The thing I most enjoy about being involved in the effort to deconstruct abusive philosophies (like reformed theology) is using reason as a weapon. Once we have successfully debunked all the equivocations the emissaries of the neo-Reformed movement employ in the service of peddling their false ideology, we reveal it for the rank mysticism it is.
On SpirituallyTyranny I successfully backed Tom into a logical corner whereby he was forced to admit that he had no rational counter-argument (here). The only place left for him to go was A. The admission that “faith” precluded reason (I COULDN’T be right, because who the hell am I to demand that Christians actually have a BETTER explanation for their beliefs than your run-of-the-mill witch doctor?), and/or B. More equivocation…which he proceeded to do in his last comment to me. Which really pissed me off but I’m through arguing with someone who considers “truth’ a fickle target…they can never be wrong because they merely change the definition to suit their argumentative whims at any given moment. For example:
Tom: Argo, you are dead to me
Argo: Tom believes he is morally pure as a “Christian” in his hatred of me; because according to his doctrine I am sub-human. I am controlled by satan…I AM depravity incarnate.
Tom: My attitude never approached the level of hate you attribute to me.
Argo: And I quote: “Argo, you are dead to me.”
And the rest of his comment was equally as nebulous in its logic.
The reason I harp on this kind of thing–aside from the fact that it is impossibly exasperating arguing with a demagogue (it’s a waste of time) because they are irrational by definition…reason is an insufficient vehicle for truth–is because our purpose should not necessarily be to convince these true believers of their rational folly (again, won’t happen because truth is bestowed by God, never learned), but instead to prove that what they peddle isn’t the “way” or the “truth” or the “life” AT ALL. Indeed…absent any reasonable definition, these terms cannot have ANY relevant meaning to man’s life. So while Wade, for example in his above comment, attempts to use them as a form of compassionate persuasion, he can’t really define them. As such, they peddle, again, mysticism. Or the idea that all truth and all determinative power which causes all things including man’s thoughts and ways is OUTSIDE of human epistemology. Humans are, in fact, non-existent as such. And therefore, are disregarded as stumbling blocks to God’s will…and abused and exploited accordingly.
This makes Christianity “proper”, as it were, NO different than any other religion on the planet. The fact is that though I am often accused of being a universalist (which is a riot, because I submit there will be fare FEWER people saved than most Christians believe…and I can tell you that reformation teachers should be very worried about their souls; for they cannot define man or God in their doctrine, and that is NOT going to be a good thing for them on the last day), the real universalists are the the “orthodox” Christians. Because they have no reasonable argument to offer for what they believe, and as such they offer no different “way” or “truth” or “life” in their message. People can go to any one of a hundred religions and be presented with the exact same metaphysical and epistemological assumptions regarding man. These “orthodox” Christians think they are saved because they merely use different names for their gods; they use different, perhaps more cerebral, equivocations to defend their ideas; they have different semantics by which the “explain” their faith.
It isn’t a better message because “better” to them has no rational explanation. What is better about being a Christian? Well, if you concede the same metaphysical and epistemological assumptions as every other two bit shaman or Islamist terrorist shithead or atheist communist party dictator, then…well, there is nothing better about being a Christian. By definition.
That is why it behooves us to do two things: Possess a thoroughly rational explanation for our beliefs; and make human life the objective plumb line for truth.
21 thoughts on “Why Orthodox Christians are the Real Universalists (and a Few Other Brief Thoughts)”
Excellent post! Yes they are the Universalists and I am seeing that more and more every day. When people can be evil in the Name of Jesus and proud of it cos all sinning all the time, you know, and truth is what ever moving target you want it to be not sure what else it can be but Universalism.
As for poor Tom he is doing what almost all the Reformed/YRR/NC do when debating on blogs. It just gets old. Here is the typical synopsis:
He does not want heirarchy yet, someone has to be in charge of the adults
We are sinners for not openly admitting we are degenerate sinners
We are sinners for not admitting we constantly sin all the time
“He does not want heirarchy yet, someone has to be in charge of the adults”
Again with the prisoner’s dilemma. Convert before you die. Maybe enjoy life a bit first. Most Catholics are no different to many evangelicals – the evangelicals just convert earlier trying to save themselves some tribulation. Maybe I am too judgemental. Any way, I am not convinced that MAN in himself has all the answers. Is that not what you are saying Argo?
I guess I would respond by saying that whatever answers man doesn’t have are irrelevant to him; and really, if man cannot have all the answers, one MUST presume that this is due to some kind of existential limitation, which means that man is metaphysically (at the root of being) removed from these “answers”, and therefore he cannot make a rational argument for the existence of unknowable answers in the first place. They are outside of man, and thus, they have no function nor purpose in his life, and man has absolutely no frame of reference for them, which again means that they cannot exist to him. Period. Full stop.
A better way to think about is this way: Man, by his rational faculties fed by his senses and leading to the inexorable conclusion that SELF is the absolute frame of reference for ALL he observes and conceptualizes, has the only thing needed to have all the answers he will ever need: his life as the absolute standard of truth and morality.
And no…you are not too judgmental; you are absolutely right. Since according to both Catholic and Protestant doctrine man is ultimately incapable of doing any good in himself, his choices, whatever they are, are irrelevant. Which means that it doesn’t matter what he does nor when he does it. God saves man in SPITE of man’s assumptions and actions, never because of them. Which naturally makes Christ’s death useless, because how does Christ die for man’s sins when the sins, because they aren’t a function of choice, are as inexorable and interminable as man’s very being as a function of God’s creative design? That would seem highly hypocritical of the Almighty, no? To condemn his Son to die for the sins of man which He programmed into man from the beginning, on purpose? That is their fundamental message. So, yes…it makes no difference when man is “saved”, for all actions are determined…human life irrelevant. God saves according to his arbitrary elective whim, and nothing else. Period.
You aren’t judgmental enough, in my opinion. You would do well to call both protestant and Catholic doctrine rank evil.
I look forward to discussion around atonement theories.
Jason…lol, I do have those! Anything on your mind in particular?:-)
Let’s work our way up. Or should we work our way down? Penal substitution last or first?
No. Chronological/historical order. Order-order.
Maybe that means backwards as well. Anyhow, “swing away” Merrill.
Have you guys watched any of the TANC conference videos for this year over at paulspassingthoughts.com?
Watch Dr. Grissom’s talk if you get a chance. Notice how he appeals to science as the “proof” that paradox (contradiction) is a legitimate foundation for his faith. This is exactly what I mean when I say that science is almost categorically Platonist in its philosophical assumptions.
I challenged him heavily on this false logic. That scrappy voice blustering from the peanut gallery at the end…that was me.
On a side note, Dr. Grissom gave me the cold shoulder (from my point of view, anyway) for the rest of the conference.
This is likely because Christians today cannot suffer those who do not concede their mystic premises. And since they know they have no rationale worth any amount of reason with which to persuade them, they simply avoid. But I could have read the change in his demeanor pre vs post talk wrong, I suppose.
‘No. Chronological/historical order. Order-order.”
Ha! You are right. That would help us see how /when the penal theory came about.
I say Jesus came to do what Israel was supposed to do but did not. Israel was supposed to the light of the world and reflect God’s justice/mercy/love back into the pagan world. But they kept being like the pagans, instead. That is why Jesus’ humanness is so very important.
I guess that is closest to Christus Victor
Argo, I am getting through them slowly. I only saw about 15 minutes of Dr. Grissom. I was a bit surprised he was not familiar with Calvinism. And because audio was not very good I could not hear most of his objections to John’s presentation.
But like you, I am weary of “paradox”/Mystery, etc.
Here ya go, Argo. Here is “science” and the paradox.
“It has previously been suggested that our perceived ability to make autonomous choices is an illusion – and now scientists from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, have found that free will may actually be the result of electrical activity in the brain.”
Yes…I just read that yesterday. The thing that I’m incredulous over is: if this is true, how do they suppose they are able to know it? Isn’t it funny that the man whose brain is utterly determined by the forces of physical nature can cry “Eureka! I discovered that I am unable to think! To discover! To know! To have even chosen to do this experiment in the first place!”
There is no him to know, is my point. Knowledge is predicated upon awareness of self. SomeONE has to know. If man has no free mind, unfettered by determinist forces, then there is NO self.
This alone should tell you that this is all bullshit.
That and: Does the brain activity before a choice cause the choice or is the brain activity which precedes the choice an act of free consciousness? In other words, is free will a cause of the brain activity? Or does it precede it? Which comes first?
It is impossible to tell from science. It is a fundamental limitation of this kind of experiment. Science studies what is observable. And consciousness cannot be observed. It must be reasoned.
Plato’s tyranny strikes again.
Scientists are the worst fucking source for truth.
‘. The thing that I’m incredulous over is: if this is true, how do they suppose they are able to know it? ”
And I was hoping I could get a brain scan to determine if I am a Calvinist. :o)
I started reading first chapters of Genesis this evening. Hoo boy. The only character portraying free will is tge serpent. WTF?
Lol…good point. Yeah. What the fuck? Exactly.
They aren’t universalists. They are evilists. They believe the evil will be saved and the good go to hell. Make yourself totally depraved, and go to heaven! Do one good work, and go to hell.. That’s their doctrine.
“I started reading first chapters of Genesis this evening. Hoo boy. The only character portraying free will is tge serpent.”
In that’s what you think, then in typical Calvinist style you stopped before the story of Cain and Abel where God chews Cain out telling him all about how he has free will. And in typical Lutheran style, you probably read what little you read while rip-roaring drunk.