Bethrick Responds (Part 2 of 3)

In my original reply, I cited Acts 4 as an example in which the Scriptures connect both the concepts of God’s complete control over the world (i.e. his exhaustive sovereignty) with the seemingly paradoxical teaching that men are likewise held accountable for their sinful deeds and motives. I also drew a parallel between this Biblical event and the shootings at Virginia Tech, showing how on a Christian worldview we need not choose either saying “God’s controlling the whole thing, so humans commit no wrong acts,” and saying “Cho Seung Hui is solely responsible for it, and God had nothing to do with it.”

Bethrick’s response is to my comments is to draw a comparison between God’s control of history to a cartoonist’s control of a cartoon world:

It can only mean that we are all analogous to characters in one very long cosmic cartoon, some having bigger parts than others, but none in control of what’s going to happen next. The one in control is the cosmic cartoonist. The cosmic cartoonist conceived of a cosmic cartoon in which he would insert himself as one of its central characters. He then created other characters whose role was to fasten him to a cross. After they did this, he got angry at them and then drew them in the confines of a cosmic torture chamber. See, isn’t that a logical use of one’s creative powers?

Several things should be noted about this reply. Bethrick simply assumes, rather than argues for, exactly what people like myself, Greg Bahnsen and John Frame straightforwardly deny: That God’s sovereignty renders humans puppets on a string. This is a typical objection to a high view of God’s controlling of the world, and it’s been responded to again and again. Bethrick seems to have no desire to even acknowledge, let alone attempt to refute, the scores of responses to such an oversimplification and misrepresentation of the Bible’s stance on this issue. Once again, to repeat something said in part 1 of this response, if you’re going to address Presuppositionalism, then address the presuppositionalist’s view of divine sovereignty, not a strawman.

Man is not a mere puppet, he is a fallen creature created in God’s image ( I discussed this a bit in my original response and in the Kingdom of God series). His rebellion is a real, active rebellion. God does not work fresh evil in man’s heart, nor were any of those who fastened Christ to the cross innocent victims whose arms God twisted. No Christian believes this. To fairly represent those with whom he disagrees, Bethrick should not concoct or imply positions that nobody holds.

Second, if Bethrick is himself an atheist, the picture of reality that he proposes we adopt is truly silly. We are to believe that apart from the cartoonist, trees (that came about by undirected “happy” accidents) magically became paper (once again with no outside direction) and pencils also mysteriously formed out of primordial slop. Then this pencil began -through small micro-mutational adjustments-to pick itself up and draw a wonderfully harmonious world and likewise wrote and designed characters (without the help of a conscious mind directing it, now mind you) all with the same moral intuitions, capacities for logical reasoning and verbal communication. So, life came from non-life, logic from the irrational, morality from the amoral, and meaning from non-meaning.

Bethrick then raises this objection:

Just by citing Isaiah 10 as a counterexample, Jet is assuming that the entirety of the bible is wholly consistent with itself. But where does he establish this?

As I said earlier, I do assume the unity of scripture. And, according to Bethrick’s blog, it’s the apologetic method built upon this assumption that he’s aiming to respond to.

Then, this odd challenge is offered:

…the bible nowhere says that murder is “wrong.” I defy Jet or any other apologist to show where the bible says “murder is wrong.”

Excuse me? Did he just say that? I take it he doesn’t mean that the Bible doesn’t use the English words “murder is wrong” because frankly that’s a bit childish. The real question is, “does the Bible condemn murder?” (Especially when we recall the simple distinction between murder and killing the two are different). And the answer to that is a simple yes. Literally scores of texts condemn murder as sinful and in other cases explicitly singles it out as a crime worthy of eternal punishment. A glance at passages, in their proper contexts, such as Exodus 20:13 (!!!), Isa. 1:21, Jer. 7:9, Hosea 4:2, Matt. 15:19, Rom. 1:29, 1 Tim. 1:9, 1 John 3:15, see especially Rev. 21:8, and 22:15 will quickly tip off the readers that the Biblical authors are not presenting murder of innocents in a positive light. Click here, where I grouped all these passages together. To say that murder is among the reasons for God’s justice and that it is in fact sinful is stronger than saying merely that it’s “wrong.” I consult my readers to simply look at these passages themselves.

Of course, this is not the whole story on the matter. Perhaps the issue Bethrick intends to raise is the Old Testament passages in which God’s people kill others. So, this issue is more nuanced than I’ve presented in a few sentences, of course. In fact these issues have been discussed in books such as this one. But this ties in nicely with his next comment:

The other point is that, according to Christianity, no one is innocent. If the Christian wants to call Cho Seung-Hui’s victims “innocent,” he’s borrowing from a non-Christian worldview, for Christianity couldn’t be more explicit on this point (cf. Rom. 5:12).

Please, read Romans chapter 5, read the whole thing and ask yourself if anything that comes from the Apostle’s pen in that passage suggests or implies that we cannot condemn murder. In context, Paul is speaking about the entrance of sin into the world by Adam, and now no human being stands innocent before God’s standard of perfection. No one is innocent considering the “vertical” (man to God). This has nothing to do with our horizontal relationship (human to human). Like I said, read the passage for yourself. Also check up some study Bibles and a few commentaries, whether from Christians or non-Christians on this passage and see if a single commentator takes Bethrick’s position on this passage.

From a Christian worldview, contra the notion of borrowing from a “non-Christian” worldview (and what does that mean? Islam, Platonism, and Buddhism are all non-Christian and teach mutually exclusive philosophies of life. I take it that Bethrick means either atheism or naturalism) the notion of innocence makes sense because we ultimately have someone that we’re responsible to. So much more could be said on this topic, but i’ve said enough already.

Next we’ll close this response and perhaps adds a few closing thoughts…

Posted on April 29, 2007, in Applied Apologetics. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. (I don’t know if you’re going to talk more about this in a later post, or if you’ve talked about it elsewhere, but it seems to keep coming up with you and “Bethrick”)
    Bethrick, you claim, understands God’s sovereignty to mean that humans are like “puppets on a string”, and you mention that this isn’t correct. Can you shed any light on any option between a belief in Fate that will happen no matter what so nothing matters (like it seems Bethrick understands you), and a denial of God’s sovereignty (which sovereignty you want to affirm it seems)? Or are there some good books on this?

  2. The Bible never says murder is wrong. I just says not to do it. Why? Because man is made in the image of God? How is that make murder wrong? The Bible only forbids these actions. It never offers a clear reason for its wrongness.

  3. Howdy!

    WORDPRESS says that our two blogs (at least our most recent posts) are related, so I came by to check you out–I hope you enjoy my slant on the topic. Please stop by my blog and let me know what you think: Jesus + Compassion.

    God bless you!


  4. The Ballad of the Caveman Fundie – by Con-Tester

    A fundie born of parents young,
    soon baptised in a cave,
    as other fundies praised and sung
    of hopes beyond the grave.

    The leader of his cavish clan
    with stern and chiding air
    spoke reams on death and god’s great plan,
    on evils to beware.

    The risks of thought and doubt made plain,
    these warnings rudely prod:
    a burning hell of endless pain
    awaits the foes of god.

    Their future is a life of bliss,
    forever and a day!
    ’Twas paid for by a Judas kiss
    and he to whom they pray.

    “May part of us rise up to god
    upon the day we die!
    Our bodies buried in the sod
    will follow by and by!”

    But reason is god’s stoutest foe,
    the fundies all agree,
    while grunting in their caves of woe
    how privileged they be.

    And so they taught the young man tales
    as though the tales were real,
    of virtue vested in three nails
    that mankind’s ills would heal.

    Before the youngster had a chance
    to learn of reason pure,
    his teachers held him in a trance,
    a questing mind to cure.

    And crippled thus, with no defence,
    his fettered mind gave in:
    to query fables made no sense,
    a frightful, mortal sin!

    But every time the fables clash
    with sober facts stripped bare,
    the fundie caveman comes out brash
    to fight the ones who dare.

    With grunts and howls and swinging sticks,
    they raze a broken track
    through men of straw and tired tricks,
    at truth they vainly hack.

    And when the day’s brave fight is done,
    they draw back to their hide,
    and wait that Luna ousts the sun,
    to howl with baleful pride.

    The joke’s on them, themselves they bind,
    their efforts cannot quell
    the sharpness of a thinking mind
    they would condemn to hell.

  5. Interesting… I like what you have to say.

    To Tim’s comment… that’s pretty ridiculous man. So, in context, the Bible only condemns & forbids murder but doesn’t say it’s wrong? To think what parenting would be like if children didn’t understand something was wrong by their parents saying “Don’t do this” or “I forbid you to do this.” Read the Bible in context & take to mind the explicit & implicit.

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