Fallacy 6 Revisited (and Wrong as Ever)

Steve Hays attempts to respond to my pointing out a rather obvious fallacy in his reasoning; namely, he tries to make the case that God is being cruel if He lets a believer fall away. While his reply is little more than posturing, we’ll clear up a few misconceptions he attempts to sow.

JCT: If the Arminian view is that God didn’t want the children of Israel to fall, but the Calvinist view is that their fall was His perfect will, who then is framing God as setting them up for their demise?

Hays: …He responds by trying to create a parallel with Calvinism! How does that rebut my argument?

JCT: If the Arminian view is that God didn’t want the children of Israel to fall, but the Calvinist view is that their fall was His perfect will, who then is framing God as setting them up for their demise?

Hays: …I drew an analogy between Arminianism and what Arminians find so odious in Calvinism. He responds by trying to create a parallel with Calvinism! How does that rebut my argument?

For anyone who bothers to read, notice that I first show how charges of cruelty don’t fit the Arminian view in that God isn’t making anyone fall; Hays’ shallow rhetoric fitting his own view to a tee is just icing on the cake.

Hays attempts to save his position by putting up a few more assertions and questions. The main ideas are:

Why did God create people that He knew would fall?

This is of course a red herring. I never claimed to be able to reveal God’s purposes behind everything He does or allows; but the issue is whether God is cruel, not why He would create certain people. To claim it was a set-up‘ when speaking in terms of those who hate God doesn’t constitute much of an objection.

If God knew they would fall, He intended the outcome of destroying them.

God does intend to destroy anyone who turns from Him, that doesn’t change the fact that who specifically turns from Him hinges upon the free agents themselves, not God’s decree. Such an execution of justice therefore neither implies necessitation of their damnation by God’s decree, nor gives God pleasure in destroying them, and wouldn’t constitute cruelty for letting them have the results of their own choices.

How is is loving or merciful for God to save people only to damn them later, leaving them in a worse state than before?

and,

God isn’t acting in the apostate’s best interest.

Of course God doesn’t act in the best interests of those who turn against Him. God is often conditionally merciful. Just as He conditionally saved many among the tribes of Israel from their enemies when they followed Him, yet later condemned many of them to die in the wilderness when they rebelled, so it is with the apostate. God is more than loving and fair in giving one genuine opportunity to be saved at all, He can’t be rightly called cruel for expelling those who despise Him.

Other Oddities

A few of Hays’ other quotes are simply bizarre, and border on incoherent.

How is “allowing” evil ipso facto exculpatory? Aren’t there many situations in which allowing evil is culpable?

Not if the one who allows it isn’t under obligation to prevent it… which God isn’t….

Introducing libertarian freewill into the discussion is a diversionary tactic. For it makes no difference to my argument. I wasn’t arguing on Calvinist assumptions. I was arguing on Arminian assumptions.

If Steve is arguing from my assumptions then how is it ‘diversionary’ to cite the assumptions he’s supposedly arguing from? Then again, if the charge is that I’m ‘diverting’ people away from falling for his sloppy caricatures by my providing context, then I plead guilty.

…how does Arminianism extricate its God from the charge that he is merely toying with the lost?

If by ‘toying’ Hays is implying that God shows goodness and mercy to those who love Him, but will show wrath to those who later turn from Him,

“Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and your father’s house would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” (1 Sam 2:30)

Then all the term amounts to is a subjectively rhetorical smear against God’s mercy and justice as revealed in the Bible.

…I took Arminian assumptions for granted for the sake of argument, then constructed a morally analogous situation in Arminianism.

If one reads the ‘morally analogous situation’ Hays came up with, he’ll find that Steve excludes the idea of apostasy itself so he can paint the Almighty as ‘cruel’ for letting the traitor perish. Morally analogous indeed, except of course for the whole moral reason for destroying the apostate to begin with. Hays conveniently ignores the apostate actually turning from God and independently incurring His wrath, all so he can erroneously frame God as being like a “serial killer who orchestrates the death of his victim.”

JCT: “So who then is portraying God as orchestrating the downfall of the people He had saved?”

Hays: …Thibo is equivocating over the term “saved.” There’s a basic difference between “salvation” in the sense of delivering the Israelites from Egypt, and “salvation” in the sense of delivering somebody from a hellish fate.

Again invoking his wild imagination, Hays tries to refute imaginary meaning he’s assigned to my words (which is consistent with Hays’ methodology). I didn’t say “saved from hell.” From the context, it’s quite clear to anyone who grasps the basics of reading comprehension that I was speaking of their being physically saved from Pharaoh, which is analogous to our salvation in Christ. The case could be made however that the passage implies that many of those with whom God was ultimately displeased were in a saving covenant with Him at one point, since the scriptures cited tell us,

“They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.” (1 Cor 10:3-5)

A defended fallacy is still a fallacy

Hays will doubtless toss up more red herrings and excuses, though he’s really got nothing left to defend his fallacious reasoning with. Through all of his hem-hawing, demands to know God’s motives, contrived standards, and distractions the point still stands unmitigated: the same twisted logic he employs that would condemn God as cruel for redeeming a sinner and later cutting him off for rebellion would necessarily have to condemn God as cruel for saving many of the Israelites and later cutting them off for rebellion.

Omake

Lee Shelton IV from Contemporary Calvinist also weighs in concerning my commentary on Israel’s fall in the wilderness,

Shelton: “Of course, this completely ignores the fact that while the people of Israel did “fall away” and were disciplined, they were still God’s chosen people and the covenant made with Abraham remained intact.”

Not at all. The body of God’s chosen people does remain in covenant with Him; this, just as in the case of Israel, wouldn’t preclude specific individuals from being cut off from it.

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5 Responses

  1. A similar question has been posed to me numerous times, and I was hoping you could elp me with it. I say in discussion/debates (depends on the mood) with a Calvinist friend of mine that I find Unconditional Reprobation horrid and terrible on God’s part. He replies with the following assertion:

    “You are in the same boat as the Calvinist. For, if God foreknew who would reject Him and so perish everlastingly, why would He create them in the first place?”

    Please, this is a heard one. How would you respond to that, ArminiPerspectives??

  2. Your nemesis seems to be attempting to justify the boat he is in by trying to drag you into it. Not that he is making any effort to get out of the predicament , by the way.

  3. Brendan,

    That question is answered here among other C arguments: http://evangelicalarminians.org/bossmanham.Is-There-Trauma-in-Sovereignty.A-Response-to-James-Swan-by-Brennon-Hartshorn. The grandfather paradox argument completely answers the argument. But other lines of argument do too.

  4. Hello Brendan,

    First the determinist has no real answer on reprobation. Since they have no answer they try to shift the focus or attention on the “other side” (i.e. try to argue that others are “in the same boat”). Note even if this were true, THEY HAVE NOT DEALT WITH THE PROBLEM AT AL. Instead they have evaded it and shifted the focus to others supposedly having the same problem.

    I work with inmates and shifting the blame or claiming others do sinful things as well, really does not deal WITH THEIR OWN PROBLEM. I have to remind people of this all the time (Yes the other guy did stuff as well, but we are not talking about the other guy, we are talking about YOU).

    Also Brendan I have a question for you, regarding the determinist’s question. When he asks the question about why God would CREATE THEM in the first place, you need to carefully think about what he means by God CREATING PEOPLE. You see with the determinist who believes that God preplanned everything, decided how everything would go first, before creating the universe. In their thinking God creates us to ***be*** and ***do*** exactly what we end up being and doing.

    So in determinism, if God decided that you would be an unbeliever then HE MAKES YOU AN UNBELIEVER ACCORDING TO HIS PLAN WHERE YOU MUST BE AN UNBELIEVER (i.e. He creates you to be whatever you are). So every event is predecided and necessitated by God. In this thinking God literally creates you to be what you end up being. So when your dterministic friend is talking about God creating hell bound sinners, you have to differentiate between his determinism where God literally makes/forces people to be hell bound sinners. And the non-determinist view in which God does not make us hell bound sinners, rather, by our own repeated and continual choices over a lifetime, someone who ends up in hell has FREELY made the choice to reject God over and over for their entire lifetime. In non-determinism, where God desires for all to be saved, he provides opportunities for the person to be saved, opportunities which the person repeatedly and freely rejects.

    There is a big, big difference (though determinists refuse to acknowledge this) between God setting you up to fail, ensuring that you are hell bound (theological determinism where all events are predecided and we never have a choice: a form of entrapment where God sets you up to fail and makes sure that it happens) and God desiring for you to be saved and YOU REPEATEDLY AND FREELY AND FOR A LIFETIME REJECTING HIM. So we are **not** in the same boat.

    In their “boat” God preplans, and **ensures** that hell bound sinners go to hell, desiring for it to happen all along for all who end up in hell, and MAKING SURE THAT IT OCCURS (thus in determinism God literally creates hell bound sinners intending them for hell all along and making sure that it happens: necessitating it so that it is impossible for those chosen for hell to not end up there). In our “boat” God sincerely desires for all people to be saved (so there is no case where God intended an individual for hell before they ever existed and then made sure they were hell bound), gives them genuine opportunities to be saved, provides Jesus as an atonement for them, reveals Himself to them in multiple ways (including preaching of the gospel, the creation itself, life circumstances, the examples of believers, etc.). The Spirit reveals Christ to them, the way of salvation to them, their sinfulness to them, etc. Etc. (all of which they must reject and keep rejecting and reject for their entire lifetime).

    It should be evident that determinists and non-determinists think very differently about God’s plan of salvation, God’s desire for all to be saved (or for only the preselected lucky people to be elected: lucky because it has nothing to do with what they do, they just get lucky to be chosen, they just as easily could have been chosen for hell, the only person having a real choice in the matter would be God alone), Jesus’ as a provision of atonement for the world (or only for the preselected lucky people).

    If you went by scripture alone it would be clear that God does not create people for hell: rather he creates them with the capacity and opportunity to be in a saving and personal relationship with Him, but that relationship is not forced and may even be repeatedly rejected for a lifetime.

    Brendan I would really like to know from you, do you believe that God creates people for hell? Do you believe that God preplans everything so that we never ever have a choice, but simply make the choices that God already decided that we **must** make?

    Robert

  5. For any Calvinist to complain about someone else’s viewpoint making God seem “cruel” is so hypocritical it takes my breath away. I must be blunt. I have been reading from and dealing with Calvinists and their apologists for a long time, and I say that Calvinists are victims of what they falsely accuse Arminianism of breeding–PRIDE. They cannot admit they are wrong, and worse, they lie over and over rather than face reality. Hays’s accusation is a perfect example of a mind and heart committed to whatever in order to maintain position. I have often struggled to respect any Calvinist apologist because they all seem the same to me–arrogant liars and scheming connivers. Their doctrine always has, and always will be a breeding ground for sin.

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