• About TWIM


    The Warfare Is Mental (TWIM) reflects the mental warfare of an author, screenwriter, publisher and member of the Writer's Guild of America. Family, friends, health, humor, art, music, science, faith, fun and knowledge are some of the things that are important to me.



    TWIM is the first and only theist blog listed on the Atheist Blogroll, which currently contains over 1,000 blogs. It goes without saying that I don't endorse hardly any of the views of any of them. Contact Mojoey for more information.



    Ironically, TWIM won an award for "Best Atheist / Skeptic Site" from this site. Much obliged.



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    You and your commenters are a feast of thinking — great stuff.

    -C.L. Dyck
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I have no need to engage with racists, so will ignore cl’s further diatribes.

    -faithlessgod,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl resists following through on a thought even to provide a solid opposing position, and thus stifles many conversations. It’s a shame since it seems like cl has some brain power that could be applied to the topics at hand.

    -Hermes,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [faithlessgod and Hermes] fit my definition of trolling. I didn’t take any of those attacks against you seriously, and quickly categorized them as trolls.

    -JS Allen,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] is, as many have noticed, a master of this warfare. I’ve been following him for quite some time and he’s one of the most effective Christian trolls out there. No one can completely destroy a conversation as effectively as he does, and with such masterful grace and subtly that he rarely gets banned. This isn’t a blunt-force “U R Hitler!” troll, this is the Yoda of trolling.

    -Eneasz,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This seems to imply that cl is, at least in part, disingenuous in terms of how he responds/what he claims. Is this most likely true, supported by evidence, or merely a subjective claim?

    -al friedlander,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...I wanted to get a message to you outside of the context of specific discussions on CSA. You make good, insightful contributions to that site, and since I often agree with you I'm glad there is someone else there defending my positions better than I sometimes can. However I don't think anything of value would be lost if you stopped engaging in personal combat with juvenile snipers.

    -Zeb,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thank you for your wonderful response - so reasoned in the race of [Waldvogel's] blustering.

    -Annie Laurie Gaylor
     Freedom From Religion Foundation
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thanks for a great Op-Ed.

    -Marianne Ratcliff
     VC Star
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...as atheists we need to make sure that someone like cl and any Christian readers of [An Apostate's Chapel] don’t come away with the perception that the atheists caved in or were incapable of responding. I’m sure that a lot of Christians who find cl incomprehensible at times and don’t even bother reading him themselves will come away with an assumption that cl is that sort of rare intellectual theist who can prove that gods exist. And that’s how those inane rumors about the feared xian intellectuals start…

    -bbk
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are in so over your head here, you are embarrassing yourself...
    I am well versed in many aspects of evolution biology, through my academic background, and my professional life. Unless your academic degrees and background match mine, cease and desist. Return to philosophy and rhetoric, or whatever it is you perceive your strengths to be. They are definitely not science, even at the high school level.

    -R.C. Moore
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You're doing a fine job.

    -Prof. Larry Moran
     Dept. of Biochemistry
     University of Toronto
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Phyletic change and vicariance (or, drift and selection versus population isolation), as cl points out, are much better ways of describing what are unfortunately more commonly known as micro- and macro- evolution, respectively.

    -Dan
     Biology postdoc
     Univ. of Cyprus
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl says, “The minute you call yourself a Christian or an Atheist or whatever the heck else, you automatically get painted by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted.” cl’s point couldn’t be more on. As cl points out there is an important reason for not claiming any real religious (or lack thereof) belief. It puts logical constraints on one's arguments due directly to the bias of the individual that is translating the English to mind ideas of what it means to be religious.

    -Bobaloo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Just who in the bloody hell do you think you are, you Christian piece of garbage, to come here barking out orders? You're an arrogant, condescending piece of shit. You seem to think you're an intellectual of sorts, when all you are is a Christian who's read a few books. John, everyone, this really is the limit. BR, I'm more than a little annoyed that you continue to engage him. I'm out of here. I have better things to do than to waste my time with these cretins.

    -Cipher
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    How old are you CL? I'd guess you have not yet experienced much life. I'd say you were under the age of 21, too young to be here. I don't give a damn what you think of me or my deconversion at all. You're too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book. They are leading people away from you [sic] faith. I'm seriously considering banning you cl, as I've heard you were banned on other sites. You are much too ignorant for us to have a reasonable discussion.

    -John Loftus
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I admired the way you handled yourself in the discussion on John's blog. I'm not patient enough to keep my sarcasm in check with some of them blokes, but appreciate those who are.

    -David Marshall
     re: Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl, I have to say, while I fundamentally disagree with you, you are an individual which I highly respect. I think your responses are always well thought out and your insights always well thought out and pertinently derived.
    [Y]ou have made me a stronger atheist in my regards to critical thinking and debating. I really can’t wait to hear more from you. Hell, I’d even buy you a drink, good sir. Cheers!

    -Parker
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Bottom line? Sometimes I think he's right about certain arguments, and I don't have a problem admitting that. Other times, however, I think he's wrong, and I've called him on that. But I have found he can be pretty reasonable if you (1) don't overstate your case, (2) make concessions when you have, and (3) insist he do the same.

    -Lifeguard
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I like it when [cl] makes me stop, think and question if I am making unfounded assertions or if I am being sloppy. What has been annoying me about cl of late is that he is being excruciatingly anal...

    -seantheblogonaut
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I really can't thank you enough for catching me on my error in rhetoric. I always love a good debate! And I always enjoy your posts, as well! Keep up the great writing and the excellent eye for detail!

    -BZ
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You make me smarter...

    -Mike G.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ..thank you, cl. I discovered your blog on a random web search and saw it as an oasis amidst a vast desert of seemingly intractable theist-atheist debate.

    -Sung Jun
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    It's good to be able to discuss with people who are open and respectful, and know that disagreement does not mean disrespect... You are to be congratulated, not only for your patience, but also your ability to hold an ever-growing debate together with an impressive degree of structure.

    -Ritchie
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    My tone is derogatory... [cl is] ignorant and credulous and deserves to be mocked... In the time he's been here, he's shown a consistent pattern of antagonizing everyone he comes in contact with, monopolizing threads, derailing discussions with perpetual complaints, quibbles and demands for attention, and generally making arguments that display a lack of good faith and responsiveness... it's become intolerable. I'm not banning him, but I'm putting in place some restrictions on how often he can comment.

    -Ebonmuse
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This is no defense of the annoying cl, but what a self-righteous, prissy atheist you turned out to be, Ebonmuse. I'm disappointed in you, stealing a strategem from the theists.

    -The Exterminator
     to Ebonmuse
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I certainly didn't get any bad impression about cl, and I can't relate his comments with any of the things (Ebonmuse) said above. I actually thought it was quite interesting to have him around.

    -Juan Felipe
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Please continue to allow
    cl to post his views and make it clear that he is still welcome. And let me be clear, cl is not a lunatic.

    -Curtis
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    With one exception, you are the most coherent and intelligent theist I've seen on this site...

    -Steve Bowen
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I'm rooting for cl. I hope he perpetually manages to skirt the rules enough to do his damage, forcing rule revision after rule revision, ad nauseum. Awesome! Let's watch as Ebon, ever more frustrated, continues to struggle to figure out how to keep his precious private blog neat and tidy as cl keeps messing up his papers while one by one, readers leave due to an every increasing administrative presence. Outstanding! Well I won't go. The thought of this sounds like the most entertaining thing that probably would have ever happened on Daylight Atheism. Hot damn!

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Your visit has been something of a reality check to me. It seems that when you present rational arguments and criticisms, many commenters feel territory slipping and then work up vaporous or leaky responses. I also want to remark that your presence here has considerably moved me to try being a more careful and understanding debater...

    -Brad
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I do have a lot of respect for you too. You seem to be a very intelligent and thoughtful individual with a knack for getting to the bottom of a problem, cutting through all the bullshit rhetoric on the way down. The fact that many other atheists seem to unreasonably despise you bothers me a lot, because I think that maybe they aren’t acting in good faith.

    -Peter Hurford
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am not going to waste any more time parsing your comments to decide if they've crossed the line or not... So I banned you.

    -Greta Christina
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Be rude... cl invites rudeness. Would you want an incontinent little puppy coming into your house?

    -(((Billy))) the Atheist
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Note to all my regular readers: Since An Apostate’s Chapel is a free-speech zone, I don’t censor conversations.
    As it appears that cl is a troll, please note that I will not be responding to him any longer. I ask that you refrain from doing so, as well. Please don’t feed the troll!

    -The Chaplain
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    …I can’t reconcile being a "freethinker" with banning speech. [cl's] comments are not offensive in the normal understanding of that term, and he poses absolutely no threat except perhaps to some imagined decorum. Why can’t atheists lighten up, for no-Christ’s sake?

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Is it going to distract from my meal when crazy uncle cl starts blathering out nonsense, pick his ears with a carrot or start taking his pants off? No. In fact, it might actually heighten the experience in some amusing way. So no, I don't see cl's work as damage.

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am beginning to suspect that you are a troll cl. Albeit an evolved troll, but a troll nonetheless. Perhaps we should all stop feeding the troll?

    -GaySolomon
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl is] is either a sophist or an incompetent when it comes to the english language... (sic)

    -ThatOtherGuy
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I’d say cl is pretty sharp... it may be tempting at times to think that “the other guy” is arguing out of some personal character flaw rather than a sincere desire to acknowledge the truth, I still think it’s better to debate respectfully... It is disrespectful to make unsupported accusations against people, e.g. by suggesting that their views are caused by an intrinsically corrupt and immoral nature.

    -Deacon Duncan, 3-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] cannot refute my facts, so he needs must find (sic) some scapegoat in order to claim that he has confronted the enemy and proven them wrong... cl, sadly, has proven himself to be the sort of guest who comes into your living room and sneaks behind your couch to take a crap on the floor, just so he can tell all your neighbors how bad your house smells and what an unsanitary housekeeper you are... an interesting case study in the negative effects a Christian worldview has on a reasonably intellectual mind.

    -Deacon Duncan, 6-17-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I strongly discourage discussion of the character, abilities, motives, or personal ancestry of individual commenters, as tempting as such comments may be at times. I discourage the posting of comments that make frequent use of the pronoun “you,” as in “you always…” or “you never…” or “you are just so…”, when directed at a specific individual.

    -Deacon Duncan, 4-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I won’t be publishing your most recent comment because it’s a return to the same sort of schtick you’ve pulled here before: re-writing other people’s arguments to make yourself look misunderstood and/or unfairly accused, taking “polyvalent” positions so that when people address your points you can claim to have said something else, distorting other people’s arguments, trolling for negative reactions, and so on.

    -Deacon Duncan, 10-8-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [E]gomaniacal troll.
    You win... You’re a disingenuous sophist through and through, cl. And a friggin’ narcissist to boot! Since I’ve thoroughly and purposefully broken the Deacon’s rules of engagement, I shall consider my right to post henceforth annulled, and move on - dramatic pause, lights out.

    -jim
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He either thinks in a very weird way or he's quite the con artist.

    -mikespeir
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I will gladly admit that I have a boner for cl. Maybe some day I’ll even earn a place of honor on cl’s Blog of Infamy.

    -Eneasz
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Long time reader first time poster... I like reading what you
    have to say over at Daylight Atheism so I figured I'd pop in here.

    -Pine
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He's just a jerk
    that likes to argue.

    -KShep
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You’re not a reasonable thinker in my book. You’re simply an arguer, for better or worse. I’m Michael Palin, you’re John Cleese. You’re just a disputation-ist, bringing everything into question...

    -jim
     Reason vs. Apologetics
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Motherfucker, this is an interesting blog... Quite the group of commenters.

    -John Evo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are very articulate, and I can only assume that it's a result of high intelligence; an intelligence that's interested in, and can understand, healthy debate. However, at every turn, that's not what I or others seem to get.

    -ex machina
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a troll, a liar, and a useless sack of shit. Not only that, but you're still wrong even after moving the goal posts and trying to re-write history. So, you can stop cyber stalking me now and trying to provoke me. I know what you are doing, and you are doing it so that you can whine about how I'm being irrational and mean to you and stroke your pathetic martyr complex. You're a pathetic attention whore and I've already given you too much attention. So, back the fuck off, stop following me around the intarwebs and trying to provoke me, and fuck off.

    -OMGF
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I would just like to say that, OMGF, having read the debate as a neutral observer, some of the things cl says about your style of argument are true, IMO. It is quite hasty, which means you occasionally haven't got the central point cl is trying to make...

    -John D.
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...this is a difficult question that deserves more than a kneejerk reaction, not to imply that you're kneejerking. You're the least kneejerking person I've met.

    -Quixote
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    If you’re here playing devil’s advocate, then, hey, you do a great job at it, it’s a service, keep us sharp... You’re a smart guy, but those are exactly the ones who give the worst headaches!

    -Lifeguard
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a waste of time, cl. A big fat black hole of bullshit sucking in everyone who comes into contact with you.

    -Spanish Inquisitor
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    As for all that harsh invective that's come your way, umm... I gotta say, I've seen some of the invective, but I haven't seen the behavior on your part that called for it. Maybe I've just not seen enough? I don't know... from what I've read, I can tell that you're a smart person, and whether you deserved any of that treatment or not is quite frankly immaterial to me; I just want to deal with the smart person at the eye of that storm.

    -D
     She Who Chatters
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I now think that you’re an atheist, just having fun at other atheists’ expense. If that’s the case, kudos.

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
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Public Challenge To Anyone: Biblically Justify The Omni^4 Claim, And What Do You Mean By God?

I've been waiting for another opportunity to poke holes in the lavish presuppositions folks often bring to POE arguments and this recent banter was just what I needed to get motivated.

To review, the Omni^4 Claim is the idea that the God of the Bible simultaneously possesses the following four qualities: omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence and omnipresence. IOW, that the God of the Bible is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving and all-present. As an aside, many people disregard omnipresence as irrelevant to POE arguments, but I thought I'd throw it in there for historical accuracy if nothing else.

Now first off, nearly every single time I see or hear POE discussions, I see or hear the words "Christians say" or similar and I will tell you upfront – I do not care for dogma nor do I care what other "Christians" say, and I've read the Bible cover-to-cover enough times to know where I stand on the matter. Regardless of your belief system, the purpose of this challenge is for you to provide me with scriptural support you think justifies one or more qualities of the aforementioned Omni^4 Claim, in your own words, not some supposed theologian's.

Second, justify your conclusion and put things in proper scope: If you did in fact conclude that the Bible supports one or more of the omni- qualities, on what scriptural evidence do you rest? Next, do you ascribe said quality or qualities to God the Father alone? Or to what most people mean when they used the word Trinity, as in Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

Third, were you strongly unconvinced that the Bible supports any particular point of the Omni^4 Claim? Why?


Related Posts:

Factoring Intelligence Into Assessments Of Morality

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28 Responses

  1. I don’t know much about the Bible, but all my life I’ve heard about the God of the Bible in the most superlative of terms. By this I mean not only that
    a) He’s the biggest, the best, the most powerful, the most merciful, the most understanding, the most n where n is something positive, that ever existed or will exist; but that
    b) He is all of these things by definition, by virtue of existing, and in fact to imagine that He is, or even could be, any less—that His superlativity is incomplete or contingent in some way—is definitively un-Christian. These superlatives are the terms of His existence. He is the Superlative Superlative.
    All this I have been given to understand, through cultural osmosis.
    Why should Christians care whether or not there is an actual-enumeration-of-features or something in the Bible? They inherit all these ambient cultural understandings as well as the Bible itself and all its exegeticalia. Hell, where does all the new stuff come from—like Raptural stuff, and Mormon stuff, and etc—if Christians are really wedded to the Hard Bible as evidence of the truth of things?
    On the other hand, if Christians aren’t limited to the actual text, what do you gain by asking for Biblical evidence of omnidom?

  2. Hey there Arthur,
    Thanks for stopping by, I was going to email because I’m still intending to get back to you on our FSM discussion. Hopefully this weekend I can sit down and parse through that thread.
    As for this thread, I’d say your “cultural osmosis” is typical, not to mention a clever phrase.

    Why should Christians care whether or not there is an actual-enumeration-of-features or something in the Bible?

    Many, perhaps most “Christians” live by the Bible and only believe what they can justify scripturally. If no such enumeration is possible, from whence did the Omni^4 Claim spring? As far as the Rapture, that’s certainly in scripture.

    On the other hand, if Christians aren’t limited to the actual text, what do you gain by asking for Biblical evidence of omnidom?

    Any potential gains in this discussion will be used to challenge presuppositions made by whoever makes them.

  3. Howdy, Cl:
    You wrote:
    “If no such enumeration is possible, from whence did the Omni^4 Claim spring?”
    I’m groping through my intellectual attic for my freshman year Introduction to Christian Philosophy class, but I believe:
    “Aristotle + Aquinas = Omni^4 Claim.”
    That’s not to say that the Omni^4 Claim isn’t based at least in part upon scripture, that there aren’t indications that some, if not all of those characteristics are explicitly attributed to God in the Bible, but I think the Claim really came into it’s own when Aquinas synthesized the Aristotelian god with Yahweh.

  4. Hey cl
    Put me down for O4–though why we would limit it to 4 I don’t understand–ascribed equally to the three members of the Trinity. More support than the following upon request:
    Omniscience: 1 John 3:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
    Omnipotence: Matt 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
    Omnipresence: PS 139: 7-10 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
    If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
    If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
    Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
    Omnibenevolence: Luke 18:19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
    PS-great post, Arthur.

  5. MS Quixote,
    Now we’re talking. Although everyone else introduced interesting angles, you gave me some ammo to work with. Just quickly, I’d say that Mark 13:32 directly challenges your omniscience defense here, because you defined the Trinity as the scope of your claim, yet Jesus clearly says nobody knows the times or dates of the end except the Father, not even Himself.
    As for Matt 19:26, “…with God all things are possible” yet in Hebrews “…it is impossible for God to lie.” Now, I wouldn’t necessarily consider that a contradiction, either, because implicit in the notion of possibility is that something is logically possible. And for God to lie would seemingly violate the all-good part of the claim. Although perhaps a bit naive, the question “Can God commit suicide?” offers some interesting lines of reasoning on omnipotence and its relation to logical possibility.
    And as for Luke 18:19, couldn’t one argue that Jesus is denying goodness?
    I personally don’t have a problem with the omnipresence part of the claim, if by that we mean that God can somehow access consciousness of any point in the universe, or something along those lines.

  6. “yet Jesus clearly says nobody knows the times or dates of the end except the Father, not even Himself.”
    And I would agree with his statement, but I don’t think it applies to the Trinity. Jesus is the son of God, not God the son. As fully God and fully man, Jesus could very well be speaking from his humanity here, which was not always privy to the full knowledge of the 2nd person of the Trinity (nor could it be), and I think that’s in fact the case here.
    For the rest, I think we would need to start with some definitions. If not, it’s hard to argue this with any success. I’m open to your definitions if you don’t like these:
    Omnipotence: God is able to do all his holy will.
    Omniscience: God knows himself and all things actual and possible, or, God believes all true propositions and no false ones.
    Omnipresence: God is present at every point of his creation with his whole being, yet does not possess size or spatiality, and may act differently in different places.
    Omnibenevolence: God is the standard of good, and all He does is good.
    “And as for Luke 18:19, couldn’t one argue that Jesus is denying goodness?”
    Not certain what you mean here…

  7. MS Quixote,
    As for the omniscience part of your reply, I’m getting a disconnect: Earlier you said, “Put me down for O4–though why we would limit it to 4 I don’t understand–ascribed equally to the three members of the Trinity.” Jesus is a member of the latter, yet clearly showed a limit in knowledge.
    And I agree that definitions are key. I have no problem with your definition of omnipresence, and I’ll have to think on the others for a while.
    What I meant by the Luke 18:19 remark is that couldn’t one interpret Jesus’ remark as a concession that only God (the Father) is good?
    Either way, thanks for the input, it will take some time but I’d like to get many more comments like yours in this thread and one day distill them all to see what we come up with.

  8. “Jesus is a member of the latter, yet clearly showed a limit in knowledge.”
    I would deny that Jesus is a member of the Trinity. In his divinity, yes, but not with repsect to his humanity. And since his finite humanity cannot contain or fully conceive his divinity, there’s plenty that he would not know: the day and the hour, for instance.
    “What I meant by the Luke 18:19 remark is that couldn’t one interpret Jesus’ remark as a concession that only God (the Father) is good?”
    Got it. I’d agree that someone could arrive at that conclusion, although I’m not sure how they would justify it.
    “one day distill them all to see what we come up with.”
    Until then…

  9. “Many, perhaps most ‘Christians’ live by the Bible and only believe what they can justify scripturally.”
    Well, just about all I know about God-fearing folks I learned from reading Religious Literacy, and the basic premise of that book is that
    “Americans are both deeply religious and profoundly ignorant about religion. There are Protestants who can’t name the four Gospels, Catholics who can’t name the seven sacraments, and Jews who can’t name the five books of Moses….here faith is almost entirely devoid of content. One of the most religious countries on earth is also a nation of religious illiterates.”
    This doesn’t keep us from having an unbeatably clear and simple formulation of God’s capacities (He’s Number One).

  10. @ Arthur:
    The quote you cite is spot-on in my opinion..

  11. Should I assume, then, that the “many” Christians who “live by the Bible and only believe what they can justify scripturally” live in other countries? But I thought Protestants were the sola scriptura people.

  12. No, because the fact that the “many” Christians you refer to “live by the Bible and only believe what they can justify scripturally” does not entail that they are necessarily correct.

    ..I thought Protestants were the sola scriptura people.

    I’d say that’s incorrect. I would say the term sola scriptura is reasonably applicable to Muslims, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses for example, wouldn’t you?

  13. Hey,
    Long time reader first time poster here. I like reading what you have to say over at Daylight so I figured I’d pop in here.
    To your last question CL, I would say no, it is not reasonably applicable to Muslims, Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Muslims have the Bible (OT) and the Quran. The Mormans have the Bible (OT) and the Book of Mormon. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have the Bible (altered) and always have another black book (a ‘companion’ to the Bible) and other watch tower literature which is relied upon for nearly every doctrine they profess. I suppose we could really stretch things to say the Quran is the equivelent of the NT, as the Muslims pretty much reject that as scripture. However the NT refutes fairly reasonably the additional ‘holy’ books of the other two groups.
    Anyhow, as for your challenge I would say I believe all apply to all members of the Trinity. Though I must confess I am willing to be wrong.
    If God isn’t omniscient, then how do we know our future is secure? What assurance do we have that things will happen exactly as He has declared… that is unless you concede omniscience to declare omnipotence. Then I suppose He could make anything happen the way He wanted to. I normally assume that passages like 1 Peter 1:20 mean that God had a plan from the beginning (or actually before the beginning) to redeem mankind… something He could have only done if He knew ahead of time that we would sin.
    Omnipotent… well, if God can’t do anything, then how do I know if God can do what I ask Him to do? How do I know He has the power to follow through on His promises? If you hold that there are things God cannot do, then how do we seperate what He can do and what He cannot? I think Matthew 19:26 is a good verse to support this. However, and this will be a repeated theme for me, I want to ask if the possessing the capacity to do anything means that you have to do all things to maintain that ability. IE: Simply because I can lift a pen, does not mean that I must constantly be lifting a pen for it to be said that I have the ability. (Apply this to omniscience as well, just because Jesus COULD know all things does not mean He has/had to exercise that ability and actually know all things.) The question then is, can God not be God. It is asked in a million different ways (IE: Can God make a stone He cannot lift? Can God sin? Can God committ suicide? etc.) but the answer is the always the same. No. But why? Only because He Himself has declared that He does not change and CANNOT sin.
    Omnipresence… well if God is not all places or cannot hear all our prayers then how do we know that some of them are not lost? The Bible doesn’t speak of lost prayers. I guess if God doesn’t have the ability to be in all places at once, then He lacks a certain power which would make us have to include Omnipotence as well… actually… I guess if God lacks any of the omni-traits then we have to throw out Omnipotence with it too… Psalm 139:8 gives some insight on this one.
    Omnibenevolence. Not sure what this means. Because most think this means the most good for all. I’m not so sure. Certainly wants the best for all of us, but I believe this is balanced by those things God is not willing to sacrifice. IE: God loves Jim. Jim rapes and murders 40 women. God is not willing to do nothing about Jim’s sin because He is just. God is not willing that Jim should be destroyed because of Jim’s sin. Hence the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus as God’s solution. But let’s say Jim rejects God’s solution. God has allowed Jim to do this because despite the good God would have for Jim, I don’t believe God wanted to make Jim a robot to accomplish that good. Jim then dies and stands before God who judges Jim, as Jim has defied God’s law and rejected God’s plan of salvation for Jim. God is not willing to sacrifice his character or authority or just and holy nature for the sake of the ‘good’ for Jim. So, if you mean omnibenevolence as a characteristic which over-rides everything else about God, then no… maybe I don’t believe that. Galatians 5 talks about the fruits of the spirit. How can we expect Goodness as a fruit to evidence God at work in your life unless the Source (God) is Good?
    Ok that was long (sorry).

  14. Thanks Pine. I also enjoy reading your comments over at DA.
    What I meant by the sola scriptura comment was that each of those particular flavors of believers believe only what they can justify in their own holy books, not necessarily just the Bible. Does that make better sense? Because I agree with what you say. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses have more than just “scripture,” as you suggest, always some supplementary teaching, i.e. Awake! or whatever it’s called.

    ..as for your challenge I would say I believe all apply to all members of the Trinity.

    Fair enough. How would you parse Mark 13:32 where Jesus clearly says nobody knows the times or dates of the end except the Father, not even Himself? I saw your reply in this regard, but the idea of some sort of on/off switch seems odd to me, if that’s what you meant. If Jesus does not know this, Jesus is not omniscient, yet Jesus is part of the Trinity, right? What do you think of MS Quixote’s comment #8 in the thread? It’s an interesting angle to ponder.

    If God isn’t omniscient, then how do we know our future is secure?

    The logical conclusion would appear to be that we don’t. But I’m not so sure I accept the claim that God is not omniscient.

    If you hold that there are things God cannot do, then how do we seperate what He can do and what He cannot?

    My answer is logical possibility. I ask people, Would you say God could commit suicide? Would you say God could lie? In fact, the Bible says “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18). I noticed you addressed this in your thoughts, too.

    Simply because I can lift a pen, does not mean that I must constantly be lifting a pen for it to be said that I have the ability.

    I can see that quite clearly, but when you say,

    ..just because Jesus COULD know all things does not mean He has/had to exercise that ability and actually know all things.

    I think I see what you mean here: In other words, Jesus wasn’t just “automatically cognizant” of information that required omniscience, for example the number of husbands a particular woman has had. Right? He has “access to” all information, and in Mark 13:32 simply chooses not to access that particular bit of information? Is that sort of what you mean?
    I don’t really have a problem with the omnipresence quality at all. In fact, as I said, I’m not entirely sure I have a problem with any of the omni-qualities, depending on how they’re defined.
    And I see absolutely nothing incorrect, irrational or illogical in your summation of the gospel in your final paragraph. And I don’t mind long responses, unless they’re just vitriolic outbursts, but even those are entertaining now and again. So feel free ’round these parts.

  15. I should know better than to try and figure these things out on my own.

    “Many, perhaps most “Christians” live by the Bible and only believe what they can justify scripturally.”

    “Americans are both deeply religious and profoundly ignorant about religion…. here faith is almost entirely devoid of content. One of the most religious countries on earth is also a nation of religious illiterates.”

    Could you tell me how to reconcile these two statements, the first of which is yours and the second of which you consider to be accurate?

  16. cl:
    I don’t think I really understand how ‘fully God’ and ‘fully man’ actually functions. I also don’t think I fully understand everything about God, or the Trinity, or many things for that matter. I don’t think we are able to know and understand all of these things because these things have simply not all been revealed.
    That said, with what information we are given in the Bible, I believe Jesus existence on the earth as a man was very unique. Although He was God He could die. He could hunger. He could thirst. He could feel pain. The Bible speaks of Jesus lowering Himself when He came to earth as a man. (Hebrews 2:7, Psalms 8:5-6) I believe that in perfect submission to the father, Jesus ‘lowered’ Himself or temporarily chose not to exercise some of his divine traits for the sake of accomplishing the Will of the Father.
    I think this is difficult to comprehend in our society because we view submission as inferiority.

  17. Arthur,
    cl: “Many, perhaps most “Christians” live by the Bible and only believe what they can justify scripturally.”
    Yes, many, perhaps most “Christians” do live by those standards, and that would make them deeply religious for the purposes of this discussion. Does this mean they can’t be profoundly ignorant about their own Bible or religion in general, whose breadth and scope is far above and beyond that of the Bible?
    cl: “Americans are both deeply religious and profoundly ignorant about religion…. here faith is almost entirely devoid of content. One of the most religious countries on earth is also a nation of religious illiterates.” (ital. mine)
    Note that “American” does not mean “Christian,” and either way, can’t an “American” or “Christian” be A) convinced they are living by the Bible and justified scripturally; and B) profoundly ignorant about religion? And in those cases, is not faith entirely devoid of content?
    I did author the first statement, and I do agree with the second statement completely, because nothing therein is mutually exclusive with anything in the first. There is such a thing as zeal without knowledge, and curiously the Bible says, “zeal without knowledge is foolishness.”
    Pine,

    I believe that in perfect submission to the father, Jesus ‘lowered’ Himself or temporarily chose not to exercise some of his divine traits for the sake of accomplishing the Will of the Father.

    I don’t see anything invalid or absurd about that idea when articulated as such, and it actually made me understand both your’s and Quixote’s positions better. In other words, Jesus either temporarily ceded the ability, or, if we go with, “temporarily chose not to exercise some of his divine traits…” then, Jesus didn’t know (verb tense describing the act of ascertaining knowledge) as opposed to Jesus didn’t know (adjective describing the state or condition of being deficient in knowledge).
    Is that sorta what you mean?

  18. Yes, well sorta. As I am not a divine being and as I have not been endowed with all knowledge I don’t claim to know exactly what a divine being experiences or how they experience it. I think it would be a little absurd to think we have a good handle on what Omniscience is really like, or how it functions for that matter. All we can do is talk about our ‘concept’ of what ‘all knowing’ means and then try to apply this as we shape our opinions about what the Bible states about Jesus.
    The way I imagine it is more of an emptying of Himself to become man, but not emptying to the degree that He could not take up any attribute He desired at any time. So when He didn’t know, He didn’t know, He possessed the ability to know, but simply chose not to know. Not that I claim to have a ‘handle’ on it, but this is just the best my limited understanding has been able to come up with.

  19. I think it would be a little absurd to think we have a good handle on what Omniscience is really like, or how it functions for that matter. All we can do is talk about our ‘concept’ of what ‘all knowing’ means and then try to apply this as we shape our opinions about what the Bible states about Jesus.

    Gets my vote, indeed.

  20. I would suggest that Christians who are “profoundly ignorant about their own Bible” cannot be said to “live by the Bible and only believe what they can justify scripturally.”
    Religious Literacy again:

    Evangelical pollsters have lamented for some time the disparity between Americans’ veneration of the Bible and their understanding of it, painting a picture of a nation that believes God has spoken in scripture but can’t be bothered to listen to what God has to say.

    My only point is that the omni-4 formulation might not be as vulnerable to exegesis as you seem to think, especially in light of its knee-jerk appeal.

  21. My only point is that the omni-4 formulation might not be as vulnerable to exegesis as you seem to think, especially in light of its knee-jerk appeal.

    1) Why might the formulation not be as vulnerable to exegesis as I seem to think? Support your claim here.
    2) I wholeheartedly agree with you that the formulation has a knee-jerk appeal. Part of the point of this post was to cast light on exactly that.
    3) That’s not your only point because you were just badgering me about a contradiction that isn’t there. Further support: Many or most “Christians” can only justify a half-dozen or so things from scripture, Arthur. They can still live by those things, and justify them scripturally, and still be profoundly ignorant about the rest of the Bible and the general subject of religion. None of those conditions are mutually exclusive conditions.
    Now, I’m going out on a limb here, but you’re a pretty intelligent guy, and I think you and I both know what I just said is correct. It would do our future discussions far better if you, you know, politely let me capture a pawn here.

  22. No, really. That’s my only point. I think I just don’t understand what “live by the Bible” means.
    But I see that I’m working against my own interest, because I too would like to know where the omni-4 claim comes from, and to see if anyone could ever be talked out of such a powerful formulation, once they’ve got it in their heads. I didn’t mean to hold things up.

  23. I thought the omni-4 claim was established. :P What problems do you still have with it?

  24. Pine,
    If comment #23 is for me, I don’t have any problems with it, really. When I wrote this post, my main goal was to see what verses people would offer to justify the claim, and also to see how those who argued for the claim would respond to Jesus not knowing dates and times. It’s been an interesting discussion, and who knows where it might end up.

  25. Pine,
    If comment #23 is for me, I don’t have any problems with it, really. When I wrote this post, my main goal was to see what verses people would offer to justify the claim, and also to see how those who argued for the claim would respond to Jesus not knowing dates and times. It’s been an interesting discussion, and who knows where it might end up.

  26. Arthur:
    I want to address what you wrote; “I think I just don’t understand what “live by the Bible” means.” Here is the best way I know how to explain it.
    People criticize ‘living by the Bible’ because of the complex nature of the law and doctrine contained within it’s pages. So, from the outside looking in you’re probably thinking that anyone calling it ‘simple’ is a moron. That is if you view Christianity as a task instead of as a relationship.
    I love my wife. That ‘love’ has expressed itself over the years in many complex and various forms. I have learned much about her likes and dislikes. So much in fact that if I were to write a book about loving her and living in a way that brings her pleasure, it would be quite the impressive volume. Does that mean that loving someone is ‘complex’?
    You see, behind all the laws and the ‘doctrines’ of the Bible is a very simple personal relationship between every believer and God. I believe that is why Jesus was able to sum up all of the law and prophets in two commands (see Matthew 22:7-40). To love (or be loyal) to God in your lifestyle is a very simple concept. If I love God with unshakable loyalty and love everyone around me as much as I love myself… I’ll find that I’m already fulfilling God’s law.
    How do you ‘live by the Bible’? You start with the command to love God first, then to love others as yourself, and then you study God’s guide (IE: the Bible) to learn more about what pleases Him.
    Sorta off topic a little… but it was brought up so… I hope its helpful.

  27. Pine,
    Thank you for that. I was really trying to establish something much more remedial: that in order to “live by the Bible” one must study the Bible, or at least make the attempt. I took this for granted, but it sounds like perhaps you agree.
    I’m reduced to disputing cl’s characterization of “living by the Bible”: being able to “only justify a half-dozen or so things from scripture” and being “profoundly ignorant about the rest” seems to me to fall short of “living by” it.
    But I’m way out of my depth on the subject, I admit, and this really wasn’t a thread I meant to get so tangled up in.

  28. Arthur,
    You said; “I’m reduced to disputing cl’s characterization of “living by the Bible”: being able to “only justify a half-dozen or so things from scripture” and being “profoundly ignorant about the rest” seems to me to fall short of “living by” it.”
    I agree with you for the most part. While I feel it is possible to be ‘living by the Bible’ before you possess all knowledge, the pursuit of knowledge and disciplining yourself to read/study/understand God’s Word should be a mark of a every Christian life. Unfortunately there are far too many who claim to be “Christians” who I wouldn’t even give credit for knowing the half-dozen or so things from scripture it is suppossed they know. These people really don’t care about expanding their knowledge about what the Bible actually says but use religion as a crutch or as a justification for their personal vices. But then, I would argue, can we really say these people are Christians at all?
    If I claim to be a scientist, and yet don’t know the first thing about scientific method, I’ve never taken classes which teach science, I don’t read books about science, I’m not interested in science but claim that as a scientist I feel that science proves geocentricism… would you consider me a scientist who believed in geocentricism or just an idiot spouting my personal opinion under the guise of ‘science’? Why do those who do this to religion get a pass?

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