A brief JRP vs Dom Bnonn exchange on Calv appeal to holiness


Check the comments in this entry from an ongoing analysis of Calvinism by an Arminian friend of mine, Dr. Victor Reppert.

dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2009/ … m-and.html

After spending some time and effort agreeing with a critique of Dom’s, I go on to discuss his appeal to, and application of, God’s holiness as a “summary of all God’s attributes into a single term” in conjunction with “the doctrine of simplicity” (both of which I actually agree with in principle and which I then put into practice analytically) vis-a-vis Calvinism.

It… um… doesn’t end well. :wink: :unamused:


I’ve finally gotten around to posting a set of replies to that thread, this afternoon.

(Kicking off with a quote from the Simpson’s episode “Radioactive Man”. :mrgreen: The rest is technical stuff.)


I think you’re wasting your time, but I do admire your effort. Good luck dealing with Dom!


In regards to the orth-trin position, you pointed out that God could not be essentially wrath within the Godhead. would it then be correct to say that God’s wrath did not enter into existence until sin appeared (presumably by Lucifer, if not by Adam and Eve), assuming there was a state of perfect harmony prior?


I think it would be more accurate to say that God’s love wasn’t expressed as wrath until someone sinned (whoever that first sinner was), and did so in a way that (in God’s judgment) required wrath as the best expression for achieving God’s goals in regard to the sinner.

The notion here is that there might easily be other proper actions by God in relation to a person’s sin, depending on the circumstances. To give what should be the most obvious immediate example, God doesn’t immediately annihilate sinners, or allow them to annihilate themselves by their choice of sinning, the moment even the ‘smallest’ sin is committed; but graciously keeps even the worst possible sinners in existence for at least some created time afterward. Even annihilationists have to admit this–assuming they acknowledge that only God can exist without continual upkeep from anything other than God. Which theists often forget to acknowledge, even when they would otherwise agree with that, leading to what amounts to proposing that sinners exist independently of God (which in turn is a tacit if accidental rejection of supernaturalistic theism, including ortho-trin.)

Annihilationists, by definition, are usually better than other Christians about keeping the conditional existence of derivative creatures in their theologies. (Which, not incidentally, is why some annis like our guest Glenn prefer to call their position “conditional immortality”–as if non-annihilationists necessarily denied the conditional existence of derivative creatures. Plus it just sounds more positive than “annihilationism”. :mrgreen: )

I have, however, run across at least two annihilationists in my experience (one of whom was a professional theologian arguing in favor of annihilationism) who ended up, for different reasons, having to propose that the condemned sinners aren’t annihilated by God after all. In one case, the sinners keep existing as something loathsome to gross out the redeemed into eternity as an example of evil–which if the sinners cease existing as persons rather sounds like it is the redeemed, not damned sinners, who suffer at least a little Eternal Conscious Torment! In the other case, sinners had to be speculated to keep existing after annihilation, as persons, in order to try to claim that God wasn’t violating their personhood, which wouldn’t be loving toward them.

Come to think of it, C. S. Lewis (whom I think can be considered to count as a professional theologian in some significant way :wink: ) also speculated, at one point (while writing The Problem of Pain) that annihilated sinners keep existing at right angles (so to speak) of the natural time they would have otherwise inhabited. (The visual metaphor would be like a paintball splattering against a wall rather than continuing its flight forward spatially.) He seems to have dropped that later, though; at least, I don’t recall him ever mentioning that final fate again in subsequent writing (which there was a lot of, including The Great Divorce and The Last Battle where there were plenty of opportunities to promote that idea again. But impenitent sinners just poof finally out of existence in each case.)

Anyway: the continuing existence of sinners for at least some time after sinning, is directly dependent on the grace of God toward and for the sinner. And it’s going to be reaaaaally hard to coherently argue that this grace isn’t an action of God’s love toward and for the sinner. Certainly I would argue it is, as an ortho-trin theist! :smiley:

So the very first action of God toward the sinner as a ‘sinner’ per se, is still an action of love and grace which isn’t an expression of wrath per se (or not yet anyway): sinners exist, even as ‘sinners’, because God loves sinners, too. He just doesn’t love their sin. (And will take steps accordingly.)


Which brings up a point about storing up wrath:

But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; - Romans 2:5

There is a potential for God’s wrath to manifest itself on the Day of Judgment. As you’ve said, God doesn’t make His wrath immediately apparent. The common grace holds that at bay. But what kind of buffer is in effect? Is He just storing it all in until He can hold it in no longer (I speak metaphorically, of course. I don’t really think God has a limit or even it there is such a thing as ‘storing up wrath’ as if God has some sort of cosmic pantry waiting to be opened)? Or is it released upon judgment on the individual upon review? That the casual release of wrath is upon the acknowledgement of sin and it’s consequences (a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, as the Hebriast says), because after all, judgment can only come upon a person when he is pronounced guilty of something. And the interaction between God’s love, God’s judgment, and God’s wrath will become apparent predicated on our awareness of it. So judgment day becomes a mirror to one’s soul in contrast to the God and His love and the differential between the two appears as the full brunt of His wrath. One can, of course, allieveate that difference in potential by drawing ourselves up to Him in repentence in cooperation with His Spirit through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, though even as Christians, we residually may be lacking an absolute pure heart, and thus will still feel the effects of purification. This seems to be in the case of Isaiah, that as he beheld the glory of God, his hidden sins (in this case unclean lips)came into full light and he himself was undone. Curious how the burning coals of fire upon those same lips became the remedy for the problem.


I quite hugely agree with pretty much all your comment, I think. :smiley:

But I selected this sentence especially, because it has a special thematic connection to that verse from Rom 2 you quoted: the ones (the CHRISTIANS!!) in St. Paul’s audience who were thus storing up wrath for themselves, were explicitly the ones who were insisting on the hopeless condemnation and/or destruction of persistent sinners (pagans and particularly homosexuals of both sexes were the examples originally in view earlier in chp 1), not reckoning that they themselves were also continuing to persistently sin in various ways. It didn’t matter that some of those sins seemed ‘smaller’ than others; I can imagine a reader saying to herself, “well, yes, but I only gossip–and is that even really a sin?” Yes. Yes it is. And if you insist on hopeless condemnation for those other sinners-over-there (St. Paul is saying), then you’re going to be judged by the same standard. And being ‘a Christian’ isn’t going to save you from the results of trying to have that double-standard applied mercilessly against those-sinners-over-there.

There is a substantially large amount of teaching in scripture pointing to the importance and reality of universalism; this is one of those places (along with the common Synoptic warning that those who do not show mercy shall not be shown mercy) that strikes home very hard, when all the pieces put together. There are people who believe in hopeless condemnation, not because they really want it to be true, but because so far as they can tell it is true, and so they make the best they can out of accepting what they believe to be the truth. But there are also people who just outright want hopeless condemnation to be true.

And those people are in for a frightening surprise. Not a hopeless one, thank God! :wink: But they can’t say that they weren’t warned. The Synoptic teaching on this is so easy that even a simpleton can understand it, if only he will bother to do so.

And again: “But Lord, when did we see You and not serve You!?” “When you did not visit Me in prison.” The context isn’t about those who have been unjustly imprisoned; the context is about the Isaianic promise of the Messiah restoring those who have been suffering due to sin, including bringing hope and freedom to those who have been justly imprisoned by God.

The sheep were clearly cooperating with Christ, thus serving Christ, in the Messianic mission (and were surprised to find out that they had been doing so). The goats weren’t cooperating in one or more ways (and were surprised to find out that they were being judged against by one they thought they had been serving.)

Which, by the way, is why I insist on reading {kolasis} as brisk and hopeful cleaning (even though punitive) for the goats. Otherwise, I am signing up to be a goat instead of a sheep!

(Insert irony as appropriate when considering the thread this comment is happening in… :wink: )