On Setting the Bone

The situation described in the following letters continues to be entirely fictitious, including persons, names, crimes, sins, relationships, circumstances and all particulars. The kind of situation that is described, however, is all too common and my hope is that biblical principles applied to this fictitious scenario may be of some help to individuals tangled up in a real one.

Dear Gabrielle,

Thanks for writing back, and thanks for the (very good) questions. You basically asked, if I understood you correctly, why I thought a “theology lecture” was a good place to start a discussion with a girl who had been repeatedly abused by her father. You expressed it very kindly, but that is how I cashed your question out.

I understand the question, and believe it or not, I also understand the force of the question. But I also believe there is a compelling answer, if you will bear with me for just one more round on this. After that, in our next letters, I would like to get to the other questions you brought up at the end of your letter, particularly the one about the nature of forgiveness.

You have suffered a traumatic injury—to your heart and soul, to your very identity as a Christian woman. In the shock and aftermath of what has happened, you are naturally reeling, and because of that some of the things that happen to you in the ER might seem almost as bad as the injury itself. But there can be a real comfort in understanding why certain uncomfortable things have to happen. One of the more common complaints that some patients in serious situations have about doctors is that they don’t answer enough questions, particularly about the hard things.

Think of it this way. Compare what has happened to you to a broken bone, and let us say the break was particularly nasty, broken in bad ways and in multiple places. Before any “healing” can begin, before physical therapy can start, the bone has to be reset. A cast has to be put on it. What this does is immobilize the injury, preventing further injury. And sometimes the work of resetting a bone can be pretty gnarly—not a comforting experience at all. Considered in itself, it is simply one more bad experience following all the others.

But after you have had time to rest and recuperate a bit, then comes the time for physical therapy. That is when you want an empathetic coach, a trainer who comes alongside to encourage you. That is because encouragement at that point is actually helpful. It really does promote healing. But to begin the therapeutic exercises before the bone is set would simply be malpractice.

So when you are dealing with a traumatic injury like that, there are two tasks, not just one. First, you want to prevent the situation from deteriorating into a worse condition—and there are many ways an unaddressed injury can deteriorate. Secondly—and it is important that it be second—you begin the process of therapy and recovery.

What you refer to as my “Calvinism” is like the cast, setting the bone. It can appear rigid and unyielding. That is because it is rigid and unyielding. That is exactly what a cast needs to be. Whatever you do, however you think about this, do not find fault with God. If you start blaming God, there is nothing waiting for you at the end of that road but an everlasting swamp. You will almost immediately find yourself in a world where anything goes—including what your father did—and it will be a world in which you will find yourself victimized again and again. My central concern is to head that off.

Jesus said that we would know the truth, and the truth would set us free (John 8:32). We begin with the issues of truth, not because we are cold and hard, but because we are not. It is not because we want to inflict pain, but because a great deal more pain is coming if we don’t do it.

I mentioned the prospect of being victimized again and again. Let me give you two examples of how this can happen. You have (almost certainly) noticed that some of the boys at school—and not the right kind of boys either—have started paying you the kind of attention that creeps you out and (simultaneously) beckons you. This kind of guy has an instinctive awareness of your vulnerability, and make no mistake, their interest in you is not altruistic. In such a situation, you are the prey (again). The reason it creeps you out is the Spirit within you. The reason it beckons is that you have probably already told yourself (hundreds of times) that you are “damaged goods,” that no Christian man “would ever want you,” that there is “no sense trying,” that there is “no sense caring,” that you are “forever defiled,” and so on. The emotional pull is based on the idea that the kind of guy who is paying attention to you now is the only kind of guy who would ever be interested in you. This is false, by the way, but in the moment it feels like unalterable truth.

That is the reason we have to set the bone—so that it doesn’t move in certain directions. The cast may seem “unkind,” but it is the kindest thing anyone could do for you in this kind of situation.

Here is another example. Because of the trial, and the public nature of what has happened to your family, there are certain people who want to recruit you for “political” purposes. Your father was a deacon in your church—that was another betrayal of his—and there are people who want to capture you and use you in their crusade against conservative Christianity. They are on your side, “completely” they say. Whenever they have spoken to you, they have emphasized over and over that everyone has a responsibility simply “to believe you.”

Now of course, Nancy and I believe your account—absolutely. Your aunt and uncle do as well. But there is a dramatic difference. We believe it because it is the truth. It has been established. It was established in a court of law. It was established with multiple witnesses. It was sealed with your father’s confession in the plea arrangement. We all know what happened. Your story is true, in other words.

But there are people who are willing to believe your story whether or not it is true. These people act like they are on your side, but they are simply using you. In this respect they are very much like the boys who are coming around. They sense a vulnerability, and they sense that this vulnerability (that your father created) gives them an opportunity to get something they want. As soon as you can no longer supply them with that, you will find out that their concern is about as deep as a wet spot on the pavement.

Please know that you have many people in your life who love God and His Word, and who also love you. They want you to flourish. That is certainly want we want for you. Also please know that these people who love you will use many of the same phrases that your father would hypocritically use. But his false use does not negate the true use. In the course of our letter, I may refer to a Bible verse that your father would appeal to all the time. Look past the superficial associations.

In my next letter, I would like to talk about what forgiveness is. Is that all right with you? The Christian duty of forgiveness really is fundamental, but it is also widely misunderstood. Write me any questions you might have about forgiveness, and we can take it from there.

Cordially in Christ . . .

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insanitybytes22
Member

“What you refer to as my “Calvinism” is like the cast, setting the bone. It can appear rigid and unyielding. That is because it is rigid and unyielding. That is exactly what a cast needs to be.” Fascinating. Of interest to perhaps no one,but something that does speak to the beauty of God’s perfect synchronicity, I have actually been engaged in an heated debate with a Calvanist friend over the problem with evil and how best to love people,without swinging theology about like a sword, killing the patient in the process. Wilson,however would not know any of that, since my… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

A decent point.

But at issue is not how lovingly He administers His control over everything, but THAT He can be counted on to ALWAYS and in all situations do so.

insanitybytes22
Member

“But at issue is not how lovingly He administers His control over everything, but THAT He can be counted on to ALWAYS and in all situations do so.” So, are you going to submit to a God who stood by and allowed a child to be raped, simply because you know He can be counted on to ALWAYS stand by, or are you going to reject a God that shows so little moral compunction or concern for anyone’s well being? Our brains are hard wired to reject the immoral,(even though we often chose it ourselves) so a God who is… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

(1) You have no choice but to submit to the God who allowed a child to be raped.

(2) To say He “stood by” is inaccurate. He did and does more than stand by.

(3) That our brains are “hard wired” to recognize morality seems to me both an admission of a Control outside ourselves doing wiring, and also holding together a morality.

(4) To suppose and acknowledge that the Wirer & Holder does wire and hold all is logically the presupposition you are tacitly admitting already, you latent Calvinist, you.

insanitybytes22
Member

“You have no choice but to submit to the God who allowed a child to be raped.” True in rational sense, but is that really the outcome you want? Do you believe people should be submitting to a God they believe is immoral, not unlike the bad servant who believed His master was evil and so hid his talent in the ground? Is that the God you want people to know, or do you want to teach them that their perception of God is actually flawed? As to number 3, indeed, the fact that are brains are hard wired to… Read more »

Daniel Fisher
Member

“Is that the God you want people to know, or do you want to teach them that their perception of God is actually flawed?”

Please forgive my confusion if I don’t follow, but this seems to be indistinguishable from your criticism of Pastor Wilson. You would likewise favor gving the victim a theology lesson to correct their flawed theology, giving them the absolute and unyielding truth that God is not immoral.

OK, no objection, but is that not what you were criticizing Pastor Wilson for doing? I’m having trouble recognizing the distinction.

insanitybytes22
Member

“You would likewise favor giving the victim a theology lesson to correct their flawed theology, giving them the absolute and unyielding truth that God is not immoral.” Theology in the absence of love is simply a clanging gong,a resounding cymbal. To says something like, “You have no choice but to submit to the God who allowed a child to be raped,” may be theologically correct but it is devoid of love, fails to address the heart and soul of a person, and can lead them to a false conclusion about the nature of God. Wilson speaks of “rigid and unyielding,”… Read more »

Jane
Member

That God is good is a given. And the good God brings about things that are hard for us to see as good, though He promises that they are good to us, and can never be anything but good, because He loves us. That is a rigid and unyielding fact, but a very, very comforting one if we can but believe it. The alternative is that unremittingly bad things happen and God just watches.

lndighost
Member

I’m not sure that’s the only alternative. The Eastern Orthodox perspective, for example, sees human history as something like a drama, where God is working out His purposes that are much bigger than our individual lives. At the culmination of the whole drama, when Christ returns and his glory is revealed, those griefs that troubled us on earth will seem but ‘light and momentary troubles’, as Paul says, that will be swept away in the wonder of His majesty and power. I have to say that I find this approach more coherent than the view that every evil thing that… Read more »

Jane
Member

I am not sure I am really saying anything different. Every evil thing that happens results in good, but not necessarily in the immediate, no.

lndighost
Member

I struggle with that concept. I wonder whether there could be something in the EO idea that evil is essentially meaningless. They have quite a different take on the whole thing. Some years ago I read The Doors of the Sea by David Bentley Hart, an EO philosopher/theologian, and found a lot to think about in it. DW was pretty dismissive in his review, but I found the appeal to mystery and drama refreshing after a steady diet of Reformed certainties. (Which are also valuable, don’t get me wrong. I love a good systematic theology.) However, I admit that I… Read more »

Jane
Member

It seems to me that Sproul is just saying out loud what a person can’t help thinking, even if he adopts the “too wonderful for me to know” position. It can both be true that the thing is too wonderful for us really to know, and that there simply inescapable implications of God being both good and sovereign that we can choose not to think about, but still can’t help knowing are there.

insanitybytes22
Member

“That God is good is a given.”

Not to people living in Detroit. Not to people watching their kids suffer horrific diseases. And not to abuse survivors.

You and I may believe that God is good is a given, but many people have no reason to believe that at all. We are called to give them a reason, not to say, submit you have no choice.

Jane
Member

It’s both/and. There are reasons, and those reason should be motivating, but at the end of the day, you really DO have no choice, unless you want to live a fruitless lie. I don’t believe anyone was saying that reasons should not be given.

I’m pretty sure there are Christians in Detroit, though, who believe in both the unremitting goodness of God and His sovereign rule of creation.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Well, there is another theological interpretation. My faith would say that God watched in anger and sorrow as this child was abused, but while the world is given over to Satan, He lets this wickedness happen. Because it has been part of God’s plan to give us free will, and that while evil men make free use of their will, atrocities will occur.

Daniel Fisher
Member

If I may be so blunt, you’ve just articulated my (personal) objection to the Arminian view (aside from the fact I have been convinced otherwise from the Scripture): God wants, with all his heart, to protect that child, he weeps, he is angry, he is hurt. He is not allowing it out of wisdom, of knowledge that he will infallibly work something gloriously good out of it…. Rather he is bound by the greater value he places on human freedom. in fact he may know that no real good for that victim will come out of it, that he or… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Very well said.

Jane
Member

Does that still not come down to, God just sits back and watches? Sorrow and anger, yes, I didn’t mean to imply that was absent. But He still does nothing to prevent it, even though He is able. I honestly don’t see the moral advantage in believing that God doesn’t intervene to stop such an event before it happens, over believing that God actually has a positive, good purpose in the event. And I do see the disadvantages — Daniel covers it well.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I think that God will ultimately use this evil for good–if the girl will let Him. The traditional Catholic view of life (and I am a bad Catholic, not a trad Catholic, but this tends to be my worldview) is that we should expect our journey here to be marked with pain, sickness, heartbreak, loss, and misery. We don’t call it a vale of tears for nothing. Every phone call is potentially tragic news. You suffer a grievous illness, and in the middle of it you are abandoned by those you trust most. Suck it up. Enjoy the time of… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

ME, those who do not acknowledge Christ as their savior do not realize that God is a loving God. Those who do acknowledge Christ as their savior realize that God is a just and loving God. They realize that God gives some over to sinful actions, that their hearts are hardened and they suffer consequences from their sinful ways. Remember King Nebuchandezzer ate grass like an ox for a few years and was restored to glorify God. Before the king went to the wild side, Daniel advised him to break away from his sins and when he did not, God… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“ME, those who do not acknowledge Christ as their savior do not realize that God is a loving God. Those who do acknowledge Christ as their savior realize that God is a just and loving God.” So true, Dave. Except… there are so many Christians who seem to not know the love of Christ. Where I am to place this girl’s father, allegedly the deacon at a church? Alas, Wilson is concerned this girl will blame God, he is concerned she may be re-victimized by boys, he is concerned she may be exploited in retaliation against the church and her… Read more »

Daniel Fisher
Member

I am astounded by this language – I understand you perceiving and critiquing Pastor Wilson’s approach as not exhibiting the compassion or kindness you think would be more appropriate; that is a legitimate critique. But what you wrote here, if I may speak bluntly, shows irrational, slanderous hostility that is beyond absurd. The author writes a warning to a victim about boys that are dangerous predators, who perceive a “vulnerability” they can take advantage of, and will see the girl as their “prey.” And somehow, you see in that perfectly legitimate warning (and I can add it is absolutely realistic)… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

Well, my intent is not “irrational, slanderous, hostility,” anymore than Wilson’s attempt to speak the truth to a victim is, “irrational, slanderous, hostility.”

I said, “I don’t mean to point fingers or act as if I am judging anyone, it is just sad and revealing.”

It is what it is.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

ME,
What *are* you talking about here? It looks like you’re just reading this post in light of what you have already long since decided to believe about Wilson instead of reading what he actually wrote. I know this has been asked in some way before, but why do you bother to read Wilson at all if your mind is made up about him, and the conclusion is bad, and that is unalterable for you?

insanitybytes22
Member

“why do you bother to read Wilson at all if your mind is made up about him, and the conclusion is bad, and that is unalterable for you?”

My mind is not made up about him, and my conclusion is not necessarily “bad.” He has other talents and skills and the Body is made up of many different parts.

I could tell you that his response to the broken and wounded is fabulous, but I’d be lying. It’s actually pretty darn appalling.

Daniel Fisher
Member

If people don’t see God as rigid and unyielding in his hatred of sin, they will never be able to see him as good in the light of horrific abuse. Pastor Wilson speaks of truths vital for a victim as being rigid and unyielding, and so do you. You are adamant (rightly so) that the compassion, love, and goodness of God be rigid, unyielding truths. So, you want to emphasize the importance for a victim of the question, “is God good”. But one of the most critical steps in answering that question for a victim is to help them realize… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Thank you, that is much clearer to me. I was mistakenly reading this installment as meaning that she must believe God willed this to happen to her yet not feel that God had failed her. Which struck me as a tough sell.

Daniel Fisher
Member

Both of those concepts would be things I need to address with the person also, in best timing. If a victim believes God doesn’t will these things, then ultimately there is no hope that anything good can come out of this, and that God is powerless to protect his children from hurt – or worse, he could but just doesn’t care enough to do so. We only have hope if we can trust he is in charge and allows such suffering for reasons that may one day become clear. To believe that God hasn’t failed her is another of the… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I think you make an excellent point about feelings. When my ex-husband left our marriage, I really struggled with depression and was not conscious of any angry feelings toward anyone. My cancer surgeon, a wonderful Coptic Christian, was the one who suddenly asked me if I was upset with God, and I realized I was. My feelings tend to be rigidly hedged with “should nots” and I would not have faced this on my own. It took an enormous burden from me.

Daniel Fisher
Member

Many of us, myself included, have disappointments, anger, and all manner of feelings in our hearts that we likely cover because “I shouldn’t be feeling this.” But not expressing those feelings, not wrestling with them or the root of why I’m feeling it, doesn’t make it go away, it just makes us more likely to go through empty motions. It is why I am such a proponent of laying all our feelings, the good and the bad, in honesty before God, where we can work it out – in the manner modeled to us in the Laments of the Bible.… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I am completely at sea here. Would the Calvinist position be to tell this girl that God intended and wanted her to be raped by her father? And that this would restore her faith and trust in her heavenly father and make her not be mad anymore?

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

I’m sure I don’t speak for Doug — and I’d start by saying we shouldn’t put the name “Calvinist” on this (though I’m sure what I’m about to say is completely consistent with this area of Calvinism), calling it rather the Believers/Faithful/Christian/Biblical position: You tell the girl that you love her. You tell her you’re so sorry. You tell her God knows all about what she’s feeling. You tell her God loves her. You tell her God will take care of all this and get her through. You tell her you don’t know why this happened but that He somehow… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

That would indeed be comforting. Thank you!

ArwenB
Guest
ArwenB

You tell the girl that you love her.

What, and risk re-traumatizing her because her abuser said the same thing while he abused her?

(I’m only being slightly sarcastic here)

Daniel Fisher
Member

Jilly, my take if helpful: A Calvinist (dare I say Biblical) position is to tell her, and everyone else, that God has planned “whatsoever comes to pass,” and in that very strict and particular and limited sense, he has intended everything that has ever happened – he intended Adam to eat the tree, he intended Joseph’s brothers to betray him, he intended Judas to betray Christ, he intended Pharaoh’s hard heart, he intended every sin that I’ve ever committed. I personally am very cautious about using the word “intend”, because it implies too much, it implies God intended it in… Read more »

Bdgrrll
Guest
Bdgrrll

If you are a Calvinist, you believe in something incredibly more cruel: that God wills that some people He created can never be saved. Maybe even the young woman suffering the abuse. Why would He even create people He would damn to he’ll for eternity?

Daniel Fisher
Member

If you are an Arminian, who believes in God’s omnipotence and omniscience…. You believe that God has willed that some people he created will never be saved, and that he created people he will damn to hell for eternity.

These concepts are hardly unique to Calvinists, no?

bethyada
Member

You believe that God has willed that some people he created will never be saved

Incorrect. Arminians do not believe that.

Elsewhere you wrote But not nearly so important as not interfering with the abuser’s free will. Because THAT would be a far greater atrocity

That is incorrect also. Arminians believe God interferes with man’s plans all the time. But if God interfered every time, then man would not have freewill, thus he would not be able to love.

Freedom is a necessary consequence of love. Love is primary.

soylentg
Member

“Freedom is a necessary consequence of love. Love is primary.”

And here I thought that I was being loving by keeping my dog from roaming free. Now I see that the loving thing to do would be to let her go out and get run over by a truck. Thanks for clarifying.

bethyada
Member

If you are just being amusing fine. But if this is a response then you have misunderstood my claim

soylentg
Member

Yes, I believe I have missed your claim. When you say “if God interfered every time, then man would not have freewill, thus he would not be able to love,” that leads me to understand you are saying that free will is a prerequisite for love. But then you say, “Freedom is a necessary consequence of love.” That leads me to understand you are saying that love is prerequisite for freedom. Are you making a distinction between free will and freedom?

bethyada
Member

When you say “if God interfered every time, then man would not have freewill, thus he would not be able to love,” that leads me to understand you are saying that free will is a prerequisite for love. You have understood me correctly here. A man must have freedom to obey or disobey for love to mean love. This is my claim and something many non-Calvinists hold to. But then you say, “Freedom is a necessary consequence of love.” That leads me to understand you are saying that love is prerequisite for freedom. I am saying that if God wants… Read more »

Daniel Fisher
Member

St. Lee above referenced a dog – I’ve sometimes used the more poignant illustration: If an adult child came into my house and announced that he was going into the back room to get a gun and kill himself, I doubt many of us loving parents would say what most Arminians effectively put into the mouth of God: “Son, I love you, and I don’t want to see you destroy yourself. But I respect your free will too much to interfere with your own free choices. If you are to love me and your mother, and not break our heart,… Read more »

bethyada
Member

The dog analogy was wrong not because I had a problem with it, it failed to address my comment because I was not talking about a man’s love and a dog’s freedom. I was talking about a dog’s love and a dog’s freedom.

soylentg
Member

Sorry to get back to this so late, but….
“The dog analogy was wrong not because I had a problem with it, it failed
to address my comment because I was not talking about a man’s love and a
dog’s freedom. I was talking about a dog’s love and a dog’s freedom.”

So I have taken away my dog’s (ill advised) freedom to play on the highway, and yet she still seems to love me. In fact, if I may be so bold, I would even suggest she looks on me as a “god.” Go figure.

bethyada
Member

And God may confine our freedom too. But removal of utterly all freedom is the problem

soylentg
Member

It seems that you have been completely misinformed as to the Calvinist view of free will. Think of it this way: unregenerate man has the freedom to choose God, but not the ability. In the new birth, God steps in and gently changes the elect’s will to conform to his; that is, to choose to follow Christ. In fact, one might say that it is only those who are of the elect who really do have freedom since before salvation we are all said to be slaves to sin.

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Can we alter the end of the phrase “unregenerate man has the freedom to choose God, but not the ability” to “not the inclination/desire/determination”?

And later “God steps in and gently changes the elects will” to “God steps in and inexorably & with loving strength (sometimes tough love that doesn’t seem so gently) changes his heart, will, mind, soul & inclinations”?

soylentg
Member

Well, I suppose “we” could alter those phrases as you suggest, and I would not object to your phrasing, but I really think mine is accurate. ;-)

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

At issue is supporting the concept of man wielding an independence unincumbered by the supposed robot-making control of an over-controlling God.

soylentg
Member

Yes, I agree, and that was I was attempting to show with my “freedom but not ability” phrase. What if I were to clarify that it is not God taking away the ability, but rather man’s fallen nature which precludes having the ability to choose God?

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Then we’d have to say, and should with glee, that man’s prefallen nature did not yet INclude the ability to choose only God — = our future condition.

bethyada
Member

I am familiar with this. I see confining freedom and changing our will as different things

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I can’t speak for Arminians, but the Catholic view of God does not have Him standing idly by while we hurtle toward self-destruction. We have sufficient grace to know right from wrong; we have the Gospel which commands us to repent and turn to Jesus for forgiveness; we have many graces to help us cling to our Lord; we even have guardian angels warning us to turn back from sin. We have the communion of saints, visible and invisible, whose example encourages us and whose guidance supports us. But we must respond to grace, even if only a little. God… Read more »

Katecho
Member

jillybean wrote: But doesn’t your view of God have him choosing among His creatures whom He will rescue and whom He will not? I invite jillybean to read Romans 9, which puts forward precisely this view. jillybean wrote: And isn’t this a purely arbitrary choice (in the sense that it is not based on merit)? Using your example, suppose that a father had two sons, both equally deserving (or undeserving), both of them troubled and both needing to be brought back from the brink of destruction. What would we think of an earthly father who, while entirely capable of saving… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I don’t understand why a dependence on human response makes it arbitrary. God loves us all, and wants us all to turn to Him in love and with repentance. God wants everyone to turn away from sin. What more could God have done to draw us to Him? God is in control of redemption in that He will not force it on anyone who truly does not want it. If I wanted to give all my neighbors a gift of $500, most would snatch it out of my fingers but some would likely refuse. Perhaps they would not want to… Read more »

Katecho
Member

First, I said nothing about force. Since God brings new birth and new nature, it’s not necessary for Him to force our will. We choose freely from our nature before and after conversion. The central theme is what God has done, and His particular redeeming love. Second, I’m going to assume that jillybean didn’t take the opportunity to refresh herself with Romans 9, because I see nothing in her reply that even attempts to reconcile with what it says about the nature of redemption. Jillybean just repeats her understanding that redemption is a thing indifferent ($500 on the table), and… Read more »

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

If, instead of $500, she had used a wedding invitation in her example, would that have been more appropriate?

On the subject of Romans 9, I would invite you to read this explanation

Katecho
Member

Callaghan wrote: If, instead of $500, she had used a wedding invitation in her example, would that have been more appropriate? Jillybean’s example of a faceless, nameless, impersonal, undirected gift of $500 was appropriate to make the point she was trying to make about the centrality of human redemptive choice, I just don’t find that narrative able to stand up to Scripture. I’m fine with a wedding metaphor, so long as we bother to read the parable to the end, where it says: “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there… Read more »

John Callaghan
Guest
John Callaghan

This was one of the most curious misreadings I’ve ever seen:

Jillybean’s example of a faceless, nameless, impersonal, undirected gift…

Literally, every one of those adjectives is incorrect – or at least 180 degrees opposite to how I read her little story. Very odd.

Here’s a link to an interesting debate that covers Romans 9. It grew out of a previous article pointing out that in Romans 9, St Paul is focused primarily on rebutting a false understanding of corporate election by his fellow Jews. Ignoring the Jewish/Gentile context for the chapter can lead to some unfortunate misreadings.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I’ve read somewhere that there was a general expectation, then as now, that a wedding guest ought to wear his best apparel. A guest who appeared at a wedding banquet in his common clothing was committing an act of disrespect against his host. I believe the meaning of the parable would be vastly different if we had been told that the evicted guest was wearing the only threadbare clothing he possessed, or if he had been so overjoyed at the invitation that he had torn his clothing in his haste to accept it, or if he had been told by… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I think you read too much (or too little) into my example. Why would you assume that my gift was not motivated by love of neighbor? Let me make it more specific: I live in a condo complex with 15 units. Having been chair of the HOA, I know them all; some I like more than others, but I feel empathy and concern for all of them. If I were to offer each family a gift (that I would pay their condo dues for two months, for example), how is this nameless and faceless? Likewise, I think you are assuming… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

You show your love for dogs and small children by keeping them safely supervised. But you show your love for your adult child by sending him out into the world, even though he would be save and loved at home.

Daniel Fisher
Member

An Arminian position indisputably affirms that it was God’s will to create some people that he knew, unerringly, would never be saved. If you wish to dispute this, you will have to be more specific which part you think I have misrepresented.

bethyada
Member

Knowing that some will not be saved and creating some specifically not to be saved are different things. You need to understand the Arminian position on its own terms, Arminians do not subscribe to Calvinist suppositions.

Daniel Fisher
Member

It is not simply that he knew they would not be saved, it is that he created them knowing that they would not be saved when he could have chosen myriad different paths. So yes, it is different in motivation from the Calvinist view, but not significantly in effect; In the Arminian view God creates people destined for destruction; he unerringly knows their destiny yet creates them and chooses not to intervene in their destiny in the myriad and subtle ways he could. Thus he “wills” their destruction in a very real sense, in that he could have but didn’t… Read more »

bethyada
Member

You are taking a consequentialist position which states that the outcome is the same. But the outcome is secondary, the motivation is what matters.

You are also still interpreting the Arminian position through Calvinist suppositions. Only God can save but God sets the conditions. That condition is faith. All men potentially could be saved if they had faith in God. God doesn’t create anyone for damnation. Hell was made for Satan and the angelic rebels, not man.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

“In the Arminian view God creates people destined for destruction; he unerringly knows their destiny yet creates them and chooses not to intervene in their destiny in the myriad and subtle ways he could.” You are mistaking Arminian (or Catholic) beliefs about God for deism. God’s grace has, from earliest childhood, given me the witness of the gospels, the teachings of His church, the example of saintly people, and the light of conscience. When I look back at sins I have committed, I can’t say that I was tempted beyond my strength; nor can I say that I had no… Read more »

Daniel Fisher
Member

In general, A Calvinist like me would not disagree with all the above…. But the bottom line still remains true that: God didn’t take any such steps as would *guarentee* anyone’s salvation (which I think most Arminians would most readily affirm). But as such, he still created them, allowed them to be brought into the world, knowing with unfailing certainty that they would be lost, and knowing that he would not take those particular actions the he would unerringly know would bring about their salvation. Giving them different parents? Having more people evangelize them? Giving them more neurons in their… Read more »

Daniel Fisher
Member

And if I can pick out one thing you said…. You observed (quite rightly) that God “places people in our lives…” Can I unpack that for a moment? If God sees a person with a need, he Can certainly do that, work out the course of history so that this person comes into my life, and gives me just the words I need. I imagine we both agree that God does this not by forcing their will, not by taking control of them, not by making them automata that have no free will; rather they come into our life completely… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I don’t know if Catholics are Arminians, but we are taught that while God knows some people will not be saved, that is not His will.
“3This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,…”

bethyada
Member

I don’t know if Catholics are Arminians

No, but as non-Calvinists they share some concepts about freedom and evil.

we are taught that while God knows some people will not be saved, that is not His will.

Which Arminians also claim.

Daniel Fisher
Member

This is the Importance of clarifying our words – us Calvinists will absolutely agree that God’s will (in the sense of his clearly stated and revealed command, desire, and intent) is for everyone to repent of their sins and believe his gospel, for everyone not to sin, for everyone to love him with their whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, etc., etc., etc. But whether Catholic, Protestant, Calvinist, Arminian, or ambidextrous, we all recognize that in some sense God has willed/intended/desired/allowed/acquiesced to/preferred/capitulated to/permitted/planned/ordained a state of affairs that is different than what he has revealed as his revealed will. Ultimately,… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Bdgrrll wrote: If you are a Calvinist, you believe in something incredibly more cruel: that God wills that some people He created can never be saved. God is able to save anyone. His raw ability is not in question. No one is eternally condemned because God was somehow incapable of redeeming them. Our sins do not overwhelm God’s power to redeem. Bdgrrll seems to have simply misunderstood Calvinism in that respect. Bdgrrll wrote: Why would He even create people He would damn to he’ll for eternity This is an important question for everyone to grapple with, but the reason that… Read more »

Bro. Steve
Guest
Bro. Steve

Bdgrrll,
Your objection applies to any belief in which God has foreknowledge.

Before the foundation of the world, He knew all that would come to pass. Rather than squish the clay a different way, He went ahead with creation as it is. If you can show me how the Calvinist and Arminian differ on this, you’ll be the first ever.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Thank you for a patient and helpful explanation. I wish I could say that I understand all of it, but the Catholic in me can’t accept God as consciously willing that people commit evil! I found your four final thoughts very comforting, and they are my own understanding as well. I get lost with the idea that God plans what He hates, as opposed to God using evil for good.

I did wonder, though. What would you say to this poor child if she asked whether her abuse indicated that she was not among the elect?

Daniel Fisher
Member

I can’t say I understand it either – for me and most Calvinists I know, it is a matter of becoming convinced it is what Scripture teaches, rather than if we understand it (or even like it!) But I read that God intended the evil Joseph’s brothers did to him, he intended the evil that Judas and everyone else did to Christ, he intended what the Assyrians did to Israel, God intended David’s ungodly census, he intended Rehoboam’s poor leadership. You read through the Bible and it begins harder and harder to miss – that we are absolutely free and… Read more »

Daniel Fisher
Member

Many people misunderstand the idea of election in general, so let me start there – election refers to God’s hidden plan, but one that will be revealed in history by our own uncoerced choices. A professor of mine once referred to every living human being on the planet as “potentially elect,” that I thought insightful. There are some people who misunderstand the doctrine to imply that they don’t have any choice in the matter of their salvation – it is more a matter of recognizing that, if and when they do choose to belong to Christ, they are able to… Read more »

D. D. Douglas
Guest
D. D. Douglas

I don’t know if this fallacy has a name, but it is clearly fallacious. You are faulting his conclusion by faulting the details of the analogy (that Adam suffered no pain in his surgery). And even here your quibble is questionable: First Adam wasn’t injured. Second, there were no effects of sin. Third, pre-anesthesia, in a post fall world, setting a bone was a painful experience. And even in this world of pain-killers God’s mercies of healing are often a painful experience. Maybe the bone can be set painlessly but in the real medical post op world for any operation… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Timely add — but let’s take a shot at why God put Adam to sleep. What sayest thou? Of course, there’s the literary metaphor of signalling death (reminding us of our need or Christ’s need to die in order to produce a bride), or a quasi-repositioning as half way back-to-dust for a do-over. Then there’s ME’s take that it was anaesthesia to lovingly mitigate pain. This might promote the idea that “God is here, if only to pick up the pieces as best He can” or it might be that He really is keeping pain at a minimum. Still allows… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“Still allows us to ask ME — why didn’t God put the raped gal into a comma first?”

Actually He often does, repressed memories, PTSD. That is a complex thing indeed, but there really is no rational explanation for either condition that does not point to the goodness of God, to His desire to protect our psyches. Both conditions are disabling,inconvenient,not survival oriented,and truly serve no purpose, except to protect our minds and spirits from farther damage. There are numerous abuse victims who report having left their bodies, looking down upon themselves, not even having really “been there.”

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

The only thing that would make sense to me is that, in a pre-fallen Eden, Adam can’t experience pain. Isn’t pain a legacy of The Fall?

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Can’t experience pain?
Why ever not?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Because there was no death and no illness. I thought pain was part of the curse that happened after the Fall.

Jane
Member

Right, since pain’s primary function is to signal malfunction, a perfect body in a perfect world has no need of it.

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

What do you make of the tree of life in the story? What happened when they ate of it?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

According to my beloved Milton, “the fruit/Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste/ Brought death into our world and all our woe.” I think, personally, that it was a simple test of obedience, and they failed. Evil consists in choosing or loving anything other than God. Eve loved her own will more than she loved God; Adam loved Eve more than he loved God. Even though the place might still look like paradise, it is no longer good because, from now on, whenever the choice must be made between God’s will and our own, we are likely to choose our… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Beautifully said.

And what do you think was the function of tree of life?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I know that some people attach mystical significance to it, as if it were equivalent to the fire that Prometheus was said to steal from Mount Olympus. They may be right. But I see it as having only the function of testing our first parents’ obedience. I believe that God gave us free will as part of our having been made in imago dei, and a world in which no test of obedience existed would mean a world in which free will was meaningless. I think that once Eve was willing to disobey God, any enticement the serpent offered her… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Very well thought out — but let me direct you to the other tree there — the tree of life.
What was the function of that tree?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I think the tree of life is opposite to the tree which grew the fruit of death. God will in some sense (unknown to me) use the tree of life to bring about the death of His Son, enabling us to enjoy eternal life in His favor.

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

interesting … so you equate tree of knowledge of good & evil = fruit of death

But back to the tree of life — what happened to Adam &/or Eve if they eat of this tree?
Were they supposed to eat of it?
What happened if they did not eat of this?

(Again — we’re going after trying to understand the pain / death situation prefall.)

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I don’t really know. Did they eat from it before the Fall, and it only became forbidden afterwards so that they would not be immortal like God? I should tell you that my views on all this are pretty hazy. Catholics don’t interpret Genesis as pure allegory and we believe in a historical Adam and Eve, but I don’t think we are literalists either. If pushed, I would have to say that I probably think there was death before the Fall. I tend to see the death that Adam and Eve incurred as being spiritual.

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

I knew that about your RC-related position, and am quite sympathetic. The point is that a tree whose fruit supported or moved them toward continued and presumably eternal living was available for the taking, yes? (BTW it was never later said to be “forbidden”, but rather was protected from their availability under threat of angelic-sword yielding. That’s important because it will later become available for us) Suppose for a moment that the first tree, who’s fruit was forbidden, had nothing evil about it whatsoever. Did God ever make evil? — No. Suppose its poisonous effect was conditional. That is, it… Read more »

Katecho
Member

I believe the tree of knowledge of good and evil was not the tree of experiential knowledge of acting out good and evil (God does not do evil), but that it was the tree of judging between good and evil as God does (“they shall be like Us…”), and the tree should be associated with maturity and glory. Recall that Eve exercises this type of judgment in declaring (prior to eating) that the fruit was good, beautiful to the eyes, and desirable. In other words, I believe the tree was reserved as a gift for Adam and Eve as they… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“Third, pre-anesthesia, in a post fall world, setting a bone was a painful experience.”

Are we attempting to define the nature of God here or the nature of man pre-anesthesia? I believe humans were actually out crucifying one another at some point in our history, but that does not speak to the nature of God either.

It does kind of speak to why we might need a Savior in the first place, however.

D. D. Douglas
Guest
D. D. Douglas

I was responding to your assertion that:
“A God who would set a bone without anesthesia is not good. Which is why our God did not do that.”

And the inference I make that Doug is applying his Calvinism and administration of the truths of God’s sovereignty incorrectly. My point is that assertion is wrong if not irrelevant. And the claim, even if true, as Perfect Hold says below doesn’t really help your argument.

wisdumb
Guest
wisdumb

”Our brains are hard wired to reject the immoral”…
In reality, our hearts are hardwired to reject the good – until we are regenerated.

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Proposed analogy mod:

Perhaps the actual wiring & hardware was installed at creation, therefore was & is connected to God, and is therefore good.

Our “hearts” (perceptions/motivations/thinking) have since been poisoned — so our “thinking” is rather more like virus-infected computer software.

adad0
Member

Memi, keep going! Godly people end up on the same page, even if they, by God’s Spirit, don’t read things exactly the same way.
As we have discussed before:
Jesus: has no one condemned you?
Woman: No lord!
Jesus: Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.

I expect the above is where Wilson is going with this.
Again, let’s ride this one out Memi. All Godly comments Honor God! ????????????

Mariano Ifran
Guest
Mariano Ifran

Dear ME, please listen to yourself: “A God who would set a bone without anesthesia is not good”

Tell to the God who gave for you His only begotten Son to die at one of the worst torture devices in the pre-anesthetics era. No irony intended.

Regards, Mariano

insanitybytes22
Member

“Tell to the God who gave for you His only begotten Son to die at one of the worst torture devices in the pre-anesthetics era.”

So the argument is, God sent His only son to die for us in the most brutal manner possible, therefore let our evangelism proceed in the same manner?

Katecho
Member

ME wrote:

So the argument is, God sent His only son to die for us in the most brutal manner possible, therefore let our evangelism proceed in the same manner?

No, the argument is that ME’s claim that, “A God who would set a bone without anesthesia is not good”, is false. Christ’s own suffering was not exactly pre-anesthesia either.

But if God’s goodness is dependent on us getting anesthesia, why did Christ refuse the anesthetic drink offered by His tormentors?

Clearly God’s goodness is not dependent on whether we get anesthesia for our pain.

insanitybytes22
Member

“Clearly God’s goodness is not dependent on whether we get anesthesia for our pain.”

And clearly the fact that God gave Adam anesthesia speaks to the goodness of God.

So, are you disputing the fact that God is good or do you wish to testify to the goodness of God? Because that is what this issue boils down to.

Katecho
Member

ME wrote: And clearly the fact that God gave Adam anesthesia speaks to the goodness of God. Something can be good, and speak to goodness, without being a requirement of goodness. What I want to dispute is, not the goodness of God, but the idea that divine or human goodness demands setting bones only after giving anesthesia. That is simply false. If anesthesia was completely unavailable, the bone would still need to be set, and it would still be an act of goodness to do so. No one (including Wilson) has said that treatments must be unnecessarily harsh, but sometimes… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“No one (including Wilson) has said that treatments must be unnecessarily harsh…”

He has indeed said exactly that. He has not proclaimed the goodness of God, he has declared himself to a bone setter. And he is not lost in the wilderness having no choice either.

You will never endear a Christian or a non believer to embrace a God who may just be a monster. That is the wrong approach and probably part of the reason why so many people are abandoning the faith right now.

Katecho
Member

ME wrote:

He has indeed said exactly that.

No. He hasn’t said any such thing at all.

As before, I invite ME to apologize to Wilson for deliberately maligning him.

insanitybytes22
Member

“We begin with the issues of truth, not because we are cold and hard, but because we are not. It is not because we want to inflict pain, but because a great deal more pain is coming if we don’t do it.” I have maligned no one. I take Wilson at this word and will not be apologizing for such things. He has clearly spoken of bone setting and pain, not once mentioned the goodness of God or told this girl that God loves her, and set forth his priorities which are all about mitigating harm to the church, to… Read more »

soylentg
Member

Anyone else suspect that at least one of the people frequently commenting here suffers from a mild case of multiple personality disorder?

Evan
Guest
Evan

Pheww, I thought I was the only one.

soylentg
Member

And magically, as if to confirm suspicions, that person has just now started referring to their self in the third person…

Evan
Guest
Evan

I see what you did there…

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

That happens only when I go off my meds. I meow at strangers who look at me funny.

Susan Gail
Guest
Susan Gail

I resemble that remark.

:-)

Katecho
Member

ME wrote:

This girl is nothing more than an inconvenience and the fact that she
was violated BY THE CHURCH seems to have escaped his notice.

But Wilson wrote:

The situation described in the following letters continues to be
entirely fictitious, including persons, names, crimes, sins,
relationships, circumstances and all particulars.

Something is definitely escaping someone’s notice.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Katecho, isn’t Blog and Maglog a great place for thoughts about doctrine, teaching and such be hammered out?

There aren’t many places — even in the internet world — where we can do just that.

Katecho
Member

Unfortunately, there seems to be too many people who just want a pound of Wilson’s flesh. They are an unfortunate distraction from more productive discussion. I think ME wishes she had written this fictional account about Gabrielle instead of Wilson. Her attempts to wrestle the plot away from Wilson necessarily result in a story of her own making, ironically with the focus off of Gabrielle, and onto Church blame, and leadership guilt. Wilson focuses his plot on how to best help Gabrielle sort things out, and avoid various temptations, whereas ME seems to want to place the attention on assigning… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

It is beyond me how any church leader can be expected to spot incest or pedophilia among his flock. We can only wish that signs of this wickedness were so visible that abused children could be rescued years earlier. I had a female student who confided to me that she was being abused by her stepfather. I had thought she was troubled because her grades did not reflect her high intelligence. As I met with her parents to try to get help for her, it was the abusive stepfather who was so concerned, so loving, so anxious to help her… Read more »

Katecho
Member

I don’t think leadership can be expected to preempt every such case, but I do think Wilson would be the first to agree that shepherds in the church do bear responsibility to be familiar enough with their member families to spot clear signs of trouble. However, ME is projecting her own narrative into this fictional exchange in order to reach her predetermined conclusion of a guilty leadership.

Conserbatives_conserve_little
Guest
Conserbatives_conserve_little

You can learn to spot them if yu educate yourself. http://www.findingahealingplace.com is where I learned a lot. I don’t agree with e Rey conclusion, but it is a valuable education resource.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Thank you, I will look.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

This made me think, with great sadness, about the plight of the children who were molested by priests. How much more difficult to turn to the church for consolation, and to trust in its authority, when the mere sight of a priest must have evoked pain in the victims.

insanitybytes22
Member

Are you generally obtuse or do you just suffer from reading comprehensions issues? We know this is a fictional story, but we also know it is an all too common scenario. In this story the girl’s father is a deacon in the church. A girl under their protection was abused by someone who the church elevated, promoted. Not only did the church fail to protect the girl, they enabled the abuse. She needs to know, is God good? Does He love me? And, is there some reason why I should trust the theology and authority of complete idiots whose powers… Read more »

Susan Gail
Guest
Susan Gail

Maybe I am missing something but it seems the girl didn’t/ doesn’t go to Wilson’s church in the scenario.

bethyada
Member

While I disagree with ME’s understanding of Wilson’s words above, the hypothetical does involve the church and I think that is what she meant. She thinks that this fact needs to be taken into account more.

Katecho
Member

ME is asserting a culpability of church leadership that was nowhere in Wilson’s exchange. ME is hijacking the narrative to impute guilt in the direction that she wants it to go, namely against authority and against church leadership. It’s one of the very temptations that Wilson is warning the hypothetical Gabrielle not to fall for (a fresh victimization). If there were obvious signs of abuse that leadership was ignoring, then you would see Wilson giving that all kinds of attention in his hypothetical exchange. But ME isn’t the author here, and she doesn’t have permission to upbraid Wilson for a… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

I am not upbraiding Wilson. I am not accusing Wilson of a cover up in his fictional story. I am accusing Wilson, (and now accusing you) of failing to apply the proper triage to the patient. You and Wilson’s first concern appears to be this girls potential problems with authority and you act as if you can cure that by whacking her over the head with theology. What both of you seem unable to recognize is that the best way to prevent people from having a problem with authority, is to make sure they aren’t being raped by their leadership.… Read more »

Katecho
Member

ME wrote: I am not upbraiding Wilson. I am not accusing Wilson of a cover up in his fictional story. Perhaps ME has suddenly forgotten her accusations and assignment of evil motives to Wilson. Here’s a reminder. ME wrote: What is glaringly apparent is that he is not actually concerned about what was done to her, about her needs, or about her feelings. She is the enemy, a potential weakness that could now lead boys astray, that could be used to make the church look bad, that might try to point fingers at God himself. Wilson’s first concern is damage… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“More than ever, I believe ME owes Wilson an apology for assigning evil motives to him, and maligning him without cause.”

If I am maligning him, then I am maligning us all, because we as “the church” are called to protect children, to build healthy families, and to heal the broken.

You take one look around the world today and tell me there hasn’t been an epic fail on that front.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

If everybody is guilty, then nobody is guilty.

On your reasoning, should the incestuous dad even be sent to prison? After all, everybody who goes to church is guilty of this girl’s abuse. Even if we never heard of her before. Even if she is purely imaginary. Under this scenario, only the unbelievers who stay home to watch football on Sunday morning get a pass.

This is like looking at a blood-drenched killer and blaming society.

Katecho
Member

jillybean wrote:

This is like looking at a blood-drenched killer and blaming society.

It also looks a lot like classic SJW identity politics. Wilson, as an authority figure, automatically belongs to the guilty class, and the girl is part of the privileged victim class.

Notice how Wilson is showing us how to help a Gabrielle not to fall into the blame trap cycle, while ME has cast herself in the role of inviting Gabrielle to soak in her victimhood status, and attach as much blame on authority as possible.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I am looking forward to the letter about forgiveness. I have tended not to have much trouble with forgiving people, but I realized in thinking it over that I forgive people by minimizing the offense or by finding circumstances that mitigate their conduct. Or by thinking that, if I had grown up like them or had their misfortunes, I might have behaved no better than they did. The problem with that is I wonder what I would do with conduct that truly is unforgivable.

lndighost
Member

Well, if the one who sins against you is a believer, it might help to think that his righteousness is the same as your righteousness, purchased in the same way as yours, by the blood of Christ.

If the one who sins against you is not a believer, it might help to remember that unless he repents he will be cast out forever from the presence of God, which is worse than any earthly punishment we could wish on him.

Katecho
Member

ME wrote:

If I am maligning him, then I am maligning us all, because we as “the church” are called to protect children, to build healthy families, and to heal the broken.

This attempt at misdirection won’t work. ME accused Wilson, not of falling short in some general, collective sense, but of specifically trying to shield the church from looking bad at the expense of a young girl. That’s what she needs to apologize to Wilson for.

insanitybytes22
Member

“ME accused Wilson, not of falling short in some general, collective sense, but of specifically trying to shield the church from looking bad at the expense of a young girl. That’s what she needs to apologize to Wilson for.”

I am speaking the truth and I will not be apologizing. I mean exactly what I’ve said,quite sincerely. I’ve also stated that my intent is not to malign or condemn Wilson.

Jane
Member

katecho, I wonder if it is worth your time to interact with someone who reads “you will be victimized by boys” and then thinks “the writer is trying to protect the boys,” is a fair and honest conclusion, as though you both believe language is consistent and intelligible. She appears to think written language is a vessel for the reader to pour her own views of the author into, rather than a vehicle by which an author communicates.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

In terms of the fictional fact pattern, how does this even make sense? Wilson was not her pastor, and her abusive father was not a deacon in Wilson’s church. You belong to a church. Is your church leadership responsible for harm done to a child by a parent who holds authority in another church, perhaps hundreds of miles away? And how could Wilson have prevented a rape among people he does not know and over whom he has no authority? This is nonsensical. You say that church leadership raped a child, and I think this is very misleading. Suppose this… Read more »

Katecho
Member

ME wrote: I have maligned no one. I take Wilson at this word and will not be apologizing for such things. Yet Wilson wrote: It is not because we want to inflict pain, but because a great deal more pain is coming if we don’t do it. Wilson is not against inflicting pain, if it will avoid greater pain. This is the very definition of being against inflicting unnecessary pain. Yet ME quoted Wilson in order to assert the opposite, that he somehow thinks treatments should be unnecessarily harsh and painful. Such a twisted reading is disgraceful and dishonest. ME… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“Wilson is not against inflicting pain, if it will avoid greater pain.”

Than perhaps Katecho should consider the fact that if ME’s words actually inflict pain, they only do so to avoid greater pain.

ME has not maligned Wilson nor does she intend to apologize for speaking the truth.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Where did he talk about mitigating harm to the church or people’s reputations? Did I miss an installment?

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Doug, You’ve evidently couched the “theological lecture” with loving attention. It’s putting presuppositional apologetics in action, isn’t it?: Since she is open to engage, she has already tacitly admitted the presuppositions you are merely spelling out. I once heard RC Sproul debate Bahnsen about whether or not we could be living in an environment that is necessarily logical or requires the God you’re talking about. Bahnsen: “Without God (Jesus and His laws of logic, etc) that would put us in a world of empty buckets.” Sproul: “Well why can’t it be possible that there are empty buckets?” ( why can’t… Read more »

adad0
Member

Perf, if we don’t like swamps, nice hard “pavement” is just the thing!????
“Make straight the paths of the Lord!” ????????

Susan Gail
Guest
Susan Gail

Still an appeal to circular reasoning on the basis of…..circular reasoning

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Nice assertion, but did you make an argument?

Susan Gail
Guest
Susan Gail

No, to be frank I just find VT apologetics bewildering and like throwing that brickbat around.

No VT student would dispute the assertion I made. Some of them would wear it as badge of honor. Or even reply (as maybe you did?) “So?”

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

I acknowledge that I don’t think Bahnsen or Van Til himself were able to quite nail down their own argument with a simple statement. Let me presumptuously try: Their apologetical goal = force the other person to admit that God must exist. Any other conclusion is impossible. I say that what presuppositionalists (like me) need to add = “for those with an interest to try to figure out whether He exists” Because the very attempt to “figure out” = an admission of all the logical steps that lead to proof-of-God. IF one allows for the possibility of logic, then one… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

“necessarily circular” —

the circle here might be called a spiral

all OUR human limited reasoning spirals to God who operates & maintains the machinery of logic

We’ll never be as good at it as He is, so will hit some walls.

Hence we can’t give that raped gal all the reasons why.

Katecho
Member

Reasoning about ultimate things is only circular if we try to reject our dependence on axiomatic faith. We only have to ride that endlessly circling carousel of rationalistic doom if we refuse faith as a valid means to certain knowledge. Presuppositional, axiomatic truth is not second class truth. A=A is not second class truth. In other words, faith is foundational and essential to proper reasoning.

adad0
Member

I’ll have to consider the gravity of this comment!
Gravity?
Hey wait!????

adad0
Member

Who knew Billy Preston was so prophetic about things “circular”?????

Susan Gail
Guest
Susan Gail

This kind of leads into my biggest frustration. A VT type once stated “where is the argument for the existence of God?” In that intramural firefight I responded that God is , and as the source of language and thereby logic, his existence is necessarily demonstrable and need not be presupposed. A fair argument when the fight is against those who hate God? Maybe maybe not, but one I find absolutely compelling in a discussion between believers. It just seems incongruous to hear a believer assert that God’s existence cannot be proved. He can argue that it shouldn’t be, but… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Susan Gail wrote: It just seems incongruous to hear a believer assert that God’s existence cannot be proved. He can argue that it shouldn’t be, but saying it can’t doesn’t sit well with me. Listening to some of them try and shoot down arguments for their own Saviors existence seems disingenuous at a minimum. I think Susan Gail’s instincts are good. We can offer lots of evidences and testimony of God’s existence, but this is all very different from the attempt to formally derive God’s existence as an unavoidable and logically necessary conclusion. The atheist wants to say that the… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Susan Gail wrote: Still an appeal to circular reasoning on the basis of…..circular reasoning Far from an appeal to circular reasoning, presupposition is the alternative to endless circular regression. A presuppositional approach is simply a recognition that certain truths in a system cannot be internally derived from other truths, and therefore must be accepted axiomatically. The general and inescapable requirement of presupposition (in mathematics and logic) was proven by Kurt Gödel (who was a Christian and an apologist). For example, it is true that A=A, but we can’t derive such a truth. We can only show that logic becomes impossible… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

But when Wilson says “all reasoning about ultimate things by finite creatures is necessarily circular” — he rather means that we must all “circle back to” God as the Source Who holds logic intact.

It is circular up to a terminus, and hence might better be called a spiral.

Presupposed must be a Key-Maker, a Logic-Fountainhead and Flow-Master.

A question apologetic presuppers might then answer = Would the proposal of a foundation for logic other than Jesus of Nazareth be logically self-contradictory?
(I saw yes)

Katecho
Member

PerfectHold wrote: But when Wilson says “all reasoning about ultimate things by finite creatures is necessarily circular” — he rather means that we must all “circle back to” God as the Source Who holds logic intact. Or we could just go straight there, by presupposition, and then stay there, like we do for the law of identity. I’m not convinced that circling away from this truth, and then back again, is necessary. The context of my reply was circular reasoning. Circular arguments have a specific form, where the proposition is used to (re)establish the truth of a premise. This is… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

“Nothing moves with regard to reason” = not true for presuppositionalists (P). P says God = reason’s handiman, and reason is one of His tools to move all. Now IF you were to stipulate the declared presupps of the non-transcendent worldviewers, you’d soon hit the wall. It’s their nondeclared presupps we’re bringing out — that they DO presuppose God. And not just god, but Jesus. And they can be led to acknowledge the logic of this. But not necessarily faith in Him. But my question for you, when you say we must affirm the necessity of FAITH — what in… Read more »

Daniel Fisher
Member

Pastor Wilson, Sir, I wonder if I might humbly offer an adjustment and/or clarification to your metaphor: I follow the intent and in general wholeheartedly agree with your observation that certain truths are critical to embrace as foundational before healing and recovery (otherwise they won’t be real healing). That being said – your description makes it sound like the theological instruction takes place, in toto, as a completely separate and discreet activity before we move to the various activities called “therapy and recovery.” In practice, I have found the process of working with abuse victims is more analogous to an… Read more »

Daniel Fisher
Member

Sir, One additional thought if I may – something that I have found especially beneficial to those I have counseled in this area is teaching them to utilize the various psalms of lament as examples for expressing to God their hurt, disappointment, and confusion. I completely agree with what you wrote above – that for a victim to find fault with God is to start on a path to destruction. That being said, many of the godly laments in the Bible are hard to distinguish at first glance from the godless complaining. On the surface they often sound similar; though… Read more »

J Bradley Meagher
Member

The nice thing about fictional stories is that you get to create your own facts. I prosecute these kinds of cases, and a much more common factual scenario is that instead of a confession, the father denies anything ever happened. He calls Gabrielle a liar, and there are no other witnesses. The prosecution will culminate in a very public and humiliating trial for Gabrielle. Compounding the problem will be a mother who takes the father’s side and blames Gabrielle for destroying their family, even if the mother believes Gabrielle’s testimony. I’m sincerely looking for some Godly, Christian advice on how… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

There you are.
What do you offer?

J Bradley Meagher
Member

It’s crime specific, and we don’t know all the facts. But assuming a B level sexual assault of some type, and the father has no prior criminal history, I’d probably offer low end of the standard range, or 51 months. But the question remains: How do I counsel Gabrielle that the just thing to do is to testify against her father?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

In the case I encountered when I was teaching in Canada in the early 1980s, the outcome was disastrous for my 15-year-old female student. Her stepfather did plead guilty, and served less than two years. When he was paroled, it was on condition that he not live with my student. The mother chose her guilty husband over her abused daughter, and the girl was placed into foster care. She had to leave her community as it was a small town, the mother called the girl a liar despite the guilty plea, and even the people who believed the girl thought… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“How do I counsel Gabrielle that the just thing to do is to testify against her father?” You cannot because best case scenario it will be a nightmare for her for many years to come. If she doesn’t want to testify, it’s likely because she is aware it’s a situation she cannot win. I can answer, is God good? Oh yes, very good! Is the legal system good to victims? Oh no, it just stinks big time, even when it thinks it’s done it’s job. The best you can do is call her to something higher, a desire to protect… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple of days. I have never gone through anything this dreadful, but there have been one or two rough patches in my life. Looking back, what helped me most was not the hand holding and affection I got from my friends, but the assurances I got from my mother that I was determined, tough, and would survive. Gabrielle has got this far without trying to harm herself or run away. Maybe an appeal to that inner strength and heroism would persuade a girl in that situation to testify against her father.

adad0
Member

First piece of Godly advice, stay away from Lundy Bancroft addled agencies and “ministrires”.

In US law, and in the Word, “witness”, either personal, document or forensic is required.
If the church or state do not have witness, don’t “prosecute”.

Bdgrrll
Guest
Bdgrrll

Calvinist is not necessarily the cast. Other Christian denominations could be the cast as well.

Dave
Guest
Dave

The Southern Baptists would be classified as a soft cast. A very, very, very soft cast.

Kevin Bratcher
Guest

I have to admit, I initially cringed at leading with the theology. But then today I read an ongoing discussion in a forum where someone posted about children submitting to their father, and the prevailing argument against was that “Some fathers are abusive” As though some fathers being abusive establishes the precedent that no child ought to submit to her father. So…theology in the face of abuse is important – as long as it’s presented with love. You really are protecting them from worse harm if their mind goes where it naturally wants – to rejection of all authority, up… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

You should have gone with your first response. It was the correct one. Don’t try to protect someones mind from where it is going to go anyway. That’s actually called emotional and spiritual abuse.

God can handle our minds just fine.

And rejecting authority should never be your first concern anyway. When a child is abused by a deacon in the church, declaring “don’t let this taint your eyes about authority,” is arrogant at best and foolish at least.

Kevin Bratcher
Guest

I submit that there may be a difference between protecting someone from where their mind is going, and at least informing them that it’s not a good place to be. It might be controlling of me to physically restrain a man from entering a dark alley in the ghetto, but it would be cruel of me not to tell him what is likely to happen if he goes (though, God will handle his fate just fine..) My other question in response to your approach, though, is: When *should* you engage them on what will often turn into rejection of the… Read more »

adad0
Member

Sounds like you are right Memi, God can handle our minds just fine. Some times He does that by leading with theology! ; – ) I don’t think Jesus was being emotionally or spiritually abuse with the woman at the well. I would not be surprised if a woman taking up with man number six, suffered some abuse from some of those 6 guys. I do conceede that most guys do not speak with the authority of Christ, neither do most gals. God does however, raise up His servants! John 4 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me… Read more »

denise njim
Guest
denise njim

Because all humans can make choices, good choices and bad choices, they are free moral agents in themselves and it’s not appropriate to look back on God the creator as the one who is morally responsible. Any more than a parent is held responsible for the sins of his/her child as long as they taught them right from wrong. Mankind is fallen… and the blame for that lies with man, not God. God has taught man right from wrong! God taught Adam, Adam disobeyed, Adam fell. Who was at fault? ADAM!!

Prudence
Guest
Prudence

There is no easy way to explain God. I had this vision when I was a new Christian of how my future children would love God because they would see how awesome he clearly was, because my eyes were opened and it seemed so obvious. I forgot how the human heart is naturally is rebellious to God. I never really struggled with the question of why bad things happen, for some reason. I felt like that’s not my question to answer. But it has become my question to answer. Because now, my young son is very concerned, for one thing,… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Children can ask the hardest questions. At some point children learn that their parents don’t have all the answers, but there are certain corner stakes and guideposts that parents can drive home for them, in faith. I think it’s important to communicate, in some age-appropriate way, that God, while being omniscient and all-powerful, is still able to create real persons who have their own agenda. This point can get lost when we are defending God’s absolute sovereignty, but such sovereignty is not incompatible with other agents, who are not just extensions of God’s thoughts and purposes. In other words, God… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Prudence, the Old Testament is full of stories of God allowing hard circumstances and sin to be used for His good reasons. Those stories are easy for a child to understand and reinforce Romans 8 we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

adad0
Member

Prudy, Sounds like you are living up to your name! The Word explains sin pretty well. Sin / death / condemnation came through the trespass of one man, and justification came though one righteous act. Why did God make men? Why did mom and dad make a 6 year old boy with great questions!? ; – ) Romans 5 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man,… Read more »

valerieab
Member

How firm a foundation you saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent Word! What more can he say than to you he has said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? “Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed, for I am your God, and will still give you aid; I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand, upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand. “When through the deep waters I call you to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow, for I will be with you in trouble… Read more »

Susan Gail
Guest
Susan Gail

Such a comforting hymn. Reassuring and calming even.

Sharon Dorminy
Member
Sharon Dorminy

As someone speaking from experience who knows the shame and self-loathing that comes through rape and abuse, I am extremely heartened by these “letters”. The doctrines of Calvinism, particularly the emphasis on God’s sovereignty in all areas of life, are surprisingly comforting. Had someone shared with me the “theology” at the first, I might have squirmed under it and stomped my feet a lot, but I know from this side that that would have been exactly what I needed. I wanted answers and I reasoned my way to the blame falling squarely on God who could have stopped things and… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

wow

valerieab
Member

Amen, sister!

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Re: Calvinism: Coleridge said that it is cruel in the phrasing, whereas Arminianism is cruel in the actual doctrine. http://themundanemuse.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-wolf-skin-of-calvinism.html

insanitybytes22
Member

Calvanism need NOT be cruel in it’s phrasing. One of my pet peeves in that people who are cruel in the phrasing tend to hide behind Calvanism.

I’m all about tripping through the tulips, but that does not mean you now get to shriek some poorly understood definition of the elect to someone wondering if their kids are ever going to be saved.