John Piper Explains God’s Will in Scrabble and Child Molestation and We Pick Up the Pieces

“Aunt Mercy put down her tiles, one at a time. I-T-C-H-I-N.
Aunt Grace leaned closer to the board, squinting. "Mercy Lynne, you're cheatin' again! What kinda word is that? Use it in a sentence."
"I'm itchin' ta have some a that white cake."
"That's not how you spell it." At least one of them could spell. Aunt Grace pulled one of the tiles off the board. "There's no T in itchin'." ― Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures link

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=53283&picture=scrabble-board
Scrabble Board

I believe in a sovereign God. However, I believe in a sovereign God who is big enough that He does not have to specifically control every last detail in our lives in order for His will to be done. Today I could choose to go to lunch at Panera, skip lunch, bring lunch to my elderly parents, make myself a bologna and cheese sandwich and each of those choices could fit within in His will.

I believe that a sovereign God puts checks and balances in place so that certain things do not happen. For example, I believe that God would most likely prevent us from blowing up this entire planet and killing everyone on it. He has said things would end a bit differently. I believe that, on occasion, God intervenes and causes a miracle to take place that fits within His very large plan for the human race.

I believe that He wants us to be faithful to Him in whatever choices we make. In other words, a bank teller could have as much or even more of an impact on this world as a missionary or pastor so long as the bank teller is mindful of God in his/her work. Our good friend Matt Redmond wrote a book called The God of the Mundane which brilliantly and simply discusses this. 

I had planned to write another post today but yesterday I read the following post from John Piper. I found myself confused by his absolute assuredness of his position in How to Know the Will of God. He appears to offer contradictory thoughts and I am interested in getting feedback from our readers.

Piper apparently preached this sermon: How to Know the Will of God: Finding Direction with the Renewed Mind at the Good Shepherd Community Church, Portland, Oregon. If you wish to listen to the sermon, here it is. I am quoting the relevant part from his post at his Desiring God website.

First I will present Piper's argument and then I will explain why I have problems with Piper's exposition.

God controls each and every letter that you get in the game of Scrabble.

1. Did you know that the game of Scrabble is not just a game? It has eternal significance! 

  • God decides each and every letter that we get!
  • We should pray about which letters we get.
  • This is a marriage issue.
  • This is a family issue.
  • God knows who *needs* to win.
  • This is a kingdom issue.

2. Did you know that God determines the results of every dice roll Las Vegas and also controls your unconscious mind.

John Piper believes this with all of his heart. Dee, on the other hand is absolutely exhausted to think that God believes each and every little game I play with my kids or husband has eternal significance beyond just enjoying each other. However, Piper claims that God is controlling our unconscious mind as well. So, we don't have to worry about which had to open the door. God is taking care of it without us even being conscious of it.

So “will of God” means “all things God does.” All things. He works all things according to the counsel of his will. This extends to the details of all existence. Matthew 10:29, “Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from our Father in heaven.” Proverbs 16:33, “The lot, the dice, are cast in the lap and every decision is from the Lord.” In Reno, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, every dice rolled God decides what turns up. I believe that with all my heart.

I play Scrabble with my wife. We don’t gamble. But we reach our hand into the bag to pull out letters. Now do you pray at that point? I need a “Z”. She is way ahead. I totally believe God decides what letters come out in my hand, so I do pray. And I thought through how I should pray. This is a marriage issue. I don’t pray: Let me win. Oh, no, no, no. God knows who needs to win. So I pray: For the kingdom and for the family. Whoever needs to win, for humility or encouragement, you know. So I don’t try to pull rank on her and pray for victory. No way.

…So this afternoon you are probably going to make decisions about what? Half a dozen things that you are going to do. Might watch a ball game, might take a nap, and you think them through. Think of pros and cons and you do them. The rest of your life and you are going to make hundreds and hundreds of actions between now and the time you go to bed tonight that are just going to flow out of you, like Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the hear the mouth speaks and you will give an account for every idle word.” And you didn’t plan 95 percent of them.

If you think that God doesn't have any will for things that we do spontaneously, that he only has a will for things that we do decisively, I say that that is ridiculous.

God has two wills: a will of command and a sovereign will.

Those two realities, which are in the Bible: 1) God has a will of command — “Thou shalt not kill.” And 2) God has a sovereign will — I ordain that my Son be killed; I ordain what I forbid. That those two things are in the Bible corresponds to profound longings and needs that you have in moments of crisis and loss. You may not have thought this through, but you experience it. Suppose you were abused as a child and it has borne sad fruit for many years. Some uncle sexually abused you, or a dad. And somebody is trying to help you, counsel you and work through the implications of that. And somebody asks you, Do you think that was the will of God?

God disapproves of child sex abuse.

I don’t know how you would have answered before, but I have tried to give you a structure of biblical thought to know how to answer that question in a way that not only corresponds with the reality of biblical truth, but with deep needs of your soul. One need is to believe God hates what happened there. And when he was looking at the abuser he was saying, “Don’t do that! That is contrary to my will. I command you not to do that!” He hates what he sees and will approve of judgment. You need to believe that God is right there disapproving.

God can turn everything, including child molestation, into eternal good so don't push Him away. (Bear with me here.)

Secondly, you need to believe that God is sovereign, so sovereign in that moment that he can turn everything for your glorious and everlasting good. And if you try to solve the problem of God’s sovereignty at the moment of crisis and push him so far out of that moment of causality, so far to the edges, you know what is going to happen?

You will now be left with no God to help you deal with this and turn it good. He will be useless. You have just shoved him off into a realm where he can’t have anything to do with what happened. His will couldn’t be involved in it. His governance of the universe cannot oversee it. You cannot have a God who in anyway would ordain that it come to pass. And in your pain you shoved him so far to the edge of the universe that for the rest of your life you are crying out to a God to do miracles yet you have pushed him away.

God will provide miracles for the molested child so long as she believes God willed it. If she doesn't buy it, she will lose God. 

If he can’t govern that moment, he can’t govern the rest of your life and do the miracles you need for him to do. So you need two things. You need a God who disapproves of the ugliness and you need a God who ordains that all things come to pass and is so sovereign he can take everything — including that — and work it for good.

And so you try to say there is no sense in which the sovereign God willed that, you will lose God for the rest of your life.

God will meet your needs so you will shine like the sun.

And you need two things: a God who can empathize with you as a high priest and hates sin. The definition of sin is God hates it and says, “Don’t do it! I forbid it.” And you need a God in that moment who is totally sovereign and governing all things so that even the sin being done against you is folded into his purposes for you and you can shine like the sun someday even in spite of that loss, that pain. 

Does God care more about Scrabble letters than child molestation?

Due to this blog, I have met a number of people who were molested as children and have been privileged as they have opened up their lives to me. Many of these folks have somehow managed to hold onto the faith in spite of being terribly damaged by the horrendous abuse they have suffered. Some have been able to go on. Others still hurt in spite of praying for God to heal them. Some are unable to shine as the sun in this life. God, for some reason, decided not to perform John Piper's promised miracles so far in spite of their pleading and seeking after God.

In the post John Piper mentioned disease and death as other examples of pain that can occur during life. Due to my daughter's struggle with a brain tumor, I have spent more days than I can count in pediatric oncology units. Has John Piper ever seen little children crying day in and out from pain and fear, only, in the end to lose their lives as their parents cried and begged God to save their child. What about little Jessica Lunsford? This beautiful 9 year old girl was abducted, sexually brutalized and buried alive, suffocated and died alone and in pain. Where was the sunny miracles for all of these?

Piper has presented a God who carefully picks out Scrabble letters during a game. He presents a God who decides on the spin of every dice in Vegas. In fact, Piper appears to have presented a God who cares more about picking out Scrabble letter for the good of His kingdom than he does about little children who are tortured. 

I find little comfort, as usual, in the words of John Piper and I am one who has a daughter who survived her brain tumor. However, perhaps I just don't get  J O 1 H N 1  PI 1PE 1R 1 .

Comments

John Piper Explains God’s Will in Scrabble and Child Molestation and We Pick Up the Pieces — 581 Comments

  1. Okay, so God hates sin but he wills it to happen anyway so he can have something good come from it? And the little child who loves Jesus and is molested or in pain from cancer or is being murdered and KNOWS that God does not want her to suffer has then lost God forever? Because she SHOULD believe that he has willed her suffering?

    Piper is a monster.

  2. Oh this is wretched. So much I could write here, but I’ll restrain myself.

    If I thought God knew and decreed all the sadness in my life, I think I’d come permanently unglued.

  3. I would hate to think that there are pastors shielding active child molesters who are committing crimes against children under the teaching that God wills it to happen so He can bring ‘good’ out of it for the child . . .

    please tell me this is something that cannot possibly happen in that strange Neo-Calvinist world?

    there seems to be a strange confluence of ‘control’ and ‘abuse’ all supposedly blessed by God for the purposes of ‘His glory’ . . . it seems too evil to be something that any sane person would accept

  4. Piper truly needs a good psychiatrist. Piper is so obsessed with God’s sovereignty,he’d have you think he’s the author of it.

    He twists a loving God into an evil ogre. How the frig can a molested CHILD know the will of God??

  5. When my son was born, he spent time in the NICU, we took him home and then had to re-admit him to hospital. My wife wasn’t healing too well from her C-Section. It worked out in the end due to the tireless efforts of trained professionals. I don’t think our son was any more special in the grand scheme of the universe than any of the other children in the hospital, some of whom I know were dying or have since died. If Piper is to be believed, God is a fickle, mean spirited deity who actively and arbitrarily chooses to inflict pain and suffering regardless of how “good” a person is.
    In Piper’s reality, the pedophile has no responsibility. God already ordained that this must happen so that there would be a greater good to come (no doubt bringing our brother to the Lord through restoration because of course the child is just an object that must submit a man’s will).
    What a sick way of looking at the world. But what do you expect from a man whose whole belief system revolves around control? He controls therefore God must do the same…

  6. So God chooses Scrabble letters but He didn’t choose for the victim of molestation to push God away (according to Piper) by somehow “denying” God because they believe God hates evil and has nothing to do with evil? So basically Piper is saying that if anyone rejects his view of Sovereignty – that God did not in eternity past “choose” whom to save than those people have pushed God away and there is no way to come to God unless you accept Calvin’s/Piper’s view of “sovereignty.”

  7. @ Jack:
    It’s because Piper and Friends believe that God is really just like man – therefore if Piper can only be in control by controlling than God can only be in control by controlling even the minutest of details. They have a very low view of God and true Sovereignty.

  8. Piper has presented a God who carefully picks out Scrabble letters during a game. He presents a God who decides on the spin of every dice in Vegas. In fact, Piper appears to have presented a God who cares more about picking out Scrabble letter for the good of His kingdom than he does about little children who are tortured.

    IN’SHAL’LAH…

  9. Other than the fact that JP does not seem to understand (1) how to fit concepts together to make sense, (2) what good and evil look like when he sees them, (3) what constitutes ‘normal’ for humans, (4) the character of God, (5) how ideas have limitations and boundaries, (6) how Jesus clearly said he felt about children, (7) what Jesus saw in people whom he assumed would do good to their children even though the adults were ‘evil’-the fish and bread thing, (8) when to keep his mouth shut, (9) how to love and most of all (10) when to go see a professional and get evaluated himself…well, allowing for all that then his comments could be seen as merely idiotic rather than straight from the pit.

    Nah, I am trying to say maybe there is some pathology, but this may just all be evil.

  10. “And so you try to say there is no sense in which the sovereign God willed that, you will lose God for the rest of your life.”

    God did not will my molestation, my rape, or any other of the evil things I suffered in my life — especially not in the sense John Piper says. Is God sovereign? Yes. Are we puppets on a string? No. Missing from all this is the concept of free will, but the hyper-Calvinists don’t seem to believe in that anyway.

    This statement of Piper’s makes me angry. Furious, in fact. Because it is a lie from the pit of hell, and I don’t say that lightly. Thank God that I did not encounter this when I was struggling with the whole question of where God was when horrible things were happening to me or to people I care about.

    I have NOT lost God. I am closer to Him now than ever before in my life. That includes during my time spent in the Reformed theological camp. I understand God’s love much better than I ever have. I trust Him much better. It is His love that has brought me a greater degree of healing than I ever thought possible in my wildest hopes and dreams.

    My life, especially over the past two years, exposes Piper’s statement as a damnable lie. Don’t believe it. Not for a second.

    ACK!! I’m so angry that I better stop before I get to ranting.

  11. John Piper presents an exaggerated emphasis on God’s sovereignty that distorts Biblical teaching. The Calvinist God is not the God of the Bible. Piper is living proof that if you preach this stuff long enough you will go crazy. His teaching is a maze of contradiction, reflecting a man who has become confused. He is done, but he just hasn’t quit yet.

  12. Wow. I just read Nate Sparks letter to Piper. He nails it on the head. I wander what the chances of Piper reading it are? Or even Doug Wilson?

  13. @ harley:

    Isn’t it good? I’m eating dinner in a restaurant in Leesburg, Virginia and I almost jumped out of my chair thrilled. Loved it! When I get home I’m going to tweet the hell out of it!

  14. So, why is Satan even mentioned in the Bible??? If God controls every thing and every one down to the smallest detail, then the Devil has absolutely no influence on anything or anyone!!! The Evil One is completely shut out, powerless, and helpless! The Roaring Lion is toothless and clawless !!!

    Ooooh yeah! We can do anything we please! If we hurt someone …… hey, it’s God’s will! HE is in control of EVERYTHING ~~~ He does not just allow thing to happen! He makes things happen. He is the Grand Puppeteer!!! We are simply mindless puppets!
    BTW ~~ Piper’s ideology clears Eve and Adam from any guilt associate with eating the forbidden fruit. That was all God’s fault. He made ’em do it!!!

    What a crock! The Pied Piper does not need to see a psychiatrist or be evaluated. He needs to be committed!!! I’ll quit typing now, before I go off the deep end, too! (Opposite side of the deep end Piper is on!)

  15. @ Rebecca Prewett:
    I did encounter this argument a few years ago when I was wrestling with the question of where God was when I was being molested. It caused me great pain and confusion and contributed to one of the darkest periods in my life and faith. I came as close as I’ve ever come to walking away.

    Thankfully, God’s love is way bigger than man’s bulls*** and He walked me through that by bringing others into my life that spoke better things of God.

    This really does paint a picture of a God who is a monster and should not be worshipped.

    /end rant/

  16. mirele wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    IN’SHAL’LAH…

    Yeah. That’s exactly what I thought. John Piper’s gone full Wahhabi.

    Yes. And how many followers does Piper have? How many hang on his every word? How many have been influenced by him over the last 30 years.

  17. How does one resolve the discrepancies with the obsession of minor details, i.e.: who the winner of Scrabble will be, with TULIP? Calvinists like Piper cling staunchly to TULIP and therefore, do the details of what Christians do on a second-by-second basis have any bearing on ULIP? (That’s right, I left out T) You see, the way I see it is that if one believes in Unconditional Election, they have been chosen REGARDLESS OF ANYTHING THEY HAVE DONE OR DIDN’T DO. And, if one believes in Limited Atonement, it means that all those who have been Unconditionally Elected to salvation were atoned for. And is one believes in Irresistible Grace, it means that those who have been predestined to salvation (the U of TULIP) are unable to resist the grace of God that will save them for eternity. And finally, if one believes in Perseverance of the Saints, it means that all those who have been elected to salvation will MOST CERTAINLY persevere to the end – because God will MAKE them persevere – there can be no other outcome. (remember Calvinists are Monergists not Synergists). So, what does all this obsessing with every little detail really accomplish for a Calvinist like Piper who believes that God orchestrates everything from beginning to end and what we do or don’t do has no bearing on our salvation anyway? (Monergism) Should we find some consolation in being mere puppets controlled by the Master Puppeteer? Why be concerned at all about every little detail when our will is basically squelched because God controls every little detail? Piper needs to rethink his theology.

  18. Awesome Dee. And thanks for everyone that read my post and those from here that took the time to comment. Appreciated greatly. Grace and Peace to you all.

  19. If John Piper’s God is as sovereign as he claims, why does he believe an abuse victim can shove God so far off that God can not intervene? Piper is foolish.

  20. There are some things that cannot be reconciled. It may be that when we pick our set of beliefs, we pick those whose conflicts are ones we can deal with. Fortunately, it is not our responsibility to resolve these things. We just have to deal with them and not dwell on them to the extent that it makes us unable to live.

  21. Patty in Massachusetts wrote:

    People actually listen to this man?

    Yes they do. I stood up to people who were spewing this in a home group once. The couple quit coming because the leader wouldn’t silence people who disagreed with Piper.

  22. Mae wrote:

    Piper truly needs a good psychiatrist. Piper is so obsessed with God’s sovereignty,he’d have you think he’s the author of it.
    He twists a loving God into an evil ogre. How the frig can a molested CHILD know the will of God??

    I’d like Piper to sit face to face with a five year old who was sexually abused and tell her the actions were ordained for her good and God’s glory. Then let him watch this girl grow up to self harm, attempt suicide, and hate Piper’s god.

  23. There’s, I believe, God-given design in us that certain things truly horrify us – I recall the image on the news story of ISIS burning the Jordanian pilot alive.

    That image horrifies and haunts me on a primal level, as I’m sure it does most folks.

    I can’t help but think, to have–and love–a theology like this, what kind of walls your mind has to construct to numb this kind of horror – the horror of eternal *decreed* damnation for the un-elect, the horror of a child raped and murdered…. I can’t continue.

    This world can be hard enough to cope with without dirtying the hands of our greatest Comfort. You can keep saying that Calvinism/etc doesn’t make God author of evil all you want, but if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, smells like a duck, but you can’t call it a duck, then you get serious cognitive dissonance.

  24. John Piper is a loon. *Don’t blame me for writing that. God made me do it.

    *This is great. I can blame God for everything. He made me lose my temper. He made me fart. (Actually, this isn’t great- it is the sad culmination of hyper-Calvinism. The Lord must weep over what he gets blamed for.)

  25. I may be repeating someone above, but I haven’t read all the comments yet.

    However, I can’t help but wonder: how weak is someone’s faith that they feel need to explain every little thing that happens as God’s preordained will?

    To me, the need to understand and explain everything, comforting yourself in the knowledge that you make no decisions for yourself or on your own, is not faith at all; it’s fatalism. And fatalism has more in common with Nietzsche than I am comfortable with.

  26. That was my first church, seventeen years ago, and just down the road from me now! I’m apparently still on their mailing list, because I found a postcard in the mail a couple of months ago advertising that visit. For the low, low price of $20 per ticket.

  27. This world can be hard enough to cope with without dirtying the hands of our greatest Comfort. You can keep saying that Calvinism/etc doesn’t make God author of evil all you want, but if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, smells like a duck, but you can’t call it a duck, then you get serious cognitive dissonance.

    I’ve seen people spiral downward spiritually when they hear this —especially those who have been abused. And then you see the Neo-Cals smiling and rejoicing at this glorious grace and it leaves me scratching my head, “say what?”

    And of course these are the same people who don’t understand the meaning of kindness, and think love = yelling the difficult truths of the Gospel to strangers and expecting them to repent. Something is entirely messed up here.

  28. Amen.. As a practicing scientist there are plenty of things in the natural world I do not understand, nor does anyone, and most probably nobody ever will… But, it seems the NeoCals need to have everything figured out, all in a nice neet little theology… Same for Fundy and YEC… I really think at the heart of much of this just plane old arrogance…. I want to have all of the answers!
    Julie Anne Smith wrote:

    This world can be hard enough to cope with without dirtying the hands of our greatest Comfort. You can keep saying that Calvinism/etc doesn’t make God author of evil all you want, but if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, smells like a duck, but you can’t call it a duck, then you get serious cognitive dissonance.
    I’ve seen people spiral downward spiritually when they hear this —especially those who have been abused. And then you see the Neo-Cals smiling and rejoicing at this glorious grace and it leaves me scratching my head, “say what?”
    And of course these are the same people who don’t understand the meaning of kindness, and think love = yelling the difficult truths of the Gospel to strangers and expecting them to repent. Something is entirely messed up here.

  29. If God controls every minute detail of our lives, that would make him the Holy Micromanager, not the Holy Spirit. If human micromanagers are rightfully detested, what would that make the God of Every Tiny Detail?

  30. He contradicts himself either God chooses our every move for us or He doesn’t! You can’t have it both ways JOHN PIPER!!! I’m offended with this sermon. No John Piper my child was not chosen to be a victim of abuse by his perpetrator nor by the church. Actually both chose to victimize him and disobey God’s law and therefore man’s law. God does not orchastrate evil nor does He chose it for us. It is the result of living in a sin filled world with sinful people who chose evil rather than blessing.

  31. Victorious wrote:

    Piper needs to retire. In fact, he’s overdue.

    I think that Piper is psychotic. He is surrounded by enablers who tell him he is somehow profound and clued in to the very mind of God. He is not – he is wack-job.

    How does this bizzarro nonsense get traction in the ‘Christian’ ‘Community’?

  32. I just can't [deal] with John "pii$$ (ed.) me off" Piper right now. I just can't. I refuse to believe God our Creator who knew us before we were even born, preordained/controlled/directed/willed my mother to be diagnosed this week with stage IV breast cancer metastasis. I refuse to believe in a god who would ordain this. I refuse John Piper's god. The God I know hates this just as much as I do.

  33. I remain unconvinced that Piper’s god is the God of the Bible. Sorry. There it is. I wrote it. I claim it. I own it. This god is conflicted within himself, both hating and decreeing every sinful minutiae, and this god, through men like Piper et al., reveals himself as schizophrenic.

    The next time I’m tempted to sin, and I actually do sin, I’ll know exactly who’s behind it. Not John Piper’s god (James 1:13); and if I find myself castigated by Calvinists for my comments, I’ll just claim I’m being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. I’m going to start using their tactics against them.

  34. @ okrapod:
    #10 on your list describes my first reaction to this garbage. This man has serious problems and has no business being hired for speaking engagements.

    I do not recognize the “god” he believes in.

  35. Can i just say that, apart from anything else, his professed beliefs about both Scrabble and games of chance are pretty much a tip-off re. his mental state? I cannot imagine why anybody would want to listen to anything he has to say.

    It’s also a very, very strange belief, all on its own.

  36. roebuck wrote:

    How does this bizzarro nonsense get traction in the ‘Christian’ ‘Community’?

    All you have to do is string a bunch of verses together with enough tape and circular conveyor belts to give it a faux-plausibility, and voila!, you’re in like Flynn.

    Play upon the fear of where they’ll spend eternity for not knuckling under and hoeing the row and they’ll be like putty in your hands.

    After that you can sell them chocolate covered dog$hit and they’ll eat it up with gusto.

  37. @ William:

    I most definitely am blessed by all the people reading. I’m curious about your weekly links. Is it a blog thing. I’m actually fairly new to blogging (3 months) and still learning the ropes. Would love to see what you’re doing. I might learn something 🙂

  38. Bridget wrote:

    If John Piper’s God is as sovereign as he claims, why does he believe an abuse victim can shove God so far off that God can not intervene? Piper is foolish.

    And Piper’s god chooses your scrabble letters but chooses not to protect children? That is what he is saying.

    So what is OUR responsibility in all this? To protect children from molesters and from guys like Piper.

    Piper is both a silly little man and very cruel.

  39. William wrote:

    I remain unconvinced that Piper’s god is the God of the Bible. Sorry. There it is. I wrote it. I claim it. I own it. This god is conflicted within himself, both hating and decreeing every sinful minutiae, and this god, through men like Piper et al., reveals himself as schizophrenic.
    The next time I’m tempted to sin, and I actually do sin, I’ll know exactly who’s behind it. Not John Piper’s god (James 1:13); and if I find myself castigated by Calvinists for my comments, I’ll just claim I’m being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. I’m going to start using their tactics against them.

    If you do that, get them actually thinking through the implications of what they mouth like dumb parakeets…their brains will explode, and that will be on your conscience.

  40. “Those two realities, which are in the Bible: 1) God has a will of command — “Thou shalt not kill.” And 2) God has a sovereign will — I ordain that my Son be killed; I ordain what I forbid.

    I was told just the other week by a Calvinist that God is a murderer even though He told us not to kill. That was this guys view of Jesus Christ and the cross. It did not occur to him that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh and sacrificed Himself for us. To him, Jesus Christ is a different god (has to be in that scenerio)…a lesser god that the Big God killed off to appease His anger.

    As is often said here, A cruel God makes a cruel man, Thomas Paine.

  41. There may be more things I’d like to say about this post (there’s so much to mull over), but for now, I wanted to comment on this part (by Piper):

    If he [God] can’t govern that moment, he can’t govern the rest of your life and do the miracles you need for him to do.

    Wait. I thought Piper is all into the sovereignty of God stuff, so what is with all the uses of the word “can’t”?

    John Piper’s great, all powerful and sovereign God is incapable, powerless, and too inept to govern the rest of this survivor’s life, perform miracles for him / her, etc.?

    I thought the Calvinist God can do anything (barring illogical stuff)?

    I’m not sure how to explain this, or maybe I’m re-hashing the first part of what I said, but Piper also seems to go against Calvinism by making it sound as though God is helpless to act and do X, Y, or Z, unless or until the hypothetical abuse survivor he’s writing about does her part, or does ‘whatever’.

    Since when do Calvinists believe that God is dependent on human choice, action, or human ‘whatever’ to accomplish his purposes??

    Why would the human have to think a certain way about her abuse or do “thus and so” before God was free or capable to do X, Y, or Z? Why is a Calvinist of all people making God hampered by human will, human action, etc????

  42. @ Daisy:

    P.S.) Ad if the hypothetical abuser survivor Piper is writing about decides NOT to allow God to “govern her abuse” (whatever exactly that means), does that not mean (in Piper’s theology) that God foreordained her to be or to think that way?

    So, to be consistent with Piper’s views, isn’t the victim’s reluctance to see God’s will behind, or in, her abuse something God caused to start with???

  43. roebuck wrote:

    I think that Piper is psychotic. He is surrounded by enablers who tell him he is somehow profound and clued in to the very mind of God. He is not – he is wack-job.
    How does this bizzarro nonsense get traction in the ‘Christian’ ‘Community’?

    It’s because of a generation of boys who had horrible relationships with absent, disengaged or sadistic fathers, as a result never grew up to be men, and cast about for a hero, somehow setting their eyes on this odd little man.

    I don’t think he’s truly psychotic, but I do think he’s addled and nosing badly over the edge. Having experienced him in person more or less in his prime two decades ago, I thought then he was arrogant, falsely humble, insufferably smug and self-congratulating. Today, he’s more into the realm of pathos, but that is typically what happens with one who in their prime thinks they are Just All That.

    Why does this happen?

    It’s because of the culture of hero worship in modern day pseudo Christendom, where celebs are treated with kid gloves and surround themselves with a coterie of willing sycophants who hang on their every word.

    It’s because of a theology which essentially eliminates the woman and her insight and wisdom and emotional strength (which is typically greater than that of the man) from the picture, so that men are left to seek counsel from other men, who typically lack the spiritual insight to offer much of anything.

    It’s because the arrogant man surrounds himself with like-minded individual, cuts himself off from true correction and discipline, and eventually becomes a crank, given over to an unsound mind.

  44. Another thought. In the Old Testament, I think there were a group of people who were sacrificing their infants to the god Molech (or Baal?), putting living babies on burning hot statues?

    And didn’t God say he found that detestable and wicked?

    I don’t remember the text indicating that God was like, “These people are sacrificing live infants to their false god, this is all to my glory, I orchestrated this, so it’s all good.”

  45. @ Eagle:

    I linked to one or two of Nate’s blog posts on the previous Al Mohler thread, his posts about gender complementarianism (they are very good), and he posted a few comments here.

  46. EricL wrote:

    The Lord must weep over what he gets blamed for.

    I’m not positive of this, but isn’t “taking the Lord’s name in vain” really about people who attribute evil to God?
    Which would kind of be what John Piper and guys like him are doing when they say God causes or directs a person to abuse a child? He’s ascribing evil to God.

    And my memory is murky on this, but aren’t there biblical passages that say things like that God is good, God does not tempt people to do evil, etc.?

  47. @ Law Prof:

    Mind you, I was once a Calvinist, and trained to think just like them. Unreal. My parents and I were talking about that very thing this evening over dinner. It really did transform me into a supreme jerk — for Christ and the Gospel, of course. 😉

  48. Daisy wrote:

    He’s ascribing evil to God.
    And my memory is murky on this, but aren’t there biblical passages that say things like that God is good, God does not tempt people to do evil, etc.?

    Don’t go confusing these people with the Bible or anything, now, those are unfair tactics. That book really mucks things up for them.

  49. “And you need two things: a God who can empathize with you as a high priest and hates sin. The definition of sin is God hates it and says, “Don’t do it! I forbid it.”

    So God hates sin, yet wills it to happen. I can understand Calvinism up until this point.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the whole point that God does everything for his own glory? Everything else is just petty and stupid human experience. So what if we can’t see how something brings God glory? It does because he says it does.

    I can understand this, however dark and terrifying it may sound. But why the insistence on God actually disliking sin?

  50. Using his reasoning we would have to say that God is the author of sin because surely God willed that Adam and Eve should eat the fruit in the first place. The reality is that this is the only logical conclusion one can arrive at from such an extreme position. Maybe he realizes that and he is coming literally unglued trying to steadfastly hold to his lifetime belief while at the same time realizing the only place where it can ultimately lead to is complete blasphemy. If this not mental illness then the only other option that comes to mind is utter deception that might come from believing such a doctrine of demons.

  51. Daisy wrote:

    John Piper’s great, all powerful and sovereign God is incapable, powerless, and too inept to govern the rest of this survivor’s life, perform miracles for him / her, etc.?
    I thought the Calvinist God can do anything (barring illogical stuff)?
    I’m not sure how to explain this, or maybe I’m re-hashing the first part of what I said, but Piper also seems to go against Calvinism by making it sound as though God is helpless to act and do X, Y, or Z, unless or until the hypothetical abuse survivor he’s writing about does her part, or does ‘whatever’.
    Since when do Calvinists believe that God is dependent on human choice, action, or human ‘whatever’ to accomplish his purposes??
    Why would the human have to think a certain way about her abuse or do “thus and so” before God was free or capable to do X, Y, or Z? Why is a Calvinist of all people making God hampered by human will, human action, etc????

    This, all of this. Piper’s god(little g) might be sovereign, but he’s also powerless.

  52. When I read what Piper wrote, and other things I’ve seen posted it makes me wonder if he is having issues with clear thinking as he ages.

  53. GovPappy wrote:

    I can’t help but think, to have–and love–a theology like this, what kind of walls your mind has to construct to numb this kind of horror – the horror of eternal *decreed* damnation for the un-elect, the horror of a child raped and murdered…. I can’t continue.

    Reichsminister Speer called it “arranging his mind”.

  54. Julie Anne Smith wrote:

    And of course these are the same people who don’t understand the meaning of kindness, and think love = yelling the difficult truths of the Gospel to strangers and expecting them to repent. Something is entirely messed up here.

    Julie Anne, they are just being like their God.

    An Omnipotent Control Freak who is God just because He holds the biggest Whip.

  55. Law Prof wrote:

    It’s because of the culture of hero worship in modern day pseudo Christendom, where celebs are treated with kid gloves and surround themselves with a coterie of willing sycophants who hang on their every word.

    Khristian Kardashians.

  56. John Piper is Larry David with no sense of humor, and with a brain disease that makes him a fanatical religious whacko. I don’t take John Piper seriously in any respect. He simply doesn’t matter.

  57. Daisy wrote:

    I’m not positive of this, but isn’t “taking the Lord’s name in vain” really about people who attribute evil to God?

    According to all the Jewish sources I’ve seen and heard, that IS the original meaning of the commandment.

    Convenient that it has been redefined to mean cussing and ONLY cussing, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?

    Which would kind of be what John Piper and guys like him are doing when they say God causes or directs a person to abuse a child? He’s ascribing evil to God.

    That’s what happens when you resolve the paradox of evil by putting God beyond good and evil. God Wills whatever God Wills, and who are we lowly worms to call it Evil?

    But when you put God beyond good and evil… Well, God becomes a Cosmic Lord Voldemort:
    “There is no Right, there is no Wrong, there is only POWER.”

  58. Law Prof wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    He’s ascribing evil to God.
    And my memory is murky on this, but aren’t there biblical passages that say things like that God is good, God does not tempt people to do evil, etc.?

    Don’t go confusing these people with the Bible or anything, now, those are unfair tactics. That book really mucks things up for them.

    Bible? What Bible?
    We have Calvin’s Institutes!

  59. Ruth wrote:

    When I read what Piper wrote, and other things I’ve seen posted it makes me wonder if he is having issues with clear thinking as he ages.

    Others have speculated the same about that other shoot-off-his-mouth, Pat Robertson.

    But NOBODY tells The CELEBRITY that he’s losing it and it’s time to retire.
    NOBODY tells The CELEBRITY anything The CELEBRITY doesn’t want to hear.

  60. For the record, what Piper is teaching is NOT Calvinism. It is Hypercalvinism. We were taught in seminary that hypercalvinism is a bad thing, and I agree with that – but what wasn’t taught (I now realize) was an effective argument against it in Calvinist terms.

  61. Corbin wrote:

    I can understand this, however dark and terrifying it may sound. But why the insistence on God actually disliking sin?

    This is about the only mystery in theology that the internet crusading Calvinists will acknowledge – and even then, you’re more likely to be beaten over the head by them with Romans 9 (“who are you, mere mortal, to question God”) than to get an acknowledgement of the mystery.

  62. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Piper has presented a God who carefully picks out Scrabble letters during a game. He presents a God who decides on the spin of every dice in Vegas. In fact, Piper appears to have presented a God who cares more about picking out Scrabble letter for the good of His kingdom than he does about little children who are tortured.
    IN’SHAL’LAH…

    Have a former student who converted from Church of Christ to Islam….this is exactly what he says on anything that ” goes wrong.” Even if you are at fault.

  63. I can imagine a child abuser in court saying that he should not be held accountable because Piper said that what he did had been willed by God. WHAT A HERESY!!!!

    Piper, as do most 5-point calvinists, makes God into a monster that no child should love or admire. And it is not the God that JESUS taught us about. It is time we focus our faith on the red-letters in the Bible and interpret all the rest in light of the teachings of Jesus, the Christ. It will prevent such heretical theologies as the own Piper has been spouting for decades.

  64. Daisy wrote:

    I’m not positive of this, but isn’t “taking the Lord’s name in vain” really about people who attribute evil to God?
    Which would kind of be what John Piper and guys like him are doing when they say God causes or directs a person to abuse a child? He’s ascribing evil to God.

    It could be that Piper isn’t just attributing evil to God. He seems to talk as though God is dependant on evil… as if He needs our evil to fully express His goodness. I got a similar vibe from the Mormons’ view of God when I studied with a couple of their missionaries years ago — I recall them saying that God needs the devil to test His work. The idea revolted me then, and it revolts me now.

  65. With Piper’s theology there is absolutely no need for Satan. In fact both God and Satan are working toward the same purpose: Satan really has no need to prowl the earth plotting calamity because our all-wise God has that covered. The wide path that leads to destruction? Our loving God had it planned all along that 99% of those made in his image would walk it. To a fiery torment that doesn’t last a billion years…it never ends…that he may be glorified forever! I recall a footnote in my MacArthur study bible that basically said, “God is sovereign over Satan, because God controls Satan!” Like an evil puppet , apparently. To every Calvinist I say again, “No wonder the Scriptures say, ‘The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.’ “

  66. An Attorney wrote:

    I can imagine a child abuser in court saying that he should not be held accountable because Piper said that what he did had been willed by God. WHAT A HERESY!!!!
    Piper, as do most 5-point calvinists, makes God into a monster that no child should love or admire. And it is not the God that JESUS taught us about. It is time we focus our faith on the red-letters in the Bible and interpret all the rest in light of the teachings of Jesus, the Christ. It will prevent such heretical theologies as the own Piper has been spouting for decades.

    There is no love of Jesus, our brother, friend, redeemer, nor any mention of the Holy Spirit, who empowers us and is our comforter.

  67. Janet Varin wrote:

    I recall a footnote in my MacArthur study bible that basically said, “God is sovereign over Satan, because God controls Satan!” Like an evil puppet , apparently.

    Thank you for brining up that footnote. I am going to find it. It would be a great base for a post on determinism.

  68. Mae wrote:

    nor any mention of the Holy Spirit,

    The Holy Spirit is a bit of difficulty for Calvinistas. In their system, God’s call to repentance is infallible. If He calls you must come and you have no choice in the matter. Once called, you are regenerated and can accept the faith. If God called and you didn’t respond, in their system, God is weak.

    So, we know the Holy Spirit, which is one of the members of the Trinity, is also God and His call should be just as effectual as both God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. So, why is it that the Holy Spirit seems ineffectual in the lives of believers? Believers sin as much as nonbelievers.

  69. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    He seems to talk as though God is dependant on evil… as if He needs our evil to fully express His goodness.

    I have heard Calvinists argue this very point. Evil magnifies God’s goodness.

  70. An Attorney wrote:

    I can imagine a child abuser in court saying that he should not be held accountable because Piper said that what he did had been willed by God

    I believe that Piper revealed his thinking in this post by using the game of Scrabble to speak towards my contention that his theology is simply determinism.When he argues that God controls our unconscious minds, leading us to use whatever hand he chooses for us to open doors, he steps over a line.Each one of us is simply in application on God’s IPhone.

  71. K.D. wrote:

    .this is exactly what he says on anything that ” goes wrong.” Even if you are at fault.

    I did not know that. Thank you.

  72. Eeyore wrote:

    you’re more likely to be beaten over the head by them with Romans 9

    I have had a number of conversations with Calvinists off line. When I keep asking them question about determinism, Romans 9 always, without a doubt, comes up. It is like Ken Ham’s rejoinder. “Were you there when God created the earth?” It stops the conversation.

    They are playing a semantic game. By utilizing Romans 9 to refer to you in a disagreement, they are stating that they, amazing Christians that they are, do not question God because they *know* they are interpreting the Scripture absolutely correctly.

    In fact, I believe it runs even deeper. I believe there are some Calvinists who are fearful that they may not be one of the elect. So, if they prove they have no problems with a God doing all sorts heinous things, they are obviously one of the elect.

    Me? I struggle with God and the things in Scripture. As I struggle, i find myself drawing close to God. As Lewis said “He is not a tame lion.” I find, in Him, both comfort and challenge-enough for this lifetime.

  73. “It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.”
    ― Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

  74. Eeyore wrote:

    For the record, what Piper is teaching is NOT Calvinism. It is Hypercalvinism.

    Your comment is interesting. Years ago, I made this argument. But, the Calvinists jumped down my throat saying that hyperCalvinism is God choosing and creating, before time, both those who are elect and those who are damned.

    Now, this makes no sense to me. If one is a Calvinist, one believes that God deliberately chooses the elect. Therefore, those who are not chosen are damned. So, I never got the difference. I still don’t, no matter how many books on Calvinism that I read. I think I will need God to get me a tutor in the next life.

  75. An Attorney wrote:

    It is time we focus our faith on the red-letters in the Bible and interpret all the rest in light of the teachings of Jesus, the Christ.

    Hebrews 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being …”

  76. dee wrote:

    In fact, I believe it runs even deeper. I believe there are some Calvinists who are fearful that they may not be one of the elect. So, if they prove they have no problems with a God doing all sorts heinous things, they are obviously one of the elect.

    I believe it was on this blog that I learned of the doctrine of “evanescent grace.” Just when you thought unconditional election couldn’t get any worse. Sheesh.

  77. Eeyore wrote:

    For the record, what Piper is teaching is NOT Calvinism. It is Hypercalvinism.

    As always, keep in mind that Piper’s background is Bob Jones theology – mix that with a dash of Calvinism, and I think that explains -but does not justify- the weird logic that we see here.

  78. @ brian:
    Well, that woke me up. There was a moment in that video…Piper was recounting what God’s reaction would be to Dawkins, Hitchens etc. when the told him they thought the world was created by natural forces. Piper says God will look at me and just laugh. See if you catch it.Was it a slip? I guess Piper will be standing right beside God as He judges others.

  79. @ Dash:
    Unfortunately, Piper matters a great deal to some people who are pushing his theology as the modern day equivalent to the Institutes.

  80. There is a profound difference between a love for Jesus and a love for one’s complex abstraction of Jesus. The former inspires people to lay down their lives for others, the latter inspires people to take the lives of others.

  81. dee wrote:

    Eeyore wrote:

    For the record, what Piper is teaching is NOT Calvinism. It is Hypercalvinism.

    Your comment is interesting. Years ago, I made this argument. But, the Calvinists jumped down my throat saying that hyperCalvinism is God choosing and creating, before time, both those who are elect and those who are damned.

    Now, this makes no sense to me. If one is a Calvinist, one believes that God deliberately chooses the elect. Therefore, those who are not chosen are damned. So, I never got the difference. I still don’t, no matter how many books on Calvinism that I read. I think I will need God to get me a tutor in the next life.

    Or John Piper will tutor you, for you apparently will be eternally subordinate to him.

  82. Eeyore wrote:

    For the record, what Piper is teaching is NOT Calvinism. It is Hypercalvinism. We were taught in seminary that hypercalvinism is a bad thing, and I agree with that – but what wasn’t taught (I now realize) was an effective argument against it in Calvinist terms.

    That’s a good point. I remember my 9marks pastor getting to a point (I believe he was going through 1 Peter) where he had to address double-predestination because the passage hinted at it, and he just said simply, “We don’t believe it means that” and moved on. With their hermeneutic, how can it not mean that? I can read “plain English”.

  83. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Khristian Kardashians.

    Hey HUG
    Have you seen the twitter account for @KimKierkegaardashian? It never fails to make me laugh.

    https://twitter.com/KimKierkegaard

    Here is sample.
    “On the yacht in St. Barths, realizing we are just as deceived by the joys of life as by its sorrows.”
    “Have a safe weekend, everyone. Sunscreen will not protect you from despair.”

  84. Richard wrote:

    Using his reasoning we would have to say that God is the author of sin because surely God willed that Adam and Eve should eat the fruit in the first place

    This is one of the sticking points for me in Calvinism. I cannot get past this and I have tried. I have been told by a number of Calvinists that I do not want to follow a sovereign God which always startles me.

    Thankfully, I have read some books by folks like Roger Olson who helped me to see that my sticking points are the same one he and others have.

  85. @ dee:

    Yes, Dee is right, this is Calvinism 101 and is *not* hyper-Calvinism. Read Calvin. He has made some of the same remarks as Piper (or Piper is merely repeating Calvin, and especially Beza), even if Piper expounds upon Calvin’s theology in more modern detail.

  86. Corbin wrote:

    I can understand this, however dark and terrifying it may sound. But why the insistence on God actually disliking sin?

    You are brining out another sticking point for me.

  87. Law Prof wrote:

    There is a profound difference between a love for Jesus and a love for one’s complex abstraction of Jesus. The former inspires people to lay down their lives for others, the latter inspires people to take the lives of others.

    Whoa….post of the thread….

  88. K.D. wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    There is a profound difference between a love for Jesus and a love for one’s complex abstraction of Jesus. The former inspires people to lay down their lives for others, the latter inspires people to take the lives of others.
    Whoa….post of the thread….

    Law Prof….can I use this in my blog later this week?

  89. To Our Readers

    I want to place this in the comment section instead of the banner section for various reasons.

    My mother in law has been diagnosed with both lung and liver cancer and we will most likely need to move her down here from Cape Cod. We may also need to take her rescue pug dog, Samantha.That will bring me up to 4 rescue pugs
    .
    My stepfather is beginning to fail and is becoming confused.

    My mother is in serious pain due to severe back deterioration: she has both kyphosis and scoliosis and degenerative disease and will need a few procedures as well as cataract surgery.

    I am the designated caretaker for all of them- a role to which I agreed.

    My son was diagnosed with narcolepsy which is quite rare and is on an orphan drug called XyRem and an amphetamine during the day. He is not feeling well He is graduating in December but he may need further medical evaluation.We are having to give him a great deal of support to finish up college.

    My husband just switched his practice to Duke. The switch took a lot of effort but he is quite happy.

    If I seem distracted in the weeks to come, please bear with me. This blog is a stable point for me and brings me much joy as I read your thoughts and get to know some of you. Hopefully, things here will continue as usual.

  90. Nate Sparks wrote:

    @ William:
    I most definitely am blessed by all the people reading

    Please feel free to discuss your blog and put links to it here. We love to encourage all bloggers!

  91. God’s sovereign will makes sense to God. No one else. It’s like the image from an electron microscope. It only makes sense to a few highly trained experts. The rest of us can talk about it but we really don’t know what we’re looking at. The experts would think us foolish to talk about an image in any detail. We’re foolish to talk about God’s sovereignty in any detail. To talk about child abuse in the context of God’s sovereignty is worse than foolish. It’s blasphemous.

  92. @ dee:
    Dee, thank you for sharing. I’m sorry for all the extra struggles. I will be praying for you, your family, and especially those suffering right now. Grace and Peace to you in this time.

  93. Dee, thanks for the invitation to share. I won’t be long winded, but the short of it is my passion for challenging the way we talk about gender in church. I have been bothered by this for a while and finally found a vehicle to reach people.

    I have been truly blessed in the last few days by he number of people reading and responding to my work. I want to thank the throng of people coming from this site. I have had the second most referrals (somewhere on the ballpark of 300) from the links people have posted. Special thanks to Daisy and Eagle for promoting it!

    I hope to see more readers, and especially more people engaging critically. I love a good paton the back as much as the nextguy, but I also love dialogue and welcome respectful disagreement always.

    Here is the general link for my blog: https://natesparks130.wordpress.com/

    Grace and peace to you all,

    Nate

  94. @ dee:
    Wow. You really have a lot of very difficult responsibilities on your plate. You are a wonderful person, and somewhere down the line, God is going to bless you for your big heart and your sense of commitment.
    Prayers that God will give you the wisdom and guidance to make the best decisions for you and your family, and the strength and ENERGY to follow through.

  95. @ dee:
    That is a LOT on your plate at the same time, with your parents and all. =[ Sorry to hear this. I’m glad we can be a little corner of comfort through it all.

  96. dee wrote:

    Eeyore wrote:

    For the record, what Piper is teaching is NOT Calvinism. It is Hypercalvinism.

    Your comment is interesting. Years ago, I made this argument. But, the Calvinists jumped down my throat saying that hyperCalvinism is God choosing and creating, before time, both those who are elect and those who are damned.

    Eeyore and Dee (and William and Law Prof), I think that Piper’s theology is far more Jonathan Edwards than John Calvin. Edwards was a double predestinationalist (“hyper Calvinist”), but he had trouble refering to himself as such. Given Piper’s love affair with all things Edwards, it makes sense that he (Piper) would teach the same thing in a modern context.

    Furthermore, Piper’s comments on abuse victims is in line with Edwards’ view on the death of infants/children. Edwards believed that infants/children who passed away (prior to what we might consider the “age of accountability”) were damned to hell for eternity. Needless to say, when our four year old special needs daughter passed away in 2003, I had a minor crisis of belief thanks to Edwards. In this instance, John MacArthur actually brought me much comfort through his book, “Safe in the Arms of God.”)

  97. Dash wrote:

    I don’t take John Piper seriously in any respect. He simply doesn’t matter.

    Well, we better take him seriously! The Pied Piper has been a tremendous influence in drawing away a generation into reformed theology. Thousands, perhaps millions, of New Calvinists in their 20s-40s idolize the man and his teachings … they have fallen under his spell and anxiously await the next Piper Point to retweet across cyberspace. When I think of Piper, this passage always comes to mind “Beware of Alexander the coppersmith – he has done us much harm.” Piper books are best-sellers; his conferences attract thousands. He is to be taken seriously … his teaching is aberrant … but, his impact is tremendous.

  98. @ Burwell Stark:

    Great point regarding Edwards and Piper — and I think you’re right. Again, though, I think Edwards (and of course Piper) merely expounds upon the foundation laid by Calvin.

    Consider Calvin’s worldview and theology in this quote: “Therefore, whatever men or Satan himself devise, God holds the helm, and makes all their efforts contribute to the execution of his judgments.” See Institutes of the Christian Religion (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2008), 1.18.1. Any consistent Calvinist will admit the same.

    For another example, Wayne Grudem writes, “God influences the desires and decisions of people. …” See Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, ed. Jeff Purswell (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 143. See also The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter III. Of God’s Eternal Decree: i., ii.

    Really? God influences our desires and our decisions? I don’t know this god nor do I care to know this god. A holy and just and righteous God would never influence my desire or decision to offend or sin against another human being, to say nothing of His own righteous self. I truly wish the deceived neo-Calvies would wake up and realize the charges they’re actually making against the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  99. dee wrote:

    I have been told by a number of Calvinists that I do not want to follow a sovereign God which always startles me.

    I like how CS Lewis put it in “The Case for Christianity”:

    “God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can’t. If a thing is free to be good it’s also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.

    Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. (…) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”

  100. @ dee:

    My heart and prayers go out to you. I remember such days well. This was one reason I gave up traveling which was required in my career. I don’t regret one moment of it. I call it mercy living and it is an exhausting honor to make their last years with us as comfortable and peaceful as we can.

  101. Hi Dee, Oh I’m sorry to hear that so much suffering is being had by your nearest & dearest. I wish it wasn’t so. I also wish I was there so I could do something useful for you, like clean the house or wrangle the pugs. Big love to you.

  102. dee wrote:

    I never got the difference. I still don’t, no matter how many books on Calvinism that I read. I think I will need God to get me a tutor in the next life.

    It’s a distinction that only makes sense, I suppose, inside the God’s-sovereignty-as-a-given worldview of strict Calvinism. At least, I never heard of a non-Calvinist “getting” it.

    While I still incline to Calvinist views myself, I’m now much more open to keeping divine sovereignty and human free will in paradoxical tension.

  103. Well, I only got as far as the fourth paragraph of Mr Piper’s sermon, to where he said, “Don’t make it cancel other Scriptures,” and I thought I’d take him up on that thought — because it seems to me that so many doctrines of Neo-Calvinists and Neo-Puritans do exactly that. They “overstate” and “extrapolate” (to use his own words) and thereby cancel out other truths.

    I really think that the confused view of God’s will and our choice dehumanizes us, and that makes his theological system inherently abusive. It leads inevitably to learned passivity — which leaves “leaders” in a position of power to dictate what *must* be done, since they are now mediating between God and the non-leaders.

    Seems like a lot of this past week’s readings have brought up these subjects. It’s spurred me on to try to refine what I think about determinism and fatalism in Christianity. FWIW, here’s some of what I came up with.

    * A false emphasis on determinism logically leads to fatalism (and failure to take responsibility), if not nihilism (and loss of hope ultimately).

    * That kind of theology isn’t just CalvinISTic, it’s “CalvinESTic” — a virulent mutation that out-Calvin’s Calvin, with a DNA to dominate all other theological life forms.

    * If choice is not truly meaningful, then there is no such thing as “wisdom” in selecting among options, only obedience to the one and only one thing that’s right. There is no “creativity,” only conformity. There really is not much of a trajectory of progression with our Savior, only orbiting around confession of our failures.

    * It’s all very fear-inducing, because we never know if we’ve done enough. But then, isn’t that the essence of all legalistic systems, whether salvation or sanctification by works?

    * My own thinking about this is that God implants in us design, but without determinism. That means there may be many *plausible* directions we could go within the possibilities of our giftedness, life circumstances, and the times in which we live — but we can discern and decide which goals to pursue and what routes to take as *preferable.* God’s gracious providence is part of our horizon and our pathway, and we should respond, not remain passive. But that requires a desire to move on to maturity, not stay stuck in legalism, which the Scriptures tell us bring no one to maturity.

    When I lived out these kinds of doctrines of determinism myself in my 20s and into my 30s, I found that they made me fearful of “missing out on God’s perfect will,” crushed my imagination, and negated any real sense of having any good reflection of God’s image in my humanity. They poison our spirit and quench the Holy Spirit — and that is immensely sad.

  104. @ Burwell Stark:

    Yeah, Piper is indeed very Edwardsian in his theology. He was also kind enough to gift me with a small crisis of faith because of it. He stated publicly at a Reformed conference that anyone who did not have positive emotional feelings towards God on a regular basis was probably going to Hell. Being a chronic mild depressive, that was not exactly “good news” to me. Fortunately, my pastors at the time were able to walk me back off the end of the branch, and deconstruct Piper’s not-so-helpful views of sanctification.

  105. Ruth wrote:

    When I read what Piper wrote, and other things I’ve seen posted it makes me wonder if he is having issues with clear thinking as he ages.

    Actually, he was thinking this 20 years ago, too. He just honed his passionate flowery verbosity and as he became more popular and morphed into a full fledged guru, his illustrations became more and more non sensical and bizarre. Personally, I think it was his passionate delivery that sucked people in. Not his scholarship.

    He pretty much melded Bob Jones type of fundamentalism (He was raised in the world of Bob Jones) into Calvin’s Systematic Theology via Jonathan Edwards, his hero. (Kind of like how Grudem merged charismata and Calvinism)

    Therefore, Piper is not of the frozen chosen variety of Calvinists who tend to respect other people’s views. He is basically an “evangelist” for determinism. (His dad made a living as an evangelist in the insular world of Bob Jones, so it is what he knows)

  106. @ dee:
    Dee, thank you for letting us know so that we can pray for you. And thank you for continuing the work at TWW at the same time. We appreciate what you and Deb and TGBTC do to make this resource and refuge available.

  107. Eeyore wrote:

    He was also kind enough to gift me with a small crisis of faith because of it. He stated publicly at a Reformed conference that anyone who did not have positive emotional feelings towards God on a regular basis was probably going to Hell. Being a chronic mild depressive, that was not exactly “good news” to me. Fortunately, my pastors at the time were able to walk me back off the end of the branch, and deconstruct Piper’s not-so-helpful views of sanctification.

    This just flat out makes me angry. I saw the same thing with some others a few years back when his “Christian Hedonism” was so popular. I am not a fan of Boyd but he was somewhat of an antidote to Piper at the time for some people mired in Piper because he was actually scholarly about it being ok to have doubts and question God.

    You know, I don’t know how Piper gets by with it. The OT is full of God’s people questioning Him and even doubting Him! The real problem is not enough people are questioning and analyzing what Piper teaches.

  108. @ Eeyore:

    Oh, my, that is so tragic! I hope I don’t offend anyone, but I cannot help but think that his Charismatic / Pentecostal beliefs about the Holy Spirit influence some of his theology obvious in statements like the one you quote. Calvinism + Pentecostalism = Danger.

  109. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    really think that the confused view of God’s will and our choice dehumanizes us, and that makes his theological system inherently abusive. It leads inevitably to learned passivity — which leaves “leaders” in a position of power to dictate what *must* be done, since they are now mediating between God and the non-leaders.

    Bingo. And yes, it stunts growth, maturity, wisdom, imagination and developing talents/ gifts. And this is one reason I worry so much for youth immersed in this thinking.

  110. __

    Blue Ocean: “Defining Good Enough?”

    hmmm…

      John Piper says that his God has enough life boats for His ‘Elect’ ™, so not to worry, Dee.

    Whew!

    (For a second I thought weeee had a problem…)

    (grin)

    hahahahahaha

    John Piper has subscribed his entire religious career to the teachings of the 16th century theologian John Calvin.  He clearly demonstrates the body of his belief system. 

    What?

      Your mission Dear Wartburg Watch Reader is to determine for yourself if this man (Reverend John Piper) and others as well, are really following Jesus, the Lord of heaven, and His wonderful words, Accept NO Substitutes. 

    “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done…” -Jesus

    “This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ Whoever will listen let them listen, and whoever will refuse let them refuse; for they are a rebellious people.”

    “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” -Daniel

    It is Jesus’ heart, that ‘You Dear Reader’, may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He needs no  lease to hold His children in check. He has graciously and freely given them His Holy Spirit to aid them in their walk with Himself through this temporal life, and to be like Him, He is gently gathering His chicks, all those who will listen to His voice, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Please take Him at HIs word; He is good for it.

    Please understand , this is no longer a theological debate between nimble minds. Far greater ‘Minds’ are at work here,

    The gates of Hell shall certainly not prevail. The Father of the Lord Jesus, who see into all of the hearts and ‘plans’ of both man and angels will see to that. Please do not loose sight of the fact that there are greater fish to fry than the ‘likes’ of Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. Mark Dever, or Dr. John Piper, etc. They too will have their day in the sun,

      My gracious Lord Jesus, whom I serve ever so imperfectly, is waiting for His Father to make His enemies a footstool for our Savior’s Jesus’ feet.  They can not hide. ‘He’ will have ‘His’ day!

    —> Wait for it!

    ATB

    “I want to spend my lifetime loving You Jesus, please dance with me, I love You very much! [1]” 

    (tears)

      I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto Thee, O LORD, will I sing, mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land –that they may dwell with Thee!

    Sopy
    ___
    [1] Inspirational relief: Music from the cinema release ‘The Mask of Zorro’ composed by James Horner,  End Credits Song : 
    “I want to spend my lifetime loving you… ” 
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eifLMqKzFMI

    ;~)

  111. William wrote:

    holy and just and righteous God would never influence my desire or decision to offend or sin against another human being, to say nothing of His own righteous self.

    Wow. You have nailed it.

  112. numo wrote:

    Re. your 2nd graph – this.

    If I actually listened to the sermon, I’d be throwing things at the walls. Luckily I have lots and lots of wool roving and spun yarn around here, so nothing would get broken, except for my heart.

    I realize there is this human need to want to explain everything, but is there a place for saying, you know, we’re talking about God, who is by definition beyond understanding. I don’t understand the mind of God, but my good sense says that God is not micromanaging every subatomic interaction in the universe. Because that’s the ultimate result of Piper’s thinking–God is directing the quarks and leptons and bosons in their courses. (I think God set up the laws that guide particles in their courses and he doesn’t need to micromanage, but that’s my own personal thought.) I don’t think Piper’s teaching is good news.

  113. mirele wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    IN’SHAL’LAH…
    Yeah. That’s exactly what I thought. John Piper’s gone full Wahhabi.

    And take a look at the Middle East — from Saudi to Talibanistan to ISIS’ Global Caliphate — to see where that road can lead.

  114. Lydia wrote:

    William wrote:
    holy and just and righteous God would never influence my desire or decision to offend or sin against another human being, to say nothing of His own righteous self.
    Wow. You have nailed it.

    I heard once that “Islam emphasizes the Omnipotence of God, Christianity emphasizes the Love and Nature of God.”

    And from another source that “Calvin Islamized the Reformation.”

  115. Lydia wrote:

    You know, I don’t know how Piper gets by with it. The OT is full of God’s people questioning Him and even doubting Him!

    I remember an old blog posting by a Rabbi Boteach that this was the main difference between Judaism and the other two Abrahamic Monotheisms. That Islam and Christianity teach passive acquiesence to God while Judaism is full of mortals having knock-down-drag-outs with God, from Abraham’s haggling his three visitors down to “If there are ten righteous men in Sodom” like a bazaar merchant to Jacob’s wrestling match to the Psalms and Lamentations to today. Arguing and haggling with God all the way.

  116. Lydia wrote:

    Personally, I think it was his passionate delivery that sucked people in. Not his scholarship.

    As they say in Texas, “All hat and no cattle”.

    All delivery and no substance; all surface and nothing else; the description of a Con Artist working a scam.

  117. Eeyore wrote:

    Yeah, Piper is indeed very Edwardsian in his theology.

    Which “Edwards” are you referring to in “Edwardsian”?

  118. Here’s an article from Udo Middleman on “The Islamization of Christianity.”

    http://www.theschaefferfoundation.com/footnote4_1.php

    There are a lot of thought-provoking quotes in his article. Here are a few:

    “There are two areas in which there is a process of the Islamization of Christianity under way. The first is the attempt to harmonize two different religions, two different ways of explaining the world, the place of the human beings and the purpose of life. The second is a more subtle move of some Christian circles to embrace what is fundamentally an Islamic view of God and man, of life in history. It may turn out to be an insidious merger on the level of theology, coming to a common view of God. I would suggest that while the former is pathetic and culturally superficial, the latter is a destruction of the uniqueness of Christianity and the Bible. In both cases, the result is an embrace of a view point antithetical to our view of God and man in the name of religion. This can not but effect dramatically the way we live, think and morally order our lives.”

    […]

    “When life gets tough, we have all heard here and there in Christian circles one or the other of the following comments: It was the right time for her to die. God must have had something better in mind. God in his grace took him home to himself. God allowed it to happen. He made it come to pass. God must have wanted it that way.

    “Wait a minute! Are these comments typical for Islam or do we hear and read them in wide circles of the contemporary church? They have a ring of familiarity about them. They are the comments made in the face of what we used to consider tragedies. People comfort each other by these words!

    “To the extend to which we agree with these statements and find them a comfort, we have ourselves moved over from a Biblical perspective to an Islamic one. The change can be gradual and insidious, but we have redefined God for the sake of our peace, our longing to make life in a fallen world less absurd existentially. We have found a way to make the experience of brokenness acceptable: we assume that it was acceptable to God.

    “Worse, we have redefined God. He now becomes the one who authors good and evil. We declare our inability to understand, then turn around and suggest that he must have thought it to be good. We are no longer partners of a God who is a war with a fallen world, who grieves over death and who has pity and compassion for people caught in a horrible situation after the fall. That God has been banished by us.”

  119. Max wrote:

    Thousands, perhaps millions, of New Calvinists in their 20s-40s idolize the man and his teachings … they have fallen under his spell and anxiously await the next Piper Point to retweet across cyberspace.

    Hack his Twitter account and send the tweet “WHITE NIGHT! WHITE NIGHT! DRINK THE POTION! DRINK THE POTION!”?

  120. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Eeyore wrote:
    Yeah, Piper is indeed very Edwardsian in his theology.
    Which “Edwards” are you referring to in “Edwardsian”?

    Looked up in the stack.
    Jonathan Edwards again.
    Now known only for ONE Hellfire-and-Damnation sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.
    Whose sermons drove several of his congregation to suicide.

  121. @ Eeyore:

    You are exactly right, that is straight from Religious Affections. My Presbyterian friends have great issue with Piper’s theology and his continued emphasis on “delighting yourself in God” and “God is most glorified in my when I am most satisfied in Him.”

    He makes a subtle, but very distinct, variation from the Shorter Westminster Catechism when. Instead of “The chief end of man is to know God and enjoy Him forever,” he states to “know God BY enjoying Him forever.” To me, that is a descent into works based salvation, I have to enjoy Him (derive pleasure in Him) to be saved.

  122. Piper’s an odd man, and his oddities are drawing attention to himself. Seems to me at this stage in the game, there’d be greater evidence of his selfless service. This certainly makes one wonder about the source of his inspiration. I haven’t read anyone here say they’ve found edification and encouragement from the things Piper is saying, which is the goal of true teaching – to build up the Body of Christ.

    I think it’s his ego. I think in his mind he’s so aligned with the Almighty that if he’s criticized, he takes it like it’s persecution and uses it to bolster his pride. Is he trying to be provocative? Or maybe some of this is an elaborate attempt to explain why his wife occasionally beats him…at Scrabble, that is.

  123. @ Burwell Stark:

    Ahhhh … hence his comment in that conference quoted above: “anyone who did not have positive emotional feelings towards God on a regular basis was probably going to Hell.” Since God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in and enjoying Him, when I’m not, I’m not glorifying God and might not be saved. The picture is becoming even clearer.

  124. Lydia wrote:

    You know, I don’t know how Piper gets by with it. The OT is full of God’s people questioning Him and even doubting Him! The real problem is not enough people are questioning and analyzing what Piper teaches.

    IMO it is the wrong conclusions people reach that causes such huge problems and makes these guys unable to understand a God who will engage with his creatures. God reveals that we, as contingent creatures, have no standing to accuse him, the Creator, but it does not follow from that truth that therefore God is a micro-managing control freak who is insecure about his power and must choose Scrabble letters or else he is not really sovereign. That is the lesson they draw from Romans. I believe that Piper and his followers have created a god in their own image who is insecure and frightened about *any* exercise of freedom by creatures. That leads to the authoritarianism, OCD conception of church covenants and discipline, ESS, subordination of women and the general obsession with authority and power which we see. And I think that is also why the god they preach does not look like the Jesus who walked among us and gave himself for us.

  125. If I believed that God had willed me to be born to two child molesters, I would not be Christian right now. Or, probably, religious at all. Or, possibly, alive.

  126. dee wrote:

    @ Melissa:
    I take it you don’t pray for the letter “Q” when you play Scrabble?

    Only if it’s the Quechua edition….

  127. Victorious wrote:

    Piper needs to retire. In fact, he’s overdue.

    Technically speaking, John Piper is retired. He stepped down as a senior pastor in 2013, although he continues to write, speak and teach. I wish he’d consider stepping aside from those roles and engage in some serious self-examination.

  128. dee wrote:

    @ brian:
    Well, that woke me up. There was a moment in that video…Piper was recounting what God’s reaction would be to Dawkins, Hitchens etc. when the told him they thought the world was created by natural forces. Piper says God will look at me and just laugh. See if you catch it.Was it a slip? I guess Piper will be standing right beside God as He judges others.

    Whatever would God do without PIPER to stand at His right hand on J-Day telling him who’s REALLY Saved and who’s not?
    Like Grima Wormtongue whispering in King Theoden’s ear —
    “ME SHEEP! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! HIM GOAT! …”

  129. Law Prof wrote:

    There is a profound difference between a love for Jesus and a love for one’s complex abstraction of Jesus. The former inspires people to lay down their lives for others, the latter inspires people to take the lives of others.

    The latter becomes the Perfect Ideological Omelet that always requires smashing more and more eggs.

  130. dee wrote:

    I have had a number of conversations with Calvinists off line. When I keep asking them question about determinism, Romans 9 always, without a doubt, comes up. It is like Ken Ham’s rejoinder. “Were you there when God created the earth?” It stops the conversation.

    In Moonie terminology, THE THOUGHTSTOPPER.

    They are playing a semantic game. By utilizing Romans 9 to refer to you in a disagreement, they are stating that they, amazing Christians that they are, do not question God because they *know* they are interpreting the Scripture absolutely correctly.

    Semantics, My Dear Wormwood…

    Doesn’t “Gnostic” mean “He who *KNOWS*”?

  131. the anabaptists once said it was evil to play any games with dice….or had the nature of gambling….. I suppose such beliefs could have significance since there are orders in nature…..ie. cows have four legs….humans have ten fingers……… game shouldn’t be given so much attention as to ignore study of nature perhaps…..the nazi’s created a game….of finding humans which are not european and healthy and remove them from earth….

    putting all eggs in one pastor’s basket of knowledge isn’t too wise…. games are games….. but when it is evil game it is obvious blood shed involved…when it is a game to help children learn…..even the bible…. its just getting to the point of insanity to say such events point to the way the wind blows leaves and grasses around…….

  132. Janet Varin wrote:

    I recall a footnote in my MacArthur study bible that basically said, “God is sovereign over Satan, because God controls Satan!” Like an evil puppet , apparently.

    Existing only to give God plausible deniability.

  133. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    And from another source that “Calvin Islamized the Reformation.”

    You have no idea how often I’ve wondered if there wasn’t some sort of influence from Islam on Calvin. There is apparently no direct evidence, although I think it’s likely Calvin may have read Averroes’ comments on Aristotle–but Averroes wasn’t a theologian, he was a philosopher. But beyond that, I simply do not know, and neither does anyone else.

  134. Eeyore wrote:

    I’m now much more open to keeping divine sovereignty and human free will in paradoxical tension.

    At least you admit the tension. If I were a Calvinist, that is where I would be.

  135. @ roebuck:

    “I think that Piper is psychotic. He is surrounded by enablers who tell him he is somehow profound and clued in to the very mind of God”
    +++++++++++++

    it’s as if he’s been staring at the bible in his tower of rarified air for so long it’s started to go all squiggly, and he says to himself “so THIS is what the holy spirit is like!”, and he proceeds to completely turn his brain inside out like a paper cup.

    as to his enablers, they happily do the same to their brains simply as a conditioned response to whatever he says.

    and his enablers have the done the same with his output.

  136. @ Nancy2:
    Thank you so much. Early on in nursing, I have to admit I got a bit self protected with everything that I saw in inner cities on the Navajo Reservation. I sued to pray that God would give me deep compassion. That was achieved when Abby got sick. That changed me for life. Now I cannot help but care-it is deep inside.

  137. Gram3 wrote:

    And I think that is also why the god they preach does not look like the Jesus who walked among us and gave himself for us.

    It really comes down to this.

  138. Haven’t had a chance to read all the comments yet, however…

    So God is in complete control even of John Piper’s unconcious mind? Think about the implications of that one for a bit.

  139. all theological horsh1t aside, what gives him the right to ruin scrabble? to turn it from a game of skill to ‘whichever player is more emotionally needy ends up winning’?

  140. As others have suggested that Piper’s God does not seem like our God, I agree. No matter how lofty of words he and other Calvinists use to describe their God, he only sounds like all the lesser gods to me in his narcissistic management of people. What makes God infinitely beyond all others to me is that he has chosen humanity to live in the free will that he created us with. No constant micro-managing, but at times there are miracles and signs that let us know he is there. Because he has not broken his decree in creating an entity (us) with such autonomy, he weeps with us in our demise. But as horrible as life is sometimes, I still cherish free will and I believe that it is important for our eternity, no matter how unfair this school of life is. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t question God every time a child is hurt. It takes my breath away to think about the enormous responsibility I have with my free will. I believe that when we are all in heaven, that we won’t sin anymore, we can, but we won’t. Ever. Because of what we have learned here.

  141. @ William:

    “I remain unconvinced that Piper’s god is the God of the Bible. Sorry. There it is. I wrote it. I claim it. I own it.”
    +++++++++++

    would you do so with your last name, too, and out loud with your peers?

  142. @ William:

    I came real close around the same time. But my love of history saved me before I dove into the actual theology. The hero’s of Reformed history were all tyrants and I could not get past that!

  143. dee wrote:

    If I seem distracted in the weeks to come, please bear with me. This blog is a stable point for me and brings me much joy as I read your thoughts and get to know some of you. Hopefully, things here will continue as usual.

    Wow. That is a lot going on! May you experience an extra measure of God’s love, strength and grace — and even joy! — in the midst of all this.

  144. Lydia wrote:

    The entire essay is excellent. It made me think: if God is Sovereign (as Piper defines it) then where can we go for comfort?

    I had an older Persian Muslim friend, from the Shah’s era in Iran, who fled around the time of the Revolution. This entire discussion keeps reminding me of her. She was highly spiritual and mystical, and, I believe, very sincere in her longing to please God.

    But she was plagued by guilt, shame, and fear. Had she done enough good to cover the bad things she’d done? Would she be welcomed by God? Did He love her? She was afraid He didn’t, but she really wanted Him to.

    It happened that a steady stream of Christians came into her life and I remember her comment to me that these men and women had helped her so much in her spiritual life. They were followers of Jesus who showed her love and grace, and celebrated her love of beauty and creativity with her.

    When I read in 1 John 4 about how fear involves punishment and how real love casts out fear, I think of her. I don’t know for certain that she was on a trajectory toward Jesus before she died. But I do know that she caught many glimpses of God’s grace and that it truly seemed to counteract the effects of legalism and bring some hope and comfort.

    That journey is parallel in so many ways to the healing journey I’ve observed in survivors from abusive theologies of legalism and authoritarianism — as the Holy Spirit gradually thaws out the chill of grief left in our spirit. It’s like hypothermia and we have to be warmed up slowly …

  145. I am alive today because God does intervene in people’s lives, and He graciously and mercifully rescued me out of the dark theological quagmire that people like Piper are trapping people into. The God of the Bible is not as small, mean, petty, and easily defined as they claim. He is, to our puny human minds, simply incomprehensible. There is no answer this side of Heaven to the tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will.

    I’m alive today because the real God — the God that Jesus revealed — captured my heart. It turns out He didn’t ordain or will or cause the awful crimes committed against my person, nor did He merely look the other way. He HATED what was done to me, and it was His outrage, His heart for the oppressed, His compassion, His extravagant love, and His wild, scandalous grace that not only saved my life but won my heart.

    Calvinism has a ready answer for everything because they believe in a small, easily explained God. I have had to become content with mystery — a lot of mystery — because the God I worship is too immense and great for human comprehension.

    He is also a loving Father whose tenderness and intimacy continues to break my heart — in the best of ways. He’s the great, awesome Creator of the universe, full of power and might, powerful beyond all understanding…and He’s my Papa, my Daddy, my Abba.

    I can’t wrap my brain around that, but it’s true.

    Last night I was furious at Piper. Today I want to weep for Him. If only God would wreck his theology the way He wrecked mine!

  146. Is it just me or does anyone else see that only EXTREEM over thinkers become modern day Calvinists? What double speak and pure stupidity is John Piper talking about? How can anyone who simply reads their Bible and humbly prays for the Spirit to show them truth come up with this trash?

  147. Dee,
    Just read your post….once again, prayers for you, your family. My God guide you through this period of time.

  148. In case anyone needed *proof* that Piper is senile.
    I have to admit, the lack of logic would be humorous to me if he weren’t saying outlandish things that will not only hurt people, but could directly lead to evil. Can you imagine if a mentally unstable person were in his audience??? Lord have mercy.

  149. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    Eeyore wrote:

    Now known only for ONE Hellfire-and-Damnation sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.
    Whose sermons drove several of his congregation to suicide.

    This has to be the single most damaging sermon ever preached. The negative effects of this sermon are still being felt to this day in congregations, universities, families, individuals, and culture. Via this theology God is the only logical cause of all misery ever inflicted on upon mankind throughout history. How many people over the years have abandoned faith in God because of this heresy?

    Components of this debate go further back to Augustine, Pelagius, and the Council of Orange in 529. Not that it matters what it is called, it blasphemes the very character of God. My big question is why would someone follow a God like that? That, to me, is so very puzzling.

    Re: to the Romans 9 “who are you to question God?” conversation stopper. I am not questioning God. I am questioning an extremely twisted and warped view of God. The question back should be this. “Who are you to ascribe all evil from all time to God?” Because that is the only logical end to that theological position.

  150. dee wrote:

    Believers sin as much as nonbelievers.

    Did I read this right? Are you saying you believe this is true? Not sure if you’re referring to what someone else has said here or if this is your own personal belief. Mind clarifying? Thank you!

  151. @ William:

    your blog looks great. sorry if it came across as a challenge. it was more out of hopeful curiosity — I think I remember you having mentioned ‘seminary’, which means a certain amount of audience/influence/access. I always hope that those with influence use it to shake up any ideological monopoly-in-process or full-fledged one.

  152. @ mirele:
    Islam is more diverse than that, with a robust tradition of mysticidm (Sufism) from very early on. Averroes is more likely to have been on influence on Thomas Aquinad, whose Summa Theologica is very Aristotelian, and cadts a long shadow over the Westetn churvh.

  153. @ brad/futuristguy:

    I can relate to what you have written as we had Iranian Muslims with us before the Revolution. I was too young to understand the nuances of the many discussions that took place as they wrangled with their shame and honor religion/culture but thankfully my mom wrote about these precious young men and their struggles in her bio. Some of them ended up going home to support the Revolution. I wonder about them to this day as they must be in their late 60’s now.

  154. Julie Anne Smith wrote:

    I’ve seen people spiral downward spiritually when they hear this

    True, because the teaching seems rather sadistic towards those who have experienced abuse.

  155. For those of you mentioning Muslims in this thread… I just watched Honor Diaries on Netflix and I can’t believe how many of the same issues are being talked about(human rights against women and children) that I have seen and continue to see grow in the Doug Wilson/Piper/Vision Forum Neo-cals type homeschool/church movements. This is not Christ at all so run people run!

  156. @ dee:
    Dee…
    Wow, that is a plateful, a mini clinic. Prayers for perseverance, grace, wisdom, and comfort, peace for all affiliated.

  157. Law Prof wrote:

    the culture of hero worship

    The protestants rejected the Pope and then created their own local mini-popes, the “pastor.” What is church and fellowship without a Pope or an MPP (mini-pope pastor)? What does it look like?

  158. Paula Rice wrote:

    dee wrote:
    Believers sin as much as nonbelievers.

    Did I read this right? Are you saying you believe this is true? Not sure if you’re referring to what someone else has said here or if this is your own personal belief. Mind clarifying? Thank you!

    You know, in a way you could even say that believers sin *more* than unbelievers. I’m thinking of those verses that talk about an action not being sin until you know it’s a sin… Okay, I’m mangling a verse and not taking time to look it up and quote it in context. Kind of like the YRRs seem to do, actually…

    The point being, unbelievers might well not see their actions as sinful, whereas believers have no excuse, but at least they have the promise that they only have to confess their sin to Christ to find forgiveness, and that they have the Spirit’s help to keep them from (habitually) sinning.

    Don’t know if I’m making sense, my brain feels like lukewarm mush today.

  159. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I heard once that “Islam emphasizes the Omnipotence of God, Christianity emphasizes the Love and Nature of God.”
    And from another source that “Calvin Islamized the Reformation.”

    And the modern Calvinistas keep the distinctives intact.

  160. Max wrote:

    He is to be taken seriously … his teaching is aberrant … but, his impact is tremendous.

    … as well as a few other crackpots and despots in the stream of history.

  161. And we all know how badly this kind of teaching has affected me…this has always been my bugbear & I have never ever ever managed to understand how people believe in Piper’s God without it crushing them. I also don’t get how most Calvinists don’t get that their beliefs pretty much have the ugly stuff the ‘hyper’-Calvinists have. And that’s why I found the ‘compatibilist’ Calvinism largely propounded by English L’Abri so difficult to deal with, never being able to square it with such a profound emphasis on creativity & choice. I think from Udo’s writings that he, & I also think Swiss L’Abri given the books coming out of there recently, think differently & reject totally that God needs evil to be truly glorified. Everyone here chipping in cheers me up so much, even though I’m not sure how to sort myself out, having had no work of God to show me different, though I wish I had. Not for the lack of praying.

  162. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    That’s what happens when you resolve the paradox of evil by putting God beyond good and evil. God Wills whatever God Wills, and who are we lowly worms to call it Evil?
    But when you put God beyond good and evil… Well, God becomes a Cosmic Lord Voldemort:
    “There is no Right, there is no Wrong, there is only POWER.”

    I think it was someone on TWW who linked to this on another thread, and it talks about some of that, or something like it:

    Why (High) Calvinism Is Impossible (with Special Reference to Romans 9)
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2015/10/why-high-calvinism-is-impossible-with-special-reference-to-romans-9/

    I read it a few days ago. It’s a very interesting read.

  163. Mae wrote:

    There is no love of Jesus, our brother, friend, redeemer, nor any mention of the Holy Spirit, who empowers us and is our comforter.

    I’ve seen Christians knock the idea of Jesus being a friend to believers. That bothers me. The Christians I’ve seen rail against the concept for one reason being they think it trivializes God (or Jesus) and makes Jesus too sentimental and schmaltzy.

    Well, over my years of having problems which would include but not be limited to anxiety, depression, grief, and other things, and before I really began having doubts about the faith, one thing that helped me cope was thinking of God and Jesus in terms of them being my friends.

    But some Christians only want me to view God and Jesus in sterile or remote, distant ways. Because, I assume they feel that is more noble or honorable. But I thought one reason of several Jesus took on human form was so that we humans could relate to God better.

    And doesn’t the NT say that Jesus is our friend? Or that Jesus considers us friends now?

    I can’t understand why I should want to worship or pray to a distant God who I cannot consider a friend?

    I’d like to point out I’m not saying I support churches that do make the faith or Jesus super schmaltzy. Some indeed do. I’m not talking about that sort of touchy-feely-ness which can be a turn off or make the faith seem dopey.

  164. I spent a long time in a SBC seminary, and I was struck by how unfriendly everyone was, how uninterested they were in other people’s hearts and lives. No one seemed to care to get to know the real me, person nor ask any sort of natural “get to know you and your heart and story” questions that exists in any other context. Likewise, there was no way for me to truly know others in a natural way, so I had no way to truly love or serve others. I had no real friends. All dialogue was robotic and pre-planned. All of the relationships were agenda based even if the agenda was subtle and sometimes undefinable and hard to discern (whatever the agenda was, there were many different agendas going on at all times): everything was done by calculation/control and jockeying for position in some way. It was rather clear you could not step out of line or your relationships would too dissolve (they are not real in the first place, really) or you weren’t meant to be in the system and were a threat. It took me awhile to realize and deduce that this was the natural response to Calvinism – as God goes, so do we. This is not to say that there are not kind or warm Calvinists, I just think this is generally true.

    Of course, seminaries in general can be weird place despite the doctrinal undertones – The Calvinism at this SBC seminary was also mixed with the typical reality of dysfunctional people flocking to helping/ministry professions as a way to not deal with themselves. Calvinism makes that reality even worse, I think.

  165. dee wrote:

    Janet Varin wrote:
    I recall a footnote in my MacArthur study bible that basically said, “God is sovereign over Satan, because God controls Satan!” Like an evil puppet , apparently.
    Thank you for brining up that footnote. I am going to find it. It would be a great base for a post on determinism.

    Off the top of my head, the only thing I could think of that might sort of make sense there is the part of Job where it is revealed that Satan cannot harm Job in anyway unless and until he gets permission from God.

    The story says that God had put a “hedge of protection” around Job, so Satan couldn’t touch Job unless God gave the OK.

    I can see maybe God having control of Satan in that way?, but I don’t know about the rest of it.

    I agree with the person above who said that the Hyper Calvinist God sort of makes Satan moot.

  166. @ Even:

    Oh, can I relate to much of what you’ve written about life in an SBC seminary! I never felt like I belonged — many of them, in their cliques, acted as if I didn’t belong. I even had a Calvinist ask me after class if I thought it abnormal that he really didn’t care that much for people. What?! Other Calvinists admitted to me that they don’t witness the faith to others — God will regenerate His unconditionally elect.

    So glad to be out of that toxic, lonely, spiritually-benign environment.

  167. dee wrote:

    Each one of us is simply in application on God’s IPhone.

    That’s not very comforting.

    I prefer another somewhat similar analogy I’ve heard from others that is warmer and fuzzier. Something about if God had a fridge, your photo would be on it. Because you’re his kid, and he loves you and is proud of you.

  168. Even wrote:

    I spent a long time in a SBC seminary, and I was struck by how unfriendly everyone was, how uninterested they were in other people’s hearts and lives. No one seemed to care to get to know the real me, person nor ask any sort of natural “get to know you and your heart and story” questions that exists in any other context. Likewise, there was no way for me to truly know others in a natural way, so I had no way to truly love or serve others. I had no real friends. All dialogue was robotic and pre-planned. All of the relationships were agenda based even if the agenda was subtle and sometimes undefinable and hard to discern (whatever the agenda was, there were many different agendas going on at all times): everything was done by calculation/control and jockeying for position in some way. It was rather clear you could not step out of line or your relationships would too dissolve (they are not real in the first place, really) or you weren’t meant to be in the system and were a threat. It took me awhile to realize and deduce that this was the natural response to Calvinism – as God goes, so do we. This is not to say that there are not kind or warm Calvinists, I just think this is generally true.
    Of course, seminaries in general can be weird place despite the doctrinal undertones – The Calvinism at this SBC seminary was also mixed with the typical reality of dysfunctional people flocking to helping/ministry professions as a way to not deal with themselves. Calvinism makes that reality even worse, I think.

    It was the same way when I was there….I keep hearing other alumni saying ” How wonderful a period of time it was at the seminary…” I couldn’t figure it out. Was this the same place I attended? The people there were the most cold, unfriendly people I ever encountered. I have dealt with agnostics, atheists who were nicer people than most folks in the seminary……and don’t feel bad, I made no real friends in seminary, my closest friends were my neighbors, and still to this day, I consider them my friends, including an Iranian Baha’i whose father sent him to university in America. His dad saw the “Revolution” coming…
    It was one of the worst periods in my life….

  169. dee wrote:

    Well, that woke me up. There was a moment in that video…Piper was recounting what God’s reaction would be to Dawkins, Hitchens etc.

    I haven’t watched the Piper video brian linked to. (I might later on.)

    Some Calvinists say that nobody can know who is the elect or not. I’ve also read on this blog or SSB where someone was saying that some Calvinists teach that a person can sincerely think he or she is one of the elect, but is fooled, and is not, and will be sent to Hell.

    If that is so (going by that reasoning), who are Calvinists to say that self professing atheists like Hitchens or Dawkins are not of the elect? Maybe H and D are the elect but just don’t know it.

  170. dee wrote:

    Unfortunately, Piper matters a great deal to some people who are pushing his theology as the modern day equivalent to the Institutes.

    As I’ve stepped partially away from the Christian faith, this is one thing that’s become clearer to me, and annoying, how some Christians revere certain theologians or preachers so much.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to read their stuff and learn from it, but some Christians put these guys up on a pedestal, as though they are infallible Protestant Popes.

    John Piper and John Calvin are mere mortals like the rest of us, no matter how smart or educated, and are just as apt to make mistakes as the rest of us. They put their pant legs on one leg at a time like everyone else.

    This is something that’s become more obvious to me since I stepped out of the Christian bubble. Not that I ever blindly followed any preacher or teacher prior, but I notice this tendency in other Christians more.

    You see them, the blinded fans, show up on blogs like this to defend guys like Mark Driscoll, Piper, Doug Wilson, or entire systems of theology (like Calvinism, which was based on J. Calvin’s writings).

  171. I had two “woke me up” moments re: Calvinism, and they happened within a matter of hours of one another.

    I was reading “The Puritan Board”–a forum for those who profess to hold to the Westminster Catechism–and one thread started with the question, “Can we tell children that God loves them, given that we don’t know whether they are of the elect?”

    The vote was split; yes and no. The fact that there were “no’s” at ALL was a wake-up call.

    The other was reading a blog of a woman who is a disciple of Grudem in particular. In that thread, she and the combox participants followed the arguments of Calvinism and to their logical conclusions–and I do not dispute their logic. Their conclusion, however, made me throw up (literally) (and I know the meaning of the word “literally”). When I came back to the computer, I let fly, something I have done only 3 times in my life. It was the end of that exploration for me. And I said as much, and more, and said where I was going with Christ, and man-0-man, you should have read the hate combox remarks. It was ugly.

    I feel totally rescued and so thankful to not be in that world. I’ve run into it a couple of times since these two moments and the contrast with the Christian world I am in and that Calvinist stuff is stark. By their fruits…

    Bear*.* (I’m sorry I can’t remember your whole alias), I, too, mourn the harm that has been done to me and my family ***and we just brushed up against it–we were never IN it.*** I pray with tears for healing of the past and correction of my own mind and heart in the present and future. I will add you to my prayers, at least as much as I am able as I am a weak and sinful Christian–in repentance.

  172. @ Beakerj:
    yes, that part of the L’Abri message never made sense to me, but I just kind of disregarded it.

    The last I checked, Udo and Debbie were running an entirely separate organization (no longer with the original L’Abri). I think Udo’s beliefs have changed over the years.

  173. @ Beakerj:
    I doublechecked on Udo and Debbie, and they do indeed have their own org, The Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation. No idea what made them choose to leave L’Abri, though…

    And I can kind of see how English L’Abri might be more Calvinist/Reformed than Swiss L’Abri, in some respects. The the Schaeffers came from a breakaway Presbyterian church here in the US, one that sent them to Switzerland to evangelize Catholics in order to reestablish the True Faith (as they saw it, back in the 40s-50s). Susan being their oldest daughter, I think it might well be that she is one who has held onto a more severe faith and practice than either Debbie or Prisca. Fwiw.

  174. Marsha wrote:

    And the little child who loves Jesus and is molested or in pain from cancer or is being murdered and KNOWS that God does not want her to suffer has then lost God forever? Because she SHOULD believe that he has willed her suffering?

    Yes, God does not like child molestation, but he ordains it to occur. This is why Piper has his bizarre doctrine of the two wills of God. On the one hand God wills God for all people; God is loving; God desires all to be saved! But this does not always happen. So since God is sovereign, he has to will the evil things. Molestation, murder, rape, children getting their hands chopped off, babies dying of cancer. Thus Piper has on weird, screwed up, and often times harmful views of God. God is schizophrenic, and in a malevolent way. Who thinks this is good theology? And the real big problem is not Piper, but the people (pastors and lay people) who follow this cr*p.

  175. mirele wrote:

    Yeah. That’s exactly what I thought. John Piper’s gone full Wahhabi.

    Oh, let’s not go insulting the Wahhabis!

  176. @ dee:

    All that you are going through has to be overwhelming. All I can do is pray to our loving heavenly father.

  177. But he does matter. Week after week, young boy pastor after young boy pastor hang (ed.) on his every word. He destroys lives, offends, and hurts others. He a force of evil and discouragement. 🙁@ Dash:

  178. Mae wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I heard once that “Islam emphasizes the Omnipotence of God, Christianity emphasizes the Love and Nature of God.”
    And from another source that “Calvin Islamized the Reformation.”

    And the modern Calvinistas keep the distinctives intact.

    One of the defenses for the burning of Servetus is that Calvin & Co were just “products of their times”.

    I may very much be a product of my times as well – a privileged, middle class, white guy. I don’t care what kind of times I’m in though, murder for holding ideas is evil, plain and simple.

    Maybe we should not listen so much to a guy who’s a product of such times?

  179. I play Scrabble with my wife. We don’t gamble. But we reach our hand into the bag to pull out letters. Now do you pray at that point? I need a “Z”. She is way ahead. I totally believe God decides what letters come out in my hand, so I do pray. And I thought through how I should pray. This is a marriage issue. I don’t pray: Let me win. Oh, no, no, no. God knows who needs to win. So I pray: For the kingdom and for the family. Whoever needs to win, for humility or encouragement, you know. So I don’t try to pull rank on her and pray for victory. No way.

    See, this where Calvinism falls apart, because praying in this instance is completely worthless. Their whole theology is based on the premise that every little detail of the universe was laid out by God before the universe was even created. Given that, whatever tiles Piper will draw were set in stone eons ago by God and prayer is going to change that.

  180. @ dee:

    Your family members are blessed to have such a qualified caretaker! I don't know how you do it.

    As always, I am praying for you, your mom and step-dad, your son, and your mother-in-law.

  181. @ dee:

    I’m so very sorry. Being a caretaker to one person is so very tiring and difficult, I couldn’t imagine taking on more than one person.

    I helped my father care for my mother up to her death. Internet Monk just did a post about the care taking topic a few days ago. I wrote more of my own experience over there:
    “Calling all caregivers”
    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/60381

    Other people also discussed their experiences with caring for sick or dying family members.

  182. @ JeffT:
    All I can think of is that if pulling letters out of a bag is a marriage issue, then that’s a pretty fragile union. Maybe they shouldn’t be playing scrabble.

  183. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I heard once that “Islam emphasizes the Omnipotence of God, Christianity emphasizes the Love and Nature of God.”
    And from another source that “Calvin Islamized the Reformation.”

    I’ve seen testimonies by guys who converted from Islam to Christianity.

    One theme I saw turn up in a few of them: they said when they were sad or hurting that they could not find any comforting passages in the Koran. There were no passages that talked about God caring about them or whatever.

    One of these guys said when he opened a Bible, though, he found many passages that he could related to, ones that talked about how God sees your tears, knows you’re hurting, that he heals the broken hearted, etc.

    This was one small element of many reasons why some of these Muslims became Christians. They realized they were dealing with, they said, a God who cared for them and their pain personally and who wanted to help them through it.

  184. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I remember an old blog posting by a Rabbi Boteach that this was the main difference between Judaism and the other two Abrahamic Monotheisms. That Islam and Christianity teach passive acquiesence to God while Judaism is full of mortals having knock-down-drag-outs with God

    I wonder if that is the case with Christians because the first thing that comes to mind for some is the part where Jesus tells God in reference to his upcoming death, “take this cup from me, but not my will but yours.”

    I think a lot of Christians take that as a cue not to argue with God or wrestle with him, but to cave in and just say, “God, I really want “X” from you, but let your will be done.”

    I’ve been kind of confused on that point myself. I felt as though I was being rude or pushy if I demanded things from God.

    There were a small number of times in my life I got feisty with God and told him I was sick of praying for “Z.”

    And I also told God he dang well better do “Z” for me, that I wasn’t taking ‘No’ for an answer, I didn’t care if Z was in his will for me or not!!, and I refused to wait another week, month or year.

    Interestingly, the few times I prayed that way (out of anger, frustration)… I immediately got “Z”.

    I know God can do anything.

    So sometimes, if I’ve prayed for eons for something, and it’s not come to pass, I figure if there’s a God, and he’s the God of the Bible, he is very capable of doing whatever I asked, only he is dragging his feet, which drives me totally nuts.

  185. @ Burwell Stark:
    I’m always a little perplexed with the Calvinist obsession with God’s glory (they also obsess on his sovereignty quite a bit).

    I don’t think God is as obsessed with his glory as they think he is. I don’t get that picture from Scripture.

  186. Even wrote:

    I spent a long time in a SBC seminary, and I was struck by … unfriendly … uninterested … dialogue was robotic and pre-planned … agendas … calculation/control … jockeying for position …

    And these folks are preparing for the ministry?! Sounds like every New Calvinist “lead pastor” I know in my area. Most SBC seminaries are now under reformed leadership – you’ve described the next generation of SBC pastors they are producing.

  187. NJ wrote:

    So God is in complete control even of John Piper’s unconcious mind? Think about the implications of that one for a bit.

    LOL. When you put it that way, it means God is to blame for the wacko stuff that Piper writes or Tweets. 🙂

  188. Has Piper ever considered how precisely his rigid sovereignty doctrine drives people from God? Who wants to serve a god who in anyway is the author of child molestation, etc? Personally, I think this hyper-Calvinist teaching calls into question God’s character–i.e. that God is good.

    God can redeem awful circumstances. But I vehemently deny God authored my first wife’s adulterous betrayal of me. If my earthly father grieved over the pain it caused me and would have done anything to stop that pain, I cannot believe my perfect Heavenly Father in anyway authored that season in my life. He redeems it. But God never CAUSES evil…in whatever form.

  189. @ Donna:

    Yes, I have noticed that too.
    I’ve said before I’ve seen a lot of intellectual hurbris among most online Calvinists for years. They brag about knowing koine Greek, studying patristics, having 45 college degrees, etc.

    Not that I am a supporter of the opposite:
    the Independent Fundamentalist Baptists who think being uneducated, unlearned, and ignorant is a badge of honor.

    I think both sides are dangerous or can lead to problems, being too enamored of education or not at all.

  190. for a fifteen year overview on how natural disasters are talking points for JP …

    http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2015/08/john-pipers-paradox-1999-2015-natural.html

    and yet one guy being the Dick Nixon of megachurch pastors is well …

    http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2015/08/john-piper-on-debacle-in-seattle-but-if.html

    and …

    http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2014/11/todd-pruitt-raises-question-of-where.html

    Since people contacted Piper back around 08-09 and Piper sat back and let Driscoll be Driscoll the problem with Piper (above all else mentioned) is that Piper “could” have opted to take some initiative with respect to Driscoll and may not have.

  191. @ JeffT:

    well, a soteriological approach doesn’t necessarily require meticulous sovereignty all across the board but nobody from team Piper will accept that as a plausible iteration of Reformed thought. Online Calvinists seem to keep forgetting Calvin wasn’t the only monergist.

  192. dee wrote:

    To Our Readers
    I want to place this in the comment section instead of the banner section for various reasons.
    My mother in law has been diagnosed with both lung and liver cancer and we will most likely need to move her down here from Cape Cod. We may also need to take her rescue pug dog, Samantha.That will bring me up to 4 rescue pugs
    .
    My stepfather is beginning to fail and is becoming confused.
    My mother is in serious pain due to severe back deterioration: she has both kyphosis and scoliosis and degenerative disease and will need a few procedures as well as cataract surgery.
    I am the designated caretaker for all of them- a role to which I agreed.
    My son was diagnosed with narcolepsy which is quite rare and is on an orphan drug called XyRem and an amphetamine during the day. He is not feeling well He is graduating in December but he may need further medical evaluation.We are having to give him a great deal of support to finish up college.
    My husband just switched his practice to Duke. The switch took a lot of effort but he is quite happy.
    If I seem distracted in the weeks to come, please bear with me. This blog is a stable point for me and brings me much joy as I read your thoughts and get to know some of you. Hopefully, things here will continue as usual.

    Dear Dee, I am so sorry to hear all of this!!

  193. dee wrote:

    Thank you for brining up that footnote. I am going to find it. It would be a great base for a post on determinism.

    2 Thess 2:6 footnote. 1997 edition.

  194. Divorce Minister wrote:

    Has Piper ever considered how precisely his rigid sovereignty doctrine drives people from God?

    In my opinion, you’ve put your finger on a very important matter, a serious problem. To those with a modicum of discernment, people like Piper et al. seem like buffoons, but they are doing real damage to the Kingdom. I feel he is absolutely driving people away from God.

    I don’t know how he got like this, but he seems consumed by something or other. He has left the path of wisdom.

  195. Divorce Minister wrote:

    I think this hyper-Calvinist teaching calls into question God’s character–i.e. that God is good.

    Reminds me of the title of Dave Hunt’s book “What Love is This? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God.” Hunt tells it like it is in his 600-page treatise on the aberrations of Calvinist belief and practice.

  196. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    Dee, my thoughts and prayers are and will be with you and your family. May God give you strenghth, wisdom and peace. Know you are loved.

    @ dee:
    I too stand in solidarity with Jeannette for you and yours.

  197. Muff Potter wrote:

    I too stand in solidarity with Jeannette for you and yours.

    Dee, I expect everyone who frequents this blog has you in their prayers right now. We love you, and feel for you in this trying time – many of us have been through some version of a similar thing. Don’t worry about the blog too much (this is why we have TWO adorable Deebs!)… do what you have to do, and be sure to get the rest that you need…

  198. @ Daisy:
    Yes, I’m familiar with both views on Jesus. When I am feeling confused,confounded, distressed, the gospels refresh my spirit. When I read them I become reacquainted with Jesus, that is good for me and my soul.

  199. Janet Varin wrote:

    The wide path that leads to destruction? Our loving God had it planned all along that 99% of those made in his image would walk it. To a fiery torment that doesn’t last a billion years…it never ends…that he may be glorified forever!

    And this has rocked my long-battered faith so much that I don’t know how I’ll ever find resolution.

  200. Will M wrote:

    mirele wrote:
    Yeah. That’s exactly what I thought. John Piper’s gone full Wahhabi.
    Oh, let’s not go insulting the Wahhabis!

    LOL

  201. Debi Calvet wrote:

    And this has rocked my long-battered faith so much that I don’t know how I’ll ever find resolution.

    Here’s how you do it. Or should I say, here’s how I do it…

    Read The Gospels.

    Mae nailed it a couple of posts above.

    Forget the overthinking NeoCal twits, and their ilk. Read the Gospels, and be refreshed. If you’re feeling strong and feisty, grapple with Paul – just remember these are letters to specific communities with specific issues. But don’t worry about Paul too much in times of hurt and confusion. Just read the Gospels… I need to do it regularly, or I lose my peace.

  202. GovPappy wrote:

    if pulling letters out of a bag is a marriage issue, then that’s a pretty fragile union. Maybe they shouldn’t be playing scrabble.

    I think their marriage issues are reflected in his reference to “pulling rank” on her. What in the world??? Everything comes down to who is over and who is under and who “wins” and who “loses.” Not even a game can be just a game because God cannot possibly be pleased by seeing his beloved children delighting in the company of one another. I seriously wonder about what kind of fathers these guys are if this is how they think of our Heavenly Father. I think Jesus would have enjoyed a good Scrabble game just for the sheer fun of it. And I think that possibly the Pipers and Grudems and the other Gospel Glitterati would have bored Jesus with their pretensions.

  203. Have I mentioned lately that I think Piper is psychotic? 🙂

    Seriously, the man is unhinged, and I feel the same way about his situation as I did about Driscoll when he was crashing and burning – has he no friends? Is there no one to tell him he is making a fool of himself?

    Oh well.

    Gram3 wrote:

    GovPappy wrote:
    if pulling letters out of a bag is a marriage issue, then that’s a pretty fragile union. Maybe they shouldn’t be playing scrabble.
    I think their marriage issues are reflected in his reference to “pulling rank” on her. What in the world??? Everything comes down to who is over and who is under and who “wins” and who “loses.” Not even a game can be just a game because God cannot possibly be pleased by seeing his beloved children delighting in the company of one another. I seriously wonder about what kind of fathers these guys are if this is how they think of our Heavenly Father. I think Jesus would have enjoyed a good Scrabble game just for the sheer fun of it. And I think that possibly the Pipers and Grudems and the other Gospel Glitterati would have bored Jesus with their pretensions.

  204. dee wrote:

    Janet Varin wrote:
    I recall a footnote in my MacArthur study bible that basically said, “God is sovereign over Satan, because God controls Satan!” Like an evil puppet , apparently.
    Thank you for brining up that footnote. I am going to find it. It would be a great base for a post on determinism.

    First off, Dee, that’s a huge burden your carrying and my prayers are with you.

    On the issue of God’s control over Satan, here it is from Calvin himself from his Institutes for the Christian Religion, Book I, Chapter 14, Section 17:

    17. The devil stands under God’s power

    With regard to the strife and war which Satan is said to wage with God, it must be understood with this qualification, that Satan cannot possibly do anything against the will and consent of God. For we read in the history of Job, that Satan appears in the presence of God to receive his commands (Job 1:6; 2:1), and dares not proceed to execute any enterprise until he is authorised. In the same way, when Ahab was to be deceived, he undertook to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets; and on being commissioned by the Lord, proceeds to do so (I Kings 22:20-22). For this reason, also, the spirit which tormented Saul is said to be an evil spirit from the Lord, because he was, as it were, the scourge by which the misdeeds of the wicked king were punished (I Sam 16:14; 18:10). In another place it is said that the plagues of Egypt were inflicted by God through the instrumentality of wicked angels (Ps. 78:49). In conformity with these particular examples, Paul declares generally that unbelievers are blinded by God (II Thess 2:11), though he had previously described it as the doing of Satan (II Thess 2:9; cf. II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2). It is evident, therefore, that Satan is under the power of God, and is so ruled by his authority, that he must yield obedience to it. Moreover, though we say that Satan resists God, and does works at variance with His works, we at the same time maintain that this contrariety and opposition depend on the permission of God. I now speak not of Satan’s will and endeavour, but only of the result. For the disposition of the devil being wicked, he has no inclination whatever to obey the divine will, but, on the contrary, is wholly bent on contumacy and rebellion. This much, therefore, he has of himself, and his own iniquity, that he eagerly, and of set purpose, opposes God, aiming at those things which he deems most contrary to the will of God. But as God holds him bound and fettered by the curb of his power, he executes those things only for which permission has been given him, and thus, however unwilling, obeys his Creator, being forced, whenever he is required, to do Him service.

    http://www.reformed.org/master/index.html?mainframe=/books/institutes/

  205. Gram3 wrote:

    I think their marriage issues are reflected in his reference to “pulling rank” on her. What in the world??? Everything comes down to who is over and who is under and who “wins” and who “loses.” Not even a game can be just a game because God cannot possibly be pleased by seeing his beloved children delighting in the company of one another.

    That’s what happens when you reduce marriage to Power Struggle.
    That’s what happens when you reduce ANYTHING to Power Struggle – even God.
    Because in Power Struggle there is only Who Gets To Hold The Whip and Who Gets To Feel The Whip. Nothing else. Nothing in between. Win or Lose. Top or Bottom. Predator or Prey. Penetrator or Penetrated.

  206. roebuck wrote:

    Have I mentioned lately that I think Piper is psychotic? 🙂

    Seriously, the man is unhinged, and I feel the same way about his situation as I did about Driscoll when he was crashing and burning – has he no friends? Is there no one to tell him he is making a fool of himself?

    NOBODY tells the CELEBRITY anything other than What The CELEBRITY Wants to Hear.

  207. Max wrote:

    Reminds me of the title of Dave Hunt’s book “What Love is This? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God.”

    Isn’t “Heresy” basically “Misrepresentation of God”?

  208. Max wrote:

    Even wrote:

    I spent a long time in a SBC seminary, and I was struck by … unfriendly … uninterested … dialogue was robotic and pre-planned … agendas … calculation/control … jockeying for position …

    And these folks are preparing for the ministry?! Sounds like every New Calvinist “lead pastor” I know in my area.

    Sounds like The Party in 1984.
    Or the setting of Screwtape Letters.

  209. Daisy wrote:

    But some Christians only want me to view God and Jesus in sterile or remote, distant ways. Because, I assume they feel that is more noble or honorable.

    Docetism.
    Christ becomes so much God that He ceases to have any humanity.

  210.   __

    “Calvinism Refuted?”

    hmmm…

      I affirm a certain necessary a priori, a common sense principle, with which ‘one’ must start in interpreting the Bible and expound great theology; one of them is that God does NOT ‘keep’ His Royal Head up His Proverbial @zz…

    Celui qui posesses un estomac solide survit !

    Sopy
      __
    Tr. ‘Whoever survives posesses a strong stomach!’

  211. Richard wrote:

    This has to be the single most damaging sermon ever preached. The negative effects of this sermon are still being felt to this day in congregations, universities, families, individuals, and culture. Via this theology God is the only logical cause of all misery ever inflicted on upon mankind throughout history. How many people over the years have abandoned faith in God because of this heresy?

    It was in my public school English Lit textbook as THE example of a perfectly-structured essay, every word building up to and reinforcing its point. Technically as a written essay, it’s a masterpiece.

    Edwards had quite a list of achievements in his life — Founder of a University, Natural History/Zoology papers and treatises, even died trying to set an example for the latest in Public Health measures (pre-vaccination smallpox inoculation) — yet “that single most damaging sermon ever preached” in isolation has become his legacy.

  212. Patti wrote:

    As others have suggested that Piper’s God does not seem like our God, I agree. No matter how lofty of words he and other Calvinists use to describe their God, he only sounds like all the lesser gods to me in his narcissistic management of people

    The Baals who created mankind as an afterthought just so they could have someone to flatter them and worship them and make sacrifice to them. The Baals who sent riches and prosperity or death and destruction on a whim of the moment. The Baals who sent a flood to wipe out all life on earth (except for Ut-Napishtim and his Ark) just because they were annoyed by the prayers of mortals disturbing them. Just because they could.

  213. Ruth wrote:

    When I read what Piper wrote, and other things I’ve seen posted it makes me wonder if he is having issues with clear thinking as he ages.

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    NOBODY tells the CELEBRITY anything other than What The CELEBRITY Wants to Hear.

    Beware, aging celebrities.

  214. This whole Piper piece contradicts Ephesians chapter 6 (put on the whole armor of God …… Stand against evil ……), yet Piper will swear to the “women submit” part of Epesians chapter 5 until his dying breath.

    I wonder …… when Piper doesn’t pray for victory over his wife in a scrabble game, is that his twisted way of loving her “as Christ also loved the church” and giving himself for her???

  215. “He works all things according to the counsel of his will. This extends to the details of all existence. Matthew 10:29, ‘Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from our Father in heaven.'”

    So God causes sparrows to fall, but does not directly cause evil.

    Does he believe in double predestination? I’d find it hard to believe that he believes God causes sparrows to fall, but it’s not His fault unbelievers don’t believe.

  216. Darlene wrote:

    Calvinists like Piper cling staunchly to TULIP and therefore, do the details of what Christians do on a second-by-second basis have any bearing on ULIP? (That’s right, I left out T) You see, the way I see it is that if one believes in Unconditional Election, they have been chosen REGARDLESS OF ANYTHING THEY HAVE DONE OR DIDN’T DO.

    Doesn’t TULIP mean that we reap no benefit from:
    1) Studying the Bible.
    2) Being repentant.
    3) Accepting Jesus as our savior.
    4) Working as a missionary, or supporting missionaries.
    5) Praying …… for anything or for any reason.
    6) Preaching, or listening to preachers, whether they be idiots or wise ones.
    7) Attending church.
    8) behaving in a Godly manner.

    I could go on, but I think that’s enough. Wouldn’t TULIP mean that all preachers, Christian publishers and writers, and missionaries are just charlatans seeking fame and fortune??? Because everything they do obviously has no influence on who God has or has not predetermined as elect!!!

  217. @ Nancy2:
    The normal comeback to this is that just as much as God ordains that it will happen, he also ordains the means through which it will happen, which are basically the list you wrote. Seems convenient? Don’t like it? Tough, as it’s what the Scriptures say. That’s what Carson says about when you come up against a ‘Biblical’ truth you don’t like.@ roebuck:
    The other big issue I have with these kinds of Calvinists is the intense spiritual pride they have about being able to handle any amount of horror said about God & his working without flinching or saying God is unjust. That’s just worldly talk. It’s like a warped badge of pride to never wobble on this path through simple human compassion.

  218. Beakerj wrote:

    The other big issue I have with these kinds of Calvinists is the intense spiritual pride they have about being able to handle any amount of horror said about God & his working without flinching or saying God is unjust.

    Ex-Calvinist Austin Fischer said: “My journey out of Calvinism started when I heard whimpering in the basement. It was where we Calvinists kept the damned.”

    He went on to write the book “Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed” and blogs at http://purpletheology.com. The quote is from http://purpletheology.com/conversations-with-the-damned/

  219. Beakerj:

    There are certain forms of Calvinism that is inherently unstable, but freewill on its own just re-locates the problem of theodicy elsewhere.

    Pipers increasingly odd statements seem to be the mix of a particular personality with a particular theology. I wouldn’t give Edwards a pass either – from ‘A Faithful Narrative..’ it would appear that Abigail Hutchinson starved herself to death under the influence of the emotional effects of Edwards teachings as he looked on.

  220. Burwell Stark wrote:

    However, I can’t help but wonder: how weak is someone’s faith that they feel need to explain every little thing that happens as God’s preordained will?
    To me, the need to understand and explain everything, comforting yourself in the knowledge that you make no decisions for yourself or on your own, is not faith at all; it’s fatalism. And fatalism has more in common with Nietzsche than I am comfortable with.

    I think you hit upon a motivation – it is natural to want to make sense of tragedies, for example. I think if we wre honest, we don’t have a satisfying explanation as to why innocent people suffer. So if we hear about a child stricken with cancer or a child who was murdered, we ask an anguished “Why?” – we understand the world is a fallen place but we don’t just shrug indifferently and say, oh well, bad things happen.

    But to a certain mindset, an anguished “Why?” shows a lack of faith. The ancient stoics found peace in the idea that nothing in itself is evil – all that matters is if we can accept “evil” calmly. The hyperCalvinists seem to shift this so that nothing God allows is ultimately evil so all we should do is calmly accept God’s will. And the hyperCalvinist has knowledge – Gnostic-like knowledge of the workings of God’s will. They don’t just believe – they know. If a child is suffering with an incurable illness, the hyperCalvinist just knows this suffering is part of a wonderful plan whereby God will glorify Himself. Just imagine how intoxicating it is to think that you have special insight into how God thinks. The sufferings of people are just statistics that you plug into your model of God’s sovereignty.

  221. GovPappy wrote:

    “He works all things according to the counsel of his will. This extends to the details of all existence. Matthew 10:29, ‘Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from our Father in heaven.’”
    So God causes sparrows to fall, but does not directly cause evil.
    Does he believe in double predestination? I’d find it hard to believe that he believes God causes sparrows to fall, but it’s not His fault unbelievers don’t believe.

    That is often taken out of context to try and prove God playing cause/effect. The message Jesus Christ is conveying in that passage is very different isn’t it?

    “6 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

    Yes, Piper proclaims double predestination. Piper and his ilk twist things so badly they end up making God into a monster. And that is because Jesus is too fair and kind for them. Jesus gives us too much autonomy while He walks along side us.

    Look at what Jesus tells us a bit earlier in the same discourse:

    “6 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard;….”

    If God makes sparrows fall then why this advice? Yet what makes that interesting is what he said before that:

    “5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’”

    Basically, this is be on guard with your own people! The Jews! And the Kingdom of Heaven refers to Jesus as God in the flesh here on earth.

    Yes, there is quite a lesson in this discourse. And ironically it has to do with taking truth to people who may not receive it well.

    Piper said:

    “One need is to believe God hates what happened there. And when he was looking at the abuser he was saying, “Don’t do that! That is contrary to my will. I command you not to do that!” He hates what he sees and will approve of judgment. You need to believe that God is right there disapproving.”

    Piper’s god is so twisted he chooses scrabble tiles in a game but “chooses” NOT to stop abuse.

    Now if this is not a good reason to warn folks around you about Piper, I don’t know what is.

  222. ” Just imagine how intoxicating it is to think that you have special insight into how God thinks. The sufferings of people are just statistics that you plug into your model of God’s sovereignty.”

    You are right Jacob, and this is a pure theology of glory (in the sense that the Heidelberg Disputation uses the term).

    “That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the »invisible« things of God as though they were clearly »perceptible in those things which have actually happened

    A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.”

  223. @ Daisy:
    Well, again this is a bit like double-predestination. I’m choosing a basketball team, and there’s 10 players in the pool. I choose 5 of them for my team, and the other 5 I’ve effectively, if not actually, chosen for the other team.

    Same with a “hedge of protection” – if God has chosen to put a Job-like hedge of protection around some, but not all, and someone is killed/loses loved ones/etc, did God, by not protecting where He was certainly powerful enough, in effect kill someone? “I will have mercy upon whom I have mercy….”

    I guess that’s just the “simple” problem of evil, which Calvinist seem to joyfully embrace by ascribing every minutiae to God’s will, “because the Bible says so, the sparrow falls and all that”. It’s easy to say when it’s just God abstractly knocking a sparrow off the limb (forgive me), but sometimes it’s rape. Murder. Genocide. Torture. Disease. Things a normal emotionally-functional human being truly find horrifying.

    The only way any of this makes sense to me is if God, after creating us with free will, chooses to step back (for the most part) until we rely on Him to intervene. I don’t know. I’m rebuilding here.

  224. Jacob wrote:

    If a child is suffering with an incurable illness, the hyperCalvinist just knows this suffering is part of a wonderful plan whereby God will glorify Himself. Just imagine how intoxicating it is to think that you have special insight into how God thinks. The sufferings of people are just statistics that you plug into your model of God’s sovereignty.

    Yes, this is the model when one believes God is controlling every molecule. Just imagine how different history might have been if instead the message was we must work to alleviate suffering instead of focusing on God willing it for his glory. We might have had cures for certain things sooner than we did. I often think of the women suffering in childbirth because of the Puritans not allowing anything that might alleviate the pain because “God willed it” so alleviating the pain was “witchcraft”. Women were even killed for it.

    Of course brave souls in history did use their God given brains and resources to work toward improving life. So why isn’t that the message? Because it does not fit their paradigm of God.

    That has been my contention with this doctrine and the subtle message it sends. Instead of encouraging our youth on to doing greater things to improve life, they are being encouraged toward hopelessness because God willed it to be for His glory.

    In that world there is no greater thing than being a follower of a guru.

    If there is one thing I beg folks to do it is get their children out of these churches where the fatalistic message is that God is controlling everything for His glory.

  225. “However, Piper claims that God is controlling our unconscious mind as well. So, we don’t have to worry about which had to open the door. God is taking care of it without us even being conscious of it.”

    I’ve watched the entire teaching but I did not see the part where Piper claimed that God controls our unconscious mind.

    At the segment 43:45-46:45 is where he spoke about things we do unconsciously. He went on to say that we have the responsibility to seek the Spirit and renew our minds so that our “instinctive response” (my phrase, not his) lines up with how God wants us to respond in situations.

    What did I miss?

  226. Victorious wrote:

    Piper needs to retire. In fact, he’s overdue.

    IMHO, Piper needed to retire before he ever preached his first “sermon”.

  227. Nancy2 wrote:

    What a crock! The Pied Piper does not need to see a psychiatrist or be evaluated. He needs to be committed!!!

    Amen to that.

  228. Bridget wrote:

    If John Piper’s God is as sovereign as he claims, why does he believe an abuse victim can shove God so far off that God can not intervene? Piper is foolish.

    Again, bingo.

  229. Daisy wrote:

    I’m not positive of this, but isn’t “taking the Lord’s name in vain” really about people who attribute evil to God?
    Which would kind of be what John Piper and guys like him are doing when they say God causes or directs a person to abuse a child? He’s ascribing evil to God.

    Yes, that is exactly what “taking God’s name in vain is!
    And Scripture says, “[God] will not hold him blameless, who takes His Name in vain”. In other words: John Piper is crazy as a rabid cockroach on crack. (Apologies to all drug-addicted insects).

  230. This might be a bit off topic but it has to do with a form of Calvinism, God’s sovereignty, and some teachers supposedly having a special knowledge of things (I know, Camping was in a category all by himself and it is unfair to say he represented typical Calvinism). Over many years I would tune into bits of Harold Camping’s program. I never liked his program and I listened very infrequently. One thing that really turned me off was troubled people who would call and want some assurance of their salvation. Camping would tell these troubled people that no one can know if they are really elect, and that God chooses very few people for salvation, so chances are they are not saved and will never be saved and there is nothing they can do about it. I think he always taught that but I swear the more he got into his weird end times predictions, the more he insisted on people not having assurance of salvation and the more he seemed to enjoy telling people they probably aren’t of the elect and there is nothing they can do.

  231. Jacob wrote:

    I think he always taught that but I swear the more he got into his weird end times predictions, the more he insisted on people not having assurance of salvation and the more he seemed to enjoy telling people they probably aren’t of the elect and there is nothing they can do.

    Because The End of The World meant his vindication.
    Me Sheep! You Goat!

  232. EricL wrote:

    John Piper is a loon. *Don’t blame me for writing that. God made me do it.”

    Calvinist version of The Geraldine Defense?

  233. @ Debi Calvet:

    UNITED STATES on Sat Oct 24, 2015 at 10:07 PM said:

    Janet Varin wrote: “The wide path that leads to destruction? Our loving God had it planned all along that 99% of those made in his image would walk it. To a fiery torment that doesn’t last a billion years…it never ends…that he may be glorified forever!”

    Debi Calvet wrote: “And this has rocked my long-battered faith so much that I don’t know how I’ll ever find resolution.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    it’s preposterous. God is kind, compassionate, merciful. even in divine proportions these descriptives are not compatible with destructiveness and torture.

    I often think about when Jesus came on the scene. who didn’t recognize him, completely missed him? the professional jewish religionists, the scholars. who’s minds had long been swimming with ‘scripture’ data.

    who recognized him? who didn’t miss him? simple people who were busy with other things. who weren’t scholars. whose minds weren’t packed with theological data. they were able to recognize things, pick up on things that the scripturally cerebral were incapable of because of (in my view) having turned off other senses.

    these theological systems, wound ever tighter in their theological calculations, get a person no closer to JESUS THE REAL DEAL.

    ignore the religious freaks.

  234. Jacob wrote:

    Just imagine how intoxicating it is to think that you have special insight into how God thinks. The sufferings of people are just statistics that you plug into your model of God’s sovereignty.

    “One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.”
    — Comrade Stalin, Dictator of the USSR and mass murderer (2-3 times Hitler’s body count)

  235. @ Chris E:
    Hi Chris, I agree free will on its own locates the problems of theodicy elsewhere…not sure I said I believe in free will alone though 🙂 You clearly want to tell me something about what you think makes sense here – have at it countryman! I’ d like to know.

  236. Jacob wrote:

    They don’t just believe – they know. If a child is suffering with an incurable illness, the hyperCalvinist just knows this suffering is part of a wonderful plan whereby God will glorify Himself. Just imagine how intoxicating it is to think that you have special insight into how God thinks.

    Gnostic = “He Who KNOWS Things”

  237. zooey111 wrote:

    Daisy wrote:

    I’m not positive of this, but isn’t “taking the Lord’s name in vain” really about people who attribute evil to God?
    Which would kind of be what John Piper and guys like him are doing when they say God causes or directs a person to abuse a child? He’s ascribing evil to God.

    Yes, that is exactly what “taking God’s name in vain is!

    How convenient that it has been redefined to mean cussing and only cussing, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?

  238. Beakerj wrote:

    The other big issue I have with these kinds of Calvinists is the intense spiritual pride they have about being able to handle any amount of horror said about God & his working without flinching or saying God is unjust. That’s just worldly talk. It’s like a warped badge of pride to never wobble on this path through simple human compassion.

    Like young Adolf “Wolfy” Hitler taking beating after beating after beating from his violent alcoholic father, counting each blow completely dry-eyed. Setting one of the foundatins for his later “Fuehrer” persona, never wobbling on his path.

  239. Speaking of Predestination, I stumbled upon this part of a discussion by N.T. Wright. Over the last few years, I have found Wright helpful in clarifying various issues. This is just a few minutes out of a longer discussion. I think many of you will appreciate how sane Wright sounds about the topic of Predestination. I think he gets to a lot of things that many teachers overlook.

    https://youtu.be/qKwIijhZW-M

  240. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Jacob wrote:
    I think he always taught that but I swear the more he got into his weird end times predictions, the more he insisted on people not having assurance of salvation and the more he seemed to enjoy telling people they probably aren’t of the elect and there is nothing they can do.
    Because The End of The World meant his vindication.
    Me Sheep! You Goat!

    Not just that, but it’s sadistic to take pleasure from the fear and pain of others.

    Key words: “seemed to enjoy” and “nothing they can do”

  241. Jacob wrote:

    Over many years I would tune into bits of Harold Camping’s program. I never liked his program and I listened very infrequently. One thing that really turned me off was troubled people who would call and want some assurance of their salvation. Camping would tell these troubled people that no one can know if they are really elect, and that God chooses very few people for salvation, so chances are they are not saved and will never be saved and there is nothing they can do about it.

    Oh, geez. I think I understand more about a mentally ill person in our extended family now, who listened to Camping (among others) and called us once to get advice about his prophecies. Now I understand a little more about this person’s expressions of paranoia that grew to proportions that negatively affected daily life and ability to have even the most mundane interactions with others.

  242. Jacob wrote:

    Speaking of Predestination, I stumbled upon this part of a discussion by N.T. Wright. Over the last few years, I have found Wright helpful in clarifying various issues. This is just a few minutes out of a longer discussion. I think many of you will appreciate how sane Wright sounds about the topic of Predestination. I think he gets to a lot of things that many teachers overlook.

    https://youtu.be/qKwIijhZW-M

    Thx for the link. Ironically, I first heard of NT Wright from Piper years ago. I figured he was worth checking out if Piper was so threatened by him. :o)

  243. refugee wrote:

    Oh, geez. I think I understand more about a mentally ill person in our extended family now, who listened to Camping (among others) and called us once to get advice about his prophecies. Now I understand a little more about this person’s expressions of paranoia that grew to proportions that negatively affected daily life and ability to have even the most mundane interactions with others.

    Were you able to use the Camping fiasco as a way to help discourage this person from seeking a new guru? I don’t know much of anything about how to help mentally ill people but I think some people get their security from following one cult leader after another. It is sad. Maybe they feel insecure because their inner state is chaotic but one thing they can hang on to is identifying with some guru.

    I once had an acquaintance who tried to talk to me about some apocalyptic topics and I told her I didn’t believe in that sort of thing and we had kind of a low key argument about it. She told me about this teacher she follows who tells what is really happening. So I found some videos of his lectures and my heart sank – this guy seems to be a cult figure and his lectures jump from one conspiracy theory to another and one prediction of disaster after the other. Including rants about what the Jews “control” and yes, UFOs were part of his apocalyptic visions. His videos, for the little I could stand to watch, jumped in rapid-fire fashion from one bizarre thing to the next. I tried to tell her how wrong this all was – beyond specific things, that his whole mindset was wrong. She told me he is a good teacher and I didn’t understand the Bible. I felt sorry for her – I thought her mind was in some sort of prison and there was nothing I could say that would help.

  244. Lydia wrote:

    If there is one thing I beg folks to do it is get their children out of these churches where the fatalistic message is that God is controlling everything for His glory.

    Amen Lyds & preach it sister! It doesn’t follow that the God who created the very large, the very small, and all the spaces in between the spaces is in need of constant ego-stroking glorification. To me it’s the kind of petulant insecurity I would expect from the gods of the Greeks & the Canaanites, not the God of Abraham.

  245. dee wrote:

    Mae wrote:
    nor any mention of the Holy Spirit,
    The Holy Spirit is a bit of difficulty for Calvinistas. In their system, God’s call to repentance is infallible. If He calls you must come and you have no choice in the matter. Once called, you are regenerated and can accept the faith. If God called and you didn’t respond, in their system, God is weak.
    So, we know the Holy Spirit, which is one of the members of the Trinity, is also God and His call should be just as effectual as both God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. So, why is it that the Holy Spirit seems ineffectual in the lives of believers? Believers sin as much as nonbelievers.

    ****believers sin as much as unbelievers*****

    This is quckery statement, similar to the quackery that Piper is proposing….may want to investigate these reflections a bit as this is most definitely NOT true. If believers sin is equal to the sin of a murderer then we are not forgiven for christ death on cross…. AFTER we repent and put our hope in Christ alone….

    a friend of mine with cancer recently died….she knew the born-again experience helped cure her of her sin, even in much pain that she suffered….she was never married or anything….but she most definitely found the grace hope and peace through CHRIST…..and she showed it by service to others in community despite her struggles….she most definitely rejected ‘sin’ in her life….she wouldn’t be drinking or smoking or even cussing…..

    The holy spirit really isn’t and shouldn’t be difficult to understand….it is simple math….1-12 addition and subtraction problems, with place coordinates (10’s, 100’s ….)….else what hope would there be. Not every one can be super genius MIT graduates….or understand Calvin… many things in nature coordinate with numbers 1-12 (twelve full moons in one year, three leaves on a clover, four directions N-S-E-W)…..if that explains why it should be SIMPLE…..to grasp the TRUTH…. of course piper has funny ideas ‘all men are liars’ psalm 116:11…you could be a liar too unless you knew exactly how many stars are in the sky….

    John piper currently has one beating heart….Dee has one beating heart… John piper has ten fingers on his hands….Dee has ten fingers on hands…. these things couldn’t possibly be ‘random’….but coordinated by ‘creator’…..redeemer…. His heart beat was placed in the middle of his body…our heart beat is enclosed in the middle of a rib cage….just as it was 2000 years ago…. simple simon….truths… don’t change….

    ‘random drawings’…. are like the wind blowing….if the wrong man interprets the wind he could make blood shed out of the fact that a maple leaf blew into his neighbor’s yard…. it s clearly the wickedness of the heart that can be the problem when it comes to ‘randomization’ games….even an atheist can attest and contribute to this understanding….he or she just will not understand that true christians do not desire to murder muslims….they would like them to be saved by redeemer….

  246. dee wrote:

    An Attorney wrote:
    I can imagine a child abuser in court saying that he should not be held accountable because Piper said that what he did had been willed by God
    I believe that Piper revealed his thinking in this post by using the game of Scrabble to speak towards my contention that his theology is simply determinism.When he argues that God controls our unconscious minds, leading us to use whatever hand he chooses for us to open doors, he steps over a line.Each one of us is simply in application on God’s IPhone.

    I agree.. Piper sounds alot like B.F. Skinner… Anyone every read Waldon II?? But, this the problem with taking “Calvinism” to far…

  247. The theology of good and evil, and how God, humans, angels, and demons all relate in it is complex … and the topics of “theodicy” and God’s character when it comes to the existence and causation of evil are full of mysteries.

    Some of this is unknowable, despite our human folly in falsely believing we can discern with absolute precision these abstract doctrines from between the narrative lines of Scripture as if it were just some textbook. Somewhere, that kind of theological reasoning slips over the line from Christianity into Gnosticism, even if the slippery ones keep making the case that they are the true believers and everyone else is a heretic or un-elect.

    It also occurs to me that those who seemingly perpetrate a lot of evil (even in the name of good) frequently use some form of theological determinism / election / predestination as an excuse for what are actually their own evil actions. In fact, it seems they’re trying to “get God off the hook” for the existence of evil — and, ironically, in doing so they become like the idol-of-a-god they worship. Such tactics may work for them for a season as bullies in the pulpit. But they never ultimately work as a justification for those who’ve been injured thereby.

  248. An Attorney wrote:

    I can imagine a child abuser in court saying that he should not be held accountable because Piper said that what he did had been willed by God.

    Other quirks of determinism show up even when God is not in the dock as the ultimately responsible party. I recall our professor in Philosophy 101 talking about social and psychological determinism. He told an apocryphal story that’s stuck with me, even 40+ years later.

    He told of a previously convicted criminal who was in court yet again, accused of theft. His lawyer’s defense revolved around determinism. He argued eloquently about the accused man’s background determining the current situation – raised in poverty, abused physically and emotionally, deprived of the opportunity to achieve the American dream, jailed at a young age for stealing. “Given such a background, Your Honor, how could he turn out any other way but to become a thief? And therefore, he should be found not guilty of the crime.”

    The judge sat in silence for a moment pondering this, then said, “And given my background and the law, I am determined that I cannot decide any other way but to find him guilty.”

    And, according to the story, that lawyer never tried that line of reasoning again …

  249. Speaking of defeatist or depressing theological views (and I was wondering if anyone here can provide me with their own views or links to resources that dispute the following. I am googling myself for stuff in the meantime).

    I was watching a Christian TV show called “Amazing Facts” hosted by a guy named Doug Batchlor (spelling?).
    There is a page about it on his/their site here:
    Do Christians go to heaven immediately after they die?
    http://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/media/e/1081/t/do-christians-go-to-heaven-immediately-after-they-die

    I grew up with the understanding (from reading the Bible and listening to other preachers on this) that the moment a Christian person dies, that he or she immediately enters the presence of Jesus. There is no delay.

    They go to Heaven right then and there (not at a later date) and are reunited with Christian family who has gone on before.

    However, the guy on this ‘Amazing Facts’ show was saying when a Christian dies, they cease to exist.

    According to what he was saying (as I understood it) deceased Christians rot in the grave and will not be conscious, aware, awake, or whatever you want to call it, until Jesus returns during end times prophecy stuff times and takes people out of their graves.

    I thought there were verses that dispute such a view? Most of the verses Doug B. quoted on his show were taken from the Old Testament, but I think some of what Christ taught in the New shed more light on what happens after death?
    I mean, isn’t it faulty to wrap most of your understanding of the afterlife primarily on the OT?

    I thought God created all people with spirits /souls, which are eternal? That is, once you die, the you that is you (your spirit, soul) continues on. How can something that is eternally alive just stop to exist for X number of years?

    I find this guy’s views about this very discouraging and depressing.
    One of the few things that has helped me to cope with the loss of my mom is thinking the moment she passed away, she went on to be God, where she is now with God and her other family that passed.

    I take no comfort thinking that her physical body is just rotting in a grave now, and she is no where (i.e., according to this TV show guy, she is just waiting for Christ to bring her back to life, but as of right now, she is no where. She doesn’t exist). I find that dreary, not comforting or uplifting.

    Right before Steven died (book of Acts), or was in the process of dying (he was being stoned by angry people), didn’t he see Jesus standing at the right hand of God? If a person ceases to be awake or aware at death, how could Steven have had that vision of Jesus?

    And didn’t Jesus say to his critics in argument that God is the God of the living, not the dead (meaning, Moses and other Old Testament guys were alive with God as Jesus spoke this; they were not dead or non- existent, waiting to be re-animated at some future date).

    This guy’s teachings were just depressing. He’s basically telling me that ever since my mother passed away several years ago, she ceased to “be.”

  250. @ Daisy:

    “isn’t it faulty to wrap most of your understanding of the afterlife primarily on the OT?”
    ++++++++++++

    and i’d say to hold whatever the NT says loosely. glimmers and shadows of things, but something as mysterious and other as afterlife escapes being pinned and penned down by any writer, NT or otherwise.

    the most I can say is that it’s not something to fear.

  251. Daisy wrote:

    I grew up with the understanding (from reading the Bible and listening to other preachers on this) that the moment a Christian person dies, that he or she immediately enters the presence of Jesus. There is no delay.
    They go to Heaven right then and there (not at a later date) and are reunited with Christian family who has gone on before.
    However, the guy on this ‘Amazing Facts’ show was saying when a Christian dies, they cease to exist.

    I looked up this teacher and he I believe is a Seventh Day Adventist. They believe in something they call “soul sleep” where the dead cease to have a conscious existence until the Resurrection. The Jehovah’s Witnesses go one step farther and believe the souls perish but then at the End Christ re-creates them. So it is odd if he is SDA and is teaching that souls don’t just “sleep” but are destroyed. In any case, both the Adventist view of souls “sleeping” until the Resurrection and the JW view that souls are destroyed and later re-created do not have support in orthodox Christianity. The majority of Protestants, and the Catholic Church and as far as I know all Orthodox churches believe that believers who have died go to be with the Lord, and this is before the Last Day and the Resurrection (here I leave out the Catholic idea of Purgatory – that is a whole different issue). I hope you can take comfort that throughout most of church history and for most Christians today, the idea of souls sleeping or being annihilated is something that was rejected. IMO the Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses are quite wrong about this and a number of other things. Here is a link to a Catholic view and I think most Protestants would agree with it also.

    http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/how-do-we-refute-the-soul-sleep-argument

  252. @ brad/futuristguy:
    I saw a similar defense of Tony Jones around the blogosphere. some argued his NPD diagnosis meant he could not help it. So Tony could be a practicing NPD believer and even teacher.

    I think we walk on precarious ground when we fall into the trap of thinking believers continue sinning as in doing wrong to others. Part of it is how some define sin meaning existence or thoughts and not just actions. But if we believe it is normal not to trust fellow believers then what is the point of it all?

  253. Beakerj:

    See also my comments on the theology of glory above – and also brad’s comments which I largely agree with.

    I don’t think the problem is really with ‘Calvinism’, or rather believing in predestination doesn’t inexorably lead one to Piper’s particular position. I think in general using predestination for anything other than comforting the doubting is a very dangerous thing, using it to ‘peer behind the veil’ and ‘explain’ tragedy is teh kind of hubris that both Luther and Calvin would warn against.

  254. elastigirl wrote:

    and i’d say to hold whatever the NT says loosely. glimmers and shadows of things, but something as mysterious and other as afterlife escapes being pinned and penned down by any writer, NT or otherwise.

    the most I can say is that it’s not something to fear.

    Very much agreed. Yours is a voice of reason and sanity. I’ve heard of good Christian folk working themselves up into nervous breakdowns over this stuff because of what the NT says (or doesn’t say) about heaven and hell. One poor lady was so convinced per Hebrews whatever that she’s no longer ‘saved’ because of this, that, and the other, she had to be hospitalized.

  255. Lydia wrote:

    I saw a similar defense of Tony Jones around the blogosphere. some argued his NPD diagnosis meant he could not help it. So Tony could be a practicing NPD believer and even teacher.

    If all of us are off the hook because “my background made me do it” and “I can’t help myself,” then there really would be no responsibility for anything anytime. Also, then those of us victimized by bully Christians shouldn’t be upset … we’re just the unfortunately fallout from the inevitable actions of perpetrators who simply couldn’t help themselves. Why should we get after them? Nothing they can do about it … so just get over it.

    That kind of twisted thinking is just insidious. Then there really wouldn’t be any such thing as choice, morality, ethics, guilt, accountability, prevention, recovery, transformation, etc. Just Lord of the Flies, right? Not Jesus the Lord of Hosts who happened to say, “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”

  256. So a little spring prays to the ocean, so the beating heart prays to the heart of the universe, so the little word prays to the great Logos, so a dust speck prays to the earth, so the earth prays to the cosmos, so the one prays to the billion, so human love prays to God’s love, so always prays to never, so the moment prays to eternity, so the snowflake prays to winter, so the frightened beast prays to the forest silence, so uncertainty prays to beauty itself.

    And all these prayers are heard.

    ——-
    by Polish Poet Anna Kamienska
    1920 – 1986
    In That Great River: Notebook
    Volume entries from 1965-1972
    .
    published in June 2010 edition Poetry
    Founded in 1912 by Harriet Monroe
    Volume CXCVI Number 3
    .
    Quoting in part from the editor’s introductory bio of Anna that preceded her words selected for this edition:
    .
    “In her introduction, Kamienska refuses to identify the crisis leading to the hard won faith that is the subject of so many later entries. The Notebook’s first part, she comments noncommittally, “was written by a nonbeliever. But an intellectual and spiritual turning point is followed by the drama of an ever-changing, always embattled faith.” The transformation was in fact triggered by the sudden death of her husband, the poet Jan Śpiewak, who died of cancer on December 22, 1967.”
    .
    and
    .
    “The fascination with mysticism of all shapes, with archaic religions and folk cultures, that her earlier writing betrays becomes explicitly Christian in the later work, though it never takes a settled, comfortable shape. The intellectual breadth, relentless self-testing and passionate introspection that mark her Notebook make her one of the great poet-mystics of post war Poland. This may also explain why she never achieved the popularity of her close friend, the far more accessible poet Father Jan Twardowski, who appears in many of her entries. Her beloved husband remained her muse until her own death in 1986. In one late entry she recalls her many visits to his grave with Twardowski: “We’ve been walking among these graves for ten years now. Father Jan put a bunch of lilies on Janek’s grave. I was surprised that lilies still exist. We come and go, but the flowers remain the same and continue to bear the same names.” “

  257. Daisy

    Here is Revelation 6:9-11  NIV-Bibe Gateway

     9When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

    The martyrs are alive, resting in the presence of God and aware of time passing.

  258. Jacob wrote:

    I looked up this teacher and he I believe is a Seventh Day Adventist. They believe in something they call “soul sleep” where the dead cease to have a conscious existence until the Resurrection. The Jehovah’s Witnesses go one step farther and believe the souls perish but then at the End Christ re-creates them.

    The SDA version of soul sleep (which was also taught by Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God) is that the soul continues to exist between death and resurrection, it just remains unconscious until resurrected, “jump cutting” directly from death to resurrection.

    However, the JW version — that everything dies with death and is re-created at the resurrection — is a LOT more problematic. That removes ANY & ALL continuity between the original being and the resurrected one.

    Remember the thought-experiments about teleportation (as in Star Trek Transporter) where the transporter is actually a replicator which destroys the original? Is it you or just a copy of a you who no longer exists? The subject of many Trekkie all-nighters and a lot of SF/Fantasy stories, from the serious (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Think_Like_a_Dinosaur) to the silly (http://www.fimfiction.net/story/273539/dying-to-get-there).

  259. @ dee:

    Thank you Dee, and also Jacob for the information. I’ve been skimming over some pages about the topic that I found doing a search online.

    I find the soul sleep doctrine to be depressing and can’t figure out why anyone would want to teach it or believe it. The guy on the TV show I was watching it was using it to try to refute NDEs (Near Death Experiences). He is concerned that Christians are too interested in NDE stories.

  260. Jacob wrote:

    So I found some videos of his lectures and my heart sank – this guy seems to be a cult figure and his lectures jump from one conspiracy theory to another and one prediction of disaster after the other. Including rants about what the Jews “control” and yes, UFOs were part of his apocalyptic visions. His videos, for the little I could stand to watch, jumped in rapid-fire fashion from one bizarre thing to the next.

    “Coast to Coast open phones — West of the Rockies, you’re on the air.”

  261. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    If all of us are off the hook because “my background made me do it” and “I can’t help myself,” then there really would be no responsibility for anything anytime.

    It’s worse than that… it spills over from ‘I can’t help it’ to ‘God willed it’. Talk about insidious…

  262. Something just crossed my mind.

    The title of this thread is
    “John Piper Explains God’s Will in Scrabble and Child Molestation and We Pick Up the Pieces”

    Why is John Piper playing a game of Scrabble?

    Didn’t Dee and Deb just do a post about a month ago quoting Piper from some book where Piper criticized a Christian couple for retiring and collecting sea shells, because in his opinion, that is a waste of time activity for any Christian to engage in?

    OK, found it -= it’s mentioned here:
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/09/23/george-mason-universitys-cru-responds-to-eagle-maybe-they-should-try-being-kind/

    In 2007, Timmy Brister, a fan of John Piper wrote John Piper Ruined My Vacation. First he quotes John Piper.
    ———————
    I tell you what a tragedy is. I’ll read to you from Reader’s Digest (Feb. 2000, p. 98) what a tragedy is:

    “Bob and Penny… took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.”

    The American Dream: come to the end of your life – your one and only life – and let the last great work before you give an account to your Creator, be “I collected shells. See my shells.”

    THAT is a tragedy.

    And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. And I get forty minutes to plead with you: don’t buy it.

    Why does Piper get to play Scrabble with his wife, and that’s not wasting time, but if another couple walks along a beach and collects shells, that is a no-no?

    Where does the Bible say,
    Playing Scrabble = Okay with God
    Sea Shell Collecting = God thinks it’s a waste of time

  263. @ Daisy:
    That is actually a very old view that he is espousing, and msny in the early Reformation era believed it. Look up “soul sleep” for starters.

    Like elastigirl, i think there are glimmers, hints and shadows of the world to come in ghd NT, but nothing really firm. Not sure our minds could comprehend a fuller glimpse of it, but i agree that it will be very good. Am also of the opinion that “Today you shall be with me in paradise” means just that; ditto for the passages in which Paul talks about departing and being with the Lord, and related.

  264. @ Daisy:
    I don’t know about this guy, but the typical version of this view that I’m familiar with is more like (to use an SF analogy) the soul or spirit being in a kind of suspended animation prior to the resurrection of the dead.

    I don’t think this is a primary issue, but i get that it is very painful for you, snd will say that it seems so to me as well. Otoh, there are those “many mansions,” so I’m going with that.

  265. Daisy wrote:

    Why does Piper get to play Scrabble with his wife, and that’s not wasting time, but if another couple walks along a beach and collects shells, that is a no-no?
    Where does the Bible say,
    Playing Scrabble = Okay with God
    Sea Shell Collecting = God thinks it’s a waste of time

    Apparently this is what John Piper’s bible says 😉

  266. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Some of this is unknowable, despite our human folly in falsely believing we can discern with absolute precision these abstract doctrines from between the narrative lines of Scripture as if it were just some textbook

    I share your point of view but my opinion is typically written off because I am not up on the chapter and verse that these people use to build their theologies. I have neither the time nor the interest to go into the weeds with them. Keeping it simple and leaving some mystery works for me but way to many like to assemble intricate structures from obscure meanings.

  267. @ Lydia:

    and as Jones would have it, the problem with Driscoll wasn’t that he was a bad guy but that he embraced Calvinism. Even if Mark Driscoll abruptly announced next week he’d become an egalitarian Arminian with sympathies to the policy proposals of Bernie Sanders I would not trust his character or capacity to responsibly handle biblical texts one iota more.

  268. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    It also occurs to me that those who seemingly perpetrate a lot of evil (even in the name of good) frequently use some form of theological determinism / election / predestination as an excuse for what are actually their own evil actions. In fact, it seems they’re trying to “get God off the hook” for the existence of evil — and, ironically, in doing so they become like the idol-of-a-god they worship. Such tactics may work for them for a season as bullies in the pulpit. But they never ultimately work as a justification for those who’ve been injured thereby.

    This sends shivers down my spine. I know people like this.

  269. Bill M wrote:

    I share your point of view but my opinion is typically written off because I am not up on the chapter and verse that these people use to build their theologies. I have neither the time nor the interest to go into the weeds with them. Keeping it simple and leaving some mystery works for me but way to many like to assemble intricate structures from obscure meanings.

    If this is merely a matter of I.Q. — as some theologians seem to believe, and as do some followers who put their faith in them — we are all doomed.

    I’m smart enough to figure out that I’m NOT smart enough to figure it all out.

    Which is part of why I chalk up some stuff to mystery, not because I don’t *want* to figure it out — I think it’s part of human nature to want to relate with and understand our Creator — but because I am not God and I know I *cannot* figure it out. I also think I’ve got a fairly good sense of how complicated I myself am, so why would I think I could be hugely precise about figuring out “the” theology that perfectly and accurately describes The Most Wondrous and Complicated Person in the Cosmos?

    And I don’t keep up with all those theologies, despite how interesting they may be. That’s because I am more interested in other things, like the fruit of the Spirit and discernment and wisdom and kindness. Hopefully my life and the way I live it make up for my lack of *some* doctrinal precision. (And, in my opinion, much too much of theology is bent toward finding theological precision where God has not revealed it in Scripture.)

    Anyway, frankly, I’m impressed by men and women, girls and boys, who seek to be faithful in following Jesus Christ — to me, that is “success.” I’m not impressed by someone’s level of I.Q. or voluminosity of library.

  270. Bill M wrote:

    I share your point of view but my opinion is typically written off because I am not up on the chapter and verse that these people use to build their theologies.

    The Bible has a long history of supporting or not supporting just about anything its readers fancy or don’t fancy.

  271. numo wrote:

    Otoh, there are those “many mansions,” so I’m going with that.

    I too like the ‘many mansions’ idea, because it implies that ‘heaven’ can be different for different folks. I have to admit though, the Jewish concept of Olam Ha-Ba makes way more sense to me than evangelical ‘heaven’ because the world or worlds to come are right here, with the bad stuff removed. Quite frankly? I like what I am in this world and I hope to continue it into the next.

  272. harley wrote:

    Wow. I just read Nate Sparks letter to Piper. He nails it on the head. I wander what the chances of Piper reading it are? Or even Doug Wilson?

    Wilson responded to some of the pushback here http://dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/a-greco-roman-milieu-participle.html#comment-2326036093
    Right now Susanna Krizo, the author of Recovering FROM Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is commenting there– she has some good Biblical logic countering Piperian complementationism.

  273. @ Introvertish:
    Thank you for sharing that poem and information about Anna Kamienska. The poem is very beautiful and thought provoking. I’m going to look her up.

  274. Muff Potter wrote:

    The Bible has a long history of supporting or not supporting just about anything its readers fancy or don’t fancy

    I’m also finding some teaching I took for granted I now question. My questions may get dismissed as being worldly, for example the role of women in the church, that I am just making the bible fit a current world view. I’m now beginning understand that views thought to be buttoned up doctrine were similarly based on a previously shaky world view, or just the world view and associated assumptions of someone else. As with many inquiries, the end result is heavily influenced by initial assumptions. I’m also surprised at how shoddy theology can be, especially considering the title Dee’s post.

  275. Has anyone else listened to Jerry Walls discuss Calvinism? I thought his lecture here was top notch. It’s an hour long so give yourself time. It’s not something you can listen to in bits & pieces, though, because it’s all very logical and you have to catch all his points. But he’s great, and very engaging. I found it well worth my time!

    https://youtu.be/Daomzm3nyIg

  276. I wonder if John Piper would agree with the overall moral thrust of Eliezer Yudkowsky’s brand of moral utilitarianism (“that given the choice, it is preferable for one person to be tortured for 50 years than for a sufficiently large number of people to get dust specks in their eyes”). Does Piper think that’s how God makes his decisions?

    http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/bitwise/2014/07/roko_s_basilisk_the_most_terrifying_thought_experiment_of_all_time.2.html

    I see a lot of interesting parallels between Calvinism and some strains of transhumanism. I suspect it won’t be long before someone tries to combine the two and suggests that everything in our universe is predestined because it’s all a simulation run by an all-powerful divine computer. It’d combine Calvinism (God predetermining everything), Thomism (God as the supreme intellect whose every action is purely logical), and LessWrongism into one very disturbing hybrid.

    It’s been said that the most interesting place in the world right now from the standpoint of religion is not the Middle East, but Silicon Valley.

  277. Daisy wrote:

    Why does Piper get to play Scrabble with his wife, and that’s not wasting time, but if another couple walks along a beach and collects shells, that is a no-no?

    Because He of the Fluttering Hands is One of The ELECT, God’s Predestined Pets, and thus has Speshul Privileges.

  278. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    I see a lot of interesting parallels between Calvinism and some strains of transhumanism.

    Wasn’t N.I.C.E. of That Hideous Strength into Transhumanism?

  279.   __

    “Calvinsgate?

    hmmm…

      It is certainly gratifying that many studies which this present decade has produced, and which have brought the most painstaking research to bear on the Calvinism question, have reached the same extensive conclusion that Calvin’s systematic exegesis of the original Scriptures were in error, and his marching orders were taken liberally from the 4th century writings of Augustine, which have render Jesus’ church in the present day quite inoperative…

    “Lord, ‘open’ the Calvinist’s êyês!”

    (sadface)

    Sopy
    __
    Inspirational relief: Sheryl Crow – “Doctor My Eyes” …a Cover of the Jackson Browne classic.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj6Q55ZbVio

    🙂

  280. Paula Rice wrote:

    Has anyone else listened to Jerry Walls discuss Calvinism? I thought his lecture here was top notch.

    I have listened to that talk a number of times. It is , as you say, top notch. If someone had only one hour to understand the essence of Calvinism and its fatal flaws I would point them to that talk.

    Walls has also produced a six part series where the first three parts are similar to the talk and the second three are a dialogue on corporate election with one of NT Wright’s students, Paul Sloan.

    Jerry Walls and Joseph Dongell wrote the book “Why I am not a Calvinist” that I regard as one of the best of its kind.

  281. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    I suspect it won’t be long before someone tries to combine the two and suggests that everything in our universe is predestined because it’s all a simulation run by an all-powerful divine computer.

    From the Slate article:

    “The ever accelerating progress of technology … gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.”

    Did the Tower of Babel come to mind while reading this, because it did for me. We don’t know exactly what was happening at that time that provoked God to intervene on a global scale and divide up the language. We do know that evidence of profound mathematical computations existed as evidence in the construction of the pyramids, images seen only from the sky, etc. People were involved in some strange goings-on involving high intelligence and God intervened, but human nature hasn’t changed. The rainbow is a reminder to us of the flood and God’s promise. The division of the languages should serve as a constant reminder that despite our best efforts, we will never be able to surmount the barrier created by language, set in place to prevent another Tower from being built.

    You raise an interesting point about Piper and his brand of religion, though, because clearly his vision is global. He’s proclaimed himself the global apostle of Calvinism. Maybe his desire is to be the architect of the neo-cals religious tower, and that’s why he’s threatened by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, because in its place he wants built a monument to his ministry.

    (fyi Piper proclaimed the tower would fall in a video he shot in Dubai that was intended to recruit young people to join his mission…and attend a conference he was promoting at the time. It’s was removed shortly after it was posted.)

  282. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Bill M wrote:

    I share your point of view but my opinion is typically written off because I am not up on the chapter and verse that these people use to build their theologies. I have neither the time nor the interest to go into the weeds with them. Keeping it simple and leaving some mystery works for me but way to many like to assemble intricate structures from obscure meanings.

    If this is merely a matter of I.Q. — as some theologians seem to believe, and as do some followers who put their faith in them — we are all doomed.

    I’m smart enough to figure out that I’m NOT smart enough to figure it all out.

    I guess that those who think that they have figured it out fall into one of two camps:
    1. Those not smart enough to realise we can’t figure it out (but who believe their “leaders” who claim they have figured it out

    2. Those who are smart enough to realise we can’t figure it all out but go on pretending anyway, because it helps them maintain their hold on a captive audience for their own nefarious purposes.

    In my late teens and early twenties I spent a lot of time getting into theological systems that claimed to make it all clear”, but at one point I realised how cultish all those systems were, and that all we do here is see things through a mirror darkly.

  283. WenatcheeTheHatchet wrote:

    @ Lydia:

    and as Jones would have it, the problem with Driscoll wasn’t that he was a bad guy but that he embraced Calvinism. Even if Mark Driscoll abruptly announced next week he’d become an egalitarian Arminian with sympathies to the policy proposals of Bernie Sanders I would not trust his character or capacity to responsibly handle biblical texts one iota more.

    I think the differences are that Jones sold himself as one who is a champion of the oppressed. They were shocked to find out he was a total fraud. And this is also true for his defenders like Rachel Held Evans.

    Driscoll was not that big of a surprise. He was always authoritarianish. It was part of his doctrinal stance.

  284. Bill M wrote:

    I’m also surprised at how shoddy theology can be, especially considering the title Dee’s post.

    That is one reason I am done with weekly sermons. I just don't see them as a necessity for the body. They tend to make the pastor center stage. Not Jesus Christ.

    However, I love reading and listening to scholars who make you think and I wish there was more of that from differing perspectives.

  285. Lydia wrote:

    Of course brave souls in history did use their God given brains and resources to work toward improving life. So why isn’t that the message? Because it does not fit their paradigm of God.

    That has been my contention with this doctrine and the subtle message it sends. Instead of encouraging our youth on to doing greater things to improve life, they are being encouraged toward hopelessness because God willed it to be for His glory.

    For a stark contrast, consider these words attributed to Professor William S. Clark, as he said farewell to his students at Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University):

    “Boys, be ambitious! Be ambitious not for money or for selfish aggrandizement, not for that evanescent thing which men call fame. Be ambitious for that attainment of all that a man ought to be.”

  286. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Jacob wrote:
    So I found some videos of his lectures and my heart sank – this guy seems to be a cult figure and his lectures jump from one conspiracy theory to another and one prediction of disaster after the other. Including rants about what the Jews “control” and yes, UFOs were part of his apocalyptic visions. His videos, for the little I could stand to watch, jumped in rapid-fire fashion from one bizarre thing to the next.
    “Coast to Coast open phones — West of the Rockies, you’re on the air.”

    Yes! That broadcast is a haven for the conspiracy minded. Pick your flavor of bizarre, and it’s sure to be aired one night or another.

  287. Mae wrote:

    “Coast to Coast open phones — West of the Rockies, you’re on the air.”

    Yes! That broadcast is a haven for the conspiracy minded. Pick your flavor of bizarre, and it’s sure to be aired one night or another.

    I listen to it now and then when I need a Weirdness Fix.

    Just that nowadays it’s “All Conspiracy, All the Time.”
    None of the GOOD Weird Stuff any more.
    Though I think next Friday is their annual “Ghost to Ghost”, where they open up the lines and have everyone phone in allegedly-true ghost stories. Great for inspiration if you’re a horror writer.

  288. Pingback: Calvinism is Rooted - Unsettled Christianity UNITED STATES

  289. @ Daisy:
    ‘Amazing Facts’, is probably a, Seventh Day Adventist site. They believe in soul sleep. Jehovah Witnesses believe in soul annihilation.

  290. This section:
    “You will now be left with no God to help you deal with this and turn it good. He will be useless. You have just shoved him off into a realm where he can’t have anything to do with what happened. His will couldn’t be involved in it. His governance of the universe cannot oversee it. You cannot have a God who in anyway would ordain that it come to pass. And in your pain you shoved him so far to the edge of the universe that for the rest of your life you are crying out to a God to do miracles yet you have pushed him away.”

    So…if God controls everything, including the letters you pull when you play Scrabble, how is this person able to decide whether s/he pushes God away or pulls Him in? Didn’t God decide that for them? Didn’t He cause it to happen just as He ordained? So how can we then admonish this person not to push God away if God controls whether or not it happens? This is hyper-Calvinism, and dangerous, confused theology. It makes me heartsick…

  291. I am almost done wrote:

    This section:
    “You will now be left with no God to help you deal with this and turn it good. He will be useless. You have just shoved him off into a realm where he can’t have anything to do with what happened. His will couldn’t be involved in it. His governance of the universe cannot oversee it. You cannot have a God who in anyway would ordain that it come to pass. And in your pain you shoved him so far to the edge of the universe that for the rest of your life you are crying out to a God to do miracles yet you have pushed him away.”
    So…if God controls everything, including the letters you pull when you play Scrabble, how is this person able to decide whether s/he pushes God away or pulls Him in? Didn’t God decide that for them? Didn’t He cause it to happen just as He ordained? So how can we then admonish this person not to push God away if God controls whether or not it happens? This is hyper-Calvinism, and dangerous, confused theology. It makes me heartsick…

    yeah, that’s just bizarre…in an attempt to make this internally logical, it’s become completely illogical. And think of all of the people scribbling away in their notepads during this sermon, thinking this all makes sense. Must be alot of cognitive dissonance…

  292. @ MidwesternEasterner:

    “It’s been said that the most interesting place in the world right now from the standpoint of religion is not the Middle East, but Silicon Valley.”
    ++++++++++

    as in religious inventiveness?

  293. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    Boys, be ambitious! Be ambitious not for money or for selfish aggrandizement, not for that evanescent thing which men call fame. Be ambitious for that attainment of all that a man ought to be.”

    Love this.

  294. Piper prays for a good letter? How about praying for wisdom to use whatever letter God gives?

    I don’t know about a Scrabble game, but I do know about life in general. God wants us to be wise in using what he gives us. To pray for that wisdom is much more productive than to pray for particular items to be given to me. It’s not that I shouldn’t pray for my needs, but it’s the wisdom to handle what is happening in life that is even more important than God handing you the answer questions such as where you should live, etc. After all, “God’s perfect will is about Christ living in you, not you living in Chicago.”

  295. Lydia wrote:

    Just imagine how different history might have been if instead the message was we must work to alleviate suffering instead of focusing on God willing it for his glory.

    An SBC New Calvinist church plant near me has taken a weird stance on “suffering” … they go looking for it!! If you ain’t suffering, something must be wrong with you! As Lydia notes, our focus as Christians should be on alleviating suffering through the ministry of Christ, rather than heaping it on folks! A call of God may mean suffering on your part as you take the Gospel to the ends of the earth … but if your sacrifice is one of joy then embrace it with gladness to the glory of God. I swear, these folks have a warped view of what it means to be Kingdom citizens.

  296. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    I suspect it won’t be long before someone tries to combine the two and suggests that everything in our universe is predestined because it’s all a simulation run by an all-powerful divine computer. It’d combine Calvinism (God predetermining everything), Thomism (God as the supreme intellect whose every action is purely logical), and LessWrongism into one very disturbing hybrid.

    Welcome to The Matrix.

  297.   __

    “Jesus, My Eyes!”

    hum, hum, hum… Jesus , my êyês have seen the years,
    And the slow parade of Calvinesta hostle church  takeovers without crying,
    Now I want to understand,
    I have done all that I could,
    To fight the evil with the good without hiding,
    You must help me, if You please,
    Jesus, my êyês,
    Tell me what is wrong,
    Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?
    ‘Cause I have walked  through this 501(c)3 church world,
    And as each moment has unfurled,
    I’ve been waiting to awaken from these really bad dreams,
    Preachers preach and do ‘what they wilt’,
    I never really noticed them until I got this feeling,
    That it’s later than it seems,
    Jesus, my êyês,
    Tell me what you sêê,
    I hear their victim’s cries,
    Please just say it’s not too late for them,
    Is it too late,
    Is it too late for them?
    Tell me Jesus,
    Jesus, my êyês,
    Cannot see Your Wonderful Words really being preached, 
    Is this the price we pay for having the Calvinestas gain so much of ‘Your’ church’s ground? [1]

    (sadface)

    Sopy
    __
    [1]Lyrics modified for parody use. The original lyrics “Doctor My Eyes” © by the distingushed Musician/Singer/SongWriter: Jackson Brown; 
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=x0GhjlmlEwQ
    © also by the Universal Music Publishing Group
    Used for non-commercial religious parody use only. All rights reserved. U.S. Title 17 copyright infringement unintended. 

    ;~)

  298. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    If this is merely a matter of I.Q. — as some theologians seem to believe, and as do some followers who put their faith in them — we are all doomed.
    I’m smart enough to figure out that I’m NOT smart enough to figure it all out.

    Take it from a former IQ 160 Kid Genius:

    YOU’RE NOT JUST DOOMED, YOU’RE F’ED.

    With High IQ often comes emotional/mental “instability”, like you’re running your brain at redline constantly and something’s gotta give. Never mind the “Intelligence 18, Wisdom 3” phenomenon as you lean more and more on your IQ with less and less of a reality check (with the side effect of emotional/personality retardation) mixed with the lure of the Intellectual Snob (“My IQ is ONE POINT higher than yours, YOU HOPELESS RETARD!”).

  299. WenatcheeTheHatchet wrote:

    @ Lydia:
    and as Jones would have it, the problem with Driscoll wasn’t that he was a bad guy but that he embraced Calvinism.

    Purity of Correct Ideology, Comrade.

  300. roebuck wrote:

    Read the Gospels, and be refreshed. If you’re feeling strong and feisty, grapple with Paul

    Amen! I believe this is where the young, restless and reformed are falling short. They have been indoctrinated to turn to Paul’s epistles first … to cherry-picked verses that can be twisted to support reformed theology. If you read Paul first, you might read Jesus wrong … but if you read Jesus first (the Gospels), the writings of Paul come into perspective.

  301. Tim wrote:

    I don’t know about a Scrabble game, but I do know about life in general. God wants us to be wise in using what he gives us. To pray for that wisdom is much more productive than to pray for particular items to be given to me.

    Maybe I wasn’t so Dumb/Apostate/Worldly during my time on the fringes of Pentecostalism. When we got the usual “what Gift of the Spirit do you want?” question (shades of Babylon-5!) the usual answer was Tongues, Tongues, Tongues, Tongues, and Tongues. I think I was the only one who answered “Wisdom”; because Wisdom is the command control over all the others; telling you when to use them and (more important) when NOT to. This did not go over well with a Holy Spirit of Tongues, Tongues, Tongues, Tongues, Tongues, and Tongues.

  302. elastigirl wrote:

    @ MidwesternEasterner:

    “It’s been said that the most interesting place in the world right now from the standpoint of religion is not the Middle East, but Silicon Valley.”
    ++++++++++

    as in religious inventiveness?

    NT Wright spoke in Silicon Valley not long ago. He had open questions — really interesting. It is called “Simply Good News” (on talks at Google on YouTube)

  303. Lydia wrote:

    That is one reason I am done with weekly sermons. I just don’t see them as a necessity for the body.

    It would be interesting if the culture shifted, congregations permanently abandoned listening to the same person every week, instead invited in different speakers and followed them up with extensive questions. I doubt any of the present gliteratti would submit to such an exercise even though it would hone their views also.

  304. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    . I think I was the only one who answered “Wisdom”; because Wisdom is the command control over all the others;

    This is what I am trying to instill in my kids. Pray for wisdom.

  305. andrew wrote:

    yeah, that’s just bizarre…in an attempt to make this internally logical, it’s become completely illogical. And think of all of the people scribbling away in their notepads during this sermon, thinking this all makes sense. Must be alot of cognitive dissonance…

    Yes…I used to hang onto every word of the likes of Piper and the rest of his Gospel (TM) dudes until the dissonance became too much. For all their talk of God’s sovereignty, the one thing they refuse to let God be sovereign about is mystery. God’s ways are past our knowing. And He has every right to keep things secret. The lengths that their teaching goes to sometimes to be absolutely certain about all things undermines their desire to glorify God’s sovereignty. Hence the quibbling over things God has seen fit not to share with us, making those things central to the Gospel, and looking down on those who don’t agree…sifting through garbage like this to get to the few gems that can potentially be discovered is just too much.

    Sorry for the soapbox, but this stuff just gets under my skin…

  306. @ Bill M:
    I would love it. Can you imagine the thinking that would take place?

    My cousin attends a small rural church where the pastor is former SBC prof kicked out during the CR. He is older but very scholarly. About once a month he has scholars in to speak on various NT/OT historical contextual issues.

    The last one I attended was on the concept of baptism from OT to NT. It was fascinating. I try not to miss them.

  307. I am almost done wrote:

    For all their talk of God’s sovereignty, the one thing they refuse to let God be sovereign about is mystery.

    Funny how we see things so differently. Guys like Pink did not appeal to mystery at all but most Calvinists who fall back on compatablism which is an appeal to mystery. They would have us believe we are free and responsible yet totally unable to resist grace and say no if we were already chosen. They always call this cognitive dissonance, mystery.

  308. Lydia wrote:

    That is one reason I am done with weekly sermons. I just don’t see them as a necessity for the body. They tend to make the pastor center stage. Not Jesus Christ.

    The “weekly preaching event” is the most important event of the week for the YRR crowd. In my experience it must be a minimum of 45 minutes long and often longer. If that means that there is no time for communion in three of four services then there is no communion. It is obviously far more important for the man up front to have his say for 10 more minutes (when almost all attention spans have expired) than to focus on Jesus and his infinite love for us. Oh, my apologies, Jesus’ love is only a cog in the glory machine (with thanks to Austin Fischer for that pointed insight into YRR doctrine).

  309. Lydia wrote:

    @ Bill M:
    I would love it. Can you imagine the thinking that would take place?
    My cousin attends a small rural church where the pastor is former SBC prof kicked out during the CR. He is older but very scholarly. About once a month he has scholars in to speak on various NT/OT historical contextual issues.
    The last one I attended was on the concept of baptism from OT to NT. It was fascinating. I try not to miss them.

    This is not James ” Boo” Heflin is it?

  310. JohnD wrote:

    e “weekly preaching event” is the most important event of the week for the YRR crowd.

    Oh please don’t tell me they referred to them as the “weekly preaching event” in your neck of the woods, too!

  311. Haven’t read every comment but …

    Cow, sheep, goat, giraffe, dog, porcupine, owl, ant, weasel. Could someone please tell what the scrabble values for these words are? Thank you.

    Meanwhile, back in the beginning of Genesis, it says So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.

    God’s sovereignty here is not threatened by allowing man to name the creatures. I don’t want to sound facetious, but does anyone really believe that although man appeared to name the animals, he was predestined to create their particular names by God at the beginning of language? That this is a kind of fictional freedom, more apparent than real? Or did God’s sovereign will include and enable man being able to make genuine choices?

    OK, the fall followed, and in church history the endless debate about God choosing man or man choosing to respond to God, but in an area such as marriage or occupation, isn’t this original freedom still in operation? It doesn’t threaten God’s sovereignty now just as it didn’t in the beginning; and in any event, just what could threaten God’s sovereignty?

  312. Slight tangent:

    My teenage son arrived back home in the gloamin’ from after-school rugby practice today. As soon as I’d opened the door, and before I could say a word, he thrust a less-than-salubrious-looking polythene bag into my hand with the words:

    Dog-poo shoe!

    … before walking into the house.

    #lovebeingadad

  313. JohnD wrote:

    If that means that there is no time for communion in three of four services then there is no communion.

    I sat in a church service once where the congregational music and the special music and the offertory music and the whatever-the-heck music just went on and on until the pastor got up and announced that there was no time for scripture reading or for the sermon, and dismissed the crowd.

  314. Lydia wrote:

    They always call this cognitive dissonance, mystery.

    It does force the question: what’s wrong with simply saying, I don’t know, when asked fundamental questions about God?

    Now, stupid people will come back with well, if you don’t know everything about God then that obviously proves there can’t be a god, but so what? Stupidity is their privilege. If you ask the scientific community to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics, they aren’t afraid to say: we don’t know, and it’s driving us mental. They will occasionally get stick from it from alsostupid people (some of them religious…), but hey.

  315. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    It does force the question: what’s wrong with simply saying, I don’t know, when asked fundamental questions about God?

    It helps if there really is a mystery. :o) I just don’t think there is a mystery when it comes to freedom and determinism. They simply don’t go together for me.

    But I guess I have dealt with the idea that God does not want automons so that is not a mystery to me. Other things are, though. :o) For fundamental questions about God, now I have trained myself to look at Jesus first then wonder if perhaps I have misunderstood something. Especially about the OT when it comes to ancient literature genres, metaphors, idioms, etc.

  316. Lydia wrote:

    But I guess I have dealt with the idea that God does not want automatons…

    Piper’s God DOES.

    (Talk of “God wants automatons” gives me flashbacks of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and Jack Chick, where “when we get to Heaven” we all become Praise-The-LOORD Worship-Bot Automatons for all Eternity.)

  317. JohnD wrote:

    The “weekly preaching event” is the most important event of the week for the YRR crowd. In my experience it must be a minimum of 45 minutes long and often longer.

    Just like the three-hour Massachusetts Puritan Sermons with beadles patrolling up and down the pews keeping everyone awake and alert like one of Caesar Nero’s lyre concerts?

  318. Scripture does speak of the sovereignty of God on the one hand and the free will of man on the other. Jesus told the Pharisees that not one that God gives to Him will be lost; and yet the Pharisees and other leaders were held responsible for their refusal to believe. It was the Romans and the Jewish leaders that handed Jesus over to die on a cross; and yet in his first sermon after Pentecost, Peter proclaimed that it was the clear plan of God. This is the mystery that I speak of. I don’t know how these things work together. No human effort to explain it – including determinism and combatiblism – does it justice. It is one of those secret things of God we just cannot know. And I suspect our heads would literally explode if God gave in and began to explain it…it is beyond us. But we cannot be satisfied with that, and so we make a mess and a mockery of theological pursuit to fill in blanks God intentionally left empty…

    This is what frustrates me about this quest for certitude in all things. The simple three words “I don’t know” cannot be uttered; and so absurd comments like “God determines the letters I get for Scrabble” or “God determines how many red Skittles are in each bag” start to be taken seriously…and argument after Twitter war, after blog blowout happens to fight about who’s right and who’s wrong. Splits and factions happen – and the faithful are torn apart and not ministered to…people are not evangelized…and Christians in general look like a bunch of yahoos to the rest of the world for all the wrong reasons…

    Sorry – I just went off on another tangent…I can’t help myself… 😉

  319. @ okrapod:

    special and offeratory music (& the sermon for that matter) can go the way of short, wide ties, but music focusing on God in sincerity in a style I like (of course) can go on forever.

  320. I am almost done wrote:

    Scripture does speak of the sovereignty of God on the one hand and the free will of man on the other … we make a mess and a mockery of theological pursuit to fill in blanks God intentionally left empty …

    Amen! Scripture speaks much about the sovereignty of God. Scripture speaks much about human responsibility. It all works together in a way that is beyond human comprehension. To put the mind of God into a neat systematic theological box is to stand in arrogance before the Creator. There is definitely no shortage of arrogance in New Calvinist ranks.

  321. I am almost done wrote:

    Scripture does speak of the sovereignty of God on the one hand and the free will of man on the other.

    I do not have certitude in all things, I assure you. But I am confused why Sovereignty automatically means determinism in action? Or why it is considered the opposite of free will.

    Could God not be Sovereign enough to create us with choice? I see love as God’s main defining attribute which includes justice, mercy, patience, etc. Love is what He is. We choose His justice by how we treat one another.

  322. @ Lydia:
    Lydia – I am not disagreeing with you at all. I think we are probably saying the same thing from different angles. The problem with someone like Piper is exactly what you questioned: sovereignty in their eyes has to be determinism and can’t be anything but lest you diminish God’s sovereignty…and this I cannot disagree with strongly enough. It is just plain dangerous doctrine. When Piper and teachers like him talk in these absurdities about Scrabble games and then trivialize things as serious as child abuse, they are taking determinism to its logical, ridiculous, and ultimately dangerous conclusion. This is what I decry.

    The mystery for me is not that God’s sovereignty and our free will work together to fulfill God’s purposes in this world. The mystery is how. The mechanics of it all (I’m a super analytical person, so I’ve wrestled with this a LOT). I am one that wants to “figure things out”…and this is one thing I just don’t we believe we can figure out, and should not try. We should simply worship God for just being God…for being love, and for being merciful to us through the cross. I love your comment about choosing His justice by how we treat each other. This is what teaching like Piper’s misses…among other important things.

  323. @ Max:
    What bugs me so much about Calvinism, is their glee ( for God’s glory no less ), in proclaiming how countless souls will end up in hell because they weren’t chosen for heaven. No tears for that awful outcome for those souls, in their graceless, unloving theology. It boggles my mind how they pervert the character of God.

  324. Mae wrote:

    It boggles my mind how they pervert the character of God.

    It has been said that man created god in his own image.

  325. Mae wrote:

    @ Max:
    What bugs me so much about Calvinism, is their glee (for God’s glory no less), in proclaiming how countless souls will end up in hell because they weren’t chosen for heaven.

    It’s all about One-Upmanship and Counting Coup.
    “ME ELECT! YOU NOT! HAVE FUN IN HELL! HAW! HAW! HAW!”

    “Sink all the other lifeboats! I’M ABOARD!”

  326. Max wrote:

    To put the mind of God into a neat systematic theological box is to stand in arrogance before the Creator. There is definitely no shortage of arrogance in New Calvinist ranks.

    Remember: CALVIN Has God All Figured Out!

  327. @ I am almost done:

    Don’t pay attention to me, I have spent too much time in YRR land surrounded by these guys, trying to avoid it but then there it is in your church. You cannot even go in a Starbucks here without a Piper book on a table.

    Every single word they say, I now want to respond: Is that God speaking? Did he determine those words? When you tripped on your way in, did He determine that?

    But the bigger problem is that there are no Q&A with their sermons. We are to sit and be indoctrinated. We are too ooh and ahh over God’s Sovereignty and our perpetual brokenness.

    I can relate to being too analytical. The whole focus of that movement seems to be pseudo intellectual. People who analyze it to its logical conclusions, don’t do so well with it. Which is why I said they appeal to mystery to get around it. It really isn’t mystery so much as it is coginitve dissonance to prop up TULIP. I realize that there IS mystery but I don’t think God promotes cognitive dissonance. :o) Is that clear as mud???

  328. Max wrote:

    To put the mind of God into a neat systematic theological box is to stand in arrogance before the Creator

    Oh, I absolutely agree. It is why I don’t do Systematic Theology, Creeds and confessions. I might miss something. :o)

  329. @ Lydia:

    “You cannot even go in a Starbucks here without a Piper book on a table.

    Every single word they say, I now want to respond: Is that God speaking? Did he determine those words? When you tripped on your way in, did He determine that?”
    +++++++++++++++++

    or bump into them so they spill their coffee all over their khaki dockers or skinny jeans or whatever it is they wear these days, and say, “God willed it.” And as an agent of God, you don’t even need to say excuse me or i’m sorry.

  330. Lydia wrote:

    Is that clear as mud???

    That is my absolute favorite phrase!! HA! Yes, it is indeed…I am in the midst of deprogramming and relearning how to have an unmediated relationship with God without these crazy guys in my head. I love intellectual rigor, but there is a fine line between faithfully using the intellect God gave you and worshiping that intellect. I think sometimes they cross that line. And I speak as someone who has myself.

    This weekend I came up with a new title for these guys: The Evangelical Magesterium, or EM for short. I think it fits well…

  331. …If you think that God doesn’t have any will for things that we do spontaneously, that he only has a will for things that we do decisively, I say that that is ridiculous.
    Given this in of thinking, how could God possibly hold us responsible for the things we do that are wrong, or reward us for the good things we do? After all, God controls everything, down to the most microscopic detail.
    I am almost done wrote:

    ontrols everything, including the letters you pull when you play Scrabble, how is this person able to decide whether s/he pushes God away or pulls Him in? Didn’t God decide that for them? Didn’t He cause it to happen just as He ordained? So how can we then admonish this person not to push God away if God controls whether or not it happens? This is hyper-Calvinism, and dangerous, confuse

    Exactly. How can the Elect push God away? How can the Unelect pull Him in? According to Piper, isn’t it already oredetermined?

  332. I am almost done wrote:

    This weekend I came up with a new title for these guys: The Evangelical Magesterium, or EM for short. I think it fits well…

    I think you are on to something. I honestly believe they would love a magisterium— with real power. Just like the olden days of the 1500’s.

  333. Lydia wrote:

    Oh, I absolutely agree. It is why I don’t do Systematic Theology, Creeds and confessions. I might miss something.

    I do the Apostle’s Creed. But only as a set of axioms (much like the properties of say, arithmetic) which are not on the table for discussion. Beyond those I’m all over the map and keep my own counsel on what I believe or don’t believe.

  334. Lydia wrote:

    I think you are on to something. I honestly believe they would love a magisterium— with real power. Just like the olden days of the 1500’s.

    Yes they would. And you can thank Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and others that they will never be allowed to accrue that kind of power. Not on these shores, not ever.

  335. Mae wrote:

    @ Max:
    What bugs me so much about Calvinism, is their glee ( for God’s glory no less ), in proclaiming how countless souls will end up in hell because they weren’t chosen for heaven. No tears for that awful outcome for those souls, in their graceless, unloving theology. It boggles my mind how they pervert the character of God.

    Completely & precisely. The doubt it can cast on the character of God is the issue, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t have lost so much peace & trust over it.

  336. @ Beakerj:
    I don’t want to upset the applecart re. the *good* Reformed commenters and readers who visit this site, but honestly, terms like “limited atonement” are (and always have been) literally gut-wrenching for me. Not to mention incompatible with what I know of the Gospel. I just cannot see that particular belief as having anything to do with Jesus’ death, resurrection, redemption, etc. Why even proclaim it universally if a whole, whole lot of people are destined for “eternal damnation”? Why not just keep it on the QT, and only those people who are “predestined” for the Good Place get to hear about it?

    It literally does.not.compute.

  337. Lydia wrote:

    I think you are on to something. I honestly believe they would love a magisterium— with real power. Just like the olden days of the 1500’s.

    And just like ISIS and the Ayatollahs have today.

  338. @ I am almost done:
    Piper went all in detail with a “safe” illustration, from chance (grab bag of scrabble tiles), then applied the principles to abuse in general, vague terms, where actual choice is involved (people hurting each) other.

    I have a problem with this.

  339. Lydia wrote:

    The last one I attended was on the concept of baptism from OT to NT. It was fascinating. I try not to miss them.

    Oh wow, that is something I would have REALLY like to have heard, because that’s a huge question for me.

  340. This has been the MOST AMAZING discussion. I have to thank all who voiced my own feelings, my struggles for the last 25 years. You have given me hope. God bless you all!

  341. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    too much of theology is bent toward finding theological precision where God has not revealed it in Scripture … I’m not impressed by someone’s level of I.Q. or voluminosity of library

    It’s not by intellect, but by the Spirit that we walk the Christian journey. Education does not produce one ounce of revelation. We must follow revealed truth, not the teachings and traditions of men. The Holy Spirit becomes our teacher when we distance ourselves from the voices of men.

  342. numo wrote:

    It literally does.not.compute.

    I agree, and from outside the system it does not compute. From the inside of the system, however, it does makes sense. I imagine that a Baptist view of baptism doesn’t make sense in a sacramental system. If the model for the nature and purpose of the Atonement is strictly to *secure* the *actual* salvation of the elect rather than to secure a means of salvation for all, then Limited Atonement/Definite Atonement/Particular Redemption is logically consistent. It also is the best fit, IMO, if one’s primary or exclusive conception of the Atonement is Penal Substitutionary.

    If, however, you do not start the reasoning process from a Reformed idea of election/predestination and PSA, then an unlimited atonement provision makes more sense. That said, most of the Reformedish people I have known until fairly recently in baptisty circles have been 4-pointers who did not find either a textual basis or a logical necessity for affirming Limited Atonement. I don’t mean to represent the thinking of those in NAPARC, but the Piperish insistence on Limited-Atonement-Or-Else-The-Blood-Of-Christ-Is-Wasted among baptists is relatively new. Some say that Calvin was not a 5-pointer but that it originated with Beza, IIRC, but I don’t personally know or care.

    What is truly scary is the new strain of true hyper-Calvinists among the Founders like Tom Nettles who says that the Atonement is sufficient only for the elect rather than the traditional formulation of Sufficient-for-All-but-Efficient-Only-for-the-Elect, and Nettles’ position used to be one of the markers of true hyper-Calvinism. I would not be surprised to see the idea of eternal justification or something like it arising at SBTS.

  343. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    I see a lot of interesting parallels between Calvinism and some strains of transhumanism. I suspect it won’t be long before someone tries to combine the two and suggests that everything in our universe is predestined because it’s all a simulation run by an all-powerful divine computer. It’d combine Calvinism (God predetermining everything), Thomism (God as the supreme intellect whose every action is purely logical), and LessWrongism into one very disturbing hybrid.

    I saw something similar put forward on a blog by a Christian guy (who is also pretty sexist).

    He was suggesting that the reality around us is like a big computer program, that God is the programmer, and everything is running on a script.

    It’s been over a year since I read his paper, so I can’t remember the details of it.

    I guess he thinks we’re all living in a Matrix-movie like world?

  344. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    Why does Piper get to play Scrabble with his wife, and that’s not wasting time, but if another couple walks along a beach and collects shells, that is a no-no?

    (HUG replied):
    Because He of the Fluttering Hands is One of The ELECT, God’s Predestined Pets, and thus has Speshul Privileges.

    I need John Piper to come up with a definitive list of “Leisure Activities God Approves Of” and/or the opposing “Leisure Activities God Disapproves Of”

    If he proclaims “Connect Four” or the game of Life (remember that one, where you put little pink and blue plastic pegs in your plastic car?), or “Resident Evil” video games on the list of Highly Disapproved, I am in trouble. I played all those at one time or another.

    Or Jarts. I am doomed to eternity in Heck with Satin, because I used to play Jarts in the backyard as a kid. They were huge darts that you tried to aim in a hoop thing. I accidentally tossed one into one of our wooden garage doors, putting a big hole in the door.

    I guess if John Piper is right, God will tell me in the afterlife: ‘You wasted your life playing Jarts. You should have been spending valuable time reading John Piper books and evangelizing against sea shell collecting.’

  345. JohnD wrote:

    In my experience it must be a minimum of 45 minutes long and often longer.

    The advantage/disadvantage, depending on your outlook, is when you fall asleep during the sermon you wake up and he is still going.

  346. Bill M wrote:

    The advantage/disadvantage, depending on your outlook, is when you fall asleep during the sermon you wake up and he is still going.

    But the crick in your neck is part of God’s plan, a la PIper.

  347. Daisy wrote:

    I guess if John Piper is right, God will tell me in the afterlife: ‘You wasted your life playing Jarts. You should have been spending valuable time reading John Piper books and evangelizing against sea shell collecting.’

    How can playing Jarts or collecting sea shells be labeled as wasting your life when God is controlling everything?
    Yet another contradiction!

  348. numo wrote:

    Reformed commenters and readers who visit this site, but honestly, terms like “limited atonement” are (and always have been) literally gut-wrenching for me.

    Same reaction here, both the gut-wrench and the desire to keep it well down the list of important things. I have reformed friends I share life with but as a 1 point Calvinist, I find the rest are debatable, the “L” was the first thing I threw out.

  349. Nancy2 wrote:

    The advantage/disadvantage, depending on your outlook, is when you fall asleep during the sermon you wake up and he is still going.

    But the crick in your neck is part of God’s plan, a la PIper.

    When I was a mere youngster I did not care for sitting still for prolonged periods. Half a century later it has not improved, I have less patience. I don’t recall who coined it, someone here I’m sure, “we aren’t sanctified by boredom”.

  350. Paula Rice wrote:

    Has anyone else listened to Jerry Walls discuss Calvinism? I thought his lecture here was top notch. It’s an hour long so give yourself time. It’s not something you can listen to in bits & pieces, though, because it’s all very logical and you have to catch all his points. But he’s great, and very engaging. I found it well worth my time!

    https://youtu.be/Daomzm3nyIg

    I’m about half way through it so far. Very interesting. Calvinism also looks pretty depressing (and inconsistent).

  351. @ Ken:

    “God’s sovereignty here is not threatened by allowing man to name the creatures. I don’t want to sound facetious, but does anyone really believe that although man appeared to name the animals, he was predestined to create their particular names by God at the beginning of language? That this is a kind of fictional freedom, more apparent than real? Or did God’s sovereign will include and enable man being able to make genuine choices?

    …in an area such as marriage or occupation, isn’t this original freedom still in operation? It doesn’t threaten God’s sovereignty now just as it didn’t in the beginning; and in any event, just what could threaten God’s sovereignty?”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    I really like your comment, Ken. I agree. I’ve always thought it very cool that Adam named the animals and God sort of stood back, interested and curious, watching to see what Adam would do. (to be anthropomorphic about it.)

    based on this scenario and a number of other places in the bible, I do believe that God can work with just about anything. Plan a, b, c, d…. on down to z then back up through aa, bb, etc.

    I see my job in life as making the best and most informed decisions I can, asking for God’s wisdom in the process. My decision is my decision. And I trust that God will respect it and honor it and help me make the best and the most of it. Just as he makes the best and the most of it. We work together.

    i find there is such freedom, creativity, productiveness in doing things this way.

    I used to agonize over choices, decisions. “should I go left or right??? Is it A, B, or C? What if I choose the wrong one?!?” and then a friend simply said, “i think God can better direct an object that is in motion, instead of one standing still.”

    i relish making decisions, and going forward with gusto, knowing God will be my partner, my helper. they are my decisions, and i believe he honors them. if it’s truly an abominable decision, i believe he’ll let me know and i’ll pick up on it.

  352. Bridget wrote:

    Daisy wrote:

    Why does Piper get to play Scrabble with his wife, and that’s not wasting time, but if another couple walks along a beach and collects shells, that is a no-no?
    Where does the Bible say,
    Playing Scrabble = Okay with God
    Sea Shell Collecting = God thinks it’s a waste of time

    Apparently this is what John Piper’s bible says

    Its ol’ St Wombat the Scratchy again…..(Never mind that Wombat is no saint; in fact, he’s one of those odd Aussy critters that appear to have been put together from spare parts). If these guys want a Bible reference, they make one up).

  353. Bridget wrote:

    Daisy wrote:

    Why does Piper get to play Scrabble with his wife, and that’s not wasting time, but if another couple walks along a beach and collects shells, that is a no-no?
    Where does the Bible say,
    Playing Scrabble = Okay with God
    Sea Shell Collecting = God thinks it’s a waste of time

    Apparently this is what John Piper’s bible says

    Its ol’ St Wombat the Scratchy again…..(Never mind that Wombat is no saint; in fact, he’s one of those odd Aussy critters that appear to have been put together from spare parts). If these guys want a Bible reference, they make one up).
    Max wrote:

    If you read Paul first, you might read Jesus wrong … but if you read Jesus first (the Gospels), the writings of Paul come into perspective.

    Well said!!

  354. @ Daisy:
    Daisy, I think the whole thing is good and I find myself revisiting many points again & again, similar to JohnD.

    I think the section where he emphasizes the importance of having a good working definition of “freedom” is worth the price of admission. And he compares the libertarian definition to that of the one Calvinists employ. Interesting to make note of the fact that to reach concensus, we have to agree on what we mean by the words we are using!

    Also, Walls perfectly points the question we should be asking is not “How does a sovereign God love?” (the question John Piper asks) but rather, “How would a God of perfect love express his sovereignty?”

    Not included in the video is this quote by CS Lewis that I’m throwing in here for good measure because I’ve always found it illuminating and instructive regarding the fact we’re created in God’s image w/the capacity to love, thus we must have (libertarian) freedom (because love must involve a choice and cannot be forced) & the absolutely true & moral consequences that go along with that freedom:

    “It would, no doubt, have been possible for God to remove by miracle the results of the first sin ever committed by a human being; but this would not have been much good unless He was prepared to remove the results of the second sin, and of the third, and so on forever. If the miracles ceased, then sooner or later we might have reached our present lamentable situation: if they did not, then a world thus continually underpropped and corrected by Divine interference, would have been a world in which nothing important ever depended on human choice, and in which choice it’self would soon cease from the certainty that one of the apparent alternatives before you would lead to no results and was therefore not really an alternative.”

  355. Daisy wrote:

    Or Jarts. I am doomed to eternity in Heck with Satin, because I used to play Jarts in the backyard as a kid. They were huge darts that you tried to aim in a hoop thing. I accidentally tossed one into one of our wooden garage doors, putting a big hole in the door.

    Ha! I have not thought of Jarts in years. I am pretty sure the bubble wrap experts who know best for us have outlawed Jarts by now.

  356. Paula Rice wrote:

    Interesting to make note of the fact that to reach concensus, we have to agree on what we mean by the words we are using!

    I could have saved a lot of time if I had known that 12 years ago. It took me a while to catch on that we were using the same words but with totally different definitions. Duh. Now, I start there and we don’t make it past the defining. :o)

  357. Gram3 wrote:

    I would not be surprised to see the idea of eternal justification or something like it arising at SBTS.

    Word on the street is that Mohler is slyly trying to do some rehab on his image. He is tweeting things like Herschel Hobbs is his hero. Really? Hobbs was the chairman of the committee that wrote the 1963 BFM. You remember, the one he thought was too liberal so the SBC needed the BFM 2000.

    The thing about these guys is they are very sly when the going gets a bit tough. They pretend that all the problems they created never happened or really had nothing to do with them. They have the platform to slyly rehab their image. And their non thinking followers will blindly follow where ever they lead.

  358. @ Lydia:
    I’m with you! As underscored in 2 Cor 11:4, we need to make sure we’re talking about the same Jesus, the same Spirit, and the same gospel!

    “You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.”

  359. @ Paula Rice:

    I enjoyed the video. The author noticed a few things that I have too. Calvinists will often speak out of both sides of their mouth, or define terms differently from most people, which is a little dishonest and confuses their debate opponents.

    Calvinists do waffle on a lot of topics. Not all of them, he did cite at least one, Pink, who spells it out, but many Cals waffle.

    I also was just saying in a post a bit before I viewed that video (either on this thread or the last) that I don’t think God is as concerned about his sovereignty as Calvinists are, and that’s a point the guy mentions in the video you linked us to.

    Also, in the NT, God chooses (via a writer) to summarize himself as “God is love.” Not, “God is Sovereign” but “God is love.”

    I also agree with the video host that Calvinist damages God’s character. The God of Calvinism sounds and looks like a monster to me, and I cannot reconcile the God they preach with God in the flesh (Jesus Christ).

    God may be sovereign and powerful, but it looks to me as though he does not practice either trait in the way Calvinists assume or teach, and there are examples in the Bible of God demonstrating this.

    It’s odd to me that Calvinists fixate on God’s power, control, kingship – that is what Satan does. Satan was consumed with control, ego, being worshipped, etc. Well, God has all control and power, but what good is being all-powerful if you’re a jerk about it, and treat people like dirt or are self absorbed?

    The one thing that really distinguishes God from Satan is that he is love and is loving – and I mean those terms in the conventional, every day use, not the wacked out ways so many Calvinists frame the terms “love” and “loving.”

  360. Lydia wrote:

    Ha! I have not thought of Jarts in years. I am pretty sure the bubble wrap experts who know best for us have outlawed Jarts by now.

    I think they were banned years ago.

    I remember being terrified when the Jart landed in the garage door. (I was also very grateful it did not strike any people or my pets, who were sometimes in the yard).

    I thought my dad would chew me out about it, be really angry about it, but he calmly replaced the door -I didn’t get yelled at or punished. He knew I didn’t mean to do it.

  361. Lydia wrote:

    Word on the street is that Mohler is slyly trying to do some rehab on his image. He is tweeting things like Herschel Hobbs is his hero.

    As they say in Hebrew “Baloney!”. Mohler was a primary architect of the BFM2000 revision, putting a Calvinist slant to the Statement; and, thus, distancing himself from Herschel Hobbs and the default non-Calvinist belief and practice of majority Southern Baptists of previous generations. Mohler has taken on the image of none-other than Calvin as his hero … the 500 year old spirit of the old reformer is obviously all over the good doctor. It’s clear that Mohler views himself as a modern day champion of the new reformation. He tweeted this yesterday “Pastors, bring your staff to T4G’16 and celebrate the Reformation.” The annual Together for the Gospel conferences are really Together for Calvinism gatherings to energize and mobilize the reformed movement and keep Mohler on his throne.

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  363. @ elastigirl:

    Well said elastigirl, it’s a very Jewish mindset. Especially the part about being in a partnership with the Almighty as opposed to a bobble-head who can only parrot and hoe the row as told to by others. Imperfect humans doing the best with what they have in the here and now and the time they’re allotted. I like that.

  364. This is Calvinism and old age mixed up into a cocktail of wacky theology. Preachers often preach the god of their deepest and darkest proclivities – the one conjured up in their mind. As the mind fails so does the picture of god they portray. Perhaps the “god” that Piper is presenting is truly how he thinks God is… controlling down to the scrabble letter and a sadist of sorts that orchestrates suffering and abuse for children to bring him glory. Well only if the child has the cognitive ability to recognize god’s quasi-benevolence in the orchestrating of their suffering. If that doesn’t make sense to you as it sure doesn’t to me you know you aren’t johnny piper.

  365. Lydia wrote:

    Don’t pay attention to me, I have spent too much time in YRR land surrounded by these guys, trying to avoid it but then there it is in your church. You cannot even go in a Starbucks here without a Piper book on a table.

    One of the many reasons I ditched the YRR life. Too enamored with the teachings of a guy with a “big ministry” and then said guy repudiates everything he taught and resigns. What then? Time to put on my big boy pants and realize I am fully capable of living life without consulting the crystal ball of the reformed, religious guru.

  366. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I also think I’ve got a fairly good sense of how complicated I myself am, so why would I think I could be hugely precise about figuring out “the” theology that perfectly and accurately describes The Most Wondrous and Complicated Person in the Cosmos?

    It is also possible that in at least a sense, God is marvelously simple. E.g., there’s no way I could be rightly described with one word, except in reference to my species: human. But that doesn’t really count as a descriptor, it’s more a category. But God is described as “love”; when He was asked who exactly He was, of course He answered “I AM”. It sounds almost like God is singularly simple and uncomplex.

  367. suitandtie wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    Don’t pay attention to me, I have spent too much time in YRR land surrounded by these guys, trying to avoid it but then there it is in your church. You cannot even go in a Starbucks here without a Piper book on a table.
    One of the many reasons I ditched the YRR life. Too enamored with the teachings of a guy with a “big ministry” and then said guy repudiates everything he taught and resigns. What then? Time to put on my big boy pants and realize I am fully capable of living life without consulting the crystal ball of the reformed, religious guru.

    I once heard one of those YRR big guy/big ministry/big fan types preach from the pulpit how wrong all those of us who thought we had an equal say in things because we thought we were priests also were, he said “You people think you don’t need a leader or a teacher, but the Bible clearly says you need teachers!”

    I happened to be leafing through I John a couple weeks later and read 1:27: “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.”

    The thing that stands out to me about most YRR types is not their knowledge of the Bible, even though they read and read, it’s their utter ignorance of it. They obsess over perhaps 5% of the text of the Bible, and even that 5% is filtered through the bias of their favorite gurus. They are well-trained, horrifically educated, blinded & benighted, being led by the blinded and benighted.

  368. elastigirl wrote:

    I’ve always thought it very cool that Adam named the animals and God sort of stood back, interested and curious, watching to see what Adam would do.

    Does anyone besides me think it odd that:

    a) although everything God created was “good”
    b) all of a sudden something is “not good”
    c) immediately (in the narrative) after nothing that it was “not good” for Adam to be alone…and that he needed help…
    d) God watched to see what Adam would name the animals…
    e) And then only afterward did He form the help Adam needed

    Why the interim naming of the animals prior to forming the needed help?

    Could the choices Adam made in the naming process be the catalyst for the warning to Eve about Adam’s rule if she turned toward him?

  369. Law Prof wrote:

    It is also possible that in at least a sense, God is marvelously simple. E.g., there’s no way I could be rightly described with one word, except in reference to my species: human. But that doesn’t really count as a descriptor, it’s more a category. But God is described as “love”; when He was asked who exactly He was, of course He answered “I AM”. It sounds almost like God is singularly simple and uncomplex.

    🙂

    Well said and a good counterbalance.

    It’s that both/and paradox thing that makes for a mystery.

    While some of us may be wired in ways where we give immensely detailed answers to the question, “Who is God?”, others have equally as valid a response by just saying, “Wow …”

  370. Law Prof wrote:

    The thing that stands out to me about most YRR types is not their knowledge of the Bible, even though they read and read, it’s their utter ignorance of it. They obsess over perhaps 5% of the text of the Bible, and even that 5% is filtered through the bias of their favorite gurus. They are well-trained, horrifically educated, blinded & benighted, being led by the blinded and benighted.

    I have had more than one former YRR guy make this observation to me and Gramp3. The thing is, they are most appealing to those who know the least about what the text actually says. They have the guru’s narratives so deeply ingrained that they think those narratives are the actual text. The guru is the Holy Spirit. One of the young men I know had a truly rude awakening. It seems that there are opposite reactions when people see the real thing: revulsion at the guru idolatry or greater loyalty to the guru. It is irrational and intellectually juvenile.

  371. Victorious wrote:

    Could the choices Adam made in the naming process be the catalyst for the warning to Eve about Adam’s rule if she turned toward him?

    Well now that is a thought. I kind of assumed from the way the story was written that perhaps Adam was getting too ‘friendly’ with some of the animals, but this idea that some problem was seen with Adam’s thinking is interesting–if I understand you correctly. Not that the other would not have been a problem with his thinking, but what can you expect of somebody running around naked.

    Here is my take on it. The story is loosely written and written to convey some big ideas but is lacking in enough detail and specificity to justify some of the doctrinal conclusions we have discussed from time to time here.

  372. Victorious wrote:

    Why the interim naming of the animals prior to forming the needed help?

    Since we aren’t told, it is difficult to say for sure. Unlike Piper and Grudem and the others, I’m not willing to insert ideas into the text as if they are the text. Another possible explanation I’ve heard is that the naming exercise was to prepare Adam for the otherness of the Woman from the animals. He would recognize that she was like him and not like the animals. That is an inference from his exclamation when he saw the Woman for the first time, but that’s not conclusive IMO.

    Another idea I’ve heard is that God knew that the pair would fall and that he would provide the Redeemer through the seed of the Woman who would therefore be the means by which God would rescue humanity. She would be the Strong Rescuer, which is a much better translation of the idea of “helper” than the current notion of executive assistant. If you live long enough, you can hear all kinds of speculation.

  373. @ Gram3:
    And I should have mentioned the correction that Paul gave in 1 Corinthians 11 to both males and females who think that they are all that and fudge sauce. We need one another, and one is not greater than the other nor lesser than the other. The real Order of Creation is Woman came from Man, Man comes from Woman, but nevertheless all come from God. Obviously that is not the fake Order of Creation that supposedly establishes hierarchies between/among the sexes, “races” or classes of any other sort.

  374. @ elastigirl:

    Mostly by reading and doing my own homework on this, that, and the other. One helpful resource (in my opinion) is Judaism for Everyone by Shmuley Boteach.
    Do I agree with everything Boteach says? No I don’t. But where sets of ideas intersect, there is commonality of resonance.

  375. Law Prof wrote:

    The thing that stands out to me about most YRR types is not their knowledge of the Bible, even though they read and read, it’s their utter ignorance of it. They obsess over perhaps 5% of the text of the Bible, and even that 5% is filtered through the bias of their favorite gurus. They are well-trained, horrifically educated, blinded & benighted, being led by the blinded and benighted.

    As I said in an earlier post in this thread “Education doesn’t produce one ounce of revelation.” It’s sad to see so many otherwise bright young folks ensnared by the aberrant teachings of New Calvinism. Their rendition of Romans 9 alone illustrates how deeply they have been influenced by the teachings and traditions of men, rather than being led by the Spirit.

  376. Gram3 wrote:

    The real Order of Creation is Woman came from Man, Man comes from Woman, but nevertheless all come from God.

    Of course, Paul had no clue about genetics or about how both male and female ‘come from’ both male and female (parents) so again we have to listen loosely to what he said. Even if we think he meant birth that would be off the mark since both male and female are birthed from the female body. I am sure Paul was making a good point but it loses a lot in today’s world.

  377. @ Gram3:

    re: explanations for the animal naming exercise

    since the writer of Genesis was talking about origins, could it simply be an explanation for how the animals got their names, & nothing more? as story filler? does there have to be deep theological meaning behind it?

    (for the record, i don’t read Genesis in a literal way)

  378. @ Gram3:
    What I will call “closed systems” make sense IF you only know about the things therein; if you know more, then closed systems fall apart, like a house of cards.

    The KKK’s ideology, for example. Kind of “makes ‘sense'” so long as you pretend you don’t know anything other than what they say is true. Or Fred Phelps, or…

  379. @ Gram3:
    The problem with the whole PSA thing is (among other things) that Jesus came to save, deliver, heal, restore, renew, ransom… so many other words I could choose here, taken from various English translations of the NT.

    I think J. Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is, quite literally, hellish. (Comes from a BAD place, not a good one; comes from a very twisted conception of God, not one that I find in the NT.)

  380. @ zooey111:
    I think wombats are very cool, and I have a wombat rescue/rehab/sanctuary on my FB feed.

    I mean, what other creature can produce cubed p**?

  381. Gram3 wrote:

    Since we aren’t told, it is difficult to say for sure. Unlike Piper and Grudem and the others, I’m not willing to insert ideas into the text as if they are the text.

    I agree, but I find the Genesis narrative very sequential in it’s composition and that’s why the naming of the animals seems strangely out of place.

    Taking into consideration (imo) the fact that Adam was to both keep and guard the garden; the fact that there is evidence he was negligent in this area as the enemy entered; and the fact that God charged Adam with disobedience; and lastly that the prophetic words about the consequences outside the garden have all but been overcome with the exception of the negative “rule” assumed, we could surely gain some insight into the progressive problem in the attitude of Adam.

    Just my opinion.

  382. okrapod wrote:

    perhaps Adam was getting too ‘friendly’ with some of the animals

    ???!!! Seriously, that is one thought that has never, ever occurred to me.

    I have always thought “tried to find one that could be a close, good friend” was what is being suggested, but since animals cannot speak in the way that we do, it’s hard to have a meeting of minds.

  383. @ elastigirl:
    I think you hit on it. I don’t take it all as a literal account, either.

    Sometimes we make things far more complicated than they really are. This is an “origins” story, not a definitive journalistic-style account of early man and the animals that, say, were wiped out in the Ice Age.

  384. elastigirl wrote:

    does there have to be deep theological meaning behind it?

    This drives me nuts. So many times, people look at literary devices and techniques in the Bible and make doctrines out of allusive, poetic language.

    For example, the passages where prophets state that God has divorced Israel. Well, maybe, but he certainly took “her” back.

    I mean, nobody in their right mind is going to look at some of those crazy, misogynistic rants in Ezekiel and talk about them from the pulpit as if they were literally true, are they? Because they’re far too earthy, even obscene at times.

    We pick and choose what we want to see, and how we see it, I think…

  385. @ Victorious:
    Just curious: what do you mean by “the enemy”? The serpent (talking snake, I usually think to myself) wasn’t associated with the devil/Satan/whatever for a long time after that was probably written down.

    It’s Christians who read that back into Genesis. Not saying that Jewish people in the 1st c. A.D. didn’t have a lot of developed demonology and all of that, but it was *very* recent. For some of the crazier stuff that didn’t make either the Jewish or Christian canon, look up the Book of Enoch, particularly the Book of the Watchers.

    There’s a lot of stuff that went on in the centuries immediately before Christ that changed the way people conceived of the supernatural – a growing tendency toward the apocalyptic, copious apocalyptic literature, and lots of newly-minted demonology and the like.

    We have inherited a very mixed grab-bag of ideas and interpretations, really.

  386. elastigirl wrote:

    could it simply be an explanation for how the animals got their names, & nothing more?

    I think so! It may come down to how we view the purpose of the narrative and the nature of written revelation itself. I’m not prepared to make an affirmative case for any inference. I suspect that there is more to it than we think.

  387. @ okrapod:
    I think he was making a simple observation and pointing out that the only thing that matters is that we and everything else owe our existence to God. Obviously, I think we make Paul much too complex which also makes it easier to make him say whatever we need him to say.

  388. @ numo:
    I don’t disagree with the idea that Jesus’ death was penal or substitutionary. I don’t believe that PSA captures all that Jesus accomplished in the Atonement, but many people apparently believe that they must make PSA the exclusive purpose of the Atonement.

    Also I think that your idea of closed systems is right. It also has a lot to do with how we resolve apparently contradictory information/interpretations. Some people need a very tight system in order to preserve their faith. I need a firm object for my faith but not a tight system.

  389. Victorious wrote:

    I find the Genesis narrative very sequential in it’s composition and that’s why the naming of the animals seems strangely out of place.

    The narrative is sequential, but people disagree about the nature of the sequence. Is it a timeline or is it something else? Just like the narratives in the four gospels. I honestly do not know, though it reads to me more like a timeline.

    I don’t understand the second part of your comment, and that is definitely due to diminished capacity on my end recently. But it sounds interesting!

  390. numo wrote:

    Just curious: what do you mean by “the enemy”? The serpent (talking snake, I usually think to myself) wasn’t associated with the devil/Satan/whatever for a long time after that was probably written down.

    Well, isn’t Satan called the great deceiver? And the adversary who prowls like a roaring lion?

    Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world….

    And Jesus called him an enemy in Matt. 13:28.

  391. Gram3 wrote:

    The narrative is sequential, but people disagree about the nature of the sequence. Is it a timeline or is it something else? Just like the narratives in the four gospels. I honestly do not know, though it reads to me more like a timeline.

    If one reads Genesis 1 alone, the progression of creation from formless, void, dark…to a beautiful garden full of lush green trees filled with fruit and humans, I can’t imagine not seeing a sequential timeline. One of an indeterminate length, granted, but a progressive timeline nonetheless.

    The second part of my comment is meant to show the negative characteristics recorded about Adam not only in Genesis, but in Romans as well. I find nothing good or positive written about him in scripture but am willing to be corrected if someone else does.

  392. @ Gram3:
    I’m in on the substitutionary part, but penal -nope. In fact, this is what i 2as taught as a child, in a Lutheran church.

  393. @ Victorious:
    The idea of the drvil/Satan developed overmany centuries. Try finding a mention in the OT, other than in Job, where the adversary (the “satan”) is not the devil, but a member of God’s heavenly court.

    Frankly, i can be decrived without any outside evil power as a driving force, and likely, so can you. Advertising does it all the time, so… 😉

  394. @ Victorious:
    Just to clarify, i am not meaning to contradict you. I love history, and have read a lot about various ideas in xtianity and the Bible that appear to be a sort of package deal. As it turns out, thr history of interpretation is mind-boggling, and the current ideas you mention re. Satan are part of that.

    Post-exile (meaning in Babylon), a whole lot of things begin appearing in Judaism that weren’t there beford. Ond part of that relates to the supernatural realm, per good and evil beings, very much including Satan.

    I am not saying that i don’t believe there is something out there that is Evil, but i now think of it as an “-it.” Sadly, most of the evil that we do comes from within, out of our own unkindness and anger and “me first”-ness. Which is part of all of us.

  395. numo wrote:

    The idea of the drvil/Satan developed overmany centuries. Try finding a mention in the OT, other than in Job

    Who or what, then, do you think deceived Eve in the garden? Who or what did God declare there would be enmity between it? and the woman?

    The term “evil spirit” is found in scripture in Judges and 1 Samuel along with Job. And here’s a reference to Satan in Zechariah:

    Zec 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
    Zec 3:2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan!

  396. @ Victorious:
    As Headless Unicorn Guy often points out, that 1st creation story in Genesis stands in stark contrast to the Babylonian creation story, the Enuma Elish. It is dark, violent and chaotic. And the opening of Genesis is the exact opposite, with one God making all things in a very orderly manner. Unlike the Babylonian deities, who start a war not much after the beginning of the Enuma Elish.

    I know there are translation of the EE that can be read for free on the wrb; might be an interesting “compare/contrast” kind of thing. The EE is pretty short, too.

  397. numo wrote:

    Just to clarify, i am not meaning to contradict you

    Not a problem at all, numo! I am not offended by contradiction or disagreement. 🙂

  398. @ Victorious:
    And Zechetiah is not only a vety late book, it is full of apocalytic imagery that is pretty well meaningless to those of us who weren’t around when it was writte.

    You might try historian Jeffrey Burton Russell’s books on the development of the *idea* of the devil, which are great… but highly academic. Wenatchee the Hatchet has recommended them several times here, and i followed up on that. (Though i haven’t read every single word of them yet, believe me!)

    I guess i feel a great need to get historical and literary context, after years of being in a “church” that was turningminto an NAR-associated cult. The constsnt emphasis on so-called strategic level spiritual warfare – and the fears that induced – have a lot to do with my looking into actual background material. I have needed some education and freedom to explore these ideas, in order to flush the toxins from my mind and heart.

    Hope that mskes sense.

  399. numo wrote:

    I guess i feel a great need to get historical and literary context, after years of being in a “church” that was turningminto an NAR-associated cult. The constsnt emphasis on so-called strategic level spiritual warfare – and the fears that induced – have a lot to do with my looking into actual background material.

    I totally understand, numo. An on-line acquaintance of mine has blogged for years about the dangers of the NAR and has written two books refuting their teachings. I have both of her books and highly recommend her findings. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics and is an avid researcher of cults. You may find something of interest here:

    http://www.spiritoferror.org/

  400. @ Victorious:

    “c) immediately (in the narrative) after nothing that it was “not good” for Adam to be alone…and that he needed help…
    d) God watched to see what Adam would name the animals…
    e) And then only afterward did He form the help Adam needed

    Why the interim naming of the animals prior to forming the needed help?”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    maybe the point is to distinguish human life from animal life.

    animals, human(s), they were the citizens of earth. but this created being called human was different enough from the other created beings (animals) that the human required another human to be with.

    or maybe this doesn’t pertain to your question and i’m on some other track.

  401. @ Victorious:
    Thanks – have checked her site before, on your rec. Must admit that I am more of a fan of Rachel Tabatchnik’s work on the NAR, if only because she is an outside researcher and is, in many ways, more objective on this topic than most evangelicals and charismatics are able to be.

    Will check out your friend’s site this evening (or re-check, i guess – it’s been a while).

  402. Victorious wrote:

    The second part of my comment is meant to show the negative characteristics recorded about Adam not only in Genesis, but in Romans as well.

    OK, I see what you meant I think. I see positive things about Adam and Eve before the fall, but not afterward. The best I can come up with is that there were descendants of Adam who worshiped the Living God, like Noah and Enoch, so I conclude (rightly or wrongly!) that there must have been some kind of repentance from Adam and Eve for their sin, and thus they were able to pass along knowledge of the True God and Creator to a few of their descendants. Obviously they also had some very wicked descendants, regardless of how we read the narrative. I agree that the sequence is a timeline, but I am not equipped to defend my opinion.

  403. @ Gram3:
    I suspect that everyone who has ever repoduced has had both good and bad dedcendants, with middling, wicked and unbelievably saintly in there somewhere, too. 😉

  404. @ elastigirl:
    It also raises s question regarding whether the animals were “alone”; without mates. I doubt it, from the fossil record and all that, but in this context, it’s a setup for the creation of the woman.

  405. elastigirl wrote:

    maybe the point is to distinguish human life from animal life.

    I think this is the point of the verse So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Both man and animals are souls (living beings), but only man is in the image of God. Whatever your view on fossils, you have to part company with evolution on this because mankind is a special creation of God. Only man is religious; no animals ever show any kind of religious activity.

    The point of this was to teach the original audience that man is not an animal, and that is probably all we need to know about it. Care needs to be taken in reading modern disputes about origins back into the text, and start making everything more complex than it need be.

  406. Gram3 wrote:

    The best I can come up with is that there were descendants of Adam who worshiped the Living God, like Noah and Enoch, so I conclude (rightly or wrongly!) that there must have been some kind of repentance from Adam and Eve for their sin, and thus they were able to pass along knowledge of the True God and Creator to a few of their descendants

    It’s years since I heard much teaching on this, but after Adam it says To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time men began to call upon the name of the LORD. We know from the NT that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved, and in NT parlance there was line of regenerate men from the very beginning. Heaven’s door has always been open to those who exercise faith, even if this is only spelt out in the NT.

    It’s the death knell to the idea, rightly or wrongly attributed to Calvinism, that ‘God created people only to damn them to hell’. Grace and mercy have always been available, and fallen man has always tended to hide from God and become ever more disobedient, a progression you see in Genesis as the effects of the fall become more apparent.

    I have often wondered if the famous Rom 1 : 18 – 32 is at least in part an inspired commentary on the first few chapters of Genesis. What do you think?

  407. Eeyore wrote:

    He stated publicly at a Reformed conference that anyone who did not have positive emotional feelings towards God on a regular basis was probably going to Hell.

    Piper, believe it or not, once wrote a sensitive and perceptive article on depression, called, I think, “When the Darkness Doesn’t Lift.” It began as a chapter in one of his books, then was published separately.

    Nothing in it even hinted at the awful sentence you quoted. Among other undesirable things, Piper seems to have become a supreme legalist. I wouldn’t be surprised if he thought he knew exactly what “regular basis” meant.

  408. numo wrote:

    the development of the *idea* of the devil

    No doubt that may well be the case. I am not a historian. But I want to present a different idea about the ‘development’ of ideas. In my world the fact that an idea developed over time, including recently, does not remotely mean that it may not be true-as in something that was true all along but it took man a long time to begin to figure it out. Science does exactly that, and not only science but social conscience. For example, the idea that slavery itself is a moral evil developed rather late in human thinking. Later than some of the thinking in scripture. Then once an idea firmly develops, like Satan and like slavery and like the germ theory of disease it is easy enough to look back and see that the signs were there all along and that the then existent answers might not have been the whole story but we were oblivious to the evidence or potential evidence because we had already assigned an erroneous explanation to something.

    I love it when you and others point out this stuff in history and other cultures and such. It is a breath of fresh air in my otherwise dwindling brain.

    I also want to talk about penal and substitutionary because I think there is another way of looking at that whole issue, but right now I have to get the kiddies to school and stop by Walmart while I still have a few pennies to spend-this time on a Stanley brand hot drink mug for the car. I do hate the vehicle when it is cold and rainy out, and a hot mug of something looks warm and fuzzy at this point.

    I will put something later on ODP. It might be an interesting discussion about PSA.

  409. okrapod wrote:

    ut I want to present a different idea about the ‘development’ of ideas. In my world the fact that an idea developed over time, including recently, does not remotely mean that it may not be true-as in something that was true all along but it took man a long time to begin to figure it out.

    So true. How do we explain away the major changes in thinking on subjects like slavery, individual civil rights, etc?

    This is one of my pet peeves in how scripture is usually taught as if the NT was laying down laws for 2015. It seems a digression from so unto others…

  410. @ JeffB:
    I think the more he tries to bring his doctrines down to earth, the more awful they look when nailed down in practice.

    A lot of things sound great and powerful, until you ask the simple question, “ok, what does this mean for me today as I put on my shoes to go to work?” Then the disconnect shows up.

  411. numo wrote:

    I suspect that everyone who has ever repoduced has had both good and bad dedcendants, with middling, wicked and unbelievably saintly in there somewhere, too.

    I believe that, with the possible exception of pathological criminals, there is both good and bad in each one of us.

  412. Ken wrote:

    The point of this was to teach the original audience that man is not an animal, and that is probably all we need to know about it. Care needs to be taken in reading modern disputes about origins back into the text, and start making everything more complex than it need be.

    It’s obvious, isn’t it, to even a first grader that human beings aren’t animals? 🙂 Even if they never read Genesis, that difference is obvious.

    The text is of great importance imo since comps use Genesis as the foundation of the “headship” of men. It’s the beginning of the human race and even referred to by Jesus in an effort to clarify erroneous assumptions by the Pharisees.

  413. @ Ken

    See quote above and also

    Victorious wrote:

    It’s obvious, isn’t it, to even a first grader that human beings aren’t animals? Even if they never read Genesis, that difference is obvious.

    It is perfectly obvious to a lot of us that we are animals in the sense of our genetic infrastructure and it is obvious that we share some animal behaviors with some other species and it seems obvious that there is nothing in the genesis stories that would deny that. It is also obvious that the genesis stories put humanity in its place, not as something divine but as something created just like everything else-by the will and action of God.

    The reason that this is important in a discussion about genesis stuff is that if Ken is right, then God deliberately mislead people (assuming inspiration of scripture) and therefore we cannot trust Him to tell us the truth. Which is what the serpent said to Eve. Personally I don’t think that is the case. If the genesis stories do not stand up to current knowledge then (a) there are not inspired or (b) we have misunderstood them or ( c) they were applicable to people of long ago but not applicable to us today.

    In other words, if the genesis stories declare something about man that is not true, then why would be believe any part of the stories? Unless we have missed the whole point of the stories and need to back off and start all over in our thinking about them.

  414. @ okrapod:
    I hope you and others will take a look outside the coverd of yhe Bible re. how, when and why the use of the word “satan” in the OT morphed into the Devil of the NT.

    It might upend some of the received “wisdom” that so msny church people hold dear, though.

    Fwiw, Jeffrey Burton Russell, who dpent msny years on the development of the devil in human history, is a devout Catholic. (He wasn’t always, but that’s neither here nor there re. his scholarly work.)

  415. @ numo:

    There was a former catholic nun whose name I have forgotten who wrote some stuff about the development of certain religious ideas, and if I am not mistaken one of her books had to do with this topic. I may still have the book in the basement, but probably not. Anyhow, I thought it was interesting but I also thought that she had an ‘agenda’ to push and that she emphasized where she wanted emphasis- in other words a tad too much bent toward argumentation and too little restriction to a just the facts historical approach. I believe she was not just a former nun but was also an atheist and that may have influenced her thinking. Kind of like Ehrman, except I understand fundamentalists better than I understand catholics.

  416. Victorious wrote:

    Does anyone besides me think it odd that:

    a) although everything God created was “good”
    b) all of a sudden something is “not good”
    c) immediately (in the narrative) after nothing that it was “not good” for Adam to be alone…and that he needed help…

    God said in Genesis “Let US make man(kind) in OUR image, male and female..”

    The creation of human beings always meant to reveal God, and God is One in Three Persons. That is, within the Godhead, among its members, is found perfect unity, perfect community.

    God’s always intended for mankind to be male and female.

    It wasn’t good that Adam was alone because by himself, he was unable to create union and community – which was always the plan.

    It wasn’t good that Adam was alone because he was unable to procreate.

    Eve, then, was created, to rescue Adam from his state of “aloneness”, which is the reason the Bible gives. The problem wasn’t that Adam was lonely – he enjoyed unbroken fellowship with God and lived in Paradise – plus he was created 100% in the image of God, so his essential being didn’t need “completion”. If he hadn’t been able to function apart or incompletely apart from a woman, then God would have created the woman immediately after Adam was formed. To not have done so would have been an unkindness and caused Adam to suffer. Yet, there’s no hint Adam was suffering, at all!

    So then, in enters Eve and together, in union, they can form community, so as to fulfill Gods purpose in being like him, able to create others in their images and form families, like the perfect and complete family of the Godhead. Without this ability, things were not good.

    The English word “helper” gets erroneously translated into something resembling domesticity or subordination, as though women were created to improve the quality of male life and that’s why they were put on earth. This is wrong.

    The word Helper in the OT is one who rescues others in situations of need. It is always meant to convey competency and superior strength and often attributed to God. The Holy Spirit, for example, is our Helper. We don’t expect him to make us a sandwich or sort out the laundry. No, he is our rescuer, our Helper, our comforter.

    So, as his Helper Eve rescued Adam and enabled him with her the community God intended to establish through their union.

    Footnote: We don’t need to be married to complete or make 100% the image of God in us individually. That’s a given (albeit marred by the fall) as if a woman needs a man or a man needs a woman to be a whole and complete as human being.

  417. Paula Rice wrote:

    It wasn’t good that Adam was alone because he was unable to procreate.

    Didn’t God know that when He created Adam from the dust of the earth? Why the delay in forming Eve?

  418. Victorious wrote:

    Does anyone besides me think it odd that:

    d) God watched to see what Adam would name the animals…
    e) And then only afterward did He form the help Adam needed

    Why the interim naming of the animals prior to forming the needed help?

    It is my belief, as stated in my previous comment, that this interim stage serves to point out that we are individually complete as image bearers of God. Just as each member of the Trinity is 100% God, and joined together create One, so also, man and women are 100% complete in and of themselves, but in union it is said “the two shall become one flesh”.

    But again, I want to point out that marriage isn’t required for oneness in community. As believers, regardless of marital status, we are united in Christ individually members of his body and find our completeness in God alone. Of course a husband and wife should strive to form as perfect a union as possible that glorifies God, where love & peace are the rule. But that same thing applies to our relationship with one another as brothers & sisters in Christ, all fully participating and employing our gifts and strengths edify and strengthen the body – something incidentally, that doesn’t occur, through strict observance if “gender roles” because in Christ there is neither m nor f. Union isn’t achieved by separation and distinction but by the expression of Christ through each of us.

  419. @ Paula

    If Elohim is a uni-plural noun which refers to the Trinity, and if God made man 100% (I think you said) like Himself, why did He create man as a twosome rather than a threesome?

  420. okrapod wrote:

    sonally I don’t think that is the case. If the genesis stories do not stand up to current knowledge then (a) there are not inspired or (b) we have misunderstood them or ( c) they were applicable to people of long ago but not applicable to us today.

    I vote for B. I don’t think it was meant to be heard or read in the literal sense as we understand literal. It seems to be a narrative of God’s creation, interaction with his creation and his rescue using literary devices we are not used to.

    I think a case can be made for it to be a sort of correction to other creation narratives with their angry god’s. This seems to fit with the timing of it being written down during or after the Babylonian exile when they were worried about the Jews forgetting their past.

  421. @ Paula Rice:
    I don’t think that “good” means “opposite of bad” in the context but rather something more like “not finished.” God is portrayed as an artist/creator, and his creation of *humanity* was not complete or completely satisfying to him as the artist until he had created both male and female. It dot reflect on the individual worth of either the man or the woman or the degree to which either reflects God’s image, IMO, but rather the way in which the state of humanity’s creation reflected God’s creative concept which included female humans. When I look at an artist working, I might think that the creation is fine as it is, but the artist sees that it does not match his/her conception. It will not be pleasing or good to their artistic eye until it matches their concept. But maybe I think of it this way because I have a creative personality.

  422. @ Victorious:
    Well, I think the delay, as you call it, wasn’t accidental, nor Eve an afterthought (not that you’re suggesting this).

    But think about it…

    God is love, and if there’s anyone that understands romance, it’s God.

    Adam enjoyed a wonderful relationship with God in which daily they walked and talked together. During this time God directly instructed Adam and taught him many things including the prohibition about not eating the fruit from that tree, etc.

    He gave Adam responsibilities, such as naming the animals, which would have been amazing! Good job Adam. What else could we possibly call a hippopotamus? Nailed it.

    But we never read about God saying anything like, “I’ve got a surprise coming”, but the fact is, God did. And after naming all the animals and during that time of delay, a realization occurred: among all those majestic animals, none of them were equal to Adam. He couldn’t discuss the news of the day with them, or work with any of them to develop the latest software or share his recipe for mango smoothies.

    So boom. It’s nap time one day. And finally, there she is! The glass slipper fits! She doesn’t have claws or hooves! She’s bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh! And by now he’s gotten pretty good at naming stuff so, she’s Eve!

    If during Adams nap, God had formed her from another mount of dirt, then she’d be a different species. But no. He used Adams rib, and the exact same DNA material, to make Eve. Her body was tweeked a bit because it would give birth, but other than that – perfect equals! And what a nice surprise it must have been. I’m sure Adam felt very very loved by his father God, and came to understand who God was even more after this – that God wasn’t just one gut, but he was a plurality of oneness like what he expected Adam to be now with eve.

    And btw, just want to point out that the Bible doesn’t say God instructed Eve directly about the Tree and it’s prohibition,so I think we can safely assume Adam told Eve and she wasn’t as well prepared to face the tempter because of this. Adam knew for sure and should have stepped in. Eve, however, was deceived (many scholars agree Adam was there with Eve during the interchange, not off somewhere else in the Garden).

  423. okrapod wrote:

    If Elohim is a uni-plural noun which refers to the Trinity, and if God made man 100% (I think you said) like Himself, why did He create man as a twosome rather than a threesome?

    You’re making my brain work too hard… lol!

    And does anyone think Eve was “there” all the time? Like just separated from Adam to enable the “visible” part of him that he was neglecting perhaps? After all, Adam was formed from the dust which was an inanimate substance, but Eve was formed from a living being.

  424. Victorious wrote:

    And does anyone think Eve was “there” all the time? Like just separated from Adam

    That idea is out there, and plays into the soul mate theory of some people. You somehow find the other part of your actual self, I think they say. I have no idea what they think that does to the person when that other part of the actual self dies.

  425. okrapod wrote:

    @ Paula

    If Elohim is a uni-plural noun which refers to the Trinity, and if God made man 100% (I think you said) like Himself, why did He create man as a twosome rather than a threesome?

    I think he did because our humanness is only fully actualized in relationship with God. So male, female dependent upon and centered on God is the only way to achieve true unity.

    In fact, this was really the essence of our sin – that we wanted our Independence from God. Remember, the tempter said, “In the day you eat of it you will become like God…” and if we’re like God, then we don’t need to depend of him for our life and to give full expression to his image in us.

    The more we live our lives in relation to God, dependent upon him, not turning to other sources in an effort to find life (man shall not live by bread alone…), the more natural and normal we become because that’s how were made to be – in Union with God. Thank you Jesus.

  426. Ken wrote:

    I have often wondered if the famous Rom 1 : 18 – 32 is at least in part an inspired commentary on the first few chapters of Genesis. What do you think?

    At a minimum, to me Romans reiterates the consequences of denying our status as contingent creations of The Creator King. How many times does the Bible record essentially the same story over and over? Babel, Judges, Sinai, the prophets, the wicked kings, the Incarnation, the Cross. Sinful man rejects God’s rule over us and desires to install ourselves as our own gods. That was basically what happened in the garden, too. Is that what you meant by a commentary? I fear we may be in some agreement on something, and what would that do for appearances? 🙂

  427. Interesting conversations going on. So I looked up the issue of the image of god in man in the online summa theologica. I should have known better. Question 93 deals with “the end or term of the production of man” in which there are nine articles with the numerous objections and answers to the objections and which look at image vs likeness; intellectual reasoning; essence; habits and acts; animals and angels; and whether the image of god is in very man. Sorry about the semi-colons but I am trying to separate those ideas as totally separate ‘articles’ under question 93.

    So, How nice it would be if I understood it all, but I did understand enough to get a glimpse of how complicated some ideas can become.

  428. @ okrapod:
    Karen Armstrong.

    She is not even close to being in the same league as Jeffrey Burton Russell, but his research is exhaustive. She seems to write polemics, and is not a histotian.

  429. okrapod wrote:

    in very man

    correction: in every man (includes discussion of the idea that woman is the glory of man as man is the glory of god and what that means relative to the image of god in created persons-if anything)

  430. Victorious wrote:

    The text is of great importance imo since comps use Genesis as the foundation of the “headship” of men. It’s the beginning of the human race and even referred to by Jesus in an effort to clarify erroneous assumptions by the Pharisees.

    I’d just add that women are equally in the image of God.

    (Some comps teach that women are in the image of the man(male gender), not God.)

  431. @ numo:

    Yes. She was quite popular and often referenced for some time there, probably because she was saying what some people wanted to hear and what some people at that time were hesitant to say. There are a lot of angry folks out there. Wasn’t one of her books the history of God, or something like that? How the idea of God developed over time and how ridiculous it was to believe in a god in the light of all that?

  432. @ okrapod:
    I think she writes in a way that’s readable for most people.

    You’re correct on the book title, although, not having read it, i can’t really comment. And i think there’s nothing wrong with actual historical invedtigation of the idea of ond God. All ideas have histoties.

  433. @ numo:

    to the extent that she’s been pointing out that wars are not “caused” by religion but get catalyzed by religious ideologies to motivate people to fight wars that are over resource competition I’d agree with that polemic 100% Conflating motivational speeches with material goals has been a little too easy for the new atheist crowd in the last fifteen years. I didn’t buy Christopher Hitchens no true Scotsman variation on Stalinist communism as being a de facto religion. I get why he’d want to distance himself from his Trotskyite earlier days, though.

  434. I just wanted to throw this in here because I got to thinking about it myself. Not sure it will add to the discussion, but I noticed @ Daisy brought up complementarians and their skewed views so, for what it’s worth…

    I think it’s easy to develop a fundamental reading of the bible and make applications based on some verses that the scripture never intended us to make. Case in point: The creation of Adam & Eve.

    Early on in my relationship with God I was introduced to complementarianism, although at that time it wasn’t called that. I wasn’t exposed to biblical egalitarianism, unfortunately, so I didn’t have the two to compare and make a decision. I did, however, have the Bible which I read a lot, and I had a good understanding of who I was in Christ. Complementarianism never settled in with me as I always recognized the presence of something contrary at work within me, but I honestly lacked the knowledge and the skill to rebuff what I was being taught in regards to women. I had also attended one of those nasty Basic Institutes in Youth Conflicts by Bill Gothard, which I came away from with this image in my head of women being smaller umbrellas than men, and that women needed men to be their “coverings”. Ugh. Not biblical! Still, this left an impression on me that was hard to dismiss because the groups I got involved in all supported this aberrant interpretation of the scriptures…

    …including but not limited to a twisting of the Genesis account of the creation of Adam and Eve. The picture I saw painted was of a women being created to serve the man and to be subordinated to him as his “helper”. That a woman would need to look to men as being spiritually superior to them, thus needing men to be above them in the pecking order. Not the thing a young woman needs to be exposed to at a time in her life when she is needing to forge her way and is working discovering her identity as an adult. This was also in contrast to my very WASPy upbringing; my parents expected me to get equipped to enter the workforce with my advanced degrees in hand, but they weren’t Christians like those of the Jesus Movement and my mother, heaven forbid, liked wearing a t-shirt that read, “Women Belong in the House…and Senate”. I didn’t have a close relationship with them, sadly, and didn’t turn to them to help me navigate these new waters. Instead I became self-righteous, thinking my way was the right way and I was quite zealous about things. My younger brother called me the Holy Roller.

    The crazy thing about all of this is I truly believe God called me to the vocation of becoming a mother. Rather than getting married because I needed to in order to conform to God’s order, or have a nice little bunch of kids so I could “stay busy at home”, I found my gifting in it. I loved being a Mom although my parents hated the fact I decided to stay home fulltime. So, there was always this crazy mix of chaos going on within me because of all these competing influences. I’m sure some of you can relate to this. But above all, I truly wanted God’s will for my life and thankfully, spent a lot of time with God, which saved me from becoming completely taken in by SGM.

    So fast forward through the all the mumbo jumbo. I now know the creation account is completely unique in that it describes an event that’s never been duplicated, in that the first man and the first women ever were made. Unlike the way complementarians presented it, men and women today do not need to be in a marriage in order to find full expression of their “biblical manhood and womanhood”. What was unique about the story in Genesis is that there was no one else besides Adam and Eve at the time.

    I realize that’s a no-brainer, but that has been conflated by complementarians to apply to us today i.e. we need to be in marriage in which the man is the leader and the woman is the helper because that’s how it was in Genesis, with marriage being necessary for us to be in community.

    No, marriage is needed for procreation and to form families, etc. But marriage and family life doesn’t trump the community of Christ known as the Church. In fact, Christ made it clear: compared to our love and commitment to Christ, we are to hate our associations with our families. Radical. I know.

    Furthermore, Paul made it clear that singleness is actually a preferred status for serving God. Men and women who are married have to be concerned not only with the things of God, but must also be concerned about meeting the needs of their spouse. It’s better to be able to serve God and be single-minded in doing so i.e. “single”.

    The single most important community we as Christians should be focused on is first our union with God through Christ. Through the Holy Spirit we are united with God through Christ. Out of that we are joined to the church which is comprised of believers all over the world. Our peace with God is to find expression in our relationships with one another in the Body of Christ. Naturally some of our family members will become members of the Body, but not all will. And sometimes we may be married to someone who isn’t obedient to the lordship of Christ. If we were to find our identity in marriage alone, how terrible that would be for the man or woman who isn’t in a good marriage or in a marriage at all. Should we be made to feel as though we’re outsiders who don’t belong? May it never be. Being single puts an individual in far better position to focus on God and to be more, not less, devoted to fulfilling his call on our lives.

    Thanks for listening 🙂

  435. Paula Rice wrote:

    Thanks for listening

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so happy you escaped the Gothardite trap of believing lies about yourself and your relationships. His relationships were not based in love but in fear, and that is not what Jesus said good relationships are about. Also, Gothard’s identities were false ones, just like the false identities and narratives of the “complementarians”. And the tragedy is that so many adopted the false identities rather than their true identities in Christ and assumed that Christianity is false when they discovered the lie of legalism/Gothardism/patriarchy. I so identify with your description of becoming the Holy Roller. 🙂

  436. @ Paula Rice:
    I wasn’t very clear here. I meant to say, “I think God did create us as a threesome” – so that we would more accurately reflect the relationships of equality and mutuality between one another, that being possible if we are united with God.

    God is God; there is none besides Him; He is perfect and complete, wanting nothing.

    God didn’t need us in order for us to make God complete. God does just fine being God without us.

    But we don’t do just fine without God. We were created to live our lives dependent upon God. I think this was the main function of the tree God placed in the garden along with the prohibition. It was the “Tree of Knowledge” because it stood as a reminder of the lesson God wants us to always remember: We are not God, rather we are creatures created in his image and for us its a sin if we ever decide to cast off God and live independently of him. That’s wrong and we should never, ever, ever, not even for a moment, entertain the thought or the idea that we can live without God or that something like food can give us the power within ourselves to live independently of him because that’s a lie. And if we take and eat of that lie, in that very moment, we will experience a death. Instead, we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ for he is our head, the source of our life. He is the vine, we are the branches.

    The Trinity is a threesome – One God in Three Persons. God can function without needing anyone or anything else, but we can not. “The two shall become one” therefore can only happen if a Third Person is also part of the relationship.

  437. okrapod wrote:

    …and it seems obvious that there is nothing in the genesis stories that would deny that [human beings belong to the “animal kingdom”]…

    In particular:

    Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

    We’re made from the dust of the ground – which I take to refer to the chemical elements present in the universe of ordinary matter – and we differ from the animals only in that God breathed a unique kind of life into us. For that matter, after Adam sinned, it was: Dust you are, and to dust you shall return.

  438. “The two shall become one” therefore can only happen if a Third Person is also part of the relationship.

    I want to add a footnote here. It’s not just marriage I’m referring to when I say “the two shall become one” because I think the meaning here is intended to be extended to all our interpersonal relationships, not just marriage. The only way for true union to occur within the context of relationship, any community of persons gathered together, is if God is included. “Where two or more are gathered in my Name, I will be in the midst of them” = the recipe for true communion.

  439. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    For that matter, after Adam sinned, it was: Dust you are, and to dust you shall return.

    Yes, exactly. Our sin caused us to lose our connection with God and consequently, what happened, is we were returned to our primordial state, if you will. And apart from God, we would struggle to find meaning in our natural state and be unable to find life in it because only God breathed into life into the elements he used to form us, and apart from that life, we became more or less the sum of our parts.

    Therefore, since the man was made of the earth, he would struggle against the earth and try, by the sweat of his brow, to make a living from it. That was the consequence of the man’s sin.

    Since the woman was taken out of man, she would struggle against the man. Instead of enjoying a loving relationship of co-creation and mutuality, the man would begin instead to rule over her turning the relationship into one of ruler/subject. And since she could only become pregnant because of him, her child birth would now be characterized by pain.

    But thank God we have been freed from the curse in Christ.

  440. Paula Rice wrote:

    women being smaller umbrellas than men, and that women needed men to be their “coverings”. Ugh. Not biblical!

    Every time I see this image in my mind, I realize that this line of thinking places women in the closest proximity to the mud, ergo, the women are the most likely to be dragged through the mud.
    Paula Rice wrote:

    …including but not limited to a twisting of the Genesis account of the creation of Adam and Eve. The picture I saw painted was of a women being created to serve the man and to be subordinated to him as his “helper”. That a woman would need to look to men as being spiritually superior to them, thus needing men to be above them in the pecking order.

    Uh, yeah. This is what the SBC says in the BF&M 2000. I attend church just to keep my husband from being questioned and embarrassed ~~~ getting pretty close to not even caring.
    Paula Rice wrote:

    I truly believe God called me to the vocation of becoming a mother. Rather than getting married because I needed to in order to conform to God’s order, or have a nice little bunch of kids so I could “stay busy at home”, I found my gifting in it.

    Paula Rice wrote:

    I truly believe God called me to the vocation of becoming a mother. Rather than getting married because I needed to in order to conform to God’s order, or have a nice little bunch of kids so I could “stay busy at home”, I found my gifting in it.

    To each her own. Congrats in discovering your gifting and for having the courage to stand up to those who disagree.

  441. Lydia wrote:

    I vote for B. I don’t think it was meant to be heard or read in the literal sense as we understand literal. It seems to be a narrative of God’s creation, interaction with his creation and his rescue using literary devices we are not used to.

    I too vote for B. Recently I gave a listen to R.C. Sproul on the Perpiscuity of Scripture. The doctrine basically states that the plain reading is what it is, and that it’s discernible to all. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, love your neighbor as yourself and treat him as you would wanna be treated… no argument here, plain enough even for the dullest knives in the drawer. But when the big guns go beyond that and use perpiscuity to bolster the claims they make concerning the rest of Scripture? That’s when I part company with them.

  442. Nancy2 wrote:

    Every time I see this image in my mind, I realize that this line of thinking places women in the closest proximity to the mud, ergo, the women are the most likely to be dragged through the mud.

    “I found my gifting in it.”

    To each her own. Congrats in discovering your gifting and for having the courage to stand up to those who disagree.

    I hear your frustration, Nancy2. Men, who are complementarian, must think a woman who disagrees with it has succumbed to “The world”, whereas complementarianism is of the world! There really isn’t a middle ground. Women are not created by God to be the subordinates of men. That came in as a result of the fall. A church or a husband who insists upon a hierarchical order in which women are told their place is under a man’s ‘larger umbrella’ is working to deny women their full rights and privileges as granted by God, and they have been deceived by worldly thinking.

    And yes, ‘to each her own’. We must all discover God’s will for ourselves; there’s no formula or automatic assignment. In my case, I was strongly discouraged by my mother to become a mother and to be one full-time. It was the right thing for me to do and I was in faith for the job. But that’s not to say all women are called to become mothers and to be home with them all the time. All of us must walk by faith, which God blesses. Some churches insist their members walk by their rules and role assignments, and your conformity is how you’re blessed.

    And yes, it takes courage to follow Christ doesn’t it. We must be willing to lose everything, but the righteous are bold as the lion.

  443. okrapod wrote:

    The reason that this is important in a discussion about genesis stuff is that if Ken is right, then God deliberately mislead people (assuming inspiration of scripture) and therefore we cannot trust Him to tell us the truth. Which is what the serpent said to Eve.

    Not that I am particularly bright or anything, but the 1st tiume I heard this theory of God deliberately lying to us (through the appearance of creation), I nearly drove off the road & into Mrs W’s roadside vegetable stand. I forgot the car, & practicaly shouted, “That man just called God a liar!!”
    It was just that horrifying to me. My whole way of reading the Genesis creation accounts changed in an instant. (No one was injured, & no zucchini were harmed, either. But it was one of those moments of suddenly having a light shine upon something I had never tried to puzzle out all that much).

  444. Victorious wrote:

    And does anyone think Eve was “there” all the time? Like just separated from Adam to enable the “visible” part of him that he was neglecting perhaps? After all, Adam was formed from the dust which was an inanimate substance, but Eve was formed from a living being.

    When I read Genesis, I find myslef thinking back to the literature classes of my youth, (back when people both read & wrote poetry, and when Wild poodles roamed the earth), & this difficulty vanishes. I once heard a delightful lady describe Adam’s verbal response to Eve as “the world’s first love song”. When you see that, the whole question becomes meaningless, at least to me…..

  445. zooey111 wrote:

    Not that I am particularly bright or anything, but the 1st tiume I heard this theory of God deliberately lying to us (through the appearance of creation), …

    There is a little verse tucked away at the beginning of Titus in the context of knowing the truth which says in hope of eternal life which God, who never lies, promised ages ago. The expression God who never lies has forcibly struck me on more than one occasion.

    In the context of Genesis, if this is indeed the word of God, then it must be true. For Christians that is not really the issue, it is how to interpret it or understand it, usually boiling down into how literally should you take it.

    It would help if no-one accused anyone else of lying or deliberately trying to be deceitful over Genesis. No one view doesn’t have its problems. One the one hand you cannot simply dismiss all scientific dating schenes as deliberate fraud. On the other, God explicitly states here that mankind is a special creation, and woman taken from man. Scientific theories can be amended or refuted by new evidence. That God created it all is either true or false, and is fixed.

    Personally, I still tend to be YEC with regard to the creation of man, but more agnostic over the age of the universe itself; I’m not scientifically qualified to pontificate on this! I think it wrong just to assume that scientific theories as to the age of the universe are necessarily done in bad faith (after all, some Christians accept an old earth, for example), but God alone has exhaustive knowledge of all the facts. Does it really matter how old the earth is?

    If God exists, this makes all the speculation and argument over this rather moot. It doesn’t necessarily mean evolution is false, but it does render it unnecessary. It slso means a rapid and recent creation is also possible, though not essential. That said, any Christians who take the line that ‘God planted the fossils to deceive unbelievers’ really do need to stop making fools of themselves, whilst other perhaps need to wise up to factors that have nothing to do with science motivating the passion with which evolution and an ancient universe is adhered to.

  446. Ken wrote:

    Does it really matter how old the earth is?

    Well yes, in that when discussing religious beliefs it definitely matters what one understands scripture to be and how one believes scripture should be understood and who it is who is thought to be in a position to determine doctrine/theology based on said conclusions about scripture. This is at the heart of the reformation, and this is at the heart of much of the fragmentation of christianity today. The issue of the age of the earth (which is barely the tip of the iceberg of course) is merely one point of conflict in this larger issue concerning scripture.

    And why would we care at this stage of the game? Well for one thing we are seeing the-bible-says used as a rallying point in various social and political issues right now. People keep referring to how ideas concerning scripture were used in the slavery debate/war in the war, in the same way that now we are seeing the sexuality and/or sexual behavior issues debated. We have started down the marriage road-age of marriage, purpose of marriage, contraception, abortion, divorce with/without remarriage, gay marriage and coming soon debates about polygamy/polyamory-replete with a plethora of ideas about the-bible-says on both sides of the arguments.

    For another thing we see a resurgence of some old heresies (if one thinks there are such things as heresies) with in some instances throngs of people heading down paths which seem to be cultish and manipulative and abusive, all promulgated by the-bible-says of course.

    So, yes, the age of the earth is as good ground for the major battles about scripture as anywhere. But make no mistake, this ‘battle for the bible’ as the early conservative resurgence fashioned the cause is hugely important for individuals and for the church and for society.

  447. This thread is a great discussion all around! It more resembles a Jewish approach to spiritual learning than a standard evangelical ixtian model which will brook no dissent.

  448. @ okrapod:
    I think there is a differencee between the age of the earth and the other issues you mentioned. No-one as far as I know was ever hurt by arguments about how old the earth is. Many people have been hurt in arguments about what the bible teachers on other subjects, either by disobeying it and suffering what they have sown, or it being abused to inflict various types of suffering, such as slavery.

  449. Gram3 wrote:

    Is that what you meant by a commentary? I fear we may be in some agreement on something,

    In agreement? That cannot be …

    I wonder if the apostle Paul were amongst us today, and saw the carryings on about how to understand Genesis, he might direct us away from science and religion, and, going by Rom 1 say we should concentrate on the fact of creation and the revelation of God is provides (as against how old it is), and the effects of the fall of man in both God’s judgment and our drift into depravity because of the fall. The list of horrible sins details just what it means to be ‘spiritually dead’, a death that Adam suffered before his literal physical death.

    I was also thinking of the difficult verse Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them. How do those who suppress the knowledge of God know of his righteous decree? I think there is something in the conscience of man that tells him the wages of sin if rightly death. This is shown in some crimes being capital offences. But it also reminded me of Genesis for in the day that you eat of it you shall die. So I think Paul surely had Genesis in mind when writing Romans, and that however much they deny it, your average agnostic or atheist does have some residual knowledge of God in creation and have some sense of their sinfulness.

  450. Ken wrote:

    No-one as far as I know was ever hurt by arguments about how old the earth is.

    You may have missed some comments here at TWW in the past on this issue-some IIRC by Dee. Here is a scenario that is being faced by many people, frequently teens. They come to believe from school or from reading and such that the earth is old. The church argues that one must believe in YEC or maybe you are not a christian because the-bible-says. And oh yes this happens here in neo-calvinist and fundamentalist places right much. The person then, frequently a teen or someone who is off to college, ceases to believe that what the-bible-says is true, any of it, under the idea that if you can’t believe every word then you cannot believe any word. They do this at the same time that they lose confidence in the people (parents-teachers-pastors) who insisted on YEC. I believe that Dee has had more experience with this with people and this may have been an issue in her life, I am trying to remember what she has said about it.

    Now this problem is not limited to YEC but that is what this current conversation is about. People can experience this same shipwreck of faith when they study history, or when they investigate the inconsistencies in scripture and evaluate what people might be understanding scripture to actually be saying if people quit pretending that there are no inconsistencies. Sometimes people look for answers which cannot be adequately found in scripture and arrive at really awful stuff-for example the problem of suffering and deciding that God wills the sexual abuse of children as we have recently discussed here.

    I don’t need to write a whole book on this because it is so prevalent and surely it is something most of us have encountered. One difference is that science is taught in schools-by law-for accreditation if nothing else. Biblical history is not taught in the public schools. Hence the number of people who have to deal with science/religion issues is huge. LIke age of the earth. And the flood. And did the sun stand still. And the walls of Jericho.

    And in mixed cultures people come to know that the baptists (for example) and the catholics (for example) do not agree on how one must think about creation, and the question has to be asked who is correct and therefore who is the ‘true church’ if that issue comes up-meanwhile talking about the genesis creation accounts and how to deal with them.

    And people get really damaged in all this.

  451. Ken wrote:

    however much they deny it, your average agnostic or atheist does have some residual knowledge of God in creation and have some sense of their sinfulness.

    Atheists have a sense of justice and rightness and goodness. We think that comes from God, but I don’t really know where they believe such things originate. It is also true, IMO, that believers can suppress the truth in unrighteousness and that is a human characteristic since the fall. Thinking about God’s holiness and its bright light is like having a retinal exam, if you know what I mean.

  452. okrapod wrote:

    The person then, frequently a teen or someone who is off to college, ceases to believe that what the-bible-says is true, any of it, under the idea that if you can’t believe every word then you cannot believe any word.

    At the risk of being branded unfeeling and in violation of TWW’s prime directive of sympathy for the victims of ‘spiritual abuse’, I could never fully sign on to this dynamic. It’s a lot like saying that because so-and-so never existed or did this, that, and the other, it nullifies everything else. Much like say a novel built around historical fact and then rejecting what really happened because such-and-such in the novel is literary embellishment.

    I hope it’s not true that today’s young folks are incapable of thinking and deciding for themselves beyond tweets and fashionable memes.

  453. Ken wrote:

    I think there is a differencee between the age of the earth and the other issues you mentioned. No-one as far as I know was ever hurt by arguments about how old the earth is.

    Ken, I think all of us who name Jesus as Lord are hurt by a dogmatic insistence that the bible contradicts science. What’s worse is that this is self inflicted damage. This is not a science vs. the bible issue. Rather the need is to learn what truths are present in both domains. Science is simply a careful study of the world God made. The bible is God’s word to us written in a fashion that it can be read for all ages. Its purpose is to teach us about Him. It is not a cosmology textbook. What is evident to the the casual non believer uninformed by science details is that the gadgets we make are dependent on science. Thus putting the bible in opposition to science calls the bible and all that it says in doubt.

  454. @ Muff Potter:
    I think it’s more that kids raised in fundy settings have been so indoctrinated with an “all or nothing” manner of thinking about life and the Bible, that when they finally get outside that setting, they really face crises when they see that X verse is not necessarily true – it becomes like those elaborate setups of dominoes that you can see falling on many YouTube videos.

    And no, a lot of kids from the homeschooling fundy hothouse are *not* taught to think critically. Besides, it’s easy to be suckered into some very bad things at that age… I know, It’s how the discipleship movement people got hold of me. I was concerned about certain things, but the big deal was to not question authority, and if you did, you lost all the friends you had just made (as a newb in college) and so on.

  455. @ numo:

    Agreed. It really is an ‘all or nothing’ proposition in fundagelicalism. Taking it a bit further though, I don’t think it’s confined to homeschooled kids. I got reeled into the Calvary Chapel movement as a young Army vet. Back then they ran a series of communes designed to be indoctrination centers. Unquestioned obedience to the head honcho was the order of the day. So yeah, I really do know where you’re coming from. Fortunately, I think we both grew up and realized that the Bible was never meant to be a magic answer book for real life.

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  457. @ Muff Potter:

    Another group who run into this sort of thing, though in a different way, are people like me. And, I might add I have run into just a whole lot of ‘cradle catholics’ who experience something similar. We just shrug and walk away from the whole silly mess of what religion in american can become with the attitude of ‘who needs this; this is foolishness.’ For various reasons of course. One brand of christianity that we walk away from can be the way that I grew up-saturated in religious teaching of the nature of not only the bible says but also what it says (meant) in the original languages and what people have thought it might mean and why they are wrong and why we are right–until there is nothing left but a pile of information that has begun to look like road kill. You don’t have to be abused or victimized or led astray by false teaching or angry or chomping at the bit to be wild and wooly or anything of the sort to just shrug and walk away because of the level of ridiculous silliness that can and does attach itself to some ways of being religious. I am guessing that some of the children of the pharisees also shrugged and walked away.

    I will put money on it that there are also a lot of other ways to react against things I have not even thought of as aspects of religiosity. All I know is my own experience of it.

    After some ten years of rejecting christianity I returned to reading scripture in order to be able to counteract what my oldest child was being taught in sunday school (she insisted on going) only to find out that scripture was not in fact saying what had been drilled into my head as a child/youth. Imagine that. But I had been busy in the interim with school and more school and most school and had not cared enough to take the time to find out one way or the other. I mean, when you shrug you in fact shrug!

    So, yeah, I am saying let’s use our brains even at church, and let’s not do that to our young-uns, and let’s not accuse the non-believer of every bad thing we can think of (Jesus did not do such accusations against non-believers) and let’s lay the closed bible down on the table long enough to actually interact with the reality of the living God and let’s move on.

  458. OldJohnJ wrote:

    The bible is God’s word to us written in a fashion that it can be read for all ages. Its purpose is to teach us about Him. It is not a cosmology textbook.

    Let me try this one out on you. This is an area where Christians need wisdom.

    Take a traffic accident. A car comes round the corner too fast, skids across the road and careers into a lamp post injuring the driver and a passer by. The police take a statement from a witness who saw the whole thing, read for a court case to see if the driver was guilty of an offence.

    Enter ‘science’. The forensic people know stopping distances for speed and road surface and tyre condition. The mechanics can examine the car for defects. And if you really want to push the analogy, the medics are the ones who can describe in words that only they understand (and handwriting only they can read!) what injuries were sustained, or whether the driver was suffering from a pre-existing medical condition.

    Now both testimonies to what happened are true. The eye witness is in layman’s terms, and is likely what will be reported in the local paper so that everyone can understand it. The court proceedings will have all the necessary technical information to go into the matter in scientific terms.

    Isn’t Genesis like this? It’s a true account, and we should not be ashamed of identifying with it as an eyewitness account. At the same time, it was never intended as a scientific explanation of how the world came about. It’s anachronistic to expect this, and would have been of little use to the original audience if it had.

    Of course there is an element of disanalogy, but treating Genesis like this might stop the age of the earth becoming a red herring in preaching the gospel, an excuse not to listen, and help some believers not to succumb to unbelief in the reliability of the bible. If Genesis is not a scientific account, then science hasn’t refuted it, and evangelicals shouldn’t get so defensive about it.

    This won’t remove all the difficulties, but it might at least help!

  459. Ken wrote:

    Now both testimonies to what happened are true.

    My friendly prosecutor has said that eyewitness testimony is often inaccurate. We had a huge case in NC not too long ago where a man was convicted by eyewitness testimony twice, once at trial and again at retrial, of a crime which it later turned out he had not committed. He spent many years in prison before the actual innocence group got hold of the case. Also, signed confessions may not be true, while we are on the subject.

    At trial if they believe the evidence instead of eyewitness testimony where those do not agree, it is not necessarily a wrong call.

  460. @ Muff Potter:
    And that kind of thinking – and “education” – is, imo, inherently abusive to those who grow up in its ranks. Kids are not given the tools thst they n3ed for life.

  461. @ numo:

    I saw an x-ray once in somebody’s teaching file of a bound foot-as in chinese foot binding. The entire foot is still there but only a small part of it is useful for standing much less walking. It kind of reminded me of the woman I saw in Africa who had been deliberately made cripple as punishment for running away from her husband. I get that same idea — about the prevention of running away, of escaping–when I see what some kinds of thinking do to people. As if there is some idea out there that it is better to cripple people than to risk their running away, or leaving the fold, or thinking for themselves, or disagreeing. We used to clip the wing feathers of the chickens so they could not fly out of the hen yard. Same thing. As if one thinks ‘you may be crippled and deformed but you are mine, all mine.’ Love does not do that to people.

  462. @ Ken:
    Ken, the nature of eyewitness acvounts is this: the perdon who writes them, and/or is quoted describing what thry saw, was *actually there st the time and saw whstever it was with their own eyes.*

    There is no way in this world thst the writers of Genesis could ever have bern eyewitnesses to the things they describe. Further, the cosmology contsined in both stories is thst of the snvirnt Near East – with the sun, moon and stars “hanging” in the sky, with chaotic “waters” both above what thry viewed as thd litersl “dome” of the dky, as well as underneath the earth.

    How csn you reconcile that as a scientific view of either the layers of our planet (outer and inner crusts, magms, probsbly molten core) or of the solar system? Yes, the things described per the sky (at night) are how it literally appears to the naked eye, but the truth is that Galleo, Copernicus, Keplet, Tycho Brahe, Newton and others were able to not only map out new ways of seeing and thinking – they didn’t see the conflict between the Bible and science that has been cooked up by the current adherents of YEC. Yes, people raised objections, but for the most part, the sviences were viewed as ways in whivh yo underdtand whst Gid had created in the natursl eotld.

    Truth to tell, most xtians (outside of certsin evangelical and fundy circles) either hold to “old earth” views or theistic evolution. The RCC is pro-evoltion and sees no inherent conflict between the sciences and belief in God.

    Why dome people have made this a hill to die on, I’ll never understand. And even though I’m from a Northern state, there have been serious conflicts in my state over the science curricula in public schools. One school district actually banned anything other than theistic evolution-supporting material for several years. This caused a huge public outcry on both a local and national level, and the people who had voted in those changes found themselves voted off the school board in pretty short order. Normal science curricula were reinstated, and now the whole controversy has bern largely forgotten. But… it happened in a Northern state, not down in the Southetn Bible Belt.

  463. @ numo:
    Ancient

    Apologies for all those typos. I keep thinking that I’ve csught them, but… blasted tablet “keyboard”! It’s made for children’s fingers, not adults’.

  464. @ okrapod:
    About eyewitness testimony: yes. Because our eyes and brains aren’t video recorders – and even if they were, a single eyewitness can only view events from one angle. They will not be able to see z”in the round,” ever.

  465. @ Ken:

    Ken, while I lean YEC (I’m not going to get into a science relate debate here), I have seen some of your previous commentary on other threads about Biblical study and found them troubling.

    I responded to them here:
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/10/09/al-mohler-adds-another-volume-to-his-impressive-stack-of-books-guest-post-by-todd-wilhelm/comment-page-1/#comment-224928

    You were saying in that thread that methods that conservative Christians use to learn about or to understand the Bible (including studying the eras and cultures in which the Bible was written) was a “liberal” practice and therefore not to be trusted. I wrote you a reply (link above) telling you why I disagreed with that position.

  466. @ Ken:
    I also affirm there were no eye witnesses to creation. This is probably a good time and place to repeat a comment I have made several times:

    The 1978 Nobel Physics Prize (Penzias & Wilson) was for experimental evidence, the 3 degree Kelvin background cosmic microwave radiation, confirming the Big Bang, the birth of our universe. The 2011 Nobel Physics (Perlmutter, Schmidt & Riess) was for astronomical observations indicating the expansion of universe is accelerating, not decelerating. Our universe had a moment of creation but does not appear to have a built-in end. There is no support of an infinite repeating cycle of universe creations and deaths. The universe is a unique event. This suggests there may be something “outside” of the observable universe.

    YEC support by evangelicals hides the fact that the universe we are part of is a one time created entity.

  467. YEC’ers (my husband among them) insist that God created the earth, et al, in a literal 6 day-24 hr. per day, human defined time period. I have wondered if by using the word day, God was just givng the steps in which he created everything. How could someone in the time of Moses be able to explain creation in the written word?

    To compare, how would one explain certain passages in Daniel, Ezekiel, much of Revelation, and so on, in a way that would make any sense at all to humans, especially in the time period those books were written?

  468. I thought that Ken was going to use the argument that God was a witness to the events and that therefore via inspiration the genesis stories could be considered eye witness testimony. That idea gives rise to all sorts of questions that have to be answered about inspiration, about the thoroughness or lack of it of the testimony itself, and some things that start out with if that is so then how do you explain…

    I misread his comment apparently.

  469. @ okrapod:

    I am of the opinion that the collection of books known as scripture is actually being ruined by the insistence on conformity by groups. People are missing out on the golden threads throughout them, the genres used by ancients to communicate, etc. I would suggest that more education in churches on ancient thinking patterns might be of more spiritual use when it comes to the scriptures.

  470. Lydia wrote:

    People are missing out on the golden threads throughout them, the genres used by ancients to communicate, etc.

    Agreed. At the risk of being banned from TWW, I could never understand why some people have such a ‘faith crisis’ over YEC vs science, or whether Paul may or may not have written such and such. To me it makes no sense because there’s way too much treasure in the Bible as a whole and the promise of Messiah to scrap the whole thing.

    Extremism on both ends of the spectrum, from the rabid fundamentalist to Bart Ehrman and all the lemmings who hang on their every word, we truly are in danger of becoming a post literate society whose only real discourse is composed of tweets and memes.

  471. Muff Potter wrote:

    Extremism on both ends of the spectrum, from the rabid fundamentalist to Bart Ehrman

    Ummm. Ehrman is a fundamentalist in his thinking style–right on. Black and white thinking all the way. That does not work well in a literary context but it does work well in some other styles of thinking.
    Because it works well in some areas, I am thinking, it is not apt to be weeded out of the population. There is no selection pressure to get rid of it. It probably should not be weeded out if it serves a needed function in society, but it as well as other thinking styles needs to be managed appropriately.

    For example when a person goes to the dentist, let us say, the only thing that will fix the teeth is black and white thinking-nothing intuitive is going to solve cavities. The engineers who designed the airplane had better be thinking in black and white-lives depend on it. Now, my point is that somebody with one thinking style is not apt to also have the other thinking style Probably that does not translate into right and wrong so much as it translates into much needed diversity within humanity.

    I say this as one who has no skill nor interest in intuitive creativity and almost got thrown out of school because of freshman lit-and the resultant confrontation I have previously described. That was just a couple of years before I took an undergraduate degree in biology with area of concentration in chemistry and physics-because it was easy and my thinking style (black and white and show me the evidence–explain the formula) fits right in with it.

    Muff, if people like me can tolerate and even value, though not necessarily believe, the creative and perceptive intuitivists (made that word up) among us then the cpi folks can tolerate and even value us, in my humble but of course accurate opinion.

  472. okrapod wrote:

    Now, my point is that somebody with one thinking style is not apt to also have the other thinking style Probably that does not translate into right and wrong so much as it translates into much needed diversity within humanity.

    As always okrapod, point well taken. But on the other hand there are those rare individuals who can traverse both sides.
    Have you ever heard tell of The Net of Eratosthenes?
    It’s a simple arithmetic algorithm for finding which numbers are prime in a well ordered sequence. Novelist Stephen King is one such rare individual the way he weaves Eratosthenes’ net into the story line of one of his novels.
    Mr. King has also gone on record as being in favor of Intelligent Design rather than the evolutionary paradigm.

  473. Lydia wrote:

    Have you ever heard a pastor teach that Moses wrote Genesis?

    I never really heard a pastor deal with Genesis at all. There used to be things called ‘tape recorders’, and you could by ‘cassettes’ of bible teachers on this theme, which I did before the age of youtube dawned, making us spoilt for choice.

    My own view of the first five books of the bible is they are from Moses – Editor. He was a compiler rather than actually wrote it all down himself personally. In any event, it is the scripture that is inspired, not the writer.

    As for Genesis, there is an interesting theory that the early part was originally written down on clay tablets, the beginning and end of which is sometimes preserved in the text with the repetition of ‘these are the generations of’.

    My daughter’s boyfriend was with her in the British Museum not long ago, and he was most excited to see the Rosetta Stone. He could read the Greek – and the cuneiform script, being an archeologist. You can go off people, you know … 🙂

  474. okrapod wrote:

    I thought that Ken was going to use the argument that God was a witness to the events and that therefore via inspiration the genesis stories could be considered eye witness testimony.

    Thank you for you long reply above, I stand corrected that YEC can if not handled sensitively do damage to young Christians.

    I did have in mind God is the only eyewitness, and in exclusive knowledge of all the facts. The genuis of Genesis is that it can contain an account of a mind-bogglingly complex set of events in just 76 root words, all of which can be translated into every language of the world. This makes the essential truth that God created everything accessible to every culture of the world. It’s repetitive structure of recurring 3’s, 7’s and 10’s (such as 10 commandments) bring out it’s symbolic nature in the sense of describing creation in terms that everyone can understand from what they see around them.

    Let there be light is a tad easier to understand than

    (5.55 x 10¯7 m) (x) = 3.00 x 108 m s¯1
    x = 5.40 x 1014 s¯1

  475. Nancy2 wrote:

    YEC’ers (my husband among them) insist that God created the earth, et al, in a literal 6 day-24 hr. per day, human defined time period.

    I wonder if your hubby fears that not taking Genesis 1 as literal 24 hour periods of time is the slippery slope to unbelief, a fear that is not wholly unreasonable. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear. Unbelief does not understand this concept.

    Nevertheless, such unbelief is not inevitable, as there are bible believers who do not take this chapter so literally.

    There is no question God could have created in a short time-frame. Nevertheless, reading the text itself again it says for example on day 3 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Now for this to have been a literal day, this act of creation would have had to be supernaturually fast in comparison to how things grow now. Possible? Yes. But ‘brought forth’ could have occurred over a longer period of time, not necessarily millions of years as required for evolution on its own, but not necessarily so quickly. If plants grew from seeds that God created, this would require more than a literal day. The time needed is not the point, it is that God did it, and it wasn’t possible without him.

    If you consider the ‘days’ of Genesis as divine days, the earthly week we now know being a copy of this, then you still have a six day creation but not one done at high speed. From God’s point of view, creation was ‘all in a week’s work’.

    If the creation of man, and then women, happened on day 6, with the formation of the garden and the naming of the animals, this does not seem to me to be consistant with a day as we now know it. A longer period would fit this better, though again you don’t have to substitute millions of years for this.

    You also have the term ‘day’ to describe the whole creation process, and the 7th day is not literal as it lasted until the resurrection at least. The 7th day lacks the description there was evening and morning, but it still indicates you don’t have to take day as literally as YEC seem to. We can relate to the 7th day as a day of rest, but no-one believes that the biblical God literally had to rest on this day, as though he were worn out with the exertion! It’s figurative. Do we have 6 literal days plus 1 figurative, or 6 figurative days plus the 7th figurative?

    I still have a lot of sympathy for YEC, but the text itself, I now think, doesn’t absolutely require this.

  476. Ken wrote:

    Let there be light is a tad easier to understand than

    (5.55 x 10¯7 m) (x) = 3.00 x 108 m s¯1
    x = 5.40 x 1014 s¯1

    I think you have done well in showing there are two different domains of knowledge being discussed. The problem with YEC advocates is that they claim, in the face of vast evidence to the contrary, that their literal interpretation of early Genesis trumps all other understanding of the origin of the universe and our very small corner of it.

    Your calculation of the frequency of green light from its wavelength would be a little less opaque if you used some symbol, say ^, to set of your positive exponents.

  477. OldJohnJ wrote:

    Your calculation of the frequency of green light from its wavelength would be a little less opaque if you used some symbol, say ^, to set of your positive exponents.

    Well, you know, modesty forbids and all that …

  478. okrapod wrote:

    And oh yes this happens here in neo-calvinist and fundamentalist places right much. The person then, frequently a teen or someone who is off to college, ceases to believe that what the-bible-says is true, any of it, under the idea that if you can’t believe every word then you cannot believe any word.

    They are still Fundamentalist.
    All-or-Nothing, All-Black or All-White.
    They have learned well at the feet of the Fundies.