couple of good ones

I have had a couple of windows open the last couple of days in order to post about them. one political and one theological. here we go.

first the political:

I believe it is crucial to understand that it doesn’t matter if the people engineering a collectivist state have sinister motives or not. In fact, the belief that their intentions make a difference is incredibly dangerous. It’s related to the catechism of the faculty-lounge Marxist, which holds that communism and fascism only failed because bad people were in charge of them.

It doesn’t matter if this is his sincere belief, spoken straight from the heart. His health-care plan was still an awful idea that united the country in opposition against the increasingly thuggish and arrogant methods he used to advance it. Those methods are integral to the collectivist enterprise. It will always become thuggish and arrogant, because when all virtue resides in the State, those who oppose the growth of the State become villains by definition. Consider the President’s assessment of his Republican opponents:

My hope was a year ago today when I was being sworn in that reversing that process was going to be easier partly because we were entering into a crisis situation and I thought that the urgency of the moment would allow us to join together and make common cause. That hasn’t happened. Some of it, frankly, is I think a strategic decision that was made on the side of the opposition that… I think that some of it had to do with a sense that the best political strategy was to simply say no.

Here, in a nutshell, is the heads-we-win, tails-you-lose mentality that keeps the State plodding blindly forward, crushing a formerly vibrant economy beneath it. If you don’t answer Obama’s trillion-dollar health-care plan with your own trillion-dollar program, you’re an obstructionist – not an opponent to be debated, but an obstacle to be swept aside.

emphasis added.

next the theological:

We know that, as believers, we are chosen from before the foundation of the world. We also know that God loves the whole world and desires all men to be saved. We know that whosoever will may come and that if we don’t share Christ with people then there is no other way they can be saved. How all that fits together might really stretch our minds, but in trying to resolve the tension we must not neglect the things that have been clearly revealed (Deut 29:29).

In other words… It is clearly our responsibility to share the message of Christ and our failure has eternal consequences for people (Acts 20:28). Yet, God also wants me to know, and be blessed by the fact, that I have been loved from all eternity and that was not conditioned on any merit or action of my own.

How both truths fit together may be one of the “secret” things (Deut 29:29) that belongs to God. We can ponder and write books about it, but the “paradox” should never keep us from obeying what has been revealed. Our responsibility to choose Christ and to share Christ; our responsibility to is rejoice in the security that comes from knowing we are foreloved from all eternity. Failure to do either because we can’t resolve the tension would be sin.

emphasis added.

go read the rest of both of these. There is some good stuff out there on the interwebs.


accountability for rejecting Christ

here is John Piper’s illustration of the difference between moral inability and legal inability and why a person can be held accountable for rejecting Christ even though they can’t choose Christ on their own accord.

Give it a listen and see what you think of the argument.

HT to Reformation Theology

price of perpetual boyhood

Amy Holmes is wondering if there is a price for men to pay in their pursuit of perpetual adolescence. Inher post on The Corner she says about the death of DJ AM [Adam Goldstein]:

But consider: He died a 36-year-old millionaire with luxury homes on both coasts. No wife. No children. The quintessential boy-man. He lived in the perpetual late-night swim of celebrity culture. The Philadelphia native successfully engineered his life to bankroll his high-flying courtships of rich, aimless celebutantes. He was written up endlessly for his cleverness in doing so, including in that high tabloid of celebrity culture, Vanity Fair. And it appears he may have ended his life last week by choice.

Is it a stretch to say that these pursuits of modern boy-manhood failed him? That male adulthood without responsibility in the traditional sense is disorienting, anchorless, and potentially fatal?

Much ink has been spilled on the damage done to the women who are embraced and then rejected by these perpetual adolescents. But what about the perpetual adolescents themselves? Does the embrace of modern boy-manhood wither, mislead, and ultimately destroy them too?

Seems to me like Amy is on to something. What do you think?

Shared via AddThis

the Shack part I

I am reading the Shack. It took all the way to page 165 (out of 246) before I got completely angry. Up to that time I was reading at a relatively low grade frustration level. The prose was juvenile. the story was wooden. The theology was wrong. The emphasis was on Mack instead of God. All frustrating things.

But on page 165 Mr. Young finally made me mad. Here is what appears there, beginning at the bottom of 164 for some context:

“For love. He chose the way of the cross where mercy triumphs over justice because of love. Would you instead prefer he’d chosen justice for everyone? Do you want justice, ‘Dear Judge’?” and she smiled as she said it.

“No, I don’t,” he said as he lowered his head. “Not for me, and not for my children.”

She waited.

“But I still don’t understand why Missy had to die.”

“She didn’t have to, Mackenzie. This was no plan of Papa’s. Papa has never needed evil to accomplish his good purposes. It is you humans who have embraced evil and Papa has responded with goodness. What happened to Missy was the work of evil and no one in your world is immune from it.”

emphasis added.

The “She” above is Sophia, who is the distillation of God’s wisdom like Solomon portrayed in Proverbs.

Now just think one brief minute about what we know about God from the scripture. Revelation 13:8 says that there is a book written before the foundation of the world that is known as the book of the slain Lamb. It seems fairly obvious to me that God “needed” “planned” for some evil to occur that would result in the propitiatory sacrifice of His Son for the reconciliation of the folks whose names were written in that book.

The idea that God didn’t plan for things we don’t like is deeply offensive.

The thing about it is that this statement that Mr. Young puts in the mouth of God’s distillation of wisdom undercuts the whole central message of the book up to that point.

The Godhead was up to then taking turns convincing Mack that he had no right to sit in judgement of God’s actions or others. The author then does exactly what he is writing a book to argue against. He sits in judgment of God and decides that God would never plan or need what the author and Mackenzie agree to be evil. how arrogant is that? how stupid? how blasphemous?

Don’t get me started.

For a contrast between this kind of theology and the Bible’s portrayal of God see this post of mine regarding two approaches to the bridge collapse in minneapolis minnesota.

W. Paul Young is trying to do the same thing that Roger Olson wants to do which is to help God get off the hook for bad things that happen in the world that we humans don’t like.


And God says, “Pray because sometimes I can intervene to stop innocent suffering when people pray; that’s one of my self-limitations. I don’t want to do it all myself; I want your involvement and partnership in making this a better world.”
It’s a different picture of God than most conservative Christians grew up with, but it’s the only one (so far as I can tell) that relieves God of responsibility for sin and evil and disaster and calamity.

emphasis added.

The Bible:

5 I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
7 I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.

emphasis added.

So the question is, do we take God at His word or not? Do we think it is our job to “relieve God of responsibility” for things that happen to us that we don’t like?


John MacArthur nails it with the opening sentence of this post (the second and third sentences are excellent as well) which is an excerpt from the book Ashamed of the Gospel.

No doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign. Human pride loathes the suggestion that God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything. The carnal mind, burning with enmity against God, abhors the biblical teaching that nothing comes to pass except according to His eternal decrees. Most of all, the flesh hates the notion that salvation is entirely God’s work. If God chose who would be saved, and if His choice was settled before the foundation of the world, then believers deserve no credit for their salvation.
Scripture affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. We must accept both sides of the truth, though we may not understand how they correspond to one another. People are responsible for what they do with the gospel—or with whatever light they have (Rom. 2:19, 20), so that punishment is just if they reject the light. And those who reject do so voluntarily. Jesus lamented, “You are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (John 5:40). He told unbelievers, “Unless you believe that I am [God], you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). In John chapter 6, our Lord combined both divine sovereignty and human responsibility when He said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (v. 37); “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life” (v. 40); “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (v. 44); “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (v. 47); and, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (v. 65). How both of those two realities can be true simultaneously cannot be understood by the human mind—only by God.

Above all, we must not conclude that God is unjust because He chooses to bestow grace on some but not to everyone. God is never to be measured by what seems fair to human judgment. Are we so foolish as to assume that we who are fallen, sinful creatures have a higher standard of what is right than an unfallen and infinitely, eternally holy God? What kind of pride is that? In Psalm 50:21 God says, “You thought that I was just like you.” But God is not like us, nor can He be held to human standards. “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8, 9).

We step out of bounds when we conclude that anything God does isn’t fair. In Romans 11:33 the apostle writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Rom. 11:33, 34).


I noticed in the sidebar at the Straight Up blog a three part series on God’s role in suffering by Gerald Hiestand. Here is part three which contains links to the first two parts. Go check it out.

I like these bits here especially well, but it is all good and very much worth a read:

And it is at this particular point that I find indeterminism wanting. As a theodicy, indeterminism generally attempts to lessen the tension between God’s goodness and human suffering by appealing to moral freedom. It is through the wrong choices of free moral agents, we are told, that suffering has been introduced into the world. Well and good—even determinists would agree so far. But then indeterminists often (not always) make a logic-leap and conclude that when faced with suffering, we should look not to God, but rather man, Satan, and the random effects of a fallen world as the ultimate source. The subtle and (often not so-subtle) implication of indeterminism is that God has no causal relation to our suffering. Now I affirm human freedom. And I affirm that much of the suffering we experience is the direct result of creation’s choice to live independently of God. But one cannot simply sprinkle the pixie dust “free will” over all suffering and magically resolve the tension between God’s goodness and human suffering.

At the end of the day, there’s no way around it. God, by very nature of his being, is the ultimate “buck stops here” person in the universe. Nothing can happen apart from his divine sovereignty. He could have prevented the planes from crashing into the towers. But he chose not to. From massive natural disasters, to the death of the smallest creatures, God’s eye beholds all; his hand oversees all. And nothing happens apart from his divine counsel. Not even open theism, with it denial of God’s exhaustive foreknowledge, gets God off the hook. Even the open theist has to admit that God knew the intentions of the terrorists—if not from the dawn of time—then at least on the morning of 9/11. And still he chose not to intervene. The fact remains that creaturely freedom, however immediately the cause of suffering, does not operate outside the exhaustive scope of God’s sovereignty. The story of Job is a classic example.


As far as theodicy is concerned, I prefer determinism’s willingness to call a spade a spade. It acknowledges up front that God is the ultimate first mover, the One who ordains all things. Nothing happens apart from his divine will. At the end of the day, peace in the midst of suffering comes through submission to the divine will. It comes through trusting that God has a good reason for why he ordains what he ordains in relation to my life. And perhaps even more significantly, it acknowledges that he has the right to do so. Any theodicy that attempts too vigorously to wipe the blood off of God’s hands robs us of the rest that comes from resting submissively in the wisdom of God’s divine care. Such theodicies are an emotional quick fix, but they can’t satisfy the hurting heart in the end. Like Job, we find our ultimate peace in bowing before the mighty hand of a sovereign God who, beholden to no one, has the right to purposefully ordain all things—even suffering—for our good and his glory. Determinism reminds us that God owes us nothing, and yet has given us everything.

that bit about trying to wipe the blood off of God’s hands reminded me of Roger Olson being scared of the “calvinist” (I think he means the Biblical) God. The way I read the Bible it says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. As a matter of fact, the Bible talks a lot about fearing the Lord. hmmmmmm.

different perspectives

from Vitamin Z, here is John Piper pointing out the difference in perspectives.