Letters That Arrived Later Than Previous Ones

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Vid Angel Question

In your July 2 letters, you mentioned VidAngel as a possible solution for consuming video content that would otherwise be unwholesome. I’ve struggled a bit with the idea of VidAngel, because it seems like if it would be wrong (or at least unwise) for me to watch the content, then it’s also problematic for me to outsource the viewing to someone else so they can create the filters. Kinda seems like a Gentile version of a “Shabbos goy.” Could you comment on that concern?
Thanks,

Steve

Steve, sure, although I don’t want to assume too much about how they create the filters. This may be one of the things that AI can do without endangering its mortal soul, which it doesn’t have. But assuming a human factor, it is not necessarily corrupting to see corruption, depending on how it is approached. Phineas did not have a moral obligation to close his eyes while dealing with Zimri and Cozbi.

Assumptions About the Worst Thing

The worst place ever for anyone to be is to go through life believing that you’re saved, awaiting a welcome in paradise, only to wake up, hear the words “depart from me, I never knew you,” and come to a sudden realisation of the pure unvarnished hopelessness of the reality: you weren’t really saved, and starting now you will be tormented in hell for eternity. It’s less terrible for those who went through life in wilful suppression or hatred of the truth. But how devastating it must be for those who thought they were born again but were not. Even in this life, Scripture says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Multiply that by eternity, and you still don’t come close to what it is like for those who see the Creator of the universe, the one whom they believed to be worshiping, look at them with pure hatred and hear Him say those dreadful words.
That said, shouldn’t we be taking the task of making our calling sure more seriously. I mean, if I understand you correctly, you’re saying baptism is the assurance of your salvation. Baptism brings you into the covenant. And the visible sign of the covenant, i.e. baptism and partaking of the Lord’s table, is sufficient assurance.
1. Did I understand you correctly?
2. If yes, what if you’re wrong? Could there be more to making sure of your calling? Why dd John write an entire book about the signs to look for if you’re saved?

Jake

Jake, no, you did not understand my point correctly. Baptism in itself provide no assurance at all. But looking to your baptism as a reminder of God’s faithfulness, in evangelical faith, is an aid to assurance. And John wrote an entire book about assurance for the same reason that I wrote an entire chapter on it in “Reformed” Is Not Enough.

How Much Disobedience?


I’ve recently finished reading (for a second time) your masterful book, Papa Don’t Pope. I can say from experience that many of the points you make in the book have proven to be genuine stumpers for serious Roman Catholics. Thanks for helping equip me in those conversation
My question today pertains to your treatment of the Second Commandment as it relates to Roman Catholics and salvation. I agree with everything you write about the enduring quality of the 2ndC, and I agree that the Church erred in its acceptance of icon and statue veneration. I also agree with you that RC’s can be saved despite their violations of the 2ndC.
But allow me to preempt a question that I haven’t yet received, but one that would have made me stop for a minute if I had.
If a person can be saved while living a life of flagrant and unrepentant violation of the one of the 10 Commandment’s, can a person also be saved living a life of flagrant and unrepentant homosexuality? Is not living in unrepentant sin an indication that a person is lacking the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit in their life?
The best answer I have so far is delineating between a sin that violates God’s revealed law (e.g. the 2ndC) versus a sin that violates God’s natural law (e.g. homosexuality). Ongoing, unrepentant sin against the natural law is evidence of a lack of regeneration, whereas one could be genuinely born again, and yet have a serious misunderstanding of the revealed law of God. For example, many (though not all) of our Protestant brothers today live in continual and open violation of the 4thC by treating Sunday as any other day, save the fact that they go to church for 90 minutes. Though I believe many of our Protestant brothers are in serious error regarding the application of the 4thC, I still believe they will be saved. Is this a good example of how someone can be deeply wrong on one of the 10 Commandments, yet still be truly born again?
Not sure if I’m on the right path here, but I would love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks,

Jacob

Jacob, yes, I think your example of the 4th commandment is a legitimate comparison. I think the key is in your use of the word flagrant, which causes me to ask flagrant in what way. I believe that those who live in unrepentant homosexual sin and those who flagrantly pray to pictures will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. But many of those who use such “aids” to worship have curious workarounds in their hearts, which reserve divine honors to God alone. I don’t buy it, of course, and think it sinful, but I think it is less like a homosexual attending rave orgies, and more like a homosexual with an unhealthy friendship with a man, which he believes is just a friend. But all of this is why we leave the determinations to God.

More Fiction Please

I’ve got a conundrum. I really (and I mean REALLY) enjoyed your satirical fiction works. I’ve read (well, listened actually) to each of them several times over and I’m not one to revisit books. They have a way of illustrating the practical outworking of theology in a way an instructional nonfiction work never could . . . and I love that. Do you have any up and coming works in the hopper? Thank you for writing them. Not only are they fun, but they’re also quite helpful!

Tim

Tim, yes. I am starting to feel the itch that indicates another one might be starting soon.

An Eschatological Tough One

I’m a student at a seminary not too far from you in Moscow and I have been spending the last year and a half doing what I can to work through my convictions on eschatology. This is of course a post-COVID era, and there is much that has caught my eye from post-millennialism as a result. However, I’m less concerned with the shiny, practical out working of optimistic eschatology, and far more concerned with where the text leads me. If God wanted me to be a pessimist about this world, then I ought to do so!
On a serious note, I’ve been most compelled towards post-millennialism due to partial-preterism than anything else. After coming across “The Last Days According to Jesus” by RC Sproul, I realized I have to seriously contend with this view. A couple of months ago I had come to your church, and you had recommended your own book on Revelation.
As I read through that and have listened and read other voices, I find so many passages that I believe a smoother interpretation would lean to a preterist reading. My dispensationalist background understands how to read them, but I can tell I’m synthesizing more than I’m exegeting. That’s not to say that preterism doesn’t have its tough passages, but when all is weighed it seemed as though I was doing more gymnastics with my dispensational reading.
Except for one passage. And for a month I’ve chewed on this passage. I’ve talked to preterists about it. I’ve listened to sermons about it. The preterist books I have access to don’t address it. And with all of it, I just can’t understand it.
Matthew 25:31-46. I’ve read it in context. I’ve read it out of context. I’ve read it straight forward. I’ve read it as a parable. Ive tried to rework other Son-of-man-cloud passages in light of it. I am just so unsatisfied with any interpretation of it.
I mean all other passages—especially in the gospels— I’m sold! Not all of you will taste death before the Son of Man comes. You won’t finish going through the towns. Before the high priest, Jesus claims that he will see the Son of Man. This generation will not pass away before the Son of Man comes on the clouds. All of it, pointing to 70 AD makes great sense.
But this passage has to be the end time judgement. And it seems that this has a clear time reference that the others must be interpreted in light of. My big question, if you’d give me the time… How do you understand the Son of Man coming in light of these statements and Matthew 25:31-46?

Josiah

Josiah, I am afraid I am not going to be a ton of help here. I believe that the Final Coming of the Lord at the end of history will happen no sooner than verse 24 of chapter 24 and no later than verse 30 of chapter 25.
Just wondering if you know of any preterist/postmil commentaries on the book of Daniel? I especially want to understand Daniel 7 and 9, it’s hard to know what the 10 horns, little horn, three plucked-up horns, etc. were/are exactly. If you would like to share your own exegesis of Daniel 7/9/The whole book, through a sermon link or book of yours, that would be awesome, too!
Thank you for everything you do for The Saints, God bless you.

Colton

Colton, the only one I am aware of is Jim Jordan’s Handwriting on the Wall, which I think you can get from American Vision.

Checklist on the Jews

A simple two-question self-inventory Christians can use to check whether their hearts are in the right place concerning the Jews:
1. Do you believe the gospel is good news to the Jews?
2. Would anyone who doesn’t know you, after hearing what you have to say about the Jews or Israel, believe that the gospel is good news to the Jews—or that you believe it is?

Daniel

Daniel, yes. And I think the issue lies in your second question. I think many would do fine on the first question. They would say yes, certainly.

AI Follow Up

In reply to KP’s question about AI, my encouragement is to not think of it as “artificially intelligent”—because such programming is not intelligent, that is a widespread misnomer. AI as we know it now is just a more powerful way of sifting through and correlating data. What Google search was to the library, AI tools now are to Google search. The question continues to be the same as it always has been: how will God lead us to use new technology in ways that glorify Him? And how will man find ways to use it for evil?

Austin

Austin, yes. It is a tool that men will use for both good and ill.

An Old Sermon

Was reading your sermon on Psalm 14 today, from 2004. In it you said, “We do not know with any certainty that reformation in our day will begin a week from now, or twenty years from now. But we do know with certainty that it will come.”
From my perspective twenty years later, I think you spoke of more then than you knew. God is doing it. Though we don’t see much of it, because we are finite, and because, in His sovereign sense of humor, especially here in CA, He is also doing Daniel 4:17.
Praying for yet still more revival and reformation,

Jed

Jed, amen. I believe that He is shaking what can be shaken so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Background Questions About Liturgy

Just got a copy of your father’s book “Principles of War” a copy of the “Cantus Christi” psalter and hymnal. I also recently watched a ten minute video on YouTube of the liturgy at Christ Church. I’m curious what Scriptures, confessions, church fathers, traditions, etc. led to Christ Church adopting that order of service and the practices within it. Such as confessing sin and kneeling as a congregation or the way you recited the apostles creed, etc.
Thanks in advance!

Eric

Eric, I believe the best way to address most if not all of your questions would be by reading The Lord’s Service by Jeff Meyers.

By This Point, One Guess As Good As Another

My only guess as to how Dems thought this could work is that they assumed everyone in their party knows at this point that Joe is just a puppet, and only has to make it back though the White House doors where they will promptly remove him from office for overwhelming health concerns and congratulate themselves for ACTUALLY electing Kamala as the first female president, as they had meant to do all along. They don’t want to bet on Kamala as a replacement in the campaign at all, they want to ensure her presidency as a default. At least, if I try to stand in smart people shoes, that’s the only strategic angle I can see.

Jenisa

Jenisa, that is a possibility. Although by this point a good portion of the country might want to apply to the Dems the statement that Trump made about Biden at the debate. “I don’t understand what he just said, and I don’t think he did either.”

The Lord’s Intercession

A question regarding the historical church and covenant children:
Does Jesus intercede for all of the individuals who comprise the historical church, including covenant children? [And related]
A question regarding the historical church and covenant children:
Does Jesus intercede for all of the individuals who comprise the historical church, including covenant children?

Jono

Jono, the foundational assumption is that everything Jesus prays for now He receives. No prayer of His in glory is rejected. This means that if He prays for non-elect covenant members, He is not praying for their salvation.

Personality in Education

I’m hoping you can provide some insight as a Christian educator as to how to think about the role of personality in education.
Assuming that financial provision is already accounted for since I already have a career, how should I think about the personality and gifts God has given me in pursuing an education? Is it best for me to seek an education so that I can build up those areas where I am currently deficient or to seek to cultivate those gifts that God has given me a natural inclination toward? Specifically I am thinking in terms of two different paths; Biochemistry and English.
Any thoughts you can provide will be much appreciated! In Christ,

Tim

Tim, I believe the wisest course is to strengthen your natural gifts first, such that you can fulfill you basic duties to wife and family, providing for them. After that, strengthen the areas where you are weaker, as you please.
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Robert
Robert
13 days ago

“curious workarounds in their hearts, which reserve divine honors to God alone.”
Great way of explaining the sometimes disconnect between head and heart (e.g. the “arminian” praying).

Ken B
Ken B
13 days ago

Jake – “the one whom they believed to be worshiping, look at them with pure hatred and hear Him say those dreadful words.” What on earth gives you the impression that God will look at those he judges with hatred? Salvation is intended for all, but not all receive it not because God never wanted it for them because he never loved them but because he loves righteousness more than people, and will not accept sinful men who refuse to turn away from their wickedness. Those who are currently peddling a God of love only, by which they mean unconditionally… Read more »

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  Ken B

Ken, I think the issue is that most people act on the basis of the light that they have, God has the monopoly on the giving of light, and something seems fundamentally unjust about withholding light from people until it’s too late for them to do anything about it. It would be one thing if people who spent a life living in self-deception arrived at the judgment and, having now received full light, had the opportunity to repent. But that’s not the way it works. Instead, they arrive at the judgment expecting to be welcomed into heaven only to be… Read more »

John Middleton
John Middleton
13 days ago

Kathleen, the fact is that people do NOT consistently act even on the basis of the light that they have, let alone according to the truth of who God is. None of us are with excuse.

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  John Middleton

John, I think we are talking about two different kinds of light. With the possible exception of Cherrera, I doubt that anybody seriously thinks they live a perfect life in the sense of never violating what they believe to be morally right. Everyone has moral failures and everyone knows they have moral failures (though I do think there are some people who simply don’t care about their moral failures). That’s not at issue. But the light to which I was referring is the light involved in what is to be done about one’s moral failures. If you grew up Muslim,… Read more »

John Middleton
John Middleton
13 days ago

The Christian answer, as you may well guess, is that the Muslim, the Hindu, and the atheist are not acting according to light at all.

If the Muslim is right I could not accuse God of being unjust if He punishes me for not even considering Islam. The Muslims are not wrong about the necessity of submitting to God. But the Muslim can nothing do about his own assuredly inadequate, incomplete submission. Christ is the atonement or there is none.

Of course if the Hindu or atheist is right, it hardly matters.

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  John Middleton

Within the Christian worldview, or at least the Calvinist wing of it, the Muslim, the Hindu and the atheist are not acting according to light at all because God hasn’t given them any. Ephesians 2 tells us that faith itself is a gift from God; if you have faith, it’s because God gave it to you. So, we are back to: God has the monopoly on giving light, God has chosen not to give them any, God will give them a nasty surprise on the last day at which time the light he gives them will come too late. For… Read more »

Kristina
Kristina
13 days ago

Friendly reminder that John Calvin showed up in the sixteenth century.

John Middleton
John Middleton
13 days ago

How would any particular Muslim know/why would he think he is forgiven? Maybe a high view of God’s sovereignty but a low view of God’s righteousness. Or a low view of his own sinfulness.

In any case, the light to which you were referring is “the light involved in what is to be done about one’s moral failures”. My point is, where one is wrong about that then there is no light involved

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  John Middleton

Well, I’m no expert on Islamic theology though I have read the Koran through a couple of times. It has a lot of the same assurance of salvation passages found in the Bible — God is merciful and forgiving and turns no sincerely repentant sinner away and punishment is only reserved for those who harden their hearts and refuse instruction. So I guess he would know the same way you do. Though the way this entire conversation started, remember, is what about people who think they are saved and are not, which is just as much a problem for Christianity… Read more »

John Middleton
John Middleton
13 days ago

The way I know is that Christ died for my sins and is risen. The problem for “Christians” is when they imagine they are saved on any other basis. I think that was the point of the letter to the editor that started this conversation.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
13 days ago

“Muslims, by the way, have a higher view of the sovereignty of God than Christians do, because under Islam, God can do anything and if he wants to forgive you, he can forgive you. No need to kill his son as part of the process. His sovereign decree that you are forgiven is sufficient.” Your conclusion does not follow rationally from the facts. Christians and Muslims both believe identically on God’s sovereignty. God can do all things that are rationally possible. He can make a burrito of any kind. He can not make a burrito so hot that he could… Read more »

Kathleen M. Zielinski
Kathleen M. Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Justin, the only way anyone, under either Christianity or Islam, ceases to be a fatally flawed human being is through what comes down to a miracle. The question is whether that miracle requires blood. And there’s no reason a sovereign God can’t decide that the answer is no.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
13 days ago

” And there’s no reason a sovereign God can’t decide that the answer is no” Asserting a conclusion is not making an argument. The entire premise of the conversation, explicitly, is that one side is arguing that “deciding the answer is no” necessitates logical entailments. You can either participate in the argument and give a reason the propose logical entailments are invalid, or you can decline to participate in the discussion. I hold no personal judgement against you if you decline to participate in the discussion, but ignoring the topic under contention curries you no favor. It wins you no points.… Read more »

Kathleen M. Zielinski
Kathleen M. Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Justin, the burden of proof is on the person making a positive claim. In this case, the positive claim is that the miracle requires blood. (Whether the sentence is grammatically stated as a positive or a negative is irrelevant; otherwise you could simply shift the burden by re-writing the sentence as a double negative.) You therefore have the burden of proving it and I have no duty to prove a negative. And since you’ve offered no argument or evidence that the miracle does require blood, you’ve made no argument for me to engage. That said, the evidence that it doesn’t… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
13 days ago

A clever, yet fruitless, deflection. You’re the one making the affirmative argument that forgiving the transgressions of man could not possibly require any material sacrifice. You are the one who raised the issue of Muslin Salvation being distinct. You are the one who raised the issue of Christian salvation being deficient. You are the one with the moral objection to Christianity, not me. Grow the courage to defend the claim you’ve already made. “the evidence that it doesn’t require blood is simply why would it?” Already explained. Robbing humans of consequence is not doing them a favor. You can disagree.… Read more »

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
12 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

No, Justin, it’s the logical positive, not the grammatical positive, that has the burden of proof. If we’re discussing the existence of Santa Claus, the believer doesn’t get to say “But you haven’t proven he DOESN”T exist.” That’s not how it works. You’re the one making the logical positive claim — salvation requires blood — so you’re the one with the burden. And I never claimed Christian salvation was “deficient” whatever that means. “Robbing humans of consequences” is a policy choice for the sovereign, which is a separate issue from whether the sovereign may, if he chooses, grant salvation without… Read more »

Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
12 days ago

Triune Jehovah has done it thru blood. OK to speculate, I suppose, about whether he had to (not that anything greater than he constrains him, eh?), but since we know “Christ died for our sins” works, better go with that program. My dad, a Christian missionary to Pakistan, said he’d never met a Muslim who was sure of his own salvation.

John Waldrup
13 days ago

It seems to me that Romans 1 teaches us that God, through nature, has provided enough evidence to all men that they know there is a God and they are convinced of His eternal power and sovereignty. That is, there is enough evidence to condemn them to eternal judgment. However, nature does not give us enough information to save us. That comes from special revelation, the Scriptures and the Spirit of God.

Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
12 days ago

Saving light or plain light? All get some light. But we humans need gospel light, so we Christians need to get the good news out. God will bless that as He chooses–one Afghan got saved by reading a few paragraphs about the reformation in a western history text. But point people to Jesus the Lord.

John Middleton
John Middleton
13 days ago
Reply to  John Middleton

I should add, a common misunderstanding, for which Evangelicals are largely to blame, is that people will be sent hell for not believing in Jesus as savior. People are judged and go to hell because of their sinful deeds, whatever their religion or lack thereof. Christ is the pardon, for those who will receive Him.

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  John Middleton

That doesn’t actually help you all that much. Suppose the Titanic is sinking, and I have a lifeboat that is large enough to get everybody to Newfoundland. But, I choose not to tell anyone about it except for a small handful of people, who stand on the deck of the lifeboat and wave at all the people who are drowning. Now, I did not kill those people; they died because the Titanic hit an iceberg. But the fact that I was willing to stand by and watch them drown when I could have saved them — the lifeboat was already… Read more »

Amanda Wells
Amanda Wells
13 days ago

Kathleen, I am surprised to hear you talking like this. Are you having a crisis of faith? Do I need to add you to my prayer list?

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  Amanda Wells

Amanda, I think this is the first time we’ve interacted. I used to be a Christian but have reluctantly concluded that I see no good evidence for the existence of God. I mostly lurk, but every once in a while I’ll jump into a discussion if a subject reaches out and grabs me.

Amanda Wells
Amanda Wells
12 days ago

No, we haven’t interacted before. I don’t comment very much. I thought I remembered you as a lawyer posting stuff agreeing with Pastor Doug during the covid lockdowns. I’ll pray for you – I can’t argue at the level of the guys on here – but I will also say, you should consider a tradition rooted in the apostolic church such as orthodoxy, traditional Anglicanism, or conservative Catholicism. When you *practice* Christianity in ways other than studying theology, the doubts and paradoxes melt away.

Rob
Rob
12 days ago

K, You should listen to William Lane Craig if you are doubting the existence of God. Really! So many venues but start with Ben Shapiro interview and his longish interview with Lawrence Kuhn on “Closer to Truth” program. Beware however, the more you engage with truth the more responsible you will be for denying the existence of God.

Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
12 days ago

Thanks. What happened to Jesus?

John Middleton
John Middleton
13 days ago

Kathleen, on a personal level what you want to remember first is that if God Is, and is God, it won’t do you any good to be mad at God, and you’re not qualified to decide what God should have done. That’s not a dodge, just a self-evident fact. I don’t care about winning an argument, but I’m on your side if you are truly seeking God. The problem with your Titanic analogy – if it fits at all – is that it makes the passengers out to be innocent victims of a chance iceberg rather than mutineers who chose… Read more »

Kathleen M. Zielinski
Kathleen M. Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  John Middleton

But John, I’m not mad at God because that would require me to be mad at someone I don’t believe exists. It would be like being mad at Lucy for grabbing the football away from Charlie Brown.

But, you do believe in God so essentially we are having a conversation about your world view. Your world view requires you to make the case that God is just and benevolent in the face of what appears to me to be overwhelming evidence to the contrary. So, I’m simply asking you to support that claim.

John Middleton
John Middleton
13 days ago

That He gave His only begotten Son is evidence enough for both benevolence and justice.

There is no evidence to the contrary and no one to accuse if God doesn’t exist. No more evidence for injustice and malignity than for justice and benevolence, because it’s all made up

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
13 days ago

“requires you to make the case that God is just and benevolent in the face of what appears to me to be overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” This is, in my view, utterly ridiculous and nonsensical. If you deny the supernatural, how do you call anything unjust? What’s your point of comparison? You claim the Christian God is inadequately moral but, inadequately moral compared to what? From where did you derive the standard against which to compare Christianity? You’re speaking in purely circular reasoning. You must assert an alternative authoritative source of morality against which the Christian God owes alliegence.… Read more »

Kathleen Zielinski
Kathleen Zielinski
12 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

“If you deny the supernatural, how do you call anything unjust?” If your claim is that the supernatural (in this case God) is required for justice to exist, then we just disagree. Would you agree that in a universe in which there is no God, 2+2 would still equal 4? And that water would still boil at 100 degrees Celsius? Objective, observable facts are objective, observable facts whether God is in the picture or not. Morality is not quite the same as a simple question of arithmetic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be discovered independent of whether we’re all… Read more »

Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
12 days ago

Well, there’s a Trump community and an anti-Trump community, each condemning the other. Which is right (or what mix of points)? By what standard? What should the right do about the wrong?

God outranks us; he’s perfect and we’re not; he takes care of that for his people; we’re to be working on it ourselves; he transcends Trump and anti-Trump, but how do communities that differ deal with that? (For Christians, Love your enemies is part of it. Of course, God defines love.)

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 days ago

I realize this comment may be a bit late, but many Christians would take your question “Would you agree that in a universe in which there is no God, 2+2 would still equal 4?” to be inherently problematic. If God necessarily exists, as most of us theists believe, there is no possible universe in which “there is no God” is true, and so the question essentially asks, “If x is true, would y follow?” where x is an impossible proposition. But anything follows from a contradiction: Suppose x and not-x. Then x is true, and so x or y is… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
13 days ago

“And by the way — God is the engineer who built the Titanic in the first place, and who knew in advance that it would hit that iceberg and all those people would die.” You’re not being consistent or fair. In your analogy, the God-engineer of the Titanic also told them precisely what to avoid, precisely what would happen if they didn’t do as instructed, gave them a path of rescue should they choose poorly the first time, and suffered personal hardship to provide them that secondary life boat. There’s a concept I created some years ago I call the… Read more »

Kathleen M. Zielinski
Kathleen M. Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Justin, the thing is, though, that God knew in advance that humans would choose badly and much misery and suffering would result. Turning this world over to us is the equivalent of giving whiskey and car keys to 16 year old boys. Think this through for a moment. You are considering creating this world. You know up front that the consequence is that billions of souls are going to spend eternity in torment, and that’s even before we get to all the misery they create on their way. You know that there will be massive amounts of animal suffering, to… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
13 days ago

“Turning this world over to us is the equivalent of giving whiskey and car keys to 16 year old boys.” And yet, having the alternative choice of not abusing whiskey and car keys is what gives the sin of abusing it any meaning. “Do you know what parasitic wasps do to grasshoppers? It’s horrific…….” The problem here is the underlying unjustified assumption that you know a better way. If you’re either a flawed being by design, or else a flawed being by your own choice, in either event, how do you accurately determine when your maker is in error? You’re… Read more »

Kathleen M. Zielinski
Kathleen M. Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

While I like being here too, I have no right to be here. Had my parents not had sex at just the right moment I would not be here. And if my not being here saves billions of souls from eternal agony, I would say my own self interest should probably yield, especially since I never would have known I’d missed out. And the problem with your “by what standard” argument is that it’s ridiculous on its face. So ridiculous, in fact, that I almost never engage it when someone here brings it up since I consider it a massive… Read more »

Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
12 days ago

You could probably name some people who’d deserve the rack, say Stalin, and peasants might suffer paying taxes for XIV’s banquets. There’s a big picture. (The heavens declare the glory of God…) What’s the big picture? Jesus said God sees sparrows fall–He sees the little pictures too–but what’s the big?

Rob
Rob
12 days ago

K, I think you’re seeing through a glass darkly. Very Darkly! Its’ not enough to deny God. You have to come up with other plausible answers and Darwin is on the way out, in case you haven’t heard. Secular scientists are scrambling.

Last edited 12 days ago by Rob
Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
12 days ago

Again, if you created a novel, it might not be all sweetness and light.

Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
12 days ago

Well, some people don’t know about the lifeboat, Tell them! Some will not get in; they may think a big ship safer than a lifeboat. (We’re all secularists here; why should I join that little Christian cult?)

If you wrote a novel, you might create villains doing bad things and getting punished (or not punished.) The novel’s overall worldview, not villains or their fates, would express your character.

J.F. Martin
J.F. Martin
13 days ago
Reply to  John Middleton

I’m rooting for you John…use the reference. The book Pastor Doug was referring to in his response is 1st John!

Kathleen, if I may, start from 1st John 5:13 and work your way out.

I am ever grateful for the gift of grace. (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
13 days ago

You need remember that you’re speaking to Calvinists. They consider those who aren’t Christian for any reason whatever to be predestined to be damned to hell, without any choice or chance at redemption, for the sake of making God look good by comparison. This isn’t to say I agree with you strictly speaking. I would compare myself to C.S. Lewis on the issue. But you’re trying to establish moral conclusions predicated on the basis of free will choices, and the people you’re discussing this with don’t believe in the underlying free will choices. You would argue that the Muslim in… Read more »

J.F. Martin
J.F. Martin
13 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Justin, I hesitate to engage because generally your argumentation is much stronger than mine. However, any ‘living non-Christian’ is not considered damned to hell. “The doctrine of predestination means that the Lord does not ordain the end (salvation) without also ordaining the means to that end (the way in which people will receive salvation). God’s plan is comprehensive. He works out all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11), and the counsel of His will has determined that He will use His people to reach the lost and call them into His kingdom. He has decided that… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
13 days ago
Reply to  J.F. Martin

I thank you for your kind consideration. I would specify that these are not *my* positions. I am not a Calvinist. Insofar as you, a Calvinist, disagrees, knock yourself out. I am making a broad generalization. “If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” I agree with everything… Read more »

J.F. Martin
J.F. Martin
12 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Thanks for your reply Justin…I think your HAVE NO CHOICE argument is spot on, EXCEPT, that neither the evangelist nor even the non-elect know they are in that position. The doctrines of grace made me feel similar to the first time I solved a calculus problem. You mentioned arguing with the maker to Kathleen. That took me right to Romans 9:21. Instead of pretending to believe in free will even though I don’t (which is a great way to put that idea by the way), I get my marching orders from Romans 10:13-15. If I don’t know who is elect… Read more »

Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
12 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

If I were God, I might preach only to the elect, but since I’m not, I’ll preach here. We’re told to preach and not told who the elect are; learn that later,

Kathleen M. Zielinski
Kathleen M. Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Justin, of course you’re right, and I think that makes it even worse. You’ve got people who were created explicitly for the purpose of suffering. If you’re a Calvinist and you want to argue that a sovereign God can play with his toys as he likes, fine, make that argument, but don’t then also make the claim that he’s just or benevolent. Just between us, I’m far from convinced that free will exists myself. And I say that as someone for whom life has mostly turned out pretty well and who is painfully aware that there are lots of people… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
13 days ago

Forgive me, due to technical error I had this delete itself a moment ago. I’m probably going to be more direct than I was on my initial writing. Point 1: “You’ve got people who were created explicitly for the purpose of suffering. If you’re a Calvinist and you want to argue that a sovereign God can play with his toys as he likes, fine, make that argument, but don’t then also make the claim that he’s just or benevolent. “ Just or benevolent based on what standard? You’re comparing against imaginary opposition. I’m no Calvinist, but if in fact I am… Read more »

Kathleen M. Zielinski
Kathleen M. Zielinski
13 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Justin, I think I already responded to your points here in my earlier comment. Calling it a night now; we can continue this tomorrow if you like.

I do want to say that I really appreciate you even though we disagree about a lot. For all of our disagreements, I have always found you (and John Middleton) courteous, thoughtful, and engaging. I have tried to be the same, though maybe not with perfect success. Thanks for a good conversation.

Ken B
Ken B
13 days ago

Flee Calvinism! I think it is an appalling caricature of the Bible and its God. My own faith briefly flickered not long ago (something I thought would never happen) due to reading about Calvinist goings on in the past, despite having ditched Calvinism a fair while ago. It took longer to get the Calvinism out of me. Can I suggest another angle on the question of suffering? On a secular forum that occasionally has a religious thread, I noticed the accusation God cannot be loving due to suffering, yet these same people will champion lifestyles that cause no end of… Read more »

Rob
Rob
12 days ago
Reply to  Ken B

Pull up John Lennox on suffering where he discusses how God did not stay aloof to our suffering but entered into it with us. The righteous suffering unjustly is foreign to our understanding of suffering.

Ken B
Ken B
11 days ago
Reply to  Rob

I like John Lennox a lot. By his demeanor he communicates well with those with no church connections, which in the UK is now most of the population.

J.F. Martin
J.F. Martin
12 days ago

Kathleen, I know it is not good argumentation for me to just drop scripture references…but your last sentence about suffering took me right to John 9:1-11. Because of my egregious sinning, my consequences were painful and just. Once I surrendered to Christ, Hebrews 12 hit the nail on the head for me. For those whose suffering is not the result of direct consequences, I can only scratch the surface of understanding how unfair life must seem. Yet the life examples of Horatio Spafford, John Bunyan, Corrie Ten Boom, and Joni E. Tada and scores of others suggest to me that… Read more »

john k
john k
12 days ago

I don’t understand why a lawyer would posit only two possible accounts of the universe, where justice is lacking in both: either there is a God of creation and providence who is capricious and cruel, or there is still plenty of pain and suffering but it is neither wrong nor unjust because in a non-purposeful, non-theistic universe those concepts are excluded and meaningless. Why is the third alternative, the Christian one, “off the radar”? (Namely, that God will be vindicated as just, and will recompense justice, at the last day.)

Justice Holden
Justice Holden
11 days ago
Reply to  john k

Or door #4 which is Vishnu. Or door #5 which is Mohammed and archangel Jibril. #6 is the Human Instrumentality Project and the kin of Adam from Evangelion. Get in line for the other faiths, pal. Your book holds no more water than any other religions and even the Dark Souls universe.

john k
john k
10 days ago
Reply to  Justice Holden

I would encourage you to search out and compare the claims of Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, rather than reject religion as equivalent to science fiction fairy tales devised solely for entertainment. Look into sincere ideas about the real world. Read C S Lewis, and the author of this blog.

Justice Holden
Justice Holden
10 days ago
Reply to  john k

I could point to other religious apologists as well. And I have read CS Lewis, Milton, and the author of this blog. I have also read their scriptures as well. Also the stories of dead religions which predate yours, and yours copies wholesale. Would you believe it, it pulls me further away from dogmatic faith. Much better writers out there anyway that don’t propagandize their dogma. McCarthy, Heller, Morrison, shall I keep going?

Last edited 10 days ago by Justice Holden
john k
john k
10 days ago
Reply to  Justice Holden

It would be sad if American Lit, or any other, served to confirm you in skepticism, cynicism, or atheism. Insights and reflection on the human condition, even from those who don’t believe, don’t need to be seen as threats to Christian faith. Neither Scripture nor sound teaching glosses over the cruelty, suffering and paradoxical events evident in the world.

Justice Holden
Justice Holden
9 days ago
Reply to  john k

Is that for me or other readers of the comments? I think the biggest threat to Christian faith is the fundamentalist and dogmatic thinking demonstrated by the proprietor of this blog. Just think of in history has any of these spurts of backpedaling ever stuck? Or do we celebrate Christmas and Halloween? Is the story of Jesus within spitting distance of Horus or Gilgamesh? All religions adapt and change to cope with and survive the times of human society. This Christianity you are defending is temporal and will change. Which is good!

john k
john k
10 days ago
Reply to  Justice Holden

There is ultimate truth with real consequences, good and bad, for each of us personally.

Last edited 10 days ago by john k
Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
12 days ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Choices happen, whatever their philosophical status, so choose wisely for whatever it’s worth.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
13 days ago

“I’ve struggled a bit with the idea of VidAngel, because it seems like if it would be wrong (or at least unwise) for me to watch the content, then it’s also problematic for me to outsource the viewing to someone else so they can create the filters. Kinda seems like a Gentile version of a “Shabbos goy.” Could you comment on that concern?” I would begin with a greater concern about basic competancy. Homeschooling four children I run into this problem more than most. Yet I wouldn’t outsourcing the issue to another for the basic reason that most people who… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by Justin Parris
Henry M
Henry M
12 days ago

To Colton’s question, A remarkable development in Daniel 9 studies is the recent paper by Rodger Young (the finest biblical chronologist alive) in JETS (2022): https://www.rcyoung.org/articles/70%20weeks.pdf Should be read alongside the formidable body of evidence for an April 1st AD 33 (Gregorian) crucifixion date (see various papers/book by Andrew Steinmann, Humphreys book ‘Mystery of the Last Supper’ etc). Add to this James Bejon’s solution to the related problem of the 70yr exile, which although needing a small modification to the dates, still works once these are made. See p23-24 here: https://www.academia.edu/42972856/Biblical_Chronology_Patterns_and_Coherence For Daniel 7 & the beast/horns/heads, see this summary… Read more »

Andrew Lohr
Andrew Lohr
12 days ago

Josiah–I take Mt 25:31-45 as the 2nd coming, everything before that In 24-25 as A.D.70, tho God’s great judgments may resemble one another, so there can be a kind of overlap. 24 obviously starts with A.D. 70, and 25 obviously ends with the 2nd coming, so where’s the break? I read thru it, and everything was linked back to the Temple by “you” or by time indications until 25:31. Then “hotan de” (but whenever, at an indefinite time NOT linked to previous times) comes the son of the man in the glory of-him and all the holy angels with him… Read more »

Alex Evans
10 days ago

Insightful post on assumptions! Really made me think.
Alex from best ghost writing lane