Naked Calvinism: motivation and methodology

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My first true confrontation with Calvinism was in a Calvary Chapel. A young pastor who is a huge fan of John Piper was talking about the “Biblical” obligation to unconditionally support the state of Israel. He said that the Israelites should have slaughtered ALL inhabitants of Caanan during the time of Joshua. According to him, the current Palestinians are their descendants and Israel has to deal with them because they failed in the past to carry out the genocidal commands of their deity. He finally said something which literally made my blood freeze:
The modern Palestinians call themselves the descendants of the Philistines but this is an outrageous lie. If God tells us in his Word that He utterly exterminated them, He really did it!“.
He did not pronounce the last sentence with a callous indifference but with a joyful excitement.

Zionist

Later on, I met another young Calvinist pastor who told me that my refusal to accept the justification of Biblical genocides was due to my sinful pride and refusal to give to God the glory He is worthy of.
Finally, I listen to a reformed theology student teaching that God passionately hates mankind since the Fall, that everyone is heading to hell due to his or her inborn sinful nature, and that God only predestined a few people to believe in Him and get saved. He recognized that according to all human standards, such a divine behavior is utterly repugnant and even atrocious. But we cannot judge God according to our morality. And after I asked him why we are supposed to worship such a being, he just answered me: “because He is God.”

Lake-of-Fire-Bg

All of this occurred within a short time span six months ago.

After having done a lot of research on Calvinism, I realized that this kind of assertions naturally springs out of this belief system.

A specific event prompted me to start this series of posts. It was the recent assertion of the very popular Calvinist preacher John McArthur that 500 millions of charismatics are pseudo-Christians and that a great number of them have sinned against the Holy Ghost (and that they were, consequently, predetermined by God to burn in hell forever).
I see it now as my duty to show the true face of Calvinism to the world.

Here follow the methodology and some practical aspects.

1) I think it is fair to say that Calvinism cannot really exist without Biblical inerrancy. Therefore if I can show that SOME Biblical passages are incompatible with reformed theology, I will have effectively refuted it.

2) It is a common cognitive error to believe that once you have shown that something is possible, you have also shown it is not implausible. But there are many things which are logically possible but extremely unlikely.

3)  I will leave aside many Calvinist proof-texts and let my readers decide by themselves if they are plausibly interpretable within an Arminian framework or if they can’t, thereby showing the existence of contradictions within the Bible.

For example, let us say that the books of Hebrew and James are incompatible with divine determinism. This leaves two possibilities:

A) the books of Paul are not at odds with Arminianism
B) the books of Paul teach Calvinism which in turn shows that Biblical inerrancy is false.

In both cases, Calvinism is wrong or utterly implausible.

4) I will use many philosophical arguments too, even though I am well aware that this won’t move hardcore fundamentalists who hold the self-refuting view that philosophy is a folly.

5) I shall also argue that Calvinism is completely unlivable. There are no true consistent Calvinists out there (even if some are dangerously close to achieving this).

6) I am going to use extremely hard words against reformed theology but I want to be clear I (try to) love all Calvinists as my fellow human beings. Therefore I won’t tolerate personal attacks against Calvinists who are going to comment on my blog, unless they behave like assholes.

 

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Tribalism, love and God’s shameless ploy: a response to Cyngus and Valdobiade

A fellow called “Cyngus“ took me to task for having pointing out that influential evolutionary psychologists like Joshua Greene think, from an atheistic standpoint, that any objective morality is an illusion.

His response was very emotional and confused and I reproduced it here:

Dear Lothar,

Glad you mention Joshua Greene, he is a very smart guy and he discovered that the human brain is evolved for tribal life. The morals of a tribe applies inside the tribe, outside the tribe you can lie, kill and rape. Read your Bible, God condoned lack of morality of his chosen tribe, the Israelites, when it came to deal with other tribes.

God’s “objective morality” told his people to hate his enemies, then there came his beloved son “Jesus” who put his foot in the mouth of his father by saying: “love your enemies”. Isn’t that cute? But don’t fall for this trick, it is used to make the whole humanity be like one tribe under the same old crappy God. Don’t want to be in the “tribe” of God, then burn in hell.

Think about that: “Love your enemies”. In order to have enemies you have to hate, be hated or both. If you stop hating your enemies by saying that you love them, you have a chance to make them drop the guard. With their guard down you give them your love, if they don’t accept it, you send them in hell. Such a mischievous plan of “Jesus is love” could be thought only by the “tribe” of Christians.

Try to use your brains when you read the Bible. You quote a lot from Bible in your blog, but you don’t think, you just interpret it to serve your own Christian “denominated” tribe. You have no morals if your morals are to serve an immoral God.”

Since the whole comment reeks of rudeness, lack of respect and incoherence in thinking, I wanted to utterly ignore it.

But then another blogger called „Valdobiade„ came along and urged me to write a response, saying that:

I found the comment rough too, but the idea that seems true in the comment is that “love”, in Christian sense, is used to “divide and conquer”.

Many Christians denominations are understanding “love” in such a way that are put at odds with each other. You can even say that some Christians are enemies and they will love their “enemies” with the condition of the “love” as they interpret by their Christian denomination.

Another idea I found true, is that up to Jesus, God did not say to love the enemies but destroy them. However, even if Jesus said to love enemies, it did not change the fact that we become “enemies” by ignoring the “love”, thus those who don’t accept the “love” will be destroyed.

I don’t find this “love” being fair. Please make new post about this kind of “love”. I’d like to read your opinion.

Thanks.

There are many things I could go into here.

Glad you mention Joshua Greene, he is a very smart guy and he discovered that the human brain is evolved for tribal life. The morals of a tribe applies inside the tribe, outside the tribe you can lie, kill and rape.“

This is only one part of the story. Whilst it is clear that the inner demands of morality are stronger within our own tribe or in-group, we also dispose of a strong sense of empathy wich allows us to feel and understand the pain of all other human beings or for that matter sentient animals.

Read your Bible, God condoned lack of morality of his chosen tribe, the Israelites, when it came to deal with other tribes.“

Here Cyngus speaks like of a fundamentalist of THE whole Bible where God is consistently portrayed as a tribal deity and an evil monster.

But that’s demonstrably false. I view the Bible as a collection of human thoughts about God reflecting the worldview, fears and hopes of people at that time and I see there contradictory views on God’s morality, tribalism, exclusivism, forgiveness, sin and so on and so forth, as well documented by Thom Stark in his book „The Human Faces of God“.

Seeing the Old Testament as a consistent book containing only evil things is exactly the way Nazi theologians interpreted it during the Third Reich.

.

God’s “objective morality” told his people to hate his enemies, then there came his beloved son “Jesus” who put his foot in the mouth of his father by saying: “love your enemies”. Isn’t that cute? But don’t fall for this trick, it is used to make the whole humanity be like one tribe under the same old crappy God.“

This emotional outburst is certainly very efficient rhetorically, but rationally I fear it rings rather hollow. Actually, it’s even hard to understand what the argument is supposed to be.

“ When God teaches us to love our enemies, it is a shameless ploy so that he will impose His dictatorship upon all of us.“

Really? Would he need to teach us love in order to become our absolute tyrant? Is it not a much more likely explanation that Jesus was moved by genuine compassion transcending tribalism as he taught that?

At the very least Cyngus and his fellow antitheists have the burden of proof to show why Jesus was being manipulative as he uttered such statements.

Don’t want to be in the “tribe” of God, then burn in hell.“

I completely reject hell as being a place of eternal suffering.

That said, I believe that God created us as free beings and that he won’t force anyone to get to heaven if she does not truly desires Him and even believes that live is more meaningful if it is limited in time.

Think about that: “Love your enemies”. In order to have enemies you have to hate, be hated or both. If you stop hating your enemies by saying that you love them, you have a chance to make them drop the guard. With their guard down you give them your love, if they don’t accept it, you send them in hell. Such a mischievous plan of “Jesus is love” could be thought only by the “tribe” of Christians.“

Given my conception of hell, I don’t feel threatened at all by this new outburst.

Try to use your brains when you read the Bible. You quote a lot from Bible in your blog, but you don’t think, you just interpret it to serve your own Christian “denominated” tribe.“

I view the Bible as a collection of religious texts, similar in its nature to books from many religious traditions. I analyse it critically and see both truths and errors within its pages and I quote it in the same way I quote Christian authors such as C.S Lewis or John Wesley or even Muslim authors.

Cyngus has just written an unproven assertion about my person.

Since he knows almost nothing about me, this leads to the strong suscpicion I think of himeself as possesing some extra-sensory perceptions (I should probably contact the CSICOP to investigate his case.)

You have no morals if your morals are to serve an immoral God.”

I agree there are many religious persons who do that and I constantly criticize them on my blog for that sin. I will quote C.S. Lewis here:

„The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scriptures is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two. Indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible. „

Frankly speaking there are quite a few atheists I love to read and feel challenged by, but Cyngus and all bullying village antitheists don’t belong to them.

Now back to „ Valdobiade“

I found the comment rough too, but the idea that seems true in the comment is that “love”, in Christian sense, is used to “divide and conquer”.

Many Christians denominations are understanding “love” in such a way that are put at odds with each other. You can even say that some Christians are enemies and they will love their “enemies” with the condition of the “love” as they interpret by their Christian denomination.“

Actually almost all modern Christian denominations agree that you not only have to love (in an intutively human sense) the people in other Christian groups but in non-Christian movements as well.

Another idea I found true, is that up to Jesus, God did not say to love the enemies but destroy them.“

No, as mentioned above you will find both conflicting trends within the pages of the OT, and of other Near-Eastern religious texts, or about Zeus in the Greek mythology for that matter.

However, even if Jesus said to love enemies, it did not change the fact that we become “enemies” by ignoring the “love”, thus those who don’t accept the “love” will be destroyed.

I don’t find this “love” being fair. Please make new post about this kind of “love”. I’d like to read your opinion.

Thanks.“

https://i1.wp.com/patrickwanis.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/Why-people-reject-love1-199x300.jpg

I don’t want to give the impression this is an easy question for any Christian. According to my view, hell is not a place of eternal torment but the utter disappearance of persons not desiring to live eternally with God. God does want them to be saved, but if they refuse He is not going to violate their will. God’s Love always respects the decision of its object but wishes to offer him or her eternal bliss.

Thematic list of ALL posts on this blog (regularly updated)

My other blog on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)