God Can’t: Book Review

My first interaction with Dr. Oord was him actually emailing me back in 2017, when I had a small blogspot blog. I still to this day don’t know how he came across it, maybe someone sent it to him or maybe he was browsing Facebook and saw it shared in one of the groups he was in. Regardless, he sent me an email saying he liked one of my posts.

The post was on how Open Theism is more consistent of a position than Arminianism. The Tl;dr version of that post is, Arminians are subject to their own objections unless they embrace Open Theism. This position is not new, I adopted this position from James White.

Recently, Dr. Oord emailed me to check up on how I was doing and offered to send me a free copy of his book. Part of me thinks he’s trying to convert me, I enjoy the challenge. I told him I’d review it if he sent me it and he did.

Enough backstory, let’s talk about the book.

I want to first talk about what I liked before I get into the parts I didn’t like or had questions about.

Firstly, I enjoyed that Dr. Oord seemingly strives very hard to be thorough and consistent with his beliefs, he isn’t afraid to affirm things classical theists would cringe at.

Throughout the book, you can tell Dr. Oord really cares about people and wants theology to be something comforting rather than something that is often used to condemn.

I can agree with him here, I don’t want to condemn someone with my theology, rather, let God do the condemning, since he is in the position to do so. What I mean by that is that as a Calvinist, I’m not going around screaming “You’re not elect if you don’t believe in Calvinism!” or whatever else you might find from the more rabid sides of theology web.

Dr. Oord is a very engaging writer and his book kept my attention, I read his whole book in one sitting.

Now I want to move on to some parts that had me scrath my head. I welcome Dr. Oord or even other Open Theists to comment to see where maybe I’ve gone wrong or maybe I’m misinterpreting.

On Page 17 Dr. Oord writes:

“God can’t prevent abuse, tragedy and evil”
“A Loving God simply cannot do some things. Preventing evil is one of them.”

I am confused by these statements. The first statement has me wondering what Open Theists do with the examples in the Bible where God does stop evil actions. For example, God comes to King Abimelech in a dream and says

“Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.” (Genesis 20:6 ESV)

The way the second sentence is worded makes me think that “loving” has something to do with whether God has exhaustive foreknowledge or not.

Dr. Oord argues that we can’t blame God for evil because God can’t stop evil. You don’t stop a bystander who couldn’t do anything about it, do you? However, it is hard for me to follow how God is a bystander to the actions of humans. Isn’t a parent responsible for the actions of their child until they become an adult themselves? Didn’t God create the person who did the evil action? Even if God doesn’t know the future, it would seem a bit naive to assume that God didn’t know the capabilities of his creation.

It’s fine to say God doesn’t deserve the blame, but I don’t think the reasoning presented in the book can escape that conclusion. Open Theism is still subject to the old epicurean objection.

Near the end of page 17 and into page 18 Dr. Oord makes an assumption that I cannot agree with. He talks about people who say “God allows evil actions” and says

“They think God permits the pointless pain he could single-handily prevent.”

“pointless pain” is an a priori assumption, one I don’t agree with. The Calvinist system for example, does not believe anything is pointless, everything has purpose.

He continues:

“I think God always cares, and genuine evil doesn’t make things better overall”

That’s a fine opinion, but can you substantiate that philosophically or biblically? Doesn’t God use evil to make things better? Like in Genesis 50:20 where Joseph is sold into slavery and becomes second to command to Pharaoh?

I imagine in your view you say that God sees the evil and then works with the freedom of creatures to bring good out of evil. Yet, say an evil act occurs, like torture for a week. God knows about it by day one. Why doesn’t he stop it then? Doesn’t he love the person being tortured?

I don’t see how this is any better than just saying “free will” to the epicurean objection.

When the sinless Son of God was crucified, The book of Acts tells us

“for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

(Acts 4:27-28 ESV)

Dr. Oord and other Open Theists,

Was not the crucifixion of Jesus one of if not the most evil acts of all time?

Was not the resurrection and atonement one of the greatest acts of all time?

Did God plan the Crucifixion? Was does “plan” mean in Acts 4 and when did God make this plan? My bet is on “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4-5)

There are other questions I had about the book like when he talks about God and healing but in the interest of not writing a long wall of text or asking questions that don’t maintain one topic I will leave it there. Overall, I recommend Dr. Oord’s book to anyone, because it is a good defense of Open Theism, it’s thought provoking and it’s an honest attempt to get you to consider your beliefs.

(Dr. Oord says he likes the Shack(pg.37), I gave the Shack one star on Goodreads. That’s unrelated but I thought I should let everyone know.)

Open Theism: The Consistent Arminianism

The only consistent Arminian is an Open Theist” – Dr. James White[1]

While the quote above may sound like just a bit of Calvinist rhetoric, there is actually a lot of truth to that statement. Now, anyone can say X belief leads to Y belief, but I think there is a convincing case that the Arminian wants to have his cake and eat it too in his objections to Calvinism. My first observation is that they tend to be objections to Christianity in general. When they employ these types of objections, it’s like they forget that they believe that God is omniscient. A few examples should suffice.

An Arminian addressing Revelation 2:21 states:

Question: If, according to Calvinism, everything is predetermined, including every thought, word and deed, and their accompanying wants, desires and motivations, without which, God could not infallibly foreknow the future, then what does it mean that God “gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent”?  
Answer:  To the Calvinist, since we know that God causes whatsoever comes to pass, why do we even ask these questions? The reason, of course, is that not everyone accepts Calvinism as true, and hence, the questions matter, because they refute the underlying presumption of Calvinism, in that it is not an accurate portrayal of God. The idea that God has given time to repent” is made void if God determines all of their thoughts. Moreover, saying that she “does not want to repent” is similarly made void if God determines all wants, desires and motivations. If literally everything occurs as a result of a divine decree (which Calvinists cite as a comforting factor, in order to know that the world is not spinning off course, but is proceeding exactly according to divine design), then divine permission and human responsibility are nullified. [2]

Calvinism and Counterfactuals 

There are several problems with this objection. First, the Arminian is presumably assuming Calvinists don’t believe in free will when they say that God determines all “wants, desires and motivations.” Well, what do you mean by that? God doesn’t have to determine the truth value of the actual and counterfactual acts of creaturely freedom, the truth values are not outside of God’s control, but he doesn’t need to determine them, that’s nonsensical. When you start doing that, you run into several errant ideas.

For example, is the proposition “God exists” only true because God decrees that it is? This is merely the same old puppet misrepresentation in a strange directionless manner, like attacking the idea that we find comfort in it. So what?

I know it may shock some Arminians, but Calvinists believe in free will. Some strains believe in a more libertarian free will (Covenanters) while others like myself prefer Compatibilism. The second major problem is what the Arminian is proposing is an objection to his own system! Why is God giving time for people to repent whom he knows the eternal outcome beforehand?

If a human did such a thing it would be viewed as absurd. For example, If I invite someone out to dinner and they tell me they aren’t coming and there is zero possibility of them coming, why would I wait there longer in the hopes that they would? That makes me waste my time and at the mercy of them.

This objection only works for the Open Theist, for if God doesn’t know future tense statements because the future is unknowable, then it would make sense that God gives them more time to repent because he doesn’t know the outcome.

The Atonement 

If Jesus died for every single person in the hopes that none perish (2 Peter 3:9) he has wasted his blood. His death accomplishes the salvation of a few because he chooses to let many go to hell of their own free will. A sad theology that would be indeed.

However, if God wants none to perish, he surely isn’t getting what he wants. If we start getting into penal substitution (which some Arminians affirm) we have God punishing Christ and Person X for the same sin. However, the Calvinist view seems more faithful to the biblical text and holds more explanatory power and we don’t have an eternally frustrated God.

In Open Theism, however, it would make sense to say that Jesus dies for everyone because he doesn’t know the future, so he doesn’t know how many will come to him, which is a reason why he could say He’s giving them more time.

The Problem of Evil

Dr. James White states

If God’s decree does not include the evil of mankind, that evil has no purpose, and Hunt is left directing us to a God who creates the possibility of evil, starts this universe off on its course, and then tries His best to ‘fix things’ as they fall apart in a torrent of wickedness. This is supposed to comfort us? This is the God who says that He works all things after the counsel of His will? Hardly!”[3] (bold mine)

Dave Hunt responds 


 “White contends that if God doesn’t decree evil, ‘evil has no purpose.’ Evil must have a purpose?” [4] (bold mine)

The late Dave Hunt was very Arminian in his thinking, this line of reasoning astonishes me. How could you read the Bible and not see that evil always had a purpose in the scriptural events? The most obvious example is that Christ’s death on the cross was ordained by God (Acts 4:27-28) for the purpose of the salvation of his people (Matthew 1:21). How about Joseph being sold into slavery (Genesis 50:20), did not God use the evil circumstance for his own plan? These things do not blindside God.

That’s exactly how it would seem with this type of objection, however. You’re telling me that God foreknows every evil act but most of them are meaningless? The Atheist would then have a legitimate point against the Arminian idea of God i.e. the divine incompetence objection. If God knows evil acts will occur but won’t do anything about it has no purpose for it and it thwarts his desires, Is this the God that works everything in conformity to his will? (Ephesians 1:11)

Once again, this objection only works in the Open Theist system, where God doesn’t know what every evil action will be and though He can use them for his glory, He has no ultimate plan for every action because he doesn’t know all of them.

Conclusion

Time and time again, Arminians will use objections against Calvinism that also should be objections to their own system, instead, they use the same arguments the Open Theists use, but unlike the Arminians, the Open Theists are being consistent with what they believe. Since many of their arguments only logically work within a system in which God doesn’t know the future, it is accurate to say that if they wanted to be consistent, they’d become Open Theists.

[1] Open Theism and the Goodness of God (Youtube Video by Dr. White)
[2] ExaminingCalvinism.com on Revelation 2:21
[3]Debating Calvinism, p.319-320
[4] ibid. p. 327

How Reading The Bible Literally Destroys Christianity

Isn’t it crazy that some people think the Bible is like, important in Christianity? It’s just some letters written by patriarchal men who sought to dominate women.

Why don’t we just pray to God? Like, The Bible doesn’t tell me how to pray to God my mother, I mean like Jesus calls him Father. (Matthew 6:9-13)

That’s just the beginning.

Jesus says he is a door (John 10:7) How many Jesus’ are there? I see doors everyday, which one is he?

In the Song of Solomon 1:15, A man objectifies a woman and tells her her eyes look like doves. How absurd is that? Why on earth would he say that she has birds for eyes? This is clearly a reference to the old slang “bird brain” and he is displaying his misogyny by thinking women aren’t smarter than men.

In Isaiah 64:8, It compares us to pottery. We are clay? Really? Like go to the doctor and tell him you’re clay and watch him laugh you out of the office. Plus, clay is sticky and yucky, obviously we are not made of clay.

In Deuteronomy 32:4, he says he is the Rock! So, does this mean he’s like one of those rocks on the ground or is he Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? The Bible is like, so confusing.

In Matthew 5:13, it calls us the salt of the earth. Okay, first off, while I may be salty and I love my sodium, I’m clearly not made of salt. Like, the salt of the earth is the kind you buy at the store right?

Then there is like people who take this guy Ussher and accept his chronology and are like Neo-Ussherians. They think like the Earth is younger than trees and they don’t believe in climate change. In the words of the famous philosopher and possible next president Paris Hilton,

 

The only verse they don’t seem to take serious is Matthew 7:1 where Jesus says not to judge people. That’s the verse I choose to follow and before you ask, yes, I can pick and choose what I believe in the Bible because MEN wrote it.

Then like the Bible talks about the flood but I mean, Zeus did the flood first and his flood was local.

When the Bible condemns cannibalism as a curse this is actually a good thing, because the motivation was that we shouldn’t culturally appropriate from other cultures that eat their dead and such. The Bible was clearly progressive in it’s time.

Jesus calls himself the bread of life, but my question is will the little crackers they give out in church be gluten-free? Because how can you have life with gluten? Gluten gives you thunder thighs.

Lastly, I mean, who even reads books anymore? That’s so 20th century. Anything longer than a tweet is too long. This post being the exception of course, because I wrote it.

As you can see, reading the Bible literally destroys Christianity.

Oopsies In The Hands Of A Loving Daddy

July 8, 1741, Enfield, Connecticut. Jonathan Edwards, a philosophical theologian entered into the pulpit to preach his sermon, which became the most famous sermon in American history. To this day, even secular schools inform students about its historical impact. While Edwards was preaching, he was constantly interrupted by several people moaning and crying and some even fainted. Edwards rightly taught people about a God who wasn’t just loving, but a God who is angry with the wicked. (Psalm 7:11)

Fast forward to today, where our popular preachers are motivational speakers with lots of money. I cannot watch them on TV without rolling my eyes or getting that sick feeling in my stomach when something is too artificially sweet. Because that’s what it is. They hold up the Bible that condemns them, tells people that God loves them but gives them no real gospel. They’re told that Jesus is the cherry on top of the ice cream of their life, instead of Jesus being everything because you’re nothing.

This may hurt our modern sensibilities, we like to pretend we aren’t as bad as that guy on the news or that evil man we learned about in history class. The problem is it is only the Spirit of God restraining you from such evil which enables you to make such a comparison. When you look at another sinner and compare yourself, you’re looking into the muddled water of narcissism. Like Narcissus himself, you fall in love with what you see and you drown yourself in your own ego. You’re comforted by your own merits. How fast you would change, however, if you compared yourself to someone exceptionally good. Very few would call themselves more peaceful than Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. However, both men didn’t compare to that of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was the only man to live a perfect life. Try comparing yourself to him and see how good you really are.

We need a revival, especially in America. America claims to have such a wide population of evangelical Christians, why then is our culture so wicked? Because anyone can call themselves Christian. The man who never goes to church and watches word-of-faith teachers on TV every once in a while making sure you know that the Bible tells us not to judge claims the same thing as someone who realizes that Jesus’ imputed righteousness is our only hope. That is a sharp contrast in religious disposition.

To have a proper understanding of the gospel necessitates us to have a proper understanding of man. You would think the writer of Ecclesiastes was a Nihilist the way he talks about the world around him. He screams “Vanity of Vanity, All is Vanity!” We think of vanity in terms of someone caring too much about their looks, but that is only the beginning of vanity. If you look up the definition of Vanity, the first part of the definition before appearance is “pride in oneself”. A biblical anthropology would have told you that. It is said that pride was the reason Satan himself fell. Like good children of his, we follow suit. (Proverbs 16:18)

“God is love! God is love! God is love!” you will hear people shout, while this is true, they idolize this and replace it with their own view of love. Not only is God more than love, the view of love many people hold would contradict what God says he is. God says he is jealous and angry, does that fit your definition of someone who is all-loving? It’s as if our culture is stuck questioning what love is, we scream with Haddaway “What is Love?” but instead of baby hurting us, we protect our feelings from harsh truths as if we were babies. If it doesn’t, I urge you to reconsider what love actually is in your view. An all-powerful being who loves isn’t your divine doormat to use to express your empty platitudes and virtue-signaling.



Ocasio-Cortez: The Trump of the Left

I have a great respect for Ocasio-Cortez (RESPEK WAHMEN), more than just the average respect you give to most humans. She manages to be a likable personality, despite holding very strong opinions. She gets both good and bad media attention constantly, which is why she reminds me of President Donald Trump.

Think of it this way. Ocasio-Cortez’s popularity soared almost out of nowhere, much like Trump’s surprising GOP candidacy. They both are unashamed of being themselves, not playing by the conventional rules of decorum in politics. She’s just as ready to call someone out on Twitter as Trump.

Because of this, I can see Ocasio-Cortez’s appeal. Because despite disagreeing with the majority of what she says, I can’t help but respect her for what she is doing.

She is changing the political game, much like Trump did. She is taking the Left in a more progressive direction, calling for them to leave their moderate concessions to the GOP behind.

This is a good thing in my eyes, despite identifying as right-wing myself. I want the Left to act like they’re really left on the political scale. This is not to say I don’t want both left-wing and right-wing politicians to work together, but I want them to be honest about where they really are. If we are honest with each other, we will go further in dialogue.

Ocasio-Cortez danced once on video, Trump ate KFC chicken with a fork and Obama reached over the Chipotle glass, media coverage over popular figures has always been sensationalist garbage, which is why the public loves it.

Ocasio-Cortez is the new Trump, prepare for years of memes, 10-second clips and a radical shift in both parties by their presence.

A Not So Cerebral Debate

I waited anxiously for Evan Minton of Cerebral Faith to debate Chris Hansen on whether or not morality is relative. I very much enjoyed the debate, however, not for the reasons you may be thinking. The Christian side was absolutely demolished in my opinion and I will tell you why. (You can check out the debate here)

In the beginning opening statements, Evan reads off a transcript, presumably his own blog, simply quoting the moral argument as phrased by William Lane Craig.

I wasn’t a fan of the reading approach, as the cameras were on and it makes it seem that you aren’t prepared, especially when the person who didn’t write anything down seemed more prepared more than you are.

Despite Evan insisting on a week preparation, he was remarkably unprepared for Chris’ arguments. It seemed from the beginning that Evan was arguing in the hopes that Chris held to any moral values as objective, but could not find it because of Chris’ adherence to moral error theory.

There are sophisticated objections to this theory, however, Evan presented none of these. He rarely even challenged the claims Chris was making, instead he brought out emotional examples like a woman being raped or a baby being put in a fire and then freak out when Chris said that right and wrong don’t actually exist.

Evan seemed dumbfounded that this theory even existed and constantly stumbled and went off incoherent rambles. He also interjected many times, where some the members of the live chat as well as the moderator asked Evan to let Chris talk.

A commentator named General Han Solo made a comment that I thought summarized the debate concisely. He said “Evan spends 20 minutes blowing up a balloon, Chris spends 30 seconds popping it.”

It really was like that. Evan seemed to ramble on forever, just to get shut down by Chris’ objections or Chris for the hundredth time telling Evan that he wasn’t getting it. Because Evan really was unprepared for Chris’ position.

Both of Chris’ main objections to the divine command theory Evan was proposing were not sufficiently answered. Honestly, I think Evan came in with a script and when Chris didn’t follow that script of objections, Evan was astonished.

He also managed to recommend his website and books more than five times throughout the debate. As well as recommending his well-read opponent an introductory book on God and Morality.

Overall, Evan’s rehearsed introduction, flagrant self-promotion, incoherent rambling and lack of debate decorum contributed to his loss to Chris in this debate.

Chris on the other hand came off as well-read, he kept a cool demeanor and was polite despite Evan’s behavior during the debate and successfully rebutted every single one of Evan’s arguments.

It seems Evan hasn’t read Craig on moral error theory, so he wasn’t ready to parrot his points.

Chris is an honest skeptic and a genuinely thought-provoking person. I whole heartily recommend his website, he deserves more views than he is currently getting.

Sinners In The Hands Of A Loving God: Book Review

“Sinners in The Hands of a Loving God” the provocative re-writing of the title of Jonathan Edwards famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Blog” is a book written by Brian Zahnd. I saw this particular book at my local library, the title caught my attention and after the initial eye roll, I checked it out.

The first thing I noticed was the Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey reviewed the book favorly. Sarah Bessey being the author of the book “Jesus Feminist” and Rachel Held Evans being someone I responded to already when she said that Calvinism made her cry. So, it was no surprise that her review and praise would be featured in a seemingly anti-calvinist book.

The next thing you will find is that the foreword was written by Wm. Paul Young, who wrote the Shack and Lies we Believe about God, in which he admits to being a universalist. These associations mentioned below do not make Zahnd automatically wrong, but I think I could reasonably assume how the book was going to go based on who likes his work. (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Young goes on to figure out the great question of why Edwards could paint such beautiful pictures of God such as in his work “Charity and its fruits” but portray a vindictive God in his sermon. Young went on to blame this sermon on Edwards personal issues, such as being ostracized by his own congregation (due to his insistence on fencing the Lord’s table) and his advocacy for the indigenous tribal people, specifically the native americans.

It’s a foreword, so I don’t expect Young to interact on a deeper level than what he did say, however, it seems a bit disingenuous to not acknowledge that there are plenty of christians who argue that God can be just and wrathful and loving at the same time, God isn’t limited to one attribute.

In the first paragraph, Zahnd recounts the time about his little arts and crafts project, where he used photocopies of Edwards sermon and made his own little booklet complete with highlights and all. That actually sounds pretty cool to me, I may copy his idea and do that myself someday. However, he ends the paragraph by referring to those as his “ANGRY GOD days” in comparison to his “Loving Father” days apparently. I suspected that I would encounter this false dichotomy often throughout this book.

On page 3 his made a statement that made me want to facepalm:
“If Edwards could scare people into repentance , maybe I could too. Evangelism by Terrorism. Conversion by coercion.”

This is not only a pitiful exaggeration but it misunderstands the sermon entirely. Edwards was not in the pulpit with a scary mask on trying to scare the unbelief out of people, he was merely telling people of the reality of what scripture teaches. HIs imagery was vivid and poetic, that is probably why it resonated in the mind more than your average matter-of-fact sermon. To compare poetic language that is simply restating truths of the Bible to “terrorism” is absurd, there is no comparison.  As far as coercion, the sermon is just words, Mr. Zahnd, no one was forcing anyone to anything. They willingly attended the service, they willingly heard the words and they willingly reacted the way they did.

Zahnd then insults the literary nature of Edwards writing by finding it strange that Edwards sermon is taught in schools as a good example of descriptive writing. Here’s the thing, even if you don’t agree with the method of preaching or the doctrine Edwards is defending, it would be far from reasonable to deny that his writing was anything short of descriptive.

Zahnd then quotes Edwards famous spider portion of the sermon, but doesn’t understand the disconnect when he makes snide remarks such as it making God into some “sadistic juvenile”. If Zahnd would have read Edwards observations on Spiders, he would realize that Edwards found their intricate webs as evidence of their design by God and that he thought they were a beautiful creation. This isn’t some “you’re like a bug, gross!” childhood insult, it actually has a double meaning. Today, we commonly have people who like and people who dislike. Spiders are commonly disliked but some people like them. What makes spiders worthy of dislike? Well, they scare people. So, as an analogy, you’re appeal that Edwards scared people into the kingdom would be equivalent to you calling him a spider. Edwards is using this same type of analogy when he compares us to spiders. Not that we scare God obviously, but that our sin is as repugnant to God as someone who hates spiders.

On Page 4, Zahnd questions whether God abhors sinners (Hey, Zahnd read Psalm 11, Proverbs 15, Romans 3, Romans 9, or Revelation 2 sometime) and scoffs at the idea of an eternal hell calling it “God’s torture chamber” and “the eternal auschwitz”. Besides being a disgusting comparison, the major difference is that we are all guilty before God (Romans 3:23) and the Jewish people were innocent against the depraved behavior of the concentration camps. You should probably apologize to people affected by the holocaust for comparing some mere words about Hell you disagree with to such a horrific event.

On Page 5, Zahnd refers to Edwards sermon as a “Horror-genre sermon” which I find funny but also kind of agree with because the reality of Hell is horrific but also because horror is my favorite genre, so it makes sense why I like it. (besides the fact that it is merely teaching biblical truth.)

Zahnd shows a misunderstanding when it views sermons like the one Edwards famously preached as a way to “scare someone into the altar call” perhaps not realizing that Charles Finney popularized the altar call and that Edwards would have been against such emotional manipulation. (Even though I’m sure you will accuse him of it for writing the sermon.)

Zahnd consistently repeats the false dichotomy that a God who desires to show his just wrath can’t also be a loving God. This limiting concept is due to Zahnd’s apprently over antrhompizing the emotions of God as if they were filled with the faults that humans have with them. It reeks of greek mythology level of reasoning, where a God can only have one feature, “The goddess of wisdom” or “the god of war.” In page 18, he reviews some biblical passages that are very clear that God is wrathful or displaying wrath and chocks them up to metaphor. How convient that somethign thtat would contridct your entire premise for the book is a metaphor.

On page 34-35, Zahnd gives a nod to his master, Marcion, in disparaging the old testament and seeking to run away from any idea that God had commanded the slaying of the cannaites and used the example of Jesus not reading the vengeful part of Isaiah’s text, the implication he gives is that Jesus was different and that God’s intention wasn’t vengence.

Veenence is mine saith the Lord

Vegenence is wrong, saith the Zahnd”

Zahnd tries to deny that he is anything like Marcion on page 60, but he ends his defense of himself by admitting that “I don’t regard the old testament as the perfect revelation of God” though earlier he says he believes its the word of God, I wonder how its the word of God and also not a perfect revelation from God? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Chapter 4 in his work can be summed up as “hey this thing happened in the Old Testament” “But man, God is love!”

Pg. 101 Zahnd attempts to critque Calvin’s view of the cross, but he ends up Roger Olsoning it and just calling God a moral monster for pouring out his wrath on Jesus in our place. (Because that totally didn’t happen, right?) He says “Punishing the innocent in order to forgive the guilty is montrous logic” Well, Jesus is innocent, we are guilty, what exactly happened on the cross, Zahnd? What was in that cup that Jesus prayed that he wouldn’t have to drink?

On Page 145, Zahnd denies that those who reject Christ will go to hell, because his feelings or whatever.

In the final paragraph, on page 207, Zahnd attempts to use Edwards words against him. That every tree that does not bear fruit will be axed down. He tries to reverse it and say that the tree of Edwards preaching, a.k.a. The “poisionious tree of angry-God theology” is now gone from his life in favor of being in the hands of a loving God. He started with the false dichtomy and ended with it, I congrulate him on his consistency to this fallacious premise.

In reality, God is love, God desires to show his wrath and God is not a moral monster. I will not pretend that there are easy answers to these questions, but what Zahnd presents is emotion over fact, false dichotomies and snide jabs at people who actually believe things in the Old testament aren’t just all metaphors when it contradicts “muh love” theology.

Constructive critcism is supposed to say something nice about something too. So, Zahnd, the cover was nice.

Picking On The Wrong Flower: BTWN’s Hit Piece on Leighton

The Bible Thumping Wingnut released an article, a hit piece rather, on Dr. Leighton Flowers a few days ago. So like I did with William Lane Craig, I must defend someone who I don’t agree with soteriologically.

However, when articles like this come from my fellow Monergists, I can’t help but be embarrassed by proxy. They claim that Dr. Flowers says “God is not eternally sovereign” notice that this is an entirely different claim than saying his theological system doesn’t account for sovereignty. Rather, they’re making a claim that Leighton believes X, when he doesn’t. This is blatant misrepresentation.

The frightening thing about Leighton Flowers is the fact that he knows what he is doing. He knows what the Bible says about these doctrines but refuses to believe those verses because he actually does have his own idea of God.

What is actually frightening is the amount of bias rhetoric against Dr. Flowers put forward by BTWN. While you sit in your armchair, claiming to know the thoughts and intentions of this man, I think the fair reader will notice this is nothing more than “give me points cause I defended our team!”

Just because I’m not an Arminian doesn’t mean I accept any critique of Arminianism as valid, in fact, in my experience, many Calvinists wouldn’t be able to properly define Arminianism without one-liners. This is because Calvinism grew culturally at a very rapid rate and many who called themselves Calvinists were not convinced through rational means, but rather peer-pressure or wanting to be like the cool kids with the Calvin T-Shirts. (Not knocking it, I own a Calvin T-Shirt.)

The rise of Calvinism became largely a fad, though I’m thankful it came, because I was convinced by it. I’m also thankful in a way that many people are leaving Calvinism, I’d much rather have an honest Arminian than a Calvinist who is a Calvinist in name only.

BTWN, you claim Leighton bashes Calvinism to an obsessive level, I tend to agree, Leighton talks about Calvinism an awful lot. However, you’re far worse when you post hit pieces on him.

My defense of Dr. Flowers is not me saying I agree with him or that I think every critique of Calvinism he has is valid, it’s merely defending him from false accusations from my side of the table that we’re all sitting at.

They want so badly to label dissenters heretics, it just doesn’t work like that. Dr. Flowers debated James White, they’ve done podcasts about each other, yet have you seen White call Flowers “a heretic” or “not a Christian?” no in fact, he said on his dividing line podcast, he believes Leighton is a Christian.

If you won’t hear it from me, hear it from an elder in the Faith, who’s been doing the Calvinism thing a lot longer than all of us.

Why People Laugh At Neo-Ussherians

Young-Earth Creationism (Neo-Ussherianism) is embarrassing.” – Dr. William Lane Craig

Neo-Ussherianism gets its name from James Ussher, Archbishop of the Church of Armagh. Many who hold to his ideas do not even know who he is, but that is a common thing in theology. I wasn’t aware of who John Calvin was until after I had already accepted many Calvinist ideas. Many Arminians today are convinced they aren’t Arminian because they differ in one area or a few. To continue this trend, if you call someone a Neo-Ussherian, they will probably ask what you mean. For all intents and purpose, Neo-Ussherian can be rightly applied to any Young-Earth Creationist, even if they disagree with a few minor points in Ussher’s chronology or theology.

Ussher popularized the idea of counting back the genealogies to see how old the Earth was. Using this method, he gives us an exact date of the beginning of the world. That date is October 23rd, 4004 B.C.

But here is the most interesting part, Ussher did not think the Bible outright taught the age of the Earth, but merely hinted at it through the genealogies. Ussher used contemporary scientific, chronological, historical and biblical scholarship to arrive at his conclusion. In his day, this was considered a serious piece of scholarship and despite disagreeing with it (hindsight is 20-20) it remains the best defense of the Young-Earth Creationist position as far as totality of argument goes.

That being said, Neo-Ussherians today reject this type of inquiry, for it would lead them away from thinking the world was 6,000 years old. The commitment to this view has become dogma, so much so, that many will say you aren’t Christian if you don’t accept it.

This makes conversation between Christians on this issue rather difficult, because your faith is invalidated because you don’t accept Ussher’s chronology.

Grand Canyon In 5 Minutes

Back in the day, there was a popular Neo-Ussherian Youtuber by the name of VenomFangX. He most notably made the claim in defense of a world wide flood that the grand canyon could have been formed in five minutes. Thankfully, I haven’t heard this claimed by anyone for years, but it’s still worthy to address.

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long. To travel that distance in five minutes, you’d have to be traveling 5 times the speed of sound.

The Grand Canyon has had a few theories on how it came to form. None of the three major theories support a Young-Earth creation account. At best, the Grand Canyon took six million years to form where it is today. Though currently, It may be older than we thought, as a study has claimed that it could be 17 million years old.

The Search For Water On Other Planets Is Futile

This was another claim made by VenomFangX in particular, but other Neo-Ussherians have used it as well. That is, until  an express probe took pictures of water on Mars. Surely, since people believe the earth is flat and that the moon landing was fake, I’m sure some think the water on Mars is just another myth from Hollywood to discount the Bible.

The popular Neo-Ussherian website “Answers in Genesis” has an article where they talk about ice ages. You may wonder, when did the ice age occur if the Earth is only 6,000 years old? Well, AiG has the answer for you.

AiG tries to squeeze the ice age into the Bible but fails. The Pleistocene Epoch’s events and organisms prevents a real challenge to fit into a YEC timeline, without some special pleading or God of the gaps level of argumentation.

Summarizing AiG’s paper on this topic, the following timeline is their proposal.

  • 2350 B.C.—Noah’s flood
  • 2350 to 2250 B.C.—Antarctica becomes covered by forests, then gets covered by its ice cap.
  • 2250 to 2000 B.C.—Ice age on the rest of Earth.
  • approx. 2300 B.C.—First mastadons.
  • 2250 B.C.—First human tools in archeological record. Tower of Babel.
  • approx 2200 B.C.—First woolly mammoths.
  • approx 2200 to 2100 B.C.—Age of the Neanderthals.
  • approx 2150 B.C.—Humans migrate into Australia.
  • approx 2100 B.C.—Humans migrate into North America.
  • 2000 B.C.—End of the Ice age. Abram born.

You can read an in-depth analysis of this timeline here.

There are several problems with this timeline.

Their hypothesis does not account for the rapid melting of the ice caps, it also doesn’t account for several things. I will paraphrase some of the research done by Kelvin Nelstead. You can read his critique of the timeline here.

Ancient Soils– In the Pleistocene there are instances where there are multiple, stacked paleosols. Some exposures of the wind-borne Palouse deposits have as many as 19 soils on top of each other, this implies alternating periods of silt accumulation and development, this would take time. The horizons include animal burrows and root casts, which also indicate to us that it was a long time.

HyperEvolution–  According to the Neo-Ussherians, there was a  rapid diversification of life after the flood. There may have even been a few thousand kinds on Noah’s Ark, but these evolved into the tens of thousands of species that were on Earth during the period. They even give an example of diversification of the “elephant kind” into elephants, mastodons, and woolly mammoths. Just how long would that have taken? This all happened between 2350 and 2200 B.C? Such an evolutionary explosion that  would make a punctuated equilibrium advocate blush. This is especially true for mastodons, who have a very different tooth structure from elephants. The Young-Earth Creationist unknowingly argues for a level of Evolution that doesn’t seem to be physically possible.

Pre-Historic Humans– The Neo-Ussherians pack in all of human prehistory such as the Neanderthals, into the time from the flood (2350 B.C according to their time chart) to Abraham (2000 B.C.). If you look at the poster I linked, Neanderthals were around for roughly 100 years according to them.  The Neo-Ussherians in this case would have to  completely ignore archeological sites with multiple levels of habitation.

This is just a few examples of Neo-Ussherians making wild and inaccurate claims, which is a reason why people laugh at them.

Presuppositionalism Over Science

Presuppositionalism becomes a blinder to new scientific discovery when used improperly. An example of this is Dr. Jason Lisle, who wrote a book titled “Taking Back Astronomy.”

It is no wonder that Neo-Ussherians look up to him, he has some hefty credentials. He recieved his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado Boulder. He earned his undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University summa cum laude with a double-major in physics and astronomy and a minor in mathematics. His postgraduate research was on solar dynamics, utilizing NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) to monitor the surface of the sun. His dissertation “Probing the Dynamics of Solar Supergranulation and its Interaction with Magnetism” is available from the University of Colorado and he has also published numerous papers in legitimate scientific journals concerning convection cells in the sun.

With such an impressive resume, you’d expect nothing but the best. Dr. Lisle is an amazing scientist, however, I think he lets presuppositionalism get in the way of his scientific thinking. I will show you what I mean.

Dr. Lisle argues that we shouldn’t change what scripture says in light of new scientific evidence (pg.37) because in reality, that evidence would not be actual evidence, because the Bible is true.

Ironically, Dr. Lisle says that the majority of Geology and astronomy textbooks are guilty of circular reasoning because they don’t have a standard. (pg. 41) He even goes on to say “Many scientists believe the world is old because they believe most other scientists think the world is old.” This is remarkably simplistic and a silly line of argumentation.

Maybe if you said that most laymen simply believe the earth is old because they went to COSI once, I’d believe you. But to say that scientists are just going with the flow of the other scientists seems unlikely. Dr. Lisle has peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals, he should know that scientists don’t just try to prove things they also try to debunk them. If the age of the earth was so easy to debunk, someone besides a fringe group of scientists would have done it.

Here’s the thing, let’s say the Earth is 6,000 years old. Why would scientists hide it or not believe it? Just because the Earth is young doesn’t necessarily mean Christianity is true. If there was evidence of a young-earth, any respectable scientist would accept it as true. I think Neo-Ussherians honestly assume that secular scientists either are dishonest people or are blinded to the truth.

But this results in unproveable claims and conspiracy theories, rather than rigorous scientific research.

Dr. Lisle also says that “the big bang is secular speculation….an alternative to the Bible”

This is nonsense. The Big bang isn’t speculation, it’s a theory. Lisle paints it as if it’s just a hypothesis. Some atheists may use the Big Bang as an excuse to not believe the Bible, but the Big Bang isn’t a competitor to the Bible, the Big Bang is a competitor to Neo-Ussherianism, the longer you conflate the two, the more trouble you get yourself in.

The most astonishing claim and why I can understand why some would laugh at even an otherwise respectable scientist like Dr. Lisle is when he says “According to the Big Bang, the universe is nearly 14 billion years old…The Bible indicates the universe is about 6,000 years old. For those who claim to believe the Bible, this difference alone should be sufficient reason to reject the Big Bang.” (pg.43)

This is not scientific nor was this conclusion derived from the scientific method, this is just presuppositionalism. Dr. Lisle again begs the question (Bible = Neo-Ussherianism) and assumes his conclusion to defeat the imaginary opponent.

Even intelligent well-reasoned scientists can be laughed at when they do flops like this.

Conclusion

Why do people laugh at Neo-Ussherians? Scientists laugh at them because their claims are not scientific. Atheists laugh at them because they make Christianity seem dumb. Philosophers laugh at them because they establish a dogma and then interpret everything in the lens of that dogma. Christians laugh at them because they equate their tradition with scripture.

All things being said, Neo-Ussherians are our brothers and sisters in Christ, this is a sibling rivalry, not a contest of who’s going to heaven.

Piety Is Not Enough

Piety has become a substitute for actual effort and thought. Why answer a doubting person when you could make them feel bad about their doubts instead? Piety is the coat that distinguishes you, so you can get the greetings in the marketplace of ideas.

Pretend Piety has made us lazy. I will give you my experience to show you. I was scrolling through a Facebook Group, in this group, a person expressed doubt about a certain event in the Bible. They asked what evidence outside of the Bible do we have for this event?

So, remember the question is, “What evidence do we have for X OUTSIDE of the Bible?”

The majority of the answers followed suit with this top comment “If you don’t accept the Bible, no evidence will convince you.”

This answer is astonishingly misguided. It begs the question, it’s circular and it scowls at the doubter from a high horse. When someone asks for evidence outside the Bible, you can’t then point them to the Bible. By doing so, you’re ignoring the question, which will give the doubter the impression there isn’t any outside evidence for biblical claims.

That wasn’t the only problem, but rampant fideism has become a problem for those comfortable to believe supernatural claims without thinking about them.

It shouldn’t be controversial to say, I believe the Bible because of the evidence, not just having faith. Faith is important, yes, but the Bible condemns blind faith. (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Which is what fideism is, faith without any evidence, excessive faith in faith, ironically.

Irrespective of your perspective on God’s decrees and predestination, what we do know is that Atheists often cite the inability of Christians to answer questions to a doubter as a big reason they rejected the faith. Which makes sense.

If you’re so confident in your theology to pronounce your pious statements, you should be comfortable enough to answer a question that challenges your assumptions.

Some aren’t fideists necessarily, some instead ask inane questions. Like “What in the Bible would make you think X didn’t occur?” That would be the equivalent of saying “What part of Greek Mythology made you question the existence of Pandora and her box?” When someone is asking for something outside the Bible, this isn’t the time to bash them over the head with one. This is the opportunity to counter the cultural narrative that the Bible has no supporting evidence. In any other topic, you’d have to provide supporting evidence for your thesis, your syllogism usually has two premises. But no, when it comes to pretend piety, start at the conclusion, assume the conclusion and attack the person’s character for being a doubter.

Your pretend piety is no excuse for being a lazy thinker. Fake piety reeks of the stench of the pharisee praying on a mountain. These pretend pious, accumulating lots of Facebook likes from the echos in the chamber, do a disservice to Christian apologetics when they essentially pray “Thank God, I’m not as one of these doubters, who ask for evidence. I believe without evidence. I’m faithful!”

Answer questions, take doubt seriously, get off your high horse