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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