evil…doing what you are supposed to do is DEFINED by what you are NOT supposed to do…they are inexorable, and vice versa. Thus, the sacrifice of Christ restores man to his position of moral neutrality…or innocence. Which is the morality of God: GOOD only, absent ANY reference of EVIL.

  5. Zack.

    Ok… I read through the article on Job. I think you have placed your finger square on the whole of the human condition. The central issue of Job’s despair (read disintegration) is the disconnect between his ethical knowledge and the corresponding failure of reality to reflect his specific presumptions. Curiously Job’s friends approach existence from a distinctly Platonist/Shamanistic world view: that Job is epistemologically inferior, and morally incompetent (Plato)…. ergo there must be something wrong with his life and therefore the correct recipient of divine wrath. (Shamanistic) It is always the whimsical gods that must be appeased. It is always Man who is metaphysically impotent to affect his own life.

    Despair is merely the emotional reaction to metaphysical impotence. IN other words, despair is the correct emotional expression to the philosophical disconnect.

    The interesting part of Job is that for the first time a people (the pre-Israelite people who penned this story) wrestled with the concept of evil. Other cultures did not have this struggle because no one questioned the whims of the gods. In other words there was never a RATIONAL plumb line of GOOD. The only way that Job has a disconnect is to presume the nature of GOOD and then see a disconnect between that definition and reality.

    The Shamanistic world view (I.E. the Polytheistic world view) destroyed any concept of THE GOOD because the gods were capricious. Job, being one of the earliest books written by man, was one of the first to take on the central failures of the Polytheistic world view: the absence of values because man could never know the will of the gods … or said another way… man’s only connection to reality is the shadow on the cave’s wall (Plato). The resolution of Job–God’s deal with the devil–is actually not nearly as relevant as the very central fight that Job has. The very question of Moral value and the plumb line of reason.

    I applaud your observations. Outstanding. Keep thinking. Keep writing. you are bringing great insights to a very important philosophical conversation.

    John Immel

  6. Zack.

    Ok… I read through the article on Job. I think you have placed your finger square on the whole of the human condition. The central issue of Job’s despair (read disintegration) is the disconnect between his ethical knowledge and the corresponding failure of reality to reflect his specific presumptions. Curiously Job’s friends approach existence from a distinctly Platonist/Shamanistic world view: that Job is epistemologically inferior, and morally incompetent (Plato)…. ergo there must be something wrong with his life and therefore the correct recipient of divine wrath. (Shamanistic) It is always the whimsical gods that must be appeased. It is always Man who is metaphysically impotent to affect his own life.

    Despair is merely the emotional reaction to metaphysical impotence. In other words, despair is the correct emotional expression to the philosophical disconnect.

    The interesting part of Job is that for the first time a people (the post Chaldiean people who penned this story) wrestled with the concept of evil. Other cultures did not have this struggle because no one questioned the whims of the gods. In other words there was never a RATIONAL plumb line of GOOD. The only way that Job has a problem is to presume the nature of GOOD and then see a disconnect between that definition and reality. Without these root concepts there is no Theodicy.

    The Shamanistic world view (I.E. the Polytheistic world view) destroyed any concept of THE GOOD because the gods were capricious. Job, being one of the earliest books written by man, was one of the first to take on the central failures of the Polytheistic world view: the absence of values because man could never know the will of the gods … or said another way… man’s only connection to reality is the shadow on the cave’s wall (Plato). The resolution of Job–God’s deal with the devil–is actually not nearly as relevant as the very central fight that Job has. the very question of Moral value and the plumb line of reason.

    I applaud your observations. Outstanding. Keep thinking. Keep writing. you are bringing great insights to a very important philosophical conversation.

    John Immel

  7. John,
    Thanks for your great comment. It certainly means a lot to me that you have commented here…you being one of my primary inspirations. The other being of course SGM and its requisite gnostics, who inspire for all the wrong reasons…and pretty much all the time. Maybe they were worth that hundred grand in tithes after all.

    I hadn’t thought much about Shamanism…that’s an excellent point. Capriciousness is certainly how one would have to describe the god of Calvinism. That and arbitrary. That’s the thing that always makes me laugh. People say that God knows why he chooses or does not chose certain people…predestination is a mystery, they say, and God has his reasons, we are just too small and and too dumb to understand. I’m like, actually, God has NO reasons at all. By your own doctrinal definition, whom God chooses MUST be completely arbitrary. If all are equally vile, then there is NOTHING that can create any sort of distinction in God’s eyes. If God’s choice is not utterly based on which side of the bed He rolled off of, or which side of His bread had butter, then all of TULIP crumbles like so much ash. The answer is, “blowin’ in the wind”…truly.

    So if God’s election and damnation are, by doctrinal definition, arbitrary…a flip of the coin; a roll of the dice, which person the dog goes to first…then what exactly does that say about His moral law? What does that say about how He defines “justice”? What does that say about the death of Christ? It says nothing, and everything. If God’s
    election is arbitrary, then EVERYTHING is arbitrary. Every law and truth and even the death of the Son has no meaning outside of whatever God’s capricious will FEELS like it means for any given moment. Now…in terms of leadership and governance, what little group of authoritarian churches that we both know and love does that remind you of?
    SGM perhaps? No structure. No formal organizational rubrics for churches. No objective authority constructs. No formal chain for grievances. No criteria for hiring, firing, or for the laughable “doctrine” of church discipline? It’s all in the AoR report.

    Like I’ve always said. It’s the doctrine. It’s always been the doctrine.

  8. Well, any action based on a value that is unknown and unknowable is by definition capricious, or arbitrary, or irrational.

    This is the central problem with Calvin’s metaphysic: Depravity coupled with Determinism places Man in a bewildering world with no tool to measure his own existence. Where then does man go to master his world? The answer: he does not. Man is tossed and blown by every wind of doctrine, because he has no means to plot a better course.

    What does this mean practically? Simple, a lot of passive people fully paranoid to take any action, utterly fettered to beggarly circumstance because what you see is what God wants. God’s will is exactly what god intends.

    If that is true, then what is justice? How can there be a moral condemnation of ANY action. By definition God intends the action and the outcome. 3 year old girls raped? Piffle. God wants it that way. Babies ripped from the womb by the millions. Why of course, that is Gods will. Why on earth resist Row v. Wade.

    What of civil liberties. The hell you say! God appoints kings and rulers. If they have the sword HE MUST want them to vanquish whomever they choose. Government for the people, by the people … whatever madness are you speaking? God shows forth his strength by first raising up Islam to judge the decadent west with Sharia Law then when it severs his purpose he will bring it low … or not.

    Argo … you are exactly right. This whole pile of evil ideology is exactly what made the AOR report a laughing stock of judgment and an ecclesiastical atrocity. It is the doctrine. One of the single most disastrous bodies of thought every perpetrated on Man was penned by John Calvin.
    It IS the doctrine.

  9. John,
    When I first noticed you refer to Calvinism as “evil” I wasn’t so sure I agreed (this was a while back). I was like, misguided–yes; destructive–certainly; but evil? Surely not…for “whomever is with not against Me is with Me”.

    Then I read Institutes, and John Edward’s treatise on Free Will; and I thought, hmm…this is kinda bad. If they are just misguided then they certainly are completely oblivious to it. That’s a LOT of time and thought and organization for merely a misguided interpretation of Scripture. There must be some other purpose…this cannot be merely the vagaries of how one interprets Scripture, versus how another interprets it; and we can all get along and sing Kumbaya…for to-may-to/to-mah-to, and all that.

    In the minds of many, sure, a cohesive theology: man is sinful, God is good, and it goes no further, because of COURSE that makes sense…it’s just sooooo simple, who could argue? But the minds that propagate and refine this stuff must surely know what they are teaching; and surely understand the pragmatic impact on humanity. How can one who actively promotes this stuff not understand the implications of man-as-fundamentally-irrational? If men are animals…well, what do farmers DO with animals? What do shepherds do with their sheep?

    Exploit? Enslave? Murder? Take by force what is the animal’s? In the name of a superior existence (I’m not suggesting this is how Christ understood the analogy of the sheep)? Of course…that’s what animals are FOR! The Farmer claims the right to OWN the animal simply because he is the farmer…there is no other reason needed, nor any other defense given (this is what the folks on SGM Survivors and Refuge really, really, need to understand. They wait with baited breath for more than lip-service to “justice”; it will NEVER come. They can wait until the cows come home, but the problem is that they don’t realize that THEY are the cows; they are already home; and the home is the slaughterhouse (the local church)).

    As with most of what you teach; after careful thought and examining the outcomes with the philosophy, it became obvious that you are right. This school of theology is as wicked as the Pharisees’. They are the ancestors of those who murdered the prophets.

  10. Ah … yes… the “misguided” theology.

    Adolescents are “misguided”

    Adults who make no effort to understand the broader world … maybe.
    But men who claim to THE only authentic understanding of Christian theology … NEVER.

    Men who have appointed themselves keepers of the gate of all right ideas can NEVER be misguided. They are saying their function in the universe is to measure good and evil ideas. … so if they are advocating an ideology … it is ON PURPOSE, which means they INTEND the outcomes.
    They cannot be leaders and victims at the same time … if evil is happening it is because they aim for the evil.

    What lets them off the hook… is because people let them off the hook. They use words of mitigation like “misguided.” Most people use the word “Mis-guided” in an expansive attempt to be broad minded, granting the benefit of the doubt that the evil taking place is NOT intentional. If the evil is accidental then… maybe it isn’t so bad … and certainly the people are not specifically evil.
    But what they have really done is give credence to something more destructive than moral relativism. They have given credence to philosophical destruction. When man refuses to render a judgment about the nature of evil at the root he has subverted Good for being Good. And this is a vitally important problem. If Good cannot be advocated, defended, and advanced without qualification evil wins by default.

    Since I contend that integrated ideas are THE motivator of human existence … the inability to identify Good and Evil ideas is the root of human depravity.

    So being magnanimous, refusing to take a stand for the GOOD, granting credit where no credit is earned … refusing to judge the content of ideas accurately is a manifestation of evil …

    Calvin was not misguided … he knew full well what he was doing.

    Theodore Beza, John Knox, Cotton Mather, John Edwards and the pantheon of historic shills are not misguided. They know what they are doing and it is on purpose… the destructive outcomes are exactly what they are after …. Because destruction is the point.

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