Bethrick Responds (Part 3 of 3)
Bethrick then quotes me as saying:
The apostle Paul, who himself had an extremely high view of God’s control over all things, frequently condemns certain types of practices, despite knowing that God brought the event about.
Well here we have it laid out explicitly: the believer condemns parts of “God’s plan.” By doing so, the believer indicates that he would plan differently if he were calling all the shots, and thus implies that he knows better than his god does. This might explain why the believer would experience moral outrage at something like the Virginia Tech massacre, but it requires that the believer presume himself a higher authority over his god. This of course is not a problem for non-believers, because they aren’t under the delusion that there is an invisible magic being calling all the shots in the first place.
After I critique his reference to Mt. 16:24, Bethrick replies:
This is amazing! Even when I cite what the bible teaches, I am accused of going by what I think rather than what the bible teaches. This is as humorous as it is incredible.
What is truly amazing is that Bethrick seems to assume that simply pulling two words from a verse (“deny yourself”) is the same as providing an interpretation of what the text means in its context. You cannot simply quote a verse apart from speaking about it actually means, words have meanings only in context, and context is exactly what Bethrick’s proof-texting lacks (notice, I’m not against proof-texting as a type of theological shorthand-we can’t always provided exegesis for every statement we make-but instead I oppose acontextual proof-texting, the kind Bethrick repeatedly engages in).
Then we hear that familiar objection to a high view of God’s sovereignty:
What could be more fatalistic than the belief that whatever happens in the world was predestined to happen from all eternity?
I need not respond to this, only because to do so would, again, be to revinvent the wheel. In philosophical terms, Bethrick only sees two types of possible relationships between man’s freedom and God’s control. The first is known as libertarianism, in which our actions are completely free from God’s control, and determinism, in which God controls our choices irrespective of our desires, and all things are reduced to our genetics, upbringing, and environment. I, like all presuppositionalists reject both options in favor of what’s called compatibilism. In a nutshell, this model teaches that God’s complete control of reality is compatible with the notion of meaningful human freedom (and I apologize for not completely explaining what this term means. The current discussion has caused me to use terms that I haven’t gotten around to defining. So, in essence this series is an immersion-course in applied apologetics). For more on compatibilism check here, and for more on determinism and freedom click here.
Lastly, Bethrick comments:
The common habit of dismissing an objection on the unargued grounds that it “betrays a [sic] ignorance of scripture” or stems from an out-of-context reading, indicates an anxious readiness to resort to the cheapest of defense tactics. The goal here is not to enlighten and explain the texts that have allegedly been taken out of context, but to settle the matter in the mind so that he does not continue to fidget in persisting doubts.
Now, Bethrick wants to say that my comments about his original post betraying an ignorance of Scripture was unwarranted. Likewise, he doesn’t like that I say he misquotes texts and takes them out of context. But the real point is, am I correct? It’s only a “cheap defense tactic” if it’s false. Please, when you have the time, read the verses he cites in their original contexts. If you have questions, please drop me a note. I encourage it. I have explained why the life of man is meaningful, and the overall narrative of scripture in my Kingdom of God series. Unless Bethrick assumes that I was going to rewrite everything I said just for him, I would draw his attention to the KG series. In the meantime, he continues to produce cut and paste scripture citations and when corrected cries foul. Now that this response is done, I fully intend to bring it to his attention.